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The amount of time consumers watch videos on the internet has steadily been increasing for years now with few signs of stopping. Video is fastly becoming the preferred mode of content for many people scoping out products, services, entertainment, inspiration and education online.
Having videos online that tell the world what you shoot, why you shoot it and why you love being a photographer will not only help your business become more discoverable online, but also help your brand evoke emotion, create a mood and tell a story. Emotion, mood and storytelling are at the crux of effective marketing. Video does these exceptionally well.
This is why we at Animoto were beyond thrilled when Sue Bryce launched the Animoto Video Marketing Challenge Facebook Group for Photographers. This group was created to help encourage, inspire and push photographers to start marketing with video. It’s free to join and has developed into a great community to give/get encouragement, feedback and inspiration around video marketing.
Video marketing is not something photographers necessarily think to do on their own, but it’s a fantastic (and oftentimes cost-effective) way to standout. Hopefully this article gives you everything you need to get started!
For one, it keeps people on your site longer.
Many online marketing experts recommend including video on websites in order to decrease bounce rates (AKA: the % of people leaving your site immediately) and to increase the amount of time spent on the site.
Secondly, video make you more discoverable. With websites being so simple to create now, there is an abundance of photographer websites fighting it out for the coveted page 1 or page 2 of Google. With YouTube being owned by Google, and Google actively searching for rich media when scouring the net for the best possible results for any given search query, video helps your site rank better in search.
There are tons of articles written about how to embed videos onto your site in a way that will help with search rankings, along with how to tag and name your video for maximum SEO juice. I won’t get into all the nitty and gritty of that since it would probably be the whole length of this article, but I advise you to geek out on it if you end-up dipping your toes into video marketing!
And let’s also not forget that YouTube on its own is the 2nd largest search engine on the planet. Simply by being on YouTube, you’re making yourself instantly more discoverable to the search engine that is second only to Google. AND you’ll become more discoverable on Google.
Thirdly, video also helps people make purchasing decisions.
We here at Animoto did a survey of 1000 consumers asking them about their perceptions and experiences watching videos that were being used to promote a business. 96% of consumers surveyed found videos helpful when making purchase decisions online. Nearly three quarters said they were more likely to purchase a product or service if they could watch a video explaining it beforehand.
Differentiate Yourself by Being You
As photographers, differentiating yourself on price is not a sustainable business practice. It’s hard to compete with free or with the photographer who is willing to shoot for next to nothing.
So, you must instead create a brand that will attract the type of buyers who are looking for a certain experience with their photographer and certain types of image. These people already value photography much more than they value bargain-hunting for a photographer.
A brand hinges on how it makes people feel. The emotional imprint your work, website, and interactions with clients imbues onto others makes up your brand. In other words, your brand is an extension of yourself.
Video allows you to convey so much more about your style of shooting and who you are as a photographer than nearly any other medium, all while evoking emotion within the viewer.
The sum is greater than its parts when it comes to imagery and music. This is why you’ll never see a movie that doesn’t have a musical score and why so many photographers are already using video slideshows as part of their sales process.
Sue Bryce is a master at creating compelling videos that help tell her story and the stories of her clients. Here is an example of a video that Sue created with Animoto and the recording device GarageBand. Sue created this video to show how DIY you can be about video and it’ll still be powerful, so long as your authenticity still shines through.
Ask Your Why
It might be daunting creating a video that you feel encapsulates who you really are. A good place to start is with the question “why”?
As Simon Sinek famously talked about in his TedTalk on the Golden Circle, people care why you do something much, much more than what you do or even how you do it. Here are some questions to ask yourself that might help you along the path of creating a video that conveys a “why” that resonates with your ideal client.
- Why are you a photographer?
- Why do you offer the type of photography that you do?
- Why is your job so fulfilling?
- Why did you decide to start a photography business?
- Why are you excited to wake up in the morning?
Once you have it worked out what it is you’d like to convey to the world in your video, you need to figure what type of video you’d like. From voiceover, to speaking directly to the camera, to not being seen or heard in your video at all, I have a few options for photographers ready to get started.
Footage, Audio and Text 101
If appearing on camera is something you’re not willing to dive into right now, and you’re also not a huge fan of hearing your own voice, you can always use text in a video to convey your point of view to the world in a video.
Try to not write too much when using text in between your photos to progress whatever story or information you’d like to give the viewer. It’s tempting to type out everything you’re thinking, but by providing fewer words you’re making the entire message more powerful.
This is an example of an effective Animoto video by newborn photographer Rachel Yoon that answers the question “Why capture your baby’s first days?” using only her images and words expressed through text.
If you have lots of great footage and images to help tell your story, but feel that adding a voiceover will really be the trick to make your video impactful, then work out what you would like to say before choosing how you’ll record it.
Practice it. Be it. Say it authentically. Try not to sound scripted.
The video I showed featuring Sue Bryce on the Mother / Daughter shoot earlier in this post does a great job coming off as not scripted and authentic.
It might take you many takes before you feel comfortable enough articulating your voiceover in a manner that suits you, but you will get more at ease the more you do it. Just be patient with yourself!
You can use systems like GarageBand on your Mac to record a voiceover or Audacity on a PC. Make sure that you’re in a quiet and echo-free room when recording.
If you’d like to invest minimally in audio equipment, I can’t recommend enough the smartLav+ by Rode. It’s a lav mic that works with your iPhone and records audio at a higher quality than you’d fine with your DSLR or with a program like GarageBand. It’s worth the $79 investment if you want to start doing more video marketing with your voice (or your clients’ voices).
If you are talking to the camera, make sure it’s shot horizontally (never, ever shoot any kind of footage vertically!) and make sure it’s steady. You will make the viewer dizzy otherwise and the video will not come across as professional as you’d probably like.
If you are incorporating behind the scenes footage, you don’t have to include the audio. Audio is the hardest thing to get right in terms of video. Many, many photographers using Animoto upload their video clips and then mute the audio so all that is heard is the soundtrack they chose for their video.
Leigh Reighton created a 60 second Behind the Scenes Animoto video that used her strength as a visual storyteller to shoot awesome hyperlapse footage. She shot footage from interesting angles, which kept me interested while watching.
Video 101 Tips & Tricks
No matter what type of video you’re creating, there are some baseline rules that will make you more sane and successful.
Keep it Short
Don’t make your video too long. The adage of “good writing is really good editing” also applies to video.
Aim to have your video be around 1 – 2 minutes. And change shots frequently so the same thing isn’t on the screen for 5+ seconds.
When choosing your music, instrumental tracks tend to be your best bet. Animoto Pro has 2000+ songs from providers like Triple Scoop Music, many of which are available as instrumentals. But any song catalog that sells commercially licensed music will have a multitude of instrumental options.
Play around with the type of music you’d like. Electronica gives you such a different feel than indie rock or classical does. You might know you want people to feel something when watching your video, so play around with different genres and see what song makes you feel the emotion you’re hoping to elicit within the viewer.
Pacing & Image Selection
This may seem obvious, but be incredibly discerning about what images you want to show. You want to show the images that have the biggest impact. Quality over quantity goes a long way. You might want to keep certain images on screen longer than others. Animoto has a “Spotlight” feature that allows for this, or if you’re editing in another program, you can adjust the pacing accordingly.
Never Shoot Vertical Footage
Just repeating this rule to underscore its importance! Video is watched on a screen that is landscape and therefore has to be shot in a landscape frame.
You’ll also want to incorporate your brand into the video. Animoto Pro has a feature that animates your logo at the beginning and end of the video. This creates a “bumper” as it’s called in the TV/film world.
No matter what program you’re using though, make sure your logo and brand is incorporated in the video.
Once you have a video you love, make sure you place it on YouTube (and Vimeo, if you’d like!). You’ll need to create a YouTube channel if you don’t have one already.
If embedding your video, I do recommend NOT to have your video autoplay. It can be very jarring for visitors of your site/blog. One of the best things about video is that people are opting in to giving you their undivided attention. It’s then your job to keep it with great content in your video.
Entice people to watch your video when posting it online by choosing a great cover image for your video. Name it something that makes sense and has SEO value (i.e. your city/town, style of photography, type of shoot it is, etc) and make sure you tag your video on YouTube so it’s even more discoverable.
I’ll end on this video I created with Animoto which goes over how to create a branded YouTube channel to host your videos. Even if you host your website videos through Vimeo or your website company, still post your video on YouTube in order to get maximum discoverability.
Happy video creating!