My vlogging career has had a rocky start, as I expected. I’ve been at it for a little over a month and have produced 11 episodes of my show, which doesn’t currently have a name (more on that later). According to my original design, I should have 35-40 episodes by now, but I’m not even close.
And still, I’m pretty proud of what I’ve accomplished and how much I have learned in a short time, with not much effort. In this post, I want to explain why I’ve made more progress than it looks and why my approach has radically shifted—even after only 11 episodes.
The Original Goal
The original goal of my video show was to learn how to produce video. Specifically, I wanted to do this by producing a small video every weekday, with the show being called “Monica Today.”
I have made a ton of progress on the general goal while completely overhauling the specific goal. This is not surprising at all to me, especially because when I created the original goal, I had never produced a video for public consumption in my life.
People who don’t know how to make videos are not going to give good advice on how to create videos efficiently. That is just common sense. So I was not able to come up with a good plan for video-making because I did not know how to make videos. Duh.
I learned a number of lessons from producing 11 videos:
Coming Up With Content
The first thing I learned was that I don’t want to create content for other authors or for a small community. When I first started the videos, I basically already knew this, but also I knew that I didn’t have any idea what I should talk about. So the first few videos were just about whatever, because the content was not the part that actually mattered to me. Learning how to make a video was the larger goal. I tried a couple different topics: first, myself and my experiences, and later, a very serious video about a topic I cared about (#heforshe) and a not so serious video about a frivolous topic (Snowpiercer).
I hated making the videos about my experiences because they seemed so self-indulgent. I have said a couple of times now that I don’t want to be the subject of my videos. I want to work in the video medium professionally someday, but definitely from behind the camera.
(Ironically, I am comfortable being the subject in the writing medium, like in this blog post. But the video medium doesn’t work for me.)
I also felt serious frustration making the #heforshe video. I didn’t come across well, I didn’t communicate well what I was trying to communicate, and I didn’t feel articulate in general—so much so that I meant to write a follow-up post and never got around to it. #heforshe is my most viewed video, but also the one that I’m least proud of.
I felt most at ease over the Snowpiercer video, certainly while making it, but also, the editing was crazy easy because I basically didn’t do any. This made the video much more enjoyable, because the tech side of things is quite boring to me.
After the Snowpiercer video, I decided that I only want to make fun, frivolous videos about television, books, movies, music, and games that I like. If I have a serious topic or opinion, a blog post works better for me, at least for now.
Editing My Videos
The second lesson that became apparent after that first filming week was that there was no way I could continue creating my videos as I had been. My process was basically, wake up at 9am, record my video, edit my video, publish my video. This took me until around 1 or 2pm. Part of this was because I wasn’t very good at it, but the other piece of it was because I was trying to go from idea to finished product all at once.
I would never, ever write a book this way, so it didn’t make sense to do videos this way either. Immediately, the concept behind “Monica Today” was out the window. I originally thought that Youtube was all about immediacy, but quickly realized that most of the “Youtube Stars” do not make videos every day. In fact, many only make a video once a week, on a schedule. That’s because it can easily take all day to make a really good video… even more so if you want to keep your video under 5 minutes.
The next obvious thing to do once I was free of the Monica Today constraints, was to batch my tasks. My next iteration was to film a bunch of videos once a week, then edit them in a batch, then publish them in a batch.
Another obvious change was to just stop editing the videos. I could film videos is about 30 minutes, but the editing took hours and hours, no matter what productivity tactics I threw at it. I decided to just let the camera roll and forget about the cutaways, which I thought would reduce filming time (it did) and reduce editing time (it did—significantly, though there is still room to improve).
The whole plan worked in theory (I tried it last week and filmed four videos), but created a new (and huge) problem. I’ll get to that in a minute.
Also… I’m looking for a new name for my show. Leave a suggestion in the comments of this post if you have any ideas.
Learning How To Be on Camera
Last week I made four videos (episodes #8-11). Each of those videos ended up over 10 minutes, to my dismay. There were a few reasons why, so this is the next set of issues I’m working on.
First, I have a lot of nervous ticks that make me ramble. The most offensive to me when watching my videos back are the tongue clicking, the ums, the “I thinks,” and the tendency I have to repeat my same point multiple times while I think about my next point. This “throat clearing” (as Sean Platt would call it) adds a ton of bloat to my videos. I didn’t catch this before because I was editing my videos so heavily. I was essentially able to think about my next point, speak it into the camera, and pause to construct my next sentence.
I would ideally like to be able to do this naturally and in real-time. I outline my videos beforehand, so this shouldn’t be impossible. It just takes practice.
Second, because the videos are so long, the editing is so long too. If I could get my content down to six minutes or less, I could spend only 10-15 minutes editing each video. This would be a huge, huge improvement over my current effort. And at that point, I could add in some simple edits that would make my videos a lot more engaging. I could do things like switch camera angles, bring in extra images and text, and more.
Lastly, I could make more videos at once and flush them out over weeks, maybe even months. It’s pretty apparent to me that making a better video is more efficient than making a lot of videos. Again, not surprising, considering I’m coming from a fiction background… it’s roughly the same principle.
My next iteration of videos is going to focus heavily on my own presentation abilities. I want to express my ideas in 5 minutes or less, and find a way to batch-create them without having them look exactly the same for four videos in a row.
I’m hoping to do this next iteration before the end of the year. I have to admit that the idea of having a vlog has lost some of its appeal, given the state of the YouTube community and the hatred that spews back and forth between some of the groups within, especially about gender issues and a number of sub-categories of gender issues (#GamerGate, #HeForShe, a ton of controversy over YouTube stars who’ve been accused of rape and emotional manipulation, and more). I understand that every community has bad apples, but the negativity in the YouTube community feels high right now, and it doesn’t make me feel excited to be lumped in with the group. That said, I enjoy being on camera and talking about the frivolous things I’m passionate about.
Now, if only someone else could do the filming, editing, posting, distributing… 🙂
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