The Heavy Chef crew have set out to create a Vlog in order to keep you guys - our community - more engaged, entertained and inspired. Creating a popular content channel is one of our big goals for 2018. And I happen to be the host.
We begun our research in early 2017. Yes, I know we should have launched ages ago - however, read point 1 below on Vlogging preparation before you critique us too hard. This stuff is not easy. Seriously.
In true Heavy Chef style - i.e. first DO, then LEARN, then SHARE, then MASTER - we thought we’d share what we’ve learnt along the way. Note, this is the first of 3 parts and this part is entitled “Preparing to Vlog.”
Some context. I’ve had my fair share of exposure in the TV presenting arena. Although I’m by no means an expert, I’ve been on a fair share on national shows including the Presenter Search on 3 competition in 2015 (see video clip below) and Chivas Regal's 'The Venture' social entrepreneur competition, where I made it to the top 5 in the national finals.
Both of these productions involved a big budget, a significant film crew, and many stylists perfecting your look before the camera’s rolled. All I needed to do was simply present well, and the rest was taken good care of.
Oh, how different the online video content creation game is.
The funny thing is: despite having been on national television, my experience is now relatively irrelevant. Anyone who happens to have been, or aims to be playing in the video content creation space, is back at square one. What I've realised is that we all need to move our efforts online anyway - and that means we're on a level playing field with the millions of millennials out there creating relentless video content online.
You see, online, most presenters also play the role of Researcher and Director and Stylist and Editor. Some, even more roles than that. That is, of course, until you make it big like Caspar Lee, who is South Africa's YouTube success story, or PewDiePie, the biggest vlogger in the world, with an estimated earning of 12 million dollars in 2017; and therefore a team behind them both.
The truth is, these big guys all started out doing everything themselves. It is that fact that makes them fascinating case studies, because it brings these superstars a little bit closer to mere mortals like you and I.
So, can you and I, too, becoming a Vlogging success story?
It's important to note that it’s not all glitz and glam and free stuff like the successful Vloggers make it look. In fact now, in 2018, Vlogging is one of the tougher spaces to make money from, because it’s just so congested. It's so easy to get started and therefore, it's so tough to bubble to the surface. Note, I didn’t say it’s tough to enter into. In fact it’s really easy, and this is what is creating the congestion.
So, please do read these five preparation points on starting a Vlog before you flip your camera around and start filming yourself. These are points that I've learned the last year - and points that I need to continually remind myself of as I embark on launching "Raw", Heavy Chef's first online content foray, which I'm spearheading.
Point 1: Don’t start a Vlog just because everyone else is doing it.
The time has passed where you can just turn your camera on yourself, film your daily activities, edit, upload and gain followers. This worked for a rare few early (very early) adopters, but YouTube is by now overflowing with these types of Vloggers.
The people rising to the top right now truly have something valuable to add, and are playing in a well defined, strategically chosen niche.
Vlogging is a natural overflow of their innate curiosity for the subject at hand.
And they’re natural on camera.
So, as a start, ask yourself these 2 questions:
1) Do you have an innate curiosity, the natural overflow of which could be content that you video log?
2) Are you comfortable enough in your own skin to let your true personality shine through on camera?
Because Vlogging demands authenticity.
Point 2: In Vlogging, Authenticity is KING.
Unlike on TV, you can’t hide behind fancy editing. No, vlogging success demands that you showcase your true self. Of course you can include good editing and sound, but your viewers will want you to tell them that you’re doing that and likely also how - in the comments section beneath the video, of course.
In the research I've undertaken over the past year, I’ve seen it over and over again that you can have the best content that is very well edited and looks totally appealing, but, if you as the presenter lack authenticity, you won't rise above the noise.
Personally, I’m really happy about this part. It's like capitalism for content - you put in the good, solid performance and you'll get rewarded. However, I also know that it demands bravery, because putting your true self out there like that will make anyone feel vulnerable.
So, ask yourself: am I truly brave enough to put my authentic self out there?
Point 3: At the heart of it, Vlogging is about building a community.
A community that you talk and listen to (not just talk at).
Online communities are much like offline communities, except not hindered by the constructs of time and space, as people can dip in and out of their chosen communities at their leisure. This is positive because it means you can focus on building a niche community because esssentialy you’ve got the entire globe as your potential target audience.
Remember, in the offline space, people have a limited range of choices surrounding the content they consume, whereas online is entirely dictated by choice. Therefore, online users will be actively seeking out content that they want to view in line with communities that they want to be a part of.
However, the same etiquette applies both online and offline. Don’t just talk. Talk AND listen to your community.
To discover your VLOGGING niche, ask yourself what community do I want to build?
Point 4: Figure out how to make money.
In particular, ask yourself this question within the niche you’ve chosen or have in mind?
Too many people believe (and no-one knows why) that if you start a Vlog, and do it well enough, the money will come.
Again, this may have been the case if you were one of the very early adopters of Vlogging, but it’s 2018, and it no longer works like that.
Research your space intensely, analyse your competitors, make notes on what’s working and what is not, look for the gaps and if you see none, start the exercise over again with a new niche in mind.
How are you going to make money from vlogging within this niche? Corporate sponsorship? YouTube advertising? Product placements? Native advertising?
Are you enough of an influencer and will your videos get enough views to lure these guys in?
I cannot stress this point enough: you need to take the time to understand your potential revenue channels, within your niche, as free stuff is not going to cut it when you have real bills to pay.
Point 5: Take the niche that first came to mind and then make it smaller.
There is a great podcast where Tim Ferriss talks to the chess prodigy and martial arts champion Josh Waitzkin, where he talks about the need for 'smaller circles' in life. This applies to Vlogging too. Nearly all the big topics have been covered. A better strategy is to choose a niche, and then zero in on a 'smaller circle' topic within that niche.
I realise that I'm espousing general business advice, preached by many business experts, onto the Vlogosphere, but I believe it’s entirely relevant.
I also realise that it may seem stupid, because I'm advocating that you pick a much smaller topic within the bigger picture you want to showcase.
That’s the point.
You’ll get to showcase the bigger picture in time, if you’re strategic that is. This point is entirely strategic, because it means people will seek you out for this random niche advice, because you’ll be an expert in it.
Become known for being really good within a small circle. Then move outwards from this, but only when you’re well known for your smaller niche.
Part 2 of this series will come out soon. Subscribe to the newsletter for updates.