Getting Started on Youtube

If you had asked me back in January of 2015 if I ever thought I’d be on YouTube, I probably would’ve laughed in your face. No offense meant, but I’ve never considered myself comfortable on camera or even with the physical act of recording and editing video. Yet somehow, here I am a year later with a YouTube channel of my own. Armed with a love of books and an inexplicable surge of courage, I dove in headfirst, not having the slightest idea of what I was in for.

Vlogging and YouTube channels are certainly taking off in every corner of the blogging world these days, but knowing how to start can send any new vlogger’s head spinning. Do you have to memorize everything and record it in one go? Are you going to need fancy sound and lighting equipment? And don’t even get started on cameras…

Luckily, getting started with YouTube is ridiculously easy. In fact, you could record your own video of surprisingly good quality right after reading this article, I kid you not.

Getting Started on Youtube

Camera // There’s a surprisingly low barrier to entry into the world of Youtube. These days, a decent camera is something that most of us already own. Look no further than — your phone.

I can only personally speak to the iPhone, but the quality of recording on the device is crisp enough to film good quality audio and video with no other equipment necessary. You could certainly invest in a more high-tech camera, but if you’re just getting started and don’t want a costly commitment, an iPhone works just fine.

The only piece of equipment I would recommend buying is a tripod or stand for your camera or phone. For filming with a cell phone, I recommend the GripTight GorillaPod* stand. It’s portable (making filming on the fly easy as can be) and can easily stashed in your bag when going from place to place.

Backdrop & Lighting // While you and your content should be front and center, blank white walls aren’t the most interesting subjects when it comes to backdrops. Find a designated space to film and set up your space with relevant and/or interesting decor. It doesn’t have to be extravagant (it shouldn’t be cluttered; simple is fine!), but adding background decor can instantly elevate your video, making it more inviting than a sterile while wall.

Some Youtubers who have killer backdrops?

As far as lighting goes, there are plenty of professional lighting kits out there, but all you really need is a place that is well lit with natural sunlight. Photography tips transfer nicely to the realm of video recording, so make sure you’re not filming in the dark. Natural light is best, though it can be understandably capricious depending on what the weather is doing.

Stay on topic // It’s easy to get flustered or go off on tangents. Make sure that you choose a topic for your video, however, and stick to it. Just like with a written blog post, you wouldn’t just put fingers to a keyboard and unload a massive, rambling brain dump on your readers. Same with a vlog: have an idea of what you want to cover ahead of time. It’ll make your video easier to follow as well as make your video feel less like a teenager’s video diary and more of a polished piece of content.

Make a script // No, you don’t have to memorize what you want to say, nor do you need to record your entire video flawlessly in one take.

You should probably not, however, wing it. Have an idea of what you want to say ahead of time to make sure that you cover it all without rambling. I tend to make a list of points I want to make and keep my list off camera. The great thing about video is that you can stop and start, or edit out the bits where you pop over to check your list. No one will ever know.

tripod for youtube GorillaPod

Learn video editing basics // Until I started filming for Youtube, I had never opened iMovie. It was a beast of a thing that I just assumed would pulverize me with fancy video editing terminology the minute I opened the software. Breaking news: it did not. I am still alive and well, and iMovie is surprisingly easy to use.

There are surely more sophisticated editing programs out there, but for my purposes, iMovie got the job done as a new YouTuber. You can cut out the bits where you stumbled over your words or rushed over to check your notes, making it easy to edit down your video into something slightly more seamless. Aside from removing unwanted bits of video, learn your way around your editing program so you can become more familiar with all of the features it has to offer (editing video doesn’t have to be scary!)

Once you’re feeling comfortable, play around with adding a catchy theme song to your videos (YouTube has jingles you can use for free) or logo to the opening.

This list doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of what you can do with Youtube, but hopefully it gives you a place to start. Delving into a new medium can be terrifying, but it’s easier to get started with vlogging than it looks. Sure, it takes a while to get comfortable on camera and there’s plenty to learn along the way, but the first steps are all it takes.

Thinking of starting a YouTube channel? I’d love to see what you’re vlogging about (leave a comment with your channel!)

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  • Thanks so much for giving me a shoutout in the background section 🙂 I’m really loving your new setup as well!

    • I always love seeing what new Pops have crept into your background shot xD

  • Allison Poorman

    Sign me up for a private lesson? Something I want to learn to do…. 🙂

  • Kay

    This post is so serendipitous for me…I’m currently chatting with the hubs about potentially starting a YouTube channel for my art this year! Not going to lie, I’m incredibly intimidated/terrified. Good to know you don’t need a ton of background knowledge to get it going! Love your channel, and thanks for great tips!

    • Are you thinking of doing tutorials/drawing techniques? I don’t know if it would help any, but if being on camera itself has you jittery, maybe you could film more of your hands drawing rather than your whole self? I don’t know if that’s the kind of intimidation you had in mind, but regardless, I’d love to see what you do with Youtube!

      Thank you!

      • Kay

        I definitely would like to do tutorials at some point! My main focus would probably be time lapses, which luckily I have a bit of experience in putting together as my BFF has done some before and shown me the process of editing. But I’d also like to delve into some vlogging too, perhaps, though I don’t have a specific plan as to what. Tutorials would be great, supply hauls/what I use vids, and maybe even some art challenges too! It’s kind of on my ‘stretch goals’ list for the year, but starting a channel is definitely something I want to do at some point!

        • That’s awesome! I can’t wait to see how it goes 🙂

    • OMG yes!! Please make a channel! Your art is amazing! You already have a follower! 🙂

      • Kay

        Aw, thanks Sara! <3

  • Great post! I’ve always been so curious about YouTube and whether people just wing it or have a script! I would definitely have notes nearby if I vlogged. I considered it, but I’m horrible at speaking on camera and would sound like a crazy person! I’ve always enjoyed writing out my thoughts rather than speaking them. Can’t wait to see your 2016 videos!

    • Speaking vs. writing out thoughts is definitely a real struggle. Do what works for you, when it comes down to it (though, I’d honestly love to watch whatever surely awesome videos you’d create!)

  • I have been seriously contemplating starting a YouTube channel lately, but the mere thought of it makes me nervous because I feel like I don’t even know the first thing about making videos! This post is so helpful. You make it sound so attainable. I especially like how you mention using tools as simple as iPhones and iMovies, tools that are (mostly) readily available. Thank you also for pointing us to the phone tripod. It’s so affordable; I think I’m going to get it!

    • I’m glad you found this helpful! I literally had NO IDEA what I was doing going into this, and it really was simpler than I thought. Best of luck with creating your channel!

      (I love that tripod just for taking photos and selfies!)