Vlogging Tips for Parent Vloggers

Hi everyone, if you are reading this then like me you have joined the ranks of parents marching onto YouTube to share your parenting stories armed with a video camera. It’s the new way to blog. We can reach a whole new audience by connecting with viewers in an even more personal way. Exciting stuff, but it might be scary for some and many will have no idea where to start.

I am fortunate enough to have a background in television presenting and voice over work so getting in front of a camera comes fairly easily but believe me I still make mistakes and I have bad habits I need to break. In any case I thought I would share my tips with you and help encourage more mums and dads to take the leap.

First up – EQUIPMENT

Now just like everyone I am scrimping my pennies and trotting off to Lidl and swapping in my Tesco vouchers for nappies so buying equipment still makes me feel a little sick! (My line of work doesn’t pay big unless you are Holly Willoughby!) What I have done however is buy second hand or scoured ebay or shared the load with my partner in crime Anna. I have even had some pieces on my Christmas and Birthday list. To get started though you can do amazing things simply with a smart phone.

Here’s what we have managed to gradually collect so far.

Canon Eos 600D £340. (plus memory cards, memory card speed should be at least class 10 to record, I use 32GB)

Yongnuo Pro LED Light £81.99

New Studio Photo Video 360W Softbox Lighting £69.95

Rode Mic Shotgun £138.96

Tripod – Manfrotto £45

Iphones have really good HD Video and the sound is pretty good too. You must however invest in an iphone tripod. Range from £3 to £50, Joby Gorilla looks good. Also make sure you turn smart phone to horizontal as it looks so much better. Filming portrait will add two big black squares on either side on YouTube which could be picture.

FILMING

TRIPOD –  Always use one where possible to keep a steady shot. Play around with the angle. Never shoot from below it’s not a very flattering angle and the light does not look good. Change angle from time to time. Static shot can feel long and boring. However you can play with this in edit later. I find straight on is the best angle. If using a small tripod then you might need to prop tripod up with a box!

LIGHTING – USE AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. Turn on all lights in your home even in daylight. You don’t have to have professional lights but you need something. Use natural light if poss, sit by a window. Perhaps light candles in background for ambience too. I have even stolen a workmans light from my dad because it’s so bright and can be hung up easily. You can get these for around £30.

SET – Create your set, the house can be in chaos but the area you film should look it’s best. Move junk and washing. Unless of course you are doing a video on how chaotic your life has become since kids in which case washing and porridge on your shoulder just adds to comedy value! Use plants, pictures, chairs. Look at home magazines and create your set. We now do some of our videos in a shed in Anna’s Garden!! We’ve painted it white, put a donated sofa in it and added a plant. Throw in some scatter cushions and voila we have a ready to go set. Where are you filming? Change it up and use the most appropriate place for the topic.

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DISTRACTIONS – Don’t have people off camera talking to you (unless it’s the kids running in) it’s off putting and alienating to the viewer.

EYE CONTACT – Look at the lens not the screen!!!! Eye contact is so important if you are looking in the lens you are looking at your viewer. If using an iphone put a sticker next to the lens to remind yourself where to look, as it’s very easy to watch yourself in the screen which means you are not looking at your audience. Don’t have the screen too close.

FOCUS – I have been seeing videos way out of focus which is such a shame. It tells the viewer that you don’t know what your doing and they are less likely to subscribe or watch more. If you don’t have someone there to help you focus try putting something in your place to focus on. I have been known to use my daughters giant stuffed bunny as my stand in to get the focus right!

SMILE!!! – This is so important. You are selling yourself and you want to come across as approachable, warm and friendly. Smiling while talking is a skill you need to practice, it might feel weird but I promise it will help. At least start with a smile!

MAKE UP AND CLOTHING – You don’t have to be in full tv make up but brush your hair and put on some blusher as filming can make anyone look washed out. Powder for shine. Again when doing the old ‘parenting is hard vids’ looking a little harrassed is perfectly relatable! 🙂 Try and find something bright to wear so that you don’t blend into your background, it also means that your thumbnail on youtube will stand out more.

PROPS – If you are talking about something that you can show us then do, bring your subject to life.

PHOTOS – Remember to take pictures when filming as you can use them for you thumbnail. If you are doing a review of something or a day trip etc then it’s nice to mix in some pictures in your video to break it up.

SAFETY – If you are showing your kids do not show them in their school uniform or the front of your house or talk about exact locations of where you live. Their safety must come first. Some bloggers and vloggers don’t even share their kids names but that’s up to the individual.

DON’T WANT TO SPEAK ON CAMERA? – If you are scared of speaking then don’t, use visuals and use music. You can even add text to get your message across until you gain the confidence to speak on camera. If you are happy speaking but not on camera then Voice Over is something to consider. Many computers have built in mics to record and external mics for computers are pretty cheap for a basic one.

WATCH YOURSELF – It’s so important to watch yourself back, yes you will cringe but it’s how you learn. What did you notice? Were you bored? Did you ‘um’ a lot, do you have a safety word that you use all the time. Mine is abosolutly! Do you need to add more inflections in your voice? A monotone delivert will have people turning off.

REVIEWS

This is where my background in shopping telly comes in! When reviewing a product think of the following things.

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What is it? Why would you use it? Hold it, touch it, demo it. What does it feel like, how heavy is it?

Why was it great? What’s not so good about it? Cost. Where can you buy it?

When describing a product think ‘Which means’ – Don’t just state a fact like ‘this toy is plastic’ try ‘This toy is made of plastic, which means it’s tough, wipe clean & durable’.
This product comes with it’s own carry case, which means you can easily pack it and take it with you. It has a strap which means you can wear it over your shoulder etc.

EDITING
I use Imovie which is so easy, pretty much drag and drop even with my old mac which needs to be cranked up from time to time! I hear Movie Maker is pretty good for PC.

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STRUCTURE – Give your video structure. Intro, content, end. Always end with link or subscribe click. This is your call to action, what do you want them to do? Is it subscribe or enter giveaway or check out website etc..

Use zooms in edit for added movement.

Use photos to overlay and cover up clipped edits. Take extra footage to lay over too. Some vloggers are happy to show where they have cut a piece of footage it’s actually become a style of editing called a ‘jump cut’, however the TV side of me just can’t do it so I use a transition to blend the break.

Use YouTube tutorials. If I don’t know how to do something then I find a tutorial.

SOUND – adjust as needed, bring voices up and music down. Music should just be background and not overkill.

BRANDING – Opening titles or logo and a little snippet of music music helps to brand your videos. Keep the same logo or pic for all videos as your branding.

DOG – digitally originated graphic DOG. Needs to be a png file. This is the logo in the corner of the screen.
This is not essential but it’s nice to have branding throughout your videos. I learned how to make this with a tutorial. This is the corner graphic that can stay on screen the whole time. It’s like a watermark. I add mine in on the edit but you can also add them on YouTube once it’s uploaded.

Unless it’s a really in depth topic keep them under 5 mins. Mix up lengths and see what people watch more. 3 min for reviews etc.  Specific subjects can be longer in my opinion, as if people really want to know about a topic they will watch the whole thing. Some of the most popular vloggers have half hour videos which works for them so it really is trial and error.

TEXT – Use a text overlay if you have forgotten any info or want to show a web address or something it means you don’t have to verbalise it.

GET TO THE POINT – Don’t waste your viewers time, get straight into your subject. Your title should give the viewer an indication of what your taking about so that you don’t have to waste time at the beginning of your video telling them.

HOUSE KEEPING – If reviewing something you’ve been sent or paid to review then add #ad or #sponsored or declare in the opening of the video or in the description. Share on FB, Twitter, Pinterest, Google + etc.

CARDS – You can also use ‘Cards’ on YouTube which pop up during your video, you can link the card to another playlist, channel, website etc. Watch tutorials if you are struggling.

BE YOURSELF – The most important thing is to find your own style. Come up with your own regular features and post every week as much as you can. Be honest about your life, people want to get to know YOU. We are still learning and hoping to grow with everyone else.

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YOUR YOUTUBE CHANNEL – Organise your home page, add sections and playlists. Have a trailer or an ‘introduction to you’ as your featured video. This only needs to be a few minutes long. Here’s our Hey Mummy Trailer, we actually need to do a much shorter one!!

THUMBNAIL – Always use a custom thumbnail for your YouTube Videos it’s much more inviting for people to click on. I use Picmonkey to make mine, it’s free. When you upload your videos YouTube will give you an option to ‘add a custom thumbnail. If you don’t it will give you 3 options of freeze frame which can be unflattering!

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FINALLY

Get involved with the Vlogging community we are a lovely bunch. Sign up to Britmums, Netmums, Mumsnet & Tots 100 blogging communities. Channel Mum has just launched which will champion up and coming new Vloggers. Join in on linkys where vloggers share their videos with each other and like and comment on each others videos, it’s a great way to get to know others and promote yourself. I often join in on http://www.hollybobbs.co.uk/ linky who does one weekly. It’s a very supportive community and sharing, retweeting and commenting on each others posts is good for everyone not to mention good karma. Follow others vloggers and bloggers on all social media platforms.

I hope some of those tips are helpful. There is of course no one way to make a vlog, this is what is working for us at the moment and I don’t expect you to do exactly the same. The most important thing is to find your own style. Come up with your own regular features and post every week as much as you can. Be honest about your life, people want to get to know YOU. We are still learning and hoping to grow with everyone else.

I hope to see you out there as we all jump on board the YouTube train together!!! If you fancy subscribing to our YouTube Channel then please do. Hey Mummy.

Love from Katy xx

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