One year ago today I launched “Inspired Video Marketing” as my full time gig.
(Okay FINE, hecklers, it wasn’t called “Inspired Video Marketing back then).
I don’t remember what thoughts I had going into it. What I DO remember is that half of January 1, 2017 was spent on my bed, listening to an audiobook, wondering what the heck I had done in quitting my full time job to pursue video marketing. I remember being scared, I remember needing to go through the “What’s the worst that can happen?” exercise. I also remember being hopeful. We all dream of doing that one thing, of not being beholden to someone else, but free to pursue whatever it is that we want. And this day one year ago was the day where I stared into that possibility and said “yes”.
The first few months were slow, although I made some awesome friends and connections!
The rest of the year sped up with me giving several speeches, making some videos, some business mistakes and learning through it all.
My biggest project was by far the chronicling of the Pirate Pool, called “Living Legendary” (available here), the editing of which is STILL happening.
I shot my first wedding:
I had my own wedding(s):
Plus a lot more.
And now it has been one year!
That was 2017. But now it is 2018. So I have a question for you.
What are you doing in 2018?
I don’t mean the standard “New Years Resolutions” where we vow to overhaul every single habit we currently have. I also don’t demand that it has to be business/video/marketing specific. I don’t care if you think resolutions are hooey. What will you be focusing on this year to make you better than last year? To make your relationships better than last year? To make your life better than last year? What is a step you can take toward freedom? What is something that you can commit to, big or small? Preferably small! That’s where you start. And add-on. And add-on.
We can grow at any time of the year. But I always love this time because it’s fresh and unwritten. Because everyone is thinking about what lies in store for them and some are willing to talk about it. (HINT: If you want to be my friend, don’t be afraid to talk about this at any time with me!)
So what will you do? Make a plan to release JUST ONE blog post a week? And maybe, just maybe, add in a vlog after many successful weeks? How about deciding to unconditionally respect your husband or unconditionally love your wife? – A bite sized version of this would be to decide to think of 3 things everyday that you respect/love about them. Bonus points for sharing these with them!
Will you meditate? Drink 8 oz of water? Call your mom more regularly? Fast for one day a month? We have so many activities we can diminish a bit without losing our standard of living (how about changing from 45 minutes of Facebook a day to 30 minutes so we can do some ab exercises with those other 15?) that there is no excuse to NOT have a THING that we work on to improve ourselves until it becomes a powerful habit that we don’t have to think about doing.
If you see me in the next few weeks, I WILL ask you about your thing. Or things. Or movements. Or projects. Anything.
If I don’t see you in person, I would love to hear any improvements you are committed to making and would love to celebrate your successes with you via these interwebs.
Even if you found yourself still in your bed at noon today, questioning why you chose the THING that you chose, or you find yourself in bed at noon tomorrow with the same fears, move forward with that thing. Day by day. Action by action. Choice by choice. Because when today of next year rolls around, you’ll be glad you did.
To living your best life,
(Oh! And if you were curious about me, I’ve chosen to keep a time log (I find I putz), start my MOST IMPORTANT THING as the very first thing I do in the day (I find I procrastinate) and become clockwork in my marketing (I find… yeah well the first two finds sum up my lack in this arena too) )
This summer has been a whopper! You all know that after having worked Pool Construction for 3 years while doing Video Marketing part time, I made the leap to video full time January 1 of this year.
Somehow this summer I ended up marrying the two and have been chronicling the making of a Legendary Escape these last 4 months. (For info on what a Legendary Escape is, click here)
Each day, my cameras, tripods, mics and I would commute or carpool the 1 1/2 hours to this Legendary site and capture the magic unfolding while, yes, helping out as needed.
The goal was and is to make a video series on just who and what Legendary Escapes is and how it operates.
What an undertaking! What a blessing to be a part of it.
While filming is almost done, I still have 10 Terabytes of data to process and edit. (For an understanding of what that is, a lot of today’s phones hold 16-32 GB. 1 Terabyte is 1,000 GB.)
What then have I learned and what can you learn from it?
If you were looking to chronicle something of what you do, here are 10 of my suggestions:
1. Have a clear idea of what you want to end up with. Like anything, planning with the end in mind is what assures finishing with the end in mind! Who are you trying to reach? What are you trying to accomplish? What is the purpose of this video? This will help you guide your shots and the equipment you buy. If you want to record an hour seminar, don’t buy a camera with a 10 minute limit! If you want to teach people to do something as your end goal – don’t forget to speak through what you’re doing or get close ups especially of the confusing parts. Think, “if I were watching a video someone else did having the same goal I do, what would I expect to see and hear?” Then film THAT and save your time on shots that’ll never make it into your film. This leads me to #2. ( See why Legendary Escapes wanted a video chronicle and what to expect:
2. Edit BEFORE you edit. I mentioned before, I have TEN TERABYTES. That’s 10,000 GB. So far. I have to go through it all to tell a coherent story. At the beginning, I was filming everything, not sure what exactly to get to accomplish our goal of authentically showcasing a “Legendary” experience while having a Legendary Escape being made. As I edited it, I realized I didn’t need 10 various shots of X when I only used ONE shot – the best one. If I set up my shot and got ONE, the one I’d use, I’d save myself the time shooting and then LOOKING through all 10. Edit before you shoot- take the time to set up the shot exactly as you want it, or edit before you edit and delete a shot that you took but didn’t work out or KNOW you’ll never use. On that note, if something is happening that you know you won’t include in your chronicle, don’t feel you have an obligation to shoot it. It can be frantic thinking you have to capture EVERY MOMENT. But seriously, you’ll only use a VERY small fraction of what you capture, so maximize what you do by focusing on the good stuff.
3. Saving time while shooting – if you’re getting mostly okay shots and awesome shots (but not god awful ones- I hope you deleted those), save yourself even more time by taking notes. I created a record sheet and each day checked off the list of setup to-dos (to make sure I’d do them) and would write down what I wanted to accomplish and all the things that happened.
If someone fell, I made a note of who/what/when/where. If I captured something particularly beautiful/cool/fun, I’d write it down. I highlighted the best parts or relevant parts or even an overarching look at the day for easy reference for when I have to go back later and edit 120 days of content.
4. Now I’m going to sort of contradict all that I said above, so bear with me. You know what you want, yes, edit before you film and yes, save time with notes, but also, don’t be afraid to set up a camera on the action… and leave it. For hours.
I’m serious. You will not use 8 hours 59 minutes and 55 seconds of your 9 hours of footage – nor should you give serious consideration to that footage unless inspiration strikes, BUT. The point of this “standby camera” is to capture those five PRICELESS seconds. In our cast, the standby camera has captured a piece of wood hitting me in the face, my dad dumping concrete on his head, my uncle Rick falling off a truck, my cousin stepping in a bucket of water, my sister nearly falling off a waterfall, my aunt ungracefully crossing a barrier, my dog making an awkward move and more. This camera is NOT for watching all 9 hours of every day. It’s to be there in the event that something you think is interesting or noteworthy happens. It also serves as good filler if you didn’t actually get the shot you wanted of something specific for one reason or another. This system has helped me immensely – how often does the funny thing happen WHILE you’re actively filming? This way, you don’t have to feel regret for not having caught it on film – instead, make a note of what and where it is. Be prepared for a lot of hard drive space. (Side note – we also put external microphones on everyone – not to listen to them curse to themselves but to pair the audio of those 5 seconds with the accompanying video if necessary)
5. If you get inspired by something on the spot – a fun spoof, a good short, a story worth telling, yes start shooting it. But also, take a moment to think it through. Watch the skit in your head and shoot all of what you see. It would suck to get back to edit AFTER everything is done and realize you don’t have a crucial shot and all your work was for naught.
6. Of course, all is not necessarily lost just because you don’t have something you had wanted. Say you filmed and DID miss something crucial. Time has passed and you can’t get that moment again. What do you do? It’s time to be creative. Can you shoot a voiceover for missing audio and use the visuals you do have? Can you get a shot that is timeless and LOOKS like it could have been at the same time? Close-ups are great for this! Getting only the thing in question, we don’t focus on all the differences in the background. Can you maybe add a cutaway animation? Can you change the original intent of the video slightly where you don’t need the shot you missed but can use others you did get? The magic is in the pre-production, but with some creativity you can make up a lot of magic later.
7. Be a stickler about your audio. If you don’t know how – LEARN . Learn what equipment to buy and how to monitor audio levels. I’ve made too many mistakes where audio sounded horrible or the mic crapped out and I didn’t know. It sucks when you go back for audio and you realize the mic wasn’t on because the batter had died. Just be diligent. Like anything, there is a workaround, which is to put on subtitles for less than stellar audio, but if possible, the 1 minute inconvenience of checking the audio (before AND after the shot – in case you need to reshoot) is worth the frustration and 10 minutes or more in subtitle writing to only “sort of” fix it. Especially if even YOU have no idea what they’re saying.
8. Every day of filming, push yourself. It’s actually this concept that has led me to a new series I’ll be starting (stay posted, it’ll be the next blog out). I had to ask myself often, “this shot looks okay, but how can I make it stellar?” Out of focus into focus? Up close? Wide angle? Use a drone? Do a slow-mo? Zoom in? Zoom out? Pan? Film a reflection? Etc etc. Of course, we need the standard wide shot to establish what we’re doing but a lot of far away, confusing action shots without much variety is not super interesting, no matter how cool your project or service is. Alternatively, with some cool shots and thought, you can turn a potential boring subject into something neat. Yes, we will still watch that master shoot of you doing something amazing, but thinking a bit harder and doing a bit more camera work can turn an average video into a Legendary one.
This shot is probably not worth filming. I won’t be able to use it. There’s too much movement and even if there wasn’t, we’d get bored quickly. I mean, what is he REALLY doing?
However… these two shots take a little more thinking but they add something cool to the story!
9. Be consistent about storage!! I cannot stress this one enough. Everyday while carpooling, I would transfer the 100-200 GB of data from all the equipment (time lapse cameras, my Rebel, my 70D, the XA10, the XA30, six external microphones, the drone, various phones, the 4K camera and/or the go-pro) into folders with those names under a bigger folder of the date it all was taken. You do NOT want to end a video chronicle having lost footage you THOUGHT you imported then deleted but didn’t, or have 5 days of hodge-podge material that you imported after 5 days of not importing/sorting/deleting. Terabytes of footage is daunting enough. Don’t make it worse by not having it where you can easily find something. It IS annoying to have to transfer byte by byte over and over again, but it will ultimately save you. With the editing I’ve done so far, I’ve been so grateful for the breakdown in conjunction with my notes. Taking this a step further, after importing everything from all equipment, do NOT clear your SD cards until you have copied the full folder of data to a DIFFERENT hard drive. Have backups on backups. Maybe you have one set of data on your computer and one on an external hard drive- that’s fine. But heaven forbid you only had one copy and that hardware crashed… it would be horrible.
10. Pace yourself. Don’t expect that you can create a masterpiece, film said masterpiece, and edit a masterpiece of the original masterpiece in the time it took me to write this sentence. I will admit that I thought I could do just that. I thought I could film, help out on the project, transfer data AND edit all of this consistently AS it was happening. What I joker I was! This turned out to be far too massive a project for one person to do both well and timely. I’m a little ashamed that I’ve had to sacrifice a bit off both ends so I could at least get some content out. Even still, there is so much more to edit and more to learn! If you expect too much out of yourself, you will get frustrated and probably give up. Have realistic expectations, set your goals and set time tables. It’s also okay if you go over time on these – we often vastly underestimate the time something will take. As long as you keep making progress and do honor hardfast deadlines (you told Facebook your video would be out by X date… get it out by X date), you will be right on track to creating your own documentary/reality/show/chronicle of whatever amazing awesome thing you do and life you lead.
As I get closer to done I will release a part 2 article for those interested, in the meantime, check out the episodes we have done of this Legendary Pirate Pool!
For advice for your own video chronicle, you can contact me through email or Facebook.
Many of us know that doing video is an important aspect to our social media strategy, but it just seems so hard and daunting! We may be able to present in front of a big group, but the thought of speaking alone to a camera is… well, scary. We think so because it’s an unknown; we don’t know how to take good video, we worry about needing to edit it etc etc…
Not to fear! It’s easier than you think!
Check the lighting. By a window will most likely give you your best and easiest light.
Check the sound. Do you hear anything in the background? Is there a lot of wind? Is an air conditioner/ furnace blowing? Can you close a door? Audio doesn’t have to be perfect, but many would argue that it’s even more imperative than the video itself! If it makes sense, buy a cheap lav mic to plug into your phone.
Steady… Video devices do not smooth out motion like our eyes and brain combo do when we move our head side to side. If you start waving your phone around while filming, we, the audience, will get sick and probably stop watching. Whether using your hand, a selfie stick or a tripod, just hold still as best as you can.
Hold your arm/tripod/selfie stick slightly above your face, getting your whole face in the shot. You’ve seen it before, when tourists and teenage girls take their selfies, it’s always holding the phone slightly higher than eye level and taking the photo from a downward angle – this gives a more flattering view of yourself than does holding your phone head on or worse, below your chin (can anyone say “double chin”? or in my case, “triple”… )
Now that you’re holding it above you, flip that phone! Unless of course you are doing something live, the conventional way is still to have a horizontal image. The winds ARE changing and it is not a deal breaker if you keep your phone vertical (there is something to be said about the shotgun feel of a vertical video) but on the whole, keep it landscape.
Decent light, decent sound, steady film, landscape and flattering view – can you handle that?
Good! Now go for it! These are 5 super simple techniques to get you STARTED with your video marketing (and you know, you may never even need to move past this!) but the key word here is “started”.
So you don’t have to watch me ramble for 2 1/2 minutes, vlogging is just a video blog. Instead of reading the content, you are watching it.
Most vlogs take place using a computer webcam or in a situation that LOOKS like a computer’s webcam, but sometimes the person is on site, narrating something. You’ll find a lot of vlog style videos on Youtube.
For a small business to get into vlogging, I recommend you find some nice lighting (like by a window) and share a bit about who you are, what you do and why you do it! Then, if you have any frequently asked questions, you can make any number of vlogs addressing those issues, or a plethora of others.
Once you’ve made your own vlog, link it down below so I can check it out!
I love lists. I also love well thought out resources that make life so much easier because when you have a question or need something done, you know they are there. To combine these loves, I have put together a list for you all of my top favorite resources I use in regards to my video marketing.
If you are doing your own videos (you yourself, or someone in the office dedicated to it), this website is a great steal for some stock footage, aka, something you don’t want to have to go out and shoot yourself. Note, because of the great deal, they do a lot of upselling and if you’re not careful, you could fall in love with a clip that costs 1/3 of your entire year’s membership… but. There are some great clips that in just a few uses, will pay for your whole membership.
Fiverr is a great place to find relatively inexpensive yet high-quality creative work in whatever capacity you need. This isn’t just for Video Marketing. On Fiverr, you can find all sorts of things! I almost bought a custom knitted owl cap and wish I did because she did not keep that up there for long at only $5…
Get logos, get transcriptions, get art… there are some things you CAN’T get on Fiverr… like the personal connection of working with a real human being, but sometimes, it is worth it to just get what you need without having to do a lot of research and creating a large investment.
Music can make or break a video. Go to Pond5 to get some well-priced stock music. They also have footage, sound effects and other things, but I am always surprised at the quality of their soundtracks and their price points as well. I will note that if you are creating a video and don’t plan on getting paid for it, there are other sites where you do not need to pay for the licensing of the track: Incompetech, Bensound, and on Youtube to name just a few. Just make sure that as per their agreement you properly attribute rights to them in the credits.
I love this site for their helpful blogs, and beyond that, I buy most of my equipment from here. They’ve got everything you can want, even when you are drooling over an expensive piece of equipment that you will have to work toward. 😉
This is going to sound a bit weird, but yes, I do follow a photography website as a means to improve my videography. A lot of the elements between the two are the same or very similar. For me, I use the same camera for both! When you use a DSLR for video and photo alike, you get settings to play with and many times they are the same. You must navigate the Exposure triangle as well as the same buttons. I find that I can shoot more creatively with a video if I first consider my shot as a still photo. How would I shoot it in that case? Then I add my thoughts on motion to it.
If you use your iPhone or you have a Video Camera, perhaps this isn’t the best resource, but there is something very warm and happy about Audrey’s site and I always learn something or at least leave her site feeling good.
Wistia is a company that I really love. I haven’t actually paid for anything or have used their software (sorry!) although if you choose to do so, there are many benefits. Wistia is a video hosting company that includes a lot of extra analytics that you won’t get anywhere else to see how your videos are actually doing. Still, they have a great feel to them, and I always find value in their blogs.
Going into it, I had NO IDEA the amount of resources Youtube has built in. Above I mentioned their music, but they have a whole school called the YouTube Creator Academy to teach you how to better create and market your videos! This isn’t even counting the unimaginable number of people out there who post videos about creating videos, marketing companies and businesses with videos, and all sorts of other wonderful things. Some people I subscribe to are: DSLR Guide, Sold with Video, and Video Power Marketing.
What a wealth of knowledge! The hyperlink will take you to the Lynda site with “video” already searched, but really, you can learn so much about business and things to do with computers and the web on here. Not only do I use it myself, but I’ve had several people I admire reference this as well. It does cost money, but education is an investment into yourself, not an expense. 😉 As long as you utilize your knowledge! A quote I love is “Education without Execution is just Entertainment” -Tim Sanders. But here, you will find lots of education.
If you have resources that you love and wouldn’t mind sharing, feel free to do so in the comments below!
Additional plugs for resources that don’t get their own blurb:
I think it’s okay, because “custom thumbnails” really should have its own blog anyway. So there.
A thumbnail is the image you see a video as when you are scrolling on your screen.
If you’ve spent ANY time on the internet interacting with videos, you might have noticed that sometimes, this cover image NEVER even appears in the video.
Back in the day, this confused me. I’d be waiting for the introduction picture to flash because back in the day, for Youtube anyway, the “custom thumbnails” were just a still that you got to PICK from your video as opposed to something you could upload. But things change and I digress.
The thumbnail is to the book cover what the video is to the book. We all know the saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” YET, we also know that we tend to DO just that. The same goes with a video.
If you check out the first photo at the very beginning of this blog, which of the two videos would you click on? The first is a still that YouTube gives me as a Thumbnail, the second is a frame of the video that I chose exactly for my funny face, then added some pictures about the topic (Live streaming on Youtube) and a title, so someone has a quick overview on my subject.
If you take notice of the successful videos and videographers/video marketers/vloggers/youtubers etc etc… A majority choose a custom thumbnail.
You have the ability on most platforms to do this.
On the subject of Instagram, for one of my MOST FAVORITE videos I posted, I didn’t realize I could pick a custom still, so I didn’t. And in Instagram, you cannot go back and pick one. I think I missed out on a lot of interaction because, can you see the still it picked?
I should have picked one of these.
It takes a few (sometimes more) minutes to both create a thumbnail, or to pick the correct still from your video, and to upload it, but it is SO worth it in terms of views and engagement.
Wistia, a well-known video host and video marketing company extraordinaire did a study with their videos and an audience unfamiliar with them,
using different thumbnails.
“The Photoshopped thumbnail (hands) and the thumbnail we selected (Jeff) had similar play rates and a 35% improvement in play rate compared to the system-generated one. These two versions also had higher engagement rates than the one with an automatic thumbnail. Total result was an increase in total time watched of 50%.” – Two Thumbnails Up
Wistia has data that putting a little effort into creating a thumbnail or at the very least CHOOSING a still will increase play rates. In this case, they say a total watch time increase of 50%. I don’t know that it’s THAT much, but if so… CRAZY!
Do me a favor, upload custom thumbnails for your marketing videos. KTHX.
If you don’t want to do it as a favor for me, do it for your followers and tribe. They’re missing out on your great content because they’re a bit too hesitant to click on that blurry/out-of-focus/who-knows-what-it-is shot that you have up masquerading as a video.
I’ve included resources below (until I make all of these myself. 😉 ) so you cannot use ignorance as an excuse for not doing it.
To enable custom thumbnails on Youtube: Click here
Two days ago I sat down with Dave Murray, the spirited and passionate co-founder of Mayniax Branding.
This meeting had been preordained for awhile. Everywhere I went I was bombarded with “Oh! Have you met Dave yet?” “You should meet Dave!” “I know this guy Dave…”
Some things in life are just synchronistic, and after forever and an email, I finally looked him up. And. Crazy crazy, but it turns out I DID know who he was because, da-tada-da, I had watched one of his videos.
I didn’t connect the words “Dave Murray” when people would say it, with the energetic red accessory sporting person that I had seen online. But after making the connection, you wanna know what I did?
I watched more of his videos!
I got a good look-see at what this self-proclaimed “gutsy” guy was all about. I listened to his thoughts and his advice and I learned that he was my kind-of people. What I really learned, though, was that I DID wanna meet this guy.
I’m sharing this with you for two reasons.
1. What I got out of watching his videos told me a heck of a lot more about him than if I were to have just browsed his Facebook posts or only read his blogs. I learned that I liked his energy, and liked what he had to say. PLUS, the fact that he HAD videos told me things about him as well (that he’s up with the times and he values all of the benefits that video brings). What a deal! I got to hear his voice, see his face, and learn what he had to say all before he knew anything about me. Can you imagine what it would be like if your potential customers got to fall in love with you (or at least make that first step. ;-P) before they even met you? Can you imagine fewer headaches because you don’t have to explain something over and over again because the person who is chatting with you now has already watched the video(s), knows you don’t do XYZ and self-selected herself in as your client? Or the client who wanted XYZ, saw that you don’t do that and self-selected himself OUT, creating more time and space for you to focus on your true client?
If I had watched Dave’s videos and thought, “eh, we’re not a good fit,” I could have saved us both the hour and a half of a meeting plus transportation time. But I saw his videos and thought, “I HAVE to meet this guy.”
The power of video.
2. Plug for Dave, Mayniax and Branding. I haven’t talked much about branding on this blog, as I know my personal brand is a work in progress. But it IS important! Who you are in your business NEEDS to be conveyed in everything. Especially when you move into the video realm. If you’re a fun person to work with in business, why would you act reserved and staunch in a video? The same goes for vice versa. If your business focuses on a male audience, why would you make videos about a female concern? If your brand is you wearing striking red sunglasses and a brilliant tie, why would you NOT include that in the video?
Dave is a master at the branding. He’s got a branding firm in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and as you can see, he’s figured out a way to OWN Google,
be known and get remembered.
That’s what we want. Who are you as a company? Are you representing that consistently to the point where you are KNOWN? Then a little visual trigger or set of words will get someone thinking back to you?
When people are thinking of us, they are thinking of ways they can use us, or when that person they know expresses a need, the connections abound.
When you are clear and your message is clear, your videos and other marketing become clear. Then the path toward your ideal clients become clear as well.