7 Beginner YouTube Tips for Bloggers – Meredith from VidProMom

Today’s YouTube tips are from my lovely podcast chat with the one–the only–Meredith Marsh from VidProMom.com! While we’re definitely talking to beginner video creators–most of this definitely applies to blogging & podcasting as well. Enjoy!

You probably know that video builds trust, authority, and is a fantastic way to “stand out” amongst the noisy internet…

annnnddd you also probably know that video…

  • can take a LOT of time to produce–especially if you’re new
  • can be expensive
  • “isn’t for me. I’m not good on camera.”

Well, good news!

If you’ve ever thought about adding YouTube videos to your blog–or just doing video altoghether–today’s post is tackling those 3 points.

Let’s shoot 😉

Listen to my episode with Meredith Marsh from VidProMom

or listen on \\ iTunes \\ Stitcher \\ Google Play \\ Overcast \\ Spotify

These tips are segmented into 3 chapters:

  1. saving time
  2. saving money
  3. how to be effectiv, “good on video,” and not feel awkward.

Because let’s face it–some of us just are awkward (raises hand)

1 – Batching saves time, and is more important than ever for producing video content!

Batching is a fairly well-known productivity system that essentially just means “group common tasks together and knock them out in bulk.”

This is KEY for video–because video (and audio) tends to require more of the following:

  • setup
  • editing

Moreso than blogging for sure.

“What not to do” example:

  1. have idea for video
  2. outline video
  3. do YouTube keyword research
  4. Shoot video
  5. Edit video
  6. Publish and promote video
  7. repeat every week

For bloggers/parents/full-time employees–that’s gonna be rough.

An example using batching:

  1. set aside a chunk of time for brainstorming topic ideas and outlining 5-10 videos in advance
  2. record multiple videos together
  3. spend a chunk of time editing multiple videos
  4. publish every week
  5. repeat every quarter…

You’ll save time on set-up and editing for sure–even if it doesn’t feel like it

Psst. There are a lot of blogging productivity tips in this post 🙂

2 – Beginner YouTuber? Pre-planning is a must!

This is both a “video takes so much time” tip AND a “let’s be as effective as possible” tip.

There are 2 key video components to tackle in pre-planning:

  1. What you’re going to say (most people understand this already)
  2. How you’re going to show it!

Plan what you’re going to say on camera:

#1 is pretty straightforward = plan in advance what you’re going to talk about.

This could be a simple outline, a full-on script (see below for more on this), or just some bullet points–which is what I typically do.

Plan what you’re going to DO with your camera:

Shots. Angles. Set-ups.

Having at minimum a “general idea” of what the final video will look like, including scenes, shots, edits, etc–will make both recording and editing MUCH quicker.

As a complete beginner YouTuber, I’d probably outline the scenes and edits on paper first. It might take 5-15 minutes, but having a written game plan to execute once you pick up the camera and start recording will save wayyyyy more time!

An example plan (for a poor fictional video lol)

How to be effective on camera.

NO–you’re not born with legendary YouTube skills, or the ability to communicate clearly on video.

Effective communication is a muscle that needs to be exercised–and will get stronger with use!

The following tips are designed to help you overcome “oh I wouldn’t do well on video!” or “I could never do that.”

3 – Look at the lens of the camera.

Simple? Yes. Easy? NOPE.

You’d be amazed how tempting it is to glance over at your monitor screen, etc.

4 – Use the “Ronald Reagan method” to deliver scripts.

Did you know that Ronald got fired from his first radio job because he couldn’t effectively read advertisements on air?

He was amazing at improvising and conversating naturally–but he couldn’t “perform while reading.” (and neither can any of us, really)

He couldn’t memorize all his lines either.

So what’d he do?

  1. He would pause and look down at his notes
  2. Read and memorize 1-3 sentences at a time
  3. Take a breathe, look up, and deliver the lines conversationally

He continued that practice all throughout his career, even in the big speeches.

The Takeaway:

Don’t try to memorize big blocks of stuff you’re going to say. There’s no need!

You can easily edit video to make it seamless–removing silence, etc.

Take your YouTube videos 1-3 lines at a time! Look at your notes/script–then look up and deliver–then repeat.

5 – Be patient and practice being on camera.

Yes, the first time you stare into a camera and start talking WILL feel weird.

I’m sure it did for Casey Neistat. I’m sure it did for Brad Pitt.

Great news is–the more you do it, the better you’ll get!

6 – Do lots of takes without turning the camera off.

That’s the great thing about editing.

Just hit record and go–you can simply choose the best take while editing.

  1. start with 1-3 sentence “chunks”
  2. Do 10 reps on each chunk
  3. If you just KNOW one of those reps was “the one,” keep a sticky note nearby where you can write down “use take 7 for chunk A” so you can find it quicker in editing!

80/20 Video Production – How to get high-quality YouTube videos without breaking the bank.

Repeat after me:

“I, an amateur YouTuber, PROMISE to start producing video WITHOUT spending any money first!”

Don’t waste money until you KNOW you’re going to be in this for the long haul!

Moving on.

7 – Start with your phone

Nobody wants to do this, because

  1. gear is fun, and
  2. we think we NEED fancy DSLRs.

Ya don’t.

8 – Your first purchase should be an external mic or a tripod

The 3 most important ingredients to a “high quality video” pie are as follows:

  1. Lighting
  2. Sound
  3. “Watchability”

We’ll cover lighting below in more detail–but given it can be found for free immediately–your first purchase should still be sound or “watchability” related.

External mic:

Quality audio is a MUST for beginner YouTube creators–and it’s such an easy fix!

I’d recommend starting with a cheap lavalier mic for your smartphone, such as this one (these are totally my affiliate links!)

If you’re looking to record via computer webcam–you could grab a USB lav mic–or go the podcast mic route for slightly more (see my blog bag post for recommendations there!)

“Watchability” starts with a tripod or selfie stick:

Watchability = can your viewer focus on the content without getting DISTRACTED by audio or video quality?

That’s what we’re going for.

A “minimum viable video quality” so viewers can focus on. your content!

And that starts with stability! Nobody likes shaky video.

Just go to Amazon and search for the tripod you need based on your camera. Here’s a standard camera tripod, as well as a smartphone tripod/selfie stick. handy!

9 – A beginner YouTuber’s guide to lighting.

Let’s keep this real simple.

Video Lighting for dummies = have as much soft light in front of you as possible.
  • Hard light = direct sunlight or a bright lamp pointed directly at your face.
  • Soft light = indirect sunlight or a bright lamp bounced off of something.

The cheap blogger’s guide to lighting:

When you’re sitting in front of your camera, position windows in FRONT of you (and/or to your side)–NOT behind you.

It’s totally cool if there are light sources behind you–in fact, some light back there is a good thing–as long as your front is well lit!

What about using lamps, etc?

I recommend putting lamps/light sources in front of you, but facing the other direction–and having the light bounce back at you. This won’t happen easily without a specific “thing to bounce light off” though.

For that, head to your local Wal-Mart, etc, and purchase a $3 white foam board in the craft supplies area! Lean that against a wall/chair/object and point light at it. BOOM. Soft light.

Click to watch Peter’s video on cheap lighting. It’s awesome.

There’s no need to splurge on fancy lighting equipment, especially if you have a bright light or two already (in the form of a nice window or halogen lamp).

10 – OMG video editing. How do I _______?

Rather than write an additional 35,000 words teaching you how to edit video, lemme just directly tell you how to learn.

  1. Choose a video editing software in your budget
  2. STAY WITH IT
  3. Learn it from instructional YouTube videos

In keeping with our “don’t spend a bunch of money at first” theme, here are my recommendations for beginning YouTube editing software:

  • Mac = iMovie! It’s fine, people. Learn it!
  • Windows = Meredith recommends VSDC

Another cool thing about iMovie: if you decide you do want more features and can pay for it, upgrading to it’s big brother, Final Cut Pro X, is an easy transition. It’s similar software.

So I just downloaded an editor–what do I need to know now?

Answer = how to edit and manipulate your clips!

This involves heading to YouTube if necessary, and searching for tutorials on…

  • how to “split” one clip into multiple clips
  • how to move clips around

Optional secondary things to learn–How to…

  • adjust volume for clips (or overall video project)
  • export video project files
  • adjust exposure for clips (or other basic brightness adjustments)

Stuff that you really don’t need to focus on right now:

  • transitions
  • advanced coloring
  • fancy effects! Nobody cares that much.

To sum up: Focus all your initial efforts on making the video WATCHABLE!

I.e. hitting the bare minimums of quality standards so viewers can focus on the content.

Leave a comment w/ your video or YouTube questions!

Does video appeal to you?

Is this something you’d like to try out in addition to blogging?

WordPress Gutenberg: A Step-by-Step Tutorial (for Bloggers)​

The new WordPress Gutenberg Editor might just surprise you…

Yes, this will change how you create blog posts.

Yes, you’ll have to LEARN something–again.

The good news?

This post will show you everything you need to know to dig in and NOT get frustrated. You’ll be able to hit the ground blogging 😉

Table of Contents

Click the titles to navigate!

  • General Overview
  • Can I opt-out?
  • Will Gutenberg work with...
  • What are they?
  • A big list of blocks
  • The writing experience
  • Editing titles, permalinks, and text
  • Adding images & videos
  • Custom Reusable blocks!
  • Shortcuts for blocks
  • Just write as usual
  • The "classic" block

What is WordPress Gutenberg?

“Gutenberg” is the name of the new editor in WordPress update 5.0 (released December 6, 2018).

The new editor has gotten a major overhaul!

This will HEAVILY affect how you write and edit blog posts (and pages).

Old WordPress Editor
Old WordPress Editor
new Gutenberg editor
new Gutenberg editor

That doesn’t look so different, does it?

The truth is, while there are a lot of little changes, the overall blogging experience will be very similar to what you’re used to!

You have nothing to fear. The editor changes will be a good thing in time.

FAQ: Can I Opt-out of Gutenberg? Can I Just Keep Using the Old Editor?

With the WordPress 5.0 update–the Gutenberg editor will be the DEFAULT editor!

But good news, you CAN continue to use the old editor!

It will be available via a WordPress plugin aptly named “Classic Editor.” 

wordpress classic editor plugin

Do I think you should do this? 

Yes and no–see the last chapter of this post 😉

When is the Release Date for WordPress 5.0 (and Gutenberg?)

Gutenberg is HERE.

WordPress 5.0 ‘Bebo’ was released on December 6, 2018!

It is now the default editor.

 

Will Gutenberg Work With (or Break) My Current Theme?

Short version = WordPress Gutenberg is designed to work across all themes and with all plugins!

December 2018 Update = While Gutenberg definitely “works” with every theme, some fair better than others!

My old theme, for example, was having issues displaying column blocks. This is due to some CSS battles.

Takeaway = Installing Gutenberg now will NOT break your current theme, but there could be a few advanced blocks that could act funky.

Luckily, more and more theme creators are updating their themes to not only be compatible, but OPTIMIZED for Gutenberg blocks.

Bottom line: It depends on your theme.

Will the Gutenberg Update Change My OLD Published Content?

Nope!

Unless…

You go back to old posts and “convert” them to blocks!

When you update to WordPress 5.0, all of your old content will exist in a “Classic Editor” block, meaning it’ll be exactly the same as it was.

However, you can go back into old blog posts and “convert to blocks.”

converting old content to gutenberg

If you have more complicated content (i.e. more than just text, images, embeds, shortcodes, etc)–you might get a few odd things happen when you convert old content!

But the big takeaway is NO. 

Activating Gutenberg won’t directly screw up existing content you might have.

A Broad Overview of Gutenberg "Blocks"

Think of blocks like Legos.

You’ll combine a lot of little blocks–of all different shapes and sizes–to make a big structure.

In WP Gutenberg, a single blog post will be made up of several small blocks!

More specifically, every single part of your post content is a separate block.

Enjoying the heck out of this post? Other people will too, and sharing is fun!

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Here's a List of All the Gutenberg Blocks You Can Use in a Blog Post:

Note: For the average blogger, there are only 4-5 blocks you need to know about, and they’re all incredibly simple.

> Paragraph blocks
> Headline blocks
> Image blocks
> Embed blocks (YouTube videos, etc)
> Quote blocks

3 basic gutenberg blocks
These are easy, I promise!

Below is a complete list, and we’ll describe each of these in more detail after that!

Text blocks:

  • Paragraphs
  • Lists
  • Headings
  • Subheads
  • Quotes
  • Pullquotes
  • Verses

Media blocks:

  • Images
  • Cover Images
  • Image Galleries
  • Audio
  • Videos
  • Embeds (all sorts!)

Code blocks:

  • Custom HTML
  • Code (for displaying code)
  • Preformatted
  • Shortcodes

Layout blocks:

  • Columns
  • Page Breaks
  • Separators
  • Spacers
  • Read More

Really cool other blocks:

  • Buttons
  • "Classic" text
  • Files
  • Tables
  • Recent Posts
  • Archives
  • Categories

Before we do a walk-through of the new editor, there’s something you need to know…

What Is the Writing Experience Like in Gutenberg?

Repeat after me: “I do NOT have to manually add blocks each time I want a new paragraph, image, heading, etc!”

 

gutenberg writing experience
ya just write like always

The writing experience is very natural.

> Drag-n-drop images as normal
> Hit enter for new paragraphs
> Paste in YouTube URLs and it’ll embed them

WordPress Gutenberg does the majority of work when it comes to making things blocks! Just start writing and blogging as usual.

 

A Step-by-Step WalkThrough of the New Editor

First, I made a complete video series covering all this stuff!

That said, here’s what we’re going to walk through:

> Editing the title and permalink
> The 3 places you can find your post and block SETTINGS
> The 4 ways to add blocks
> A look at the new paragraph and text options
> How images and videos work now
> Advanced blocks
> How to create custom REUSABLE blocks (woot!)

How to edit your Titles and Permalinks in Gutenberg:

The title is straight-forward, but permalinks are not!

August 2018 Update: At this time, you cannot individually edit a permalink!

Per the WP developer team, there WILL be an “edit” button, but it’s coming soon.

For now, you can move your mouse just above the title block, and (eventually) the permalink options will appear, allowing you to see and copy the link! It’s a big buggy still as of Fall 2018.

Where are all the blog post (and block) settings now?

> Publishing options
> Choosing a category
> Setting a featured image

Most of these settings are still on the sidebar, though there’s a “tab” now, which will take you back and forth between the post and block settings.

wp gutenberg post and block settings

The new “menu” there functions exactly like a menu.

Clicking the gear will hide the settings sidebar…

Clicking that little Yoast icon (requires the Yoast plugin) will bring up Yoast SEO settings in the sidebar.

Wait, what?

That’s right. The post, block, and (some) plug-in settings will now be in the same sidebar.

To clarify, I have no clue which plugins will do this. It’ll be up to the plugin developers. However, I personally think it is REALLY cool to have Yoast SEO settings right there at the top–which can be toggled and hidden at will by clicking the “menu” button.

Additionally, the new 3-dot button brings up some additional Gutenberg settings, allowing you to view the code editor (which is NOT just an HTML of your entire post! Important point. There’s new Gutenberg PHP code there).

I have a sneaking suspicion that more and more plugins will opt to show their post settings here, which will likely show up next to Yoast in the picture above.

Cool!

gutenberg heading breakdown

One more cool trick in WordPress Gutenberg…

A document outline!

Accessed by clicking the little “i” circle, you can get a glimpse at your word counts, blocks, and even cooler–a heading breakdown! I love this 🙂

The 4 Ways to Add Blocks

By hitting enter, you automatically create a new paragraph block (which can be changed)

Image 2018-08-16 at 11.29.56 AM

Hovering your mouse at the middle-top of any block brings up an “insert block” button. (THIS IS BUGGY as of August 2018)

add block button

Clicking the upper-left “plus” button adds a block below your currently selected block.

Image 2018-08-16 at 11.32.03 AM

After you’ve hit enter to add a new block–you can then select a few commonly-used block options (located on the lower-right of the block)

Image 2018-08-16 at 11.37.28 AM

Check out the New Paragraph and Text Block Settings:

Paragraph Block

gutenberg block settings

Gutenberg makes it incredibly easy to change text size, color, and background color.

So fun!

Side note: You can also save these settings and create a custom reusable block. We’ll see how to do that below.

Lists Block

Important note about lists:

You can either insert a list block–OR just start typing using the same-old shortcuts you used to use.

I.e. hit “1” then “.” and Gutenberg will start an ordered list.

We interrupt this normal post to bring you an incredible Gutenberg HACK:

To quickly access and insert blocks, simply hit “/” on your keyboard, and a list of blocks will pop up.

Even better, hit “/” and start typing the name of the block to quickly select what you’re looking for!

Headline Block

Either add a separate headline block, or type out text and change it to a headline by clicking the paragraph icon. Easy.

Quotes, Pullquotes, and Verses

You now have 3 styles of quotes to choose from!

2 are “nested” under the normal “quotes” block (you can change between the 2 styles by pressing the top-left button).

The other is the new “pullquote,” which is just fancier looking!

gutenberg block preview
how my theme shows a verse and pullquote block

It’s important to note that YOUR theme will make these look slightly different!

How to Insert Videos and Other Embeds in WordPress Gutenberg

First, you can copy and paste URLs into the new editor (just like the old editor)–and Gutenberg will automatically convert it to an embed block!

Woot!

gutenberg embed blocks

There are dozens and dozens of different embed blocks to choose from, including…
> Tweets
> FB posts
> YouTube, Vimeo
> Slideshare
> Reddit
> Literally 30+ more

But really, you can just copy and paste URLs to videos, etc and Gutenberg converts automatically.

What About Editing HTML?

Good news and bad news:

The Good: You can easily edit the HTML of almost ANY block, accessed from the 2nd block settings area!

Bad news as of August 2018: You CAN’T edit the HTML of multiple blocks.

In fact, you can’t edit ANY settings for multiple blocks.

"coming soon" says WordPress

That said, you CAN dive into the Gutenberg code for the full page, but it requires an in-depth knowledge of NEW code (as in, you can’t just start adding HTML in here. It won’t work.)

new gutenberg code
Don't go touching this unless you KNOW what you're doing

There Are Also Custom Code and Shortcode Blocks!

If you’re looking to either…

> Drop in a shortcode (ConvertKit maybe)
> Insert a line of javascript (button or form or something)
> Add more custom HTML

You’re in luck! There are blocks for those:

shortcode and html blocks gutenberg

You can also use a custom HTML block to insert a line of javascript, etc.

Last but not least, you can always revert to a “classic” block:

It’s the old editor in block form!

Important Note: If you add sub-headers in here (H2, H3, etc), they will NOT show up in the new Gutenberg document outline (accessed from that little circle “i” button in the top-left).

How to Create Custom, Reusable Blocks in Gutenberg

Remember that green-background and large font-size paragraph we created earlier?

What if you could save that styled paragraph, and quickly use it in other posts? Over and over again?

You can.

creating a reusable block in gutenberg

Simply click the 3-dot menu icon, then select “add to reusable blocks,”

A box will pop up allowing you to name it whatever you like.

You can then access and insert your reusable block like you would any other block.

And not just paragraph blocks.

You can make any block a reusable block. Custom HTML, a particular image style, etc.

5 AWESOME New Tricks in Gutenberg

We’ve already mentioned a few of these, but I want to highlight them again.

1 – Shortcuts

On a new line, type a backslash “/” and start typing a name of a block. This is by far the quickest way to add more advanced blocks.

2 – Just pretend you’re using the old editor

Yes, I’m counting this as a huge win for WordPress Gutenberg.

You can really just dive into the new editor and start writing your blog post, dragging in images, and pasting in embed and shortcode links as normal. 

Gutenberg is great at converting this stuff into blocks automatically.

3 – Moving multiple blocks at the same time.

As of August 2018–we CAN’T drag around blocks yet. It’s supposedly coming in the future.

However, you can move individual blocks, and groups of blocks, with the up and down arrows to the left of the blocks.

moving multiple blocks in gutenberg

4 – Accessing HTML on a per-block basis.

It used to be a tad overwhelming to open the old HTML editor, and be staring at TONS of HTML.

Now you can access just the blocks you need. On and off again. I like this.

5 – Full-Width and Cover Images!

August 2018 Update – Full-width images are NOT supported by all themes! I hope this will change, as they’re pretty cool.

gutenberg full width image

Cover images, however, are totally supported, and awesome!

It really just allows you to words over an image.

gutenberg cover image

Should You Use the New Gutenberg Editor, or Stick With the Old Editor?

Ready for my opinion?

>> I believe you SHOULD update to WordPress 5.0, but install the “Classic Editor” plugin for now. <<

Why?

The Classic Editor plugin gives you the ability to TOGGLE between which editor you prefer to use, on a per-post basis!

This means that you can create new content using blocks, OR just continue to use the classic editor if you’d like.

That’s fantastic.

So why not JUST use Gutenberg and blocks?

Personal preference 🙂

I, Pete McPherson, am going to use the blocks editor! However, I fully appreciate people’s hesitancy–and think that the Classic Editor plugin is the right way to go for most bloggers.

Trust the WordPress developer team! Over the long-run, the Gutenberg editor will surely get even better.

Enjoy this post?

You should share it and/or opt-in to my blogging email list!

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“What the HAY Pete, where’s my free PDF checklist? My freebie?”

Well, there isn’t one attached to this post. Sorry, but I’m tired from working on this post for weeks.

However, I do really fun and usefull things for bloggers via the email list, and you should join.

Only if you want to grow your blog, that is. #lol

-Pete McPherson