Online video isn’t new. YouTube has been around for years, entertaining us with random pranks, memes and funny cat videos. But there has been a measurable shift in the overall quantity and quality of video being uploaded to YouTube each and every day. More specifically and more recently, it feels like everyone has started a vlog.
And again, it’s not like vlogs are new. It’s just that they have become much more mainstream. Even among our immediate circle of online friends, many of whom have already been shooting and posting different kinds of videos over the years, many of us have picked up the camera and started pointing it at ourselves to share our day-to-day lives in vlog form.
Maybe you’ve noticed that I have a vlog where I talk about food and fatherhood. Our mutual friend Stephen Fung has a vlog and so does Bob Buskirk. And of course, John has a vlog too. We all have a slightly different approach and are doing it for different reasons, but we’re all vlogging… some more regularly than others.
But why? Why vlog at all?
Perhaps a big part of the inspiration came from Casey Neistat, who started his vlog a couple of years ago. While some people already knew who he was, he really skyrocketed into the YouTube elite and into popular culture at large when so many of his videos would “go viral” on a consistent basis. And each video was racking in over a million views without batting an eye.
Up until that point, if we ignore the more commercial uses for the platform, YouTube videos could be broadly broken down into two main categories or types of users. On the one hand, you had the casual user with no real interest in monetization. They’d share a funny video on YouTube because it was the easiest way to share the video to a wider audience, just as they might on Twitter or Facebook or Instagram.
On the other hand, you had the much more professional approach to YouTube. These videos would be much more structured and scripted in nature, like when I would go about reporting on tech shows like CES and Computex. You’d see short films from people like Freddie Wong. These were, for all intents and purposes, “real productions.”
Vlogs bridge the gap and align with the current climate of social media. Content creators can connect with their viewers on a much more personal level, just as they do with candid photos and videos on Snapchat, Instagram stories, or Facebook live. The audience yearns for unfiltered authenticity and vlogs deliver on that promise, even if they are necessarily framed, edited and curated.
This trend also speaks to how the average Internet user prefers to consume content on the Internet these days. Blog posts like this are fine when you can get their undivided attention for several minutes at a time, but let’s be honest: Internet users are lazy. It’s far easier to watch a five minute video of John talking while driving his car than it is to read a 500-1000 word blog post explaining exactly the same thing.
Blogs aren’t dead, but vlogs are steadily on the rise. And it’s not too late for you to get in on the action too. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get started — and getting started is the most important step of them all — but there are certainly opportunities to invest in fancier toys as you take your vlog more seriously.
So, what are you waiting for? Grab your camera, turn it around, and talk straight to your audience. Because an audience that trusts and likes you is more likely to buy from you too.