STB #16 – Becoming a video blogger – What I’ve learned

So… I’m now several months into this little (OK, rather large) endeavor. You’re reading this on my blog site hosted on my domain (shadowtron.com). I’m also producing video content that’s being posted on YouTube. This site for now is basically a wrapper for my video contents. As I’ve already learned a few things along the way I thought I’d share this with you. Right or wrong this is how I got this off the ground.

I spent considerable time trying to come up with a name for the blog, it needed to capture what I wanted to blog about and be easy to remember. I’d decided I wanted to buy a domain to go along with the blog which became very limiting. It was easy to procrastinate behind “I don’t have a name so I can’t blog……”

Rule one: Jump in and get started instead of, as I did find reasons to not produce content.

I also didn’t want something that was specifically mine, for example “NeilsTechBlog” was too specific while “aTechBlog” was too generic. A lot of ideas came and went; often the domain name was already taken.

Rule one revisited: Jump in and get started instead of, as I did find reasons to not produce content. Content can be added later once you have a place to host it. YouTube lives to host video.

The name “ShadowTron” came to me in the parking lot at a local Starbucks. The tag line “In the shadow of the electron” came to mind. A quick check and the domain “shadowtron.com” was available as were the .info, .net, .org and .us domains. I jumped in and bought the domains.

First mistake: I didn’t research the term “ShadowTron” well enough. Someone already had the “ShadowTron” twitter handle, someone else has “ShadowTron” YouTube channel. It seems to be the name of a character in a game or perhaps some anime. I should have researched more but as I already owned the domain I pushed forward. As I didn’t discover this until very late into the game I became somewhat trapped.

Second mistake: After buying the domain I didn’t realize that hosting wasn’t included in the deal; as obvious as this should have been it never occurred to me. More money was spent to get hosting for “shadowtron.com”

Third mistake: To add a push page to redirect Shadowtron.net, .info, .org and .us to the .com page seems to require me to buy hosting for each page. At the moment these are dead pages. I don’t want to shell out more money for these.

Fourth mistake: Registering the page with my personal info (name, phone # etc.) public has lead to many phone calls offering to create a custom web site for me. I’m also getting email. I could have spent extra money to make the registration private but didn’t. The calls persist though they have slowed down a bit.

So now we move onto creating content. At shadowtron.com there is static content; words and pictures. It’s text blog that I hoped would eventually have links to YouTube videos. I posted a few text blogs, friends and family all take a look and……

Fifth mistake: How do I drive some views to the page? Still don’t have a complete plan for this. Ugghhhhh…….

So, it’s time to create some video content. Where to start, video camera…. nope, don’t have one. A microphone…. nope, don’t have one. Lights…. nope, don’t have any. Subjects…. yep, lots of stuff I can talk about, can tear down, can repair.

I shot my first couple of video’s using an iPhone 6S. Using the built in microphone didn’t provide very good audio.

Sixth mistake: Jumping straight in; no practice video to learn the process, no checking audio levels. Now I have video with shitty audio….. what next?

I need software to edit the video. It was shot in multiple takes that need to be edited together. I spent $50 and bought the Magix Movie Pro package, I’m actually very pleased with it; finally something that wasn’t a mistake.

Seventh mistake: As I edit the shots into a single video the transitions are very sudden and very hard. I didn’t leave a couple seconds of silence at the beginning and end of each shot to allow a smooth transition.

Tip number one: Adding 1-2 seconds of silence at the beginning and end of each shot has resulted in the video’s being MUCH easier to view. If you take nothing else away please remember this. Hard transitions are jarring and difficult to watch; leave room, pad a bit with silence then use a smooth transition when you edit the shots into an uploadable video.

Eight mistake: Intro’s and Outtro’s. My first video has a 10-15 second intro, some text and a bit of music. Based on the few views I got people were not making it past the first 10 seconds.

I reviewed some of the videos bloggers I watch, a few do a quick verbal intro such as “Today we’ll be taking a look at my quardoentarbulatorenmachadesmacnifico……..” Other just jump right in. For the majority of my videos I’m simply jumping right in. My view times seem better this way.

Ninth mistake: I assumed rather foolishly that I could re-upload a video over the top of one I had previously uploaded… foolish me. I found myself in a bit of a quandary due to this. I edited and uploaded a fresh copy of a video however I didn’t want to take the original one down as it had a few views. I added a “card – see YouTube for an explanation” at the start of the video saying “click me to see an updated video” however it seems no-one is clicking the “card”.

Tenth mistake: As I mentioned above I didn’t check twitter or YouTube to make sure the “ShadowTron” blog handle was available. I’m officially “ShadownTron Blog” on YouTube as someone else has “ShadowTron”. On twitter I’m “shadowtron3”. Not exactly excited about this………

Eleventh mistake: Not pressing the “record” button. My two longest videos, both repair videos, what I hope will become the driver to bring traffic to the blog have major sections missing. In the first one I didn’t put the camera in video mode thus I have a set of pictures and no video for many segments. The second repair video has great video of me setting up the shots but is missing the actual parts where I talked for a number of the critical shots. Apparently I got confused and stopped recording when I wanted to be recording and visa-versa. Two long videos, both with somewhat painful but successful repairs; both were good examples of teaching basic trouble-shooting; both useless. Again ughhhhhhh…..

Tip number two: I’m using my iPhone to record video. It does a really nice job; I’m ok with the video it shoots. Of course the haters will eventually start bitching about white balance, too much hand held video etc. They’ll start bitching, besides telling them to fuck off now they will be ignored. Grow a thick skin, you can’t make everyone happy. You are limited by the equipment you can afford to shoot, edit and post the video. Few people say “good job” but most people who don’t like something will tell you so. Ignore the haters; keep in mind you’re posting for an audience that may appreciate you video but may never tell you so. When you watch a good video actually give it a thumbs-up. If it’s truly awesome tell them so in the comments.

Tip number three: As a newb video blogger I’m trying interact with the bloggers I follow as I want my viewers to interact with me. Give thumbs-up, enter comments when it’s well done, participate. Be the person you want your viewers to be.

Twelveth mistake: I bought a tripod mount for my iPhone; though it would be great for shots. Somehow I bought an iPad mount, doesn’t work well with my iPhone. I can kluge it to hold the iPhone so it’s not a total loss.

First win: I bought a lapel mike that plugs directly into the headphone jack on the iPhone. It actually does a good job overall and I’m very pleased with it. In my case I need to use the little adapter it came with to attenuate the audio level a bit so it doesn’t clip.

Thirteenth mistake: Forgetting to plug the microphone into the iPhone. Nuff said.

Fourteenth mistake: Wearing a zippered hoody while I shot video. The zipper and hoody slid all over the mic while I’m recording. Lots and lots of unintended noises drowning out what I’m saying.

Second win: I actually like the handheld video I’m shooting, it’s a bit raw but I believe it helps pull the viewer in to the lab. When I move the camera in to point at something it’s a bit like the viewer leaning in for a better look.

Fiftheenth mistake: Assuming editing the video would take less time then watching it; sadly this isn’t the case. I end up watching each shot to make sure I want to include it and to look for misspeaks. Often I know a shot has gone bad; I stop the camera, start a new shot and start over. Obviously the early video needs to be deleted. After watching all the shots and picking out the ones to keep I bring them into the movie software, add transitions, add my outtro then convert it to the final video. I then watch back the final video just to be sure it’s OK.

Sidenote one: David Jones of the eeVBlog stated that he has stopped watching back the final video; he lets the misspeaks simply happen; if it’s a bit goofed up so be it. My point is this: I can be a bit of a perfectionist; my video’s are rough, they are off the cuff, the are lightly edited then posted. I had to quickly learn to edit, save, review and upload. Letting the mistakes live was hard initially; I finally decided that unless something I said or did could put the viewer in danger if they tried it that I would let the little stuff slip. Let it go, let it be organic, off the cuff. You can edit for perfection OR you can post videos; you can’t do both.

Sixteenth mistake: My first unboxing video; holding packaging at chest level as I open it. My mic is a chest level….. another nuff said………

Seventeenth┬ámistake: Again my first unboxing video; look, something cool in the box; let me show it to you. Too bad it wasn’t in frame…… another nuff said…….

Eighteenth mistake: Posting an unboxing video on YouTube with my full name and home address clearly visible……

Nineteenth mistake: As was pointed out by mpopp I’m allowing “unmoderated comments” to be posted. I’ve set the site default to “moderated comments”.

Another suggestion. You may want to set your comment posts to be moderated. That way you can approved what is posted.

Once the blackhat internet marketers find your site they will spam it with all sorts of comments; embedding links to try and boost their fake sites or sell their fake products.

Twentieth mistake: I built a little iPhone mount to allow me to shoot video for my YouTube channel. To get the camera lens as low as possible I rotated the camera so the headphone jack was too the left. I went on to shoot about 25 minutes of video. When I sat down to edit it the video is upside down in the editing software; looking at the forums this is an issue many are encountering in the package. The sad part is the raw video plays back fine in other players and apps. The only fix seems to be to use a different editing package to open the file then save it again as an mp4. Of course this requires me to have another editing package. I’m still looking for a solution.

Twenty-first┬ámistake: Exposing my private IP address on a number of videos. I was able to use the YouTube “blur” edit tool to blur out the IP address. My email address was exposed a few times as well…..

Tip number four: Shoot a bit of test video. Open it in your editing package, check the sound level; orientation of the video etc. before you jump in and shoot a long video.

Sidenote two: Audio levels are a problem for me. I’m using a lapel mic that plugs into the headphone/mic jack on my iPhone. Having the mic low on my shirt gives OK audio. If it’s at chest level I get clipped audio. The mic came with a small adapter to attenuate the mic level down a bit. It works well so far. Check your audio levels.

Tip number five: Business cards for your blog, YouTube channel etc. I’ve ran into several people who have common interests or have some interest in my blogs. Being able to hand them a business card with the URLs, blog name etc. might help drive some views. Having these at a Maker Fair, Meetup group etc. seems like a good idea.

So, what’s next:

Well, hopefully I can keep adding to the win list while the growth of the mistake list slows down. I’ve learned something from every video I’ve shot and from the ones that ultimately I had to abandon.

In electronics they say the best way to really learn it is to fail; then to push ahead until you understand why it failed until you get it working. Video blogging seems to work the same way.

I’ve got a 2nd iPhone 6 that I plan to use to do fixed shots; either with the iPhone oin the tripod or clamped to my work bench. I turns out the PCB Holder attachment for my Panavise actually does a good job holding an iPhone. Of course editing both fixed show video and handheld video will increase the editing time but perhaps it will be worth it.

At this point I have more ‘mistakes’ then I do videos. I could be discouraged but instead I’m excited and motivated. I’m learning; I just told you 17 things I did wrong; if even one helps you make a better video or do a better job kicking off your blog then I’ve done a good thing.

And finally my biggest win: You, you’ve read this far and maybe you picked up a tip or two, perhaps you learned something. Hate what I’ve said? Love what I’ve said? Tell me. Constructive criticism will be considered.

3 thoughts on “STB #16 – Becoming a video blogger – What I’ve learned”

  1. I subscribed to your YouTube channel and found my way here via your video closing page. I just received my RTB2004 and was surfing the tubes looking for videos of how it is being put to use.

    Regarding the need to purchase hosting for each of your shadowtron.* pages. That is not necessary. You can configure a ‘301 redirect’ for each of the domains. This instructs the hosting provider, looks like godaddy based on your page footer, to send visitors to your ‘live’ site if they mistakenly go to your .org, .net, .etc domain names.

    Google: 301 redirect godaddy and I’m sure you will find the steps necessary to configure the DNS settings.

    Good stuff. I’m looking forward to more of your videos. Keep vlogging and blogging! You’ve got an interested follower here.

  2. Another suggestion. You may want to set your comment posts to be moderated. That way you can approved what is posted.

    Once the blackhat internet marketers find your site they will spam it with all sorts of comments; embedding links to try and boost their fake sites or sell their fake products.

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