I have a special post for you today from Mary Beth Anderson of Junkdrawer Media! Junkdrawer Media is a new multimedia production company specializing in video for the web, and today Mary Beth is going to teach you how to use video to better your business! As indie crafters, you can use videos to present tutorials or build viral marketing campaigns that will show your business off to your customers in a contemporary and unique way. So, Mary Beth, take it away!
Wow, these days there are a million ways to connect with your customers and one way that seems to really be picking up speed is video. I think that in the next few years, video will become more and more common on company websites. It’s a great way to put an actual person to the face…ya know? Sure your photo might be on the main banner, and your “about” page is chock full of trivia about you and your products…but in this digital age, where you might never meet any of your customers face to face, a video brings you and your business to life, which in turn fosters brand loyalty.
At my company, Junkdrawer Media, my business partner and I spend our days concocting creative ways for our clients to develop videos that speak to their consumers in a dynamic and engaging way. We specialize in shmancy broadcast quality web videos, but I think that any business, large or small, should be taking the internet by the horns…and talking to their consumers directly with video.
The beauty of web videos is that they can be about anything; a short how-to demo, a verité style bio, a scripted film featuring your earrings made of rubber bands…whatever. There are no rules. Go crazy and have fun!
Sold yet? I hope so. And in that spirit, I present to you (drum roll please):
:: HOW TO MAKE A VIDEO ON THE CHEAP THAT WILL DRAW IN YOUR CUSTOMERS::
1. Come up with a plan
Don’t just turn on the camera and start blabbing away. Think about what you want to say, teach, or convey. Even if it’s a short little list of key points on a napkin…write it down and have it handy throughout your shoot. It will help you keep your thoughts organized and on track. I always like to start out with the basic…who, what, where, when, why and how? Don’t be afraid to think outside the box and let your creative juices flow!
2. Buy or borrow a camera
If there was one thing that I learned during my time working in TV, it was how to get something for nothing…so if your 2nd cousin has a cool DV camera that’s lying under his bed collecting dust, ask and see if he would lend it to you for a day. I bet he’d say yes…and almost guarantee he would help by manning the camera. If not, you’d be surprised at how inexpensive digital video cameras are these days. I think the flip camera (http://www.theflip.com/products.shtml) is a fantastic option when it comes to web videos. It’s a line of small cameras that plugs right into your computer when you’re done filming and make for easy editing! When I checked online they were on-sale for about $100 bucks. Not too shabby. Whatever you do….please, I implore you, don’t use your cell phone. Deal?
3. Shoot your video
Go ahead and push that red button! But before you do make sure you think about the following:
- Light ‘er up
-Be sure that you are in a well-lit area. I love natural light the best, outside if I can get it…but if you’re shooting a demo on how to make a tote bag with your custom screen printed fabric, that can be a little tough (although it never stopped me when I produced for Trading Spaces. I don’t know how many times I shot a sewing scene in a backyard!)
-Don’t shoot at noontime….the light is way too harsh; don’t shoot in your basement…way too dark.
-Make sure that the lighting is consistent, so if your face is in the sun, but your arms are in the shade, it’s gonna look weird.
-If worse comes to worse, go to your local hardware store and buy a flood light, point it in the corner of the room or up onto the ceiling (this can work really well if you have a white ceiling) That should fill out your lighting needs nicely. Just make sure it’s not too close to any surfaces, so as not to create intense heat or fire.
- Say what?
-Make sure that you are in a quiet area and your voice is coming through on the tape. I’ve seen so many gorgeous videos out there that sound like crap!
-Don’t shoot along side of a highway…unless, of course you’re pimping out your new glitter covered safety cones…and if that’s the case, BE CAREFUL OUT THERE!
-Keep your cell phones away from the cameras. Sometimes when a text message or call comes in it can screw up the frequency. And don’t forget to turn off your ringers.
-If you can, it’s always best to get an external microphone and use that rather than an onboard camera….just sayin’
- Be prepared
-If you’re making, let’s say, a how-to video about your hundred-step decoupage project….please, please, please pre-make some of those steps. Don’t torture your viewers with all the gritty details…graphics and recaps can really help here. There’s a reason why the phrase “and by the magic of television” exists.
- Don’t wear stripes and other rules of thumb
-Steer clear of white or black outfits…they tend to make you look washed out. Bold colors look best.
-Stripes, small checks, and gingham all create an effect on camera called a moiré. Pretty much this is video “noise.” So unless you want your shirt to look right out of 1969, I’d steer clear.
-Repeat after me: “Tripods are your friends”…so are any other stable surfaces. Don’t be afraid to balance your camera on the kitchen table so that you have a good, steady shot. Nobody wants to watch a video that looks like it was filmed on a rollercoaster (unless of course your featuring your new patchwork barf bags…in which case a rollercoaster would completely be in order)
-Don’t aim your camera around all wily nilly. If you’re shooting from left to right, make sure you go nice and sloooooow. What feels like forever in “real time” might seem way too fast once you start editing.
4. The cutting room floor
I try to watch all of my footage before I sit down to edit….sometimes I’ll even transcribe my tapes and tile out on paper what I want to include before I start cutting. That’s right people…I sit and write down every freakin’ word a person said while filming. (A little crazy I know, but ever so helpful) Whatever you do, keep it short and sweet, 3-4 minutes max. Any more, and your viewer might just click away. This can sometimes be the hardest part of the process! Also, don’t be afraid to add graphics and music. They really help move things along…
5. Post that puppy and make sure it’s viral!
Find a happy place on your website and put your video front and center. Then, post it on You Tube or Vimeo, tag it properly, and make sure all your blog readers, facebook friends, twitter followers, and great aunts and uncles know to tune in a get their “learn-on.” This is where the real potential for success lies. If people love your video and spread it around, then more people will know about that fabulous new product that’s for sale in your shop…and, well, the rest as they say, is history.
Here are some of my favorite ways that small businesses are using video out there on the web these days:
- A great example that just dropped into my RSS reader last week is Soap Queen TV. This new video series features Anne-Marie Faiola, CEO of Bramble Berry Soap Making Supplies. I think it’s a great example of how tutorial videos can drive people to purchase products from your company. I’m sure if I really wanted to make the soap that I saw on her series, I would just click over and buy from her because as a viewer I’ve formed a relationship with the company.
- Becker is a wedding photographer based out of Southern California. I feel like he is a brilliant utilizer of web video. While his blog is mainly aimed for wedding photographers and brides-to-be, his business model is tops. By using video as an asset on his site, he has developed more brand recognition and his business has expanded because of it. Today he is a premier authority on wedding photography, and in my opinion, it’s because of his web video series and bschool program. Becker is authentic and sincere in his videos. It seems he truly wants to help his peers, and by doing so, he’s improving his own reputation. I think this model could really translate in the crafty business world (I’m looking at you Etsy power sellers!!)
- One of my absolute favorite crafty videos out on the World Wide Web is Amy Karol from Angry Chicken’s “Bias tape tutorial (all by machine)” This video is about as low-fi as they come, but it’s totally effective, educational, and endearing. You never even see Amy on camera, but her personality totally reads….you gotta check this one out if you haven’t seen it yet.
- *editor's note: also check out my (Jena's) favorite crafty video from Little Brown Pen- it's an awesome example of viral marketing. They used it to get the name out about their business and it gave them a great boost of attention and sales!
Well, I hope this encouraged some of you who might be thinking about adding video to your site to take the plunge. And for those of you who are already adding this fantastic element to your url, kudos to you my friends. I must admit, I haven’t seen a ton of videos in the crafty world as of yet, but if there is one thing I’ve learned by being involved in this fabulous online community, is that ya’ll are super creative and are sure to impress. Happy filming!!
Mary Beth Anderson owns Junkdrawer Media, a full service multimedia video production company, with her fabulous partner in crime, Leslie Nichols. Together they create broadcast quality videos for the web. To the core they are storytellers and brand enthusiasts. Before they went all webby, they were television producers and their previous credits included Project Runway, Trading Spaces, Top Chef, the Food Network, the Travel Channel, National Geographic, TLC, A&E and many, many more! Check out their site and their blog and follow them on twitter to learn more.