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Making an Online Video for Your Small Business

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From vlogging to elaborate online commercials, there are many opportunities to showcase your small business through online video. Jefferson Graham explains how to take advantage of this major opportunity for exposure,

Main Street has a lot to love from the YouTube era.

Now small businesses can join funny cats, outgoing teens and musicians in showing off their wares online.

Best of all, it’s free.

From vlogging to elaborate online commercials, there  are many opportunities to showcase your small business. If you’re not taking advantage of this, you’re missing out on a major opportunity for exposure, because YouTube is just the beginning. Post your video there  gain an audience, and then watch as your video continues to spread across the Internet, on your Facebook, Twitter and Google+ pages, and hopefully on other online venues as well.

What kind of money do you need to make this happen? Some folks may think they need to hire a professional production team to do the work, but unless you’re looking to make polished 30-second Super Bowl-worthy spots, this is money that’s better left in your pocket.

With the new crop of consumer cameras and simple editing tools, making your own small business video is within anyone’s budget. Anyone can do it themselves.
I cover the gear you need, audio and editing tips in detail in my new book, Video Nation: A DIY Guide to Planning, Shooting and Sharing Great Video.

Here’s a brief look at tools you’ll need:

  • A camera. Use your smartphone, (an iPhone or Android), a tablet; (an iPad or Nexus); or a point-and-shoot camera. If you’re a skilled shooter and want to use a DSLR, like a Canon Rebel or Nikon D600, be my guest, but you’ll want one with a flip LCD screen, since these cameras are harder to focus than the everything-in-focus smartphone, tablets and point-and-shoots.
  • A microphone.
  • Lights. You can buy cheap Home Depot lights for $40 or make use of great natural daylight.
  • Editing software. iMovie is free on all new Apple Macintosh computers, and online services like Pixorial and Wevideo.com offer ways to edit video footage online for free.

Let’s take a moment to look at topics.  If you’re a small business owner  you may think, “What do I have to say? How can I fill up minutes of video time?

Easy.

I don’t care whether you’re a dentist, real estate agent, florist, newspaper stand or clothing shop, Main Street’s finest has lots to talk about.

Let’s say you’re a florist and you want to showcase your business.

  • First video: Introduce yourself and explain why you became a florist and what makes your shop unique.
  • From there, highlight a daily or weekly flower of the day.
  • Talk about different flowers for different seasons.
  • Offer gardening tips.
  • Offer tips for making centerpieces we can afford for weddings and other events.
  • Make a comedy video about a lonely dinner table without flowers. Then come in at the end and say a few lines, either in voice over, or on camera, about how flowers help people lead happier lives.

What if you’re a dentist? What topics can you cover that people will want to watch?

  • Introduce yourself and tell why you became a dentist and why you love your job.
  • Talk about the various services you provide, from crowns and teeth cleaning and everything else down the road.
  • Discuss how to prepare for a root canal. There’s nothing more painful—or at least, that’s what the patient thinks. Talk about how new technology has made the process much easier to withstand.
  • Offer tips on keeping your teeth in tip-top shape.
  • Go beyond your role as dentist to offer thoughts on healthy living, health news from the newspaper and whatever else tickles your fancy, as long as it’s not politics. (Unless you want to turn off 50% of your viewers, who are going to disagree with you.)
  • Offer a tour of the practice and explain why you decorated it the way you did. Showcase the art on the wall.
  • Show off the magazines you subscribe to keep patients interested when they come in, and tell why you selected them.

As you can see, there are many, many things to talk about on a daily or weekly basis.

Many video makers in YouTube land create “Vlogs,” a daily 30-60 second rundown of them talking to the camera about what they’re doing that day. This is another way to create more content and get your name in front of potential customers.

Because let’s face it—they’re not looking at the Yellow Pages anymore, and they’re not reading the newspaper as often as they used to. So if you want to connect with them, online is the place to do it.

All you need is a camera, an Internet connection, and a little time. What are you waiting for? Let’s get busy!

Jefferson Graham is the author of Video Nation: A DIY Guide to Planning, Shooting and Creating Great Video, and a tech columnist for USA TODAY. Reach him at @jeffersongraham on Twitter.

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