Today’s Biz Ladies post comes from Catriona Barry, one of the founders of trakax.com, a software development company based in Dublin, Ireland. Their video editing application, trakAxPC, aims to make it easy for beginners to start creating great multimedia content. They have recently launched a dedicated small business website, trakaxbusiness.com, to provide small businesses with all the help and resources they need to start creating their own videos, regardless of their experience or budget. Today, Catriona offers some personal insights into how to best incorporate videos into your business model. Thanks, Catriona, for such an inspiring post! — Stephanie
Read the full post after the jump . . .
*And stay tuned for an exciting new Biz Ladies Profile series launching today! We’ve got a wonderful interview with illustrator Lisa Congdon to kickstart the column!
1. Get inspiration.
If you are thinking about making a video for your business (and you should be!), the first step is to get inspiration from watching videos that work. A couple great places to find inspiration are the Etsy Channel (see Handmade Portraits), Made by Hand, Those Who Make and trakAxBusiness.
Though some of the videos may have professional touches that are outside your budget or know-how, you will pick up tips on how to best compose your video, what content is truly compelling, what camera shots look well and how businesses are selling their products through online videos. Are they doing straightforward product demos, are they telling a story about the person/brand or are they focusing on building customer trust through tutorials and helpful advice videos? What tone of voice are they using? Are they speaking directly to camera or using an interview-style video? Take notes where possible and integrate these ideas into your plan.
2. What’s your angle? Plan your video.
As a design professional, you’re lucky. What you do is normally pretty interesting, which gives your video a great advantage. Remember, you don’t have to fit everything you do into one video (that’s what a channel is for). Pick one angle to cover and aim to keep your video under 4 minutes. Any longer than this and you’ll simply lose your viewer’s interest. Your video could concentrate on the story behind the product/brand (see an example here), the craft or expertise required to produce an item (here’s a nice example of this), the impact on the local economy/environment of your business (click for example) or an advice-type video where you explain how to achieve a technique/give craft tips through a tutorial.
Once you have decided the angle, start mapping out the story of the video and what shots you’ll need. Many design and craft videos rely on an interview style, so start noting what questions you need to answer in your video and what your responses will be. If you are going to do an interview-style video, try and get someone else on board to help with your video, as it will feel more natural talking to someone real, and they can also help with the recording process.
An important aspect to consider before and during the filming is what the experts call “fill shots.” Fill shots are shots that can lead from one scene into another or can be faded in over a narration. We have found that you can never really have enough fill shots, as this is the footage that plays while your narration continues in the background. So this could be your product in action, you at work, an example of your service, etc.
3. Invest in the basics and light your video.
You can make a great video on a tiny budget, but you will require some basic equipment. First invest in a tripod. Nothing screams amateur more than shaky footage. Luckily you can pick up tripods on Amazon and other retailers for less than $20. If possible, try and use a microphone. Sound recordings without a mic from regular camcorders/video phones probably won’t cut it, and muffled sound can be a real turn off. Again, these can cost less than $15. If you are using your iPhone or other smartphone for the recording, you will need an adaptor to plug in an external mic (just Google this and you will see tons of options). You’re also going to need some software to edit your video. If you are on a PC, there are lots of software packages at various price points available, and if you are on a Mac, iMovie will most likely get the job done.
The real difference between a video that looks amateur and one that looks professional is the lighting. Don’t worry, you don’t have to invest in pro-standard lights, but do think about the lighting of each shot. If you are using natural lighting, be aware of the location of the sun (and clouds!). When recording indoors, try to use as many lamps, lights and other sources of light already available to you as you can — even consider bringing in some lamps from home if your video is looking quite dark. There are tons of tutorials on the basics of lighting, so take a few minutes to get some ideas on how you can improve your lighting without investing in more equipment.
4. Learn some simple techniques.
There are some basic techniques you can implement when making a video that will immeasurably improve the overall look of your video. One of these is the rule of thirds: By using the rule of thirds, you will make the shot more interesting by placing your subject either in the first or last third of the screen (look at any of the example videos above, and you’ll see this technique used over and over again). Remember, this is just a rough grid, and you don’t have to be exact. Some camcorders and phones now allow you to bring up these guidelines automatically. Often beginners place themselves slap bang in the middle of the screen and either too close or too far away in the frame. By simply mapping out the grid in your mind and placing yourself in the right-hand or left-hand section of the grid, you are already on your way to making a better video.
When editing your video, you can try and implement techniques called J cuts and L cuts. Although you may not be aware of the technical terms, you see these transitions every day. For example, the video may begin with you introducing your brand and products. The screen will then cut to you working on a product while your voiceover continues to explain the process. This gives your video a flow, rather than abruptly cutting from one scene to the next.
5. Promote your video.
Upload your video to both YouTube and Vimeo. YouTube is now the world’s second largest search engine, so taking the time to get your listing right is vital. Carefully choose the title, description, tags, category and keywords that properly describe your business. Consider what your customers may type if they were looking for a product or service like yours and tailor your content to this. A link to your website should be the very first thing listed in your description. I cannot stress enough how important this is. Choose a thumbnail that best represents your video and will also encourage visitors to click. On YouTube, be sure to fill out the location of your business/video on the map. This can help users locate your business quickly and easily.
You should also embed your video on your own website and store, if you have one. It may seem a staggering stat, but according to Internet Retailer, customers who view a video are 85% more likely to purchase than those who do not. If you are using WordPress, embedding is a really easy process, but even on regular HTML websites, it is relatively straightforward. Link your video to all your social media profiles — Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, etc. — and you may even want to include a link to your video on your email signature. Lastly, link your video to your profile on Google Places for Business. When your video appears with your listing in a Google search, this can give your business a real advantage.
The main advice I can give is, first, don’t be intimidated by creating a video, and second, online video does work. The investment to start is minimal, but the rewards can be great. Start small and get a feel for what works, and every video you create will be an easier process than the last.