How to Start a Vlog: BlogHer12

by francine Hardaway on August 8, 2012

I learned to write quite a long time ago. The high school AP English teacher who taught me, a middle-aged frumpy woman by the name of Dr.Gordon, began by telling us to think about the audience. I am not sure I understood her then, although I have never forgotten what she said. I understand it now.

Nothing has changed about that dictum, although decades of students have passed through school since. Most of them do not bother to think about the audience. Or, as Jeff Jarvis says, “the people formerly known as the audience.”

On Saturday at BlogHer12, I went to a Video Blogging Bootcamp, because one of my unaccomplished objectives is to start a video blog. Or at least to add video to the blog I have.

The Bootcamp was very useful. The presenters started out by asking us to consider the audience.

I should already know that, but it has been the sticking point up to now for me. Which of my audiences will I be speaking to? My Facebook friends? My Twitter followers. My current blog readers? Or an entirely new group of people I haven’t “met” yet? My current blog is old-fashioned in its lack of focus. It evolved from a desire to share thoughts, not achieve objectives.

The next major piece of advice from the presenters was to have a plan. Another thing I rarely do.

They suggested about two minutes of video, in which I would be specific, using the first fifteen seconds, the most crucial, to tell the audience what I am going to tell them and what they will get from watching the video. I must stay on topic, deliver my content, and end with a call to action, such as “go to my site, subscribe to my blog, or leave a comment below.”

The equipment doesn’t have to be expensive. I can start with my own webcam (I have a Logitech 910, which Leo la Porte recommends.) An inexpensive Cowboy triple lighting kit costs $59.99 And a Rode ¬†microphone (wireless and wearable) costs $149.99. I’ve spent more on iPads.

I can learn how to edit, add annotations that tell viewers where my site is, and create titles on iMovie or Adobe Premiere, and upload everything to YouTube.

But if I build it, will they come? Not so quickly. Now the work begins. Again, where’s my audience? What are they searching for? To find them, I am going to have to know my keywords–I’ll use the free Google keyword search tool. I’ll make sure I have a keyword-rich, descriptive title, and I will use those keywords and more to tag the post.

So instead of doing what I do now–uploading my videos to YouTube with as little description as I can get away with–I am going to have to learn patience with SEO.

Key things to remember? ¬†Calls to action, tags, and keywords. And something I rarely do–ask my audience to share or subscribe or both. I’ll have to get out of the habit of tagging everything with my own name, which no one is searching for. I will also add information about my social media sites and how to follow me.

Even for someone like me, who writes every day somewhere, all this seems like a daunting task. It is amazing the women at BlogHer have all mastered some or all of this.

Here is a link to the presentations and the accompanying “cheat sheets.” Please start training with me if you wish. I’ll race you to complete this goal:-)

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