Being citizens of the internet, I’m sure you have noticed that videos are kiiiiiiiiiiind of a big deal.

From YouTube to Vimeo, they’re everywhere, busy being awesomely embeddable. In fact, some of you might have noticed that I recently had a video made for my business, and you might be thinking you’d like one made for yours.

I don’t blame you! They’re an amazing tool to quickly and accurately share your personality with potential customers, and from my experience, the feedback has been awesome.

But let’s face it. How many times in your life do you ever need to get a video made? How do you know what to expect? Where do you start? What do you include!?

Ladies and germs, I’d like to introduce you to my BFF: Overwhelm.

I’m not gonna lie–though I LOVE my video, it was scary to get this created. From being the center of attention (cringe!), to talking about myself excessively whilst being filmed (tremble!), to asking past clients to give up their weekend to say nice things about me on film (ahhhh!) to giving up control and trusting another Creative with my business (quiver!)… well? Let’s just say this was a major personal challenge for this little red-headed introvert.

Upon launching the video a month ago, I had a number of past, current, and potential clients notice and ask loads of questions. So without further adieu…

Today’s question:

“I just saw your video, and I freaking love it! In fact, I’m considering doing this for my business to help better explain who I am to potential customers. I’m a little freaked out though–how do you recommend figuring this out, what content to include, etc…?”

My answer:

YES. Let’s talk about this! And while we’re at it, let’s nerd it up with a numbered list!

1. Figure out what the one goal of the video is, and what you want to get out of it.

Before you fall too far down the “rabbit hole” of micro-management, deciding on what funky coffee shop you want to shoot your video at, what Shins-esque music you want in the background, and what kind of shoes you want to wear, do yourself a favor and take a step back. Waaaaaay back. Instead, think about what is the one, singular point of the video, and what you want it to achieve.

Is your goal to get more or better qualified clients? Is it to separate yourself out from your pack of competitors? Is it to explain the process you take your clients through? Is it to show the manufacturing process or benefits of one of your products? Is it to explain your background, showcase your personality or explain why you’re an expert in your field?

(Warning: If your one goal is to address all of these items, go look up the definition of the number “one” in the dictionary. Go ahead. I’ll wait.)

Choosing one idea will allow the video to be focused, simple, and above all memorable. It’s tempting to want to cram as much as you can into a video–however, trying to communicate too many things will confuse your message, the feeling you’re trying to establish, and it leaves the Viewer without a clear picture of who you are. Not a great way to close that deal with a potential customer, amirght? Establishing your goal ahead of time (and sharing it with your Videographer!) will give you a benchmark to measure success once the video has launched.

2. Decide on one core value you want the video to address.

For most saturated industries, whether you’re selling a product or a service online, the thing that separates all of us out from our competitors is our “why.” Why we got into business, why we do what we do, why we believe what we believe, why we give a damn. It’s these stories that establish an emotional connection with Viewers, and these complex narratives can’t be captured in any other way than video.

One of my top 10 favorite Ted Talks is this one from Simon Sinek below. The resounding message here, is so simple, so straightforward, and rooted with concrete examples that will change the way you think about your business and your messaging: People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.

Go on. Watch the video, and prepare to be inspired.

Sure, you could write 1,000-words about your “why”, bury it somewhere on your website, and even include an inspirational photo of some kind where you’re sporting a perfect freeze frame laugh/smile in a beautiful park somewhere. But, with our ever-shortening attention spans, you’re counting on Viewers to want to read your manifesto in the first place, and finish the whole thing. Online, we are all a nation of skimmers, and nothing is sacred.

A brief video talking who you are, what you do, why you’re different, and about why you care is the secret sauce to resonate with your dream customer and keep them coming back for more.

3. How do you want people to feel when they watch your video?

This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s totally not. Do you want your Viewers to leave your video feeling inspired? Understood? Uplifted? Happy? Introspective? Motivated? Energized? Filled with a sense of possibility?

Long after the video is over, after the words have faded, we’re all left with a feeling, a message, and oftentimes, it’s one we find hard to articulate. Marinate on how you want the video to feel to your Viewer, and share this with your Videographer so they can make editing and music selections to capture those feelings.

Take this one step farther and locate 3-5 examples of videos that resonate with you. Watch these critically, and dwell on what the videos captured and why you feel they’re successful.

4. Get people to watch your video and take action.

What’s the likelihood that you’ll watch a video on a business owner’s website if it’s 10 minutes long? Almost nil, right? I mean, c’mon. You’re busy, and this isn’t your latest Netflix binge.

What about if it’s 5 minutes long? Hmm… getting warmer? Probably not.

What about if it’s 2 minutes long? Or better yet, what if it’s under 60 seconds? You’re waaaaaay more likely to click “Play” and watch the video to the end, amiright? That’s what the research says, too, so keep your video short and sweet. (And for the love of God, NEVER have a video auto-play on your website. It’s rude, and against internet etiquette standards Also, don’t hide how long your video is. If people don’t know how long a video is, and how much time they have to commit to it? They won’t click to watch.)

Next, make sure the opening slide of your video is appropriate and compelling, begging people to click on it. Typically, photos with people, looking directly at the viewer work best to get people to click and watch your video.

Lastly, when your video is over, the viewer is faced with a black screen. If you host your video on Vimeo Pro, you can end your video with a customized call-to-action, whether that’s a special graphic, link, or both! What if your video ended with a “Contact us today for a free consultation <insert link here>!” By doing this within Vimeo, you don’t have to have your Videographer re-shoot anything, or make any fancy graphics for you. Instead, you can do it yourself, and even split test different calls-to-action.

5. Bonus Tip: Drink Beer.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about being in front of a camera for three days, it’s that I hated every minute of it, and needed lots of alcohol to cope with all my stress hives. Maybe you will too, and that’s okay. No judgement. Stock up beforehand and get some lotion for your hives while you’re at it. Your skin (and sanity!) will thank you.

Natalie McGuire
Natalie McGuire is a Web Designer + Digital Strategist for purpose-driven solopreneurs because she believes the world is a prettier place when people make money doing what they love. If you’re ready to look legit, go pro, and take your biz to the next level, let’s talk!

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