About twice a month, I get a phone call, email, or text from a friend or someone in my network with a similar question:
“Hey Chris, I love the work you’re doing on your Pubcast and Manufacturing Happy Hour videos. Looks like you’re having a lot of fun! I’ve been thinking about starting something of my own. Can we chat sometime?”
I am always happy to have this conversation, and in every case, I share the same advice: If you just get started, you’ll be ahead of 99% of people that have an idea, but never take action. If you stick with it, you’ll be ahead of 99% of the people that got started, but quit too soon.
From these conversations, a few blogs, media projects, and side-hustles get started, but many don’t. While there are plenty of reasons (good and bad) to never get started, it’s a shame more people don’t, because with the democratization of media, anyone that puts in the time and effort has the opportunity to build up a website, YouTube channel, or personal brand.
In any of these cases – but especially with video – the tools available to get started are so readily-available that there should literally be no excuses to never get started. I recently summarized these thoughts in this video below, but if you’re more of the reading type, scroll down to see where I’ve expounded upon the 3 reasons as to why you should just simply hit “Record!”
1) You already have the most important piece of equipment
A smartphone is literally all you need to get started. I told you that this was a “no excuses” formula, and to be honest, not having the “right” equipment is the #1 excuse people make to put off starting a video series.
In this day and age, a smartphone camera is way better than pretty much any single-use digital camera was even just a handful of years ago. While capturing good audio can be a bit more of a challenge depending on your environment, if you’re in a quiet room, you will have no problem capturing quality sound and audio for a good video.
The only piece of equipment you would want to consider investing in at this stage is a small smartphone camera stand. I’ve used a Joby GorillaPod for over 2 years, and its size, flexibility, and price point make it a no-brainer; last I checked, you could get it for about $29 on Amazon. That’s all you need, and even that’s a bonus…if you’re really hardcore and stretched for cash, just prop your phone up on a stack of books to create your own “academic tripod.” Like I said: No Excuses!
2) Uploading the video from your smartphone is simple
While I’ve since upgraded to a proper camera and audio setup, I still shoot plenty of my videos on my iPhone. Why? Well, regardless of how long you’ve been filming, there’s a saying that goes “The best camera is the one that’s with you.” If I’m traveling and I don’t anticipate shooting any videos, I’ll sometimes leave my rig at home. But if the opportunity arises, at least I’ve got my iPhone to capture the moment quickly.
But there’s a more basic reason that I still shoot videos on a smartphone: it makes the uploading process much easier. This is because I shoot most of my videos in a single take, eliminating the need for editing (aside for trimming the beginning and the end if I’m filming the video by myself and am the one that needs to hit “Record,” which is often the case). With the YouTube app, you can upload your video straight from your phone, trim the clip inside of the app, and publish your video in a matter of minutes. No Excuses. Period.
3) Have a message and be consistent, but learn and adjust as you go
Equipment and technology aside, even if you have the most state-of-the-art camera and editing software the industry, if your message sucks, no one will care. Content is still king, and you’ll have a hard time engaging an audience if you can’t be clear and concise.
Videos should have a beginning, middle, and end, and a structure that allows viewers to know what they’re getting into from the get-go. For example, on Manufacturing Happy Hour, I start every episode with a quick greeting, followed by the line “Today, you are going to learn ______.” Since I’m essentially going to be asking someone to take up 3 or more minutes of their time to watch a video, I want to be very upfront with my objective so that the viewer knows whether the video might be relevant to them. Worst case scenario, it’s not, and they can move on to the next video. But, if the viewer does stick around, my guest and I will give them 3 crisp pieces of knowledge (the middle), and wrap up with a call-to-action (the end).
Whether your video is educational or more of a vlog or story format, I still stand by having some sort of format so that it’s not just aimless rambling. One thing to make clear is that this does not mean that your video needs to be perfect, or that you can’t change your format. Quite the opposite! The biggest thing is still to just get started, even if it’s not perfect. As you make more and more content, your audience will start to tell you what they want to see more of, and you can pivot to that. Plus, having a format gives you a structured baseline to know what might be working, and what needs to be changed.
What tips & tricks do you have when it comes to making your own videos? What advice do you have for someone that’s just getting started on their own media project? Please share your thoughts and perspectives in the comments below!
Chris Luecke is a salesperson & marketer in the manufacturing technology industry, and the host of Manufacturing Happy Hour, the YouTube series where we discuss the latest trends and technologies impacting the manufacturing sector over a cold one. Stay Innovative. Stay Thirsty.