Friday, May 8, 2015

How To Vlog Like A WordNerd

Super big post ahead! Wahoo!

The WordNerds got a couple of questions in our last Sunday Special live chat about how to join the WriteTube and BookTube community, and as such, we are going to be hosting a full live chat about building your platform and how to get involved on whatever social media accounts you think would fit you best. But as a little research/prep for that, I kept detailed notes about my last vlog, to share with anyone considering YouTube as a platform!

NOTE: the video I made this week took a little more effort than your typical sit-in-chair-just-talk vlog. I've tried to make notes of where the additional time came into play. But I love making the extra fun videos like this as often as possible, and they tend to do better view-wise than my standard talking videos too, so BONUS.

This is the final product:

The first thing I do for any WordNerds video is script. Sometimes I'll just write out some bullet points, but usually my script is full-on, everything I'm going to say (written in purple below), and actions/settings/how to say those things (written in pink). You can click the images to see them bigger.


Sometimes things change as I'm filming, but in general I stick fairly close to the script. In the case of this vlog, I noticed that my webcam (which is two steps away from giving up the ghost) wasn't catching motion very well and was blurring out my face. So I adjusted the actions so that I wasn't running around quite as much, and kept the camera in as close to one setting as possible, rather than dragging it all over the house, just asking for more damage.


Next, I get myself ready. For this vlog that included props and costume (shockingly, I don't normally dress like that), as well as make-up. Prepping props and costume doesn't add a significant amount of time to the typical vlogging process, maybe an extra 5-10 minutes.


After that, I prep my stage. Most people have a standard background that is always ready (for me it's my bookshelves). You don't need any prep beyond that. But a little bit more can make your videos look a lot more professional, and since Jared and I are both YouTubers, we have those extras. I arrange the lighting so it's even (the lights are just two IKEA lamps with notebook paper taped to them to act as a filter), and I have a separate microphone that I set up (1. Because a separate mic makes your sound WAY WAY better, and doesn't catch your laptop fan roaring beneath you as you talk; and 2. Because my house is very open but doesn't have a lot of furniture or carpet, so it sounds like I'm in a cave without a nicer mic).

In the end, my set looks like this:

Lights on the far left and right, tripod holding my webcam in the middle, and Blue Snowball brand microphone on the left corner of the cluttered desk. Also dog on the left, because SUPPORT.


Then I film! Fairly self explanatory. When I film a more intense video like this one, the recording time takes around 20-30 extra minutes because I do a lot of takes of each part to make sure I end up with exactly what I want.

TIME TAKEN TO FILM: 49 minutes

Editing! My favorite part of the vlogging process! I use Adobe Premiere for editing because I have a LOT more options that way (plus I'm already familiar with it because of my day job), but you can use whatever video editing software comes with your computer and be just fine.

Here I'm cutting out all of the blank space so that it's almost constant talking (silence should only be used intentionally in the vlogging process, in my opinion). Additionally, I add any special effects (like the intro where the image turns purple and the title pops up, or the outro page where I added some bloopers), as well as any background music or text. A more complicated video like this may add around an extra 30-40 minutes.

During the editing process I search for music as well. My favorite place to go is Incompetech, where you can find music that you're allowed to use on YouTube without getting flagged for copyright issues, so long as you attribute the source.

TIME TAKEN TO EDIT: 1 hour, 48 minutes

Rendering the video and uploading it to YouTube take a lot of time, as well, though I don't include those times until the final count because I usually do other stuff while that is happening. But I'm not done the second my video is saved and uploading. The WordNerds have custom thumbnails, and in the description of the video I like to add plenty of links and give viewers a way to find me on social media, as well as the other WordNerds social media accounts.

Final thumbnail for this vlog.

Finally, once the video is uploaded, I add annotations to the outro page, leading viewers to other videos by me, or the most recent Sunday Special live chat. You don't have to do these things, but they really do help to generate more traffic both to your channel (sharp, well-made thumbnail images will draw in a potential new viewer's attention much more than the ones YouTube automatically pulls) and to other videos on your channel if they like what they see.


TOTAL TIME FROM START TO FINISH: 4 hours, 12 minutes (If you include rendering and upload time [and a 25 minute internet outage], the total time came out to just under 6 hours)

And there you have it! It's a lot of work being a consistent YouTuber, but it's definitely my favorite way to communicate with other writers and readers. It's so fun to know that people are seeing me (albeit a slightly more peppy version of normal, see-me-at-the-grocery-store, me), and that I can see other people who are also passionate about books and writing. For me, YouTube is my #1, the main platform-related thing I work on every week, and everything else (blog, Twitter, Tumblr) is just bonus stuff, an extra way to communicate with readers/writers.

IMPORTANT TO NOTE: It took a long time for me to get in a groove for filming (trust me, my first video was not nearly as put together as my stuff now). It felt awkward being in front of the camera, I didn't have any extra annotations or links, and my editing wasn't good because I had never done it before. It takes a while to really understand what you're doing, and that's okay!

Last side note, there is NO WRONG WAY TO VLOG. This is just how I do it, what works best for me and my schedule, and what makes me most comfortable!

If you want more info on how to manage the actual filming part of vlogging, check out this video by Hank Green. It's the one I watched while learning, and it's still super valuable advice. Also be on the lookout for my video coming up next Saturday over on the WordNerds account, where I'll be talking about what equipment you truly need to vlog, and how you can create things like good lighting without actually having to buy lamps and such.

If you're interested in vlogging, you should DEFINITELY give it a try! And put a link to your opening video in the comments, because I'd love to see it!