“And that’s a wrap!”
I just finished creating my own promo video for my new book. Man, was it ever a great opportunity to practice what I preach, and remember just how challenging it can be to manage my own brand and business.
But, at the end of the day, I LOVE MY VIDEO!!! And, I want you to love your video, too…. So, before I forget and while it’s all still fresh in my brain, here are 10 key things to review before making your next video.
1. Purpose: Why do you need a video?
(Define your CTA)
We are all told these days about the power of the “play button”. Videos can be an incredible way to tell a story, share our brand, create a personal connection with our audience.
But, as great a video can be for your business, the opposite is also true. A poorly produced video can make you look amateur, ambiguous and awkward. Forget that, right?
So, first things first, determine exactly WHY YOU NEED A VIDEO. What is a specific result you’d like to achieve? Make it laser-specific. 1000 new subscribers? 50 new sales? 10 new leads? 40 reviews? This is what’s called your “Call to Action” or CTA.
Determine this goal, and make sure everything else you do with this video project drives towards this target. This will be essential when you get to the editing process.
No easy way to say this: you get what you pay for. Videographers’ pricing varies greatly, but you should expect to pay somewhere between $2000-$5000 for a single great video that runs between 1:30 minutes to 4 minutes in length. Considering this asset may be the first impression prospective clients or customers see of your business, you want to determine the maximum you can invest in this project and know with confidence that it’s well worth the expense.
Now, I’m not saying it isn’t possible to spend less. Perhaps you can trade with a great videographer. Perhaps you can find a young talent who’s tremendous and willing to charge less. My point is that this is not an area to bargain shop or haggle. Invest in the quality you can afford.
With a quality videographer, there are ways to keep costs down. Shoot less days, fewer locations. Arrange your own makeup and hair (if you know what you’re doing… see #6). Shoot in a location that doesn’t require any booking fees or permits (like your home). Ask for a reliable friend to be on set as an assistant so the videographer doesn’t have to pay for one. Ask your videographer for additional suggestions, but DON’T try to lower his or her price. You want him or her to feel respected and inspired by your project from the beginning!
3. Clarity: Who’s managing the project
This is huge. Ultimately, you are. This is your business, your brand, your message. You need to be the final voice of approval. But, you also want to be able to trust your videographer to take charge and do those things, like lighting or sound, that you may know nothing about.
I can not stress enough that this conversation needs to happen in the beginning. Ask your videographer for clarity. Ask for a written Agreement, if possible, explaining how the process works EXACTLY. When can you expect a first version after shooting? How many revisions do you get? Who is in charge of telling the story or creating the script? What do you need to do, if anything, to secure locations?
Take the time to walk through the entire process from now until you receive a finished video, so you know what to expect, make adjustments, and can ask questions.
4. Script and Story
These are not the same thing. Your video project will start with a script and end with the story.
The SCRIPT describes the words that are spoken, perhaps with added notes and directions for visual cues you’d like to see. The script is a word doc created, either from you or someone on your team, crafting your message in as few words as possible, and ensuring that you include your CTA (see #1). What are the words you will say?
The length of your video shouldn’t be longer than 4 minutes (and should be as short as :30 seconds if you can make it… The shorter, the better!). So you need to create a script that will fit inside this time window.
You want to rehearse and memorize your script. I mean, for HOURS AND HOURS. You want to be able to say the words on the page as if you were speaking in real time, naturally, generating new thoughts, accounting for breaths and pauses, all while monitoring the time (so your video doesn’t sneak into 8 minutes!) . You want to come across as comfortable and candid, while maintaining your key message and purpose. Rehearse in the shower, rehearse out loud in the car, rehearse during your morning jog, and rehearse in front of a spouse or friend (so you can get nervous jitters out in public). Remember the Carnegie Hall joke and practice, practice, practice.
Here’s what my script looked like. I was as detailed and specific as possible, taking the time to communicate what I wanted for each moment. Notice the color-coded legend indicating graphics, emphasis, shot requests. All helpful parts of the script, if you can muster it. You probably do have these ideas in your head of how you’d like your video to look, and taking the time to write them into your script as cues or comments helps your videographer tremendously.
The STORY is the final combination of script, visual environment, action, sound (including music), graphics (if you add titles) and editing. The story introduces emotion, drama, connection. Oftentimes a powerful message can be conveyed without words (think Budweiser’s famous puppy commercials), so you may find you can reduce the script copy even further by developing your story.
Crafting a story may be the most challenging aspect of making a video. Your videographer will help shape the story with you based on taking what he or she shoots with the camera(s), and cutting the clips into an order that reinforces the script. You could create infinite stories from the same script, so here’s where you’ll want to get your voice heard.
A good videographer is also a good storyteller, but you’ll want to have active input to oversee this process. This is your brand, your script, your CTA, your message. Make sure the story and script are in line with what you imagined or want.
Take some time here to sit back and watch your video as if you’re watching a movie. Do you care? Are you inspired? I like to ask my closest inner posse to watch and make note of anywhere they lose interest, or any spot that stands out to them in a negative way. Fix those moments until a viewer stays engaged and interested the entire way through!
If you’ve hired a good videographer but don’t like how the process is going, or aren’t happy with how it looks, you probably could benefit from more planning. The more you plan, the more you will love your video. It’s never too late to add in more planning!
Schedule enough time – more than you need – to shoot. Clear your calendar for the day so you are relaxed and are able to enjoy HOW MUCH FUN THIS IS. Save time for the details. Get some delicious drinks and snacks for the “set”. Pick up fresh flowers. Carve out time to lint-roll your blouse one more time.
Go over the script and add even more notes. Rehearse more. Look over other videos you love and examine WHY love them. Share this with your videographer, so he or she sees your vision and preferences.
Planning is your friend, and it almost guarantees every other step I mention will be even better. Look over #6 and see what items you can plan for in advance!
6. Shoot Day
Ok, so the big day is here. Here are the things you want to have prepared for Shoot Day:
- A fabulous outfit. Buy one if you don’t have one. Perhaps if you are only shooting the top half of your body, you just need a fabulous top, but make sure of this!
- Hair and makeup. This applies to both men and women! Make the hair appointment, get the close shave, make sure your make-up is impeccable.
- Avoid anything distracting. Make sure not to wear too much make-up, wear subtle jewelry that doesn’t call too much attention, make sure your face is matted and not shiny (bald heads count!). You want to look fabulous but not like you are trying too hard.
- Sit up straight or stand. I swear, this makes all the difference. You want to come across as having energy! If you slump in your chair or get too comfortable, your energy drops and so does your message. Trust me. This also makes you look thinner and more attractive, so there’s that.
- Check the camera. When you’re all set, and the videographer has his camera where he likes it, lighting and sound checked, film a few seconds and ask to see it. YOU WANT TO APPROVE THE FRAME BEFORE YOU SHOOT.
- Check the entire frame. Look around and behind you. Any weird items that should be moved? Flowers that look like they’re growing out of your head? Move them. Light switches? Cover them. Mic cords showing? Hide them. Take this time to PA– USE, ADJUST, APPROVE. This will save you from having to reshoot!
- Use the rule of thirds. Make sure you’re not smack-center in the frame. Your videographer should know this, but just check that you are slightly off to the left or right. We like this better.
- Take 2-3 different shots of you speaking. Make sure your videographer shoots a few different angles or distances of the same script. Talking heads are boring, so a videographer can compensate by creating “movement” in his camera. This compliments the story and makes you look a lot more interesting.
- Shoot more than you need. Best tip of all. Always better to leave unused footage on the cutting room floor than to kick yourself for not getting that shot you knew you’d want. Think you nailed it? Shoot it one more time for safety!
7. Happiness & Joy Standard
You want to LOVE your video. You want to want to show it to everyone. You want to sit there and watch it over and over and over and feel like it gets better and better every time you watch it. This is the goal, and you deserve to feel this way from your investment.
Keeping this in mind, I encourage you to never give in to those voices (we all have) that make you doubt yourself, that keep you from saying what’s on your mind, from asking for what you want, from telling the videographer something he or she might not like or agree with, from changing your mind.
You have to live with this video, no one else does. You are making the investment. You deserve to love the result. Just as if you were getting married, speak now or forever hold your peace. This is the time you get to speak up loud and clear, so you and your video can live happily ever after!!
8. Revisions & Edits
This ties right back to #1. The final process of editing the story can go on and on, unless you and your videographer have clarity and a plan. Personally, I think it’s reasonable to expect 3-4 revisions. That leaves space for a first draft (1), a significant revision (2), a final draft (3) and final tweaks (4). I don’t think it’s fair to expect the videographer to give endless revisions, as each one takes him or her many hours to do (plus time for rendering). For this reason, be very careful with your notes. Present each version to your inner trusted posse of “feedbackers”. Sit with each version and collect your notes all together… Don’t rush to give notes that might be incomplete.
And, remember your original purpose?? Does your video do what you need it to do? Is your CTA clear? Could it be clearer? This is the most important driving force behind your notes.
9. Graphics: Intros & Outros
Don’t forget to include a logo, your website, and any other key titles. These will most likely be graphic images you need to provide the videographer. If he or she offers to do them, you need to confirm they are branded appropriately within your style guide.
Make sure any fonts used, any colors, any animation or special effects compliment your brand! Again, since this may be a viewer’s first impression of your brand, you don’t want to introduce a look and feel that isn’t YOU.
If your videographer can’t produce this to your liking or standard, you’ll need to provide him or her with PNG or PSD titles, and specific instructions about where they go. Ask for any specs your designer will need (image size, file size, etc.). This detail is worth it to keep the integrity and consistency of your brand!
10. I have a video, now what? Where to share.
Phew. Ok, you’ve gone through the detailed process of planning, shooting and editing. You LOVE your video! Now, what do you do with it? After all, the whole point was to have an asset to use to grow your business, right?
Here are some ideas:
- Embed on your website’s home page. If appropriate, give it prime real estate so it will be seen upon landing on your website. DON’T have it play automatically, if there’s sound!!!
- Upload to YouTube. If appropriate, add to your YouTube Channel for your business. Add a title and description that are optimized with searchable key words. Add your website url to the description. Feature this video on your YouTube Channel so it prominently displays.
- Create a teaser version. If more appropriate, create a shortened version and upload that on social platforms instead. That way, you can tease the viewer. In the description (or perhaps with titles or captions) you can tell the viewer where they can view the entire video.
- Share on social. Upload the video to your business Facebook Fan Page. Share on Facebook to your friends and fans, share on Twitter, share on your business’ Google + page. Write an email via Mailchimp (or your CMS) and show off the video. Write private emails saying how much you love your video and giving the link to your home page where they can view it.
- Write a blog post with your video. In addition to having on your home page, you can also write a blog post about the subject matter of your choosing (relevant of course) and include your video. Then share that blog post socially to increase viewership. I did that here, if you hadn’t noticed…
- Advertise with video. These days you can promote a video easily on YouTube, Facebook, Google AdWords. This costs money, so be sure to be clear if you are being charge per view or per click, and keep an eye on your budget.
Hope this fires you up to go make a killer video of your own! Did you find this useful? I’d really love to hear from you if you did. Or, have further suggestions? Let’s hear them!
So, here’s my recent finished video!!! I LOVE IT!!! Whadya think?
Gosh, there’s actually a lot more I could say on this subject. We didn’t even get to video stats and metrics, so you know if your video is effectively doing what you wanted it to do….
If you haven’t yet, check out How to Manage Your Own Website for the full version covering this and … everything else.