Breaking into Youtube

by Riley J. Dennis

My first YouTube video was published in January of 2015, and at that point, I had zero subscribers. Now, nineteen months and 122 videos later, I have just over 16,000 subscribers.

That still pales in comparison to the tens or hundred of thousands of subscribers that most big-name YouTubers have, but it’s enough that I have a nice little community of people willing to watch my videos and share them. So while I’m definitely no YouTube expert, I do have a bit of recent experience in starting and growing a YouTube channel.

My original inspiration was, of course, the YouTube community. I saw people like the vlogbrothers and Laci Green making incredible content that really inspired and helped people, and I wanted to be a part of that. I wanted to make videos which could make people laugh as well as think. I wanted to be a part of this new media revolution — where we ditch our TVs and traditional media avenues to forge new paths into online video. It sounded exciting, and even though YouTube is now ten years old, I think there’s still a lot of room for growth within the community.

So I decided I was going to vlog. I generated some ideas and made some outlines for videos. Then all I had to worry about equipment.

My first videos were filmed on my smartphone. Most modern, high-end smartphones can capture video in Full HD 1080p, which sounds perfect, but there’s a lot more that goes into video quality than just pixel count. You can tell that the colors in my first few videos are pale and unattractive, and there’s absolutely no depth of field (the effect where the background is slightly blurred).

I filmed with just a white wall behind me, used a window for natural light, bought a small plastic tripod that I balanced on books on my window sill, and bought a Rode lavalier mic that could plug into the audio port on my smartphone. It was about as makeshift and cheap as possible, but it was something.

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