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How to Become a Star Vlogger

Lighting, video camera, action!

Are you the next Tyler Oakley or Zoella? Maybe not yet—but you could be! Here are easy steps to hit the internet running.

Step 1: Make a Game Plan

Before you even start planning your groundbreaking vlog, evaluate if you’re the kind of person who would enjoy vlogging. There are numerous content-creation platforms out there, such as blogs and podcasts, so you need to decide if vlogging is what you’d most enjoy.

Once you’ve decided on a platform, contemplate what your niche will be. The internet is swamped with content, so you need something special to attract viewers. The easy first step is to pick a topic you’re passionate about; something you can obsess and talk about for years to come, not a fad. Depending on how broad this topic is, you may want to dive even deeper. Consider your target audience. For example, if you’re into fashion, are you going to focus on college-budget brands or high-end designers?

Step 2: Load Up on Equipment

It’s time to break out your wallet! Most successful vloggers have a pretty nice setup, but there’s no need to splurge before you’re super serious. Here are a few things to consider investing in:

A Good Camera: The most basic setup you’ll need is a camera with video capabilities. DSLR cameras should take higher quality video, but if you want something easy and portable, go for a digital compact camera. A few good digital options are the Sony DSCRX100M4, the Panasonic LUMIX DMC FZ300 4K, Sony A5100,  and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 II. The most popular option currently is the Canon Powershot G7X Mark II. If you want to check out the quality of this camera, this review rocks:

Microphone: The built-in audio on most cameras is pretty bad, so I highly suggest picking up a microphone. A great portable and cheap microphone is the Samson Go Mic. If you plan to do covers of songs or anything like that, however, you’ll want a better quality mic than this. The most popular choice would be the Blue Yeti; however, many argue the Audio-Technica AT2020 is an even better option for the same price. This video mentions both the Blue Yeti and Samson Go Mic so you can see how they sound IRL:

Lighting: Using natural lighting always works, but if you want to look like a goddess on camera (or just film at night), consider investing in a lighting setup. There are a surprising number of lights from ring lights to LED lights. For see the setups of the beauty-vlogger Queens of lighting, check out this article from Style Caster.

Step 3: Lighting, video camera, action! (and edit)

Enough prep work! This is the part where you actually film and edit. How you film depends entirely on what you’re filming. Many vloggers write out a script they rehearse before filming, but you can always wing it.

For editing, there are several software options. iMovie and Shotcut are both free and relatively simple to figure out. If you’re super into video and want to learn what the pros use, this article talks about some paid, high-end programs as well. If you’re recording music, some free programs tailored to mixing are Protool’s First, Garage Band, Logic, and Audacity.

Step 4: Build Your Fanbase

Building a fanbase for your vlog is like building a fanbase for any sort of business. First of all, you must engage your audience. Encourage your viewers to leave comments, join your email list, retweet your posts, follow you on Twitter, Like you on Facebook, and, of course, subscribe. But you must also reciprocate! Respond to their comments and thank them for their subscriptions and social media follows.

Secondly, advertise! Reach out to bloggers to mention your vlog, or offer your expertise if they need it for a piece. Thirdly, the obvious but easy-to-overlook rule: if you want viewers to be enthusiastic about your content, create content you’re enthusiastic about! If you wouldn’t watch your videos, you can’t expect anyone else to, so create content you’re excited about and fans will flock.

If you want to dig deeper into marketing your vlog and increasing engagement, you’re in luck! There are tons of posts on the internet by other YouTubers wondering the same thing. One I enjoyed was by Stone Temple Consulting who conducted a study on video rankings on YouTube and Google.

Step 5: Monetize Your Vlog

Fans are great, but cash never hurts. There are several ways to monetize your vlog. BBC talked to some top UK vloggers about how they make their income. This graphic sums up some of that, although keep in mind the findings are a bit dated.

vlogging vloggers

In addition to product features and ads, you can use your vlog to launch other income streams. I’ve seen numerous vloggers use their fan base to successfully expand into blogging, which gives you even more ad and feature space. Some go onto publish books on their area of interest or write columns for other publications, others offer paid online courses, and some even sell merch.

Many beauty vloggers have gone onto launch makeup lines (EM Cosmetics by Michelle Phan, anyone?) while many artists with cover channels have released hit records. Of course, you shouldn’t start vlogging for the money, but know you can make money if you do a stellar job!

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Also published on Medium.

Tigerlily is a writer and musician living in London. She has released two...