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Sara was one of the first guests on the podcast: she appeared in Episode #7 to talk about how recording video drives her business. She talked about her business at DeveloPlay, LLC, how she got started as an academic entrepreneur, and what role video plays in her business.
Helping others tell their story with video
In recent months, Sara has had a growing number of conversations with people who wanted to tell their story through video but didn’t know how.
“That’s where the idea of Video Your Way came from,” she said. “Its focus is to help people who are new to video, who want to dabble and want to understand how to make an effective video, to get you from the concept of your video all the way to completion.”
By her own admission, Sara is not a trained videographer. Video is something that she’s picked up along the way and learned by just jumping in and doing it. She has her own DeveloPlay YouTube channel, which she uses to teach people how to do well-edited and nicely-scripted videos.
Sara’s decision to create Video Your Way also came from the number of video-related questions she was receiving. They tended to fall into one of three categories:
- Strategy: How do I infuse video into my communications strategy?
- Promotional: Can I use it in my email marketing? Can I use it as an educator?
- Content: If I’m giving lots of talks and training programs, how can I use it that way?
“There are different approaches that you can take with video,” she explained. “Video is like the tool, the medium for doing the thing. Think about what it is about your business that you either want to be sharing more broadly, or you want to be selling. How do you want to be engaging with people who are following you?”
Video Your Way is a free eight-week email series.
Registrants get a new video every single week for eight weeks, each one explaining an aspect of the process for creating videos.
“We start with things like thinking about your audience and go through things like planning and scripting and thinking about the personality and style of your videos,” Sara said. “Then we go into how you film. What equipment do you need? How do you edit? How do you incorporate graphics and animation and those sorts of pieces? And then, how do you launch it in an effective way? You can create a video, but if you don’t tell people about it and if you don’t share it well, it’s not going to have the effect that you want it to have.”
The course also helps you examine how you measure success. What analytics should you be looking at? How are you determining or not whether this was a successful video for you and your business? Is it that it got hundreds or thousands of hits in the first couple of days? Or do you want it to be something that continues to bring people to you over the next couple of months or years?
“There are a number of different ways to use video,” she said. “And so there are a number of different ways to measure whether video was successful for you and your business.”
Get started with the tech equipment you already have.
Sara wrote a lengthy blog post on all the equipment that she uses and what you would generally need in order to start.
“For the most part, what you need when you’re first getting started is the handy-dandy little computer we all carry around in our pockets all day,” she explained. “Most phones or tablets have great video quality these days, so you can get away with using your phone or using your iPad or other tablet device and get pretty good video doing that.”
For those who aren’t ready to invest in expensive new equipment, she recommended three primary tools:
- A phone
- A tripod (this can be a DIY tripod like a stack of books)
- A microphone
She cautioned that your first video won’t be good. “You will not like it. You will go back and look at it and be like, “Oh, that was horrible.” That is okay. Everyone is like that. Everybody has that story. So don’t feel like your first video out of the gate has to be super-great professional quality like all the creators that you’re seeing online.”
Choosing your video platform.
YouTube can be highly beneficial to a new content creator, but Sara does not strive to be a YouTuber. Instead, she uses it as a platform for her videos. In a cheat sheet called How do I YouTube, she talks about what you can do to optimize your YouTube presence.
However, she cautioned people against relying solely on YouTube. At one time, YouTubers made money through ad revenue, but over the last couple of years, the site has undergone a few policy shifts that have not been friendly to smaller creators.
“If you’re a video creator on YouTube and you have a certain number of subscribers and people watching your content, you can receive a portion of the revenue for the ads that are displayed on your content. This has been the primary model by which YouTubers have gotten rich and famous. Then, suddenly, there’s a shift and the advertisers don’t want to advertise on your content anymore for whatever reason. Then suddenly you don’t have that revenue.”
At the beginning of 2020, YouTube responded to some issues surrounding children watching inappropriate content. Now creators have to decide whether or not their content is directed at children, and if it is, they can’t run ads on it. They can’t have subscribers. This decision has affected the entire model for how YouTube creators have operated.
“It has been messy and very complicated in the YouTube sphere for a while now,” Sara said. “All of that has made me go, “Okay, I’m (only) going to use YouTube as a place to put my videos and give them good reach.” If I pick up some subscribers along the way, awesome, that’s great. I would love to build a little community there, but I’m not using it as a monetization or revenue source in any way at this point.”
Sharing your video across diverse platforms.
Sara confirmed that a growing number of video creators are diversifying. They’re still using platforms like YouTube and Patreon, but they’re also hosting their videos on their own website. Established YouTubers are also writing books, selling merchandise, and hosting live events.
“You’ve got to make sure you’re diversifying not only your business strategy and the things that you’re selling and the things that you’re doing, but also the tools that you’re using so that if one of them makes a unilateral decision to do something that you don’t agree with, you can easily shift to something else. Being aware of what those tools are and what’s happening in those landscapes is also important.”
She concluded the interview by encouraging feedback from GradBlogger listeners. “If you have things that you would like to know about, please let me know. I love hearing from people and I love getting ideas for things to talk about next. So, yeah, I’m all ears!”
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