Ryan's experience ranges from higher education to SMBs and tech startups. When not doing digital marketing, he's sure to be enjoying some kind of nerdy pastime.
Unless you’ve been locked away on Mars, growing potatoes in your makeshift greenhouse, you’ve noticed that video is the content of the future.
Actually, even if you’re on Mars, you’re probably already making video blogs of your progress. So, you understand.
The truth is, everyone understands the need to develop video content. The problem is that businesses don’t know how to get it done. They have meetings about it. Everyone says, “yes, let’s do it.” And, they can even put it on the calendar. But, months pass and no videos get posted. It’s just too hard.
Well, it doesn’t have to be that way.
You can create great video content that gets views, and attracts leads, without investing big on equipment or spending weeks for a single video. Creating great video content is really easy, and in this blog post, I’m going to show you exactly how you can spit out videos like potatoes and ketchup. (If you’re on Mars, and that’s all you have to eat, I apologize.)
The Business Video Content Marketing Process
The first thing to do is to let go of your ideas that video is hard. It’s not. Most people feel like they have to produce a Matt Damon feature, with effects and color grading, etc.. You don’t have to do any of that.
Get this if you get nothing else: make video content and publish it. Period.
It doesn’t have to be fancy. It doesn’t have to wow anyone with your edits, or your knack for polished transitions: leave that to the entertainers. When it comes to business content marketing, it’s the message that matters most.
Let me say: don’t post videos that suck. I’m not advocating for publishing videos that are trash. What I’m saying is that perfection is the enemy of execution. And, if you can get out of that mindset, you’ll take giant leaps in your ability to create great content.
Take a look at Seth Godin (marketing guru) and his Facebook Live streams. It’s funny!
Sometimes his assistant is hovering over him trying to get the stream going. It’s so unprofessional. But it doesn’t matter, because the quality of the video is good, the sound is clear and nice, and most importantly, Seth’s message is always on point.
If you have the best equipment and the best editor and the most attractive on-screen talent, but your message stinks, the video will stink. However, if you have a great message, you can shoot it on your iPhone with a selfie stick and crush it.
It’s that simple.
The 9-Step Video Process
This process assumes a lot of things, the most major is that you’ve already been creating blog content for at least a year. If you haven’t, all is not lost. You can still use most of this process. However, if you have an active blog, creating video content is going to be much, much easier.
Step 1: Pick Your Topics
Take a look at your blog going back 12–24 months. Find your best performing content, and list them out by priority. You can choose based on traffic or leads generated, etc.. The main thing is to take all your top performing blog content and make video versions of them.
Because blog content performs really well on Google. But, YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine in the world, and it’s growing in market share.
Your video content can show up in Google results, but your blog content will never show up in YouTube search results. So, you don’t need to re-invent the wheel.
If your blog posts are performing well, making a video version can be an easy way to double-down.
Step 2: Pick Your Style
There are countless styles of videos out there. For best performance, you should pick a consistent style so that your brand experience feels unified.
There are whiteboard videos like Rand Fishkin is famous for. There are “person in the room” videos, like Gary Vee does a lot. And, there are talking head videos like Seth Godin’s live stream. If you don’t like to see your face, you can also just make a slideshow and record your voice over it like a webinar.
The video we’re making from this blog post is a talking head (mine) with a few b-roll clips thrown in. I also use jump-cuts a lot to take out my “umms.” This is convenient because I can also cut out all my mistakes without trying to get everything right in a single take.
Watch a lot of video content and find the style that fits you and your brand the best. Then, stick with that style. You’re going to make a lot of videos, and you don’t need to be throwing a bunch of different experiences at your audience. Plus, doing the same thing over and over is easier on you.
Step 3: Pick Your Set
Don’t shoot business videos in your bathroom mirror. And, for goodness sakes, clean your office, Ryan.
The setting of your video is important because it impacts the feeling of the viewer. If you’re flat against a wall, the viewer is going to feel like you’re trapped. It’s subtle and psychological, but it’s true. When your back is against the wall, you’re trapped. Hollywood uses that particular shot only when they want the viewer to feel helpless and trapped.
You don’t want that.
If you’re shooting against a wall, do it at an angle. It gives your frame space to breath and feels better.
You want your setting to be interesting, but not distracting. So, if you have wild walls or a bunch of people in the background, it’s going to distract from the most important thing: the message.
Also, don’t use green screens to put yourself in some shiny little office. Leave the CGI to Andy Serkis.
For content marketing videos, if you’re not in front of a whiteboard like Fishkin, I prefer a shot from the desk. It’s businessy, and it shows the real world. Just be conscious of what you have on your computer screens if they show in the frame.
Step 4: Have Good Lighting
You don’t have to spend a ton, but the lighting makes a world of difference. With great lighting, your cell phone will produce a business video just as clear and crisp as a $5,000 camera. Most people can’t tell the difference, and normal people don’t care.
My favorite lighting setup is three LED’s around my desk. You can find them on Amazon, here.
But, for years I used clamp lights from Home Depot, with Florescent bulbs and a diffuser made of wax paper. It was cheap and ugly, but I’m the only one that ever saw them.
If you have a set you can keep setup at all times, using the 3-point lighting technique will give you the best looking footage.
Step 5: Capture Clean, Clear Audio
This is one of the most important steps. If your video is super high-def, but your audio is bad, people won’t watch. I hate when I see great framing, lighting, and camera equipment, but the audio is echoey and hissy… it’s unbearable.
Think of bad audio as a font that is really hard to read.
Regardless of how great your blog content is, if reading it is hard, I won’t read it.
Regardless of how great your video is, if I can’t hear it effortlessly, I won’t watch it.
A side-note: if you use background music, make sure it’s low enough that your voice is clearly heard, but not too low that people are thinking, “what is that noise in the background?”
It’s best to get your microphone really close, as close as possible. If it doesn’t look wonky, have it in the frame with you. If it does, get it just out of frame, but as close to the speaker as possible. It might make sense to get an external recorder if your camera is a long distance from the talent.
Here’s a great resource from Wistia on recording great sound:
Step 6: Create Your Script
This step depends on how you work best. Some people can just wing it. Others need a script to read.
Here’s the deal: if you wing it, don’t ramble. If you read it, don’t sound like you’re reading it.
Since you are creating these videos from already published blog posts, you can a basic script and outline already. So, it’s just a matter of getting the same content into the video.
My preferred method: The Fencepost Concept
When you’re walking down a fence line, you pass post after post. Sure enough, as you reach another post, there’s another one a little further down the line. You just keep following them, and you’ll get to the gate eventually.
I like to use an outline, and then wing it. I make sure I know the content so I’m not making junk up on the spot. But, I don’t read a script.
Because I’m a lousy actor.
Since I want to sound natural, I only script out the fenceposts. For example, in the video of this blog post, each of these points is a fencepost. So, I’ll talk about creating a script, but I won’t read what I’m typing here. I’ll do it from off my head (with a little preparation) as I’m filming.
That’s why I love jump-cut editing so much.
Some people can’t do that. So, memorizing a script is okay. But, do your best not to sound like you’re reading. It’s boring. Put some personality into it, and be a human.
Reading is what robots do. Talking with emotion is what humans do.
Step 7: Shoot the Video
Set up the camera, and just do it. Follow your script or your outline, and just get the footage.
It’s okay to take multiple takes. And, it’s okay to mess up. You can cover up a lot of mistakes with b-roll in post-production. Or, you can use jump-cuts to cut them out.
I set up the camera, and make sure my background looks great. I take a few minutes of footage to make sure I’m in frame, etc.
Then, I start shooting.
Since I do jump-cut style, I take it one fencepost at a time. If I stutter or stumble, I back up and start that sentence again. Then, once I’m done with that fencepost, I check my notes, reset, and take another fencepost.
Sometimes I do it without turning the camera off. I’ll have one long 20–30 minute clip for what becomes a 2–5 minute video.
Getting Good Footage:
Make sure the framing is good, and that you’re not too small or large in the frame.
Here’s a trick: Shoot in 4k, and publish in 1080.
Frame your shot using the viewfinder, then zoom out. It makes it look ugly, but back off a little. Then, when you’re editing, you can zoom in to the exact frame you want, and even zoom in for dramatic moments without losing quality.
There are rare reasons to ever publish business videos in 4k. But, if you shoot in 4k, it gives you a lot of extra quality to play with. You can zoom in almost 3X for a 1080 clip without losing any quality.
Also, check to make sure you are in focus. The most frustrating thing is shooting a long video, and then loading it into an editor to find that you were out of focus the entire time.
I need to stop and talk technical things for a second here. If you’re using an iPhone or Pixel to shoot your video, you can probably skip this step. However, if you’re using an advanced app, or you are shooting from a DSLR, this is good information to have.
Make Sure Your ISO is Good. ISO is like a volume knob for the camera’s eye. If you turn it up it makes the picture really bright. If you turn it down, the picture gets darker. Just like when you turn the volume too high and the sound gets fuzzy, if you turn your ISO too high, your picture will get grainy and fuzzy. So, pick the lowest ISO point where your shot looks natural. When shooting indoors with my 2.8 aperture lens, I try to keep my ISO between 200 and 400.
Make Sure Your Aperture is Good The aperture of your lens is like your iris in your eye. When the light is really bright, it shrinks down really small. When the light goes away, it dilates and gets real big to let in more light.
If you look inside your lens, there’s a ring that can get really wide, or make the hole really small. The basics are simple, the wider the aperture (lower the number) the wider the hole, and more light hits the sensor of the camera. The higher the number, the smaller the hole, and less light gets in.
So, if you’re in a darker room, having a wider aperture (lower number) is good. If you’re shooting outside in bright light, you’ll need to turn the aperture up so that the shot isn’t blown out.
I like shooting at the lowest aperture, which my go-to lens goes down to 2.8. I’ll explain why in a second, but having the lower aperture means that I can shoot in lower light without turning my ISO up too high.
A side note about aperture: it impacts your focus as well. When the aperture is wide (lower number) the focus length gets smaller. When you turn up the aperture to a higher number, the focus length gets longer. It’s called depth of field, and you can use it for your benefit.
When you see the videos with the subject in focus, but the background really nice and blurry (like in movies) it’s because they are using a shallow depth of field. In other words, their aperture is really wide. To do this, they often have to use a filter on their lens, kind of like sunglasses, because they want the wide aperture for the shallow depth of field, but the light is too bright.
Make Sure Your White Balance is Good
Last technical thing. If you want a video that looks natural, but you don’t have to spend a lot of time color correcting in post-production, make sure your white balance is set right.
There are all kinds of technical ways to set your white balance. It’s not THAT important. But, if you are using a DSLR, there are presets and automatic white balance. Either one is fine, just pick the one that makes your shot look most natural.
If you use auto white balance, be careful. The camera can freak out and adjust the warmth of the shot in the middle of a take, which makes the footage look weird… going from warm, to cool, to warm.
If you’re sitting still in a room, automatic will probably work fine. I prefer to just pick a preset that looks good and roll with it.
Step 8: Edit the Video
Some people fly through their shoot and spend hours in editing trying to make it look good. Editing is a lot easier if you get good footage that you don’t have to doctor.
Load all your “content” (A-Roll) footage into your editor. My favorite is Final Cut Pro, but Adobe Premiere CC is cheaper up-front. There are free editors out there as well, but the process will be the same.
Run through your footage and cut out and delete anything that is unusable.
Once that is done, you should have a timeline filled with usable clips. Now, you want to edit for story and style. If you’re using jump-cut editing, make sure that the clips align to tell the story you want to tell (delete the ones that don’t add value, etc) and then, cut out all the breathing frames, and the umms and ahs as well.
If you’re not using jump-cuts, make sure that the message is right, and align your clips for any transitions, layovers, or B-Roll footage you may want to use.
Sprucing it Up
Now that your message is right, it’s time to spruce it up. Add any extras you want to add, like logo stings, titles, or B-Roll footage.
If you want cool logo stings, I recommend using a template from VideoHive.net. You can also buy nice, professional titles from there as well.
Step 9: Publish the Video
This is very much like blogging: SEO is critical to getting views.
If you’re publishing a blog post, there are five elements that matter most: title, url, h1, image alt tags, and meta description. Here’s a blog post about that.
It’s the same when publishing to YouTube.
You need a great title. You need a great description. You need great tags. You need a great thumbnail.
If you get all those four right, your video will get views.
Making the Video Process Work
If you want to make great business content marketing videos, you need to think of it as a blog post in video form. That’s all it is.
We’ve got all kinds of content on our blog about blogging effectively. Every single one of our recommendations applies to making videos. The only difference is, it’s a video.
Just as you want a nice blog layout and an easy-to-read font on your blog, you need a video that looks and sounds pleasing. But, again, it doesn’t have to be perfect.
If you’ve been blogging for a while, you’ll have 10–100 posts that are outperforming all the rest. Remember, those posts won’t ever show up on the worlds 2nd largest search engine. So, take the post and duplicate them for video form. Use the same best practices and SEO tactics you would use for a blog post.
And, then publish the video.
It’s that easy.
There is a learning curve. And, it will take a few videos before you feel comfortable doing it. But don’t let your ideal of perfection keep you from publishing. Because, while you fret over the gear, and the script, and the perfect take, someone with an iPhone and a little bit of drive is beating you to the punch.
As Marcus Sheridan says, embrace the suck.
No one who ever did anything great was great out of the gate. They had to be horrible before they were great. And, if they weren’t willing to be horrible, they would have never been great.
So, publish some horrible videos. And, then do it again.
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