5 Mistakes to Avoid When Making YouTube Videos

When creating any kind of content, there are always going to be numerous mistakes that you'll want to avoid making — some more obvious than others. This is especially apparent when creating videos and putting them out into the world for all to enjoy, and sometimes even criticize.

Following my pointers below, you can quickly learn how to not only present yourself more professionally, but also be one step ahead of newer video creators. And speaking from personal experience, I can guarantee that you will notice positive results almost instantly.

Uploading videos in portrait (vertical) orientation

Often referred to as vertical video, this is the easiest mistake that you can avoid when getting started on YouTube. Because most users nowadays enjoy watching videos on devices with widescreen displays, you will want to record your content in landscape orientation — otherwise known as 16:9 video.

This can be achieved by simply remembering to rotate your phone or tablet before recording a video. If the screen you are looking at has more horizontal space than vertical, then you're doing it right. Congratulations on conquering one of my biggest pet peeves as a content creator.

Limiting yourself on video ideas

If you are just getting started in creating video content, then consider your YouTube channel a digital playground. You have complete creative freedom to try whatever ideas come to mind, without the risk of losing any kind of viewership.

Ask yourself, why did you make a channel to begin with? Perhaps you're like me and you enjoy talking about technology. If that's the case, then you might want to consider making a handful of unboxing videos — and perhaps a review or two. And if that's not enough, make a video about your favorite apps.

Once your content has been live for a few weeks, go into your Video Manager view and take a look at which videos are performing the best. Use that data to determine the kind of content that your audience prefers to see. But of course, don't limit yourself on just that. Be sure to create content for your own enjoyment, too.

Giving into the haters

Believe it or not, this is still something I struggle with on a regular basis. Sure,  I've gotten better over the years, but sometimes it can be difficult to look past the hate that is generated on YouTube. And believe me, there is enough to go around.

YouTube can be a very dark and discouraging place, but it can also promote  a ton of positivity — which is why it's important to only focus on the individuals who matter. You are always going to have someone in this world who disagrees with your decisions in life, so why waste time trying to justify their actions?

As hard as it may seem, it's best to concentrate your positive energy on your true supporters. Those are the people who will take you far. After all, if someone is willing to personally attack you, do you even want them around? Probably not

Thinking money is everything

Let's make something clear... YouTube is not about making a ton of money. Sure, it's certainly possible, but you do not want to enter the world of video content thinking about generating revenue. You will likely begin making a bit of money at some point, but that should be the least of your concerns when just getting started.

But instead of making money, what about spending it? While I do encourage you to invest in some decent equipment, there is no reason to put yourself in debt. Don't be fooled into thinking you need an expensive camera just to create quality content. Check out my "Starting a YouTube Channel on a Budget" post and you'll see exactly what I mean.

Whether you are looking to spend it or make it, money should not be a concern of yours in the early stages of making videos. Just have fun, as opportunities will present themselves naturally over time.

Taking yourself too seriously

While YouTube has undoubtedly gained recognition over the years as a serious platform for creators, that doesn't mean you suddenly need to be stressed into presenting yourself as a professional. And actually, I've been on YouTube for nearly 10 years now and I have yet to call myself a pro — and I likely never will.

The great thing about YouTube is the ability to be yourself, especially if you are a vlogger. Nothing is more personal than documenting your personal life through video. It's the perfect opportunity to show the world the real you. Do you have a whacky personality and want to share it with others? Knock yourself out!

How to Get Free Products for Review

I will never forget the feeling of being offered my first product for completely free, in exchange for an honest video review on YouTube. It was the Coosh Headset from Bic (yes, the pen company) and I enjoyed my time with it — regardless of the questionable name.

Okay, so reviewing the Coosh itself wasn't that exciting, but surely this was the start of something big. Between then and now, I have put a lot of time into building my channel and forming relationships with larger, more well-known brands. Some of these brands include GoPro, LG and HP — with LG being one of my favorites.

So, you're probably wondering how you can do the same. It's honestly not that difficult. Follow my pointers below and you'll be reviewing products in no time.

Build your brand before anything else

Whether you're making videos on YouTube or blogging via WordPress, I cannot stress enough how important the overall image of your brand is. If a company is going to send you a product for review, they need to know the investment will be worth it.

Does your YouTube channel need thousands of subscribers? No, but it certainly doesn't hurt. And the same goes for the traffic analytics on your website. Numbers aren't everything, but brands do pay attention to this sort of data.

My best recommendation before doing anything else? Create original and interesting content. Show the world you're good at what you do, and then take things from there.

Start with smaller, more affordable products

I'm not going to lie, it amuses me when newer, less established creators expect to receive expensive products from some of the world's most popular brands. Thinking this way is simply not realistic. You need to start out small — much smaller, in fact.

Once my review of the Coosh was complete, I began reaching out to companies in hopes of reviewing some different products. Obviously I wanted to do things right, so I started out small. I contacted companies that I believed would be easier to get a hold of. These primarily included manufacturers of iPhone and iPad cases. Because the average case retailed for between $30–$40 at the time, there was no real risk involved.

Fast-forwarding through time a bit, I did indeed get my hands on quite a few iPhone and iPad accessories for review. Not only was I building relationships with brands, but my channel was also growing. Easy win-win.

It's that simple. All you need to do is ask at the right time. The worst that can happen is rejection, and believe me — you will hear "no" all the time. That's just how it works. But don't let that discourage you.

Present yourself professionally

"What up, LG? Can I have that new 4K monitor you just released, yo? That shit looks bangin'. It would look sooo pimp next to my Mac Pro. You dig?"

If you contact a company with a request like that, you're going to make yourself look like a fool. And you know what? They will probably laugh at you, and deservingly so.

Really though, it's important that you take this seriously. If a company is willing to send you something for completely free, then you need to make the experience worthwhile. What I like do is work off a review template document I have saved on iCloud, that way I can access it from any of my devices.

The template includes a bit of information on my channel, links to past reviews I have done, as well as what I am looking to get out of the review I'm inquiring about. Having this self-made template allows me to quickly contact companies in bulk, making things easier on my end. All I need to do is replace specific text that is relevant to that particular review request.

Know where to look

Everything is together and you're ready to contact companies, but where do you look? This is probably one of the most common questions I receive in regards to product reviews. The solution is actually quite simple, but your experience can certainly vary, depending on who you're trying to get a hold of.

The first place I always go to is the company's website. I usually start with their contact page and see if there is anything I can use. You generally want to stay away from typical contact forms and instead focus on locating information relevant to the media and/or press.

Can't find what you are looking for? Not a problem.

Sometimes it's smart to give Google a try, and this is actually your best bet. Using search keywords like "Company media contact" and "Company press contact" will quickly narrow down your search. Obviously you'll want to replace "Company" with the brand you're trying to work with.

If going the route of Google doesn't work, you might want to consider turning to social media — particularly Twitter. Tweet the company you're interested in and just hope for a response. Because Twitter heavily relies on real-time interaction, you might be surprised at how quickly they get back to you. Contacting them via a Direct Message is also a viable option.

Keep trying

When all else fails, it's important to remain confident in yourself and keep trying. If a company turns you down, which they most likely will (it happens to me all the time), then move on to the next company. There are hundreds of other companies that are worth contacting, so don't be picky.

Remain consistent and true to yourself, and you'll be reviewing products in no time. I can guarantee it.

Starting a YouTube Channel on a Budget

Creating video content on YouTube can be a stressful experience for new creators, especially if your funds are limited. And let’s face it, not everyone has the financial flexibility of dropping a few thousand dollars on quality video equipment. It’s simply not realistic.

But is spending a lot of money necessary in order to get your YouTube channel off the ground? Absolutely not. As a matter of fact, you are probably already off to a good start and don't even realize it. Allow me to motivate you.

Your phone is an excellent camera

Most of us are fortunate enough to own a phone that was made within the past few years. Whether it’s an iPhone, Android phone or Windows phone, it’s likely capable of recording video in a resolution of at least 720p. That is more than enough, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Of course, your phone can only do so much, which is why I recommend looking into purchasing a few affordable accessories to improve your overall quality.

First and foremost, look into getting a miniature tripod to stabilize your video. This is essential if presentation is important to you. And believe me, it should be. Presentation is always your top priority when producing any kind of video.

Even if you are looking to only create vlogs and nothing else, it still doesn’t hurt to own a tripod. This is an important factor to keep in mind, as you never know what direction your YouTube channel may end up taking.

Audio is more important than video

Without good audio, you’ve got nothing. Now thankfully, most modern phones have decent onboard microphones and they can usually get the job done. However, if you’re looking to kick things up a notch, why not invest in an external mic? Like miniature tripods, prices on mics are actually pretty low — especially considering how big of a difference you’ll notice in quality.

I recommend checking out the Rode VideoMic Me for starters. Rode is a reputable brand and very well known for their microphones.

Believe me, you’ll be happy knowing you spent a bit of money on good audio. It can often be the deciding factor on whether someone subscribes to your channel.

Buy used equipment

If you are looking to save some serious money, then you might want to consider shopping around on sites like eBay and Amazon. There are some great deals to be found, especially if you’re a fan of the more expensive equipment.

For example, buying a used DSLR on eBay can save you hundreds of dollars. If it works properly, then what’s the problem? And even better, audio/video equipment often comes bundled with extra accessories — saving you even more money in the process.

Focus on your content before anything else

It’s so easy to get caught up in buying the best of the best, when in reality, your content should always come first. This is actually a common issue that I see on YouTube now and then. Some creators are so concerned about spending a lot of money early in the game, when they forget what matters most.

You need to figure out your content. Test a few ideas with your audience to see what sticks. Personally, I think it’s safe to begin with vlogging. Not only does this type of content require less work when compared to something like tech reviews, but it’s also your chance to express yourself and show the world the real you.

YouTube is an incredible platform that will be around for many years to come. Don’t rush greatness.

3 Amazing Desktop USB Microphones for Around $100

If you are the kind of creator who prefers to make videos from the convenience of your desk, then you will want to invest in a quality microphone. This is especially true if you’re only using a webcam. The average webcam simply does not produce good audio.

Because you’re likely not looking to spend all that much, I have chosen three desktop USB microphones that are currently selling for around $100.  Let’s begin with my personal favorite.

Blue Microphones Snowball

Since owning the Snowball in 2008, the overall audio quality in my videos has seen a significant upgrade. I primarily use mine for screencasts, live broadcasts and the occasional video when my DSLR microphone isn’t appropriate.

The Snowball includes three different polar pattern modes, each of which is intended for a specific style of audio recording: Cardioid Mode, Cardioid Mode with -10 dB PAD, and Omnidirectional Mode

I prefer to use the regular Cardioid Mode, as it makes the most sense for how I record my audio. Speaking directly into the microphone at normal volume works perfectly. And on the software side of things, QuickTime gets the job done.

Blue Microphones Yeti

If the Snowball mic isn’t up to your standards and you prefer to stick with the Blue Microphones brand, then you will definitely want to consider the Yeti. This is probably the most popular USB desktop microphone for creators, and for good reason.

The Yeti, unlike the Snowball, includes a variety of hardware controls for convenience. The onboard knobs allow you to adjust gain control, master volume and even the ability to switch between four polar patterns. Also present is a mute button, as well as a headphones connection for live monitoring.

Closest to $100 out of all three microphones, this is probably your best bet if you are looking to use it for years to come.

Samson Meteor

Both the Snowball and Yeti are somewhat large in size, but that is not how the Meteor can be described. What’s being marketed as a studio microphone, this is an interesting solution for creators who often produce audio while on the go.

The Meteor has a large condenser diaphragm of 25mm and records in a smooth frequency response with a 16-bit, 44.1/48kHz resolution. In other words, it produces high-quality, professional audio. Also featured is a volume knob and a stereo headphones output for real-time monitoring.

About half the price and size of the Yeti, the Meteor is certainly a microphone to consider. Its small form factor could be convenient for travelers.