Get Off Your Butt and Start Making Videos

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AHaSocialBusinessSummitI recently spoke on a panel at the “A-Ha! Social Business Summit,” an annual social media conference created and organized by Allen and Lani Voivod of Epiphinies, Inc

The session was aptly titled “Get Off Your Butt and Start Making Videos!”  Allen Voivod asked us some really great questions, so I’d like to share those questions (and my answers) here!

Allen:  You’re used to shooting with serious equipment, but you also use your phone, too. What tips would you share for making decent videos with your phone?

The handy dandy Caddie Buddy keeps your iPad steady.

The handy dandy Caddie Buddy keeps your iPad steady.

Lou: The truth is I sold all my heavy-duty equipment in favor of an iPhone and iPad… The main considerations when shooting with a smart phone are audio and “shaky cam.” 

Unless you have an external mic, you don’t want to get too far away from the phone or the audio will degrade.  It’s also tough to hold an iPhone or iPad steady when shooting, so you’ll want to have some kind of tripod or method for keeping the camera still. 

I use a regular (photo) camera tripod along with an adaptor called “Caddie Buddy” for my iPad.

Allen: What are the biggest mistakes you see people making while using video for business, and why?

Lou: There are several, and in fact, I just did an article on rookie mistakes that addresses this. 

But the single biggest mistake is not thinking strategically.  Every video you create should be produced with the business objective in mind.  What do you want this video to accomplish? What action do you want your viewer to take at the end of the video?  Most folks tend to get hung up on the technology, when the reality is you should really be thinking strategy first and foremost.

Allen: For people who want to step up their game (at least a little bit!), what kind of equipment or accessories do you recommend?

Blue’s “Snowball” USB mic, now in groovy new colors!

Blue’s “Snowball” USB mic, now in groovy new colors!

Lou: Although you can start with a computer and a webcam, the next tier of equipment would be a USB microphone like the Blue “Snowball” mic. 

 I’d also suggest investing in a basic light kit, which you can get on for about $150.  That gets you a 3-light “softbox” kit with lights and stands.

Allen: What software do you use for editing your videos, and how crazy do you have to get with editing?

Lou: I use Final Cut Pro and Adobe AfterEffects on the Mac.  Because part of what I do involves professional video editing for clients, I need the higher end stuff, and I tend to get pretty deep into it. 

Most people don’t have time for the steep learning curve of AfterEffects, but I do a lot of motion graphics and animation – like TV show opens and logo reveals. 

But aside from that, most beginners would be fine with iMovie if they have a Mac, or even, which is a free online video editor.   And keep in mind that there’s even a pretty decent video editor right within YouTube!

Allen: Making the video is just one piece of the puzzle; actually getting people to watch it is something else. How have you most effectively or creatively gotten the word out about your videos?

Lou: Sadly, most people use a “post and pray” strategy for getting views, which is obviously not a strategy at all!  The first thing I tell folks is, if you want more views, make better videos!  Once you’ve got a video worth watching, you can promote it using social media, email, via your blog, etc. 

The best approach is to get the video on as many platforms as possible, so it has the best chance of being seen.  You’ve got to go beyond YouTube and post to Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and even  Go where your audience is!

Allen: What’s the most embarrassing thing you’ve ever done on video?

Lou: For me, there are almost too many to mention!  When I first started doing video, I hated being on camera – so I’d hide behind props, pets, costumes, and sight gags – anything to take the focus off me! 

Ironically, this turned out to be a great way to brand my videos and make them memorable.  I’d have to say my most embarrassing – or at least wackiest – was doing the Ten Commandments of Video dressed as Moses!

Allen: We know people can get around being on camera by using other solutions like Prezi, Powtoon, Animoto, etc., but what would you say to the camera-shy people to get them to overcome their fears and become on-camera stars?

Lou: Focus on your message.  In most cases, people are watching your video to see what you’re saying, not “who you’re wearing!”  So relax, be yourself and concentrate on your content.  Of course, the more video you do, the easier it gets… sometimes!

Allen: If you could share one final tip that might help people make a quantum leap in their video success for 2014, what would you say to them?

Lou: Use video as a regular and consistent part of your marketing efforts.  With video, as with any social medium, one and done won’t get it done.  You have to be consistent and integrate video into your marketing plan. 

How can you use video to amplify what you’re already doing?  Are you doing email marketing?  Try video email?  Are you blogging?  Add video and start video blogging.  Just start adding video to the mix – that’s the simple recipe for success!

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  1. Hey Bill,

    Yes, you’ll need some kind of editing program that allows you to do green screen (aka chromakey). If you’re on a Mac, you’d really need Final Cut Pro do it properly. Not sure what’s the best editing software for PC, though probably Adobe Premier or Sony Vegas…

  2. Oh, does one need any special editing software to input white on green screen?

  3. I’m still chuckling Lou. “If CNN can use SKYPE for interviews…”

    I never thought about it that way. I’m getting big knots in my head from your 2×4.

    I’ll go have a look at your links.

    Your rational for broadcast quality vs. On the go was spot-on. Again, it never occurred to me. I’ve been in the industry too and got caught up in all the tech-premiums when I came out in my own. Again, again another knot-upside-my-head.

    Your reply was extremely helpful. Thanks

  4. Thanks, Bill! The quality vs. content debate continues, but I come down on the side of content first, quality second… I’ll do my best here to answer your questions:

    White background videos are a pain to light and do properly. Believe or not, I use greenscreen and then just replace the background with a bright white. If you want to try for the “real thing,” this article & video may help:

    I believe there are two kinds of videos: First, higher-quality videos that are going to have some “shelf-life” or be evergreen, like a “welcome” video on your website. Those are the ones you want to make look as good as possible.

    Then there are the “on the fly,” more spontaneous videos – Those can afford to be more casual and of lesser quality as long as the content is compelling. Google Hangouts is one example…

    I got rid of most of my higher end tools because I was no longer doing a lot of video for broadcast television. It’s just overkill to have a $10,000 video camera for a video that’s going on YouTube. I still have lots of high end editing tools, but I mostly use my iPhone and iPad for shooting video. (And if Skype video is good enough for CNN interviews, it’s good enough for me!)

    Lastly, the lav mic I use is under $20 and can be found here:

    You’ll need an adapter wire if you want to use it with your iPad, but it does the job nicely…

    Hope this helps!

  5. Loved it Lou.

    I’ve invested so much in trying to get it perfect you’ve hit me with the 2×4. I needed that.


    1. I was waiting for my budget to afford the Canon 70D so u could grab those stunning Apple-like foreground professional-quality vidz. How important is that vs. Using my iPhone 4?

    2. Why did you trash all if your higher-end tools?

    3. Have you links that have ample videos (with real people in real settings) shot with iPhone, iPad?

    4. What would you recommend for clip-on wireless mic setup for just-enough voice capture?

    5. How important is background ( I got one of those white screens) as I’m having a bug-of-a-time balancing the light box spill. Arghhhh? I note many just vdo in an office/room with informal backgrounds.

    Thanks Lou

  6. Thanks for this article, Lou. I added video in 2013 (big step for me) and plan to add more Hangouts on Air in 2014 (even bigger step ;-).
    Thanks for the motivation!

  7. Traci Knoppe says:

    Great article! I do have a question, I have an iPad and a BlueSnowball mic, but how do I use the BlueSnowball as the mic for the iPad? Is there a regular USB adapter for the iPad? Thanks!