Author Bloggers: Two Things to Make You Think Twice About Video

You’re an author who’s built a platform which includes a blog. You want to drive traffic to your blog in order to increase awareness of your brand, your books, and body of other related work.

You’ve done your homework and you know that both first time and return visits to a blog depend upon reaching the right audience and providing compelling, engaging content.

A lot of what you’ve read on the web mentions video as being an extremely effective tool to create engagement. Twitter, Facebook, your blog, you name the platform, and there’s compelling arguments made that you need video to engage your audience and your readers, potential or actual.

So, you’re thinking, you should look into this video thing.

Great.

However there are several things you should mull over. These might dampen your enthusiasm. However, before we get to those things, I’d like to briefly review the types of author-oriented videos I’ve seen on the net.

Video Types

In my experience there are, broadly speaking, three types of videos:

  • Explainer — as the name implies, these videos explain something — a procedure, process, or concept. In the indie author world, examples include software procedure videos, such has how to use scrivener, process videos on how to market your book, and concept videos on topics such as your author brand, writing dialogue, the pros and cons of series.These categories are not absolute, you can find many videos that combine elements of each.
  • Marketing — these are videos dedicated to marketing a book or, somewhat less commonly, an author brand. The most common example of these videos is a book trailers.
  • Miscellaneous — this is a catch all term for videos I’ve run across that don’t seem to fit as either explainer or marketing videos. Often these take form of “talking head videos” with the blogger or author giving their thoughts on various topics.

There are two things to keep in mind before jumping into video: I call these cost and content consumption patterns.

Cost

Cost is the first thing to consider and it has two components: time and money. Let’s talk about time first.

Time

Unless you are already familiar with digital video, you will be using new tools.

You’ll have to search for, acquire, and become minimally proficient in these tools before making your first video. Many people (including me — and I should know better) underestimate the time necessary to learn how to use software.

It’s one thing to get hold of a tool such as PowToon or Camtasia (and these are just two of the many video solutions available) and experiment with it. It’s quite another to systematically examine and practice it so that you can produce quality videos.

I liken this to writing blog articles. Bloggers know how to write — they have some minimum skill level that allows them to focus on producing the content, rather than the mechanics of writing (e.g. spelling, grammar, sentence structure, etc).  They need not worry about how to write as they think about what to write.

If you are new to video you are faced with the dual tasks of “learning to write” (learning the tool) and “what to write” (creating the video content).

Once having mastered your preferred tool, you’ll need to produce the content. This takes far longer than writing a blog post. Consider one of the simplest video types: the blogger uses their laptop/computer camera to produce a “talking head video” (i.e. they look directly at the camera and speak). The steps involved include:

  • Pick a topic (might take longer than you think!)
  • Write a script
  • Shoot the video
  • Edit the video
  • Upload the video to YouTube, Vimeo, your blog, or whatever hosting platform you’ve decided upon

You might be able to produce a quality, 1,000 word blog article in a couple of hours (your mileage may vary :)). You’ll can spend far longer than that producing a two to three minute video.

Naturally, as you become more proficient the time spent will decrease, but my belief is video content takes more time to create than written blog articles on the same topic.

Money

Money is a consideration as well.

It’s true there are many free tools available that allow you to make digital video. These are both downloadable and web-based. Typically however, the free versions of such tools insert their own branding on the finished video (PowToon is an example, but is far from the only one).

This may not bother you, in which case you are not out-of-pocket for the tool. You’ll find the features available in the free version to be limited, however.

If you want the more advanced options in the tool, you will pay — usually on a subscription basis. Yearly subscription costs for the tools I’ve run across are roughly $200US a year. Not huge, but not pocket change either.  Downloadable tools range in cost from free to several hundred dollars.

You’ll want to think about how often you’ll produce video content as well. Paying $200 a year for a service that you use once or twice is likely not a good use of your resources.

Content Consumption

The second major issue to think about is what I call content consumption patterns.

Different people prefer to consume content in different ways. A statement of the obvious, I know, but it has huge implications for whether or not your video is of value to people.

It’s said that younger folks (kids these days!) prefer to consume content through video. Older people may not be enthused about consuming certain types of content by video.

Why?

Because for a lot of us it is a LOT faster to skim a blog article looking for useful information than it is to sit through even a short video. Video content consumption is a very linear process. Click play, and watch.

In contrast, consider a written blog article for the same content. The blog article will have subheadings, links, and likely be formatted as web-friendly (lots of one and two sentences paragraphs to allow easy skimming).

All of these characteristics allow for non-linear consumption: You can skip all over the place in the article literally at a glance. Such features are absent or difficult to implement in videos produced by your typical blogger.

The foregoing implies you will need to think carefully about several factors before creating your prospective video:

  • Likely audience demographic
  • Type of content
  • Length of video

Final Thoughts

You may have the idea that I’m pretty negative on video content for author-bloggers. That is not the case at all. I love video and delight in the ever-increase array of tools available to produce content.

After spending a couple of years experimenting with them, as well as writing my series on making a book trailer, I’m aware of the effort and resources need to create video.

You’ll note this post heavily implies that you will not be shooting “real video” with some type of camera and incorporating the raw footage into a digital video. 

Although I’ve seen it done, and done well, it dramatically increases the time and money required to produce video content.  Most author bloggers don’t have the necessary resources.

So, should you stay away from creating video content for your blog? Absolutely not.

Should you carefully weigh what’s involved? Absolutely.

In future posts I will walk through creating what I consider blog-appropriate video content using one of the more popular tools available.

Until then, thanks for reading, and I will see you again next week.

 

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