February 24th, 2017

Should You Start a Video Blog?

I've read so much about how video blogs are the next big thing. I swore I'd never do that. I mean, come on. I'm old, I'm fluffy, I don't think well on my feet, don't know anything about the tech involved, and I say 'anyway' all the time.  Oh, and I'd have to do my hair and makeup. Other than that, sign me up!

But then a few things happened. I read that in January 2016 Facebook announced there are more than eight billion video views and more than 100 million hours of video watched on the platform daily. 

That's an amazing stat, but it doesn't negate even one of my arguments above.

Then I ran across this video: 

Oh my God. I'll bet I've watched that 9 times by now, and she has almost a million hits on it (more, after today, I'll warrant). Do I judge her for being goofy? Hell no. She's badass. 

Dammit, this woman just negated all my arguments. 

I eased into this the same way I convinced myself to write my first book - I'd write the book, get it out of my system, then hit delete!  NO one would ever have to see it. Boom.

Well, knowing how that turned out last time, I should have known this strategy wouldn't work. But I told you I'm a slow learner, right? 

Anyway, I thought if I could be entertaining (always tough, given people's varying tastes), and offer people something they could use, maybe this could work. Maybe I'd get my name in front of people. Maybe I could even sell a couple of books.  

Maybe being the key word.

I Googled how to do this, and there are a ton of articles out there.

I decided on a few key things:

  • I'd do a craft/writer's life vlog - I teach workshops and classes - I have something to say!
  • I'm cheap. I'm not buying special equipment. But I own an ipad, and it takes great photos...
  • It has to be entertaining - I'm a bit of a dork, and I live somewhere that, though I think it's awesome, my friends think I'm crazy for moving from Southern California to Midland, Texas (think flat-ugly-oilwell-arewethereyet kind of country). I could show the awesome and odd about where I live!
  • They can't be too long - people are too busy for a lecture. The first one, since I had a lot to cover about the set-up, was seven minutes. I'm trying to keep the subsequent ones about four minutes each.
  • I'd have to get over myself. If they're looking for fashion advice, or runway models, they wouldn't be clicking on my vlog anyway, right?

I wanted interaction - to be sure I was answering questions that people actually had, I went out on Facebook and asked. Boy did I get questions! Everything from, grammar, how I like my coffee, plotting, how to do descriptions, to wanting to see what I wear in the morning to sit down and write.

Nowadays, if you own an iphone, or an ipad, recording a video is pretty easy. Still, I made mistakes. Here's a few tips, so you don't:

  • Exposure. In bright light or shadows, it may not get it right. Tap on the shadowy part to brighten it, tap on the bright part to darken. Who knew?
  • Focus. The regular setting is good - it usually focuses on faces (you can tell, because there's a yellow box around the focus point). If you want it to focus on something else, tap it until you see the yellow box. But be aware, this will also change the exposure.
  • Shoot in Horizontal mode - now they tell me. You'll notice in mine, below I didn't do that. And it screwed up the sign I wanted to show. It showed when I was recording, but the black bars covered it in the recorded version.
  • Trim. Start before you think you need to, and stop after. You can edit it with a simple free software (I used MovieMaker, but there are a bunch out there)
  • A video is too large (usually) to email. Enter the amazing Apple. They'll do a video drop to an email. But usually, it's easiest to just upload it to Youtube (or FB) directly from your ipad. Boom.

So, I went for it. Here's my first posting - technical difficulties, silliness, bystanders and all. I then did two more (you can sign up to get email notification of new installments, either on my website, or on Youtube. 

AND, I just talked to Alpha Dog's Uncle Bob. He owns 3 longhorns! So expect to see one from a pasture soon. I just hope he wasn't pulling a Yankee's leg when he told me they're docile!

Is this going to work, long term?  Not a clue. Am I having fun with it, so far? Oh hell yes!

So, what do you think?  Would you ever try vlogging? Or are you in camp OhHellNO?

*  *  *  *  *  *

About Laura

Author Headshot SmallLaura Drake is a city girl who never grew out of her tomboy ways, or a serious cowboy crush. She writes both Women's Fiction and Romance.

She sold her Sweet on a Cowboy series, romances set in the world of professional bull riding, to Grand Central.  The Sweet Spot won the 2014 Romance Writers of America®   RITA® award in the Best First Book category.

Her 'biker-chick' novel, Her Road Home, sold to Harlequin's Superomance line (August, 2013) and has expanded to three more stories set in the same small town.

In January, Laura released her first Women's Fiction, Days Made of Glass.

In 2014, Laura realized a lifelong dream of becoming a Texan and is currently working on her accent. She gave up the corporate CFO gig to write full time. She's a wife, grandmother, and motorcycle chick in the remaining waking hours.

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58 responses to “Should You Start a Video Blog?”

  1. Kathy says:

    Yes! I want to do this. I think you have made me brave.

  2. I may try it too after I work up the guts...why are writers so introverted!

  3. I loved it and as I commented, Jackie Collins ain't got nothing from you. I've considered this Laura but I'm not sure what I could vlog about? I'm an expert at nothing. LOL Will have to think on this some more.

  4. Maggie Smith says:

    why are you doing it from your car? just curious- looks interesting

  5. I just started doing videos. I still can't stand the way I sound or look, but I figure that's how everyone else sees me anyway. I did my first live video chat on FB too!

  6. Thanks, Laura, for the vlog. My fluffy face doesn't have enough "planes" to take a good picture, but you give me encouragement. And as far as moving to Midland, Texas,after living most of my life in the dark hustle of Detroit and being a native born Texan (Brady, just south of San Angelo), I'm still kind of drawn to flat and laid back. Best wishes with your directorial debut.

    • Laura Drake says:

      My Alpha Dog has an old friend who is the County Agent in Brady! I've been there! I love it there! (they have grass...and some trees). And I grew up in Detroit! Sisters from different mothers?

      • Now doesn't the world get smaller and smaller every day? I loved their truly town square. Another reason to be good, I guess. You never know who knows you or knows someone who does. Marilyn (aka cj petterson)

  7. Andrea R Huelsenbeck says:

    Thanks for all the tips! I'm trying to work up the courage.
    (I love "Alpha Dog.")

  8. christopherlentzauthor says:

    You've got this one, Laura! Just keep being yourself.

  9. Laura, I'm in the 'Oh Hell, No', camp! But you did good! I did try it once, many moons ago, and even uploaded it to youtube. But I tend to get tongue-tied. So unless people want to stare at my ugly mug, all they're likely to get, voicewise, is 'Em' and 'Er.'!

  10. Julie Glover says:

    Love this! I've been wanting to do video for years, especially since this is a great idea for YA authors. (Teens don't read blogs, but they do watch videos.) You're reminding me again that I need to create a plan and go for it.

    Also, you'll be fine with the longhorns. As a born-and-bred Texan, I've been in pastures with cattle, and they truly are mostly docile. So glad you joined us here in the Lone Star State. As Lyle Lovett sang, "That's right: You're not from Texas, but Texas wants you anyway!"

  11. jamesr403 says:

    Wow, Laura, thanks! I'm not sure I will do it at once, but if/when I do this blog will be a great guide.

  12. mesandford says:

    Loved your vlog! But I do want to know about the sign misprint. That is one of my pet peeves! The worst I've ever seen was in Japan where I spotted a sign before entering a public bath. "Prease wash yourself well before entering tub." "Prease do not make a lot of noise." And a dozen more things to prease not do.

    • LauraDrake says:

      But at least they had the excuse of ESL! Well, Texan IS ESL, I guess...

      The sign said, 'so-n-so's (forgot the name) Welding and Repair's;'

      It hurts me every time I drive by...

  13. Beverly Turner says:

    Laura...Just watched your video. Loved it. You made me laugh out loud. I've always felt I'm 'too real' for a video. Like you, what you see is what you get, and on my end, it definitely isn't Jackie Collins. And I do say y'all too...but I'm from Kentucky. ;-P

    In the future, I might just have to put my fluffy self out there, too. Great post!

    • LauraDrake says:

      Thanks, Beverly - we old fluffies need support (in more way than one!)

      I really recommend it - believe it or not, once you get over yourself, it's fun!

  14. janetsm says:

    I loved this! I can't imagine that I will ever be brave enough to do a video, but you have definitely given me hope and inspiration. Keep saying, "Y'all" all you want. I'm a native of NC, so I've said it all my life. What bugs me is when people misspell it. If I see "ya'll" one more time, I'm going to scream. Think about it, people! The apostrophe replaces the letter being omitted. Don't get me started!

    • LauraDrake says:

      Yep, the grammar-rant. You know I'm familiar! Can I just have a semicolon per page, please? I never thought I'd be brave enough either, Janet...try it! You can erase...

  15. M. Lee Scott says:

    Laura, I loved your vlog! So much I was your first subscriber. Ladies and Gents, don't forget to click that small red icon that says SUSCRIBE next to Laura's avatar. Laura, a vlog on pantsing or outlining would be appreciated. Fluffy chicks ROCK!!! Thanks!

  16. I taught high school for 25 years, but videoing myself makes me trip over my tongue...

    • Laura Drake says:

      Christa, you stood up in front of people and spoke for HOURS at a time, for YEARS! You’re the brave one! I think you’re just to critical of yourself. Forget yourself, and think of it as you’re teaching students!

  17. sallyjadlow says:

    Laura, if you can do it, maybe I can too!

  18. Barbara says:

    I'm such a newbie at all this but you make it seem so easy

    • LauraDrake says:

      It IS easy, Barbara! The hard part is getting around your own pride, and just saying what you have to say! A problem, I think, that women have more than men. Why is that?

  19. barbdelong says:

    I LOVE your blogs!! Keep them coming. I wanna see those longhorns!

  20. It's ironic this topic has come up. I hired my friend to be a social media consultant for me and she suggested I start a utube channel. So I had my son do all the tech stuff and went for it. Laura Lynn Fictionista. Get with the times or get left behind.

  21. Denise Keustermans says:

    Dear Laura, I find your article on WITS very interesting and want to try it sometime. However, I have little computer knowledge and am not so young anymore but I want the challenge. Luckily I can delete if it is not good huh

    • LauraDrake says:

      Exactly, Denise! You can do it, and no one needs to see it! Be sure, before you delete it though, you have someone watch it who's opinion you trust. We're always our worst critics!

  22. cerrissakim says:

    Laura I think you are amazing! You try new things all of the time and hey you have a great track record. Love your new vlog. I wanted to start a cooking vlog with my mom, as platform building for my WIP since it features a story based on my mom and also has mention of lots of yummy Korean food in it. But my 15 year old said HE wants to star in the vlog with my mom so now it's going to be a family venture. Good too cuz he knows tech better than me, he's more attractive than I am, and he will help with the website design. He and my mom have great chemistry and at the heart of this project we will have capture my mom's recipes and some family history saved.

    • LauraDrake says:

      Oh, what a gift that will be for you all, Cerrissa! He'll have those forever, and I can see him showing them to his kids! That alone makes it a wonderful project. And shut up about the attractive thing - If this fat old lady can do it, you can! No one's soul and spirit shines from them as much as yours...

  23. Merissa Racine says:

    Laura, jus watched your debut vlog. How fun! And brave. Hope you do more. I need to do a lot more writing before I'd be ready for the social media thing but you make it look easy!

  24. kathryneann says:

    It was cute, Laura. Kudos for trying something new! The roof of your vehicle is a lovely shade of gray LOL. Just wondered why you chose that setting vs indoors? Inquiring minds need to know 😉


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