How to Tell a Compelling Story with a Vlog on YouTube

With Milwaukee-based Vlogger, Martin Moore

March 2, 2020
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On this episode of JMatt’s Social Club, we take a look at Vlogging and YouTube with our guest, Martin Moore (@MartinMoorejr on Twitter), the official photographer and filmmaker for Koss - as well as Milwaukee’s most active vlogger!

First, a vlog is video log (or blog) that often showcases a portion of someone’s life (typically a day in the life). A popular platform for uploading this content is on YouTube.

Related: Catch up on all episodes of JMatt's Social Club!

While there are many reasons someone may choose to create a vlog, Martin found himself in a creative rut looking for inspiration. He searched for Milwaukee vloggers on YouTube and noticed that there weren’t many people creating vlogs let alone telling actually stories while exploring the city. For him, it started a creative outlet to get more exposure to his photography and it evolved into a way to document his life.

If you’re considering vlogging as a possible content style, you’re not alone. But Martin warns to be careful about doing it for the wrong reasons – such as imitating the success of your favorite vloggers that you’re watching. If you genuinely want to document your life, then you’re less likely to burn out from creating your own vlog.

One reason people hesitate to start a vlog is that they think they’re ‘boring’ or that people may not be interested in the story they have to share, but Martin argues that as long as you have a beginning, middle, and an end, you can make any story interesting.

Related: How to Host an Engaging Facebook Live Video Stream (Episode 4)

It’s really important to set up your day and what you’re going to be doing followed by a conclusion. Along the way, you’ll start to show off certain habits that your audience will come to expect (for Martin, it’s including his key fob to get into work each day), we all have them and they become more pronounced as you tell more stories.

I think a lot of people overlook the end to their vlogs and some often seem to end abruptly. If you find yourself in this situation after editing your vlog, you can totally jump in and record a quick recap to add to the end (even if it’s a few days later).

The next question people often consider before getting into their vlogging experience is what should they be shooting with. We are luckily in a time where our iPhone (or Android) has a high enough quality camera that can capture the moment for us. Martin got his start with an iPhone 5 (or 6) and did the edits on iMovie straight from his phone; over time he upgraded to a DSLR camera with a tripod and mic while editing with FinalCut Pro on his computer.

Related: How to Stand Out on TikTok with Unique Content (Episode 3)

However, Martin found himself getting discouraged from creating vlogs as his set up became more intrusive and he found it easier to transition back to just using his iPhone 11 Pro. At the end of the day, there is no one way to shoot your vlog, find what’s comfortable for you.

It’s okay to have an older camera to shoot your vlog with, but the audio is one area you can’t ignore. If your camera’s built-in mic is less than best, you should consider investing in a mic that you can plug into your camera. About a year ago, I invested in a $79 Rode VideoMic Me-L that has a plug-in specifically made for iPhones (comes with a wind guard, great for outdoor shoots).

An additional way to improve the viewer’s experience of your vlog is to add b-roll (which is basically additional footage and angles that go along with the story you’re trying to portray). If you’re just talking at the camera non-stop, it could get boring to watch; so, add in b-roll that fits the story to keep the viewer’s attention.

Related: Our 2019 Milwaukee Day Adventure (JMatt's Vlog)

Moving on to music; copyright is a major issue to keep in mind when selecting the right songs to accompany the story you’re trying to tell. If you steal music, you run the risk of your video getting taken down or even losing your account. Just because you see other people using the popular songs, doesn’t mean they have permission to or that you should – at the end of the day, it’s a risk (often not worth taking).

Soundcloud is one great resource to explore music that may not be as mainstream but has artists that offer music that can be used for vlogs and other styles of content. YouTube also offers free music that you can add to your content. If you’re willing to invest a little extra time, you can find quality songs that fit the tone of the story that you’re trying to set.

When it comes to distribution and uploading your final video to YouTube there are few things to keep in mind. First, when you’re picking a file name for your video, it should have keywords in it that fit what the video is about (if you leave it as untitled .mov, you’re missing out on an opportunity to build in automatic Search-Engine Optimization (SEO) right from the start).

Related: Improving Your Instagram Hashtags (Episode 2)

The file name is almost as important as the tags that you pick out to go along with the video you’re uploading to YouTube. When it comes to tagging your video, make sure everything you use is relevant; this is not the time to try to trick YouTube and their algorithm, it’s not going to benefit your content if you do.

When selecting your title, Martin suggests that the more click-baity the better along with search-friendly titles. One trick I learned for selecting a title is to go to YouTube (or Google) and search for topics related to your video and see what the top results are. Try to craft your title to be the answer to a common question you’re finding.

For promoting your vlog, there is a challenge right now with so many platforms pushing their own video content. Facebook isn’t eager to redirect their users to leave their platform and head over to YouTube. One workaround is to replace the YouTube link with a bit.ly link, but Martin has found that the algorithm is able to notice those workarounds too.

Related: 2020 Social Media Trends (Episode 1)

Regardless of whether it’s a link to YouTube, bit.ly, your blog, platforms are starting to flag those links as spam if you’re consistently only posting content to those URLs. It is important to change up your content so that it’s not just constant self-promotion.

Beyond what you personally can do to promote your content, you want to make sure that at its core, the content is fun and entertaining (or fits the niche that you’re going after). If it’s quality content, then your viewers and your fans will be more likely to share the vlog with their audience and that is the key to getting more views on your content.

As a final tip for promotion on social media, Martin recommends that you retweet an old tweet that promotes your YouTube video as opposed to crafting a brand-new tweet. Twitter seems to favor this tactic and often times your tweet already has interaction on it which will stand out more in a person’s feed.

YouTube can be a difficult platform to grow your audience on, so encourage people to subscribe to your channel and grow your viewer base with consistent content. Make content that you enjoy and if you’re documenting your life (as Martin does), it’s content more for you to be able to look back on. Have fun with it!

JMatt’s Social Club is a RADIO.COM podcast through 103.7 KISS-FM where we take a deeper dive into social media strategies with Milwaukee-area professionals. If you’d like us to cover a specific topic or invite someone to be on a future episode, reach out to JMatt on social media at @JMattMke (same handle on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, and TikTok)!

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