The internet was still just a pup when people recognized it was a one-of-a-kind opportunity to have to a voice in the world. It started with sharing ideas via weblog, or blog, and burgeoned into a video dynamo where anyone can post video content online just for fun or even to make a living.
It’s called vlogging and it’s easier than you think. All you need is an interesting concept, a little know-how and some basic equipment. Millions are using video-sharing websites like YouTube and Vimeo to bring marketable information and unique perspectives on life to enchanted internet audiences. Could you be the next online sensation?
If you supply the idea, I’ll give you the rest of the scoop on what vlogging is all about, what you need to do get started and even a few ideas to help you make a few bucks.
What exactly is Vlogging?
If a picture is worth a thousand words, what can you say with video? More than a half billion viewers around the globe watch video content daily and if you have something to share, a video presence gets the attention pen and paper doesn’t.
Vlogging, or videologging, was a natural progression from early column-style blogs and took off in 2005 when YouTube, the world’s first website where anyone could share a video, was born.
The process was a little more complicated in the beginning. YouTube’s first video was a 19-second zoo-shot tutorial from one of its founders about elephant trunks. Today, some of the internet’s most popular vloggers shoot and upload videos from a simple smartphone. If you can use your phone’s camera to record a ballet recital or your kitten’s adorable antics, you can be a vlogger.
How Vloggers Make Money?
Any video can be entertaining when it’s free, but what kind of content are you willing to pay for? Entertainment news, how-to instructions, beauty tips and off-beat human interest stories are among the highest income-generating videos. If you have knowledge to share on an interesting topic in an engaging or insightful way, there may an audience out there waiting for you.
Once people start tuning in, that’s when you can make money by integrating advertising into your videos, looking for product sponsorships, joining affiliate marketing programs, selling your own unique products or marketing your content as a subscription.
With a following, you can start an online channel of your own that could end up garnering more viewers than some major television networks. You may not win an Emmy Award, but having that kind of personal power can be rewarding — especially financially. YouTube’s top beauty vlogger rakes in more than half a million dollars annually and a few popular subscription channels bring in millions, but don’t quit your day job just yet.
It’s never a given that enough people will want to pay for your content to make it financially lucrative and putting yourself out there on enough platforms to generate significant revenue is time consuming. Start by sharing something you love to learn the ropes and see where your creativity leads.
What platforms do vloggers use?
To get their message out, vloggers need video-sharing platforms that attract enough viewers to give their content a fighting chance among the millions of entries posted. YouTube, of course, is the current champion and viewer favorite for a wide variety of content. Other sites like Vimeo and Dailymotion are similar, but with a focus in specific areas.
Choosing a platform is really about your goal. Check them out and see which one you can visualize your content on. If you are a budding filmmaker, Vimeo is the place to get noticed by showing off your shorts skills, while news content and big entertainment buzz would be more likely to snag viewers on Dailymotion. Others include:
Facebook and Instagram aren’t vlogging platforms per se, but are both similar and different enough to help vloggers expand their online presence and build their brands with supplemental content that drives traffic to their channel.
Vlogging Cameras – What Makes a Good One?
It’s possible to vlog via your computer’s webcam or just a smartphone, but cameras and camcorders are inherently designed for the job and are the most likely to offer the right blend of convenience, flexibility and image quality.
In addition to camcorders, there are four primary types of cameras: point-and-shoot, DSLR, hybrids, and cell phone cameras. Each type has pros and cons varying from cost to function and features.
Point-and-shoot cameras are pocket-sized, but powerful. They’re considerably less expensive than DSLRs, but still have decent video capability if your needs aren’t extreme. They’re great for sharing life’s little moments, but may not be the best option for high-powered vlogging of fast-action or motion-filled scenes.
DSLR, or digital single-lens reflex, is a larger camera that typically comes with interchangeable lenses. These are heavier, less portable and can be intimidating for new users, but you’ll get superior video and the flexibility to capture footage in a much wider range of lighting conditions. Nature and sports vloggers need to consider this capability.
Hybrid designs can land anywhere between point-and-shoot and DSLR by taking advantage of new technology that refines the camera’s essential functions. Expect these to be heavier than pocket models, but lighter than DSLRs with a similar variation in price. The image quality rivals DSLR and lenses are interchangeable, but you’ll likely fewer accessory choices.
If you want to start vlogging now but can’t afford a video camera or aren’t yet ready to commit, the camera on your smartphone is probably as good as many point-and-shoots. You won’t have a full range of options and phones are notorious for taking bad video in low-light, but it can be shared instantly and nothing beats it for portability and convenience.
When choosing a camera, it’s good to recognize that you want to be able to take good photos with it as well as shoot video, but if vlogging is your goal, video and audio capability come first. Here are the most important features to look for in a vlogging camera.
1080p or Higher Video Resolution
There are three choices of resolution available in off-the-shelf cameras: 720p, 1080p, also known as Full HD and 4K, or Ultra HD. You’ll also see this reflected in the number frames per second (fps) the video camera can shoot. The higher the fps, the smoother your video will be.
720p is the lowest quality resolution and is increasing less common, even in inexpensive cameras. For vlogging, attracting an audience depends on high-quality imaging, so unless your budget is really tight, 1080p or higher is the target.
1080p is what’s standard on most video cameras and it’s what most vloggers use. 4K or Ultra HD technology is just hitting the market and its high cost may not justify the improvement in video quality for casual vloggers, but as the price comes down, it will be a better value.
It might work for low-budget Hollywood horror movies, but most online audiences don’t appreciate a shaky video. If you’re using a tripod, there’s less to worry about, but for shooting on the move, you’ll want a camera with optical image stabilization.
This is a feature that compensates for the motion in your hand by moving the lens inside the camera in the opposite direction and it’s a must for any motion photography.
Most vlogging action takes place in adequate light, but if you foresee a potential for recording in low-light environments, indoors or out, a camera that can compensate through a variety of mechanisms including an increase in ISO expands your filming capabilities.
ISO reflects the light sensitivity of the camera. It compares roughly to film speed back when cameras had actual film. When a photographer doubles an ISO setting, the camera needs only half as much light to capture identical images. The higher the ISO your camera has, the more capable it is of filming in low light. A range of 100 to 1600 is average.
Increasing ISO, however, isn’t always the best solution for improving light sensitivity since it can cause images to look grainy, but having the widest range of possible options is always a plus.
For shooting a cooking video from a tripod, lens angle isn’t critical, but for super popular selfie-style videos, you’ll want a wide-angle lens between 24 and 28mm. This gives you the best chance of not cropping something important out of the shot or pulling your arm out of its socket to get it.
Flip screens are a vlogger favorite that lets you see exactly what you’re filming when you point the camera at yourself. By seeing what your audience will see, you can adjust whatever is necessary to improve your final product.
External Microphone Input
Audio is a big part of any video presentation, but even advanced cameras are notorious for recording low-quality sound. Since that’s not really a camera’s job, it’s a victory that they capture it at all, but for vlogging videos, it’s critical that the audience can hear the action.
The solution to bad camera audio is an external microphone. Being able to adjust the position of a mic relative to the sound you want to capture is the key to better results. A camera with a jack for an external microphone lets you avoid fuzzy or undecipherable sound.
Smartphones are popular with vloggers despite their shortcomings because they’re a one-device solution for creating and uploading content. Cameras, however, have the same capability if they’re Wi-Fi-enabled. It’s not an essential, but makes things easier and if you’re depending on your vlog for income, it makes you more productive.
What to Consider When Buying a Camera Specifically for Vlogging
There are an abundance of extra features that make cameras better suited for taking certain types of video. If you’re new to video cameras, user-friendly features trump too many bells and whistles and a basic model will help you learn the essentials of shooting video without requiring a big financial investment. For travel vloggers, a portable, lightweight camera beats one that needs its own suitcase.
Consider where you’ll be shooting your video. Do you need a camera that’s water-resistant? What accessories to you foresee yourself needing and does the maker offer them? How does the camera feel in your hands? Personal preferences with regard to the size and complexity of your camera matters because if it’s awkward or uncomfortable to use, your vlogging days are probably numbered.
Some across the board advice for everyone is to stick with makers that have a good market presence. Any manufacturer can replicate another company’s design, but who will be on the other end of the phone when you need technical assistance or replacement parts?
There’s a video camera out there for every vlogger from the novice to the most advanced. You’ll want to consider your purchase carefully, but here’s a breakdown of a few top quality picks to get you started.
My Best Choice Vlogger Camera
There are more expensive cameras on the market, but for professional vloggers who want the best of what matter without paying for what doesn’t; this Canon PowerShot G7 Mark II is it.
It starts with an advanced 20.1 megapixel CMOS sensor and an ISO of up to 12,8000 to capture images in near dark conditions. The DIGIC 7 image processor offers superior image stabilization and autofocus tracking to deliver stunning clarity, even when shooting with a high ISO that may otherwise make picture quality suffer.
Video is recorded in 1080p Full HD at 60 fps with competent stereo sound in popular, easy-to-share MP4 format, but the feature that makes this camera a vlogger’s delight is the Time-Lapse Movie Mode that captures a series of images at slow speed, then combines them into video that looks like it’s moving faster than real time.
Outdoor and travel vloggers can set the shot interval from one to 30 seconds as the sun sets over a brilliant horizon and create a single stream of accelerated images guaranteed to dazzle. When the shooting is done, RAW conversion technology lets you adjust brightness, white balance and more, on the spot, to give you the exact image that inspired you.
If you need icing on the cake, the Canon G7 is Wi-Fi enabled with software that lets you upload your work to websites directly, or download it to compatible devices with the touch of an icon. With a host of other value-added features like a large tilt-up LCD monitor for selfie shots at any angle and an intuitive design that helps new vloggers grasp it’s advanced features, the Canon PowerShot G7 Mark II is a hands-down best pick.
Best 4K Ultra HD Cameras
Pixel for pixel, the Sony RX100 delivers exceptional 4K video compared to other cameras in its size class. It shoots in 1080p, has a very responsive autofocus and can capture images in slow motion with fine-tuned, split-second timing. The only drawback for vloggers is that it’s limited to just 5 minutes’ worth of video.
Enthusiasts point out that it’s possible to make successive 5-minute videos to edit into a longer film, but users report this eats battery like candy and overheats the camera.
Still, it is Wi-Fi enabled with NFC touch downloads and is packed with other premium features, so for vloggers who need 4K quality more than long video duration and don’t have a king’s ransom to spend, the Sony RX100 IV is a highly portable and very capable video camera.
For vloggers turned amateur move-makers, this Sony Handycam is a step up in video capability from nearly any camera and the added equipment in the bundle is everything you need to get started.
What sets this model apart is the phenomenal image stabilization. Frankly, you may never need the tripod it came with. The super-fast, top-quality image processor is the same one Sony uses in its professional models, giving you the power to shoot movies in 4K with no loss of image quality even when panning and shooting subjects in motion.
Wi-Fi connectivity and extra batteries round out this package and make it a great choice for an up and coming Vimeo star.
Best Professional Vlogging Camera
For the professional vlogger, this Canon is light on extras, but big on image quality performance. Taking Full HD video is absolutely effortless with the Rebel’s advanced 19-point autofocus capability. Shoot continuously at 5 fps to capture fast action in any light setting. Video is crisp, clean and ready to download with less time spent on adjustments and edits.
An integrated jack lets you connect an external microphone to pair sound that’s worthy of your film and when you’re ready to download, this is the first of the Rebel line that’s both Wi-Fi and NFC equipped.
Best High-End Vlogging Camera
It’ll set your budget back, but the hybrid Lumix is a vlogging powerhouse. With virtually every feature that can be put into a camera, the Lumix delivers true 4K video quality without the bulk of DSLRs or camcorders.
Travel vloggers looking for a high-performance model that’s small enough to carry anywhere will appreciate the precision-focused interchangeable lenses and ultra-sensitive image quality bursting with vibrant color.
Upload content at blazing speed with enabled Wi-Fi sharing and take advantage of the included Bluetooth capability for a vlogging experience that’s both quick and convenient.
Ultra-compact and user-friendly, the Canon VIXIA HF G40 camcorder produces sharp, Full HD video in virtually any light thanks to a high-definition optical zoom lens and sensitive CMOS sensor.
The DIGIC DV 4 Image Processor dishes up the high speeds necessary for perfect image stabilization and crystal clear images without a tripod, while an interval recording option captures motion at over 1,000 times the original speed.
The VIXIA is good pick for vloggers who need to catch high-speed action and convey natural, realistic color.
Best Mid-Range Vlogging Camera
If you want to start your vlog strong right out the gate, but aren’t ready to spend high-end money, the Panasonic LUMIX is a mid-priced option with a few luxury features.
The 4K Ultra HD resolution creates a more intense viewing experience in comparison to 1080p with four times the number of pixels and outperforms even advanced camcorders. Watch your video as it comes to life on a high-resolution OLED touch-display that tilts and swivels for optimal clarity. If you want to pull a single image from a video to post on a site like Facebook, the LUMIX lets you pause and extract any frame as an 8 megapixel photo.
New vloggers will appreciate that this model is lightweight and easy to handle compared to cameras with similar features and will learn to use it quickly with its intuitive, user-friendly design.
If you’re looking for a step up in quality and flexibility over a point-and-shoot camera, this Canon EOS Rebel combines an 18.0 megapixel CMOS image sensor and DIGIC 4+ Image Processor for detailed, vibrant videos, even in low light and adverse conditions.
The built-in Wi-Fi and NFC technology lets you share video instantly to keep your vlog running efficiently and the package of professional-level accessories includes everything from a wide-angle lens to a tripod, SD cards and cleaning kit.
If you’re a beginner, the learning curve on this camera is steep, but it’s ready to use right out of the box without having to understand how to use every feature and accessory immediately. If you’re an established vlogger looking for seriously improved image quality or a enthusiastic beginner who want to learn photography beyond the point-and-shot level, dollar for dollar, this is my top choice in the mid-range category.
Best Vlogging Cameras for Beginners
Rraycom isn’t a name most people recognize, but they’ve put together a very competent camera that’s feature-packed and particularly user-friendly for beginners.
Basics include 4K video resolution and a flip out LCD screen to help new vloggers see what their finished video will look like. It’s got a wide-angle lens for selfies, an external microphone jack and it’s Wi-Fi enabled for quick processing.
The light sensitivity on this camcorder isn’t the best despite the claims it has night vision capability, but it has most of what the newcomer needs laid out in an easy-to-use format without an excess of technical overkill — all at an affordable price.
The first thing you’ll notice about this Sony is the lackluster 720p video resolution. If you’re just starting out and are tempted to just pass this one over, step back. It’s worth a look.
If you’ve ever wondered why an experienced photographer can get great shots with the free promotional camera from the gas station, while you can’t take a decent video with a professional studio model, the difference is experience.
There are two schools of thought with video cameras. Get the advanced technology that does everything for you, or start with a well-appointed basic camera that’s intuitive enough to teach someone how to use its essential functions without relying on extras.
This Sony has fine optics, a decent 5X zoom lens and very capable image stabilization, but best of all, it was designed for the beginner with a built-in instruction guide that allows you to easily access and manage critical settings.
Best Budget Vlogging Cameras
You couldn’t ask for much more value from this SUNLEA. This vlogging camera has a 3-inch flip-out screen to take videos of yourself without wondering if you got the shot right. Image resolution is Full HD 1080p at 15fps and it has effective image stabilization. The light sensitivity in this camera is in keeping with its value price, but a built-in retractable flashlight helps illuminate dark areas.
Operating the video recorder on this model is a pleasure for beginners and the layout is user-friendly. Don’t look for Wi-Fi capability or integrated editing software, but it’s compact and boasts a good package of features to start out with at a price anyone can afford.
Here’s another great basic Sony with an upgraded HAD CCD image sensor to capture crystal clear images with deep contrast and ultra-fine detail. The quality of the professional ZEISS lens and image stabilization let you take video with minimal blur when subjects are in motion, making it an effective choice for a new sports or nature vlogger.
There’s no built-in Wi-Fi or auto uploading, so you’ll need to download video to another device to share, but this budget vlogging camera gets you off to a good start without spending your future earnings first.
Smart Phones for Vlogging
For-on-the-go vloggers that want to film spontaneous action without getting out other gear, this Samsung Galaxy S9 Smartphone has exceptional photo and video capability and a unique Infinity Display that gives you an edge-to-edge view of your video.
The dual aperture lens self-adjusts to nearly any level of light and it can capture four times as many frames per second as its leading competitors, letting you grab that high-impact motion shot before it gets away.Outdoor vloggers can make a splash with its IP68-rated rain and weather-resistant shell and the internal microphone quality records better sound than some full-featured cameras. Upload material from wherever you are, and then recharge the phone — wire-free — with the optional wireless charger.
Shoot video in stunning 1080p with this surprisingly capable Huawei P20 Lite. It’s sleek, compact and features a new high-definition, wide-angle, front camera for snapping group photos and selfies.
The F2.0 wide aperture and 3D retouching feature uses intelligent recognition and facial mapping to adjust light and shadow for optimal close-ups, while the superior color range brings richness and fine detail to your content.
Upload on the spot; put the phone back in your pocket and go! The color capability of this Huawei is a plus for fashion and nature vloggers and its blend of just the right features makes it a top value for beginners.
If the inspiration is fresh and you want to get started, but still can’t decide between a few select models, make the best decision you can without getting caught up in too many details. There’s a lot to learn. Analysis paralysis is the death of many great ideas, but it shouldn’t spell demise for yours.
Choose a budget and start with one of these top picks. Tomorrow, you may be a star!