As we know that more than one billion people visit YouTube every month watching more than seven billion videos every day. Facebook is getting big in video too. In April 2015 it was announced that there are more than four billion video views on Facebook every daily. On top of that there are Twitter’s Vine, live streaming platforms such as Twitter’s Periscope, Amazon’s Twitch and many more.
Without creating video content you are losing out on this great opportunity. Bloggers that use video well have a better chance of attracting a large audience and differentiating themselves from competitors. This guide provides you the information you need to boost your video blogging efforts and create videos like a true YouTube star.
Blog or vlog?
First things first. How does one make the decision between video blogging (vlogging) and more traditional text-based articles? I say, why decide at all? Combining text posts, images and videos gives you more flexibility in the way you present your content, it creates a much better user experience and gives you a bigger reach. In order to accomplish this you need to have a website as a hub where you publish all of your content. Use WordPress to start one. Almost 25% of the internet is powered by WordPress. It is a free, open source platforms that can be easily integrated with videos and YouTube.
WordPress needs a domain name and a web space to work. A domain name is the address people will type in their browsers to access your site, and the server space is where you will store your content so it is accessible to everyone online. For the easiest possible install, I recommend Blue host. It is easy to use, offers a free domain name, an affordable hosting account with unlimited space and is officially recommended by WordPress. Click on the image below to get the process started:
Disclosure: I do earn a commission if you signup to Bluehost using my link at no additional cost to you. Please know that I only recommend products and services that I find helpful and useful. If you do choose to purchase through my affiliate link, thank you for your support.
If you are wondering which platform to use for video logging, YouTube is the obvious choice. Thousands of YouTube stars around the world earn at last $100,000 per year from advertising revenue on their channels. It is the favorite video site of the web. They are also constantly innovating with support for 3D videos, 360 degree videos and more. YouTube gives you immediate access to a global audience. Your Facebook page can be your alternative home for videos and a platform to get additional reach. Unlike YouTube, Facebook autoplays the videos in the newsfeed and counts a full view after only 3 seconds of play so the eyeballs might not actually be on each and every “view”.
Getting started creating video content
It is easy to start and not necessary to invest in expensive camera equipment. Try with basic equipment such as your computer camera or your mobile phone camera. These days the technology is so advanced that you most probably have a quality camera in your computer or your phone.
Use software like Camtasia (Windows) and Screenflow (Mac) when you want to record your screen. Use easy-to-use video editing tool like MovieMaker (Windows) and iMovie (Mac) when you need to edit the video. Find a quiet space as you want the audio to be loud and clear, and take it from there.
It can be scary to record yourself at first. Remember that no one was born with a great on-screen presence. It takes time and practice to master it. Try and record some videos just for yourself to watch back and learn from. Script your video if that helps you be more confident.
A good place to start is screen capture videos. They are the simplest to make. You just record what you’re doing on your computer screen. No need for a video camera or lights. You don’t even need to worry about how you look because people don’t see you. Screen capture videos are also surprisingly effective in terms of engagement.
Optimizing videos for getting discovered on YouTube and search
There is no magic trick to guarantee that your videos will get views. 300 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube every minute. Most of these videos go completely unnoticed. There are some things that you can do to give yourself a better chance of getting views though.
Most YouTube users discover videos by using search, by recommendations and related videos. You should optimize your channel and videos in order to have a better chance of getting in front of these people. There are several factors that affect Google and YouTube search algorithm, related videos and recommendations. These are the factors you should be aware of:
YouTube channel optimization
First there are some things you can do in terms of channel optimization. Follow this advice:
Number of videos. Size of your channel is important. Increase your video output and start building your video archives. Figure out the right publishing schedule and follow a content calendar to get your video count up.
The frequency of new uploads. The algorithm loves regular uploads. Consistent audience is built by publishing content consistently. Release your new videos frequently and on a recurring schedule. Tell your viewers about your schedule to build buzz and make them look forward to watching your new video.
Video quality. High definition videos are more prominent than low quality videos in search results. Shoot and upload your videos in HD format.
Number of subscribers is important as having a large subscriber base signals your influence. It also means that your videos will have an audience from the moment you upload them.
Steps to increase viewer action
Viewer actions such as subscribing, liking, favoring, commenting and sharing in social media. First of all get viewers to watch your content for longer. Then get them to take action after watching your content in order to signal the value that your content is creating.
Majority of viewers usually don’t take any action after watching your video. For your content to spread organically you need to get more viewers to take action. Get them to subscribe to your channel, like the video, comment on the video or share the link to their social media following. Here’s how you can increase viewer action:
Ask people to subscribe. Simple ask them in your videos. Or use annotations to do it. Even add end-cards to your videos asking to subscribe.
Add a watermark in “In Video Programming” settings of your YouTube channel. It adds a nice looking overlay on all your videos where people can subscribe.
Add a channel trailer that shows very prominently to your non-subscribers and encourages them to subscribe.
Give them an incentive to subscribe. Something like subscribe to “get a tip from me next week” or to “not miss a cool interview I am doing in the future”.
Link from your site. Embed your videos within your content. Have a call-to-action to subscribe to your YouTube channel on your site.
Encourage comments. Ask your viewers a question and tell them to leave their answers in the comments. Use the comments area proactively to create a community. Respond to comments. Integrate comments into your future videos. Do a Q&A session.
Cross promote on other YouTube channels and relevant websites. Reach out and get in touch with some of your favorite bloggers and vloggers. Try and collaborate with them by cross marketing each others content. You could add them to your “Featured channels” list and they will become one of the “suggested channels” to your subscribers.
Use playlists. Organize your videos into sets of themed videos by using the playlist feature. This doesn’t necessary have to be your own videos only. Creating collections of videos around your topic can boost views and engagement of your own channel and your own videos as people share the content to their own networks.
Optimizing your video metadata
Metadata is the information that surrounds your video and that helps YouTube figure out what your video is about. More on optimizing your metadata below. Optimizing your video metadata (title, description, tags, thumbnail and annotation) is important to get more exposure in search results and related videos. These are the things you should be looking at:
Video file name. Use the most important keywords as the raw movie file name when uploading your video instead of the generic file name you get from your camera.
Title is the most visible element of your video and as such the key factor for attracting views and getting ranked in search. Here is the advice on how to optimize your titles:
Make the title compelling and clickable – think of it like you do of your post headlines
Use popular names, events and any other keywords people will search for that are associated with the video
Put the key keywords towards the start of the title
Make it natural. Don’t over-optimize it with too many keywords and don’t just make a list of words
Don’t make the title longer than 65 characters (including spaces)
There are suggestions that YouTube can read text in videos. Put the same or similar words as your title in the intro text at the start of your video
Put the most compelling information first and remember to include relevant popular keywords
Describe as much of the video as possible in the first paragraph
Longer descriptions do not hurt and could help rank better so do add any helpful information and external links where relevant
Don’t abuse keywords in the description, write naturally
Include links in the description. For best chances of click-troughs the link should be on top of the description as otherwise it is not visible above the fold
Tag the video with appropriate, relevant and accurate tags
Use a mix of popular and specific keywords
Rank the tags in order of relevance to the video
Use some 12 keywords per video. Try and use the whole 120 character limit
Remember to put keywords phrases in quotation marks i.e. “Marko Saric”
Thumbnails are very important to get your videos to be clicked on. Alongside the title, it is the thumbnail that will influence whether potential viewer clicks on your video or ignores it. Upload a custom thumbnail to get the best possible image. This is how you find an appropriate image (and an example from my own video):
Use a large image (minimum width 640 pixels). Optimal size is 1280×720 px
Make the thumbnail clear and in focus
Use a compelling image that captures the attention of your viewer
Close-ups of faces tend to work well
The thumbnail should accurately represent the video
Try and put the headline of your video on the thumbnail
Annotations are the text overlays that you can add on top of your videos. Add relevant and helpful annotations to all your videos after you have uploaded them. Use annotations as call-to-action for people to subscribe to your channel, to engage with the video by liking it or commenting on it, and to guide people to explore your other videos. You can now even link annotations to external URL’s so use that strategically for important call-to-actions to drive people to your site. Explore also the YouTube cards which are like mobile-friendly annotations.
Embeds and links count for videos too. This is same as for search engine optimization of the site. Embeds and links to your videos from relevant and reputable sites make you more authoritative. In order to get more embeds and links you need to create better videos. Here is some advice on creating better videos:
Know your audience and what they want. Ask yourself:
What does my target audience want to watch? Look at search trends or what questions they ask in social media
Where is my target audience consuming content already? Research into your competitors i.e. the existing sites or YouTube channels that already produce the kind of content you are looking to do. Work out why a vlog is so popular and try and use such techniques in your own videos
These answers will lead you towards creating content that is interesting and valuable to people you want to reach. Interesting, engaging and shareable content that people want is key to getting views.
Use popular formats of video content. There are the three types that work best on YouTube:
Informational. News, content curation and other information. Product review videos are very popular. For example videos where people are filmed taking products out of the box. Similar with “haul” videos where people show what products they have bought in shops.
Educational. How-to guides, interviews, tutorials, reviews, and demos. According to Google 91% of mobilephone users turn to their devices to figure out how to complete a task they are undertaking and more than 100 million hours of how-to videos have been watched in the USA in the first five month of 2015. Home improvements, cooking and beauty are some of the most popular topics.
Be personal. Viewers can actually see and hear you. Use this to your advantage and build connection and trust. Look directly into the camera and speak directly to the viewer. Be friendly. Be approachable. Welcome the viewer. Say ‘you’ a lot. Ask questions. Talk like you would talk to a friend.
Make the start as compelling as possible. The first 15 seconds of your video are key. The attention spans online are very short, people easily click on back button. Try and hook the viewer in the first few seconds and spark their curiosity to increase the chance of them watching the full video and engaging with you. Tell your viewer what you are going to tell them and give them a reason to stick around with you.
Use current and trending topics. Keep an eye on the trending topics on social networks and big news in your field in general. These are the topics that will have the attention of your target audience and you will be able to use their popularity to get some attention to yourself by tapping into them and creating content around them.
Doing video interviews. Interviewing people is one of the fastest ways to create video content for your site. It also happens to be one of the easiest because, let’s face it, the subject does all the talking. If you can find an expert in your niche who’ll talk to you, you can shoot enough material in 10 minutes to produce several high quality videos for your site. It’s not hard to find willing interviewees. Trade shows, meet ups, and conventions are all great places to find experts willing to share their thoughts. You could even arrange Skype video interviews with subjects, and use screen capturing software to record the footage. Generally speaking, people love to be interviewed. But to get video interviewing right, there’s a few things you need to know. Here’s 5 tips to make video interviews for your site run smoother:
Keep the questions secret. People that you’re interviewing will often ask you for a list questions in advance. It’s an understandable request, but resist if you can. Supplying questions in advance is a bad idea. Sure, tell them what the interview is about. But when you give out a list of questions, your subjects will often prepare themselves and memorize their responses. You’ll lose spontaneity and freshness, and the interview will look rehearsed.
Warm up and then go! Once the camera’s rolling, kick-off with some easy questions. “Did you see the new iPhone yet? Where did you get that purple sweater? Are you growing a moustache for Movember?” After some light-hearted back and forth, quietly swap in the real questions. Often, they’ll have forgotten about the camera and they’ll talk naturally for the rest of the interview.
Don’t demand perfection. Get over the idea that people need to be ‘camera perfect’. For most of us, being in front of a camera feels strange. While some people are fantastic storytellers, most folk need help to communicate what’s interesting about their topic. Prepare your questions well, to help bring the best out of your subjects. But remember, ums and ahs are perfectly okay – if anything, they make your content seem more authentic.
Know what you want. When you’re interviewing somebody for your site, always enter the interview knowing what story you want them to tell. Have a Skype chat or email exchange with them, before they’re in front of a camera. Do your due diligence: ask what they’re working on, and what interesting opinions they have, and agree in advance what you’ll ask them. During the interview is NOT when you should be deciding what questions to ask.
Don’t stop recording. Finally, once the questions are over, say “Great, that’s the end of the interview” but don’t turn the camera off just yet! Why? Because 9 times out of 10 the conversation will continue. This is a real professional’s tip, it’s so powerful! With all the “pressure” of the interview gone, your subject will usually breathe a sigh of relief and talk more freely. You’ll often get some of the best material of all when your interviewee thinks the camera’s switched off! (Obviously, make sure they’re okay with the footage you tricked them into giving you!)
I hope this post has given you information you need to start creating your own videos. Good vlogging!
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