As you probably know, promoting your blog to a wider audience is the best way of building readership. You’ve probably already used Facebook and Twitter – perhaps Pinterest too – to some level of success, but these services are of course limited.
Usually, the information you share with social networks (typically using a plugin that alerts your followers or friends when a new post is uploaded) will appear for only a short time. On Twitter, this might be a matter of seconds, whereas on Facebook it could last a bit longer, depending on who sees it and how they react.
Vital as these social tools are, there is another way in which you can engage with your readers in a more direct and interesting way: through video blogging.
Video Blogging: The Reasons
Although something that seems to intimidate a lot of bloggers, recording your own videos and uploading them (probably to YouTube or Vimeo) is a vital step in securing the future of your own blog.
As more and more people use devices that are capable of displaying video (from mobile phones and tablets to computers and Internet-ready TVs) so there is a greater reason to have some good video content on your blog.
YouTube is the third most visited website, just behind Google and Facebook, so with this in mind and considering the immense reach that is implied, it is clear that the service is something you should consider using.
Adding Video to Your Blog
The first step is to start slow. You don’t even need a webcam at this stage – simply check YouTube for suitable videos that illustrate what you’re blogging about, or perhaps choose something you disagree with and write about it, explaining your position.
In WordPress you can embed your video using the “long address” that is found in the address bar of a YouTube video (e.g. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XXXXXXXXXX). Simply paste this into an empty line in your blog post and as long as you’re running an up-to-date version of WordPress the video will be added to your post. You can save and preview the post to see the video.
To add a video to your blog from Vimeo, find the video you wish to use and click the embed button in the top-right. In the next screen, copy the embed code and paste it into your WordPress blog post in HTML view. Save the post and use the WordPress Preview feature to check the results.
This new dimension adds a lot to your blog, immediately adding richness to the material that you publish.
Often fans of your blog won’t have time to read if they’re doing something else – to see visuals and to listen to someone talking can be a great help to them.
Recording Your Own Videos
There are various lengths that you can go to in order to create your own videos.
The simplest is to buy a webcam (or use a cam built-in to your monitor or tablet PC) and hit the record button. Speak directly to the camera (which should have a built-in microphone – if not, you’ll need one of these too) about your thoughts and feelings on the chosen subject.
Once the recording is complete and you’re happy with it, you’ll be ready to upload it to your preferred video hosting service (you can upload video to your blog but the resulting bandwidth use might upset your web host).
As you develop confidence you might use some basic editing software to add an introduction, music and titles. Free applications for Apple Mac OS X and Microsoft Windows are available to assist with this.
At the other end of the scale you might opt for a dedicated high definition camera, studio lights, a professional microphone and even a green screen backdrop. All of this can be purchased for under $100, and when combined with a professional video editing software suite can produce impressive results.
With your video complete and ready to be shared you should upload it in order to receive the code to add to your blog post.
Uploading to YouTube is extremely easy: sign into the service, select Upload and then use the Select files from your computer button to begin uploading. YouTube will require certain information to be added as the video is uploaded, so give the video a snappy title, explain its purpose and add any relevant tags.
For Vimeo users, uploading is just as simple. After signing in, open your page (via the Me menu item) and select Upload a video. Follow the instructions as displayed on the Vimeo website, and when uploaded you will be able to add the video to your blog, as explained above.
Note that there are other video hosting services that you might use besides YouTube and Vimeo.
Monetising and Extending Reach
As well as exposing your blog to a new, wider audience, video blogging can also help you to generate more income from your blog, especially if you have chosen to use YouTube as your video host.
Most importantly, however, the presence of video on your blog will encourage your audience to spend a bit longer on the site, perhaps noticing things that they have never seen before. Meanwhile your YouTube RSS feed can be added to your blog and by using a suitable plugin (such as DB YouTube RSS) you will be able to automatically add new videos to your blog whenever a new one is uploaded. Such feeds can also be used with a service such as Twitterfeed.com to update your Twitter followers when new videos are published.
With your video hosted on YouTube you will have the opportunity to name your “channel” – use the name of your website or a close approximation. Thanks to the tags that you added when uploading to YouTube, the service will display your video when people search for one of the terms or via the suggested videos listed down the right-hand column. When people comment on your video, remember to reply wherever relevant, just as you would on your own blog.
While using YouTube you might have noticed an option to set adverts on your video clip. This feature enables you to monetize your video, and if you don’t already have an Adsense account YouTube will point you in the right direction – the services are integrated. Income might be low to start off with, but as your new video features become more popular and gain traction you can expect to build audience and income!
Keep It Simple!
Remember, the secret of getting started with video blogging is to keep it simple. The purpose is to add a new dimension to your blog, not produce an Oscar-winning masterpiece, so don’t get carried away – don’t run before you can walk.
Uploading to your favoured video hosting service should be quick and painless, meanwhile, while embedding content should also be straightforward.
Monetisation should be something that you consider but you don’t have to display ads on your videos – some viewers may not like this.