5 Tools Every Vlogger Should Be Using

Having worked with loads of directors, vloggers and other filmmakers as well as recording music and voice overs for many years now, I thought I’d share some of the most important things vloggers should be using to make engaging content based on my experience and the advice of the experts!

Before we go any further, it goes without saying that you will need a way to edit your work if you’re new to this. That means:

  1. A decent computer (although you can edit on a phone these days, I would recommend using a laptop or desktop computer)
  2. A camera and way to record audio (this can even be something like an iPhone)
  3. Video editing software

So, with that obvious first point out the way, let’s move on with what you should be using as a vlogger to get the best out of your work!

1. A mirror

Sounds silly right? But yes, you should be practicing in front of a mirror if you’re going to deliver a stellar performance to your subscribers. If you can’t convince yourself of how awesome you and your content is, how do you expect to convince others?

This simple investment really is a no brainer as it’s so cheap and will boost your chances of engaging with your audience. It will help you develop a style when you’re delivering your content that is unique which is important if you want to stand out, show you when you’re looking nervous and let you recognise your best angles when recording 😉

Remember, this all needs to happen BEFORE you sit down in front of a camera. If you can feel comfortable talking to a mirror, you’ll ease up when looking into the dead stare of a lifeless lens!

Practice your script a few times to get into the right mood. I (as in tacoMusic, that’s me!) do this when I record voice overs and it’s ESSENTIAL to get the pacing, tone and character of the script right. Try putting a little expression into your ‘mirror performances’ and your subscribers will no doubt respond too.

2. Good quality video recording equipment

Yes, yes, I know you’ve probably seen this a thousand times but it really is important if you want people to engage with your vlogs. If you can’t afford a HD camera quite yet, set up a side-gig / income stream while you record from your iPhone / whatever camera you have so that you can in the near future.

The competition is using all sorts of expensive equipment, so don’t short-change your viewers as they’re expecting quality. That means, get yourself a set up like Tim Schmoyer who is an expert on all things YouTube.

His set up is pretty pro, but even just taking a few of his recommendations as something to aim for will mean you are all set to make top-notch videos.

In fact, if you’re not subscribed to Tim, you should be. He’s a genius on wheels when it comes to YouTube stuff and will help you no end with getting your productions into tip top shape.

3. Good quality audio recording gear

Do not underestimate (or ‘misunderestimate’ as George Double-Yuh Bush would say) the power and importance of audio. Seriously.

And I’m not just saying that because we’re selling you top notch royalty free audio here for your films (sweet little plug there, did you notice?), it really is because it is of vital importance if you don’t want your audience to pack their bags and say adios after 5 seconds of watching your vlog.

The reason audio gets sidelined or ignored so much is because it is harder to pinpoint how to fix problems with it. With visuals you can point at your video and say ‘I see that glitch, I will fix it!’ or ‘that framing was rubbish, I’m going to re-record so that everything sits nicely within my recording area’.

With audio, there’s a bigger chance of messing things up as background noises out of your control (think screaming kids, loud motorbikes and noisy neighbours) can distract, or worse annoy, your subscribers. On top of that, crappy recording gear can destroy your audio with an unconfortable and constant hiss or hum.

So, you need a good microphone as well as being aware of the noise in your surroundings before you start recording to camera. Ask yourself whether you need a clip mic, boom mic or if you’re happy to have a microphone in clear view when you’re recording – I would recommend the first option for vloggers talking straight to camera.

Not convinced about how important audio is? Flick through this video by CJVideoProductions which should make things easier to understand (although he’s even got a big problem with electrical hum in the first part!):

Tips from a composer and voice artist!:

  • First, find a quiet place to record your video in! Best to start with as clean-sounding an environment as possible.
  • Invest in a good quality microphone.
  • Experiment with talking into the microphone from different angles so you get the best sound quality.
  • Make sure no hum, hiss or background noises are creeping into your test recordings.
  • Make sure your recording level isn’t distorting the sound – don’t turn up the gain / input volume too much or things will sound poor. Better to record slightly too low than slightly too high as you have more chance of fixing a quiet recording than a distorted one.

4. Good lighting

Seriously, it’s easy to sort this and makes a HUGE difference to the visual quality of your videos. It also doesn’t have to be expensive either.

Try using natural light whenever possible to create what’s called ‘uniform’ lighting on you and your surroundings. If you’re inside, start with some desktop lamps and white poster boards (to reflect the light towards you) and point them at yourself from different angles to reduce the shadows.

This process takes a little experimenting, but it makes a huge difference once you’ve got it right. If you want to go a bit more pro, consider getting a pack like the Impact Soft ‘n Natural Kit

For outdoor filming, first and foremost use natural lighting to your favour as that is free! Otherwise, consider buying some reflectors that you can position in various ways to reflect that natural light and give you your most flattering appearance.

If you’re going more pro, the next step is to purchase portable lighting gear specifically for outside work, but you’re entering expensive territory when you do that and will most likely need a second pair of hands to help you out!

5. Licensed music

Remember how I said audio is really important? Well, that goes for music as well as just recorded audio. As a disclaimer, I’m obviously a composer so am interested in wooing you into checking out my fantastic amazing fantabulous music, but this goes for music you get from ANYWHERE including outside of Instrumental Background Music.

Music is incredibly powerful at giving energy, emotion and dynamics to your video and could be considered the most important element in keeping your visitors engaged (alongside the actual content of your video of course).

So seriously, don’t make the same mistake that amateurs do of just lifting / ripping music from places like SoundCloud, YouTube and other places. You will get found out eventually as every day there are more and more checks being put in place to see if filmmakers / content producers are using licensed content.

For example, you may notice that here, like the vast majority of places (including huge companies like Universal, Warner and BMG) a system called AdRev checks where music gets used on YouTube and lets the content producers know. FaceBook are about to launch their own Content ID system and SoundCloud are doing the same, so what’s the solution?

Invest in licensed music. If you don’t then you might get a strike on your YouTube account, or even your account suspended, which could sabotage your chances of making your vlog a success. It’s not worth it, so if you want to make money out of your vlogging (which is the reason most people vlog!), then this is a minor investment for a long-term return.

Short on cash? There are plenty of ways to make a bit of money to invest in things like music, stock video footage and photography for your videos. For ideas on where and how there are loads of options on Google if you search, but here are a few articles that might interest you in the meantime:

6. Social media accounts

I know, there are only meant to be 5, but this one is important too! Make sure you’re active on social media so people know when you’ve released a new video! If people don’t know you exist, they can’t subscribe, so get involved by tweeting, subscribing to other YouTubers / vloggers, commenting and building a following!

Any questions, let me know in the comments 🙂

Thanks,

Taco

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Comments

  1. In defense of the electrical hum… It’s a warehouse. The lights are noisy. What can I say? 🙂

    Great article!

    -Chris (aka cjvideoproductions)

    1. Haha, sorry if it came across as a harsh criticism Chris, it wasn’t meant to be! Thanks for making the video, it helped explain my point in the article 🙂

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