With all the success that people from all walks of life have been able to find on YouTube, it’s no surprise that more and more of us want to find a way into this seemingly endless community.
Regardless of how obscure or specific your interests are, there will undoubtedly be a YouTuber making content you want. And if there isn’t, you can always become that YouTuber yourself!
The convenience of ubiquitous inter-connectivity and high speed Internet has brought us to a point where we no longer have to choose from a limited selection of entertainment, all geared towards the lowest common denominator in a bid to capture the most market share. And that door swings both ways, because any content you feel the urge to make, there is a strong chance you will find an audience for it.
That being said, getting started on YouTube can be a little daunting, especially if you have never done anything like this before. Even knowing what hardware you need, what software to use, can be confusing, never mind how you get to actually publishing a video.
Fortunately, we are here to help. Keep reading for a thorough grounding in how to record YouTube videos at home.
If you are planning just to make YouTube content for your own enjoyment, and genuinely do not care if other people watch it, you can probably skip this bit. If, on the other hand, you have any ambition to grow your YouTube channel, you need to put a little thought into how you might go about it.
Now, you don’t need to have a detailed plan covering every single aspect of your YouTube career from now into the distant future, but merely turning the camera on and hoping for the best is unlikely to breed success. At least, not as quickly as having a plan will.
The first thing to think about is what market your videos will be aimed at. Finding your niche is perhaps the most critical thing you can do to ensure success—after making good content, of course.
The more focused your niche, the better your chances of attracting an audience.
This is because smaller markets tend to have less competition and more engaged audiences. So, while the potential size of your audience is much lower than a broader niche, you will be able to attract a higher portion of that possible audience, and they will be more invested in your content.
For this reason, you should attempt to drill down into the topic you are interested in making videos about, and find the most specific version of that interest that you are comfortable with.
For example, if you are a keyboard enthusiast, and plan to make videos reviewing different keyboards, consider focusing on a specific subset of keyboards, such as mechanical, gaming, ergonomic, or any other attribute that narrows the focus of your videos.
Once you know the boundaries of your niche, you can gear any promotion, related social media accounts, and SEO towards it.
Getting Started: Content
I’m sure you’re expecting this, and we both know it has to be said, so let’s do this first.
Content. Is. King.
The content you produce is the foundation upon which your YouTube empire will be built. You can use cunning tactics to build that empire and sustain it, but if your foundations are weak—if that content is not attractive to your viewers—it will all come tumbling down eventually. It is only a matter of time.
Getting Started: Equipment
Let’s start by simply saying, if you have a relatively recent smartphone, you already have all the hardware you need.
Sure, you can buy something a little more professional (and we’ll get to that in a moment) but if you don’t want to put that kind of financial commitment into your channel just yet, any mid-to-high-end smartphone from the past few years will do a more than a passable job. But let’s talk about taking it to the next level.
To simplify this topic a little, we are going to break YouTube videos down into two main types: onscreen and offscreen. Onscreen videos, as the name suggests, will feature you in the video itself, on camera. This is probably the most common form of YouTube video. A popular example of this would be a vlog, where the YouTuber talks to the camera as though it were the audience.
The other type—offscreen—where you are not on camera, is common in software tutorials, and list videos that are made up of a series of clips from movies or other videos.
If you need ideas for channels or videos where you are not on screen I have a blog with 12 YouTube Channel Ideas Without Showing Your Face – The perfect way to make a channel if you don’t want to be to be the “face” of the brand.
The difference, of course, is that you do not need a camera to make videos where you are not onscreen. What you do need, regardless of whether you are on screen or not, however, is decent audio.
While high-quality video is definitely better than poor quality video, viewers tend to be forgiving if the quality of the video is not critical to the content, as it would be in a software tutorial. What they are less forgiving of is poor quality audio. Whether it’s excessive background noise, clicking and popping, interference, or any number of other things. This kind of thing can really grate on people in the same way that many people don’t like the sound of fingernails on a chalkboard, or cutlery scratching a plate.
With that in mind, the first piece of equipment you should focus on upgrading is your microphone.
For the most part, a decent USB microphone will do the job just fine. Blue, in particular, make some great USB microphones spanning the price spectrum.
If you want to take it a step further, you will almost certainly need to get hold of an audio interface as well. Audio interfaces can come in many shapes and sizes, from small and inexpensive to multi-channel beasts that cost the same as a small computer.
Audio interfaces provide crystal clear, low latency audio input for your professional-grade microphones (or other instruments), as well as provide the necessary power to run those microphones.
I personally use a Boya BY-MM1 microphone and works wonders with my phone and camera – I even did a deep dive blog on the Boya-BY MM1 it and it has a very cool sound improving feature.
When you start getting into camera upgrades, things can get very expensive, very fast. There are not many budget options that will give you better quality than a typical iPhone or high-end Android phone.
Just be sure to do your research, do not put too much stock in the various numbers manufacturers like to put on the box. Things like resolution and framerate aren’t the be-all and end-all of camera quality. And, remember, if something looks too good to be true, it almost certainly is.
One thing to note is that you shouldn’t be afraid to use less conventional means if they work for you. One such example would be using an HDMI capture device to turn a standalone camera into a webcam of sorts.
Regarding other equipment, we could talk about when getting your perfect YouTube set up together; there’s too much to cover in this post. Needless to say, things like acoustic treatment and lighting are essential to producing the best content possible.
Lighting, in particular, can do wonders for your video quality. A great camera can still produce poor video in a bad light; however, even a mediocre camera can do good work if accompanied by good lighting.
Finding a Location to Film In
Finding a somewhere in your home to film is a topic that could fill a post of its own, but we’ll do our best to cover the basics. Your priority should be finding somewhere you can set up permanently. That is, somewhere you wouldn’t have to remove your gear in between videos.
This will allow you to set up things like lighting and acoustic treatment—things you can’t easily put up and take down every time you want to record a video. A permanent location can be anywhere from a spare room or your bedroom, to a closet or the garage. Anywhere that won’t upset anyone you might be living with.
Need inspiration for places to record in around your house? I have been making videos for over 8 years so I have pulled together a list of some of my favorite places to film in my home – some are very imaginative!
If you can’t find such a spot, you will have to try and make your YouTube set up portable so that it can be moved in between recordings. Consider things like getting a microphone with a tighter pickup pattern, so that it picks up less background noise. Opt for a smaller, more portable lighting rig. And, obviously, a laptop over a desktop computer.
Having an interesting backdrop to your videos is by no means essential, but it does help to give your videos a little extra flair, not to mention a touch of personality.
The key to an excellent backdrop is to make sure it does not overpower the focus of the video, whether that focus is you, some product you are showing off, or anything else that you want the viewers to be paying attention to.
Be sure to keep things relevant, as well. If you are running a straight cooking channel, it would be confusing if your backdrop had a guitar mounted on the wall. Lighting is an excellent tool for this purpose, but the lighting should not overpower your camera lighting. If you can afford a camera with near-focus, dialing the focus to give the background a slight blur can help to keep the attention on what’s important.
Once you have been making videos for a while, try to incorporate things into your backdrop that speak to the history of your channel. For example, if you were running a craft channel, where you show your viewers how to make things, have some of your more impressive builds in the backdrop.
Little touches like this not only show what your channel is about, they create a sense of connection with long time viewers, who know what these elements of your backdrop represent.
Choosing when to record a video can be a little tricky, especially if you live with others, or have neighbours with thin walls. Most new YouTubers will be making their videos around a job or school. This severely cuts down the time available to record in.
Factor a social life, spending time with your children, being a child, and you may quickly find the main reason many YouTubers end up quitting.
How much time you dedicate to your channel will depend entirely on how seriously you want to take it. If you have big plans for your YouTube career, we recommend setting aside time solely for working on your channel. That time could be spent writing a script, editing, researching and, of course, recording. You shouldn’t work yourself into the ground, of course.
Be reasonable with your scheduling. But the more you treat your channel like a job, the more likely it is that it could one day become one.
Do Not Be Afraid to Scrap Content
Once you have started filming your videos, the next step is to upload them… or is it? Not every video is gold; even experienced YouTubers occasionally make a video they are not happy.
One of the curses—and blessings—of YouTube is that content can have a shelf life far greater than the few days or weeks after you upload it. That is great because it means your videos have the potential to reach new viewers much farther down the line. But it can also be detrimental because first impressions are a big deal.
If you upload poor content, the chances of a new viewer stumbling across that content and becoming a subscriber are pretty slim. It won’t matter that the video was a one-off and most of them are top-notch. Or that it was a long time ago and you’ve improved since then. Most of the time, they will assume that this what your content looks like, and move on.
That is why you need to be honest with yourself about your content. Get friends or family to watch for second opinions if you have to, though you will know if you are honest with yourself.
We know a lot of work goes into a video, but if that video ends up being below par, you have to let it go.