6 Steps to Creating Effective Video Blogs

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Though I live deep in the catacombs of the video marketing world, I understand that the thought of dipping your toe into the video production pool can be a tad daunting. But that reluctance is often based on the fact that so many businesses look to jump into the deep-end of elaborate productions, whether that be animated explainer videos or company testimonials. To me, a great way to start utilizing the power of video is to wade in slowly by getting a consistent video blog up and running … or should I say swimming.

Video blogs are relatively inexpensive to get off the ground, easy to replicate whenever content inspiration strikes, and frankly, fun to make! However, just because they’re more simple to execute doesn’t mean you can just turn on your laptop camera or iPhone and start riffing off the cuff for ten minutes about an industry trend. Like all successful marketing efforts, you need to prepare, plan, and promote thoughtfully to be a thought leader.

Having written, directed, starred in, edited, and published over 25 video blogs, I wanted to share the Demo Duck tried and true process. Hopefully, these can help you create something that keeps viewers engaged and helps you accomplish your marketing goals. Let’s dive in!

1. Get the right equipment

Before “lights”, “camera”, or “action” can be called, you need the lights and camera to actually make the action. It’s important to get the proper equipment setup so that there is a minimum level of polish to your videos. Enough that it at least feels on-brand with the rest of your marketing materials. I’ll go over some basics, but for a more-indepth look at setting up your video blog studio, check out this awesome post from Wistia on a DIY Office Video Studio.

Below are a few items that are necessary:

  • Camera: On the high end you can invest in a digital camera (aka DSLR like a Canon7D), while on the low end an iPhone works just fine.
  • Tripod: Sure you could prop your camera up on a stack of books or a nearby shelf, but it’s worth the $50 to buy a tripod, secure your camera, and save yourself time on shoot day.
  • Microphone: A lot of people say that high quality sound is more important than top notch footage and I wholeheartedly agree. You can buy an inexpensive mic that plugs directly into the camera so it syncs with your footage or get a Rode NTG that plugs into an external sound recorder, like a Zoom H4n, and sync it during the edit.
  • Lights x 3: It’s recommended you get two daylight LED panels & 1 lamp with a daylight bulb. This allows you to do a standard, but effective, three point lighting setup. See a picture of our video blog studio below.
  • A quiet space and visually appealing backdrop: It’s often tough to get brick to look great on camera, so if you have colored wall you can stand in front of, away from the office hustle and bustle nab it while you can. If you’re not liking what you find in your office, there are different colored backdrops you can buy on Amazon.

appropriate studio setup

2. Write the content

Notice how the above description of the second step doesn’t say “Write the script”; that’s because we find it best to hone in on the content before jumping into filming. Meaning that if you have an idea for a blog and want video to accompany it, focus on the written copy of that blog first.

Which brings me to my next point: Always have copy accompanying your video blog because some people may not be able to watch the video (i.e., no headphones, in transit, etc.) but will want to heed your wisdom. The written copy will help with SEO, too.

After you’ve written, polished, and perfected the written copy, you’re ready to grab the most important bits from that for the video blog script. While a typical blog post for Demo Duck runs about 1200 words, a blog script is usually closer to 400. This means we’re trimming out two-thirds of the content during this scripting step. It’s important to not only use the best parts of your copy but to rewrite them to be more conversational and to flow quickly between points, too.

If you have a bulleted written post (like this one), you should only have 2-3 sentences per section in your video blog script. This helps you focus on only the most important nuggets and also makes things easier for talent to get through each section quicker. For a longer form, not-bulleted post, you can probably start hacking and smashing paragraphs together and create a truncated version of the copy you’ve written.

Once you think the script is done…know that it’s not. Read it out loud several times and edit, edit, edit. After another 3-9 revisions, you’ll be done.

3. Roll camera and take your time

Now comes the fun part filming the darn thing! Get everything setup in “frame” (aka everything you can see through the camera lens) set up to your liking, plop yourself in front of the lens, place the script under the camera (either taped or on your laptop), and press RECORD.

The most common mistakes we see with people who are recording their first video blog is they are speaking super fast during their takes and they want to get the whole experience over with as soon as possible. Which means they aren’t getting several quality takes before moving onto the next section of the script.

So, before every take, take a deep breath. Seriously. Every. Take. When filming nervous people in the past, it almost felt like when I called action I was releasing the knob on a wind-up doll as they’d quickly launch into an invisible race to get the words out. When you pace yourself, it’s easier to get through your lines and you’ll usually wrap sooner anyways.

4. Editing it all together

Whether using iMovie on your phone or jumping into Adobe Premiere, the important thing to remember is that the editing room is where a video blog is truly defined. Depending on your brand voice/style, decide on how quickly you want to cut from one clip to the next, whether you’ll include outtakes to show some personality, what successful takes to select, and more. If you approach the editing process as an exciting step and not one borne out of necessity, this can all be pretty fun!

There are small decisions made during editing that can really engage viewers and keep them smiling during your video, too. If possible, drop in some colorful title cards (of which you can find free downloads for online) and grab some affordable stock music that ties it all together. Once you feel like the edit’s in a good place, share it with someone else and take their feedback into consideration as you whittle the video into something you’re ready to share with the universe.

5. Upload and optimize

After you render out your final video file, you’ve got to get it up on the ol’ internet. Be sure to select your video hosting platform carefully. For anything going on your site, we recommend using Wistia because of it’s customization techniques, professional design, and robust analytics on the backend. If you want to place them on YouTube or Facebook to reach more end consumers (looking at you B2C companies), that works, too and can be done in addition to Wistia – it’s not a one or the other scenario.

No matter where the videos end up, make sure you’re adding the proper titles, thumbnails, descriptions, and captions to entice someone to click the play button. These should be as eye grabbing as possible (thought provoking for copy and visually unique for thumbnails), to stop people who are scrolling down their browsers.

While people are watching your video blogs, you can encourage interaction by adding video annotations, which are overlaid on top of your video at specific timestamps. These can be used to direct viewers to your contact page, other blogs you’ve created, subscribe to your newsletter, or watch the next video in the series. I highly recommend putting an annotation at the end that links to another video blog…make it easy for people to binge on your content!

6. Publish and promote (and promote and promote)

Honestly, pressing the “Publish” button on your video blog is a tad nerve wracking because you’re not only putting your words out there to be judged but also your face. That being said, you have to trust the process and stand by your work. Even if the comments skew counter to your message … don’t feed the trolls but engage when you can.

Once the video and post is live, it’s time to get eyes on it. I’d recommend putting it out through all over your channels multiple times for months to come. This includes all social media outlets, newsletters, and posting it to relevant forums. Also, identify industry leaders you can tag in posts or send your video blogs to directly. Perhaps they’ll put it in front of their large audience of followers.

Conclusion

No matter what happens, don’t be discouraged when your first few posts don’t go viral. You’ll want to build up a content hub for your video blogs the same as you would a regular blog. It’s a long road to internet fame (even mild internet fame) but hopefully the above steps can help set you on the path to, eventually, make a big splash!

 

About the Author

Colin Hogan

 

Colin Hogan is the Managing Director at Demo Duck, a Chicago-based video production agency, who has a deep obsession with making videos as often as possible. Follow Demo Duck on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

 

 

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