YouTube Observations #4 - Vlogging

Screenshot from a weekly vlog, of the flowers at Whole Foods

Back in October I made the questionable amazing(!) decision to participate in Vlogtober. For those of you not familiar with YouTube and daily vlogging, Vlogtober is when you post a new video every day throughout October. There are variations, some creators don't upload everyday but double their usual uploads or promise to upload as much as possible but don't guarantee everyday. When I started my channel I knew that if I was still doing YouTube by the end of the year I wanted to try a vlogging month. It was a daunting but awesome experience. Which made me realize I really had to do Vlogmas
(every day in December leading up to Christmas). Part of these decisions were also influenced by knowing I had my trip to London coming up and that I would want to vlog every day of that.

During each of these months I committed to a new video everyday with the caveat that some videos would be pre-filmed. For the trip, I promised to vlog everyday and upload them as and when I was able. More on travel vlogging later in this post. 

These weren't the first vlogs I'd done. Prior to October I'd done about 12 vlogs for my channel, just fitting them in between regular uploads or sometimes substituting a Tuesday video for a vlog. 

There's definitely a difference between doing regular "sit down" videos and vlogs. I thought it would be good (for me at least lol) to take some time here and record my observations on my vlogging experiences so far.

What is vlogging?

There are probably a few different definitions and it kind of means something slightly different to different people. Basically, "vlogging" is the video form of "blogging". So a vlog could be just about any video, filmed in any format. On YouTube, there's a bit of a differentiation between videos where the creator sits in front of a camera and talks, and videos where they film their daily lives. It's not a hard and fast rule, but that's kind of how I'm going to be using the word in this post. My "videos" or "main content" are the regular videos that I upload on a Tuesday and Friday that show me sitting in front of my bookshelves and just talking to the camera about the topic of the day. My "vlogs"are the videos where I film myself going through my day. They're like a video diary. Personally, I like vlogs because they'll be a great record to look back on several years down the road. I've never been good a keeping a diary or journal, but I've completely fallen in love with vlogging.


Screenshot from the Emphatics vlog

First Impressions

At first vlogging felt weird. Like, who really cared about what I did during the day. My first vlog was a good one to ease in to it. It started out as a "get ready with me" of sorts and then I vlogged the opening of the "Defining Moments" exhibition at the Phoenix Art Museum, so that was more the focus than me. But the next vlog after that was all me and my life. And that felt very weird. But it got a decent response! And every vlog since has done better and better in terms of views and comments. I've gotten a lot better at vlogging since I started. I'm not perfect lol, not going to say that I am. But I'm better then when I started, and progress is good. I've gotten more comfortable vlogging in public, I took that in stages, at first I would just record stuff but now I'll flip the camera on me and talk to it in public...as long as nobody is too close by. I'm working on it.  

Cameras and Technical Difficulties

When I first started vlogging, I used my iPhone 6. I didn't want to spend money on a fancy vlogging camera until I knew how I felt about it and figured out if it was something I was going to really get into. Well, it didn't take long before I got hooked on vlogging lol. So within only about 6 weeks of starting my channel I started saving up for a new camera. Don't get me wrong, the iPhone actually works really great. But it was a bit inconvenient to have to stop using my phone (ie. turn off my music) in order to vlog. I wanted the freedom having a separate phone and camera. I also had a trip to London planned for after Christmas and I didn't really want to bring my large Canon DSLR but still wanted a really high quality camera. So I started researching and eventually decided on the Olympus Pen E-PL7. But every camera comes with issues and difficulties.

With the iPhone video was pretty basic but since getting the Pen, I've been overwhelmed with all the features. You'd think video would be pretty basic, but it's a bit of a challenge and I'm slowly getting used to it. One of the main problems I seem to be having is with the auto focus (I think?). Or maybe it's just a problem with HD video, but I've never noticed it on some of the more professional vlogs I've watched. I seem to have a problem with there being a sort of distortion to the video. Almost like there's a piece of glass between the lens and the subject that makes it kind of wavy? It's hard to describe but I always notice it and it kind of drives me nuts lol. My audience doesn't seem to mind, they probably don't notice it as much as I do, but I won't stop researching and playing with the features until I can get the video to just be smooth. One thing I've learned on this YouTube journey is that you have to be patient, especially with yourself, and fight the urge to make everything "perfect". I'd never publish a video or vlog if I felt it had to be "perfect", because there's always something wrong with my content. Especially vlogs, because vlogs are about life and life isn't perfect. So you have to learn to just roll with the mistakes. If something is out of focus or the audio drops or my hair doesn't look right, oh well. I try to learn from the mistakes that I can correct in the future and let go of the mistakes that I can't control. This is especially important during vlogging months or travel vlogging when the upload schedule is so tight and fast and you need to get the content up now. So, on to travel vlogging and my experience in London.


Screenshot from one of the London vlogs, of St. Paul's Cathedral from One New Change

Travel Vlogging - It's a totally different game!

With vlogging months like Vlogtober or Vlogmas, I could take the pressure off myself by having a few pre-filmed videos to scatter throughout the month and take some of the "editing every night" pressure off. I thought vlogging in London would be just like vlogging at home. But oh my goodness, not quite lol! Part of my problem may have been that the London vlogs literally started as soon as Vlogmas ended. I basically vlogged every day from December 1st through January 7th, which is about 2 weeks longer than anyone doing Vlogmas, so I pretty much had editing burnout. My other problem was that this trip meant so much to me and I wanted to really share it with my subscribers and friends. So it was really hard to fight my creative perfectionism.

With any vlog, I still try to have a sense of narrative, a beginning, middle, and end. There are so many creative choices that go into how I vlog. I also vlog EVERYTHING. Only about 25% of it makes it into the final cut, but since I never know how a day will turn out I like to film as much as possible so that I'll still have enough to make a vlog for the day. Plus, so much of my vlogs are created in the editing process. I want to be able to capture my mood throughout the day as well as everything I'm seeing and experiencing, and I never know what footage will help me accomplish that, so I just get as many video clips throughout the day as possible. As a result, there's always a ton of footage to go through. Vlogging feels faster to film because the filming is spread throughout the day, but it takes much longer to edit. If I end up with an hour of footage (which happened nearly every day on the trip) it would take me about 2.5-3 hours to edit it down to a 20 minute video. After a long day running all over London and usually not getting back to the hotel until 8 or 9pm, I just couldn't stay up until midnight every night editing each vlog. I don't know how travel vloggers manage to vlog, edit, and upload every day of a trip. I don't think I'll ever be able to do that lol! Good thing I'm not a professional travel vlogger.

But on the positive side of travel vlogging, and vlogging in general, it made me looking at things differently. I feel like I saw London slightly differently on this trip than I had on my previous trips. For one, it motivated me to do things that I hadn't done before, like climb to the top of St. Paul's Cathedral. I was totally shattered by that point in the trip. My feet and legs were so sore and my knees were ready to give out, but I knew the views would be fantastic so I sucked it up and "did it for the vlog!" And wow, was it worth it. It also made me realize which parts of London were truly my favorite, because those were the places I made sure to vlog and share with my viewers. As a result, a common comment I've received on the vlogs have been "I never knew about that place!" or "I wouldn't have thought to go there!". I've spent the last several trips visiting a friend who lives in London, so I've managed to discover places that most tourists don't see. While editing the vlogs it was amazing to see London through my camera and just how well I managed to get "my London" into the vlogs.

Lessons Learned So Far

1. Keep the camera as steady as possible. Don't be afraid or embarrassed to stop (off to the side and out of the way) and take a steady shot of what you're trying to capture. This is something I need to work on myself.

2. Don't worry about fancy equipment. My views have been the same both when using my iPhone 6 and using my new Olympus Pen camera. If you want to upgrade, do it for yourself, and not because you think a better quality camera will lead to better quality vlogs. That isn't necessarily true. Quality content comes from you, not just your camera.

3. Be kind to yourself. If you don't get something edited or uploaded on time, it's ok. It's also ok to put out something that isn't perfect, so if your delay is because you're stressing about that one shot not being how you wanted it, just export the dang vlog and get on with it. 

4. Be yourself. This is probably the most important lesson. Your audience can tell if you're not being authentic. One of my most frequent comments I get on the vlogs is about how "kind and real" I seem. You can't fake that. So just be yourself.

Screenshot from Part 2 of the Oxford vlog, of me walking around Christ Church Meadow in Oxford

Comments

  1. Daily vlogging is HARD. Massive respect to you for doing it so many times! Like you said, it's the editing that would burn me out personally which is why I'm not brave enough to try it. But I always enjoy yours! Your hard work really pays off :)

    alicered.co.uk

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    1. The editing is so intense! I can't keep up with it for more than a month. I don't know how people do it every day all year long. Thanks for reading Alice! :)

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  2. Oh I loved this as much as I love your vlogs lol! It's nice to get a bit of an understanding of how you see vlogging as the creator.

    I had no idea that the imagery is a bit distorted on the Olympus. Your shooting, editing and personality certainly make up for any cinematic filming hiccups ;)

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for stopping by! I'm glad you enjoyed this post. And I'm glad you don't notice any distortion in the picture of the vlogs. I notice it alllllll the time lol. But I'm looking at it much more closely than the average viewer.

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