That first video isn’t going to make itself you know.
For that you’ll have to wait til the iPhone 19 comes out in 2027 by which time it will write your channel content, make an avatar of you from a single 3D photo and then film it’s flawless performance inside an augmented studio and distribute it on YouTube all while you’re asleep.
…But until then you’re on your own! Thank goodness we’re here to help.
You hold your phone up and you make sure you’re looking into the lens and you hit record and you say:
‘I am gunna wup your ass if you think all there is to it is to ramble into your phone like this. Unless your name is Jack Black ’
Ok that’s your first video done. Play it back whenever you’re thinking, ‘Today I’m just going to hit record and see what happens’
Now let’s talk about your 2nd video:
First off – I’m not going to assume you’ve all got the same situation in terms of production kit, so here’s 3 different filming options for making your first video. Choose one of these first and then let’s look at prep and presenting afterwards.
This is the ‘just vaguely interested or want to see what might happen if I film and upload a video of myself eating raw chilli seeds’ option
Get a tripod or gorilla grip, Film on your phone, using natural light and upload to your account via import videos on the YT app or online.
For a more structured set up add the YONGNUO YN308 ring light for around £70 with a light stand and film through the middle of the ring light.
Audio will suck
This is the ‘I’m taking this seriously but I have a limited budget’ option.
For an all-in-one mic, camera and stabilisation unit for on the fly filming, this really can’t be beaten. Plus the short 360 clips that you can easily edit in your phone make for some funky B-roll
For studio filming also get a tripod and YONGNUO YN308 ring light with a light stand and film through the middle of the ring light.
No depth of field as everything is in focus so the footage will lack that ‘premium’ feel.
This is the ‘this could be life or death and I’m flipping ‘loaded’ option
The more complex tools for the job but the best overall quality are going to be to invest in an interchangeable lens camera like the Sony 6500 or Sony A7 or a Canon DLSR like the 6D and use the kit lens with the lowest f number on the side. Ideally the 50mm for filming on a tripod in the studio but a wider lens to allow selfie filming on the fly out and about. Let’s not get too involved with lenses other than that for now. It’s a rabbit hole.
For on the fly selfie filming get the on-camera Rode VideoMicro but for studio work get a solid shotgun like the Rode NTg2 overhead and out of shot. For that you’ll need a C stand, boom and cradle.
You still need lights and you could opt for the ring light but a dedicated set of 3 interview lights will give you more options to sculpt light both in front and behind you so if you’re keen to get the best kit, I’d go for a 3 light interview pack like the APUTURE HR672 3-LIGHT KIT
Now for the rest of the tips for your second video I’m going to assume you’ve chosen the type of set up and we’re going to talk about studio options because if you’re contemplating these early videos you’re probably not going to be diving into a public vlog to start with!
Get your script down on paper or on your laptop or tablet – for tips on writing a script wait til the end where there’s another video on scripting especially on the ‘Shopper’s Pivot’ you need to hook them right at the start. That’s so important.
You are going to need a quiet space where you won’t be disturbed. Traffic or rail noise is distracting to an audience so choose a space where this isn’t a problem or at least minimise it by closing external windows and doors
Create a set for yourself and decide if it’s best to sit or stand. We think standing is preferable for first videos as you tend to have more energy but we batch a lot of our own ones sitting down so it’s really up to you.
Brush your teeth and hair. Seriously this isn’t something you want to do looking like you’ve just rolled out of bed! This probably goes without saying but anything that reduces your chances of putting your video out – like not being happy with the way your hair looks – needs to be eliminated!
Next – assuming your studio isn’t yet equipped with a backdrop, clean up the visual space that will be filmed. Have a look at the frame you’re going to sit or stand in and decide if anything in it is distracting.
An open cupboard that frames your head inside a black square is going to look weird. Declutter but leave some visual clues about the world you’re in. If you rebuild vintage toys, maybe a Tonka truck on the table next to you rather than a wall of parts and tools that pull the audience out of what you’re talking about. At the same time, a blank white wall is going to look like a blank white wall rather a white studio backdrop so somewhere with some life it, bookcase, computer desk, lamp and memorabilia.
Just try to get rid of the pizza box and the 3 empty bottles of pinot noir
Have a look behind the camera. You’re going to need some furniture or soft materials in there. What you want is anything except another blank wall which will just bounce the sound back to you and cause that roomy sound you often hear. Sound needs to be broken up and absorbed wherever possible.
In the frame I’d recommend a mid shot – that’s half your body with your head roughly in line with the top third. This will allow for quite a large amount of range of movement without having you too small. Don’t forget 70% of Youtube watchers are using a mobile device so you want to be visible.
If you’re camera is not a phone and you’re not a photography expert, now is the time to make sure the camera is set to automatic for everything. Or maybe you’re familiar with the best semi-automatic settings. Either way, you want to be able to set and forget the camera.
Next – put your notes just outside the frame so they can be easily reached and chunk the information into easy to remember bits. Don’t do too much in one go – best to do less and do it with energy than trying to remember lots of lines.
If you’d prefer to do it all using a teleprompter then use the app – Prompt Smart Pro on your phone, put it in selfie mode in the settings and turn on the video recording option and the app will record while scrolling the text. It’s a nifty little trick but teleprompters can also make you look wooden.
We’d recommend a teleprompter for the long term but for now just stick with remembering small chunks of information and delivering with deliberately more energy than you think you should.
To gain energy we have a sneaky tip and we call it Panto Mode. It’s you but the 120% energetic version of you.
There’s lots of reasons why this works but try not to overthink it. Record a first take of the first chunk and record another in Panto Mode, like you’re presenting to kids. Not Krusty the Clown, I mean an enthusiastic kids presenter. Remember, even kids won’t accept phoney enthusiasm.
You’ve got to be quite bright and chipper and annoying to get their attention. Like a busker, and then watch both versions back.
Surprised? The seemingly chipper and annoying version will seem more genuine due to the raised energy. It might still be a bit too much obviously and you can dial it back a bit but what you don’t want is that flat, monotone that was probably your first take.
Complete each chunk with gusto and panache and then edit in your preferred editing software.
For those of you who haven’t thought this far ahead yet – no problem. In the Mac universe there’s the free iMovie or the more powerful Final Cut Pro X and for PC there’s SHOTCut an open source platform which actually works just as well on Mac and PC.
There’s also a bunch of editing options for your smartphone and KineMaster is my pick either on PC or MAC
Whatever you’re using, the principles are the same, you need to cut all the tops and tails of your rushes (the raw files) and then cut really close to the beginning of each take using the sound waves to guide you. There should not be sounds of in-breaths that tend to happen before the beginning of each take because when you jump cut them together that’s going to to get repetitive.
You might want to add some B roll over the top of this to mask the cuts while at the same time adding meaning to what you are saying.
This could be photos or other video you’ve made or even stock from free providers like Pixabay.
This is accomplished by pulling footage into the timeline and stacking it on top of your A roll . Otherwise, jump cuts are an acceptable part of the youtube world and audiences don’t seem to mind it but we’re a bit old school so we prefer masking the cuts or enlarging the frame size for each new sequence. It’s really not a deal breaker though.
Now export that file to youtube, give it a relevant title rather than ‘2ndVideoAttempt_7’ – which might be the default from the upload – add a description, set a thumbnail from the ones on offer or if you’re feeling like doing the whole thing properly, make your own!
And then share away.
NOW, If you’re British, you may be thinking, ‘I’d prefer to let it just be discovered’ I can’t keep doing that…you know ‘it will find it’s own value. It’s a bad look to promote it myself as I’m in it and it’s only my 2nd video.’
All these are valid points, but – apart from being British – you’re wrong.
YouTube’s algorithms are making all sorts of calculations about how and where to promote new videos within the first 48 hours of it being uploaded. This is the time to share it and find out if all the protocols worked as expected. If it sits there lonely and forlorn with 3 views, it will not tell you anything about what to do for your next video.
If people/friends/enemies comment on the actual point of the video then it’s working. If the only feedback is a ‘congratulations, you made your first video’ kind of thing, then just say ‘thanks mum’ and carry on making content until you find the audience that says, ‘thank you, this was really helpful.’
Then you’ll know you’re communicating with other human beings and not just stuck in a pointless learning curve.
Now go – make that 2nd video and 3rd and 4th.