Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Bad YouTube, good friends and handy hints on vlogging, blogging and podcasting

I just spent a good hour with my dear friend Nicole @NicNacPaddiWack having a few beverages and talking about bad YouTube videos. Recently, Google decided to link YouTube accounts with Google accounts. That's fine except they decided to link mine to an email address I deleted two years ago. I no longer have access to my YouTube account but apparently "they're working on it". Yeesh. This is why I now watch videos on Vimeo while weeping for all my missing subscriptions and access to 3 video uploads. 
This whole rant of mine led to watching potentially one of the worst film critics I have ever seen (who I will not link to because I'm not that much of a bitch.) Let's just say this particular reviewer sounded like he was reading at a 3rd grade remedial level and his personality rivals that of Dick Cheney. It was painful to watch! Nicole and I had decided to do a quick podcast to give some tips for people out there who are keen to do videos, podcasts and blogs. Funnily enough, I tested the new mic I bought for $12 off the internet and it was terrible audio quality. Go figure. Since I can't give you a podcast,  I've decided to do a blog. Nicole and I have a combined total of 12 years in the radio biz so we think we have a thing or two to offer in terms of advice.
Here's a break down of our hot tips:
1. Prepare for your broadcast. Think about what you'll discuss, open relevant webpages before hand if possible, make some dot points or a script (just be very aware of how you're reading it if you do). This will make your broadcast a bit more streamlined and professional. 
Create a running sheet of what will be on the show and how long it will last. Try to stick to this as closely as possible. 
This is a very simple running sheet:
  • Show Intro - Discuss what is on the show
  • First topic - Describe what to talk about here
  • Second topic- Describe what to talk about here
  • Third topic- Describe what to talk about here
  • News - This could be news related to whatever your main subject is (ie movies, music, etc)
  • Outro - what you covered, where to find more information, what's on next time.
 2. Edit. Edit. Edit some more. No one wants to sit there and wait for you to find your notes or get up a webpage. Edit all that out. If you're doing a live broadcast, use a script, make a plan and try not to stray from it too much. Avoid ums and awkward pauses and edit those out if you can. Doing an interview?  You don't have to include every single question. Make your subject sound good and they'll want to come back again. Audacity is a free audio editing program which is brilliant for podcasts and there are a few great video ones out there too.
3. Listen to, or watch yourself, from an outsiders POV. It's all well and good to spend 3-6 hours on a video or podcast and have it look or sound amazing but if you continue to make the same mistakes over and over again, you'll have trouble keeping regular viewers. I know a guy who has thousands of followers on twitter but only a few subscribers on his YouTube channel, though he makes videos regularly. This is because after tons of videos, he hasn't changed a single thing about his broadcast. He's making all the same mistakes. Be your own critic! 
4. Be yourself. There's nothing worse than someone who is too scripted or rehearsed, too stiff and takes themselves too seriously. Just have fun! If you're relaxed, your audience will be too. Surely you're a fan of someone else who makes videos, podcast or writes a blog right? Don't copy them but learn from how they do it. Inject some personality into whatever you do. Authenticity is important.
5. Add some polish. Don't use copyright sound effects or music but do up an intro, add some effects. Don't add every free sound effect you can find either, just keep it simple. Edit your broadcasts and blogs, put in some transitions, use whatever resources are available to you. Once again, look to others for ideas. You'd also be surprised how simple something like using the same fonts on videos or blogs will create a great image for you.
6. Phone a friend. Sometimes you need website or logo help. Sometimes it's editing. You might have a friend who's a great writer. Sometimes you just need that one honest friend who will tell you how it is. There is no need for you to do it alone. Even if it's just giving commentary, they can help. Also, don't discount haters. Though they aren't giving kind, constructive criticism, sometimes they're saying what others are too nice to say. Pay attention. You can also use your social networks (Facebook, Twitter) for some good advice.
7. Look at me! (Social Networking) You now have a pretty schmick podcast, vlog or blog. How do you get it noticed? First, tell all your friends! You can use social networking tools like Twitter, Facebook or Digg to generate views. Don't forget to give back and help out those who help you by cross-promoting their blogs etc.
8. No excuses!!! Another internet acquaintance of mine wants to be an actor or a TV show host. He lives in a rural part of America. When asked why he doesn't move to LA or take various other steps to further his career, he has every excuse in the book as to why  he can't do it. It's too far. He doesn't make enough money. He'll never make it anyway. WAH WAH WAH. The only person stopping you from being successful is YOU.
I hope you will take this advice and make your dreams come true. If you have more to add, please do so in the comments. 
Finally, here are links to some people who do what they do very well. Watch, listen, read, LEARN!
One of THE BEST podcasts on movies you will ever hear. Well researched and wonderfully edited, these podcasts are what you want to achieve if you're doing a media related show.  Plus, the hosts really know their stuff! The website is amazing and they've done almost all of it on a 100% volunteer basis!
Another film related one, this vlog has a great production look but is mainly watchable due to actress/comedian host Grace Randolph who has charisma and presents well written, snappy segments.

The Sartorialist
This fashion blog is an icon. It's simply styled, sticks with a working format and the writing is clearly well thought out and edited.
This live show is still finding its feet but is a great example of how someone can develop over time. Watch earlier videos first and then progress, noting now host Nic ups the ante in terms of preparation, guests and overall look. A show that is a must for emerging filmmakers.
Ok, another film critic, but he's damn funny. This is what I mean about preparation, charisma and editing. 
Follow me on twitter! @jenmovies


ResidentAKJ said...

Hi Jen,

The only thing I would add is to make sure you blog/vlog/pod as much as you have time for. I'm sure the best bloggers started out amateurish and a bit lost, and some of us still are.

Jen said...

I know I'm still learning! I have so much more to see and do. I'm one of the worst people for not being regular with blogs and podcasts. I really need to find some ongoing motivation. :)

Anonymous said...

Great tips & sites for us to check out. I am now subscribe to Jeremy Jahns. Thanks! Keep up the work Jen. Know you are busy like us all so thanks for sharing your time with us!

Jen said...

Thanks Don! Jeremy Jahns is the bomb. I could watch his videos all day! I'm going back and watching a bunch of his older videos at the moment. Hopefully people will get something out of this article. :)

Aleisha said...

Go Jen. Great post!
Youtube are soooooo helpful when it comes to those issues.