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Tips for Shooting a Video Blog Entry

Not everyone is a writer. That’s why I’m here. But if you don’t want to hire someone to blog for you, and you still want regular content, writing isn’t the only way to maintain your blog.

You can post video. YouTube has taught us that people will watch all sorts of things on video, even with bad lighting, shaky camera and poor sound.

One rule: the content must be interesting.

If the content is boring, it doesn’t matter if you hired a professional to shoot it for you in a perfectly lit studio. Before you decide to shoot video instead of a written blog post, take a peek at my recent post on Five Questions to Ask Before You Write a Blog Post. The questions apply to video as well.

Still, you don’t want your video to look sloppy, so if you’re shooting on your own, take a look at these tips for shooting video people will watch:

  • Choose your setting. The background should be relevant, not dull, but not so interesting that it distracts. If you’re blogging about the widgets your company makes, you might shoot a short video with the factory behind you. Don’t stand in front of a blank, white wall. It’s OK to use your office if that’s relevant to the topic, or if the topic is general. Just be sure the background looks tidy.
  • Check your lighting. You need to be well lit enough to see. Fluorescent lighting is not kind to our faces. You may need to add an extra lamp pointed toward you, or find a new spot. If you use extra lights, watch for the shadows they create. Shadows bouncing in the background will distract from your message. If you’re outside, don’t stand directly in the sun. You’ll squint and your face will be too bright. Shoot during “golden hour” if you can.

    Photo by kalleboo.
  • Make sure it’s quiet. You may not need a microphone, but background sound, if it’s too loud, will make it tough to hear you. Silence your phone. Some background sounds are OK if they are quiet and relate to the topic. They can also make it more real. For example, if you’re shooting a video in your office, it’s OK to have people working in the background. You’ll have to test this ahead of time.
  • Plan what you will say. You don’t want to read from a script on camera, but you need to have a plan so you don’t ramble. If you want, get a helper with cue cards.
  • Check your camera. White balance, focus. A helper comes in handy here, too.
  • Obey the rule of thirds. Imagine the screen is divided into thirds, both vertically and horizontally. Stand or sit in one of the thirds, not in the direct center.
  • Use a tripod. No one can hold a camera steady. Seriously. If you don’t have a tripod, prop that camera or cell phone on something that will hold it.
  • Keep it short. Two minutes is the rule. You can do more if it’s really interesting, but shorter is better.
  • Do a test video. Shoot it and watch it. How does it look? Would you actually watch it if it weren’t you? Send it to a friend. What did he/she offer as constructive criticism? Remember, you want your customers or clients to find it useful. You may need to go back and try a new location or a new topic.
  • Use some basic editing software. Most computers come with some sort of simple editing software. Use it, even if you just add a title page and a credit page. The end result will look more professional. In fact, don’t go overboard with the editing.

Now, I’m heading off to shoot this post in video format …