I have 2 YouTube channels where I film myself, and I also coach my YouTube clients on how to film themselves for their respective YouTube channels.
It’s easy to get carried away buying all the fancy gear your favorite YouTubers are using, hoping that that’ll blow up your channel.
only to see your videos flop, one by one.
Your gear is NOT what’ll make your channel explode.
Just like how these channels grow hundreds of thousands of subs with simple & cheap equipment.
I’ve ‘invested’ a LOT of money in YouTube gear, many of which I’ve never even used.
So in this video, I’ll be sharing the YouTube gear I recommend to all of my YouTube clients as a beginner, and what you should buy once you’re ready to scale your YouTube channel
Let’s start with the most asked question: What camera should you use to record your videos?
Cameras are a multi-billion dollar business with hundreds of models to choose from.
So understandably it could get extremely confusing for the average person to pick one specific camera model.
However, if you’re just starting your YouTube career, I recommend you start with a camera that everyone has access to.
It’s the one you’re holding right now, your smartphone, and it doesn’t even need to be an iPhone.
In fact, one of my very first videos on my personal finance channel 3 years ago was shot on a mid-range Huawei with terrible audio & lighting.
That being said, it still got me 30k views!
Remember, your main goal with YouTube is to produce videos that solve your target audience’s pain points.
So promise yourself to produce at least 5 videos with your smartphone, before ever considering upgrading your camera, which I’ll talk about in a bit.
OK, so here are some best practices to record with your iPhone:
- Back or selfie camera? Use the back camera because it has the best resolution.
- You don’t need fancy camera apps, I use the native camera app.
- 1080p is enough, you don’t need to shoot 4K
- The framerate should be as close to 24 fps as possible.
- Always remember to wipe the lens before shooting.
However, if you insist on upgrading your camera, I 100% recommend the Sony ZV1. It’s one of the best cameras for solo content creators & it’s this camera that I’m shooting this video right now.
- It has a flip-out screen so you can see yourself
- It has superior video quality than your phone
- You can also use it to create higher-quality thumbnails
- It can make the background blurry with one button
- It’s compact, in case I need to take the camera out for an outdoor shoot
This camera will set you back around $650. I favor the Sony ZV1 over the bigger professional cameras.
Cool, next, you need something to hold the camera while you record yourself.
I bought SO MANY tripods but ended up only using 1.
QZSD Q222 Tripod
My first tripod was the QZSD Q222 and it cost me around $39. Pretty cheap because it’s from China.
It is well-built & pretty sturdy, but it’s too bulky.
I bet most of you also are shooting your videos in a very limited space like your bedroom or small office.
So I don’t recommend this tripod for beginners for that reason.
The 2nd tripod I bought was the Ulanzi MR-44.
It’s cheap at around $20.
It’s versatile because it:
- can get up to waist-high
- can hold a camera & has a built-in smartphone holder.
- somewhat portable
Pretty solid choice & what I recommend beginners to get.
However, after a while, like a true gearhead, I felt the itch to ‘upgrade’ my tripod.
So the 3rd tripod I bought was the Mantispod.
I saw one of my favorite YouTubers promoting this thing and thought it was cool as hell because you can change from vlogging to table mode fast.
Also, you can hang your camera at weird locations to get interesting camera angles.
It is a decent tripod and it’s what I bring with me during my travels. But, it’s:
- Expensive at $49
- Although the USP is the Mantis mode, I’ve never used it in real life
- Not as versatile as the Ulanzi, because it can’t extend its height
I don’t recommend the Mantis Pod for beginners.
So, just save yourself some money & get the Ulanzi. It’s the cheapest & most versatile of the bunch.
Cool, what can you upgrade next to make your audience watch your video till the end?
Let’s talk about mics.
Your audience can tolerate a shitty video, but they can’t tolerate a video with shitty audio.
Luckily for all of us, since the creator economy is booming, there are so many good mics out there that aren’t expensive.
I’m no sound engineer, but I’ve bought almost all the types of mic, and I’ll be recommending which one I use the most & why.
If you plan to do mostly sit-down, talking-head-style videos like this one right now, you can consider a shotgun mic.
It’s this mic with a fuzzy thing you see a lot of vloggers use.
This type of mic picks up most of the audio directly in front of it and it turns on as soon as you turn your camera on & doesn’t require batteries.
It’s also cheap, with a good one costing just $42.
The only downside to this mic is that if you plan to walk around & turn the camera back & forth, it will mute your voice.
Depending on your style, this may not affect your production much. But still worth mentioning.
These are typically USB-powered and are placed on the table like the popular Yeti.
IMO, these are sensitive mics perfect for singing in a controlled treated studio, as they’ll pick up everything including ambient noise.
This won’t be a good mic for talking-head-style videos.
I wouldn’t recommend it.
USB Dynamic Mic
This type of mic has been very popular as of late with the explosion of the creator economy and podcasts.
It’s a type of mic that you plug into the USB port of your computer and makes your voice sound deep, kinda like on radio.
I only recommend this mic for advanced users because it’s expensive. This one costs $250.
It’s also anchored to your desk, which means if you want to get creative and do other shots besides a talking head, you need to use another mic.
So that leaves my recommendations for beginners to be:
This is the most versatile mic you can get.
It’s a 2 piece device, the transmitter connects with your camera/phone, and the wireless mic attaches to your shirt.
The mic picks up the audio & transmits the signal to the receiver, wirelessly.
It’s perfect for beginners, it picks up really clear vocal audio, because the mic is close to your mouth, and it’s not expensive.
This one costs me $65 and you can be very creative with it. You can do:
- Talking head
- Shooting in a noisy place
If you don’t know which mic to pick, just get a wireless mic. You won’t be disappointed & it has a lot of room to grow with your filming skills.
But how can some people make their videos look so high quality?
Just like how I get comments like this on my videos.
I’ll let you in on a little secret, it’s not the camera, but:
This is my secret weapon to create amazingly high-quality videos that’ll WOW your prospects.
You’ll come across as someone who takes marketing very seriously and therefore more trustworthy in the thing that you’re trying to sell.
This is the Godox SL-60W & it only cost me $179.
It’s this giant LED light attached to this umbrella-looking thing called a softbox.
The whole point of this contraption is to get strong, consistent but soft lighting so it’s not too harsh on your skin.
Don’t get the ring light, it’s too harsh & you’ll look like you’re going to start twerking. Nobody will take you seriously.
The only thing that could be a problem is that the tripod and umbrella are hella big. So it could be a problem if you’re shooting in a tiny bedroom or office like I am.
Me & the wife have gotten used to it though.
OK, so now you have all the gear out of the way, the next thing is to set up your backdrop more appealing & consistent with your brand.
You are the main subject of your videos, but you still need to have some sort of background that’ll balance between:
- Not being too busy & distract the viewer’s attention from focusing on you
- Cohesive with your branding (colors & props)
This could be an entire video course altogether & I’ve changed my backdrop several times.
So I’ll share what I know.
First, I bet most of you will start shooting videos in your bedroom or office. I assume your space will be limited and there are some angles that you don’t want to be in frame. Just like my bed is just a few inches away in this frame.
So the general rule is to point the camera diagonally at the corner of the room so it’ll appear more spacious than it is.
Make sure there are no messy bits or beds in the frame.
For decor, you can add stuff that will showcase your personality without distracting the viewer. Like I’m working towards my 100k sub YouTube plaque. Once I have that, I’d place it on this bookshelf.
I also have a motorcycle helmet down there to show a splash of personality.
Don’t waste money buying new decors just yet. All you have to do is look around your home for random stuff that can be used in your backdrop.
Lastly, add 1 source of light in the background.
I’m too cheap to buy a decent lamp & I had this cheap IKEA floor lamp lying around, so I used that.
I did however buy this smart LED bulb that can change colors & I picked the color that fits my brand.
Remember, you need to be tasteful with the backdrop. Generally, the less stuff, the better.
OK, so now you’ve produced your videos, your next order of business is to edit them.
I started editing my videos with Davinci Resolve.
It’s a software I highly recommend for video editing because it’s:
- Tons of tutorials on YouTube
- Full control to unleash your creativity – think of it like Photoshop
ust like Photoshop though, there is a learning curve.
So I’d recommend beginners another AI video editing software called Descript.
Descript is a new-ish video editor that uses a lot of AI technology to help you cut down your editing time by up to 80% compared to traditional editing software.
I recommend Descript because it can:
- Get rid of the gaps & filler words with one click
- Edit your timeline using text edit rather than waveform
- Easily remove backgrounds from footage.
- Easily repurpose content for vertical social media.
Descript has saved me tons of time editing and is now my main editing software.
However, as much as I like Descritp, it’s not all rainbows & sunshine:
- It has limited creative ability (okay for talking head-type videos)
- I’m paying $12 a month for the cheapest package
- The cheapest package has limited stock media usage
- Not good if you want to have a lot of animations
That being said, I still 100% recommend Descript for beginners.
Whew, that was a long video!
I’ve shared with you all my behind-the-scenes stuff as a YouTube agency & as a YouTuber myself.
My recommendations can help you get started on YouTube quickly, without wasting your money on gear you don’t need.
Despite having all this gear, it won’t guarantee your video success.
What truly matters is the video idea & the message that you’re trying to put out to the world.
You can craft a powerful message that’ll resonate with your target audience by having a well-written script.
Learn how to write a script here.