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.
The In-House Business Video Production Process to Make Video Content Fast and Easy
Video is the hottest type of content on the internet right now. If you want to reach the largest audience, and to engage them, creating video content is no longer an option.
I’m 100% for blogging, and I think it’s a long way from dead. However, YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine in the world, and it’s gaining ground. Yet, a lot of people completely ignore it because they aren’t comfortable creating video content.
But, take a look at all the major platforms of the world and you will see video everywhere. Facebook is pushing video. Instagram is pushing video, and even launched a TV slot inside their platform for longer-form video content. And, of course, YouTube is a traffic behemoth with more search traffic than Bing or Yahoo.
But, a lot of businesspeople think video content has to cost $5,000 for a produced video. Those who try to “cut the corner” and get cheaper videos rely on the cartoons from places like PowToon, and hope that that will suffice. All along, creating video content is super easy.
All you need is a process and a willingness to try, and you can create great business videos quickly, and inexpensively in-house.
The Essential Business Video Production Process
Don’t mistake video content for commercials or infomercials. Video content cannot be cheesy, disingenuous self-promotional commercials (I’m looking at you Chevy). Instead, you should think of video content as you think of your blog content.
The process is the same! The content is the same. Only the medium has changed.
If you follow this process, you can create great, engaging videos. And, you can take advantage of the massive amounts of traffic YouTube is waiting to send your way.
Step 1: Decide On Topics
When you write a blog post, the first thing you do is decide what you’re going to write about. We advocate for creating content that answers a specific question your prospective customer is asking at all stages of the buyer journey. I recommend you create video content that does the same thing.
Consider the most powerful topics your prospect will be interested in: these are his fears, and his concerns. If you can address those in a video, you will find traffic and leads.
Step 2: Decide on the Setting
No, you don’t have to go build a Hollywood set. Still, the “setting” of your video is important. The environment of the subject has a huge impact on the audience, and can even affect their emotions.
For example, if your set puts the subject up high, and he is looking down on the camera, it gives the viewer a sense of being small and overpowered. If the subject is shot square on against a flat wall, it gives the feeling of being trapped… we even have a figure of speech, “my back’s against the wall.”
You don’t want to accidentally pick a setting that will have a negative emotional impact on your audience. If you do, they will not be open to your message like you want them to be.
Your setting should be interesting, in that it gives a context for the content of the video. Or, at the very least, it doesn’t subtract from it. In the example above, the video is not shot against a wall with a person just giving facts. Instead, they are outside, obviously, by the pool.
Your background shouldn’t be distracting. And, it shouldn't be obviously fake. Some people think they can green screen themselves into a super-shiny office setting… just don’t.
Step 2: Get the Right Equipment
Right off the bat, it’s important to understand that content is king, and the equipment is secondary. No amount of bells and whistles will make a boring video interesting. And, even if you do make it interesting, bad content won’t help to build a relationship with your audience. You’ll be wasting your time.
This is good news! It means you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on equipment. You just need equipment good enough that it doesn’t detract from your story. And, that’s getting cheaper by the day!
I listed this first because audio is notoriously hard to tackle, especially for a beginner. And, the first thing that will distract your audience is bad audio. If you’re in a room that is super echoey, your audio is going to be gross.
Your smartphone can get great video quality these days. But, audio requires intentionality.
Recording Audio for Business Video - Wistia Blog
I listed this second because lighting can make a huge impact on your video quality. If you have poor lighting, even expensive cameras can look bad. On the contrary, if you have great lighting, even cheap cameras can look amazing!
The good news is that video lighting is getting very cheap. My favorites are the LED lights you can order from Amazon.
Seriously, this is not just hyperbole, if you own a Google Pixel 3, or an iPhone Xs, or anything anywhere near comparable, you can capture amazing video. You don’t need a RED or BLACKMAGIC camera to get quality video.
The Pros and Cons of Using Cell Phones:
The pros are that it’s inexpensive, you can shoot in high quality (normally 4k), and have very little setup. The cons are that you have somewhat limited control over the video style. For example, you can’t change lenses like you can with a DSLR to manipulate the style of the shot.
The Pros and Cons to Using DSLRs:
DSLR’s are great, and give you greater levels of control over your footage. There really are no cons to using DSLR’s that I can think of, except for the costs involved. Just a quality lens can cost more than a cell phone.
My Favorite DSLR:
If you’re looking for a DSLR, you can’t go wrong with the Panasonic GH5. I love this camera. It shoots in 4k, shoots extreme slow motion, and has in-body stabilization, which means you don’t need gimbals to get smooth hand-held shots. I love this camera. I wish I had 5 of them.
A Newer Exciting Option:
The DJI Osmo Pocket is a sweet little piece of equipment. It shoots 4k video, and has a built-in gimbal. It produces great quality, and movement is silky smooth. The only downside is the audio isn’t as clean as it could be. But, if you use an external audio recorder, this palm-sized video camera may become the standard for low-budget video shooting.
And, it’s only $349!
Everything is getting cheaper, and this included professional-level editing software. You can get Adobe Premier on Creative Cloud for as low as $19 per month. A great thing about Creative Cloud, is that you can also get After Effects, which allows you to download really awesome bells and whistles templates, like animated logo stings, etc. You can see all kinds of templates here.
If you’re a Mac user, you may prefer to shell out the $300 and get Apple’s Final Cut Pro (my choice).
If you want simple editing, both Windows and OS X come with free options that are pretty robust. You don’t have to break the bank to edit professional video anymore.
STEP 3: Writing a Script
This is another area people overthink when it comes to creating business videos. You don’t have to produce a movie, but you should create a video that answers a question, concern or fear. Most businesses already have blog content along these lines.
One of my favorite thing to do is find high-performing blog posts, and use them as a basis for a video script. In reality, it’s as simple as making a video version of the blog post. However, you don’t want to just read the blog post, that would be boring. Instead, you want to tweak it so that the script works for the medium of video.
Note: Write Scripts For Conversation
I see a lot of business videos where it’s obvious people are reading a script. Remember, the video is the closest thing to a real-life, in-person experience. We don’t want to meet people who read their side of the conversation to us. We want them to communicate.
If you can write a script that sounds like you’re speaking naturally, by all means, do it. But, if you find yourself stale, boring, and dry, try ditching the script-reading. Instead, use the blog post as an outline, and then just wing it. It takes practice, but sometimes winging it feels much more natural. It will add work to the editing process, more than likely. However, it can make for a much more interesting video, and much easier to let your personality shine through.
Step 4: Shoot The Video Footage
A lot of newer video marketers rely on their editing ability too much, and they shortcut the shoot. But, if you shoot great footage, it makes production much faster. There are a few things you should be mindful about when you shoot:
GET GOOD EXPOSURE
First, make sure your exposure is good. You don’t want your subject too dark, nor do you want them blown out and too bright. If you’re using an iPhone, exposure is usually handled automatically. If you’re using a DSLR, you may have to make some manual adjustments. If you can’t figure out the camera adjustments, try adjusting your lights instead.
GET THE AUDIO
Second, make sure you’re getting good clean audio. The secret is usually to get the microphone as close to the subject as possible. You may have to get creative, but getting the microphone closer is one of the easier ways to clean up the audio. If it doesn’t detract from the video, it’s okay to have the microphone in the frame as a piece of the set. Just make sure you’re getting the audio recorded.
I’ve spent hours shooting videos in the past, and the microphone was turned off. So, I had to go back and reshoot all the footage.
Don’t make that mistake.
GET ENOUGH FOOTAGE
Third, shoot more footage than you think you’ll need.
Record earlier and don’t cut it so quickly after a take. Let the camera run on the front and the back. Then, grab plenty of B-Roll footage you can use. These B-Roll clips can be lifesavers when you have to clip together two takes into a single scene.
Step 5: Making the Edit
There are a ton of different styles you can use to create great business videos. My favorite is the jump-cut style video. It makes the shoot so much easier because you can record line-by-line if necessary, rather than having a long single-shot clip.
When you do the jump-cut video, you simply remove all the “breathing” gaps in your video. This makes the video much choppier, and has a punch and tempo that, to me, makes the video more interesting.
One great secret for getting the right frame in the edit is to shoot in 4k, but back out. Rather than shooting how you want it to look on-screen, shoot farther back. This will give you a wider shot, but since it’s in 4k, you can zoom in digitally without losing quality.
For the most part, there’s no need to produce 4k video. 1080p is still sufficient for business video, and you don’t gain much by uploading 4k quality video. The downside is 4k video clips are huge, which will slow down your editing, and the rendering of your final video.
That means all the 4k footage you shoot will be scaled down anyway. So, taking advantage of the digital framing option 4k gives you is a win-win.
Step 6: Publishing the Video
There’s a variety of platforms to publish on, but for this article, we’ll talk about publishing on YouTube. The great thing about YouTube is that it’s a massive search engine, second only to Google itself. And, built-in to the video listing pages is a lot of opportunities to drive SEO traffic.
Much like blog posts, your video titles are very important. They should be compelling and include a keyword you want to rank for.
YouTube gives you a lot of real estate to write a video description. This is your chance to really give them content to help in the rankings. You should include an overview of the video, make sure to sprinkle in some keyword variations of the phrase you’re trying to rank for, and include some links back to the original blog post.
Don’t shortcut this. Tags are super important to the YouTube ranking algorithm. So, take your time to choose and use as many tags as possible that are relevant to the topic. Make sure the keywords you’re trying to rank for are added as tags to the video.
When your video goes live, it’s important to build some external signals to help it rank. One great way to do this is to embed it in a blog post. If you followed the idea of turning your top blog posts into video content, this means the blog post is already getting traffic. Embedding the video into the post ensures it is going to get some notice from an interested audience, and probably a lot of plays as well. This will help it rank higher in YouTube the more views it can get.
Making Video Content Work
It takes the same secret sauce to make great business marketing videos as it does to make great blog posts. The bottom line is that content is still king. Bells and whistles are great if you’re Peter Jackson, but if you’re looking to drive ROI for business, the content matters so much more than the frame rates, equipment, and polish of the video.
So, double-down and repurpose your best content into video format. And, then watch as you start to rank your content on the 2nd largest search engine in the world, and watch the traffic and leads pour in.
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