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Where to Start? Being a Writer Turned Vlogger

Getting your voice heard is a challenge when you're a writer, but exploring a new medium can help.

As a writer, it's important to harness every aspect of content creation and digital marketing. If you can do it and learn how to do it well, it'll benefit you in the long run. Since I did a fair bit of video editing in my student days for fun, I decided to give vlogging a whirl. I'm still pretty new to it and learning along the way, but I do have a few beginner tips to share.

I have about four months under my belt now and a key that I have yet to get on my keyring is a consistent update schedule. I've tried to maintain one video going up per week, but I fell out of that routine during National Novel Writing Month. This particular video is focused on NaNoWriMo and it's also one of my more recent vlogs, done when I was halfway through updating my recording equipment.

Having a consistent posting schedule is absolutely vital to achieving growth. People want to see that you have a good body of content and that you're regularly adding more. This is one of the most common tips you'll hear from established YouTubers. Now that I have my hardware sorted out, I'm eager to get on a stable routine once the holidays have passed.

Why even try vlogging?

It's a valid question to ask; most videos may be short, but recording and editing takes a lot longer than the final screen time, even for a simple vlog. As a writer, it's quite reasonable to wonder if your time is better spent elsewhere. However, I'll argue that it is still worth your time.

Writing about my writing experiences (how's that for some top-level redundancy?) is easy enough, but talking about it on camera is quite a bit more difficult. I'm bringing this up because I feel like to be a novelist today, you need to have a solid marketing plan and a strong online presence. While I'm not entering the query wars just yet, I consider building my presence as a part of my long-term marketing plan.

This is looking at things simplistically, but think about it. For any agent or publishing company, it's less of a gamble for them to publish your book or pitch it to publishers if you have a large following. Obviously, there is a ton more that goes into these editorial processes and decision-making protocols, but it doesn't hurt to have a solid platform of your own. It's a little bit less of a gamble for a publisher or agent to take you on if you're already a mid-range influencer.

It's also a very safe backup option if you decide that traditional publishing is not for you. If querying becomes too exhausting after years of trying and you decide to self-publish your work, then you're absolutely going to need a strong social media presence to sell copies of your book.

Plus, at the end of the day, if you're blogging or vlogging at all, it's also because you want to be able to help your fellow writers. This is the enriching part of trying to teach anything.

Alright, how about the equipment you need?

While I still like the writing topics I went over in my earliest videos, you're unfortunately going to need to crank up your volume to hear this one. Not having the right recording equipment was definitely a very big problem for me.

It's been a small journey for me since I started plopping myself in front of a camera and yammering about writing. At first, I would stammer and trip over myself so much that it would take hours to edit all of my verbal missteps out of my videos. Worse, since I was using an iPad of all ill-equipped devices to record myself, the audio quality in my early videos was quite terrible, even after editing things in Adobe Audition.

If you're a writer and you're making videos, you're probably going to be doing a lot of talking. If that's the focus of your video and it's hard to hear you, that's definitely not good. If you're worried that not many people are interested in being part of the writing community on YouTube, there are quite a number of writers vlogging now, as well as a thriving BookTube community that's just a stone's throw away.

Right before NaNoWriMo started, I upgraded to a Razer Kiyo webcam, which was used to record the first video up top. It's helped with video quality significantly and audio quality to some extent, but an external microphone is a saving grace.

Razer Kiyo Webcam

You don't need to break the bank with a top of the line DSLR camera and a soundproofed recording room to get started, but you do need equipment to get a good quality video. A typical laptop or iPad camera isn't going to cut it.

After borrowing a Logitech C920 and having very mixed results with recording quality, I decided to give the Kiyo and its light ring a try. It creates some funny little reflections in my glasses, but all in all, it works well with OBStudio and the light ring definitely helps brighten up your face.

Lighting is always a battle in making videos, especially for beginners, which was what drove me outdoors for my earliest videos. While that was fun, I would also then have to edit out or pause recording whenever a car went by or when a helicopter or plane went by overhead. There's a dreadful amount of ambient noise outside that doesn't do you any favors when making videos.

Blue Yeti Microphone

On Cyber Monday, I nabbed a good sale on a Blue Yeti Microphone. Once it came in the mail, I started testing it out, and the sound quality is fantastic. I also tested out a Snowball mic that belonged to one of my colleagues, but clearly, Yetis are much more powerful than Snowballs, because the audio quality is phenomenally better. It has a variety of settings to use and it picks up sounds with perfectly authentic volume. For the clarity of the audio it records, it feels very much worth it for the price.

I've recorded a video new videos with this new mic which are now in the editing pipeline. I'm quite excited to start sharing videos with markedly improved audio and visual quality. While it's you and your advice that matters most, as content is always king, it's also key to deliver that information in a way that people can see and hear without cranking up their volume or become distracted by dreadful video quality.

All in all, I'm still quite early in establishing myself on YouTube, but it's exciting to share writing advice in this manner. With every month and year that goes by, video becomes one of the most popular and easily digestible ways to share information. It's easy to work on something and plop your headphones on and learn something as you go. It's easy to listen to a vlog or podcast of writing tips in your quest to improve when you're cooking dinner.

On a very personal self-improvement level, making videos can also help with your public speaking skills. Speaking in front of a camera does come with a degree of stress, but mastering clarity and calm on camera will slightly lessen the anxiety of speaking about the same subjects to a face-to-face group. If you're a poet, you've probably got open mics in your future. Any type of writer may someday need to speak publicly about their work, especially if they're fortunate enough to have the chance to promote themselves at a speaking engagement opportunity.

Writers need to do everything possible to be heard and sometimes, that means literally making your voice heard and not just read. While blogging is a craft that's alive and well, complimenting your writing with videos is an excellent way to reach more people with your helpful insights while also boosting your online presence.

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