As the Buggles so prophetically stated way back in 1979, video killed the radio star. In fact, the music video for this song is famously known as being the first music video to ever play on MTV a couple years later in 1981. And now, in the modern age of the Internet and following the continuing rise of social media and user-generated content, video has quickly ascended as the online star of its own.
And if you want to make money online, it’s not at all a bad idea to get into video yourself. Videos are fantastic for landing pages. Videos are terrific for social media. And vlogging is more popular than ever before. Thankfully, while more expensive equipment can certainly help to produce higher quality video, you don’t need to break the bank to make some pretty decent content.
Don’t forget that the Dot Com Pho videos only got started because John wanted to play with the Flip video camera. That has since evolved into Dot Com Lunch, plus the “Driving with John Chow” series. And you can pursue similar exploits to document your own adventures. Here are two setups that cost less than $200 to get started.
For Vlogging from Home Base
If you plan on shooting most of your videos from the comfort of your home, your office or your home office, it might be easiest if you take advantage of the computing power you already have on hand.
Consistently one of the highest rated webcams on the market today is the Logitech C920 HD Pro Webcam ($67.99). It allows you to shoot in full HD 1080p and the video quality is actually very good, despite its really affordable price.
Since it is a webcam, you will need to connect it to either your desktop or your laptop computer, using whatever software you’d like to capture the image. This has the advantage of not having to transfer your video files to your computer, since they are already there. And yes, it is compatible with both Macs and Windows PCs.
The audio is only okay straight out of the C920, though, so it is worth your while to invest in a better dedicated microphone. One of the best options on a budget is the Blue Microphones iCE Condenser Microphone ($49.00). It’s shaped like a snowball and it’s a favorite among many podcasters. USB plug-and-play connectivity means there are no drivers needed either. And it comes with a simple tripod too.
For Vlogging on the Go
What if you want to take your video recording adventures on the road? Many people have turned to SLRs with external microphones (either shotgun or lavalier), but those kinds of setups can get expensive.
A much more budget-oriented option is the Canon PowerShot ELPH 350 HS ($159.00). Don’t let its small size (and small price tag) deceive you. This little point-and-shoot is very popular among many vloggers who want a simple and compact video recording solution on the go.
It offers full HD 1080p video recording, 12x optical zoom, Wi-Fi and NFC, plus 20-megapixel stills for when you want to capture regular photos too. The video can be a little grainy under lower light conditions, but the quality is astounding at this price.
The on-board audio with the basic microphone can be perfectly usable. However, if you want to step it up a notch, you may be saddened to hear that the ELPH 350 HS (and others like it) does not support external microphones.
If you want better audio, you’ll need to invest in a separate audio recorder, like the highly-rated Zoom H1 Handy Portable Digital Recorder ($99.99). Together with the Canon, this does break the $200 budget I set forth for this article. However, it might be worth the extra money to you.
Vlogging for Fun and Profit
Even though you should definitely view these purchases as an investment and not just as an expense, many beginning vloggers might not be able to justify spending $1,000 or more on their first video recording setup.
With either of the options described above, you can get your feet wet and start to make money on YouTube right away. And when you’ve got more cash on hand, you can upgrade to fancier equipment and even better video.