6 Beginner Tips For Making A Good First YouTube Video

I can remember the very first time I made a YouTube video. I was extremely nervous and sweating like crazy. My nervousness made me stutter and by the end, I looked as if I had had one too many beers the night before.

That video is now long deleted (thank God) but since then, I have been figuring out the elements of what makes a good YouTube video. What can you do to create a good impression in front of the camera? How can you make the end video the best quality it can possibly be?

Look Presentable

You would have thought this one was a no-brainer, but at the beginning, I never bothered to brush my hair or even shave. Looking at other videos on YouTube, many other people don’t bother to either.

There’s nothing wrong with having a beard – I have one. But the key is to look well groomed and presentable. Don’t give off the homeless person vibe. The least you can do is comb your hair, put on clean clothes, and generally be nice to look at. You don’t want to traumatize the kids.

Use a Decent Video Camera (App)

This is probably going to be a matter of contention with some of you, but I would say that you don’t need to buy an expensive video camera. Your smartphone camera will more than suffice.

In fact, I would go as far as to say that your smartphone camera will outperform a lot of regular video cameras. Cue the murderous lynch mobs.

The regular default camera app on a smartphone is a bit limited though. If you have the budget, try and go for a nice video app. I highly recommend the amazing FiLMiC Pro, available for both iOS and Android. 

It only costs $14.99 and in my opinion, a very worthwhile investment. There is a slight learning curve to getting the most out of it but your videos will look fantastic.

Put The Camera On a Tripod

If there is one thing that screams out “amateur!” during a video broadcast, it’s the picture juggling up and down like a squirrel on crystal meth. The picture needs to be absolutely smooth and for that, you need to put your camera on a tripod.

I have one similar to the one pictured above and its advantage is that it can sit on a desk or somebody else can hold the tripod which is easier than holding the phone. It also frees up your hands if you need them during the video.

Rig Up Decent Lighting

At the beginning of the year, I made what I thought was a great streaming video. But to my horror, I found out afterwards that the lighting was absolutely terrible. I looked like a serial killer lurking in a dark alleyway.

There are two solutions to this. Either stand in front of a window with direct sunlight streaming in. Or buy a LED mini-light like the one above. Technically it is meant to be attached to a DSLR camera, but you can also sit it on a smooth surface next to your video camera, lighting up the area around you.

Make Sure You’re Wired For Sound

So, you’re looking good, the camera is steady and the lighting is top-notch. But can people hear you? This was another blunder I found myself in, during what I thought was a barn-stormer of a YouTube performance. I was whispering so quietly only the deaf lip readers could understand me.

Video creators go one of two routes here. You can either have a clip-on microphone or you can have a proper desk microphone such as the magnificent Blue Yeti. Christian recently profiled some of the best microphones on the market, one of which is the Yeti.

As well as the microphone, you will also need a pop filter which takes out unintentional noises from your voice. This makes your voice sound smoother and makes you easier to understand. The difference in audio quality is startling.

Rehearse Your Words Beforehand (Or Use a Teleprompter)

Finally, the best piece of advice to bear in mind is to rehearse what you want to say beforehand. Nothing is worse than forcing your viewers to listen to you stuttering and stammering like Hugh Grant. It might endear him to female fans but if you do it, viewers will respond by switching off.

Unless you don’t mind rehearsing over and over until you have memorized what you want to say, the alternative is to be like a politician and use a teleprompter. You can either download and use a teleprompter app on another smart device, or you can use a browser-based teleprompter.

How To Set Up a WhatsApp Group

WhatsApp is quite possibly the biggest and most popular instant messaging app in the entire world. Used by everyone and their grandmother, its acquisition by Facebook has concerned many, but it has also given the messaging platform a serious injection of cash and improvement to its infrastructure.

One of the things it is most used for is its groups feature. Any WhatsApp user can set up a group and then invite other WhatsApp users to that group to discuss anything under the sun.

My brother-in-law had one set up for his wedding planning last year, which cut down on unnecessary emailing and crossed wires. Families can set them up to share pics and chat. Businesses can set one up for customer support queries. The possibilities are endless.

If it is not a private discussion, you can publicize a clickable invite link which will enable anyone in the world to join the group instantly from their phone or desktop computer.

Setting Up a Group On WhatsApp

Here is how to set up a group on WhatsApp. We will be looking at how to do it on the desktop app as it is much easier. The new groups will then instantly synchronize with your phone.

  • When you have logged into the WhatsApp desktop app, click on New Chat in the left-hand contacts column.
  • You will now see an option for New Group. Click on that.
  • Start typing the names of the people you want to add to the group. You must add at least one person other than yourself to open a group. If the person you want is on WhatsApp but you cant find them, make sure you have their correct phone number listed in your phone.

Note: anyone added to a new group will be automatically notified by WhatsApp and the group will immediately appear in their contacts list.

  • Once you have added at least one other group participant, the group will open up ready for chatting. If you click on the group title at the top, you can make some customizations and tweaks. This includes changing the title of the group, adding an avatar, adding a description, and designating certain group members as admins.
  • If you scroll further down that list, you will see this option. This is where you can make a clickable invite link for the group if the discussions are not private.
  • You will then get an encrypted link which you can share around. Since this is a private group, I have obscured the last few digits to keep out the riff-raff.
  • By this point, your new group will have appeared on your WhatsApp-registered mobile phone. If not, shut down WhatsApp on your phone and restart it.

If your group starts to get pretty busy, you might want to consider muting the sound so your phone is not always pinging. You can find the mute function in the same area where you can customize your new group. You will still get new message notifications but only the number of unread notifications next to the WhatsApp logo. You can then read the messages at your leisure.

How To Set Up Your First Facebook Advert (Part 1)

In the olden days (pre-Internet), if you wanted to advertise something, you would stick an advert in the newspaper and hope somebody was interested. Or if you had the cash to splash about, maybe a billboard or a TV advert.

But lots of people who saw your advert would not be interested in what you were offering, and the people who would be interested might not see it at all.

So when the Internet came along, the right kind of buyers could now be targeted with micro-precision laser targeting based on their interests. Facebook is one of the  biggest online players and the good news is that anybody can make a powerful Facebook advert with just a few dollars.

Setting Up Your Own Facebook Ad For $5 a Day

Although you can technically run an ad on Facebook for $1 a day, you really need to up the amount to a minimum $5 a day if you want to see any meaningful results. But if you have the budget, the more you invest, the more eyeballs you will reach.

The first thing to emphasize is that you are in complete control of your budget. You specify a maximum daily amount to Facebook and when they hit that amount, the advert is stopped till the next day. So you will never get horrific bills you can’t pay.

Boosted Posts Versus Facebook Ads

There are two forms of advertising on Facebook – boosted posts and actual ads. It’s worth spending a moment explaining the difference.

Boost Post is an extremely limited form of Facebook ad and many people have dismissed them as a waste of money. But I think they have their place if you use them right. I have used boosted posts to promote my dog’s fan page from 50 fans to well over 750 highly engaged fans.

With a normal Facebook ad, you can tweak it and customize it to add lots of amazing features. You have complete control over the messaging and the image.

With a boosted post however, it does what the name says – it takes an already existing Facebook post on your page and merely boosts its presence to others who might be interested in seeing it.

Boosted posts is a nice way to gently dip your toes into the water with ads if the whole thing makes you nervous. But today, we’re going to jump right in with the real thing.

Starting a Proper Facebook Ad

Obviously it goes without saying that you need a Facebook account. First make a personal account and then use the personal account to make a Facebook business page. Both are free and you need the business page to run the adverts.

Once the business page has been set up, go to the Ads Manager and click on the green Create button on the left.

It will ask you if you want to do Quick Creation or Guided Creation. Choose the latter.

The first thing you need to do is decide on your marketing objective. In other words, why do you want to run the advert? What do you hope to gain from it?

When you click one, Facebook explains underneath what it means and what you can expect from that option. This is what you will see if you click on Traffic.

For the purposes of this article, I am going to go with this one. So let’s look at the options above.

  • Campaign Name: fairly self-explanatory. Give the ad campaign a name which will be private to you only.
  • Create Split Test: for beginners, this is not necessary. But split-testing is where you run different versions of the same ad to see which one is the most effective.
  • Campaign Budget Optimisation : Facebook will (unless you tell them otherwise) spread your budget across various advertising platforms that they own, such as Instagram. I would recommend switching this off and only choosing Facebook and maybe Instagram.
  • Campaign Budget: How much you’re prepared to spend. A daily budget is the maximum amount Facebook will spend every day. A lifetime budget requires a start and end date to the advert and that amount will be spent evenly over that period.
  • Campaign Bid Strategy: when deciding on whether to show your ad, Facebook will see who is bidding the most for particular keywords. This option is to either let Facebook decide your costs or whether to impose a bid cap. A bid cap though can seriously impede your ad’s exposure.

Now click Continue.

The options on the next pages are quite a lot and not all of them are necessary for beginners. So I will just show the ones you need to get your first ad online. As you go through each feature, you will see this start to change.

For the ad to be effective, you need to get it down to narrow (green) or specific (red). Remember what I said about laser-focused targeting towards your desired audience.

OK, here we go. First, choose where your traffic is going.

Now the audience section, and this is the part you need to spend the most time on. It will make or break your ad.

If this is your first time, ignore custom audiences and go straight to Locations.

Where it says Include, dropping down the menu will allow you to choose exclude instead. So choose one and then add your desired geographical location. This can either be a continent, a country or a specific state, city, town, or village. Think about where your customers will likely be.

I chose the United States and it added it to the list.

To make your audience narrow or specific, limit the number of places. Don’t go crazy.

Now specify the person’s age, gender, and spoken languages. Do you see that dial moving to the left yet to green or red?

Detailed targeting are the keywords. Make a list of all relevant keywords for your advert to make sure the right people see it. But Facebook must already have the keyword in its database for you to choose it. But get specific – instead of books, try eBooks instead. Or audio books.

Once you have got the audience as narrow or specific as you can get it, it is time to move on.

OK, that’s enough to digest for today. In the next article, I will discuss how to make the graphic which goes with your advertising text and finally submit the whole thing to Facebook for their approval.

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Mozilla’s ‘Common Voice’ – a Crowdsourced Database For Voice Recognition Improvement

I get lots of compliments about my deep Scottish accent but when it comes to voice apps such as Siri and Alexa, my voice is a liability more than an asset. When Apple and Amazon were making their voice assistants, they didn’t seem to have a Scottish accent consultant on speed-dial.

If voice recognition is supposed to be the way of the future – and supposedly that is where we are meant to be heading – then search engines and voice assistants need to start doing a better job of understanding difficult accents. We don’t all have public English schoolboy accents.

Mozilla (makers of the Firefox browser) are attempting to try and solve the problem by asking people to volunteer their voices to a database called “Common Voice“. By matching voices to set phrases, Mozilla is hoping that their database will eventually be an invaluable tool in the future to any app depending on voice recognition.

Signing Up For ‘Common Voice’

Before we go any further, let’s get the privacy issues out of the way first, as I can already hear them coming in.

While it is possible for you to sign up using your Firefox account, Github account, or Google account, you could instead sign up via email. Just open an anonymous throwaway email account and no-one will be any the wiser it is you speaking.

Once you have made an account and logged in, you will see your dashboard.

There are two sections – Speak and Listen. The Speak section is where you are asked to contribute your own voice. Listen is where you listen to other peoples voices and compare them to the phrase they had to speak. You would then indicate if it was correct.

Speak

To take part in the speaking section, you will need a functioning microphone that will pick up your voice clearly. You need to also give the Mozilla site access to that microphone.

When you click on the Speak section, you will be given a set of five random phrases to speak. The instructions are very clearly on the screen and easy to follow.

You simply click the microphone icon below and then read the sentence in your normal tone of voice. Don’t put on an unnatural accent or speak really slowly.

The whole point of the exercise is that the database learns to understand peoples accents the way they are normally spoken. Speaking in another way just makes the whole thing pointless.

When the first phrase has been done, you will see in the top-right corner the options to either playback the clip and to re-record the clip if you are not happy with it.

If you are happy with it, it moves onto the next one and continues till all five phrases are done. Then click the blue Submit button to send your clips to Mozilla for checking.

If you now go back to your dashboard, you will see that you have been credited for those phrases.

Then it’s a simple case of rinse and repeat. The more contributions and different accents Mozilla can get in their database, the more successful the project will be.

Listen

Once people have submitted their phrases to Mozilla, they need to be checked to make sure the voice clip matches the phrase. This is something which is also being crowdsourced out to volunteers.

Back on the dashboard, you will see the Listen section on the right. You can see from the Top Contributors section that some serious stats have been racked up.

To start validating voice phrases, go to the Listen section and you will be given a phrase and a play button.

Click on the play button (make sure your speakers are on!) and you will hear the recorded voice. If you decide the phrase was spoken correctly, click Yes. If there was mispronunciation, something else said, or any other error, click NO.

Conclusion

This is just one of the many projects which Mozilla has going at the moment (go to the main Mozilla website and click Projects at the top – it changes all the time). Crowdsourcing is a great way for worthy projects to happen and it is always worth donating your time to help build something useful for the future.