The holiday season is upon us and with it, for most of us, general – and specific – holiday madness. I wanted to share a bit of news from this year with you, and put it – what else – into a video:
You’re ready to shoot! You know what to say, you’re wearing your power outfit, your hair and make-up are done. Now what?
WHAT DO YOU NEED FOR A TALKING-HEAD SHOT?
Here’s your DIY video shoot check-list:
- A quiet, well-lit place
- A neutral and/or subject appropriate background
- A fully charged, smart phone with enough memory for a few video clips
- A way to prop up your phone – either with a phone grip and tripod, or a mini tripod, or even a stack of books
- A microphone and double-sticky wardrobe tape to hold it in place (if you are using a microphone)
- No microphone if you are shooting in a quiet setting and close enough to the phone (5 feet away or closer)
- Post-its & a sharpie for notes
- Powder and/or blotter, comb and lipstick if applicable to keep you looking great
- A script or outline of what you will say
- WiFi (to upload your video clips to your cloud storage)
For equipment ideas, and further check-list items read: Accessorizing for a Smart Phone Shoot. And watch the following videos:
Now that you have all your tools, it’s time to frame your perfect shot.
FRAMING A TALKING-HEAD SHOT
As you choose your frame look out for the following:
- Check if the lens of your phone on the same height as your eye line (for details see video below)
- Check what is inside the frame: you can cut off the top of your head, but be sure to leave enough space at the bottom for closed captions and graphics (never frame a shot to be right on your chin, go to at least mid-chest) [insert samples]
- Put yourself slightly off center in the frame, it’s a more pleasing composition
- Make sure the light source is behind the camera. If there is a window in the room, you should be facing it – don’t have it behind you or the background light will make editing a nightmare. It looks even better if you turn on a 30-degree angle and have the light source hit your face halfway from the front and side
- Don’t stand under a headlight – it will cause shadows under your eyes and nose
- If you’re not comfortable with lots of editing, shoot until you have an entire run-through that’s good and can be used as is
- Do not use a cheat sheet – the camera will pick up your eyes shifting back and forth
- If you need to, make sure you powder or blot your face between takes
- If you’re using a ‘natural’ background make sure there’s nothing weird: like a plant that appears to be growing out of your head or a book shelf with embarrassing book titles, etc.
Find out more about framing by watching this video:
SHOOTING A TALKING-HEAD SHOT
Be patient and follow these tips and you should be all set:
- This might sound basic but, don’t forget to hit record! I just recently did a GREAT shoot, only to realize that I never recorded it
- Talk slowly and be aware of your filler words. I tend to go nuts on “ahems”… a nightmare to edit and tedious for the listener
- Err on the side of authenticity and a longer natural shoot, rather than a fully scripted and prompted one or a stiff-from-memory-delivery
- Record a first take and then immediately watch to make sure everything looks and sounds great
- Between takes turn the recorder off and back on again it makes finding stuff easier later than having to slosh trough a massively long take
- If you take notes (and I suggest you take notes!) hold up a post-it with consecutive numbers for each take. Write down which takes are the best and refer to the numbers on the post-its – this will make editing later so much easier
- Upload your clips immediately after shooting (I use airdrop – which is much faster than uploading to Dropbox, Google Drive, or iCloud)
The following video has tips on how to look and sound your best on-camera:
The videos above were all shot with an iPhone 7 using a clip-on microphone and edited on Adobe Premiere. The graphics where prepared in Adobe Photoshop and then imported into Premiere.
Altogether, it took me about 50 minutes to shoot four 2 to 3.5-minute-long videos. That time does not include scripting beforehand and getting ready in terms of wardrobe and make up – everyone has a different threshold for preparation.
WHEN IT COMES TO B-ROLL
Keep it simple and get lots and lots of coverage
B-roll is the footage or the clips that support the story you are telling, often things like establishing shots of a building or the room you are in. So, if you own a bike shop, your b-roll might be interior shots of the shop, the mechanics at work, customers shopping, a cyclist pulling up to the store with her bike, etc.
You might ask yourself what b-roll is for? Let’s say you give an interview and you’re talking about your bike shop it’s a hundred times more interesting to see images of the bike shop than hearing you talk about it. The principle is: Show don’t tell. If you are a service provider this is – obviously – a bit harder, because you don’t have a physical product to show.
- Don’t try to follow the action, let the action unfold in the frame (following action is for pros)
- Keep the camera as still as possible (see above)
- Get as close into the action as possible
- Shoot in short concise spurts
- Don’t attempt to “cover” the entire event or happening: Choose key moments and concentrate on those
- If you shoot your product (i.e. bicycles) go slow and steady and keep camera movements to a minimum. You can always create movement in editing or jazz the footage up with upbeat music
There are many variables to any shoot. If you’re starting out with DIY video marketing, keep it simple and short. Give yourself time to try out what works for you and what doesn’t.
If there’s anything else you’d like to add to these lists, let me know! I’d love to hear your comments.
Happy (video) shooting!
Storytelling is as old as language.
We tell stories, we invent stories, we share stories, and we make stories up. Some stories are small others epic, but they all are a constant in our everyday lives.
So, why are so many business owners petrified of corporate storytelling, especially when it comes to video marketing?
We’re just sharing what we’re up to, right?
This is what gets in the way:
- Overthinking the storytelling process
- Getting tangled up in industry jargon
- Talking about concepts rather than telling a story
- Being attached to looking good, rather than real, like-able, and authentic – there, I used the “a” word
- Trying to pack too many stories into one video
And the list goes on.
So, how do you remedy being stuck on telling your story on video?
If you’re selling a product, show the product while you tell the story about why you are selling it.
If you’re selling a service, you are the product! People are buying working with you.
Show them the product: You! And, tell them your story.
Most of my clients are service providers and when they ask me what kind of story to tell, I recommend a couple kinds:
There’s “The Classic”: i.e.This is my passion and this is my business. Chances are, that you have the content for that video already. It’s what you talk about when you meet new people and introduce yourself.
Blow a sample: And a note to reader: if you have any samples of your own, I’d love to feature it here and replace the below video!
And here a video that talks about finding content for those kinds of videos:
I also love any kind of expert tip series, especially if you are a service provider.
For instance, I’m just finishing up a 22-video series “Nina’s Top Tips to Survive DIY Video Marketing“.
Here the first video in that series:
I was hugely worried about coming up with content, but once I found a chapter structure for the 22 videos, it was so easy to come up with expert tips, because I’m passionate about sharing my knowledge and helping small business owners.
And, if you sell a product you can even do a tip series on that product: how to take care of it, use it, and work with it. Or you can talk about something related to the product.
So, if your product is road biking gear, you could talk about bike maintenance tips, race training tips, and bike routes.
No matter what kind of video you’re putting together, my advice is:
- Keep it simple
- Keep it short
- Work with what you have
- Stay clear of jargon
- Be yourself, and
- Have fun!
What are your storytelling-challenges? I’d love to hear from you!
Storytelling: Curated Link Pack
- How you speak to your audience is just as important as what you are saying. This brilliant blog post breaks down how Language, Tone, and Content all go into making an effective video… https://wistia.com/blog/successful-videos-respect-intelligence
- Do you love data and analytics? These seven successful companies do too. Plus, they all smartly use it to craft storytelling for their marketing… https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/data-driven-storytelling-brand-examples
- In video marketing, many lead with the solution and forget to set up the story. But the story is what is going to make your client connect to you and your business… https://wistia.com/blog/kindra-hall-strategic-storytelling
- Video lends itself to high impact (especially with today’s short attention spans). These videos prove you can create fantastic stories with only 6 seconds of content!… https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/marketing-resources/youtube-bumper-ads-six-second-storytelling/
- Strategic storytelling is just as important for a business’ sales team as it is for the business’ leader… https://blog.hubspot.com/sales/how-to-train-salespeople-to-tell-stories
Happy Friday the 13th… I know it doesn’t mean anything, nor do I find the combination of a random day of the week paired with an equally as random number scary.
What is however a tad scary, is that I entered into a 30-day video challenge.
My challengers and I are all producing a video a (business) day for the month of October and posting daily to our YouTube channels. So that’s 22 videos in 30 days.
I’ve survived videos one through 10 so far and have made some discoveries for myself. Notably:
- Routine makes things easier (duh)
- Organizing upfront pays off later (double duh)
- Plans to re-invent the wheel (i.e. the video style) every week NOT going to happen if the task is 22 videos in 30 days and not winning a beauty contest.
- Finding video content is the easiest part
- If you’re sloppy with ANY step of shooting, organzing files, editing, rendering, and uploading to YouTube you’ll pay for it dearly during the following step(s)
Here a link to video #8: Storytelling, Finding Content. Find out how super easy it is to get to content consistently!
And, since you’re at it, please subscribe to my YouTube Channel!
I have another challenge going with my nephew as to who will have more subscribers by the end of the year. And although, currently ahead of the curve, I don’t trust those digital natives. One viral video and I’m toast!
Video Tech Specs:
All videos are shot on my iPhone 7 with a Sennheiser clip-on microphone, edited on Adobe Premiere. The graphics are produced in Adobe Photoshop and then imported into Premiere.
I’ve been in business with my video production company, Clock Wise Productions, for over 20 years (so yes, I started it when I was in my teens 😉 ).
Needless to say, the “tools I can’t live without” have drastically changed over the years.
Gone are the days where I would crawl under my desk, twice-daily, to switch my phone service to the internet line and then wait 30 minutes for my emails to download.
Gone are the days where I would get into arguments with the local drug kingpin over the use of “his” phone booth on a street corner where I had set up office during location shoot days and needed to make phone calls to keep the show going.
Gone are the beepers with panicked 505 texts (read SOS), the Filofax, the Blackberries that didn’t synch with anything, and the printers that consistently jammed on endless paper.
Today’s tools are all digital, or allow access to digital tools (smart phones anyone?).
So, here is my list of things I can’t imagine being without, at least until the next shiny new app, platform, gadget, or tool comes my way.
Out of the ten tools listed here, there is only ONE TOOL that hasn’t changed since the day I opened my doors, June 1st 1997. If you guess correctly which one it is, I’ll give you a full hour of free video marketing advice!
Here are my 10 Tools I Can’t Live Without as Small Business Owner (with emphasis on small business owner, not video marketer, filmmaker, dog-owner, or cyclist, etc.
1. Trello is a collaboration tool, but I use it mostly to organize myself, my ideas, my time, and my tasks. I love the backgrounds, which I always keep related to the topic of my to-do-list (I use it for all areas of my life) and inspirational.
My days and tasks would be a mess without Trello. And yes, it’s also a fantastic collaboration tool. I use it with the awesome Lauren Adleman, who’s my social media manager (and theatre director) and also, to stay on track with a community project that I’m involved in. It keeps everything easy to edit, in real-time, and all in one accessible, organized place.
2. Dropbox organizes your files and keeps them not only automatically saved to the cloud, but also available on your desktop. So, even when traveling without WiFi, you’ll still have access to all your files. It also makes sharing files and folders of any size painless by sending links instead of bulky attachments.
3. QuickBooks is full-featured, yet easy to use, accounting software. It’s keeping my money-house in order, the taxman happy, and my bookkeeper and me sane. I’ve used all of its irritations since 1997, and it’s not only kept up with the times, but also with my growing needs.
4. OwnersUp is much more than a tool or an online platform. It’s where solopreneurs team up and grow faster, by setting goals, supporting each other, and being held accountable. Since I joined, my productivity has doubled.
I value both the daily task time keeping and the regular goal-setting with the online platform. As a small business owner (or solopreneur), it’s easy to get sucked into the day-to-day and forget about the bigger picture.
5. VA Staffer is a virtual assistant company that offers a huge range of services, which is one of many reasons why I love them. They have an easy on-line platform to set up tasks, and they do it very well! I mostly use them for lead prospecting on LinkedIn, client research on social media in general, video transcribing, and data entry and management.
6. Contactually is an easy to use, fun and intuitive CRM [customer relationship management] tool and it integrates with many other platforms. I love using it and it keeps me on the ball with my most important contacts.
My favorite feature is the “bucket game” that allows you to assign each contact to a ‘bucket’ and then tell the software to remind you every so often to reach out. My buckets have titles like: “active prospect”, or “long-term lead”, and, yes “fired clients”.
7. LinkedIn we all know and, probably, all have a profile (or two). For me, it’s become a great resource for many kinds of networking (finding great new talent, leads, and thought leaders).
I also use LinkedIn to connect with collaborators, verify information, and get business news to keep a pulse on what’s going on in different industries.
8. Hootsuite is a social media aggregator and, at $10 a month, you can’t beat it. You create one message, choose all the social media platforms that you want it to go to, and send it out (or schedule it, into the future!). Easy to use, fast, and reliable.
9. Thrive Themes is a plugin for WordPress sites that allows you to create beautiful designs in minutes. With it, I was able to build my website myself (with the help of a programmer and an awesome designer, Jill Fiore, of course).
These days, using Thrive, I can make a quick change, add a page, or change a layout myself: all without having to pay or enlist a professional each time.
10. iPhone! Who can live without their smart phone? My iPhone is my camera and video studio all in one (I will shoot, edit, and host, all from my phone!). Plus, I can access all the tools above from my phone, and in general, spend a lot of time on it… ;-).
What are your “I can’t do without” tools?
And, which of the above tools have I used in my business since 1997? The first person to correctly answer in the comments below will get a full hour video marketing consultation! Take a wild guess (or ready the article carefully…).
You know that awesome feeling when you teach something and it totally lands? Yeah, like your dog finally sits without getting a treat each time you tell him to, or a swimmer finally puts a stroke together that you’ve been showing her for a while, or a student has that awesome “aha” moment.
That’s how I felt when I watched this video:
I had taught a class at a Bronx high school for an EDsnaps summer program run by Susanne Cappendijk, and her daughter Lisanne, listened to my class and then went off and made this video; from scratch. I love every frame of it. Continue reading
A few years ago, as I started focusing on video marketing for small business, it all seemed crystal clear to me. There were only five stages of video marketing:
- Post Production
As you can see, these five steps did not include strategy, distribution, or analytics! The above categories were what I knew as a filmmaker. I have come to realize, that what I knew about back then was video PRODUCTION, not video MARKETING.
The moment we talk about video marketing, versus video production, we also need to talk about strategy, distribution, and analytics.
Video marketing strategy really starts with the end of the video marketing cycle: Figuring out where you will distribute your videos.
If your videos live in Social Media that strategy might change rapidly as social media usage, rules, and are constantly in flux.
To learn about the current top trends and tips, view the video below.
In Video Marketing, distribution is part hands-on technical stuff and part strategy.
The technical part deals with the mechanics of getting the finished video out into the world, which is video hosting. It also deals with SEO (search engine optimization) and with analytics.
[Read the pervious blog post: Hosting Video for Small Business – What I Learned the Hard Way for in-depth knowledge on the technical aspects of distribution].
As you can see below, video marketing is a circular affair: Strategy starts with being clear on distribution channels.
The first question when you start with video marketing, is: “For which [social] media channel am I producing my videos?” – or at least it should be the first question, once you get over the fact that “Which camera shall I shoot with” is NOT the first question to ask.
The challenge is that the social media distribution channels change constantly. The blogs I wrote on this topic (less than 6 months ago) are big-picture still relevant, but the details, such as video length and format, are already helplessly outdated (see links below).
For instance, for SEO the former all-important key words no longer hold the weight they did only a few months ago and Twitter now allows for videos 140 seconds long, where before they capped it at 60 seconds.
This means, you will find yourself – most likely – re-doing, finessing, re-shooting, and re-editing the same content repeatedly. Reacting not only to channel changes, but also to overall trends, and consumer behavior. And you, as a small business owner, will need to pivot much more often with your content and offerings as well.
You might find in your analytics that your viewers jump ship at a certain spot in one of your videos and moving things around, or supplementing your video’s content with text, or a graphic is needed so the viewer doesn’t miss the most essential information.
Whatever the data may show you, the one thing that is certain is that video is no longer that one big investment asset that stays the same for a long time.
Video today is either built for a very short consumption time frame, or in constant flux. And this is especially true for small business, and even more so, for content produced for social media.
So, what has changed since last fall? Well, first it’s all about Facebook and secondly, it’s all about mobile.
This means that small businesses (and big ones too) look for their clients on Facebook over Google ad words and over any other social media platform. And, video is the highest ranking asset on Facebook. Meaning, if you reach out with Facebook ads to prospects, you better have video.
Here the key take-aways:
- The Facebook algorithm delivers relevant over recent content, prioritizes friends’ over page content, and prioritizes heavily shared posts over recent posts
- Video should be posted natively (i.e. directly to Facebook, and not linked from YouTube or any other hosting service so it gets preferred treatment from Facebook (YouTube is Facebooks’ nemesis)
- 90% of all FB users sign in on mobile, and 85% of those are watching videos on mute!
- The video advertising platform default is for video to auto-play, on mute
- This means: Use text overlay, captions, logos layered over footage
- Show your brand or product within the first 8 seconds of video (this gives you 3x more engagement)
- Keep your videos super short and “snackable”
- Use hashtags as you would on Instagram, but don’t overdo it – it allows for easy search of your content by a few keywords as it does on other social media
For more in-depth reading about video for social media, video hosting and SEO check out these links:
- Video SEO Basics for the Uninitiated
- Top 3 Tips for Video SEO – VLOG [this one doesn’t have the link]
- How Video Plays on Social Media
- Video Trends in Social Media – VLOG
Curated Link Pack – Strategizing for Social Media
- It’s 2017: Social networking isn’t just for millennials anymore and Facebook is angling for a total mobile experience. One thing remains crystal clear: Video is on everyone’s agenda.
- As major social platforms evolve to better accommodate audience demand for video, it’s even more necessary for video content to be built to succeed on each platform. This Wistia strategy guide with start you off right.
- Video content on social media is not just about metrics, it’s also an essential part of your customer journey. Focus on posting on the social media that is best suited to your target audience.
- Are you just beginning to incorporate video into your social strategy? These 10 steps are a simple start…
I like to divide video distribution into two parts: One part “mechanics”, one part strategy.
The video below talks about the mechanics: