This is a no pants required job; and that makes it awesome.
YouTube has changed so much over the years. Some say that low subscriber counts are not a determining factor when a viewer visits your YouTube channel for the first time. While that may be well and dandy, there are several brands and companies that use subscriber counts in consideration for paid sponsorships. But that’s a blog post for another day.
Today, I am going to give you the honest truth about getting started on YouTube. If you’ve clicked this post, I assume you are aspiring to be a Content Creator, already have a YouTube channel, or you just want to know what I actually do behind the scenes.
Initially, I started my YouTube channel in 2012, but I’ve only been a full-time Content Creator (or YouTuber) for two years. Now, I know there are several videos of YouTubers who have the latest and greatest filming and editing equipment. I mean really, can y’all dare to be different? The Canon Rebel t6i is not the only camera on the planet.
If you don’t finish today’s blog post because you decided to binge-watch my entire YouTube channel instead, then I totally understand. (Smooth, right?) But seriously, LISTEN TO THE WORDS I AM TYPING TO YOU: do not go broke trying to buy mamma nem’s filming and editing equipment. Trust, I will give you a few new YouTuber hacks, so please exit out of Amazon…I see the tab open up there, boo.
Why you want to be a YouTuber
First of all, being a YouTuber is literally the best job I have ever had! Don’t get me wrong — I’ve had my share of jobs I literally despised. To be honest, I have enjoyed a few of my nine to five corporate jobs, too. So what was missing? Purpose. I didn’t get fulfillment in folding clothes at the mall. I knew I made a difference back in college admissions, but I still felt empty inside. Now, have I figured out what I’m doing? Nope. What I love about YouTube is that I have the utmost control.
“At least 51% of viewers watch YouTube to learn something.”
I can produce daily, weekly, or monthly content and I get to be myself doing it. If you don’t want to wear pants when you work, don’t. If you want to post a Day in the Life with Great-Aunt May? Grab your camera. At least 51% of viewers watch YouTube in order to learn something; albeit a beauty tutorial, product review, or how to make a poached egg (watched this a few times, and no I’m not ashamed). Keep that in mind when narrowing down your niche.
Starting A YouTube Channel
Now let’s discuss lighting. Literally, every YouTuber will tell you natural lighting is the best (and cheapest) lighting when starting a YouTube channel. And they’re actually right. But, how many of the same YouTubers are only using natural light?
Natural lighting is great, but only if you catch the Sun on a good day. God forbid that Dawn is irritable and just cries all day. I don’t even want to tell you how fickle Dawn really is…but she has several shady moments (let’s be real here). Unless you have consistently great lighting (which means Dawn isn’t throwing shade or glaring down at you), consider yourself extremely blessed.
I’ll share my sob story of YouTube lighting. We moved from a one-story home (surrounded by trees) to a luxury apartment (overdose of natural light) to the Sunshine State (six-month-long rainy season). Yep, I didn’t have the magical natural lighting everyone described on YouTube nor could I afford mamma nem’s Diva Stellar Ring Light.
Here’s what I would suggest, and forewarning: I’m very cheap! Shocker to some: I may like designer things, but I am very comfortable in my Walmart price range. Except for a few cameras, nearly everything I purchased for my YouTube channel was from Amazon.
Cheap Lighting You Didn’t Know You Needed
My first and favorite new YouTuber hack will come to your rescue when Dawn acts up. Basically whatever lighting you opt for (within your budget) needs to mimic natural light. I purchased a 16-ft LED Strip Lighting in White which is commonly used as accent lighting beneath countertops and behind mounted televisions.
If you want to save your coin, this strip lighting is only $15 (which is basically an iTunes membership). In our Maryland apartment, I actually filmed in a closet — but you would never know. In the photo above, I included four different pictures with the same lighting. It’s a genius money-saving tip that I share with everyone (and a great, customizable backup).
Save money: film on your iPhone
There is a reason why the iPhone costs more than some DSLR cameras. You can literally film, edit, take pictures for your thumbnails — everything in the same device! I filmed with my iPhone 5s for an entire year, after I sold my Sony HDR.
Fast forward to 2020, some of my favorite videos on my YouTube channel were filmed entirely with an iPhone. I should also add: I switched to Android twice, but I found it much harder to film and edit. I know some YouTubers who make it work with ease; but personally speaking, having Apple products makes life much easier when transferring video files, airdropping thumbnails, etc.
But… if you’re looking for a great camera without breaking the bank, I would suggest the Sony A5100. Back in 2014, I purchased the A5000 (discontinued), but here’s the catch: I did not pay full price. How you might ask? The box was dented. Yep, you read that right.
Honestly, if you’re just starting out on YouTube, always click used on Amazon to read the description of the item. Sometimes the product really isn’t “used” at all. I filmed my YouTube videos with a “used” Sony for four years. But, no matter what camera you purchase, word of advice: invest in backup batteries. You’ll thank me later.
Added (But Optional) Essentials
Depending on the camera you choose, you can save a few hundred dollars here. Unlike my Sony, [some] Canon cameras allow for an external microphone. I currently own two external microphones: the Blue Yeti and Rode VideoMic Pro. Both are amazing microphones with great sound quality; however, cameras like my Canon G7X, have a great internal microphone (thus, saving dinero).
The last optionally necessary item for your YouTube equipment is a tripod. I have spent a great deal on tripods, all from (you guessed it) Amazon. Some cameras have built-in camera stabilization (again, saving you coins). The new iPhone, in particular, is amazing without a selfie stick.
I choose “optionally necessary” because I spent the first two years as a new YouTuber using books and shoeboxes as my tripod. This was definitely the cheaper route, but an emphasis on the root word “cheap.” If you are tired of stacking books and falling phones while filming, I would invest in an Amazon Basics tripod (like this one here) when starting your youtube channel.
For an affordable tripod, the Amazon Basics tripod is much sturdier than you’d expect and it is 60 inches in length. I have actually purchased this tripod twice in the past. The only reason I purchased the same tripod a second time was due to mom probs: my oldest broke one of the legs and used it as a magic wand.
Remember: gifts are a great thing
My last word of advice: gifts are a great thing and vastly underutilized when starting a youtube channel. Now, here me out here because it isn’t nearly as “gold digger-ish” as you read. The majority of the youtube equipment I have today was the product of gifts or hand me downs. Honestly speaking, this was completely unintentional, but it is a major money-saving tip when you’re a new content creator.
To date, my youtube equipment is roughly around $6000, but I only paid $1500 out of pocket. For example, the iMac (where I edit my videos) was a hand me down from him because he upgraded his work computer. I currently own a GoPro only because I said “that looks cool” after seeing it during an HGTV commercial break. My husband bought it for my birthday a few years ago.
Moral of the story here: save excessively and spend when necessary. Achieving your dreams and excelling on YouTube will be one of the hardest things you will ever do in life. The YouTube platform has changed SO much since 2012 when I uploaded my first video. I’m grateful to have seen it change tremendously over the years, while also learning from my own mistakes as the platform evolved.
Today, new YouTubers are impatient with their growth (I’ve been there, done that). Keep in mind: just because we live in a society with a fast-food mentality does not mean that your dreams and goals are eating the same McDonald’s meal. As painful as it is to admit, patience truly is a virtue, and starting a youtube channel will be no different.
Enjoy the process and remember to have fun. If you enjoy creating content to help people around the world [and practice perfection], you will do well on YouTube. If you’re starting a YouTube channel just to get a million followers, you are wasting your time.
Now, sharing is caring and if you enjoyed this post, feel free to peruse my current YouTube home office setup here. Save the image above on Pinterest to easily reference it when you need to share it with another aspiring YouTuber.
Thanks for reading and happy creating!