A couple weeks ago at #smmoc, we got to talking about video blogging and whether small businesses can benefit from it. The answer was a resounding yes. Unfortunately, as much as I would have liked, I couldn’t share with you the “how”…So I asked a friend of mine, an impressive video-blogger, Mel Aclaro (@melaclaro) to share his tips and advice on video blogging. So first, a big thank you to Mel for taking some time to write this! Now, onto the content…I hope you all enjoy it!
When it comes to explaining to others how to develop a flow for consistently producing web video for social media and online marketing projects, one of the questions that occasionally comes up is the question, “How do you do it?”
Don’t get me wrong, I recognize the question for what it is. It’s not really coming from a point of awe-inspired wonder. Rather, it’s a simple enough question. It’s a question about process. What they’re really asking is, “Hey, Mel, what’s your workflow like?” “How do you quickly get video online from the time you push the Record button and the time when it’s visible on YouTube?”
The answer may surprise you. The fact is, it’s a complicated series of events. There a lot of steps involved. When taken in totality, the whole process represents a huge investment of time. Producing video isn’t for everybody.
That said, the extended answer may surprise you even more. Despite the factuality of the statements above, I think it is equally true to say: producing web video may be a lot simpler than you think.
Let me explain.
Typical Video Development Workflow
Below is a diagram of all the steps I typically go through to get video content onto my blog. Now, I’m not going to list every umteenth level of detail in each step. That would require a whole chapter in itself. Rather, it’ll suffice for our purposes to touch on each step at a higher level.
In a nutshell, it goes like this:
1. Idea. You have to have an idea, concept or theme for the video. This can involve a bit of brainstorming, outlining or perhaps even some formal scripting or storyboarding. In any case, the topic has to form. And, it usually helps to write down at least the key highlights of what it is you plan on saying.
2. Studio Setup. At some point, the “studio” has to be setup. Now, I wrote that in quotes because, when we’re talking about video for purposes of web-based content and video-blogging, it’s important to remember that we’re not talking broadcast video. We’re not producing for the sequel to Avatar. Instead, in our case the “studio” can be as simple as your camera being mounted on a tripod, along with some basic lighting considerations. If you’re shooting video indoors: then some artificial lighting sources will likely be in order. If outdoors: depending on the sun and cloud conditions, it may be the case that the “studio setup” involves nothing more than having your camera, a microphone and a tripod.
3. Record. This is the step where you shoot the video. In a nut, this involves making sure your talking head is on the business end of your camera, pressing the Record button, and then getting your talking head to say the right words. (You have to picture me writing that sentence with a grin on my face.)
The reality is that, for some reason, once the Record button is pushed and the little red indicator light starts blinking, most of us feel the pressure to start speaking immediately, eloquently and with a minimum of errors.
Here’s a tip: Turn on the camera. Then just sit there. Sit there for a full 2 minutes. Yes, 2 minutes! Tell yourself that you’re going to allow those two minutes (or more) of tape to just “burn.” Then during that time, just do whatever comes natural. Banter with your friend. Talk to yourself. Stare at the sky, swat at flies. Scratch your, uh, nose. Whatever. The point is, eliminate the pressure. You don’t have to start right when the camera’s record button gets pressed. The fact is, video tape–at least the kind you and I would typically use for this kind of production–is relatively inexpensive. Let it roll.
Rather than letting the camera dictate when you start, take the pressure off and give yourself permission to let the tape roll. Tape is cheap. Start when you’re good and ready. You can always edit all the undesirable footage out of the final production and before it gets uploaded to YouTube.
4. Upload to Computer. This is the step that requires somehow getting the spoken word and the captured images from your camera into your computer so you can process the footage further in some way. Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach here. The fact is, every camera has its quirks. The software you choose as your video editor will also have its own requirements. It’s not really a technical thing. It’s just a process, that’s all.
Admittedly, this step can cause some consternation even for experienced video bloggers. So, what I usually like to encourage my friends who are new to video-blogging is to, again, take the pressure off; get a camera that takes on much of this burden for you.
“Flip” type cameras, like the Flip Ultra HD or the Kodak Zi8 are excellent starter cameras. In fact, many long time video-bloggers use these cameras as their device of choice even after they’ve been at it a while. The benefit of these cameras is that not only do they make the video recording process as easy as, literally, “point-and-shoot,” but they also come with their own editing software. After recording, simply plug the camera into your computer’s USB port and *it* loads-up and launches the editing software. You can then pretty much follow your nose through the instructions. Which, brings us to the next step.
5. Edit. This is the fun part. This is where you get to cut out all the “ums” and “uhs” and even those first 2 minutes on the front end when you appeared to be deep in thought in a discussion with yourself. Editing is the creative step in which many video enthusiasts actually find their lost creativity. Enjoy it; find yours.
6. Upload to YouTube. Once you’ve edited and produced your video into a file format that’s compatible for viewing online (your software can help you with this), the next steps involve navigating to YouTube.com and clicking the upload button. Then, simply follow YouTube’s instructions for getting your video online.
7. Write copy for YouTube. Though your video may have captured upwards of 30 pictures for each and every second you were speaking, and you may have even been speaking upwards of a dozen words every 10 or 20 seconds, none of it is worth a lick for SEO juice if search engines can’t find it. So, it’s up to you to attach the proper words to your video in such a way that search engines can index something related to your video. That’s where things like the Title for the video, Description, Tags, and so on come into play. Ultimately, it will be via these types of descriptive textual information is how search engines will find your video and not (yet) via the spoken words.
8. Transcribe. Closely related to Step 7 above is transcribing the words spoken in your video. While the description, title, tags and such in Step 7 are ultimately associated with the video you upload to a video hosting site like YouTube, the fact is, that’s not the end of it. Ultimately, your goal is to get your video on your blog. By the same token, you want search engines to be able to index words associated with the video in your blog. That’s where transcribing your video can come in handy. In fact, the transcription itself can pretty much operate as the text version of your blog post.
9. Blog post. Finally, once the video has been produced and uploaded to YouTube, you want to take both the video and the transcription and post both into your blog.
Does all this sound easy enough? Well, in fact there are indeed a lot of steps… especially if you’re a small business operating a one-person shop. Oh sure, I can I can tell you that it’s easy. But you’d be well within your rights to look at me with that incredulous stare daring me to be reasonable. And, you’d be right. The fact is, those are a LOT of steps involved. So, here’s another way to look at the workflow.
Rapid Video Development Workflow
I adapted the workflow below from Gideon Shalwick’s video-blogging process. In a nutshell, it goes like this: understand the process, but outsource the busy work. Simple, right? In fact, yes.
Notice that all the steps are the same. The only modification has been limited to you taking on only the key roles of: generating the idea, hanging around for bit about actually recording the video, then wait to receive the final video so you can upload it to YouTube. (See the middle row in the diagram above.) You can also take on the burden of writing the copy of the description for YouTube. But ultimately you might also consider outsourcing the copy writing for this step, as well.
In any case, everything else are tasks you can–and should–be outsourcing to an assistant. And, keep in mind, the “assistant” doesn’t necessarily have to be a paid professional. It can be your spouse, niece, nephew or even an intern. The point is that you should be focusing on the steps that are core to your business and the ideation of the concepts discussed that relate to your business, your brand and your image.
Look at both diagrams again. I’d venture to say that any anxiety you might feel during a first-pass looksee at the workflow isn’t really related to any particular step being insurmountable. Rather, the anxiety is probably more a byproduct of looking at the number of the steps involved as a whole. When viewed in totality it gives the perception of difficulty, complexity, perhaps even a bit of chaos. It’s only when you break the whole thing down to its component parts that order emerges from chaos and things start looking a little more manageable.
The trick to quickly and consistently producing video-based content for your blog isn’t, at the end of day, a technical hurdle. Like many tasks we tackle in our respective businesses, it’s a task management issue.
What are your thoughts. Do you feel you can trust some of these other steps to another person? Does the whole workflow feel more do-able when you focus on the middle row of tasks?
Mel Aclaro is the Principle of MindBridj, LLC. He develops online and video-based training for small businesses and non-profits. Mel is an avid blogger and video-blogger at MelAclaro.com and can be found frequently blogging on topics related to business, social media, video and training.