Online video has only become an increasingly bigger thing in recent years. You need to embrace it. I can understand why so many would-be bloggers and online entrepreneurs are intimidated by video. Don’t be. You don’t have to invest thousands of dollars in the ultimate vlogging camera setup to get started. Add on pieces and upgrade your equipment as you go along.
While you shouldn’t get too hung up on gear, it’s true that better gear can help you make better YouTube videos. But, it starts with having the right kind of mindset and thinking about affordable solutions to common shortcomings. It might surprise you to learn that some of the best upgrades are not cameras or lenses. It’s other stuff.
Aputure AL-M9 Video Light
If you plan on doing a lot of talking head type videos in your home office, then it may be worth your while to invest in some proper studio lighting at some point. If, however, you plan on doing more run-and-gun vlogging type videos on the go, it pays to have a small video light when you’re faced with dimmer situations, like indoor environments.
There are cheaper alternatives to the Aputure AL-M9, but there’s a reason why this $50 video light is so incredibly popular among amateur vloggers and professional videographers alike. You get clean LED light, multiple brightness settings, and an internal battery that is conveniently recharged via USB.
Poor lighting can completely ruin an otherwise terrific video. The Aputure AL-M9 is compact — about the size of a deck of cards — and it can be way brighter than you’d expect it to be. Perfect for vloggers.
Boya Video Microphones
Many vloggers and YouTubers, especially in the beginning, focus a lot of their attention on the video quality of their videos. That sounds obvious enough, but it also means that so many YouTubers overlook the importance of clean, quality audio to go with video. Most on-board microphones are barely okay, and the microphones on smartphones are even worse, especially in busier environments.
If you’re not ready to invest more money in microphones from companies like Rode or Sennheiser, you can take the more affordable route with Boya. The $32 BOYA BY-MM1 is a shotgun style microphone similar to the Rode VideoMicro, making it great for situations where you want to pick up more of the environment. It’s also more convenient to use.
If you want to focus much more on your voice, the $20 BOYA BY-M1 might be a better option. It’s a lavalier condenser microphone, which you may also know as a “clip” microphone. This is wired, so it may not be the best option for vlogging unless you want a physical cable connecting your shirt to your camera. It is perfect, however, for more of the “talking head” type videos in more of a studio environment.
So, you’ve got better lighting and better sound. The other part of the equation that may have overlooked for better YouTube videos is what happens when the video is uploaded and shared on YouTube. If you want it to be seen, you need to optimize how your video is presented. It’s also important to plan your videos around what you think might be of value to both your subscribers and people who find your videos via search.
I’ve talked about TubeBuddy before for exactly this reason. It’s a Chrome extension that lets you tap into how best to optimize your YouTube video from an SEO perspective, among other functions. Leverage the tag explorer to identify the best tags to use, for example. TubeBuddy is also terrific for helping you plan your video topics based on search popularity and competition.
Officially, the pro plan is $9 per month, with discounts available if you have less than 1,000 subscribers or you’d like to pay yearly. However, many users (myself included) have found that if you start with the free plan and just wait, TubeBuddy will eventually come around with a “one-time offer” for a lifetime subscription with many of the main features you’d want. If you find you want to unlock more tools and functions, you can upgrade at any time.
Are you active on YouTube? What has been your favorite video upgrade to date?