Your Online Video – Starting Economically


Making and displaying your own video is an apparently complex endeavor that becomes attainable by breaking it into bite-sized bits. The best course for a newbie may well be to work with a professional the first time. Spend a few hundred dollars on a “this is what we do” piece. By the time it’s online you will either feel sufficient confidence to get more involved yourself or decide that the price is worth the outcome. But whatever you do, get started. Online destinations without video are missing out on the power of video in search results and ignoring how most of us want to be addressed.

Getting Started

As video moved from VHS tape to digital formats options multiplied seemingly overnight. Today I’m going to describe how to begin promoting your goods or services on your website, your blog, your YouTube channel and beyond with simple tools and approaches. From a no-frills webcam, smartphone or tablet video to a bit of editing with visuals replacing your talking head, you can produce effective content with minimal investment.

Write Your Story

Video is storytelling. Imagine your first project aims to profile your offering in less than two minutes. You begin with a written script. When you read back a half dozen sentences with an eye on your second hand you’ll quickly realize how succinct you need to be to deliver your message that briefly. But that’s essential in addressing our sound bite nurtured audience.

Memorize Two Sentences

Almost anyone can, with minimal rehearsal, deliver two sentences into a camera without stammering or looking like the proverbial deer in the headlights. And if you can’t do it the first time, who cares? Take two, three, whatever you need to get a version that looks natural.

Finish The Voiceover

Once you’ve delivered your two sentences, you can read the rest, provided you’ve got access to modest editing software or an editor (like yours truly) who can cut your final product. In the Dropbox universe it’s trivial to upload a video file for an editor to download, polish, preview to you and return.

Identify Your “B” Roll Content

When you cut away from the talking head you need imagery to carry on above your voice, imagery that illustrates the story, be it your restaurant, optical shop, T-shirts, you get the idea. This material usually comes in three formats – video, still images and text frames. You don’t have to have all three but those are the common options. You can shoot the video or choose to take still images instead if that’s more accessible to you. Online video dimensions (width and height) are far less than the average still image so simple editing software allows for zooming in and out, panning left and right, tilting up and down, in effect animating what isn’t actually moving. Textual material, like a bulleted list, can be created in Word and screen captured to the .jpg format to lay over your voice. Again, if you can’t or don’t choose to do this, a professional editor with access to your files (via Dropbox or similar file transfer services) can produce a finished product for a couple to a few hundred dollars.

Your Video is Done – What Now?

When it comes to putting video online there are multiple choices but only two categories. You either own the platform or you don’t, e.g. your website versus YouTube. The distinction will likely matter to you some of the time. If your video is a how-to piece you might choose to spread it far and wide. If it’s a branded piece you might choose not to expose it to competitor video popping up when yours ends, as is quite common with YouTube.
Video producers commonly use commercial hosting providers to serve their files. The file is uploaded once. The host re-encodes the original to provide versions suitable for diverse screens. What plays in glorious high definition on a modern desk-or laptop won’t work on a 3G mobile device. So the video’s owner elects to copy something called “embed code” from the host site. That code may be pasted into any owned space, including your website and any blog space associated with your site. If you want it available on YouTube, Vimeo or elsewhere you’ll have to upload a file and let them take care of serving in properly to different devices. If you have no access to commercial hosting, because you aren’t ready to incur that expense or because you didn’t involve outside help in the production, you can take the embed code YouTube offers to make your video play in you website or blog. You can also upload a video file to your Facebook page and link to it in a Tweet. Ensure you take advantage of whatever metrics are available to you, from the simple “# of views” on YouTube to the more detailed information available via the commercial host. For example, what percentage of viewers watched the full piece? Where did viewers start dropping out? This can be very helpful in deciding where to place calls to action – never wait until the end for a call to action. Half your viewers may not get there.

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