Five things I’ve learned from publishing my first YouTube video.

I’ve been itching to do more with video this year. And through the summer I dabbled with it, posting some videos on Twitter, some videos on Instagram, and some videos on Facebook. But none of it was hefty or consistent – definitely nothing that I felt comfortable posting on YouTube.

But if you’re gonna get serious with video, you need to get on YouTube.

So back in August I decided to shoot a series of impromptu Q&A sessions with web pros at WordCamp Montreal.

To make it extra scrappy, I chose to only use my phone. No fancy camera, no special audio equipment.

Now, about a month later, after spending several hours cobbling together the footage, I’ve uploaded my first YouTube video.

It’s nothing special, but it’s a start. And that’s the important thing. I’ve started something here. And through that process of starting something I’ve already learned a few new things that I can apply on my next video.


1. Use a tripod.

My phone isn’t heavy, but after holding my arms at an awkward angle for an extended period of time, I started feeling the shakes. Since my interviewees (“talent”?) were seated, the slight shifting was noticeable, even with the stabilization from my phone.

2. Use a mic.

My goal for the WordCamp Montreal experiment was to just use the phone. Nothing else. And it worked pretty well. But some of my interviewees are soft-spoken individuals. I’ve since picked up a cheap-but-good-enough lavalier (lapel) mic to use for future videos.

3. Give myself a deadline.

I could’ve spent a lot more time on the video, but then the video would’ve taken longer to finish. So I made a decision on Thursday to upload the video by EOD regardless of the condition it was in. That forced me to push my list of things to try off to the next video. Which, in turn, is encouragement to get started on the next video.

4. Learn my tools by working on a project.

I was looking up keyboard shortcuts and best practices for Premiere while having a project on the go. I feel like I learned more through that approach because I was simultaneously applying those lessons and takeaways to an actual project I cared about.

5. The Pixel XL is pretty friggin’ great for this.

The Pixel has a fantastic camera. Plus: The free, unlimited Google Photos storage that comes with the Pixel means all my HD footage automatically syncs when I’m on wifi. I don’t need to deal with manual file transfers. I just grab the files off Google Drive once they’re sync’d, and then import them into Premiere when I start my edit.

So if you’re like me and keen on doing more with video, here’s my TL;DR:

  1. Grab your phone.
  2. Find a few friendly folks and ask them some questions.
  3. Start messing with a video editor.
  4. Upload your imperfect-but-completed video to YouTube.

Then take what you learned through that process and iterate on it. 🙂

Featured in this compilation from WordCamp Montreal 2017:

Thanks to Antti Luode for providing an amazing library of music under the CC 3.0 license.

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