According to HubSpot's visual content marketing statistics for Jan 2016, today's web users interact and are much more attracted by visuals than in the past, and marketers strive to give visual assets a more prominent role in their strategy.
This is not only about compelling images to accompany blog posts or interesting infographics. Video has become an essential asset in a blogger's and a marketer's toolbox.
Certainly, writing is easier that making videos – video is not just about words, but also:
All these elements come together to create an overall effect that pushes the viewer to act upon the content.
While Twitter was initially created as a 140-character limit microblogging platform, a lot has changed over the years.
Now users can share pictures, GIFs, and of course videos. And Twitter users have come to love videos with over 82% of them actively watching videos on it.
In fact, Twitter video posts get higher engagement as well with 2.5 times more replies, 2.8 times more retweets, and 1.9 times more favorites.
– Pankaj Narang, How brands use videos on Twitter
The big problem with video is getting started – especially if you are an introvert type or a camera shy person, it can be hard to go from ‘warm-up’ to full production in a short time.
If you look at many amateur and beginner videos, you may notice that the speaker often doesn't look directly at the camera or does so from an awkward angle, and the speaking may come across as under-confident or sometimes too assertive or not friendly. I had a talk about the video making process with a few bloggers over the last two years who pointed me in the right direction.
One of these bloggers, Brandi Marie Yovcheva, agreed to be interviewed for this post, so you will find her advice below. Follow this short guide to get started on video creation so you can add this pro asset to your blog marketing.
When you're trying to record your first blog marketing video and you've never done this before, you might feel lost as to where and how to get started.
The first step is all about breaking the ice and getting your first video done, no matter the quality of it. The purpose of your first attempts is to learn the basics and get over your initial fears and shyness, so leave any hints of perfectionism aside – here you are really just trying to learn how to do things.
Here is a short ‘getting started' list:
#1: Have a camera or a camera-enabled phone ready
Make sure ambient light is okay for your face to appear clearly in the video – whether you will be making text plus animation videos only in the future, or videos featuring you as the speaker, it's important that you are able to record a clear video of yourself with the right lighting and angle. You might need it in the future.
#2: Practice before you record so your voice comes through as friendly and confident
Don't worry about misspellings or repetition: you can edit out those parts later, and attach new correct clips. Just focus on breaking the ice here, so you can get rid of any extra emotional load, calm down and speak firmly and clearly when you start recording. It can help to practice before a mirror so you can learn to control your facial expression and your gestures.
#3: Don't record for your business the first time, but for a hobby or for your friends
This is to avoid adding too much stress to your task when you are already focused on learning and getting it right.
Your first goal better be something about your hobby or a personal communication to your friends.
As an example, this is what I did with book reviews on my YouTube channel (the video is in Italian, but you can see all the angle, lighting and shyness ‘mistakes' of a typical beginner): I was really still warming up to being in front of a camera and being recorded, so that wasn't really a time to work on marketing or freelance content when I didn't know how to speak to an audience with confidence and didn't know how to edit a video properly
#4: Edit Your Video Before Uploading
If you upload to YouTube, you can use the built-in YouTube editor after you have successfully uploaded your video; however, a better choice is to use an offline editor – like OpenShot if you are looking for a free, open source solution – installed on your computer and fix anything you like, from lighting to adding text and slides.
#5: Upload the Video to Your Account (YouTube, Vimeo, etc.)
You can also simply upload to your personal blog.
Email the link to your friends and ask for feedback.
Ask your friends to be as detailed as possible with their feedback, because you are going to use to drastically improve your next videos. It works much better if your friends are also bloggers with experience in video marketing.
As I mentioned earlier in the article, I have talked to a number of bloggers about how they got started with video marketing, and especially how they broke the ice the first time when they weren't sure how to do it properly.
Brandi Marie Yovcheva, a business owner with a passion for traveling, pushed herself to make business videos right away, although, she admits, she did “many many many takes during the first videos” that she recorded.
I was studying Internet marketing to grow my primary business, and one of the ways was through video marketing.
I just kinda jumped right into it, but I was terrified of making videos.
Even though it was only me alone in a room talking to myself! I would panic, break into a sweat, forget what I wanted to say… It was awful! In fact, my very first video, I did so many takes that the very last one my tablet actually fell over! I was laughing and if you watch it, you can see where I edited the fall out.
Mistakes and goofy situations happen when you're starting out, but don't let that hold you back.
Video marketing is an asset to not overlook. Yovcheva explains:
Video marketing improves business number [in many ways].
First, your audience (followers) get to SEE and hear you. Which means they will like, know and trust you quicker. Secondly, you can build a following not only on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, but also on YouTube (or whatever video platform you're using) so those who didn't find you on other social media can find you by your videos because they are searching for what you are talking about. And lastly, I've come across some people who don't like to read.
So those who have seen my blog said “Oh you write AND do a video.. I like that because I didn't want to read.” Therefore you're covering all aspects of people. Some people want to read, some just wanna listen to you!
For some encouragement, watch Sophie Lizard of BeAFreelanceBlogger.com's humorous take on how to survive making your first video (honestly, this is the video that convinced me to get started):
Make as many warm up videos as possible (see Step 1), but don't stop there. Experiment with different tools and techniques.
Sign up for webinars and learn. Join or create a group of bloggers to help each other succeed at video marketing. Don't rush yourself – plan ahead and give yourself at least 2-3 months to warm-up and learn before you start scripting and producing for your blog.
Paul Manwaring from Outsprung has some good getting-started video blogging tips to share:
I've used video marketing for quite a few of my website projects, and have slowly built my expertise around photography and filming as it has been a personal hobby of mine before I was marketing. Firstly, I think you need to have good quality video.
You don't need to spend thousands on a camera, but an entry level DSLR will be enough ,which should cost around a few hundred dollars. The quality of the videos you are putting out is not enough [to engage an audience], but first impressions really do mean a lot.
After all, this is your brand, how you present yourself is how others will see you. Secondly, make sure you have a script. Could be word for word or just a loose set of bullet points. There is nothing worse than someone going on and on in a video. Try to keep to the point and don't go off on a tangent. Thirdly, try to say as little in-between words as possible; it's really annoying as a viewer to watch someone say ‘umm' and ‘errr' every 3 seconds.
Having a script will greatly improve your ability to stop saying these words.
Here is a list of video editing tools to help you progress quickly:
By this point, you should have acquired method and confidence in creating videos, and you probably already experimented with some scripting and recording for your future marketing or content videos.
Now it's time to get serious about it and script, create and schedule your first business video for publication. A good idea for this is to create a presentation video for your blog or your channel where you introduce yourself, your business and its core message, and the content your readers are going to find both on your blog and in your video content. Below are a few proven tips to make sure your video stands out.
1. Keep it 3 minutes or less
Raelyn Tan explains how she helped her audience's need for information meet with their short attention span by keeping her videos short and to the point:
As my blog is an information-based website, I shared short and quick tips about problems I knew my target audience was struggling with. Sharing how-to videos worked very well for my audience because they were able to get a tangible solution that was easy to follow for a problem they were facing. These videos were less than 3 minutes long as people's attention spans are very short these days. I also did not have the confidence yet to do longer videos. I've realized that when your content has no fluff, people are willing to watch your videos and share them.
2. SEO your video
This is something you should always do before or after uploading or submitting a video to your blog or any social platform, or it will be difficult for search engines to pick up on your video page and index it correctly, as they can't read video content. Yovcheva explains how it's a step to not overlook:
When you save your video to your computer, before you upload it online, give it a name that relates to what you are talking about. For example, ‘Video Marketing – 3 Tips To Get Started' ,and not just the default [name] that it saves as. When you do this and upload it to YouTube the title will appear there automatically, it's more search friendly and it will help people searching for your topic to find it.
3. Use storytelling
This is a technique nonprofits use to attract the viewer and “take them on a journey” that will change their lives or at least their mindset (and decide to lend a hand or donate to the charity). As a professional blogger or a business owner, your brand has a voice and a story to tell that you can use in your video as a hook to connect to the topic you want to talk about.
For instance, if you run a homemade baby clothes store, you may want to link a video about the fabric you choose for your baby clothes to an idea or a personal experience that led you to create your brand.
Two Pitfalls to Avoid
Brandi Marie Yovcheva warns you against two pitfalls that you should avoid when you start making videos for your business:
1- Don't try to make everything perfect.
“This is such a huge one. I talk to so many people who think they need the perfect lighting, perfect setting, perfect script, or perfect device to record on. [Truth] is… as long as your audio quality is good and understandable that's all you really need to start video marketing. My videos in the beginning had extremely poor lighting and quality, but the audio was there, and people are watching your videos mainly for the information-not necessarily if you are in your office, room or on the beach giving the information.”
2- Don't let fear control you.
“I believe this goes hand in hand with the perfectionist thing because the fear of not having everything right stops many marketers from starting videos, so they end up just not making any. Have fun with it and if need be-write out what you want to say. I used to write out word for word my video script and in some videos you could see me reading. But no one is perfect anyway, right? So don't worry too much about what others think, because you'll never please everybody.”
After laying out how to make videos and what a good business video looks like, let's take a look at what kind of videos you can produce for your blog.
This kind of video is what you already saw earlier in this article with the examples from Sophie Lizard and Brian Dean.
They are videos where you appear as the speaker and you can easily add on-screen text or alternate your appearances with slides, images and animations.
Freelancer Evan Jensen tells of how he created cartoon- and text-based videos without any previous experience with video making in his guest post at Make A Living Writing.
He used PowToon.com as a tool for video creation.
When I send out LOIs, I include the video URL in my signature line. And it’s getting noticed. I’ve heard back from a number of prospects that specifically mention the video. A handful of those will likely have paying work in the near future. The video also helped attract a potential client without any marketing on my part. – Evan Jensen
Eric Brantner, founder of Scribblrs.com and other highly trafficked niche blogs, also creates his videos with PowToon:
Video is something I've just started to incorporate into my online marketing. I've known about its power for years now, but never really had a good sense of how to create interesting, compelling videos that enhance my content. Rather than standing in front of a camera and shooting a video, I recently used PowToon to create animated videos on my site for my post “The Ultimate Kid’s Blogging Guide with Videos”. A few reasons I used it and tips:
- It's free to use – You can pay for premium, but I didn't find it necessary. You also get to try premium free with the trial.
- Use the templates – You could start from scratch, but there's a bit of a learning curve. Instead, take one of their templates (they're really good!) and edit it to fit your needs.
- It's really simple to add the videos to your YouTube channel. From there, you can easily embed on your site. Don't make the mistake of embedding straight from PowToon. It won't work on all browsers (found this out the hard way).
There are a number of live streaming services that are available for free or for a small fee. Gina Badalaty talks about Blab and Periscope, where she also interviewed two bloggers – Amiyrah Martin – who used social media videos successfully to broaden and engage their audiences.
Other free services to look into are Facebook Live and Google Hangouts. Facebook Live is available to any Facebook user who runs a page.
Go to Publishing Tools -> Video Library and click the +Live button next to the Upload one on the right side of the page.
You can start live streaming right away. Facebook will save the recording of your live streaming in one of your page posts. Take a look at Darren Rowse's of Problogger.net live streaming videos on his Facebook page to get an idea of how it might work for you. Facebook also gives a list of best practices here.
Google Hangouts is available for free on all Android-based smartphones and online at hangouts.google.com. It's a good and reliable platform to hold webinars and live events for your blog. Hangouts connects to your YouTube account to stream the video and record it for later viewing. Google itself uses Hangouts for its Q&As at Webmaster Central.
Getting started with video content production for your blog and marketing efforts can look and sound daunting, but you can easily progress from newbie to pro if you make the first step, and learn and hone your video making skills as you go.
… but once you get started, you will start seeing video making as the fun and engaging activity that it is – connecting to your audience on a more personal level, letting them see you or hear your voice as you introduce your blog or offering additional content other than just blog posts and written material.
All that is only going to do good to your brand.
A final piece of advice from Brandi Marie Yovcheva: “With video marketing, just have fun with it, be yourself and just do it without too much overthinking! Overthinking causes fear, fear causes procrastination, and procrastination can cause you to never take the first step.”