It was only a couple of years ago that video was just coming onto the scene as a way of marketing yourself and I was secretly hoping it would never gain a foothold because I hate being on camera.
Now video is being touted as one of the main ways to get your content out there and connect with your audience (and I still don’t like being on camera.
It’s not very surprising considering how much the internet world has changed over the last couple of years. No longer can you be “anonymous” online. There are more solopreneurs than ever and people view hiring service professionals a very personal thing.
Prospects want to know exactly who you are and what you’re about – and whether they resonate with you. Because, if not there are plenty of others out there that fit the bill!
Video is the best way to convey all 3 of those things because people can actually see you face to face, and thus – video is here to stay and needs to be a part of your marketing strategy.
But where do you start?
The great thing about video is that it’s pretty easy to get started with. All you need is a camera (like your phone) some editing software (which comes with most operating systems these days) and you’re good to go.
Or at least that is what many experts will tell you.
Like any other form of marketing, your videos are a reflection of your brand and need to be done right or they could hurt your credibility. Just like your website, people are judging your video quality as an indicator of the quality of your business the more high end they appear, the more high end your brand appears.
The good news is that high quality videos are super easy to produce with a few pieces of extra equipment.
Most phones capture great video these days so that’s not a problem. What they don’t do is pick up sound very well unless they’re being held by your mouth. The same goes for most hand held video cameras which have about a 2ft range for good sound – so unless you want the video to be mostly focused on your nose a lapel mic is a great investment and should only run you about $20-$30.
Lighting is the achilles heel of video. Without the right lighting your video is going to come out either really grainy, or you’re going to look really shiny. My studio light kit cost $150 and has two soft boxes along with a hair light which works well for green screen. And they were super easy to set up.
You can use your lights with a screen which I’ll talk about in a moment, or just to light you in your house “set”. This allows you to control the light where you’re shooting.
When I first started doing video I had to do it in front of a window and could only shoot during about 1 hour a day that the light was optimal… and what time that was would change along with the seasons and weather. Now I can shoot whenever, wherever I want.
The biggest benefit of lights is that it’s really the key to making your video look professional, and you don’t necessarily need 3 like I have if you aren’t doing green screen 1 “soft box” will go a long way in most settings.
If you have a nicely appointed house or office then a “home” setting is great for your videos. If you’re like me and live in a tiny apartment with a temporary office setup then having a muslin background will be your saving grace.
They run about $10-$20 (get one that is about 9-10ft wide) and I recommend getting one in black, white, or green. I personally prefer the green screen because then I can put whatever color or background behind me.
You can hang your muslin up on a wall with a curtain rod, or for a bit more you can get a stand for it. Just be aware that the stands take up a lot of space so you’ll need a large room, and storing them isn’t as easy.
4. Video editing software:
If you’re not doing green screen then the software that comes with your computer is fine for nipping the head and the tail of your video (so you don’t see yourself turning the camera on and off).
If you want to use green screen (or “chromakey” as it’s technically called) I recommend Camtasia which I personally LOVE and is very easy to use. You can also use this for screen capture and adding effects to your videos to punch them up a notch. Plus it’s not very expensive.
For Mac I believe it runs about $97 and if you do a search for “Camtasia coupon” you can usually find a promo code for $50 off. I believe the PC version is slightly pricier- but has a load more options.
For obvious reasons this is necessary for those of us shooting our own videos (ie. we don’t like people watching us when we’re trying to record). You can get a decent one for about $20. And by the way, if you shoot a video and it still looks shaky try turning off your “motion correction” setting on your camera.
I left this one for the end because quite honestly most of you probably have a camera already that will work just dandy for video. If your phone shoots in HD then you’re good to go, iPads work fine as well. I use a Kodak Zi8 which is a little hand held camera that has a hookup for an external mic.
And this should be enough to get you going. So let’s total this up, a professional “studio” with all of the bells and whistles will run you about $270 including everything I’ve mentioned above (minus the camera) and some of this you may already have or don’t necessarily need.
So do you really need a video studio?
If you want to use video in your marketing strategy then I’d say make the small upfront investment to do them right. It will quickly pay itself back in brand perception and building trust with your prospects.
Many experts will say that you can just shoot videos casually and it’s more “authentic” but if you look at those with high profile brands that are seriously using video even the casual ones still look professional and that’s due to having simple equipment like what I have listed here.
Having this equipment on hand will go a long way in helping you get started with your video strategy. It’s much more encouraging to produce videos when they aren’t a ton of work and you look great because of the professional touches.
PS. All of the pricing is from Amazon where all of these things can be found and usually with free shipping.© Copyright 2013 Holly Chantal