Thursday, 25 October 2012

Video Blogging and Vlogging Basics

With the advent of Web 2.0 and in particular the rise of free video-hosting and video streaming websites, video blogging, or ‘vlogging’ as it is commonly referred to, has really taken off.

Rich media content, in particular video-based content, tends to get a lot of visitors, exposure, and gives you a chance to be seen and heard by thousands of people easily. It is one of the best ways to get the word out. And for me, one of the biggest advantages of video blogging is that it also gives you the chance to ‘go viral’.

For all vloggers out there, Youtube will easily be one of the biggest weapons in your video blogging arsenal. Not only will your video content be seen by your visitors on your blog, it will also allow you to rack up subscribers on your Youtube channel, and be able to drive more traffic to your blog using Youtube. The latter, in particular, could be extremely beneficial since Youtube gets millions of pageviews and visitors every day, and is the second largest search engine (after Google of course)!

If your videos are good, and you spend as much time and resources on delivering valuable content through your videos as you would do writing great content, your vlog is sure to get tons of views, allow you to get a large number of subscribers, drive in traffic, and of course the potential to ‘go viral’.

Here’s  10 points on how you can do all that (plus a few important considerations if you’re serious about video-blogging):

1. Hardware: If you’re really serious about vlogging, you might need to think about getting professional-grade hardware, or at the very least, reasonably good hardware (as your webcam or laptop-equipped camera simply won’t cut it). I’m talking things such as a good video camera (or a camcorder) with a tripod/stand, and an external microphone (nowadays, even the cheapest cameras have a port for an audio line). The video and audio quality of your video will be extremely important; grainy or unclear video, or inaudible or low-quality audio will simply ruin your efforts.

2. Environment: As far as shooting and making the videos goes, try doing so in a separate space in your house, or somewhere else – try creating a studio of sorts, if at all possible. This should ideally be a big open space, with a white background, that has enough light, and most importantly, is away from noise and distractions. Lighting is pretty important.

(Additional read: I highly recommend reading up here, if you want to learn more about hardware, audio, video, lightning, etc).

3. Screen Capture: The good thing about video blogging is that you don’t even need a camera. For instance for tutorial-based videos, you could simply capture your computer screen using a software like CamStudio, Camtasia, or any other alternatives to do so. You can then use an video editing software to integrate audio (such as a narrative) with it, in order to turn it into a proper tutorial.

4. Identify Audience: This is marketing 101, simple as that. In order to produce content – any sort of content, you need to know who you’re making it for, and who are you potential ‘customers’. Once you’ve identified your potential target audience, you will be able to produce content that is specifically tailored for them, and come up with an idea and develop a product that appeals to them.

5. Channel: If you’re video blogging, it is essential to have a channel on all major video-hosting/video-streaming websites for your videos. This includes Youtube most certainly, but apart from Youtube, make an account on websites such as Metacafe, Vimeo, and DailyMotion as well. The best part is that you have to shoot/make the video only once, and you can then upload it to all these sites, allowing you to generate traffic from multiple sources and maximizing your exposure with minimal effort!

6. Helpful: Make sure that your videos are helpful, and that you put across content that genuinely helps your target audience in one way or the other. For instance, you could try your hand at doing video-reviews (and I recommend every affiliate marketer to give this a go!), a walkthrough for a game or how to set up an application, a inside-and-outside review of the new Honda, or any other ‘how to’ video for instance, depending on your niche. Make sure that you video is actually helpful, and that it gives each one of its viewers a reason to watch it, and share it with others.

7. Current: Vloggers need to be current, and up-to-date with the times. In order for your videos to get views and social shares, they need to be current, such as on a popular trend, a fad or a new product release. Something that people in your niche can easily relate to. For instance the most popular trend right now is Gangnam Style; and I really do mean that it is the rage right now! We have Gangnam Style-videos and memes popping up on the TV, on the internet and left, right and center! A lot of humor-based video bloggers have found ways to relate this to their videos and incorporate the infamous dance into their videos. There have also been plenty of spoof advertisements based on this video, which have had tons of views!

8. Originality: Try being as original and unique as possible. There are probably hundreds of other video bloggers in your niche that are essentially doing what you are. What makes you different? What makes you stand out? What gives you the edge over them? Try being original, try using humor, hell you could even try being controversial and see where that gets you!

9. SEO: As an SEO, I would strongly suggest that you optimize your videos for search engines. If, for instance, your video ends up on the top of the SERP for popular keywords, you’ll be able to get a lot of traffic from Google. For this purpose, choose the right keywords (not more than a 1 or 2), that are relevant to your video and are popular as well (use a Keyword Research Tool for this purpose), and use them in your video wherever possible. If you’re reviewing an iPhone app, for instance, your primary keywords will be the ‘app name’ and ‘iPhone’. Also use these keywords in your video title, descriptions, annotations, a video transcript (if you submit them, which you should since it will allow Youtube and other search engines to ‘see’ your video), as well as all inbound to the video. More information here.

10. Marketing: You’ll still need to market your video like you would market your text-based (or any other) content. Social media, guest posts, on your own blog, advertisements (online and offline), merchandise promoting your channel… And speaking of your channel, make sure that it is easy for people to subscribe to it, and that you add a subscribe button to your blog, your social media profiles, in the email signature as well as all your products. Leverage the ‘video response’ feature of Youtube by leaving the link to your video as a video response to other relevant videos.

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