So you want to start a YouTube channel. You daydream about making weekly videos for your millions of viewers with a fancy camera in your luxurious LA apartment. However, in reality, very few vloggers start their careers with the best of everything. While you don’t have the budget of a YouTube megastar, you can still make high-quality videos your audience will rave about.
Here are five expert budgeting tips for new vloggers.
1. Find secondhand equipment on Facebook Marketplace.
You don’t have to shell out hundreds or even thousands of dollars for brand new equipment when you’re just getting started. Buying secondhand filming equipment is a good option for new vloggers. However, ordering from Amazon or eBay can be risky because you never know the quality of the item you’re receiving until it’s at your doorstep.
Instead of having things shipped, use Facebook Marketplace to find people who are selling their gently used filming equipment locally. Then, you can meet with them in a public place in person and test the equipment before you buy it.
Alternatively, you could use an app like Letgo. You may even look at listings on Craigslist or check the classifieds in your local newspaper.
2. Get free products to review by signing up for programs like Influenster.
Many vloggers grow their audiences through product testing and reviews, whether it’s makeup, video games, or “as seen on TV” products. However, purchasing the products for these videos can eat up a lot of your budget.
Several influencer marketing companies have sprung up out of brands’ need to find influencers to test their products and influencers’ need to find products to test. You can sign up for programs such as Influenster and Heartbeat to receive free products to review. Simply download the apps and connect your social media to get started.
3. Help your friends with their videos in exchange for them helping you.
Maybe you’re a great editor but need someone else to compose background music for you. You might need someone to hold your boom mic while you film on location, but you want more experience behind the camera.
You can kill two birds with one stone by trading your filmmaking services with your friends. Edit your musician friend’s music video in exchange for an original piece of background music. Offer to film your vlogger friend’s mini documentary in exchange for them working sound on your short film.
When you collaborate with your friends, you’ll all be able to get the help you need without hiring someone to do it. You’ll also gain more work experience as creators. However, be careful that everything stays fair. For example, if you’re asking someone to design your thumbnail, they deserve more than a shout-out on your Instagram story.
4. Rent equipment you won’t use often instead of buying it.
Let’s say you want a Ronin gimbal stabilizer for one specific shot in the video you’re working on. A quick search on Amazon reveals these camera stabilizers have a median price of $500. That’s a lot of money to spend on something you don’t plan on using very often.
Instead of saving up or shelling out, you can rent the Ronin for a fraction of the price. You can find local production companies or studios that rent out filming equipment. If you know someone who has the equipment you need, ask to borrow it from them, but offer to pay a rental fee.
You can even equipment like this online. For example, LensRentals.com will let you rent a Ronin for a week for less than $200. If you only need it for a day or two, you can get it on ShareGrid for $15 a day.
5. Don’t hold your videos to the same standards as vloggers with millions of subscribers.
When you’re starting out, your videos won’t look like the ones your favorite YouTube megastars upload, but that’s perfectly okay. Viewers won’t have the same expectations for your videos, so neither should you.
If your main goal as a creator is to make your videos look expensive, then you’ll be tempted to spend more and more money to obtain that highly-produced look. However, if you make the content of your videos your first priority, your focus will shift to making your ideas come alive instead.
Production quality is important, but it’s not everything. A comedy video with a million dollar budget could be an absolute flop if viewers don’t think it’s funny. Similarly, a video you filmed on your iPhone in your room could go viral because it really resonated with your audience.
As you get your YouTube channel off the ground, set attainable goals for yourself. Focus on progressing your videos’ production quality as your budget increases. Most importantly, don’t compare yourself to vloggers who have been doing this for years. Your audience wants to watch your videos because of you, not because they look like someone else’s content.
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Kristen Harris enjoys listening to a wide range of music, from Taylor Swift to, on occasion, Celtic instrumental. She also spends her time writing, reading, and baking.