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Three Tips for Making DIY Business Videos

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a good video is worth a million. And, in today’s increasingly visual world, where most consumers carry a screen in their pockets, video is quickly becoming—if it isn’t already—the most effective means of sharing your company’s story with customers (and prospective customers).

Historically, though, some companies have shied away from video, mostly because of the cost associated with hiring a professional videographer and the (perceived) steep learning curve of making your own videos. After all, if you’ve never made a video before, it can seem intimidating.

But, with advancements in entry-level cameras and the increased capabilities of most personal computers, there’s never been a better, more cost-effective time to start making videos for your business. Not to mention, videos are a great way to explain complex topics while simultaneously showcasing your company’s personality.

Here are a few things we’ve learned from shooting our own do-it-yourself (DIY) videos.

1. Keep it Simple

The nice thing about video is that you can get started without blowing your budget. One of the first videos we did at CNB was this humorous take on Columbus Day, and we put it together with a Canon T4i ($650), an Azden wireless microphone ($150), and a tripod we borrowed from our IT director (FREE!).

Looking back, I cringe at some of our mistakes—camera position, improper lighting and poor audio quality. But, we were just getting started. And, we’re still not video experts. To date, though, that Columbus Day video has been viewed almost 10,000 times, which is about 9,950 more views than we had hoped.

Early on, as we tried to get our bearings, we did our best to follow the KISS (keep it simple, stupid) method. We didn’t get crazy with a whole bunch of camera angles, and for the most part, we scripted almost everything prior to filming. (You can download one of our script templates here: Word / PDF)

Take it from me, the more time you spend thinking through your video prior to filming, the less time you’ll spend in the editing room—if your footage is all over the place, the editing room can be a lonely, frustrating and depressing place.

2. Don’t Try to be an Overnight Sensation

Prior to filming that Columbus Day video, we had tried our hand at a few other videos—some of which never saw the light of day—to help us figure out what we were doing. Now that we more fully appreciate the benefits of video communications, we’ve since invested in better mics, and we’ve also purchased a MacBook Pro to help make video editing more efficient—we use Adobe Premiere to edit our videos. And yes, we did eventually buy our own tripod, too.

As you start out, don’t expect your videos to look like a Steven Spielberg movie. In fact, they’re never going to look that good. So, always keep the long run in mind—gradually learn new things and make upgrades over time.

One area where even a small upgrade makes a big difference is lighting. Good lighting makes a huge impact on the quality of your video. For our videos, we use a DIY lighting kit we bought at a local hardware store. I mean, why pay for professional lighting when you can get a comparable look for a fraction of the price?

Making a video doesn't require a lot of equipment or a production crew. Here's a behind-the-scenes look at what our normal setup looks like. Pictured: Me (Left) and Heather Keeton (right). Heather is our executive producer. Her real job: Vice President & Human Resources Director

Filming a video doesn’t require a lot of expensive equipment or a production crew. Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at our normal setup. Pictured: Me (Left) and Heather Keeton (right). Heather is our self-appointed executive producer, and she also doubles as our Human Resources Director.

3. Take Advantage of Online Resources

These days, if you don’t know how to do something, chances are that the Internet has an answer. It may not always be the right answer, but the Internet will have an answer.

My absolute favorite online resource is the Wistia Learning Library, which includes helpful articles and video tutorials on lighting your shot, recording clear audio, writing the perfect script, purchasing the right equipment, etc. They also offer a great video hosting platform that includes insightful analytics to help you measure your video’s effectiveness.

So, go out and unleash the filmmaker inside of you. Once you start, I bet you’ll find that it’s not nearly as difficult as you might think. And, if nothing else, I guarantee you’ll end up with a bunch of bloopers for you and your employees to laugh at.

Bryan is a treasury management specialist and the director of marketing at Central National Bank. He enjoys running, reading (anything by Malcolm Gladwell), binge-watching House of Cards on Netflix, volunteering and playing the trumpet.

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