Using the right equipment
Technology in cameras is advancing faster than ever nowadays, which is amazing news for anyone interested in creating video content. This also means that prices have dropped dramatically in recent years, which is why owning a 4K capable camera for less than $100 isn’t out of the ordinary.
But before you spend money on a new camera, you might want to consider using what you already own. You know that phone sitting within plain sight? It’s likely more than capable at recording HD video with decent audio quality. That’s all you need. Just be sure to record in landscape mode.
Buying a proper camera, if needed
Provided you are in the market for a camera, you’ll have no problem in finding plenty of different models to choose from. From point-and-shoot cameras to professional DSLRs, there are several ways of going about this. Let’s break it down by camera type.
Point-and-shoot cameras are excellent for video creators who are often out and about, otherwise known as vloggers. They can be easily stored in one’s pocket, while still offering exceptional video quality and that shallow depth of field effect that everyone seems to enjoy. The only downside? Audio quality is usually subpar, due to the small form factor of the camera itself.
Going the DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) route can be considered royalty. DSLRs are often large and bulky, but for good reason. They offer the best possible video quality and usually include the option of using an external microphone. Throw in the ability to swap out lenses and you’ve got yourself a video creator’s dream come true.
Action cameras are also quite popular on YouTube, with the GoPro being the most obvious choice. While they’re perfect for those looking to participate in extreme sports (snowboarding, hang gliding, etc.), there’s no reason why action cameras cannot be used for occasional vlogging. Just don’t expect stellar quality when it comes to audio.
And finally, let’s touch upon camcorders. They’re not exactly the go-to cameras that they once were, but they are still quite reliable. From exceptional quality all around to support for accessories like lights and microphones, it’s hard to ignore the fact that camcorders still have a place in the market today.
Consider using an external microphone
Capturing video is one thing, but what about audio? This is one area that many creators tend to overlook. After all, audio quality is arguably more important than video quality. Would you continue to watch a video if its audio was poor? Probably not.
Depending on the type of camera you are using, an external microphone may be supported. This is often the case if your camera of choice is either a camcorder or DSLR. To be certain, I suggest looking around on Google and seeing what you can find. If you're curious, I prefer the RØDE VideoMic Pro when shooting with my Canon 80D.
So, what’s the big deal about using an external microphone? To put simply, quality. The differences between using an onboard microphone and an external microphone are night and day. You might have to spend a bit of cash, but I can assure you that it’s a purchase you will not regret.
Let's talk about video editing software
Unless you plan on uploading your recorded clips directly to YouTube, you're going to want to think about which video editing software to use. Before you consider your options, however, you might already have access to software without even realizing it. Of course, this entirely depends on the kind of computer you're using.
Using a Mac?
If you're a macOS user, you likely have iMovie installed by default, as it comes preinstalled on all new Macs. To check, simply press Command+Spacebar and search for “iMovie” using Spotlight. Don’t see it? Not a problem. You can download iMovie here in the App Store for free.
iMovie is, without a doubt, the best way to learn the ins and outs of video editing. It offers a ton of functionality and control, while keeping everything simple and easy to understand. And if that’s not enough, iMovie is also available for iPhone and iPad, allowing you to sync and edit your projects while on the go.
Of course, iMovie is only one of several video editing apps available on macOS. If you are looking for something more advanced, I recommend trying Final Cut Pro X and Adobe Premiere Pro. Each offers a free trial.
Using a Windows PC?
Windows users, let’s get the harsh reality out of the way. You don’t have it as nice as Mac users do, at least when it comes to taking advantage of bundled software. I’m referring to Windows Movie Maker, which is often mocked for its lack of creativity and inspiration. It’s just… not that great.
I do, however, have good news for you. There are plenty of video editing applications that are worth exploring — the first being Premiere Pro, which just happens to coincide with the Mac version. This is made possible by Creative Cloud, a subscription service from Adobe that can save you a ton of money.
Perhaps Adobe apps aren’t your thing? I suggest giving Sony VEGAS a fair shot. While I have yet to use VEGAS myself, I’ve heard good things. But just to be safe, you can download the free trial here.
Creating your content
Choosing the right video equipment and software may be important, but without quality content, you've got nothing. This is the part of the YouTube process that tends to become difficult — which, by the way, is perfectly normal. After all, if just anyone could excel in creating successful video content on YouTube, this guide would not be necessary, now would it?
Thankfully, succeeding on YouTube does not have to be cumbersome. In my experience, there are four things you should keep in mind when presenting yourself as a creator.
Choose a topic you’re familiar with
First off, you need to choose a video topic that you’re comfortable talking about. Otherwise, you are going to find yourself stuck with no ideas too early in the game, thus giving you hardly any room to grow.
Your focus doesn’t necessarily have to be just one thing. I have been making YouTube videos for years now, and I’ve had great success talking about topics that are often complete opposites of one another. Some days I prefer to get personal with my vlogs and other days I enjoy making product reviews. And that’s why I urge you to…
Never restrict yourself
Do you want to know what the best thing about YouTube is? It's a platform that allows you to express your creativity on a scale that was previously never possible. In other words, you are never restricted to exploring just one style in content creation.
Let's say, for example, your YouTube channel is primarily focused around vlogging. But a couple months later you're suddenly interested in doing technology reviews. There's no reason why you cannot do both. And the same goes for any other changes that may come to mind in the future.
It’s your channel, your choice.