5 Secrets to Creating A Better Vlog With Your Smartphone

By Amani Channel | Blogging

Oct 25

If you're like most people, you keep your smartphone by your side. From checking emails to tweets, and making social updates, it's hard not to be tethered to your device.

Mobile devices are great for taking photos and videos, but have you ever thought about creating a vlog with your smartphone or even your tablet?

5 Secrets to Creating A Better Vlog With Your Smartphone

5 Secrets to Creating A Better Vlog With Your Smartphone

“A vlog?” you ask. But of course! Your mobile device probably captures high quality HD video, so why are you using it to only capture family moments?

More and more people are interested in using their smartphones to create quality content that can be shared socially, and it's a more affordable and accessible video production solution and is always with you.

What is a Vlog?

A vlog simply is a blog with video, and you can easily turn your blog into a vlog by embedding a video within a post.

All you need is an account on a video streaming site like YouTube and you're good to go. Video is one of the most compelling and engaging types of media. It can help you establish authority, build your influence, and raise the engagement level on your site.

Types of Vlogs

  • Talking head vlog

    Talking head vlog

    Talking Head: A talking head vlog is just that, you sit in front of the camera and talk about a certain topic or shares some information (see video below).

  • How-To: A how-to vlog teaches the audience how to do something by demonstrating the action or activity.
  • Adventure/Reality: You go on an adventure or activity outside of the studio and take the camera along to record what you see and hear.

The Equipment

To create a high quality vlog, you should use the same equipment that is used with professional video productions. You'll need: a camera or your mobile device, a tripod, lights, a microphone, and a cable or two. Let's assume that you have a mobile device that captures video, so the camera is covered.

Tripod

smartphone-tripod-video-wide

Samsung Galaxy III with Tripod & Universal Tripod Adaptor

A tripod is a three-legged stabilization mount that ensures the shot is still and steady. Entry-level tripods cost around $30, and most electronic stores that sell cameras also sell tripods.

To create really smooth movements, a fluid tripod is needed. But wait!  You probably noticed that there's no way to connect a tripod to a smartphone.

You'll also need a tripod adaptor like the Glif (iPhone only) or this universal tripod adaptor that works with both Android devices and iPhones.

If you have an iPhone and want the flexibility of adding additional lenses, there is a device called the Phocus which in addition to having a tripod attachment, it has a wide angle, macro and telephoto lens that can give you some creative flexibility while shooting.

Light

If you're just starting with video, light can be more challenging especially if you're indoors, but you should always use some kind of light source because it will improve the quality of the image.  Use lamps or lights that you already have.

Consider replacing your incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs).  CFLs are either balanced for daylight (5000K) which will be a whiter or bluer light, or will be orange-ish which is a characteristic of artificial light (3200K).

You'll probably need a minimum of at least two lights if you're lighting a person.  The main light will create general illumination and the second light should be placed opposite the main light to fill in the shadows.

Microphones/Audio

Rode iXY (left) Electro-Voice 635a (Right)

iPhone Rode iXY (left) and Other Mics

Audio is very important which is why you should connect a microphone to your mobile device.

If you're shooting a talking head vlog, a lavaliere or clip on lapel mic will work just fine.  But, be sure to use a TRRS (4-pin) cable to connect the mic to your device's headphone/mic jack.

A great site for TRRS cables is KVConnection.com, and  many TRRS cables also allow you to connect headphones so that you can monitor the audio after it has been recorded.

Many pros also recommend the iRig Pre to connect a mic to an iOS or Android.  There are also a number of mics that are designed for mobile devices like the iRig, smartLav, and iXY.


Check out this master list for all of the gear that is referenced above and more.

5 Mobile Video Production Tips

So, now that you're geared up, you're just about ready to shoot your video.  Here are 5 tips to help you create a high quality vlog.

#1 Shoot in airplane mode.

If you don't, a phone call, or notification will interrupt your recording.

ac_imovie_application

iMovie Application

#2 Orient your phone horizontally.

Most people hold their phone vertically when shooting video. Unless you want black bars on the side of your video, hold it horizontally.

#3 Record test footage especially if you're self shooting.

Shoot 5 – 10 seconds of video and check the shot to make sure it looks as you desire. Once you are happy with the shot, you're ready to record.

#4 Frame your shots using the rule of thirds.

The rule of thirds is a composition rule that uses a tic-tac-toe like grid as a guide to frame your subject.  Place the subject along the guide lines and your shot should look more professional.

#5 Edit on your smarthphone.

iOS devices especially have great video apps, and if you have a new iPhone 5s or 5C, it comes with a great app called iMovie. You can edit clips together, add text, narration and music with a few swipes of a finger.

Oh, here's a bonus tip – be creative and have fun!

Video production takes a bit of work no matter how easy you think it is. Your first video will be the most challenging, but like anything, the more you do it, the better you will get.

So, what is your biggest challenge when it comes to creating professional looking videos?

Infographic

5 Secrets to Creating a Better Blog with your Smartphone

5 Secrets to Creating a Better Blog with your Smartphone

  • tricia says:

    It was a great post and well timed as I am thinking of starting a vlog for my website. Using my galaxy note will save me the expense of a camcorder. Thanks alot.
    Ps. Did you ever teach at uwi?

  • Dave says:

    Very informative post. I will check out your guide also.

  • Good stuff! Very informative and concise tips on how to use your smartphone for blogging. Thanks

  • Mike Kawula says:

    Amani,

    Great video, amazing what we can do with a Mobile. Just put together a basic set up at my home office and look forward to trying out some of these techniques.

    By the way love Kennesaw Mountains. Spent last summer in Dallas and Marrietta (sp think) with my wife and 3 children. Loved Marrietta Pizza (miss it) the lakes and Frisbee golf.

    Look forward to checking out your guide. Mike

    • Thanks Mike! Please let me know how the set up works out and if you need any help with anything. I haven’t tried Marietta Pizza. I’ll have to check it out. 🙂

    • Mike Kawula says:

      Thanks will do.

      Personal favorite, try The Works if you make it there. OMG to die for and such a kid friendly environment. Thanks again ~ Mike

  • Nina Lewis says:

    Excellent post! I am starting to do video for my content marketing firm and I am excited! The thing is I am confused about the microphone and cable connection. I plan on shooting a lot of video outside and a few feet away from the camera. So do I need a wireless mic? I just purchased a mic but it’s not wireless. Any suggestions?

    • Hi Nina,

      You can go either route depending on what look you’re going for. I have done video with a handheld mic before. It gives more of a reporter feel. However, for videos where it’s just me talking, I prefer to use a lavalier mic. That way you hardly see the mic, but the audio quality is great. It all depends on the feel you want.

    • Hey Nina… I’m just seeing this, but one question that is very important is does your video camera have a mic input? Is the connection XLR or 1/8 inch (headphone size)? If your cam doesn’t have a mic input, you can either purchase a external recorder like a Zoom or even use a iPhone with a mic like the smartLav. Also need to figure out your budget… and then it would be helpful to know how the mic will be used. If you’re doing sit down interviews or just talking to the camera a lavaliere will probably be best. There are a range of mics that will suit any situation and budget. As for wireless, I would say no. Unless you need to capture sound from people at a distance or they are moving around making it impossible to connect a wire. I had a wireless mic, but never used it because most of my online videos were shot in my home studio and even for client videos, the situation never required a wireless mic. I know this is a bit lengthy, but I hope it helps…

  • Hi there! I know this post is almost two years old, but I wanted to thank you. This post is chock full of awesome as well as immensely helpful info! I know about iMovie on my Mac, but had no idea that you were able to edit videos on your iPhone! I love your tips. I’m a relatively new health and fitness blogger and I am wanting to start filming workouts, the correct way to do exercises, etc. Quick question (and I’m sure I’m going to look like an idiot after this) but are you able to use a Bluetooth ear piece as a mic? Since I’ll be doing a lot of moving around and lying on the floor in many different positions, wearing a battery pack could get difficult. Again, I know this post is pretty old, but if you have any suggestions, I’d love, love, love to hear from you! Thank you so much. Terrific post:-)

    • You are very much welcome. Yep, the iPhone is a pretty handy device and you can do all kinds of cool things with it.

      In terms of the Bluetooth earpiece, I don’t think you’re able to do that. Also, even if you were, I wouldn’t recommend it. There are different factors that would interfere with the quality of the audio.

      I would recommend using a wired lapel mic like the Rode Smartlav.

  • Keisha says:

    Great tips. Shooting a video for my blog for the first time, today. I’ll let you know how it turns out. Thanks!

  • Thank you so much! I am truly a novice but you have set me on the road to making my first blog. I am a self-published writer who id building up a bit of a following. I have posted a number of youtube videos, but want to prepare a video blog for a London TV station in the hope of breaking into the mainstream. I cannot tell you how useful this is, my video blog will look to break down the barriers for Authors like me, it will need to be quick and punchy, yet economical. Wish me luck and once again. Thank you

  • Gwen Delevinge says:

    How should I connect a microphone with an android phone?

  • Shine Priyan says:

    I am planning to make some vlogs in the near future but don’t know how to attract people.

  • We are a video a production company who specialize in the hospitality and tourism industry and we use a technique which is a hybrid version of vlogging. The problem with vlogging is that it really only gives one side of the story and most people would like a second opinion. We use an informal interview technique to give that second opinion and this has lead to 100,000+ views on a single video on youtube and facebook.
    Good luck with your vlogging, my advice is start slow and plan your story and the shoot before you hit the record button.

  • Tom Brooks says:

    Hi, I know this is irrelevant to the post but you have 2 PHP errors at the top of your site.

    But fantastic post it has helped me with vlogging with my phone 🙂

  • Colleen says:

    Great advice! Although I would recommend something other than iMovie to edit videos! I have found that it moves SOOOO SLOW… so time consuming. And after alot of research it seems like many others have experienced that issue as well. SO I tried another program and find it is alot more efficient than iMovie… it’s called Wondershare Filmora. It cost me $60 to download it but honestly it was worth every penny for the amount of time and stress I’m saving for myself. Just thought I would share and I hope it helps someone out there.

  • panya says:

    How can we attract more audience to our vlog if we are not famous ?

    • The same way you build any business – one day at a time. It takes a lot of work.

      Remember – the people who are famous weren’t always famous. They had to get there one day at a time. Some start with advantages that help them. But in MANY cases, it came through consistent hard work.

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