YouTube Starter Guide (on the cheap) #illumedati 2

Hey everyone, it’s Whatever Wednesdays again. I’ve decided to completely switch gears and talk about YouTube Starter Guide (on the cheap) #illumedati.


Stock Photo from: Pixabay

YouTube? Since when do you have a YouTube channel?

Well… I don’t.

However, my daughter likes to watch YouTube Kids which has a bunch of videos of kids reviewing toys and/or playing with toys. She told me she wanted to try it awhile ago. It’s kind of hard to explain to a 4 year old what goes into making videos and that isn’t just fun and games. However, I’m all about experiences right? So I figured “why not?”

There are ton of guides to starting your own YouTube channel all over the internet. However, I feel they are more geared toward becoming “the next YouTube star”. Since this is only an experiment, I didn’t want to spend too much money just to get started. There is a possibility that she will make 1 or 2 recordings and then not want to do it anymore.

Wait, if you think she won’t stick with it, why even start?

Well, it’s because I value the experience of her wanting to try new things. In fact, I value her trying new things outside of her comfort zone that are difficult.

I think it is important to be intelligent and grasp concepts quickly. However, I believe the two most important indicators for future success are work ethic and determination. This isn’t something that you can be simply taught be reading a book, it’s a value you learn from growing up. I want my children to understand that it’s ok to try to do hard things and not get it right the first time.

There is inherent value in failure.

My father used to recite this quote to me “Failure is the mother of success”, and I still believe in that today.

I kind of went off on a tangent there, but for that reason I think it’s important to let my children try things. However, with that said, I’m not going to go out and buy an expensive $1000 camera, a new Macbook, Video Editing Software, and a Lighting Studio for her to make some YouTube videos.

I see, so this is kind of like “Best Bang for your Buck”?

Well, not really.

This is more like the start-up mantra of Minimum Viable Product (MVP). I bought what I consider to be the bare minimum to making reasonable quality YouTube videos (in my opinion).

First things first.

You need a well-lit area from which to film. In my case, I just used a room in my house. I cleared away stuff from the wall, threw a floor lamp in the corner, and opened the blinds. It provided good enough light I think. I got the light from Walmart I think, but it looks kind of like this:

Boston Harbor TL-TREE-134-BK-3L 3-Light Tree Lamp, Black

I also used a little playdesk my daughter already had. I think it’s this one:

Lifetime Kids Folding Table, Almond

After the first test recording, I decided that it would be nice to have another light in the other corner, but hey this is “on the cheap” right? Everything I’ve listed above most people will already have in their houses.


Ok, the real important thing is that you need a decent camera for filming. A “decent camera” can run you from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars easily. Luckily, most smartphones nowadays have decent cameras. I have an iPhone 6 Plus, which unfortunately only shoots at 1080p. However, it’s good enough for a test run. I think for future videos I’ll try to use my mother-in-law’s iPhone 7 which can shoot at 4k.

Now, of course, a smartphone isn’t “free” since they cost money, but like the above items, I think it’s pretty commonly available to most people.

So, if we assume you have all the items above already…

…then you’ve spent ZERO DOLLARS. Pretty good right?

However, now we probably will need to spend a little money…


One of the biggest problems with filming using a smartphone is that it’s near impossible to keep a steady hand for long periods of time. It’s fine for a few seconds, or maybe up to a minute of shooting. However, for “normal length” YouTube videos which are usually 5-10 minutes (up to 20 or so), you will really need a tripod. There are a lot of tripods out there, but once again, this is “on the cheap” so I decided on this tripod:

Acuvar 50″ Inch Aluminum Camera Tripod and Universal Smartphone Mount

Hard to go wrong for ~ $14.

This little tripod does what I want it to do. It provides enough height and stability for my smartphone to record reasonable quality videos of my daughter for YouTube. While made of aluminium this thing isn’t made to take a beating. It’s made to be lightweight and portable and perhaps some people may use it to take pictures outside on trips. However, I think it’s best used indoors where it’s safe from the elements.

Setup was relatively easy, and it holds my iPhone 6 Plus pretty snug in the universal smartphone mount. I can imagine that after repeated use the mount may wear out, but I don’t think that’s a huge deal since I don’t think we’ll making videos enough to wear it out any time soon. Also, this is “on the cheap” remember?

There is also a Bluetooth version if you want to be able to turn your shutter off and on yourself… however, I didn’t need that since I was going to be doing the filming:

Acuvar 50″ Inch Aluminum Camera Tripod with Universal Smartphone Mount + Bluetooth Wireless Remote Control Camera Shutter for Smartphones


I think this particular aspect is often overlooked by people who first start. Built-in microphones in general tend to be pretty weak regardless of how good your camera is. You’ll usually need to supplement with an external mic to get good enough volume and sound quality. I think that nothing is worse than doing a video and not being able to hear what the person is saying.

There are a myriad of options for microphones for YouTubers. There is also some cross-over here for people who stream video games on However, the perennial favorites are:

Blue Yeti

Blue Snowball

These are probably the best bang for your buck mics for people recording from their desks (at their computers). However, that is not want I am going to be doing. I will be primarily recording my daughter sitting at her little Lifetime desk while she talks about toys. She may be moving around sometimes as well.

For this reason, I opted for:

Professional Grade Lavalier Lapel Microphone ­ Omnidirectional Mic with Easy Clip On System

It’s basically a lapel mic that connects to my iPhone. It also came with an extra 79″ of cable for a lot of slack to make sure she doesn’t knock over anything while she’s playing with the toys or jumping around or whatever. The recording quality was pretty good overall on our test run. It picked up her voice well and it even picked up my voice pretty well even though I was a pretty good distance away. No crackles or pops, and even with some movement and my daughter playing with the mic itself, no problems. Overall, I was pretty happy with it.

Unfortunately, if I start using my mother-in-law’s iPhone 7 or buy an iPhone 8 someday, then I will need to eventually buy this:

Lightning Bolt to 3.5 mm Adapter

Well, whatever. That’s a problem for another day that I’ll deal with, if necessary.

Anything else?

Well, there are all sorts of things that you may want to do in post-processing, however, I think all you really need is what I listed above.

If you have the room, light, table, and smartphone, then all you need is $14 for the tripod and $20 for the microphone and you’re good to start.

Ok, so where is the YouTube channel link?

Well, it doesn’t exist yet. I just filmed our first test run last weekend on a whim when the tripod and microphone came in. I haven’t had time to do any post-processing on the video, create an intro/outro, add background music, or add a watermark. These are all things I want to do soon™. However, my son turns 2 this Saturday and we’re be heading out for a staycation for his birthday, so it is unlikely that I’ll be able to do any work on it.

This sounds like a lot of work… don’t you already have your blog to run? and a full-time job?

You’re right!

However, I tend to get bored easily. While I like writing my blog, I also like learning new things. My problem is that I tend to get bored, but I won’t learn how to do new things unless I’m forced to. For example, I’ve been wanting to learn how to do video editing and also intro/outro creation, etc, but I never had a reason to do it.

Now that I’ve kind of committed to helping my daughter make some YouTube videos, it will kind of force me to learn. Sometimes I need a little external motivation to get out of my comfort zone, I guess. Also, my wife can help out and learn about video creation as well while I try to learn more about editing.

Don’t worry though, my blog isn’t going anywhere. I’ll write as long as I find it interesting to do so, and people want to read it.

So what’s the end goal then?

Like many things, the end goals for my daughter and YouTube are both meager and lofty.


I want her to learn how to speak well. Although this isn’t technically “public speaking”, it kind of is since she has a virtual audience. I think this will help her to develop her own style of speaking and gain confidence in public speaking. While I never had any training in public speaking, I think it’s an important skill. For this reason, I’d like my daughter to be comfortable speaking in public. I think this will also provide the added benefit of developing her own self-confidence.

I also want her to learn a sense of responsibility, not just to me, but to herself, and to her potential viewers. She’s only 4, but I think it’s good to understand that when people count on you, you have to try your very best to do a good job. It’s similar to my blog. While I don’t have a ton of readers, I do feel guilty whenever my posts are late or I miss a post. Work ethic is difficult to teach I think. It’s something you kind of pick up and value at a young age.

I want her to be proud of herself. I’ve said it before, but I don’t want my daughter to just be happy, I want her to be fulfilled. I want her to be able to look back on these videos and be proud of the content she’s created.


If she made a little bit of money off of YouTube that I could put toward a Roth IRA for Kids for her, then that would be awesome. It would help her to understand the concept of saving money early as well as learn the Value of a Dollar. 60+ years of tax-free compound interest would be nice.

However, the truth is most YouTubers don’t make a ton of money from views alone. You could be “YouTube famous” but “Real life poor”. There are a lot of articles about it. In order to make a living off of YouTube you have to devote a ton of hours to it, establish a loyal following/subscriber base, and utilize other avenues of income, such as affiliate marketing and/or sponsored videos.

The success rate is low and the barrier to entry is also low.


Smartphone, Tripod, and a Microphone is really all you need to get started.

Next I will need to learn how to do some video editing, intro/outro creation, watermarking, etc.

Watch out for my daughter’s YouTube channel in the next few weeks.

It’ll be another fun experiment, and I hope to learn a lot.

Whatever Wednesdays Sensei


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