5 Simple Ways to Get Started with Web Video

by Susan Murphy

There was a time when in order to create worthwhile video content, you had to invest in complex equipment, tie up resources for days on end, and then find ways to distribute the content by buying ad or informercial time on a TV network or making thousands of DVD and videotape copies. Video was cost prohibitive and time consuming, and it was difficult to gauge response or ROI.

The Web has changed all of that. Now, anyone with a camera and an Internet connection can post video online in just a few minutes, and distribute it to a worldwide audience. The cost, time and level of expertise required has plummeted. This is very good news for small businesses with limited resources.

Video is one of the most engaging ways to tell your story. The use of moving images, music, narration and text can inspire, inform and enlighten. There are lots of ways to get started with video, and we wanted to share some basic tips that you can use to get you up and running, experimenting with video as a storytelling medium for your business.

Tip #1: Finding the Right Camera
A good camera is the best place to start. We recommend buying the best quality camera you can afford, but you still want to keep things simple. There’s no reason to run out and buy a $5,000 camera with more features than you need if all you’re doing is simple webcasts.

Consider what you’ll be using the camera for and how quickly you want to go from the videography stage to final product. There are many small cameras that are designed specifically for being super-portable, with point and shoot ease and one-or-two-click uploading. Our personal favourites are the Flip Ultra and the Kodak Zi8. Both offer high definition quality (albeit consumer-level high definition, but still very good), and point and shoot usability. For a couple hundred dollars you can have all you need to start making web videos.

But, even if you don’t have the money to get a video camera, making a video can be as simple as talking into your laptop web cam or cell phone camera!

Tip #2: Consider Your Story
Before you start rolling, take some time and really consider what you want your video to be about. You don’t need to script it entirely, but do think about how you want to present things. If you’re the CEO and are giving a daily update to your customers, take some time to make some notes on your key messages. Don’t be afraid to try it a few times – it’s not live TV, so it’s okay if you make a mistake – you can just do it over and over till you get it right. What’s most important is that you’re communicating your message well. Preparing ahead of time will help your story to be clear.

Tip #3: Quality Matters
It’s all fine and well to have a great story to tell, but if nobody can see or hear it, it’s not going to fly. Presenting a substandard quality video could reflect poorly on your company, so you want to make sure that you’re presenting something technically sound. You don’t have to have the fanciest equipment in the world to make it look and sound good. Make sure you’re shooting in a well-lit location. Be careful that you don’t have any windows or bright lights directly behind you, or you’ll look like a silhouette. Try to limit background noise, like people talking, or phones ringing. Of course, if you’re outside on the street, this will be more difficult. In this case, do a test recording to make sure you can be heard over the background noise.

Tip #4: Put it all Together
If your video is just you talking straight to the camera for a few minutes, then minimal editing will be required. However, if you want to get a bit more fancy, by putting in an opening title, some graphics, music, or different visuals, then you’ll need to do some editing. There are free tools available, such as iMovie for Mac and Windows Movie Maker, and for simple stuff, this is all you’ll need. If you want to get more fancy, you can check tools like Adobe Premiere Elements or Corel VideoStudio. The pro tools, like Adobe Premiere Pro and Final Cut Pro are expensive and probably overkill for simple web videos, and have a steeper learning curve, so there’s no real reason to consider those.

Be warned…editing can take time. You have to decide if it’s worth it for you or someone in your office to spend time in their day editing videos. If you do, then rest assured that you can get up and running pretty simply using the consumer level tools mentioned here.

Tip #5: Ask an Expert
There are lots of people who do just fine putting together their own web videos. They have been able to invest a bit of money and a few resources into it, and it’s paying off.

In some cases, you may decide that it would be a more effective use of resources to bring in the pros. Hiring a video production company that specializes in corporate web video is a good option, if you are looking to produce a one-off special or series, or to do multiple projects over a longer period.

A professional production company can help you refine your stories, hire professional on-air talent, and has access to better quality equipment. The videographers and editors are capable of making your finished product polished and professional, and this can reflect well on your customers and ultimately on your sales.

No matter whether you choose to be an in-house video crew or hire a pro, one thing is clear…video is the way of the future. If you don’t already have plans to incorporate video into your online efforts, now is the time.

Good luck!

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