It seems like every kid under the age of 15 dreams of becoming a YouTube star and every parent over the age of 30 is very skeptical. But before you start playing the role of the parents in “Footloose,” remember that there is a lot to be said for encouraging your kids’ passions, even if it does involve YouTube. And by doing it together, even if the endeavor doesn’t become a viral sensation, you will have fun, learn a lot about your kid along the way, and maybe pick up a few tech skills. Here are some tips to help you and your kid reach YouTube stardom.
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Pick a Theme
Any good project starts with vision. So, sit down with your kid and figure out what they want the theme of their channel to be. Are they giving book reviews? Telling stories? Giving motivational speeches to their friends? Maybe they want to do science experiments. Or perhaps the two of you want to show off your musical skills. Whatever the focus, make sure there is a theme that your kid is passionate about.
Plan Your Content
Once you have your theme, map out the next four videos. They can be rough sketches, but you should both know what the focus of the video will be, what will happen in it, and roughly what will be said.
This is a good time to talk to your kid about money by outlining a budget for the project. It’s great if they want to do unboxing videos, but unless you somehow have toy companies sending you free stuff, start-up is expensive. How much will all those science experiments set you back? If you are cooking, what is the cost of ingredients? Give your kid an honest budget and let them brainstorm ways to keep things within reason.
You should also talk logistics with your kid. Should you use your real names or code names? Does the video series have a fun hip name? This is also a great way to talk to your kid about the realities of the Internet. They may not care now that there is a video series of them on YouTube, but in a few years, it might matter. Encourage them to come up with a fun moniker and together, develop a plan for handling those moments if people give negative feedback or leave hurtful comments.
Now, you are ready to film. But first, remember this project isn’t about making your kid a star. I mean sure, they may think that, but this is just about meeting your kid on their own terms and having some good old fashioned 2017 fun. This project won’t be perfect, but lean into the crazy.
Record and Edit Like a Pro
Now, it’s time for action. All good video starts with good lighting. Have your kid film in a room with a lot of bright natural light or even outside. You can film with your phone, laptop, or tablet. And you should probably purchase a tripod so the video is too shaky. Also, think about the background of the video. Can you and your kid create a fun backdrop? In my video-making years, I made a giant collage on poster paper that I would tape to my wall for recording sessions.
Most Windows-enabled laptops come with Windows Movie maker which should be perfect for your at-home videos. Upload the raw footage to your computer and open it up in the program. Cut out the slow bits, and try to keep your video to less than five minutes. You can also add credits (credit yourself, mom!), and fun transitions. Again, have as much fun as you can and let your kid take the lead on these creative decision. Editing is a good skill for kids to learn, and you don’t want to get stuck doing all the dirty work.
Now that you have a great video, upload it to YouTube. First, create a new Google profile for your channel. Once you do that, sign in to YouTube, click the upload link at the top of the page, and upload your video. You should also decide on the privacy settings. Maybe you only want friends and family to see this. Or maybe it’s for everyone. In that case, make it public.
Make sure you pick relevant keywords for your video when you upload it. And don’t forget to share your content on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the holiday newsletter.
And even if this project never goes viral, you’ll at least have some good video to embarrass them with during their high school graduation party.
Lyz Lenz is a writer and mom living in Iowa.
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