The following is an archived post from April 2012...
Have you ever thought about making a video series for your creative endeavor? I recently finished my own series, iNDie Chats. I thought it’d be similar to blogging… but turns out video can be a lot more complicated.
I loved making videos and talking to the talented, thoughtful women who joined me. And if I could do this for the rest of my life, I would (watch out, Oprah!). But boy — video ain’t no joke. Here is some step-by-step advice if you’re looking to create a video series to highlight your product or your expertise.
Find a production partner and an editing partner.
While it’s easy to just set up a camera and edit in iMovie, if you really want to look polished – bring in the right partners.
I was lucky to have Sarah Deragon of Portraits to the People filming in her studio and Karrie Myers-Taylor of Videokard to help me with the final edits. While there are some things I’ll tweak in the future (better audio, maybe some visuals behind us in the studio), having professionals make things look great is key.
Hair and makeup.
I treated all my guests to hair and makeup (at the urging of Sarah, who was right times 100 on that!). Why? So guests would feel confident on camera and could focus on what they wanted to share, not on how they looked. While I have no doubt all our guests are confident, gorgeous women (they are), hair and makeup gave them one less thing to worry about.
If you’re doing a series, consider the batching approach. I researched and scripted all at once, filmed all at once, edited all at once, and wrote the blogs all at once. Yes, we filmed at the end of April and released starting in July, but it was more efficient in the long run. (My hair and makeup changed throughout, but my rock star black nail polish stays intact!). There is a reason a factory assembly line made for an industrial revolution.
I talked to each guest well before the filming day. This gave me a sense of their personality and what they loved (aka, the topics they would feel at ease talking about on camera). From there I gave them a follow-up email with three things I wanted to cover before they arrived. Knowing what you are going to focus on before you’re under the lights allowed us to jump right into content. It also saves a post-production headache later — because the flow makes it easier to edit.
Introduce at the end.
How weird is it to talk about your own business? When talking to guests, I decided to jump into content first, and ask each guest to talk about herself at the end. The viewer gets to juicier content more quickly (people drop off in the first 10 seconds, so hook them fast), AND the guest is warmed up and can more easily talk about who they are. (This was advice I got from Kate Koeppel at SkillExchange who sadly couldn’t make the show, but I was so damn thankful she told me this!)
Keep the viewer engaged.
I used both verbal and visual cues to keep the content relevant to the viewer throughout. I wanted viewers to feel like you were there listening! It’s really hard to keep viewers engaged in watching other people talk. You’ll hear “what this means for indie brands” cues, and you see title cards that give you clear direction on the points that will mean something to you as an indie brand. I also outlined highlights in the blog so that people knew what they were getting from the video, giving me a few minutes of their day to watch my content.
Find the right creative partner.
My intro sequence, titles, and iNDie Chats identity helped create a visual continuity that keeps viewers interested and inspired. It’s a major investment, but it can do a lot for your series. If you can’t afford a designer, then beg, trade, bite the bullet, and pay — or agree to marry them. In my case, it was the latter. (Thanks Tim for always bringing the good stuff!)
I can’t state this enough. Video is hard. You are looking at yourself (literally) in a whole new lens when you see it coming through the screen. I had moments of euphoria and moments where I was a puddle. And here’s that story:
I had made an intro video and spent hours of my own time editing it. It was me introducing the series — looking straight into the camera and talking a big game. My creative partner Tim (in work and life) took one look at it and goes, “This isn’t you.” And you know the hardest part of hearing that? He was so, so right. I cried. I had spent so long on it only to realize…I was acting like Nicole and not being Nicole. I’d rather scrap it than post something that is off brand.
When you are in business for yourself, there is the authentic you, the performing you, and the business you. To be all of them all at once makes for great video. But good lordy, it ain’t easy. And I’m not saying I am there by any means…but I can’t wait to make more of these and get even better (budget willing).
So fire up the camera. Dive in. Find a way to make a video series that feels authentic to you and go for it.