DIY Video Distribution 1: The Mechanics

The Technical Mechanics: Hosting, SEO, and Analytics

Video Distribution – An Ever-Changing Game

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.

As you can see below, video marketing is a circular affair: Strategy starts with being clear on distribution channels.

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.

Here is what we’ll go over in Part One:

  • What is Video Hosting?

  • Best Platforms to Host Video for Small Business

  • Why Search Engine Optimization is Important for Video Marketing

  • A Guide to What You Can Do to Optimize your Video

Let’s begin!

What is Video Hosting?

Hosting a video means that you will upload videos directly to a site.

Native Hosting means that you upload the video onto the platform you want it to be played – for instance, Facebook. Just as you would typically upload images on your site.

Embedding is a two-step process where you upload a video on a third-party site (like YouTube), and then you copy a small bit of code that they furnish for you and paste that code into your post or page on your own site. That code allows the video to play directly from YouTube on your site or a social media platform (such as Facebook) as if it was hosted there.

Before we get into the nitty gritty of getting your videos online, the ONE big thing I learned early on is never self-host a video on your site. Use a third-party site and embed from there onto your website.

Why? Well, hosting platforms, such as YouTube, are built to take your video and automatically adjust (transcode) it to where it’s being played, making the video fully responsive to whatever environment it happens to be in.

Meaning, if I’m on a cell phone it will give me a much smaller video file, so it can start streaming immediately. But if I’m on a powerful desktop computer, YouTube adapts and I will get a much bigger file with better image quality that will still load and start playing immediately!

Using a hosting platform like YouTube allows the video to automatically respond to its environment and create the best playing experience for the viewer. Unless you really know how to write your own code, self-hosting on a site like WordPress will not give you that same service.

The Best Platforms to Host Video for Small Business – What I Learned the Hard Way

Last summer, I went to Wistia’s (a video hosting platform) two-day conference about all things business video. I came home with a notebook and head filled with a lot of insights about hosting!

One big takeaway from the conference also fed right into a pain point of mine: Replacing video content while keeping the same URL/link intact.

The day before I left for the conference, I had to take down two videos from YouTube – where I host all my videos. A client asked me to take them down, despite having a signed agreement (and he had a good reason), and I felt obliged to do so. He had switched job and the videos caused turmoil with his new bosses.

The ramifications were awkward, to say the least. Broken links mean SEO penalties and – far worse – potential clients with “oops – this video no longer exists” links.

Not good.

You see, YouTube doesn’t allow for a video replacement under the same URL or embed code. And, this wasn’t a new problem.

I had faced this issue before in a different scenario: A few weeks after writing a guest blog, I created better versions of the explainer videos that I had originally, quickly thrown together. But, it turned out that blog site didn’t have the manpower to embed the newer versions.

Had I used a full-featured hosting-service like Vimeo or Wistia, I could have switched out the videos in both scenarios, without having to inconvenience anybody, or creating broken links.

I host videos on YouTube because it’s such a powerful search engine – and it’s free and easy to use. Turns out those are not good enough reasons when you use your videos for business!

I continue to host videos on YouTube, but solely as a social media platform.

For hosting my business’ videos that get embedded on my website or get sent to clients, I use a professional hosting platform.

Which hosting platform works best for you will be dependent on your needs for privacy, if you use pay-walls, and how interested you are in statistics and analytics.

There are many hosting platforms out there, but the biggest ones (and the ones I’ll be talking about here) are YouTube, Vimeo, and Wistia.

The three variables that should inform your decision on a hosting platform are:

  1. Are your videos private or public?
    Public videos mean that they can be found organically, they are searchable, they can go viral, and you’d want them on social media.

    For example:
    If you have a video you want to share with the world and it’s properly labeled so it doesn’t need your websites environment to make sense, then you can host it on YouTube and make it shareable, downloadable, and public. Also, embed the shortcode into your website.

    Private videos
     would be behind a paywall or part of a private subscription channel. They are not publicly searchable, downloadable, or shareable.For example: If you have a video you want to show on your website only because it only makes sense within the environment of your site, then you should host it on Vimeo or Wistia and use their privacy setting so that no one can find it somewhere else. Then embed the code on your website.
  2. Are your videos free or do people pay for them?
    If you need a pay-wall or strict privacy settings, you’ll want to invest in a paid platform like VimeoPro, VimeoBusiness, or Wistia.
  3. Do you need tons for statistics of how your videos are being viewed?
    Statistics and analytics are useful for sales videos when you want to know exactly who watches them, how far into the video they get before you lose them, who your demographic watching is, etc.

Lastly, here are the questions to ask of any hosting service sorted by importance. (Cost is last because the answers to the previous questions will inform the overall cost.)

  • Is there automatic optimization of your video (encoding, resolution, responsiveness)?
  • What are the options for privacy and sharing?
  • What statistics and analytics are available?
  • For SEO: Is there a keyword integration option?
  • Are pre-rolls or advertising used by hosting service (see YouTube) and can they be controlled, if so at what cost?
  • Is there a social media integration?
  • How responsive is customer support?
  • How are costs broken down: number of videos allowed, megabytes of storage per month, user traffic, etc.

Still not sure which of the big three would be best for you? Here is a pro/con list for each:


Pros Cons
Free Terms and conditions (read them!)
2nd largest search engine Other people’s content auto plays after your video
Owned by Google (SEO preference) Comments: they can be awful/mean
Pretty good statistic tools Every video is downloadable of YouTube (thanks to sites like
Subscription possible It is hard to control
Automatic optimization of your video (encoding, resolution, etc.) for all sorts of devices

VIMEO (Basic, Plus, PRO, Business)

Pros Cons
Fee structure is fairly price
(3 paid tiers with various benefits)
The only free level (Basic) offers 500MB/week upload, but very few features and only basic stats
Nothing shows before or after your video Not searchable
Superior player that looks amazing Needs a good internet connection to play videos
Great for showcasing creative professionals work (i.e. artists, filmmakers, animators, etc.) User interface not easy to understand for the regular viewer
Very good in-house Video School

The free package very limited (Plus is about $10 a month/5GB and statistics. Pro is about $200 a month/50 GB, sell on-demand, statistics)

WISTIA (Free, Pro, Advanced)

Pros Cons
Serious analytics and stats More expensive: $0 for three videos maximum and then rates begin at $99/month for paid tiers
Searchable Very small audience
More comprehensive API (application program interface) No promotional help – it’s strictly hosting
Great SEO: you can embed keywords into your videos
CTAs and lead capture forms can be directly integrated into videos
Great educational videos and learning center
Good user interface
Social Media sharing options built-in
Great for backups of your video library
Great customer support

Once you’ve picked your hosting platform, then you want people to see your videos! That’s when Search Engine Optimization comes in….

Why Search Engine Optimization is Important for Video Marketing

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a web search engine’s unpaid results – often referred to as “natural”, “organic”, or “earned” results. SEO optimizes a set of signals (keywords, tags, descriptions, etc.) that tell search engines whether a video is sufficiently relevant and important to get a spot in the search ranking.

Often SEO systems (most popularly, Google Analytics) comes with an analysis report that details how a website owner can improve his or her ranking on popular search engine.

Basically, SEO helps rank and find your video. Analytics tells you if it’s working. And with 300 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every MINUTE, that comes in handy.

SEO and analytics are the math side of all things and although it might be a bit intimidating especially to the more creative types out there, it’s actually a blessing because we CAN final;y make the point that there is an actual Return on Investment (ROI) when it comes to spending money and time on video marketing!

The factors that determine how “important” your video is to any given online query are listed below. No one seems to know EXACTLY how the factor-cocktail is being mixed, but we have a pretty good idea what helps with rankings.

SEO ranking factors in order of importance (more or less):

Factors that have to do with RELEVANCE: Classification and qualification

    Need to be in the title of the video
    The more places a video is embedded the more ‘important’ it must be. (Also, the authority of a location is also important: the New York Times is more reputable than your friend’s Facebook stream.)
    How far away from the home page is the video embedded?
    • How important is your channel?
    • How fresh is it (i.e. how recently have you posted)?
    • How often do you post?
    • How many subscribers do you have?
    • How often and/or how much do you use annotations and tagging?
    • Are your videos part of a playlist?

Factors that have to do with ENGAGEMENT: Both quantity and quality

  • VIEWS:
    How many?
    This is about viewing volume over time. Has viewing picked up and KEPT its viewership, or is it in a decline, or has it flat lined?
    Are people watching to the end?
    Do people share, ‘like’, comment, favorite it?

SEO is a powerful tool in targeting, attracting, and properly routing web visitors, and it can also be a rabbit hole of information overload.

A Guide to What You Can Do to Optimize your Video

You can control the Relevance factors, you cannot (and shouldn’t pay to) control the Engagement factors.

Here is what to keep in mind as you try and reach peak SEO:

RELEVANCE FACTORS (You control this and they affect your video)

Key Words & Key Phrases:

Finding the right key phrases and key words for your video title, description, and tagging, is a science in itself.

The Title of Video is your TOPIC, and it should contain your Key Word.

Your Key Phrase is a bit more specific and is the DESCRIPTION of your video.

To get to your Key Word and your Key Phrase ask yourself:

  • How will your audience search for the answers to their questions?
  • What are their questions?
  • What terminology are they using?

It’s important to remember to use only one, at most two, keywords that your target audience will actually type into a search engine.


A Tag is an informal and non-hierarchical keyword or term assigned to a piece of information. It helps describe an item and allows for it to be found again by browsing or searching.

For tagging use:

  • Your Key Words
  • Your Key Phrases
  • At least one very general tag
  • Get very specific and don’t be shy to use a lot of tags
  • Don’t use ‘stop’ words like: And, the, a, or
  • Do use “mood” tags that your audience might look for, like: Funny, sad
  • Tag PLURAL rather than singular

When tagging,

  • Don’t spam-tag. You might get some backlash from unhappy viewers.
  • Keep it authentic, but also go as deep as you can and stay relevant.


  • They are still very helpful. Most crawlers are still mostly text-based
  • Put the video’s transcription on the hosting platform AND on the embed page on your website


  • Use it if people are watching your videos on mobile and not listening to the audio
  • They are time-based as they “move with the video”
  • Be cautious: automatic captions are not very accurate


They do not get ranked, but they are very helpful tools because they get people to take ACTIONS.

  • Great for Call to Actions
  • Great for linking to your website or specific content

Embedding Rules:

  • Include one video per page (does not apply to courses, etc.)
  • Use transcripts
  • Have social media sharing buttons on those pages
  • Optimize the webpage title tag
  • Create a link to the page the video lives on from a prominent page on your site
  • If you REALLY need to have all the traffic of viewing the video on your own website, then don’t host on YouTube. Host on Vimeo and block the video so Google can’t crawl it.


  • Have a launch plan
  • Keep announcements short
  • Embed only, don’t upload
  • Share to: FB, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.
  • Use Google+: even if you have zero friends, Google search favors it
  • Monitor feedback and answer/engage with your audience

Playlists on Hosting Platforms:

  • Help with ranking because they aggregate views from within
  • Viewers might watch the entire list
  • 2ndchance to optimize for titles and tags
  • Users can like and share an entire list

YouTube Channels:

  • You can link channels
  • You can link them to your website
  • Link them to Google+
  • Create two welcome videos: One for peeps who are new, and one for returning visitors. It’s like your channel’s trailer


ENGAGEMENT FACTORS (You can’t control these, but they affect your video)


DON’T: buy views. You won’t be able to keep up viewing velocity and you might actually get found out and penalized for it with no or lower rankings.

DO: ask people to share with their friends; embed the video in different places; and share it yourself. Remember, SEO picks up on the number of places that something is shared as a way to value the video.


Ratings are ranked by quantity and velocity.

  • Good or bad ratings DO NOT matter – as long as there’s a slight balance towards positive.
  • Ask for a thumbs up (or just a ‘rating’) in the description of your video. i.e.: “Please rate this video below”


The Quality of the comments DO matter for rankings:

  • It’s an indirect social proof
  • Friends and followers might see if someone they know left a comment
  • Always answer all comments
  • Block bullies, or false advertisers
  • Don’t remove criticism – gracefully answer those too
  • Don’t feed the trolls

It’s a lot of information, but if you take it step-by-step then all the hard work that you put into creating your video will actually be seen by your target audience.

In our next blog post, DIY Video Distribution – Part Two, we’ll talk about how social media has influenced Video Marketing as a whole and how it will affect your strategy.

Editing for DIY Video Marketing: What to Know to Get the Most Out of Your Time

A Successful First Video Edit [Case Study]

You know that awesome feeling when you teach something and then it totally lands?

That’s how I felt when I watched this video:

Last year, I taught a class at a Bronx high school for an EDsnaps summer program run by Susanne Cappendijk. Her daughter, Lisanne, listened to my class and then went off and made this video from scratch. I love every frame of it!

So, I called Lisanne and asked her what she had learned in my class and how she applied it, and where her challenges where. Turns out that this video is a collaborative effort.

  • The first interviews with the young ladies, I had shot on the day of my workshop. During the shoot, I taught one of the teachers how to replicate the shoot for the ‘after’ interviews three weeks later.
  • The photos were shot during the program.
  • The second round of interviews and with the girls, as well as the interview with her mom, where shot by Lisanne, who was given pointers by the teacher I had taught.
  • While shooting the girls, the most important advice was to remind them to look right into the camera and not get distracted by the interviewer or other people in the room.

Editing took her about 3 full days – which sounds about right for that amount of footage and for being a novice. Lisanne was surprised how long it took just to look through all the footage. Let alone organize it and plan on how to use it! I know!

She used a pre-set graphic template that iMovie offered with a school-theme (how perfect is that) and used music from a royalty-free YouTube music library recommended by her brother.

Lisanne is a fantastic example of how with a little guidance, you can create a great DIY video for your organization or business.

Throughout this blog post, I will provide you with what you need to know and consider when organizing your edit, choosing editing software/apps, and what to consider when you’re thinking of hiring a video editor.

Here’s what we’ll go over in this blog post:

  • Your Edit begins with Organizing your Footage and Creating a Workflow
  • How to Hire a Video Editor: 5 Questions to Ask
  • DIY Video Editing: What Apps to Use
  • A Post-Production Glossary for Editing


Your Edit begins with Organizing your Footage and Creating a Workflow

Video footage can be daunting. There are so many clips, and they all sound and look more or less alike. I’ve been there, I know.

Typically, there is a 20:1 ratio from shot material to the final video.

That means you have about TWENTY 30-second clips to go through for a 30-second video. It doesn’t sound like much, but much like a wine tasting, unless you’re a connoisseur, it all becomes an indiscernible mish-mash very quickly.

Establish a workflow from day one. Footage takes up a hell of a lot of space, cameras auto-name the video clips, and editing software creates render files you don’t want to touch. So make sure from the get-go that everything is where you want it to be!

Here are a few steps to remembering while Shooting your Video to set you up for a good edit.

  • Figure out how your footage gets from your smartphone (or camera) to your filing system (i.e. Dropbox, Google Drive, etc). Have a dedicated hard drive for editing – you do not want to edit off your computer’s hard drive.
    [Note: If you’re doing a bigger edit and using a professional software like Adobe Premiere Pro, the drive you edit from should run at 7200 rpm – those drives are a bit more expensive and will save you from project file ‘crashing’ issues and dropped frames.]
  • Have a second, dedicated hard drive for backups.
  • Establish a folder system and naming convention for the folders and keep it as a template (see screenshot examples below).
  • Create a folder for each video project. Below an example of what my nomenclature and folder structure look like.
  • Naming your files: I’m super particular and like to go about it in the following sequence: ProjectName_Date_Version#. If there is a job number associated with the project I put it first: Job#_ProjectName_Date_Version#.
  • I always insist on a date AND a version number, because more often than not, you will have several outputs (renders) on the same day, especially towards the end.

Sample folder structure for the project: “Video Marketing Introduction, May 2016”.


Same folder as above, but expanded [this is a sample only, based on a real project].

If this seems a bit of overkill for a simple iPhone video shoot, I can tell you from painful experience that it’s not. When I ventured into the DIY video marketing I realized that all the set-up we do on professional shoots is equally as necessary for a DIY shoot.

Here’s why: Any video recording device will name the clips you shoot at random (not random to them, but to humans), files are huge and will need to be stored on external hard drives, and professional edit software creates render files that need to have a “home”, because once they are created you do not want to move them (trust me).

Don’t fall into the trap of footage overwhelm before you even start editing:

  • Be realistic about what you can handle: Keep clips super short. Stay with a single clip.
  • Do an edit “dry-run” with a sample video clip. Try a few apps and see what you like (For guidance & inspiration.
  • Take notes while you shoot & identify each clip (see photo below)
  • Organize your footage into folders.
  • For in-depth video editing learning, I also recommend
  • If you have a longer, or complex story to tell: Hire an editor.
  • If you have little, or no time: Hire an editor.
  • If you’re not patient and don’t love figuring out “things” (aka software): Hire an editor.

How to Hire a Video Editor: 5 Questions to Ask

Of all the careers to be explored and be had in the film business, editing is probably the one I have the most respect for. Whatever producers, directors, camera people, and a myriad of other professionals screwed up en route to post-production, needs to be fixed and made look like it was the plan all along by the editor.

A good editor is as much a storyteller, visionary, and technician, and as she is a fixer, healer and diplomat.

As you see in the list above, if you don’t have (or want to put in) the time to first learn and then do the actual video edit then you might want to invest in hiring a video editor. If you do go down that path, here is what you should consider when making sure you get your money’s worth.

1. What makes a good editor?

  • A good editor is a person who can tell a story and make smart decisions.
  • A good editor will listen and understand how to tell YOUR story.
  • A good editor can take hours of footage (film clips) and sort through them quickly to find the nuggets.
  • A good editor will take direction and understand your video’s context.

2. What do you look for in an editor?

  • Look at an editor’s show-reel and sample videos. Make sure you ask them WHAT their role was on each – it can be a hodge-podge of straight editing, animation, motion graphics, sound mixing, and color correcting (these are all separate jobs in the TV/commercial world), and all of these can be done by one person on a small project. You just want to make sure you know exactly what you’re looking at and therefore, what you would be ‘buying’.
  • In their work, listen for the quality of sound, look for smooth transitions, look at overall style, and pay attention to the quality of the graphics.
  • If you need graphics and animations make sure they can show you samples that they created and animated themselves (don’t assume anything).
  • Make sure you like their style. Are their videos similar to what you are looking for? If not, keep looking.

3. What do you discuss with your editor?

  • Workflow! How do they get the footage from you or the shooter, what software are they using, and what are they giving back to you (insist on all source folders and project files (!). You want to be covered should you need to make changes and they are no longer available.
  • Discuss the scope of work (timeline, deliverables) and their hourly or day rate (here more than anywhere else: You get what you pay for).
  • Listen to their suggestion of how long it will take. In general, editing takes a lot longer than you would think.
  • Make sure you have at least two rounds of changes built into your scope of work.
  • Go over all of the above with your editor and have both of you agree to the terms in writing.

4. Where do you find an editor?

  • Word of mouth! I’d go with recommendations from people you trust.
  • Upwork – I wouldn’t hire under $60 an hour – give them a small job first to see how they work and if you are “compatible”.
  • Caution about working with editors in 3rd world countries: Ask them if they have a licensed copy of the software they are using if you want source-files! (bootleg copies might crash your computer!).I have also found that they typically work on ancient computers (after all, they charge you peanuts per hour), which means that your work will take a LOT LONGER (their machines don’t process very fast and editing can be very labor intense on a processor). The add-on time it takes them to process and render your video might wipe out the savings on hourly rate compared to a good deal in the US.

5. What does it cost? How long does it take?

  • It depends and it depends…
  • My 2-minute “talking-head” vlogs with graphics and titles but no music- take me about 3 hours to edit (this includes a thumbnail and graphics). It would take an editor about the same amount of time, but the product would be much better.
  • An editor goes into multiple clips and cuts together the best parts of each (which is what you want from an editor in the first place) and that takes a bit longer, especially since they are not familiar with the footage.
  • Most professional editors work on an eight-, or ten-hour day rate.From corporate, I’m used to paying $500 – 600 per day on the lower end. If you hire by the hour it’s going to be either a bit more, or your editor will have a minimum hourly. For one of my vlogs, I would expect to pay at least $350. But for something like that I’d likely do a ‘bulk’ deal to get a better rate and have three to five videos done at once.
  • The difference going from a $35/hour editor to a $60/hour editor is – with a few notable exceptions – well worth the investment: Both in terms of outcome and process.
  • Allow time for an editor to set up the edit, look at the footage and any other assets (logos, photos, graphic elements, music, etc.), plus about 2 hours of editing for a basic 2-minute talkie video. And then allow more time for the editor to finesse all the “moving parts” – i.e. transitions, audio, music, graphics, etc. For editors, it takes a moment to find the rhythm between speech, what you see, music, and graphics. I would say a 4-hour minimum for an edit that is just a talking head video. If you have b-roll (additional footage that plays while the “talking-head” keeps talking), double that time. Finally, allow at least two hours for feedback changes and final output.As you can see, even a small edit can turn into a 10-hour affair quickly!

DIY Video Editing: What Apps to Use

If you have the time to invest in learning and doing your own video editing then you’re going to want to use software/applications that give you the most support.

New apps and software, as well as software updates, can change the editing landscape fast. For Apple users, iPhone and Mac come pre-loaded with iMovie, which is very serviceable for a basic edit, but you will reach its limits fast.

Similarly, PC’s come pre-loaded with Windows Movie Maker, which is an even more limited software than iMovie.

In general what you want to look for – as a minimum – in an editing software or app, is the capability to do the following:

  • Trim & Cut: take apart your footage
  • Transitions: dissolve, cross dissolve, fade in from black or white, and fade out to black or white
  • Add a title
  • Add a photo
  • Add music
  • Have multiple video (visual) tracks so you can see one track, but hear the audio from another
  • Output to save to a folder of your choosing

What software do I use for video editing?

A myriad of different apps: sometimes it feels like I have one for each occasion!

  • Some are great for a quick in-phone edit and instant upload to social media (iMovie).
  • Others are full-featured apps for longer pieces, or videos with more layering in terms of graphics, b-roll, or slides (Premiere).
  • Some videos need lots of “love”, like fixing color-, or sound-issues, or editing away lots of runaway sentences in an interview (Premiere).
  • Sometimes it’s just important to show someone how to edit in the most time-effective way possible (iMovie).
  • Sometimes there’s a very specific feature you’re looking for and it’s easiest handled on a certain app (Animoto: Split screens, Magisto: Music beat-synching to cuts).
  • Sometimes you want full control (iMovie, Premiere) and sometimes you want an app to put it together for you with the magic of Artificial Intelligence (Magisto).

Here are a few apps and what I use them for and why:

Adobe Premiere Pro CC (aka Creative Cloud) | Desktop | Mac & PC

Premiere is the gold standard for professional editing and I use it for all the videos that I edit on my desktop.

  • It’s superior in its interaction with any other Adobe product, in particular Photoshop, which I use for graphics and to create custom thumbnails.
  • It can manipulate sound and layer pictures and additional stock footage easily.
  • It can output into any format, size, and codec

[Note: Final Cut Pro and Avid are still being used but compared to Premiere they are unnecessarily complicated, or not fully featured (Final Cut Pro X), or not supported anymore (Final Cut Pro 7)].


  • Fully featured editing software
  • Fully integrated into ALL Adobe software
  • Intuitive and forgiving for “basic” editors like me with limited technical knowledge and skills (as compared to Final Cut Pro and Avid)


  • Steep learning curve because it’s fully featured
  • Pricey compared to non-professional software. It’s part of the Adobe Cloud software package which includes After Effects (Animation), Photoshop, Illustrator (Graphic Design), etc.

Animoto | Cloud Platform | Apple & Android App

Animoto is a fast, super easy to learn video editing platform. I used it a few times a year ago when my Premiere chops weren’t that great yet. I just wanted to trim a few YouTube videos to show during my presentations and workshops, and not have to go through an entire editing “process” of setting up folders and workflows.

Animoto also has a few cool features like split screen templates, which are awesome if you want to produce a “how to video”. You could shoot a person explaining something in one section while showing the visual of that thing being done in another section.



  • Very basic: You can’t separate sound from your video
  • You can’t move around graphics much
  • You don’t have transition options

Magisto | Cloud Platform | Apple & Android App

Magisto’s magic is artificial intelligence. This means you don’t have control over the editing, but the application does put slideshows, photos and clips together within minutes and it has a very nice music library.

If you don’t care about control of your clips and the default hokey transitions (there are also templates with ‘clean’ transitions) then you will be in heaven.


  • AI-based and automated editing
  • Auto sync to music
  • White-label solutionfor high-volume users
  • Decent pricing
  • Great customer service


  • No control over your edit
  • Some templates are very tacky

iMovie | Desktop | Mac

Mac’s integrated video software is constantly evolving and the newer versions of iMovie are full-featured enough for a non-professional video marketer who needs a few videos for her small business to make it happen and then some.


  • Free with your Mac (older versions are still clunky: Make sure to always be on the latest version)
  • Fairly easy to learn


  • Graphics still not great
  • No import of Photoshop files or vector files with transparent backgrounds (i.e. no layering of Logos over footage possible)

iMovie | Mobile | Apple App

Similarly, to the desktop version, iMovie as an application is also constantly updating. The changes just in the past few months have been major. Today you can perform a pretty complex edit with b-roll and audio separated from the picture.

In general, iMovie is pretty full featured. If it weren’t for the graphics still being very basic and the fact that my thumbs are too thick, I’d never bother with another edit software again.


  • Free, comes with your iPhone
  • Multiple clips can be layered
  • Audio can be separated from clip
  • Audio can be manipulated
  • Clips can be re-sized, sped up and flipped


  • In-app graphics are still very limited
  • No import of graphics possible

If you’re super ambitious: Adobe Premiere CC is a professional edit software within the Adobe Creative Cloud package and it’s the current industry standard.

It’s well worth learning if you’re interested in editing and investing some real time and creative juice. Adobe Premiere is subscription based and belongs to the entire Adobe bundle, which features Photoshop, Lightroom, InDesign, After Effects, etc.

No matter which editing software you end up using: Allow for some practice time and ‘finagling’. It takes a moment to make all the decisions: where to cut a sentence out; how to deal with transitions; if the music makes sense or not; and where the graphics go. When it doubt, keep it simple!


A Post-Production Glossary for Editing

Without going into crazy detail, it is important to get basic editing terminology right, to understand what some of the apps are offering and what some of the more advanced computer software programs are talking about.

Here a very basic glossary. The links connect to our online resource blog called Definition Day, where I post definitions of video marketing relevant words each week.

Linear vs. Non-Linear Editing

Ok, think TT (Throwback Thursday). In the not so distant, old days, editing was linear. You added one video clip to another in sequential order and going back and changing something, meant the entire sequence after your edit, meaning going forward, needed to be moved up as well. Think even further back to editing filmstrips: You took out a section of film you moved up the entire subsequent section to close the gap.

Today, all editing software is non-linear. Which mostly means that you can go into an edit totally unprepared and keep editing until you ‘strike gold’. As you can tell: I’m a fan of being prepared. A good edit is time-consuming with a precise plan and can be totally overwhelming and exponentially more time-consuming without one.

Sequence and Timeline

The video clips you are working within an editing software are put into a sequence, which is defined as a set of things next to each other in a set order. The timeline is the graphical representation of that chronological sequence of events (i.e. video clips strung together).

A timeline starts at the head and ends at the tail. There is a linear beginning and end to the clip and any subsequent clips that are being brought into that same timeline.


The different tracks in a sequence that are stacked on top of each other. A good editing software has an allowance for many (unlimited) video and audio tracks. Graphics and effects live on the video tracks. Normally the outermost track (video tracks mostly get added on top of each other) is the one being seen in the preview window. Audio tracks are ALL heard unless they are muted.


A software folder into which video clips and other editing assets get organized in.

Insider fact: The term bin is a leftover from the manual editing days (not too long ago), when the editing process the physical filmstrips would be hanging from a frame built on top of a bin. The top bar of the frame had small nails every half-inch or so from which the filmstrips would hang from their sprocket holes. The bin itself would catch any filmstrips that fell off the frame.

Head and Tail:

Refers to the start and end of a video clip, or a timeline, or a sequence.

Edit Windows

Most professional editing software programs are set up in four main windows:

  • Assets, organized in bins
  • Source window
  • Preview window
  • Sequence, Timeline

The tools you use to work with these windows are often in toolbars on any of the screen edges. See sample below from Adobe Premiere CC.

  • The assets window has all the different files and folders in it you are working with, as well as tabs or links to effects, transitions, and other apps.
  • The source window shows you the video (or effect, or audio wave file) of the asset you are currently working with. I.e. choosing clips from to put into the timeline (for the most part)
  • The sequence window shows you your timeline and
  • The preview window shows you your edited video clip (sequence) at the moment where you are editing right now)

Trim, Cut, Split, and Splice:

All ways to take apart your video clips.

When you trim your video, you remove the head and/or the tail of the clip (much like giving your hair a trim: you’re sprucing it up, but not touching the ‘meat’).

cut is mostly referred to when you remove a section of your video clip, so you cut in two places and lift out the middle section and join the leftover video back together. If you have a very long video, you might just cut it into sections to work with separately, then you’re splitting your video. When you join two video clips together, you splice