How to Start a Vlog: Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners

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Task time:
1 week
Difficulty:
Medium

Video blogging – or, simply, vlogging – is the natural next step for any business looking to grow online. Vlogging is an excellent way of building a personal, authentic connection with your audience through sharing immersive, informational, and inspirational content – whether as a new brand, or a fun, creative extension of your existing one.

Below, we’ll explain how to start a vlog in just 10 steps. From planning your vlog and defining your audience to brainstorming, structuring, and creating your content, we’ll give you everything you need to know to build, grow, and promote your vlog.

Ready to scrub up, turn the camera on, and learn how to start vlogging? Let’s begin!

Why Start Vlogging?

Vlogging is a powerful marketing tool because it combines the visual appeal of video with the authenticity of personal storytelling.

It enables you, as a video content creator, to establish a more direct, emotional connection with your audience; which, in turn, leads to increased trust, engagement, and brand loyalty.

We’ll dive deeper into the benefits of vlogging below. But first, how do you start a vlog?

How To Start a Vlog: Step by Step

Ready to get vlogging? Here’s how – in just 10 simple steps.

1. Start With a Clear Plan

First up, ask yourself: “Why do I want to start a vlog? What am I hoping to achieve?”

This is the start of the goal-setting process. Your vlog’s initial goals don’t have to be too ambitious – it could simply be to gain a certain amount of followers in the first year, or attract a milestone of unique visits or clicks to your vlog. Even so, you should still endeavor to write them down and hold yourself to regular account when it comes to achieving them.

Your vlog’s goals should be SMART, meaning:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Timebound

Once you’ve nailed your ‘why’, the ‘how’ and the ‘who’ – which we’ll explain in step 2 – will naturally follow. In the meantime, start getting familiar with platforms like YouTube, TikTok, and Vimeo. You’ll need a strong understanding of them when it’s time to launch your vlog!

2. Define Your Ideal Viewers

Your viewers are the people who will be watching your videos. Your ideal viewers, however, are the segment – or demographic – of people you’re most interested in speaking to and engaging with, either simply as consumers of your vlog content, or as paying customers, followers, or subscribers.

To be able to effectively market and sell to this “ideal” target audience (and produce content that resonates with them), you’ll first need to understand them.

One route to this understanding is through creating buyer personas: fictionalized archetypes of your average customer that personify each segment of your target market.

A buyer persona typically includes the name, age, and profession of this representative member of your audience, along with data about their goals, needs, motivators, pain points, primary information sources, and social media footprint.

Once you’ve created these personas, it’s vital you actually use them, too. Don’t let them rot in a dusty desk drawer – take them out before you create any piece of vlog content, and pick one or two to focus that video on. This will remind you of the audience you’re targeting, and help you tailor your content to their specific needs and preferences.

3. Research Your Competitors

As of 2023, there were 51 million active channels on YouTube – which means a lot of competition for your vlog!

Rather than being disheartened, though, use this competition as a way to make your vlog even better. Visit other vlogs operating in your niche to understand what they’re doing well.

Then, ask:

  • What do my competitors do well, and how can I emulate those things?
  • What don’t my competitors get right, and how can I do those things better?
  • What aspects of my chosen industry or topic do my competitors gloss over, ignore, or fail to cover in comprehensive detail?
  • What can I do with my own vlog to plug those content gaps?

Make a note of how your competitors design, present, and promote their videos, and study even the smallest detail. How long are your competitors’ videos? How long are their video titles and descriptions? What do their thumbnails look like?

This is all crucial information – and you’ll need it later, when you start to create video content.

4. Find the Right Vlogging Niche for Your Business

We mentioned the word “nich” before – but what does it mean?

A niche is essentially a specific, focused topic or subject matter you’ll choose to create content about. Instead of making videos covering a huge expanse of different topics, vloggers tend to find success by narrowing their attention down to a single niche: ideally, one that reflects their interests or expertise, or the preferences of a particular audience.

What’s the right niche for your vlog? Only you can answer this, really.

Your niche needs to reflect you, as a person. It needs to be something that lights up your imagination, and inspires and motivates you to keep creating, even when things get tough or time-consuming, which they will. Without this inherent passion, it’ll be all too easy to run out of steam before your vlog has really taken flight – so choose your niche carefully!

5. Get the Necessary Equipment

With all the intangibles – audience, niche, research, analysis – out of the way, it’s time to lay your hands on something concrete: namely, some video production equipment.

Here’s how.

Choose the Right Camera

The camera you choose will depend on your specific needs, budget, and the type of vlogs you plan to create. If you intend to make videos on the go, a compact camera is portable and easy to carry; if you require higher quality, DSLRs and mirrorless cameras offer interchangeable lenses and stunning image resolution.

Other features you should look for in your camera are:

  • Autofocus, with face and eye detection functionality
  • A flip screen, so you can see yourself while recording
  • Low-light performance, so you can vlog in a variety of lighting conditions
  • Built-in image stabilization to reduce shaky footage in handheld vlogging
  • Connectivity options for transferring the footage via USB, wifi, or Bluetooth

Procure Lighting and Audio Equipment

The right lighting and audio equipment will give your vlogs extra clarity, and provide them with that sense of added polish.

As a start, invest in lighting tech like:

  • A ring light to provide an even, flattering level of light that can attach to your camera or smartphone
  • Softbox or umbrella lights to create soft, diffused light, and reduce harsh shadows
  • Portable LED lights that attach to your camera or can be placed nearby
  • Reflectors to bounce and redirect light, filling in shadows for a more balanced look
Google sponsored ring light products screenshot
A quick Google search turns up plenty of deals for affordable ring lights online.

As for your audio, you’ll need:

  • An external microphone, such as a ‘shotgun microphone’: these are directional microphones which capture sound from the area they’re pointed at, and reduce background noise accordingly
  • A dedicated audio recorder for the best audio quality
  • Windshields and popscreens to minimize wind noise
  • Headphones to wear while recording, enabling you to monitor audio quality – and troubleshoot any issues – in real time

Purchase Tripods and Other Accessories

A tripod is a must – especially if you want to create stationary videos, without having to prop up your smartphone or camera against an object every time you need to film.

Some other accessories you’ll need are:

  • A camera bag and strap for on-the-go content creation
  • A lens cleaning kit to keep dust and smudging out of your videos
  • A gimbal to enable smooth, stabilized footage while moving

Get to Grips With Editing Software and Tools

After capturing your footage, you’ll still need to translate it into something watchable and shareable, which means chopping it up with editing software and tools.

Some options for editing your vlogs include:

  • Adobe Premiere Pro
  • iMovie
  • Final Cut Pro
  • Riverside
  • Sony Vegas Pro
Adobe Premiere Pro website homepage screenshot
Adobe Premiere Pro is a leading video editing software tool for vloggers.

6. Brainstorm Vlog Ideas

Time to start creating vlog content! But, err…what are you going to be vlogging about?

A good old brainstorm will help – albeit a structured one. Start by:

  • Reaching out to the members of your prospective audience to ask what type of content they’d like to see. You can do this by sending our surveys or questionnaires to people in your target market and incentivizing them to take part.
  • Conducting keyword research – through a free SEO tool such as Wordstream, or a paid one like Semrush – to understand which phrases internet users in your ideal demographics are searching for when they look for information online.
  • Partnering with other content creators, experts, or influencers in your niche for collaborations, and to introduce fresh perspectives and ideas.
  • Creating a video series or themed content – this allows you to explore a topic in-depth over multiple episodes and offers structure to your content calendar.

7. Structure Your Vlog

To structure your first vlog post, create an outline that hits the main points it will cover. Consider how you’ll introduce the topic you’ve settled on, the key points you want to hit, and how you’ll wrap it all up at the end.

Here are some general tips for structuring your vlog:

  • Start with a hook: grab your viewers’ attention from the get-go with a compelling hook. A surprising fact? A question? A teaser? An intriguing statement relevant to the topic you’re discussing? They all work!
  • Introduce yourself and the topic: clearly articulate what your viewer can expect to learn or gain while watching.
  • Ensure a logical flow to your vlog: use visual aids, if applicable, to enhance viewer understanding; and keep the content engaging through a blend of storytelling, examples, B-roll, and aesthetics.
  • Incorporate calls to action (CTAs) throughout: CTAs encourage viewer engagement and interaction. Some examples include asking for comments, likes, and shares, or directing watchers to other relevant videos or social media channels they’ll enjoy.

8. Record Your Vlog

It’s time to record your vlog!

A handful of things to remember when you’re in front of the camera include:

  • Practice in front of the camera (and/or a mirror) before recording to improve your on-screen presence, and build up your confidence for the real thing.
  • Don’t worry about minor errors when you’re recording – you can reshoot the footage easily, and edit out any mistakes during the post-production process.
  • Shoot B-roll footage – so, video that isn’t of you, necessarily, but instead adds to the narrative exposition of your vlog content. This won’t be suitable for every vlog.
  • Use your accessories! Don’t forget about all that extra equipment you bought in step 5. Your ring light, external microphone, and windshield will improve the quality and clarity of your vlogs tenfold. They’re the difference between a professional production and an amateur one.

9. Upload and Optimize

After editing your vlog to your liking – perhaps with one of the tools we outlined above, in step five – it’s time to first optimize it and then send it into the waiting arms of your target audience.

To optimize your videos for search engines – which gives them the best chance of ranking in Google and Bing searches for relevant queries – explore our full, dedicated guide. (It goes into so much more detail than we could ever hope to cover here!)

If you’re planning on uploading your vlogs to YouTube (which we recommend; it’s the most popular video sharing platform in the world, after all), we also recommend getting to grips with how YouTube’s algorithm works.

Understanding the method behind YouTube’s madness is the best way to set your vlogs up for success in that wide, wild world that is the internet.

Best website builders YouTube video WBE channel screenshot
If you’re going to get into the world of vlogging, being on YouTube is a must. Like we are!

10. Monitor and Promote Your Vlog Ongoing

Going forward, it isn’t just creating regular video content you’ll need to focus on, but building and sustaining an audience of followers to broadcast your vlog to.

Here’s how:

  • Engage with your audience by responding to comments, interacting with your audience, acknowledging feedback, answering questions, and cultivating a sense of community.
  • Stick to a consistent upload schedule. Regular, predictable content engenders viewer loyalty and helps with algorithm recommendations.
  • Run promotions or giveaways to create a buzz around your vlog; this will help attract new viewers, and encourage existing subscribers to share your content.

You can also promote your vlog through a range of marketing channels, such as social media, email marketing, and collaborating with influencers and other content creators in your niche.

That said, how do you know if your efforts are succeeding? By monitoring your vlog’s performance. This includes:

  • Tracking metrics like views, watch time, and average view duration to understand how well your video content is resonating with your followers.
  • Analyzing the age, gender, and location of your audience to further tailor your vlog content to their preferences.
  • Looking at likes, comments, and shares to gauge audience engagement, and identify which types of vlog content and videos are most popular.
  • Assessing how often viewers click on your videos after seeing the thumbnail and title; a higher click-through rate (CTR) indicates a compelling title and thumbnail.
  • Monitoring your subscriber base’s growth over time to evaluate the long-term success of – and opportunities for – your channel.

What Are the Benefits of Vlogging?

Vlogging brings a breadth of benefits to the table, including:

  • Increased engagement: vlogs tend to generate better viewer engagement compared to written content; they provide a more personal, immersive experience, and place fewer demands on the consumer’s cognitive load.
  • Brand awareness: vlogging can increase awareness of your personal or professional brand by showcasing your personality, expertise, and unique perspective.
  • Establishing authority: vlogging helps position you as an authority, or expert, in your niche; which builds trust and credibility with your audience.
  • Improved SEO: search engines love video content – so having a strong video presence can give your website’s search engine rankings and overall visibility a big boost.

How To Make Money as a Vlogger

There are several monetization methods you can use to make money from vlogging.

These include:

  • Joining the YouTube Partner Program (YPP): once eligible, you can earn money based on the ad revenue your video content generates.
  • Tap into affiliate marketing: partner with companies to promote their products or services in your vlogs, and earn a commission for every sale or lead your videos provide.
  • Get sponsored: collaborate with brands who’ll pay you to feature their wares in your vlogs. (Just be sure that the sponsor aligns with your content and brand values!)
  • Sell merchandise: create and market your own merchandise, such as T-shirts or mugs.
  • Access crowdfunding: harness crowdfunding platforms such as Patreon, Ko-fi, or Buy Me a Coffee to enable your audience to support you directly. You can even incentivize contributions by offering exclusive content, behind-the-scenes access, or other perks.

How to Start Vlogging: Summary

Your vlogging odyssey will take many twists and turns, but one thing’s for sure – it’ll never be boring! Here are those 10 steps again:

  1. Start with a clear plan
  2. Define your ideal viewers
  3. Research your competitors
  4. Find the right vlogging niche for your business
  5. Get the necessary equipment
  6. Brainstorm vlog ideas
  7. Structure your vlog
  8. Record your vlog
  9. Upload and optimize your vlog
  10. Monitor and promote your vlog ongoing

All that’s left to say is good luck, and don’t forget to drop us a comment below to let us know what you thought of this article – and keep us in the loop as your vlogging journey unfolds.

Lights, camera…

Action!

FAQs

A vlog is a form of online content creation: where individuals or businesses can share experiences, opinions, or information through the medium of video.

Typically hosted on platforms like YouTube, vlogs offer a more personal, engaging way of creating and sharing content, often featuring a ‘vlogger’ speaking directly to the camera. Vlogs cover an array of diverse topics: including lifestyle, travel, tutorials, and reviews. The format allows for creative expression, storytelling, and community building.

To create a video marketing strategy:
  1. Identify your audience
  2. Determine your videos’ goals
  3. Settle on a timeline and budget
  4. Choose the platforms you’re going to broadcast on
  5. Develop video content ideas
  6. Identify metrics to track performance

For Website Builder Expert’s full take on the topic, explore our dedicated article on how to create a video marketing strategy.

Written by:
I’ve written for brands and businesses all over the world – empowering everyone from solopreneurs and micro-businesses to enterprises to some of the ecommerce industry’s best-known brands: including Yahoo!, Ecwid, and Entrepreneur. My commitment for the future is to empower my audience to make better, more effective decisions: whether that’s helping you pick the right platform to build your website with, the best hosting provider for your needs, or offering recommendations as to what – and how – to sell.

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