To be quite honest, I never really used to spend much time on YouTube. I loved reality t.v. like the Kardashians or the Osbournes but never realised that there was this whole world, an entire community of YouTube Family vloggers and viewers out there.
My wife, Louise, started watching the Shaytards and quickly got me hooked. I would put on their latest video while running on the treadmill and loved every minute it. Shay Carl – or the Godfather of Family Vlogging as some call him – has such a vibrant personality that drew you in. Even videos where the family didn’t do anything very interesting seemed interesting and made you feel good after watching it. There was something about viewing their happy family life, their good morals and just general outlook on life – FUN, FUN, FUN!
It wasnt until I mentioned what an average week in our lives consist of to a family member in another country when he said, ‘you guys should film your lives – your family life sounds crazy!’ It got me thinking! I knew we weren’t a typical family – my wife and I are highschool sweethearts and had our first child very young. We also left our home country, South Africa, for Italy – to study Design. We lived in Italy with 4 children, 1 an adopted daughter and 1 a new baby. We realized we were different from the locals as Italian don’t seem to have many children any more. In fact the Italian population growth rate is at a decline because so few people are having babies and usually not more than 1 or 2.
But we travelled – and travelled a lot and with so many children it certainly is an adventure. I still didn’t think anyone would be interested watching our lives on YouTube but decided to give it go. At the very least it would be a wonderful way for our family living around the world to stay in touch with us by seeing what goes on in our lives and catching up on the children’s growth milestones.
Not as Easy as I Thought!
So I bought a Canon 70D after doing some homework on the internet about the best vlogging camera to buy. Very quickly I realised that creating videos for YouTube wasn’t as easy as it looked!
First challenge was lighting. I am not expert on photography, even though I’ve taken some short courses it’s still managed to confuse me. So technical! You’re talking about someone who failed Maths in school! So aperture and exposure and f-stops – my goodness!!!
But what I quickly realised is that when your lighting and camera’s white balance/exposure are off your video quality looks really crappy! We also lived in a large and dark Villa with very little natural or good artificial light to count on. So we improvised – putting up bedroom lamps and twisting the shades to cast light. At one point we must have had 4 make-shift lights setup.
A lot of people struggle with the whole idea of talking to a camera when they do it for the first time. It always makes me giggle when we interview or include someone in our videos hearing them change their voice, or lose their train of thought or even start talking weird and off topic. Camera-fright wasn’t ever an issue for us but as the months went on we certainly got better at being in front of a camera and talking naturally and saying whats on your mind.
Something that took a little time to get used to was vlogging in public, in front of people – knowing that they’re watching you and probably thinking that you’re either mad, obsessed with yourself or trying to show off! Every now and then you get a snide comment from someone, especially if you’re laughing or having a good time in front of the camera. I don’t know why it intimidates or irritates people so much – some people think its rude I guess. What I have learnt is that certain places and cultures are more open to vlogging and cameras than others. As YouTube grows in popularity around the world I imagine society will become far more comfortable with people wielding cameras and filming themselves wherever they go.
Sound or quality of sound – was an issue in the beginning. I quickly realized that most camera microphones are quite simple and produce very bad sound under certain conditions – such as a windy day.
Apart from the technical aspects of Vlogging there was numerous challenges involving editing, uploading with minimal internet bandwidth, letting people know you had a new video up and the list goes on. Even now after a year and a half of doing this I can still say that I’m learning new stuff every day. Small things, tiny details and little tips that go a long way to making a YouTube channel and this vlogging experience more enjoyable for us and for our viewers.
Are our Kids forced to Perform for the Camera?
Yes! [😂giggling away] If you’ve ever had teenagers before you’ll know how difficult it is to get them to show up for dinner – never mind a family challenge video or a subscription box unboxing. We don’t like to force the kids to do videos they don’t want to do as we’ve learnt that a bad attitude doesn’t go down well on camera 😉 And so we’ve reached a point where everyone is happy doing what they currently do on the channel. But in the beginning, due to shyness we did have to shove a camera in a few faces to get them comfortable with this new lifestyle and we’ve watching in amazement how their confidence and personalities have grown by doing so.
How has putting our lives on YouTube changed our lives?
As I mentioned, we’ve seen a huge confidence boost in our kids. My son was being bullied at school and being a foreign kid it wasn’t easy for him. After starting the channel his personality bloomed and we got to see a more confident and expressive boy not only at home but now also in public.
Our adopted daughter is from Africa and so she appears different from us and 99% of the Italian population. After we started vlogging she was the first one to go to school and tell everyone she could about the channel. She gained a whole new bunch of friends in no time and now instead of being different she feels like people view her as being special.
For many reasons that I wont go into in this post – I went through a rough time for a few years and truly felt like I lost a lot of my happiness and self-worth. My confidence was at an all time low and life just wasn’t looking too great for me. Starting the YouTube channel was almost therapeutic for me. It instantly brought me happiness and a purpose. I am a creative person at heart and finding a way to express my creativity was super exciting. Also this entire thing has been so new for us that I had to learn how to do everything myself. This education process which never really ends is super challenging and I love it!
Louise, my wife, is an amazing woman filled with the most amazing ideas, skills and creativity. She would host parties and events in our home country that should have been in magazines. I’ve seen Louise use her talents in such an exciting way on our YouTube channel and its given her a real chance to express herself and her creativity.
Something that I never expected to come from the channel was all the new and amazing family experiences we’ve shared with each other. Ou family quality time has increased by 500%. Even if that was the only thing we got out of this it would be so worth it. I used to work like crazy and many nights working through the night from home as well. I hate to admit this but I missed so many bonding moments with my oldest children simply because I was so set on trying to be a success and make money. I’ve learnt never to forget life’s challenges and disasters as they all work together to create who you are. I am just so blessed to have this opportunity now to share wonderful moments with all my children.
Another wonderful thing that has become possible since we’ve started our YouTube channel is the ability to help and give to others. Sometimes its in a heartfelt message or an awesome GiveAway or from our Product reviews and product unboxings. We put our hearts into everything we do and with the love we’ve experienced from our viewers its encouraged us to try to give back as much as we possibly can. We recently started our Freebie Friday series on the channel where we give something new away every Friday to a lucky viewer. So many times we read in the comments how people are so needing some of these items that it just makes us feel so great know we touched someones life and put a smile on their face if they won.
How has the Channel Evolved?
From our humble beginnings of family vlogging to the growth that we’re currently enjoying in so many different series we filming for the channel – it’s just been an amazing ride with YouTube!
We want to show the world that a Joyful Family is one of the most precious things in the world
After realizing that Parents, travellers, home cooks and other Vloggers out there appreciated our opinions on products, advice or tips we had to offer in tutorials, reviews and guides – we’ve seen our channel grow into a resource for information instead of just an entertainment channel.
Some vloggers try so many things on their channel hoping to hit their big break and suddenly go viral. This might happen for the very few luckily souls out there but it certainly not the norm. If you don’t enjoy what you do you wont do it for very long. We’ve created videos about things we are passionate about – things we enjoy. Though our channel looks like a variety show with all its various categories – its kind of a collage of who we are. What you see on our channel is who we are – it’s what we love and value.
Advice for Aspiring Family Vloggers
If you’ve considered vlogging and particularly family vlogging the first thing you will quickly discover is that most Family YouTubers are quite precious about what they do and how they did it! There are some tips and secrets in growing an audience and you will be hard pressed to get this information out of any of the top YouTubers.
We will share tips, advice and guides over the next few months from our own experience and some guest writers on this blog so subscribe to the blog and keep checking in.
Though there may not be a magical formula that takes you from 1000 subscribers to 1 million. There certainly are things that you can do to make your channel’s growth a lot quicker. YouTube is somewhat of a mystery when it comes to search results and viral videos. If growing your family channel is your goal, one thing we can certainly advise you do is:
Stay consistent. Make videos because you Love to Make Videos. If you do what you love, viewers will love what you do – and your channel will grow!
I feel like family vlogging has changed our lives in a very positive way. I would certainly encourage aspiring family vloggers to give it a try and see if it has the same results for your family.
We love our YouTube lifestyle and the many blessings it has brought with it. If we’re able to put a smile on someones face or make someones day by watching one of our videos – we’ve accomplished our mission!
As long as people keep watching us – we’ll keep creating videos!
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