Doing something for the first time is always hard. We don't know anything about any part of it so everything is a learning curve.

When I wanted to make my first vlog, I found talking to someone who recently started was more helpful than guides and how-tos online. There were good tutorials but they often don't touch on the small things that a beginner thinks about. (This is what C.S. Lewis meant when he said that knowledge is a curse.)

There aren't many posts online from beginners about the initial process and learnings. So here I am, chronicling my first attempt at vlogging and how I went about the entire process. If you're interested in making vlogs (or YouTube videos in general), this should help you.

why i decided to try vlogging

I actually did a YouTube stint once before. Before 2020, I used to say that video content was not for me when asked about making YouTube videos. In 2020, during the lockdown, I had enough time to test it out and see if I was right.

I made a total of 4 videos. One was a Notion tour, which was the only one I actually wanted to do. A couple of them were bookish videos. And the last one was a very random idea. After all of them, I still didn't like making videos and ditched the channel altogether.

Fast forward to 2023, most of my YouTube subscriptions are to channels that post vlogs. Specifically, calming vlogs with background music, minimal to no talking, and narration in the captions. I absolutely love watching such videos. It's cool how they show the joys in daily life and catalogue memories.

I actually do like taking videos (I am ashamed to say that I send too many snaps) and putting them together. I've enjoyed making "end of the year" reels for the past couple of years on Instagram. It has been on the back of my mind that if I were to make videos again, I would go for vlogs that preserve good memories.

What finally pushed me to make vlogs was my free time and my friend who started vlogging.

illustration of a person lying down and listening to an audiobook

I uninstalled social media apps from my phone recently and it has truly given me back my time. Since I don't have anything to waste my time on easily, I have quite a bit of free time. It didn't take me long to want to take up something new. I was looking for a new hobby when my friend posted her first vlog.

Her vlog was exactly the type of video I love. Seeing someone I've known for years do it so well gave me a boost. She also sent me a few vlog channels by people living in India and that pushed me further. If they can do it so well, I can at least try it.

I wrote a note on my notes app (called "snippets from my days", lol) about why I wanted to do it, what I wanted to do, and some ideas of what I could record. It ended up being a long note with several ideas and that made vlogging feel possible. I showed it to my friend and she gave me all the initial encouragement I needed to go for it.

My main motivation behind this was to capture my memories and good days. The idea of "making content" does not appeal to me. I went with the mindset that I'm only doing this for myself and if people like it, great. I'm also not on social media so it's not like I will be promoting it much.

initial research & guidelines

Although I made a few videos before, I don't remember anything about the process. I don't remember how I shot the videos or edited them. Plus, at that time, I had a Windows laptop and an Android phone without a good camera. My devices are better ones now and can handle other software and tools. So, I started from scratch.

I asked my friend everything. She had just posted her first vlog and was at the right stage to answer all of my questions.

Here's what I got from our conversation:

  • All you need is 5 clips a day and it adds up at the end of the week. You don't need to film every part of your day.
  • The VLLO app (for iPads and iPhones) is great. (I was looking for an app to edit on the laptop and wasn't sure about editing on my iPad, but it is free and actually so convenient!)
  • There are many options for royalty-free music. Pixabay is good.
  • How long should the clips be? What's the duration to record per clip? Especially if I'm recording something static like food or trees. - Videos of 7 to 10 seconds are good. It takes 3 to 5 seconds to read a full sentence when there are visuals on the screen.

We had this conversation on a Friday and I was ready to record the next day. I already had ideas of what scenes I could record and the 7 to 10 seconds rule helped.

Answers to "What to record?" and "How long to record" are all that one needs to get started.

an illustration drawing of a girl using her laptop

One of my main concerns was the brightness of the clips. Back when I used to shoot photos for Instagram, I struggled with good and consistent lighting. It doesn't help that my city's weather is moody. When I asked my friend about what she does for lighting, she said that she doesn't do anything and lets it be. But also, lighting isn't a problem where she stays in the US and most pictures pop naturally unlike when she tried to shoot in India.

From what I've seen online and in real life, India has a lot more colours everywhere. It's not white or cream all the time (even the buildings). Houses are often pink and yellow and blue! The furniture is generally dark in colour and bedsheets have colourful prints. I have a black granite dining table and dark brown sofas.

Most of us don't have "aesthetic" homes with neutral colours. Even restaurants and streets are bursting with different colours. There are also a lot of crowds and people are clustered together whereas in American/UK vlogs, I see a lot of space.

The colours in a space affect the lighting. Every angle of my room looks different through a camera. So, I find it hard to get consistently bright clips. And I was not even hoping for an aesthetic compilation.

Unless I start over from scratch and set up a new home with neutral-coloured things (which are generally more expensive than colourful items), I was not going to get the aesthetic that I like to see. However, this is a good opportunity to like my own space and where I live instead of finding the faults in it.

So, I decided to figure it out during editing and not worry before I started shooting.

shooting the vlog

If I let myself think too much, I would have backed out of the venture. So I started shooting clips the very next day. I took clips right from when I woke up and made sure to make every clip at least 5 seconds long.

A lot of vloggers shoot from the outsider's perspective i.e. the camera is recording them as they do things. Most of my clips were from my perspective instead. I was not ready to try doing it the other way unless I was at home. However, the clips were still pretty good.

I'm used to Snapchat and Instagram stories where any clips I take get published immediately so I usually think a lot about what I'm capturing. But in this case, there was the comfort that I had the choice to edit and scrap at the end if I wanted. I could even trash the entire YouTube vlog if I didn't like any of it. Hence, I kept taking clips no matter what I was doing, even if it looked boring at the moment.

The fact that I was recording my days with the intention of sharing them online gave me motivation to do more. I had to do something worth showing. It helped me get back to my routines such as running and making my bed every morning.

While the goal was to take at least 5 clips a day as my friend suggested, I quickly surpassed that number. I texted her around 1 p.m. on the first day that I already had 37 clips. It bolstered me further because even if half the videos weren't good enough, I'd still have a lot to share.

illustration of a hand holding an iphone horizontally to record

Of course, shooting style also matters to the overall vibe of the vlog. I generally follow vloggers who have a stagnant camera that captures them moving. But since I was recording from my perspective, most of my clips had the camera moving. I wasn't sure if it would turn out nice but it wasn't bad in the end.

I'm not used to staying still and recording, I'm used to moving the camera around to capture everything that I see. But I do want to try making a habit of holding the camera still and trying that style. Let's see, though.

For the first vlog, I didn't think too much because getting started is more important than getting it perfect.

Surprisingly, my phone captured videos in pretty good lighting compared to photos. Because I've always worked with only photos on the camera app, I didn't notice this before. As soon as I switched to the video option, what I was capturing became brighter and looked better. Soon, I forgot about the lighting worry completely.

editing the vlog

I followed my friend's advice and used VLLO. Also, the fact that one of my favourite YouTubers tokanokiroku also uses this app and produces such good videos gave me hope.

VLLO turned out to be SO SIMPLE. At the end of the first day of shooting clips, I watched a couple of YouTube tutorials on VLLO and dove in to try it out.

It took me a long time to get the hang of trimming and figuring out what style I wanted my videos to have. I would often play all the clips so far to see what could stay and what could go. After I got the hang of doing one thing, I would try another.

As I got the hang of trimming the videos (while keeping them long enough for text), I realized that I didn't like the sudden transition for clips that were far away in time. For example, I had a clip of me starting to read and a clip when I was done reading. But showing them sequentially felt jarring because the passage of time wasn't shown. That's when I tried the page flip animation to signify time passing.

I also wanted an animation during time lapses that weren't interesting to watch and spent 15 minutes figuring it out.

illustration art of an ipad, ipad pencil, open book, an open laptop, and a mug of chai

It took me quite a while to get used to the app, understand what I wanted to do, and figure out how to do it in the app. I had ideas of what to say for each clip but left it for later so that I could learn the main things first.

Adding text was another learning curve. I played around with a few fonts and sizing. I quickly chose 2 that were okay enough and went ahead with them. Making sentences fit the video times and vice versa was the main struggle. I went with an average of 4-5 seconds per caption as my friend suggested.

All-in-all, I took two days to edit the clips of the first day. At times, I looked at other vlogs online for inspiration and a little guidance.

On the third day, I started editing day two's clips. This time, I added clips one-by-one and added text immediately so that I didn't have to make reading time fit later on. This helped me trim accordingly and not redo anything.

Editing the second day's clips was faster. I got into a rhythm and all of the editing (sans music, intro, and outro) was done by day 3 of editing.

I knew that I wanted a "preview" for the vlog as an intro which was a quick compilation of a bunch of clips. On editing day 4, I focused on that first. I added about 4 clips of a second each before realizing that they needed to match the music.

Although VLLO had some music within the app, I went to Pixabay for vlog music since my friend suggested that. I found a couple of good tracks in 10 minutes and decided to go with them. I didn't have the patience to search a lot by this point haha.

I used one track with good beats for the preview section and played the other on a loop throughout the rest of the video. I could have found more tracks and not looped through once, but it wasn't too bad. The music actually went with the content and it didn't feel repetitive, especially since the video was only around 10 minutes long.

Once I was done with all the parts of editing, I watched the video fully to validate that it was okay. I was mainly looking for typos and checking if the reading time of each sentence was proper.

illustration of a person typing on a pink keyboard with a pink mouse kept next to the keyboard

What I struggled with throughout editing was working with regular pacing. I watch all YouTube videos at 2x speed and I watch Netflix at 1.5x (because that's the fastest option available). When I watch videos at 1x, I find it too slow and I can read each caption sentence at least twice.

But there's a reason 1x is the default, what's normal for me isn't normal for everyone. This is why I held on strong to what my friend said about 3-5 seconds of reading per sentence. I also checked a bunch of vlogs for their caption duration. While I watched the video fully, it was hard to judge if the pacing was proper because it was too slow for me. I tried to work at twice my comfortable clip length for everything.

uploading & publishing the vlog on youtube

After exporting and sending the video to my laptop, I opened YouTube and uploaded the video.

Note: I did not have to create a new channel because I already had one. I only had to update the branding a little bit. I remember it being very simple to set up a channel, only that it takes the exact name as the Google account so my first name has to be "the wordy" and my last name as "habitat" to make the channel name work.

If you're starting a new one, the process might be a little different now. My friend mentioned something about some required verification which took a few days before YouTube allowed publishing.

Since I didn't have anything to set up, I uploaded the video and went ahead. I came up with a random title and a short description since I had to log into work soon. But the steps to publishing a video include more than writing the title and a description.

It takes some time to upload the video and then YouTube checks it for copyright music. One has to select the age restriction on every video and the options were a little confusing. I restricted my video to 18 and above by mistake while trying to make sure that it was not tagged as content for kids.

Then there's the option for end cards and adding any links in the top right corner during the video. I didn't add anything to these since I did not have time to contemplate.

YouTube also processed it to ensure HD quality by default which took longer. I didn't realize that it would happen in the background even if I exited and ended up waiting for it to finish.

I scheduled the video to go up at 8 p.m. IST and rescheduled it to 6 p.m. IST later. But I randomly checked at 4 p.m. to find out that it was live. I don't know how that happened. So the video went live at the wrong time. I found that a little weird considering scheduling should work fine. Oh well.

illustration art of laptop, mug and a plant

promoting the vlog

Since I quit social media and I only told one friend about what I was up to, nobody knew to see my video after it went live. I sent a link to close friends and didn't do anything else for a day.

If I had social media apps on my phone, I might have promoted it more. But since I didn't, I had the time to deliberate on it. I wasn't sure if I truly wanted to promote it and have strangers see it or if it should be low-key and mostly for myself. Eventually, I decided that I was proud of it and wanted to share it. Not enough to install social media but enough to mention it around.

So, I included a link to it in my next blog post and sent out a newsletter on it. Quite a few people actually clicked through and watched my video. That made me happy.

The numbers were rookie numbers but I didn't care. It was more than I hoped for. Especially considering I'm starting something from scratch with less promotion.


I was really excited after publishing the first vlog. I had many ideas and things to figure out. It's a new challenge and I was at the starting line.

As I'm writing this, three of my vlogs are live on YouTube. I still have a lot to learn and experiment on but I can already see how my craft is becoming better with each video. I don't have the time to learn fancy things and experiment a lot (yet) but I am making small refinements every time.

I rewatched my vlogs a few times in 2x speed which gave me some more insight on clip lengths and caption durations. Of course, my vlogs don't match up to the channels I follow but they are pretty good in their own way.

I really like recording my weekends and days when I'm doing interesting things. It's fun to record memories and preserve them in this way. I have tried vlogging during the work week but it didn't really work out yet. I want to try again and see how it can be made better, maybe by forcing myself to make my regular days interesting.

flatlay illustration of a wooden table with a potted plant, open book, sticky tabs, a phone, coffee, and airpods on it.

So far, I haven't done any colour grading or used any filters. The videos are as I recorded them on my phone without even the brightness adjusted. Since I'm new, I decided to focus on the basics and making nice videos that I'll want to rewatch first. Everything else is secondary.

After that first bit of promotion, I haven't spread the word much. I only mention it to friends when I meet them and it comes up naturally. I haven't mentioned it on social media or sent more newsletters. I kind of want to see how it fares organically without constant promotion.

So far, just publishing the video gives me a sense of achievement. I don't look at stats much and when I do, it's not with a critical lens. I'm still shooting for fun and only when I feel like it. This takes me back to the initial days of my blogging journey haha.

Let's see where this leads!

chat with me!

Do you record your days or good memories in any specific way? Have you tried making videos or vlogs? What do you like to see in vlogs on YouTube? Do you have any tips for me? Tell me your thoughts in the comments!

photo of Sumedha

Sumedha spends her days reading books, bingeing Kdramas, drawing illustrations, and blogging while listening to Lo-Fi music. Read more βž”

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  • Clo @ Cuppa Clo says:

    Ah I absolutely adore your vlogs, they're so calming and such a nice way for me to wind down in the evenings or whenever I'm in the mood for that style of vlog! I enjoy capturing my memories via photos but I have considered vlogging on and off for years. I just never got around to it because I had no way to edit it years ago, I don't really get up to much and I'm not sure how comfortable I am nowadays with actually vlogging my daily life and uploading it online. (that's a whole other can of worms for another day, I go back and forth with myself on wanting to share snippets of life in a vlog style and wanting to hide away completely - photos have been a nice compromise thus far and writing about it on the blog. Instagram has my highlights for any travel related memories too!)

    Also I love the fact you have so much colour in your room and in your vlogs. I know this may be a more unpopular opinion/love but I really love rooms with colour and the whole white/neutrals aesthetic is very boring to me personally. Don't get me wrong it looks nice if done right but some vlogs I click right off because it's too white and bland. Anytime I find a vlogger who has colours in their room and it's not just white and samey it immediately grabs my attention. I know that's not a common thing if the trends are anything to go by? But I just wanted to mention it πŸ’œ

    Reply βž”
    • sumedha @ the wordy habitat says:

      hearing that you love my vlogs makes me so happy! πŸ₯ΉπŸ’œ yeah i was unsure about recording and posting my life online, especially for privacy reasons, but it figure i can stop it and make the videos private any time and i have control during editing so i've managed to go on haha. it's fine because my audience is small for now but once it increases i mayyy be intimidated and stop, who knows.

      thank you! i actually do like pops of colour everywhere and because i grew up in this environment, i don't see the clashing colours (that aren't arranged with an aesthetic) as something jarring or un-attractive. it's just how it is. only when i started posting on youtube and compared with other vlogs did i notice the difference. but oh well! that's the charm of vlogging in india, maybe? i've noticed that it's the same in vlogs by other indians so i'm not deterred now haha. thank you <3

      Reply βž”
  • Yesha Soni says:

    I want to make mini-review videos or wrap-up posts but I'm scared my accent and pronunciation will be bad. I know I wouldn't know if I'm good or not until I post the video but that one thing is big thing stopping me from doing anything about YouTube channel yet. But I love your idea of making small clips and then combining them. I think I wouldn't have a problem with trimming and compiling as I do that for Instagram as well. Amazing post!

    Reply βž”
    • sumedha @ the wordy habitat says:

      I'm quite self-conscious about my voice and speaking mannerisms as well, which is why I went with silent vlogging! I highly suggest trying small videos and various styles of videos to see what you're comfortable to start with πŸ™‚ Thank you!

      Reply βž”
  • Ashish Khatri says:

    Congratulations on starting your youtube vlogging journey. I'm sure it will be SPLENDID. πŸ©·πŸ’œβœ¨πŸ‚

    Reply βž”
  • Lila @ Hardcover Haven says:

    Aaaaah congratulations on starting your vlogging journey, chickadee!!! I subscribed to your channel on both my personal YouTube account and my Hardcover Haven Youtube account, and I've loved your vlogs so far (though I have yet to comment because for some reason online I'm shyer than I am irl πŸ™ˆπŸ˜‚)! I've been wanting to try a bit of vlogging myself and your tips are perfect---everyone else gives such vague ideas on how to start but you have such great, concrete, and actionable suggestions! I'll definitely be using the knowledge you've shared with us here *quickly snatches up the knowledge here and places it safely in my purse, like a starving learning goblin* I'm so glad you're having fun and thanks for being willing to share your findings with us!

    Reply βž”
    • sumedha @ the wordy habitat says:

      thank you so much, Lila!! (and i totally get that, i myself barely leave comments on youtube videos πŸ˜…)

      i’m so glad i could help and i’d love to see your vlogs! do try making them!

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  • Mehek says:

    This is honestly so amazing! I love watching your vlogs, they are so well made! I look forward to your vlogs each week and cannot wait to see what you have planned for us 🀩. Also thank you so much for this post! It is such an insightful post and is definitely going to be very helpful for people who wanna start on a video journey but don’t know how to!

    I also adore the way you were inspired by your friend (I cannot wait to check out their videos) and to be completely honestly, I have been really inspired by your videos to attempt vlogging again, I started vlogging back in 2019 and I only used to post on Instagram, it was really fun but I kinda lost touch with it after I started working. I have been tinkering with the idea of starting again and your videos really inspired me push through my inertia and attempt it again, thank you so much for that! So far, I am trying to attempt this on IG and if I can get over my anxiety on being on YouTube someday, I would love to move on to the platform.

    Chronically life via video is such a fun experience and honestly vlog content is one my favourite things to watch! I love it so much more than sit down videos! I personally use the InShot app for video and reel editing but will definitely be looking into the VLLO app!

    Thank you again for this wonderful post and I cannot wait to watch your next cozy video 😍

    Reply βž”
    • sumedha @ the wordy habitat says:

      thank you so much, Mek!! i’m so happy to hear that πŸ₯Ή

      haha yeah, it’s easier to get inspired and start something when it’s a friend instead of someone across the world in a different life.

      i agree! i love chronicling my life and seeing vlogs by others much more than any other type of video. do try VLLO! i’ve worked with InShot before for IG but honestly this is sooo convenient and i don’t remember InShot being like this.

      Reply βž”
  • abookowlscorner says:

    Even though I have no aspirations whatsoever to vlog - I'm way too awkward to ever let anyone see me in video format voluntarily πŸ™ƒ - I thought this was super interesting and insightful! It brought a lot of flashbacks to my Russian course, when our teacher discovered having students make YouTube videos to practice language skills was a thing πŸ˜‚ I edited with Shotcut, not VLLO, but a lot of the other stuff you mentioned sounds really familiar. Awkwardness of having to watch my videos aside, making them was actually kind of fun, and I can totally see why you've gotten hooked!

    And I've actually been enjoying your vlogs a lot! (Just, you know, in sneaky non-commenting YouTube stalker mode because I never comment on YouTube. It's just a thing? πŸ˜…) I love how calming and relaxing they are, and, to be honest, I didn't notice anything off with the lighting at all... I actually really like your vibrant Indian colors and think it's really interesting to see what your country looks like compared to mine! And I might also be a little bit in love with your friend's cats... If you want to feature them every week from now on, I'm not complaining! πŸ₯°

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    • sumedha @ the wordy habitat says:

      I'm trying to get over my awkwardness on camera haha, it's why some clips kinda show my face and some don't. I'm still not there with recording myself with surety either but hopefully I'll get there soon.

      Glad to know you're enjoying my vlogs!! (I totally get that, I myself rarely comment haha) Thanks for the reassurance on the lighting! I'm still a little unsure about it and didn't think about how it might be interesting to others. And I wish I could feature the cats every week haha. Thank you for the comment <3

      Reply βž”