The Dashleys Guide to Vlogging
How to Start a Vlog
So you want to start a vlog! Awesome 👏 Vlogging is a powerful way to exercise your creative muscles and share anything with the world. You can even make it into a career if you want to. This post will cover everything you need to know about starting a vlog and building a presence on social media.
Step One: Make Your First Video
This may seem counterintuitive, but before you think about it anymore, go make your first video. Waiting and planning are just masks for your fear of getting started. And it’s normal to be afraid, you’re putting yourself out there in a personal way, you’re afraid of what your family and friends will think or say, you’re afraid of negative comments from strangers, it’s normal! posting your first video is a huge step in the direction of not caring what anybody thinks about you, which is a really happy way to live.
You’re as ready as you’ll ever be. Start a YouTube channel and a Facebook Page and begin creating. If you don’t have a camera, use your phone. Go on a little adventure, document a story or show how to do something that you’re working on. Just tell your audience they can expect more videos from you soon and invite them to join you along for the ride. Talk about your ideas and hopes for the channel. Get your thoughts flowing. Your first viewers will comprise of your friends and family and a few others. A few years from now, it will be one of your most watched videos because everybody will want to go back and see how awkward you were at the very beginning, like ours 😆. Too many people get stuck in the waiting zone, coming up with more plans, waiting for the right time, waiting til you get a bunch of camera gear, waiting til you have more free time, waiting until you have more ideas, waiting until the kids are older, waiting until you’ve practiced more, everybody is just waiting. Can you tell I’ve read a lot of Dr. Seuss to my kids? There are plenty of reasons to not start right now. Your brain is a professional reason giving device. It’s not a big deal to post a video, just go do it and have fun with it. Stop listening to all the reasons why you should not get started and instead just go make your first video. It’s hard, but you can do it! Post your first video to your Youtube channel and Facebook page, and the hardest part is out of the way.
You can work on the rest of the things in this blog post as you continue making videos. The most important thing is that you are creating and getting comfortable expressing yourself authentically in front of the camera. Your vlog will evolve and change with you along the way, anyways.
Here at The Dashleys, we didn’t have all of the things in this article spelled out until we had made many, many videos. We were just having fun, filming what we wanted to film, telling stories and figuring it out as we went. I think this is the only way you can really learn it.
How The Dashleys Started Vlogging
I’m Dallin, my wife is Ashley, and we are The Dashleys 🌴We’ve been vlogging as a family for over almost 3 years and it has been our full-time profession for 8 months now. We followed Ashley‘s pregnancy with James, we do fun family challenges like “who can gain the most weight in 24 hours” or “only eating a specific color of food for 24 hours”. We also do a lot of day-in-the-life style vlogs where we tell a story around a specific aspect of our day. We’ve learned a lot and I’m going to share my best tips with you here.
What Is a Vlog? Vlogging Meaning
First came the blog, where people made online journals. Then came vlogging - or video blogging. On one end of the vlogging spectrum, you have people taking you along with them on their whole day and their day is the story. On the other end, you have bits and pieces taken out of a day and a story is formulated around that. We are more on the “bits and pieces” side of things on our vlog.
In my opinion, vlogging is a specific genre where the video is just as much or more about you than it is about what you’re doing or teaching. You are the main character in the story. What’s inside? is a wildly successful YouTube channel ran by Dan Markham and his son Lincoln. Together, they cut things in half and see what’s inside them (and other cool things too.) That’s interesting, but what make’s it fun to watch is that Dan and Lincoln bring their personalities into the video and you get to hang out with them. They take you with them on their journey, tell the story, make jokes, and share their reactions. It’s just as much about them as it is about what they’re doing.
Why do you want to have a vlog? Some people have a family vlog because they want to help family and friends stay up to date with their lives. Maybe you really like videography and want to create videos of any kind. You might feel like you have a message that others will benefit from hearing. Others like capturing memories or want to teach a skill. Some people have making money as the main reason behind their vlog. Whatever it is, have a clear “why” in mind for starting your vlog. And I’m here to tell you it has to be more than to just make money. For one reason, you won’t make money for a long time unless you are one of the very few anomalies. And secondly, money is not a motivator that endures for a long time. Our vision with The Dashleys is “to share what makes us happy with the hope that it makes you happy too.” This way we stay happy while filming, and we also feel good about the prospect of brightening somebody else’s day.
Identify Your Strengths
Think about your strengths and what you really want to share. Do you enjoy family life and want to tell stories centered around your family? Do you have a skill that you want to teach others such as home repair, fashion, medical advice, or fitness? Do you want to have a DIY crafts channel? Maybe you’ll eventually have multiple channels. I just listed some common categories, but there are tons of unique channels that don’t fit a mold. I already talked about What’s Inside?. Their channel started with cutting sports balls in half for a school science project, and they made a video about it to put online because they thought it was interesting. A lot of their friends thought so too and suggested other things to cut in half next. 1 Billion views later, Dan and Lincoln are cutting things in half for a living and having a lot of fun doing it together.
You might not think you have anything to offer or you are not that interesting, but everybody has a story to tell. The fact that you are you makes you different from everybody else in the world. Your experiences, insights, and opinions are different than everybody else’s and a lot of people will relate to you. Not EVERYBODY will relate to you, but A LOT will. Don’t "fake it til you make it." That doesn’t work anymore on the internet. Instead, document the process of getting where you want to go and people will relate to that because of how real it is. Everybody is trying to reach their own goals in life and many will want to follow along on your journey. They’ll be attracted to your confidence and your faith in your goals and want to cheer you on.
The Art of Storytelling
A every vlog is a story and every story has a beginning, middle, and end. 3 acts. Setup, conflict, resolution.
Setup: She’s a daughter of the tribe leader.
Conflict: Her island is dying and she has to get the heart back to Te Fiti in order to save it.
Resolution: She get’s the heart back and her island is saved.
Your vlog won’t always have some epic problem that needs to be solved, but you can formulate a vlog around some little problem that needs resolved or something that needs done or a goal that needs accomplished. Even if it’s just getting eggs from the store. You could just go get some eggs. Or you could set up the story by saying something’s really been on your mind. You really want to make a good breakfast for the kids, you want them to be healthier, you think they might like eggs but you’re not sure, you hope they do because they like chicken nuggets in ketchup and you think dipping eggs in ketchup will work for them. You really hope your kids like the eggs because if not then you’ll have to figure something else out. You ask your viewers what healthy foods they feed their kids for breakfast and to comment their suggestions below to help you out. You go to the store to get the eggs. Something might happen to you a long the way and you take your viewers along with you for the whole ride. You finally get the eggs, make breakfast, and what ever happens, happens and you capture it all. Then you wrap it up by having a fun family activity at the park or something. You can make a story around anything!
Storytelling In a Family Vlog
Some family vloggers try to capture their whole day every day and turn that into a story. It can be done but it is taxing and will wear on you. Not only is it a complex story to tell and a lot of footage to go through, but it’s stressful to be carrying around a camera ALL day. Instead, I suggest planning out the story you want to tell ahead of time and then just film what you need to tell the story. This way you’re not wondering “should I film this? I should probably film this…” all day and you’re still able to live your life without a camera in your hand a lot of the time. Everybody has their own style, this is the approach that works best for us.
Best Camera Gear for Vlogging
The most important thing about a vlog is the story, not the gear. So many viral videos are captured with phones and so many crappy movies are filmed with professional cameras!
That being said, good gear makes your video easier to watch. Especially because of the audio. Phones have really bad audio. Particularly iPhones. The camera we film most things with is the Sony a6500. Here are some other popular vlogging cameras:
Point and Shoot Vlogging Cameras
Compact and easy to use for basic photos and videos. No interchangeable lens capability.
Canon Powershot G7X Mark II - The most popular vlogging point and shoot camera
Sony RX-100 IV - We love Sony for video and have heard great things about this camera
Best DSLR and Mirrorless Vlogging Cameras
Ideal for of shooting professional looking photos as well as videos. Wide range of options with interchangeable lenses capability. These are more bulky than point and shoot cameras.
Lower priced Options
Canon 80D - Tried and true DSLR for vloggers!
Sony A6500 - Our Camera - Compact mirrorless camera with impressive video features and internal image stabilization which is nice when 90% of our shooting is hand-held. It has impressive low-light capabilities. We just wish it had a flip out screen. We suggest using the 16-50mm lens that it comes with as it is the most compact.
Canon EOS R - The most expensive option here, this one of Canon’s newest cameras. Flip out screen, full frame sensor, and a lot of new features but it’s pricey. You’ll need EF-M lenses for this one, or the adapter to use EF lenses.
Best DSLR Lenses for Video
If you’re using a DSLR or mirrorless camera, you’ll need to buy a lens as well. Make sure your lens fits your camera. Each camera brand has their own lenses. These are a few lenses for the canon cameras listed above that would be a great starter set for vlogging.
Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 Wide Angle Lens - Wide-angle lens, better for walking and talking and establishing shots
Canon EF 35mm f/2 IS USM - Mid-range lens, great for tri-pod talking shots or artistic shots. This lens will also be a great for photography.
Best Vlogging Camera Accessories
Joby Tripod - Our camera is on this 95% of the time. It’s helps you hold the camera further out when filming yourself, helps you hold it steadier as you walk, and it mounts to pretty much anything.
Comica Compact Shotgun Mic - This will enhance your audio and minimize sounds coming from everywhere but directly in front of the camera. This is good and bad because if you’re talking from behind the camera, your voice will be more muffled. a quick fix for this is to talk to the side of the camera instead of directly behind it with this mic.
How to Edit Vlogs
I highly recommend editing on a mac using iMovie (free) or Final Cut Pro ($299, what we use). There are other video editors out there but these are so easy and intuitive. Spend some time learning how to edit so that your creativity can flow. I took tons of editing courses on lynda.com.
Edit with the story in mind, rather than trying to use every clip you shot. If it feels like it’s lagging, cut it out. Keep it moving and interesting to watch.
How do you make money on Youtube/Facebook?
The next part of this blog focuses on building a presence online and making money from your vlog.
How to Build a Presence Online
The equation for success on as a content creator is this: Consistent, quality content + time = success. Patience is key. Successful youtube channels, Facebook pages, Instagram accounts are all built brick by brick, post after post, reply after reply, authentic interaction after authentic interaction. It will not happen over night. Keep producing quality content and adding value to your audience. (This is why you have to do something that you love, because you’ll be doing a lot of it for a long time for free). Soon you’ll start making money through ads on your videos and through brand deals.
How to Make Money As a Vlogger
Hopefully within a year or two, you’ll start to make ad revenue on YouTube and Facebook. Here are the requirements to get monetized on YouTube and Facebook. This will be $100 every few months, then a couple hundred every few months, then a couple hundred a month. This is the grind! Keep it up! As you keep producing consistently good content, over time, you’ll eventually replace your income from your current job, and then more.
Sooner than you think, you’ll get a brand reach out to you and offer to give you free product or pay you to feature their product and you’ll be shocked. Treat the brand well and chat with them about their goals and see if they align with your goals and your audience’s interests. Hopefully it’s a great fit! If it’s not, say thanks but no thanks. Never sacrifice your values, goals or audience’s trust to make a quick buck. No amount of money will be worth it. We’ve been offered a lot of free things and money for brand deals but we say no to a lot because they aren’t products we’re interested in and don’t think our audience will appreciate it either.
Don’t feel bad about having ads or brand deals in your videos (but keep a balance, do them in moderation.) This is the exchange: you’re creating great content for your audience for free, and they watch a few ads in exchange. They understand this is how creators make money and will be happy to support you. Our true fans are happy to watch ads because they know that’s how they are supporting us. We have people tell us that they watch our video on facebook and YouTube so that we get the ad revenue for both. How awesome are they?? This is the exchange. There are other options for monetizing content such as putting it behind a paywall like Patreon but ads seem to be the best option that most people are used to.
Who Is Your Audience?
If you’re doing it right , your channel is about you and stems from your creativity and your heart. Your audience will become people that like you for you. If you want to build your vlog into a long-term business, you should be aware and understand who your audience is so that you can continue to bring value to them while still being yourself. What do they like, appreciate, and value? Watch time (the length of time somebody watches your video) is one of the most important analytics that YouTube and Facebook use to determine if they want to push that video to new audiences or not. Getting and keeping your audiences attention and engagement is really important. This is why storytelling is so important. You’ll get better at knowing what to keep and edit out with experience and getting feedback from your audience. At the Dashleys, we know our audience is the Dashley family, the best people in the world. People who value family life, like to have fun, seekers of good things, love kids, and like joining us on adventures big and small. They appreciate family life with all its ups and downs, and they like hanging out with our family!
Bring your audience value! This can be entertainment value, inspirational value, educational value, or (insert your name) value! Serve your audience. Stay loyal and true to them, be authentic, honest, real and upfront with them. Value their time. Show gratitude for them. Trust them. Listen to them. Connect with them and respond to their comments and messages. Tell them if something is sponsored or not. Being authentic and adding value is what will make people feel connected to you and become part of your family or online community.
Value is defined differently for every channel. A DIY channel would bring value by teaching clearly, having up-close and helpful visuals, and keeping it concise. On the other hand, Miranda Sings brings value by burping constantly, being socially inept, being rude to her baby, and doing abhorrent covers of pop songs.
How Often Should you Post New Vlogs?
As often as you want. You can never post too much quality content (quality means you’re thinking about your audience, not just about posting a lot of content for the sake of having a lot of content) I’d recommend at least once a week for a vlog. Have a schedule so your viewers can know when to expect a new video. Our schedule at the Dashleys is a new video 3 days a week on Youtube and Facebook, posted early in the afternoon, every Tues, Thurs, and Sat. We go live (almost) every Sunday in the evening. We try to do a new photo on Instagram every day but it’s more like every other day. We have instagram stories every day and push those to our facebook stories as well. We need to post vlogs to IGTV because that’s the next big thing, but they don’t allow for longer than 10 minutes right now and most of our vlogs are over 10 minutes. If I had the bandwidth, I’d make a shorter iGTV version.
Get On Your Way!
I believe that God wants us to share our gifts with others and vlogging is a great way to do that. You’ll never know who’s life you will affect for the better with something you do or say in your vlog. Our adventure as vloggers has gone far beyond what I ever thought it would and has reached millions of people. We get messages everyday from people saying thank you for sharing our family and our lives with them and it is so rewarding and fulfilling. Life is short, go share your gifts!
What tips did I miss? Share your thoughts/comments below.
There’s a lot more to learn once you get started. Strategy, video optimization, etc. Here are a few resources:
This video by Casey Neistat about vlogging
Derral Eves Youtube Channel
Crush It! by Gary Vaynerchuck
Video Creators YouTube Channel
Attend VidSummit Creator Conference
Follow The Dashleys!