How to begin vlogging on YouTube

This is based on my last 5 years of youtubing (now at 185,000 subscribers, over 17M video views) and over 11 years of maintaining a regular blog here at http://www.conorneill.com. My advice to you…  point 5 is by far the single most important tip.

8 Tips for Vlogging Success

  1. Do it with a primary intent to learn and build connections… Do not do it with the intent to make money, to sell… 
  2. Be yourself and have an opinion; don’t be brochureware; blog as yourself, not your position or role: CEO, entrepreneur or professor.
  3. Share what you are learning, not what you are an expert in (if you are an expert, share the expertise where it will get you more credibility – Forbes, HBS, IESE, etc)
  4. Get a notebook and add video ideas everyday… every story, every question, every quote that strikes you as interesting should go into this notebook.  I use Evernote to capture these ideas as it is both on my iPhone and my Mac. I often get ideas when running and can quickly add a note (while I run… If I wait I will forget the idea).  Lists are a good structure for my videos – 3 ways to improve X, 4 ways to identify Y.
  5. Become consistent… all successful YouTube channels have a consistent publishing routine – weekly, bi-weekly (most effective for channel growth), etc.  Best to share once a week, than to upload 3-6 at a time.  Often I get the video camera set up and hit record… and wait for a few seconds or minutes for an idea to come… Once the camera is recording, you are going to make something.  Don’t wait until you are 100% clear on the video idea before you hit record.  You can always delete and re-do.  Publishing a bad video makes next week easier… publishing a video you think is excellent makes next video harder…  Consistence is much, much more important than one excellent video.
  6. Use the camera that you have now… an iphone is excellent. For youtube Audio is much, much more important than video quality – so become expert in audio before investing massively in video cameras.  First purchase beyond mobile phone should be lavalier microphone and quality audio recorder. Here is the kit that I use https://conorneill.com/2018/11/06/conors-camera-audio-kit-for-vlogging/
  7. The most important metric (to get YouTube algorithm proactively supporting your channel) is Watch Time in first 48 hours – build an email distribution list and generate views in the first day after publishing.  Watch time is total time of viewing… a few viewers watching the whole video is more important than hundreds who only view the first 20-30 seconds
  8. Switching on advertising on your videos seems to give them a boost…. I don’t fully understand this phenomenon but I have seen that when I allow advertising on old videos they get a renewed boost from YouTube. I switch on ads once videos have been online for 6-8 weeks. No data to support this… but there is something happening here.

If you liked this post, you will also like 13 Ideas if you are thinking about blogging and How to get paid to Speak. Also you might sign up for my 10 week Speaking As a Leader program to get practice and tips.

I’ve had a few people asking me for specific details on the kit I use to make videos for my YouTube Channel.  The most basic videos, I make with my iPhone 7.  Enter photo app, selfie mode, hit video and talk.  My friend Seb Lora has over 220K youtube subscribers and does most of his non-studio videos with his iphone.

Update March 2020 Main Kit

As of 2018 I’ve been using a new setup. I still use the Canon G7X (listed below) when I don’t want to carry the heavier gear, but I make most videos now with a Sony mirrorless camera.

Camera: My main camera is the Sony Alpha 7R II with the 16-35mm lens and a Switchpod tripod to allow me to hold it in my hand while recording.

Main Vlog Camera – Sony Alpha 7RII

Tripod Mount for handheld vlogging – Switchpod

Audio: Rode VideoMic Pro Plus

In the world of YouTube videos, audio is more important than video. People are willing to watch poor video with excellent audio, but they are not willing to watch great video where the audio is poor. Invest in good microphones and learn to use on camera, lavalier and non-directional microphones depending on the location and conditions. I use this camera mounted microphone for 90% of my videos.

Lens #1 – Wide Angle 16-35mm

Lens #2 – 50mm Close Up

Lens #3 – 85mm Prime

Lens #4 – 75-200mm Zoom

Live Streaming extras

In order to stream from the Sony Alpha 7RII – you need a capture card of some sort. I have an external capture device – El Gato Camlink 4K. Micro HDMI from camera to HDMI in and USB out into my Macbook.

Livestreaming software

I used to use OBS, but have recently moved to Streamlabs as it is a slightly simpler interface (on top of original OBS, open source).

Camera Backpacks

I have two – one for carrying everything, and one for when I just want to bring the minimum (camera, 1 lens, microphone, batteries).

Lowepro BP 250 Fastpack

Camera Sling Bag

I didn’t find my model currently available, will replace this with a similar bag in the near future.

Previous Kit, and my Recommended first decent Vlogging setup

Camera: My main camera is the Canon G7X Mark II.  There is a big vlogging decision to make between DSLR or “Mirrorless” camera.  DSLR are bigger, heavier but get a better image (especially depth of field – those crisp foreground images with blurrer background).  “Mirrorless” such as the G7X are lighter and easier to carry around with you.  My decision was to go with the camera that is easier to carry.

Audio: For YouTube vlogging, I was surprised to discover early on that poor sound is more damaging to your video content than poor image quality.  People can cope with low quality video, but they really hate low quality sound.  

Video Editing Software: I use Final Cut Pro on the Mac to do my video editing.  I used iMovie before, but found myself quite restricted in terms of what I could do with multiple cameras and audio tracks.

Conor’s Vlogging Kit in Detail

Here’s a full list of all the bits and pieces that make up my vlogging kit.  Here’s the full list as an Amazon.com wish list: Conor’s Vlogging Kit.

Video: Canon G7X Mark II

Audio: Zoom H1 audio & lavalier microphone

Video Editing Software: Final Cut Pro

Iphone Extras: tripod & clamp

Video Extra: Go Pro Hero 5

Audio Extra: Remote Microphone

Spares (Batteries, Memory cards)