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January 2009
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Getting Started With Online Videos

In a previous post, we briefly mentioned using technology to increase sales, as well as the fact that 94% of Internet users report that they watch online videos with some frequency.  Additionally, a recent Neilsen report estimates that people will spend 46% more time watching online videos this year.  Since these numbers are sure to only increase in the future, and getting started with online videos is cheap and easy to do, its a great time to consider adding some videos to enhance your web presence.  

You don’t need a lot of equipment or a fancy studio to create videos that will demonstrate and market your products.  All you really need is a webcam and a plan.  Here are some tips to help you get started:

Keep It Simple – Start by producing a short clip, perhaps a 20-30 second introduction to your business, or welcome to your site.

Determine Your Goals – Is your goal to educate users?  Entertain them?  Give information on specific products?

Look At Your Budget And Resources – A webcam can easily be used for seated videos, however you may need a digital video camera for other types of shots, like how-to pieces or “on location” sites.  Inexpensive cameras can be purchased for around $100 these days.  Although the quality will not be top notch, it will be more than suitable for the Internet.  

Create A Simple Studio – Select a corner or small area of your house, store or office and plan your lighting.  If your space is not already well-lit, you can purchase a couple of inexpensive clip-on style work lights for less than $10 each that will solve that problem.  You may also choose to use a green screen (simply hang some green fabric on the wall behind your shot) along with some video software to easily change backgrounds, create professional voiceovers, and add effects like fade-ins and fade-outs.  We recommend Pinnacle Studio (around $140) and Vegas Movie Studio (around $50).

Write A Script – Although I don’t recommend that you read while taping, you should definitely prepare a script in advance to be sure you get all your main points across in the proper order.  Practice in front of a mirror or friend or co-worker, then start filming once you’ve got the basics down.  Keep it short and don’t be afraid to add some humor if possible.  You don’t need to be a comedian, just keep it fun!

Go Viral – Once you’re happy with your video you should post it to online video sites like YouTube, Vimeo and iFilm.  It is free to upload videos to these sites, it takes only a few minutes to post your videos, and this will allow you to greatly increase your audience.

Plan Your Next Videos – Make a list of the future videos that you’d like to create and plan the order that will work best for you.  Make a goal that will fit your schedule, say one new video short a month, or a quarter, whatever will work best for you.  Continue to expand your video library by adding “how to” type clips using products that you sell. 

Given the growing demand from web users for instant information and ever more product data, in addition to increasing connection speeds and computer processing power, a small investment in video content now can have a dramatic future payoff for your business.

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