This article was submitted by Nick Steven.
Have you ever thought about visiting a cool bar that you heard about, only to find that hundreds of other people had the exact same idea? Annoying isn’t it, when there are so many people all doing the same thing.
Similar to an overcrowded bar is vlogging. Since YouTube hit the mainstream, it seems every man, woman, and dog has their own channel, all clamoring for your attention. Since high-quality video cameras get smaller and budget air travel is a cinch, the amount of travel vloggers has correspondingly risen too.
And risen for good reason. Vlogging is now a real and viable way of making a living in 2016; so no mother, I don’t have to look for a real job now.
While it is prank artists, beauty therapists, comedians, and video gamers that really earn the big bucks via the YouTube Partner Program (PewDiePie and Smosh are channels that earn hundreds of thousands every month), there’s easily enough wealth to spread around for T vloggers. Put out quality videos, gain enough followers, rack up the views, and anyone could see themselves in the upper echelons of the vlogger universe.
While not quite as lofty a dream as being a rock star or Hollywood actor, being a T vlogger is rapidly becoming a pastime where you really need to shine to stand out. There is a lot of stiff competition for T vloggers, and newbies will have to work a lot harder to get noticed (no T vlogger is ranked as a top 10 YouTube star as yet).
As you may know, Goats on the Road has its own weekly T vlog series with a new episode every Wednesday (nearly at Episode 100!), so travel videos are already part of this blog’s very essence. But right now I’d like to point out what I find most important from a viewer’s point-of-view when it comes to T vlogs.
Of course, there will be T vloggers that I may not necessarily be interested in seeing, but as an avid traveler and YouTube watcher (I wish that was a real job), I’ve seen enough travel vlogs to separate the great from the mediocre. Here are my observations…
Make me want to go there (or avoid it)
If you’re documenting London, for example, then show me the Banksy artworks, Victorian history, party scenes, vibrant markets, niche stores, and colorful characters. But you can also show me the congested underground, expensive food, and rainy weather.
I want an honest video. You don’t always have to ‘sell’ something; if you genuinely had a bad time and think a place is garbage, then show me why, but I find it hard to believe that a city is either completely amazing or wholly terrible.
I don’t want to see a video that feels like it’s forced to show only the best parts, as London’s tourist board can do that; I want to see the true London.
Something different from everyone else
Didn’t I see that transition on another video? Haven’t I heard that music somewhere else? I’m sure I’ve seen that angle before right? I want to avoid these questions. The childhood taunt ‘anything you can do, I can do better’ does ring true for T vlogging.
Maybe this is a slight tangent, but when filming The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, I heard that several members of the cast and crew camped overnight in one location, simply to get a shot of the characters running against a sunrise.
The shot lasts about five seconds and isn’t really important in the scheme of things, but it’s a beautiful scene and really stuck with me. Plus, the dedication to the final product is commendable to say the least. In essence, go that extra distance and the rewards will pay off.
Bring out your personality
As many standup comedians or TV characters display, you don’t necessarily have to be bursting with energy and smiles to capture attention. English comedian Jack Dee or Parks and Recreation character Ron Swanson (played by Nick Offerman) are well-known for being sour, grouchy, and mean, but are still hilarious and steal the limelight.
There is such a thing as too much bubbly personality in front of the camera, but I also don’t want to see someone with as much appeal as a cardboard box. Show your real personality, whatever it is, but find that middle-ground where you’re entertaining, funny, and interesting, but not overbearing or boring.
Sure, you might give T vlogging a go for several weeks and do a decent job of it, but if your uploads are getting further and further apart (to the point that you’re having to force yourself just to do it), then it might be time to throw in the towel. If you’ve really got the motivation to be a successful T vlogger, then people will expect regular content, as that’s the only way you’ll succeed.
Set yourself deadlines of a new video once a week (like Goats on the Road), and start to condition viewers to check out your channel for a brand new weekly upload. Even if you haven’t traveled anywhere and are short on footage, you can always do something low-fi, perhaps just you in front of the camera discussing your best travel hacks your own favorite adventures from the past.
Great quality and perfect runtime
If a 10-second video of a skateboarding dog is better quality than your five-minute T vlog of Buenos Aires, then it’s time to invest in a superior camera. I expect at least 720p, if not 1080p, if I’m going to watch a T vlog. Our eyes just can’t seem to handle anything worse!
Ideally, a camera with good sound quality is key, because if I have to strain my ears then I’m clicking the cross and saying goodbye to the channel. Furthermore, please try to keep the camera stable, I’d rather not get motion sickness by sitting at my desk. Lastly, cut runtime to around three or four minutes.
Perhaps our attention spans are getting smaller, but most of us prefer short and sweet videos. Think quality, not quantity. Perhaps ask a few friends or family members to watch your first few videos as a focus group, then cut out the parts that don’t get good reactions.
Obviously, there are no simple black and white rules to producing a great T vlog, but there are common themes that run through every successful vlogger. Do your research, watch other T vloggers, get traveling, then what happens next is a choice I leave to you.
Nick Steven has done his fair share of world traveling, but now has a calmer life as a freelance journalist living in London (if you can call London calm).