How to vlog for beginners with Cathrin Manning and the Z 30

Cathrin Manning Video’s maken18 dec 2023Leestijd: 8 min
YouTuber Cathrin Manning's YouTube thumbnails for Nikon magazine. Nikon magazine assets.

Content creator Cathrin Manning isn’t afraid of numbers and strategies, having built a good chunk of her following talking about YouTube’s algorithms. Here, she reveals how to get started with vlogging, camera settings and carving out a niche

To celebrate the release of the NIKKOR Z DX 24mm f/1.7, Nikon’s first DX fixed focal length lens, which is perfect for filmmakers and photographers alike, we spoke to content creator Cathrin Manning who first launched her blog, The Content Bug, in 2016, (now before beginning her YouTube journey the following year. Having become monetised only a year and half into her content creation – and now with just under half a million subscribers – Cathrin reveals the ins and outs of creating videos that will consistently rank.


Carve out your niche (but remain flexible)

Brainstorm vlog ideas and what stories you want to tell. “I started out first with video tutorials of personal development, morning routines and mindsets and then I was sharing how to read your Google Analytics. It didn’t flow together at all,” Cathrin explains. “Once I decided I really wanted to grow on YouTube and gained traction, I honed in more: I spoke about blogging on Pinterest and how I was growing my brand on YouTube. For a long time, my primary focus was helping other creators grow.” She then refocused her strategy and niche after she had shared all the information about growing a brand, focusing more on her life, including health, renovation and becoming a mother. “It’s slowly evolved over the last six years.” She explains. “Plus, keyword research, knowing what others are searching for, are invaluable as a beginner, I use TubeBuddy to look up what people are searching for on YouTube.”

Cathrin Manning
What’s in our kitbag?
YouTuber Cathrin Manning's YouTube thumbnails for Nikon magazine. Nikon magazine assets.

How I've changed my vlogging strategy recently // vlog strategy for 2023

Click the button to play

Think messaging

Develop a message that complements your brand identity. For Cathrin, under her motto ‘Create a life you love’, she can share the life she’s crafting for herself. “You must have your main messaging and underneath have three specific topics ‘pillars’ you want to share with your audience,” she says. “It’s easier to grow an audience because you’re targeting specific people with certain interests.” To prevent burnout, always prioritise topics you’re passionate about over topics that may make more money on YouTube.


Film yourself alone to get used to the camera

“Seeing myself on camera and hearing myself talk was definitely one of the hardest things to get comfortable with at first,” Cathrin adds. “My advice? Film yourself doing something you never plan on uploading. For me, that would be making dinner alone. It makes you feel as if you’re FaceTiming a friend. I normally always shoot with my camera on a tripod and it’s easier to vlog while doing something else, especially as a beginner. Now, I have more moments where I’m sitting and talking and then B-roll footage where I’m doing other things, as I think it keeps interest more.”


A clear schedule is key

“Consistency is vital to the YouTube algorithm, but also your audience, because then they know what to expect from you: ideally you don’t want to give them three videos one week and none for two weeks,” explains Cathrin. “Consistency keeps your audience coming back and gives them something to look forward to.” At the beginning, Cathrin uploaded a YouTube video every Friday, to accompany her blog post every Tuesday. She then moved to uploading every three days with the strategy that you film one day, give yourself two days to edit and upload on the last day. “Eventually that became too much for me, and now I do once-a-week uploads,” she says.

YouTuber Cathrin Manning's YouTube thumbnails for Nikon magazine. Nikon magazine assets.

Unboxing the *new* Nikon Z 30 + sharing the settings I use to film my videos

Click the button to play

Tell your story through structure

Think of your beginning, middle and end. “I like to start a video with some B-roll to set the scene, whether that’s going outside, or filming my morning routine,” says Cathrin. “I want to set the scene before I start talking. I also think, ‘OK, I’ve been talking for a while. What am I going to do that adds interest?’ For a while, I used to script out all my videos. I would come up with the title, write exactly what I was going to say, and outline the B-roll in-between. I’ve been doing vlogs for so long at this point that I don’t have a shot list anymore. The more you film, the more you get used to your own flow.”


The Nikon Z 30: perfect for vloggers – flip out screen & film in 4K

“I’m in love with the Z 30,” Cathrin reveals. “The quality is exceptional and it’s so important to have a flip out screen.” To get up and go, put the camera on Auto but, for better control, Cathrin recommends manual mode: “I like to adjust my White Balance. Under colour temperature, the camera is automatically set to 5000k. I prefer 4500k, shifted towards magenta, not green. This is my personal preference as it works better for the walls in my house.” Shoot test shots to work out what’s best for you in your own house.


“My favourite feature of the Z 30 I always mention to my audience is the U1, U2, U3 user settings, under set-up menu,” adds Cathrin. “My biggest tip would be to save U1 for indoor settings, U2 for outdoor settings and then U3 for low-light or night-time shooting, depending on when you vlog most.”


Read more: Why are Z series mirrorless cameras better for video?

YouTuber Cathrin Manning's YouTube thumbnails for Nikon magazine. Nikon magazine assets.

How I’m Preparing for 2024 to Make it THE BEST YEAR EVER

Click the button to play

Wide-angle lenses are a must have

“Wide-angle lenses are great for vlogging because you can get a lot more in the shot, especially when you’re holding your camera,” advises Cathrin. Wide-angle lenses range from 24-35mm, while anything below 24mm is considered an ultra-wide-angle lens. Need help picking lenses? For the ultimate DX set-up look no further than:

  • NIKKOR Z DX 24mm f/1.7
    • This 24mm lens prime lens has a ‘classic’ focal length, providing great versatility, from landscapes to close-ups. Plus, with an aperture of f/1.7 and a weight of 125g, it’s perfect for low-light shooting and capturing beautiful background bokeh.
  • NIKKOR Z DX 12-28mm f/3.5-5.6 PZ VR
    • This DX ultra-wide-angle power zoom allows you to zoom smoothly and steadily without touching the lens. Cathrin loves the fact the power zoom automatically resets to the widest setting when the camera is turned off: “I can’t tell you the number of times I have filmed where I’m zoomed in and then I quickly want to turn on my camera and I didn’t realise that it was still zoomed in from before, so it’s completely spoiled the shot!”
  • NIKKOR Z DX 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 VR and NIKKOR Z DX 50-250mm f/4.5-6.3 VR
    • Both kit lens options for the Nikon DX cameras, these zoom lenses will provide you with a huge 16-250mm zoom range (24-375mm, 35mm equivalent on a full-frame camera). That covers you off from vlogs to street and even wildlife using the 250mm focal length!


Read more: The ultimate guide to ultra-wide lenses



Work with daylight and keep your eye on exposure

Here’s your pre-film checklist: make sure your shot is level, ensure nothing is coming out of your head, like a lamp, while composing and keeping yourself slightly off centre fills the frame better. “Position yourself near windows for natural lighting, but never directly behind you. Directional lighting is far more flattering,” explains Cathrin. It also makes filming with autoexposure, if using, much easier, as the camera doesn’t have to fight with multiple lighting sources.

YouTuber Cathrin Manning's YouTube thumbnails for Nikon magazine. Nikon magazine assets.

Changing My Niche Was The BEST Thing I Did // YouTube channel update + growing a vlog channel tips

Click the button to play

Think about your editing while filming

It’s much better to over-film than come up short. If you’re learning to edit, Cathrin recommends iMovie before levelling up to Final Cut Pro, once you’re feeling confident. “For vlogs, I always think about my scenes and my transitions before I film. With my room makeover videos, I tend to capture everything and then create the storyline afterwards,” she adds. 


Craft better thumbnails

“Thumbnails need to be visually appealing and high quality,” says Cathrin. “Text is important because most people don’t read the title of the video, but don’t make it too small for mobile viewers. Take a look at what other thumbnails perform well and what colours work and then put your own spin on it. I use Lightroom and Photoshop to edit my thumbnails, but I started out using Canva.”


Stay safe!

Putting your life online can always cause risk. Pay attention to anything valuable in your shots – credit cards, cheques, any personal information – plus, don’t show your address or areas where your address can be easily identified. Stay safe and have fun!


Cathrin’s key equipment:
  • Nikon Z 30: built for vloggers: film 4K 30p, uncropped using the full width of its 20.9 MP sensor.

Opties voor delen

Expand your knowledge

Featured products

More in videography

Leestijd: 6 min
Nikon Z8 USDD Ambassador shoot series
Video’s maken14 jun 2023Keziah Quarcoo and Cara Brown

How to shoot a live performance video

Leestijd: 8 min
Technologie en knowhow18 apr 2023Dom Salmon

Time to get zooming for video creativity

Leestijd: 4 min
Video’s maken25 aug 2023Olivier Wong

Filming on the fly for TikTok


Unlock greater creativity