The Vlogger Starter-kit
By Danni Holland Ingram
First, thing is first – for those of you who are not entirely tech-friendly junkies, we will start from square one -- What is a vlog? Well, a vlog is just like a blog in that it can be about anything, from food to travel, to fashion, to hobbies, anything your heart desires. It is a personal journal of sorts. A video platform for you to share your personality, hopes, dreams, passions, interests and life with the world.
Now that we’ve gotten that down, it is important to note that vlogging as an occupation is increasing at an exponential rate. Many companies have taken grasp of the concept of “influencer marketing” and are running full speed ahead in 2017 and 2018 trying to tap into the world of vloggers or “influencers” who have cultivated a dedicated, highly engaged and diverse following. Studies have shown that influencer marketing is not only cheaper than traditional forms of marketing and advertisement – but also more effective. So not only is it a fun and widely practiced past-time, but it is something that you can monetize and use as an additional stream of income – an all while enjoying yourself and making new friends.
So what can you do to take advantage of this market trend? Well, we’re here to give you the basics of what you need – the vlogger starter kit, if you will.
All vloggers obviously need – a camera. If you find that you are tight on cash and you cannot afford to buy a camera -- then you’re in luck because pretty much any smartphone camera of laptop webcam will work for the Vlogging. However, keep in mind that if you want to be taken seriously as a professional and open yourself up to the world of affiliate marketing, sponsored posts and free products, you are going to have to eventually make the first step into purchasing a high quality HD or 4K camera.
I personally recommend the Canon 70D . It is user-friendly, has all of your desired functions, a great starter option with a solid autofocus system and excellent video quality. Now if are looking for something a little bit cheaper you could move toward options such as the Canon T6 or 1300D or even the Nikon D3400 . Now, these will have similar video quality but might not have a few things you might need which is an articulating screen and solid autofocus – which can be practically staples for a solid vlog post.
However, to be realistic – there is really no need to worry about it, the world is not ending here. There are hundreds of quality cameras in cheaper price ranges from various platforms and distributors out there waiting for you. If you are looking for great autofocus and want a smaller kind of camera, I’d probably recommend something like the Canon G7X – which will cost you around $600 retail. This one has a very nice articulating screen and very importantly -- good sound without the need of an external mic. It is very important to keep in mind that video quality and audio quality are both of paramount importance when it comes to vlogging and if you purchase a camera that is lacking in the audio department, you may very well need to take steps to get a hold of some solid audio equipment and external microphones.
GoPro Hero 5 Black is also an extremely popular, portable option. This one is a bit expensive – coming in at around about $500 . Keep in mind these prices are meant to conform to a beginner’s mindset as cameras and equipment can quickly dive into the thousands depending on just what level of professionalism you are looking to convey. However, if you are not looking to get so much into the production aspect of things and vlogging is your passion – these options are perfectly suitable for any of your vlogging quests/aspirations.
As far as the GoPro Hero 5 goes -- just turn it on and shoot. Plain and simple. Absolutely user-friendly. The wide angle lens takes the worry on focus away and it’s portable and compact nature make it perfect for vlogging in any atmosphere, whether you find yourself in your home, office, car or outdoor during a nature run.
This is a big one. I cannot emphasize how important it is to invest in solid audio equipment – or a camera that offers solid audio options. There is nothing worse than having to listen to bad, funnel-y audio, especially if the video content is great. So here are the top four microphones that will get you started on your route to creating all-in-all exceptional content.
First is the Blue Snowball USB Mic . You can hook it up to your computer using a USB port which makes it wonderfully user-friendly and easy for those of you lacking in the tech savvy department. If you are recording video from your webcam then this amazing little gem will record audio simultaneously.
The downside of it is that it’s pretty big – and if you’re not careful about positioning, you could quite possibly get it in your shot. You also have to synchronize the audio recording to your video when you are ready to edit.
Second on the list is an industry favorite -- the RODE Video Shotgun mic . This mic attaches to your DSLR camera and is great for capturing specific sound without a lot of background noise. One nice thing about having this external mic on your camera is that the audio and video will automatically synchronize together which makes editing much easier.
A downside of the mic is that the camera has to be fairly close to you for it to work -- but this obviously shouldn’t pose too much of a problem for vloggers, YouTubers, gamers and livestreamers.
The third option on our list are the Lavalier Mics. A Lavalier mic is just a small microphone that you can clip right onto your clothing. The best part of these are that you can use a few at a time in case you have multiple people in the video and they are wonderfully compact and small so barely noticeable.
One that I personally recommend is the SONY UWPD Lavalier system. One of the reasons that I recommend this is that it is a wireless system, which means total freedom to move around and even more avoidance of feedback due to clothing and pulling. It will also synchronize your videos to make editing easier.
However, the downside of this is that the Sony Lavalier wireless mic system is pricier – of course and we definitely feel it in our duty to warn you that it has a small learning curve and takes a bit to get used to. Another thing to watch out for when using a wireless system is that sometimes you can get interference and noise distortion from the signal – however many times this is directly related to the quality of the device and so it is always best to keep this in mind when it comes to figuring out which device is right for your budget and needs.
Lastly , I am going to recommend the Roland R-05 Recorder – one of my personal favorites. With this device, your audio quality will be flawless. It’s also portable – so exceptionally convenient giving you the ability to carry it around with you in your pocket to various destinations and events to keep the content engaging and fresh. It also features an awesome battery life – so, you really can’t go wrong.
You may have noticed that if you record a video outside, it tends to be much more sharp and clear as compared to your videos which are recorded indoors. This is obviously due to lighting. Lighting makes a major difference when it comes to vlogging and the professionals know this. If you are a makeup or beauty vlogger – solid LED lighting is absolutely indispensable. Vlogging outside or near a window is a good way to ensure you have a lot of great light. Natural light is perfect, however, if you can’t use natural light or don’t have access to a large and open window due to your setup, then you need to use a high-powered artificial light to achieve the same standard.
The LED CN216 attaches right onto your camera so you don’t have to worry about separate stands and tripods. Its easy to bring this kind of panel with you if you are going to be shooting at a friend’s house or have a specific room or location in your house dedicated to these videos. If you are making a beauty vlog, then you should absolutely consider a RING LIGHT – and when we say “consider” we mean it totally isn’t even remotely up for debate.
Ring lighting is great in that it is simple to set up and very easy to use. All you do is place your camera lens inside the hall and the light helps illuminate everything evenly. The upside about these little gems are that they tend to be fairly cost effective. There is always room to upgrade, but there are several uber affordable options on the market – so you don’t have to worry about breaking the bank. Reflectors are also a great investment and are ridiculously underrated and super useful to have around. A lot of times you can get away with just couple of lights and a reflector and you pretty much may as well be shooting for NBC.