How to Make Videos for Your Small Business

Tuesday Jul 3rd 2012 by Helen Bradley
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Learn how you can create great video content for your business. Helen Bradley explains everything you need to know.

Last month in the article The Small Business Video Marketing Advantage, we looked at the value that videos can add to your small business marketing. In this column, we'll show you an efficient video production process to ensure that you get the results you want -- and not the digital equivalent of film piled on the cutting room floor.

Once you decide that your business can benefit from using video, it's time to start creating content. If you plan to make the videos yourself, or to be involved in any way, you need to structure your involvement in detail. If you're well organized, then the video will be relatively easy and straightforward to put together. If not, you can waste hours, if not days, editing the video to create something even remotely usable.

A Great Small Business Video Starts with a Plan

If you want a successful video, you need to plan your video. This may seem obvious, but many people often overlook this crucial first step. First determine the purpose of your videos: for example, to illustrate your website FAQs, to showcase products, or to train your staff. Whatever function you choose, you need to be very clear about the videos' specific purpose.

Write down the exact goal, and then write down the topics for each video. These should be small, discrete topics that you can cover in 4-5 minutes at most. The more you narrow the topic, the easier and faster it will be to create your videos.

Break Each Video into Steps

Once you know the topics for your videos, outline the steps that each video needs to address in order to complete its purpose. In a video that answers a FAQ, for example, you need to pose the question, and then step through the answer for the viewer. A training video should demonstrate the task you are explaining, and then outline the steps necessary to perform that task. For product videos, start with an overview of the product, and then showcase its most important features.

small business video script

Figure 1: Make sure to script your videos tightly so you don't waste time recording and editing them.

ow that you've outlined the steps, you can go ahead and script the video. This involves writing down the words you or the on-camera "talent" will say during the video recording. As a rough rule of thumb, you need between 400-600 words for a 5-minute video -- less if you need to allow for time to demonstrate a product or task.

When you are starting out, it's important to script your videos very tightly so that your talent not only knows what to say, but also so they won't start talking and never stop. Writing a tight script will help keep your videos short and concise so that they get their point across very simply.

Rehearse the Script

Very few people get a good result if they have not first rehearsed the content they want to present. Your talent should read through the script a few times to become familiar with it. Then set up the shoot location, complete with camera, and have the talent rehearse another couple of times without recording anything. Only when they're ready and comfortable with the content should you record the video.

Record the Video

Make a test recording before you record the "real" video to ensure that your equipment works. If you are recording both sound and visuals, check to see whether the microphone on your camcorder or digital camera is sufficient, or if you need to use an external microphone.

If you're capturing a computer screen as you speak, a noise-cancelling headphone will let your talent operate the computer with both hands and talk at the same time.

If you're recording screen-capture videos, a product like Camtasia from TechSmith is an excellent choice. For recording video and audio, most digital cameras these days can record high definition video; you'll just need a big enough memory card and fresh batteries for the camera.

How to Organize Your 'Takes'

When your talent makes a mistake while recording, have them stop. Avoid pausing or stopping the video if you can help it, but instead go back to the last point where they took a break or a breath and then continue. It is also a good idea if they preface the second attempt by saying "take two," as this will help you identify the problem areas later when you're editing.

If your talent continually makes mistakes, stop the camera. Allow them time to relax and rehearse some more, and then start over. The time you spend trying to achieve a good 'take' will speed up your editing time ten-fold. In short, the better the original video, the less time you will waste in the editing process trying to cobble together bits and pieces to make a good video.

Once you have one good take, do a second one – especially if you have to bring in talent to make the video. It might not be necessary if the talent is in-house and always available for a reshoot.

Before you leave the recording space, download and preview the video capture to make sure that it was successful.

Editing the Video

The next step is to pull the video into your editing program. If you're creating a screen-capture video with a program like Camtasia, then the program comes with built-in editing software. Other editors you can use include Adobe Photoshop Premiere Elements and Adobe After Effects. In most cases if you have a good capture then a simple, straightforward and relatively inexpensive video editor is all you need.

editing small business videos

Figure 2: Programs like Camtasia make it easy for you to edit and encode your video projects.

Edit your video by splitting it where you have errors, and then delete the pieces you don't want. If you're doing a series of videos – as you might for the FAQ page on your website – then create a starter screen to use for all the videos so that they look like they're part of a series.

Once you've finished editing, always save the video project file. That way, you can come back and work on it later if you discover any problems with it. Then export the video in a way that's suited for its intended purpose. For example, video files for the Web will be smaller in size and more compressed than video files that you distribute on disk or play from a computer. In some cases you may encode your video multiple times for different purposes.

Once you have encoded the video files, you can upload them to your website. First you need to decide how to deliver your video on the Web. One option is to stream it so it starts to play almost immediately. The other option is for the user to download the file and play it from their computer.

You also need to determine if you want to make your video accessible to everyone, or to make it private. There are a range of video hosting services that you can use depending on what delivery method and level of protection you need to use.

For example, anyone can watch videos hosted on YouTube. At Vimeo, you can host HD videos that anyone can view, or you can password-protect videos for limited access. Givit.com lets you share videos with only the people you choose.

Helen Bradley is a respected international journalist writing regularly for small business and computer publications in the USA, Canada, South Africa, UK and Australia. You can learn more about her at her Web site, HelenBradley.com

Do you have a comment or question about this article or other small business topics in general? Speak out in the SmallBusinessComputing.com Forums. Join the discussion today!
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