How To Produce “Business-Quality” Online Video On A Small Business Budget

How To Produce “Business-Quality” Online Video On A Small Business Budget

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Can businesses today really create sustainable revenue and long-term profit around regularly publishing professional-quality online video, and keep their production costs well below the standards of broadcast-quality? Yes, if they’re willing to be what I call “videoratis” – a video professional and publicist skilled at more than one job that relates to their business and their online community.

In my recent interview with Shelly Palmer, he expressed his opinion that for most businesses today, building revenue model around regular online video publishing is still too much of a challenge to overcome, both from a cost and logistics perspective. Shelly joked that sure anyone can do it on a one-time basis if you have friends over and pay them in pizza and beer, but he stressed that broadcast-quality video had a fixed price to do on a day-in-day-out basis of $3K per 3 minutes of video content. That’s per day, per 3-minute piece. By Shelly’s broadcast-standards and figures, that would be well outside the budgets of most companies looking to do video publishing as their business model, or chief part of it.

Quality Video vs. Broadcast Quality Video

Now Shelly’s roots are deeply entrenched in broadcast television, so he’s used to seeing big budgets for Internet television (typically lots of broadcast television shows, like on Hulu, with money generated from substantial advertising.) When I interviewed Shelly Palmer at the adtech San Francisco conference, he expressed to me that despite the wider access to online video, its regular business application for day-in-day-out content may be best reserved for broadcast-level agencies – i.e., those that have deep pockets and resources, and an established audience.

I disagree. I think there is a great opportunity for businesses that don’t have a broadcast-level budget for regular, quality video production. The web is very friendly to the smaller business, and smarts will win out over budget, including with professional quality video. Now I’m not talking amateur quality; I do believe its essential to put out “business-quality” video.

What is “Business-Quality” Video?

Here is my definition of what I mean by “business quality”…

Business-quality video -content that achieves a proper scale of good production AND content for its intended audience, with an expected result from that audience related to whatever your business goals may be. (Note: these should be directly measureable business goals, and fortunately video publishing platforms are including better and better analytics to show that to us now.)

What’s fantastic about online video today for business objectives is that there’s enough tools and venues today (at an increasing low pricing scale and increasingly high platform quality) that allows you to be a hybrid-professional, or what I call a “videorati.”

What is a “Videorati?”

I made up this term based on “digerati,” a term used to refer to the elite of online communities. To me a videorati can have these qualities:

  • A hybrid-professional – can do more than one skillset, be it in planning, production, talent, publishing, marketing (including search marketing and SEO), and performance testing (including usability and analytics) of online video.
  • Is community-minded, and a leader — this is important for video publishers, since they require a large audience to build advertising and subscriptions around must be public with sharing their expertise and opinions, and be able to reach those people through search engines, video sharing sites, and social networking sites related to their industry or skillset. (This is where Video SEO comes in very handy, plus the gift of gab.)

I consider myself a hybrid professional when it comes to online video. I am the script writer, interviewer, co-producer, on-air talent, web developer and SEO guy. Sometimes I will have someone as a backup, but I can still do most if not all of the things on the fly needed to produce and promote business-quality video.

I remember what my business partner and co-producer of our ReelSEO podcast show, Bob Sandidage, mentioned during our interview with Shelly Palmer…

“Shelly is talking about how we’re really in a period of a big transition right now, and nobody knows where its going to fall.” Said Bob. “Nobody knows where we’re going to come out on this. So, we’re still looking at the old standards, and he does have a very definitive sustainability model on what it costs to regularly make video; and that’s something that’s fairly immovable. So the question then becomes, what internal resources do you have, how effectively can they be used to produce videos, and what’s your criteria for what’s an effective video once you make something? And then, when you look at where you’re going with this video, what quality level do you need to have to meet the market that you’re after? So there’s a lot of really complex things at play here. I don’t really have any simple analysis of the situation other than to say, learn learn learn!”

Strategies for Producing Quality Video on a Smart Budget

So I’ll do my best to offer a simple-but-sound solution for how to be a videorati and produce and promote business-quality video for online consumption:

  • Capture what’s online– take video content that’s already out there, repackage and repurpose it. Do professional video screen capture of clips on the web. (SnapZ Pro, Camtasia Studio or SnagIt are all good inexpensive tools.)
  • Build a brand around it -always give your own quality brand, at the beginning and ending. Meaning, have a professionally-produced video intro and outtro, which you can reuse for most or all of your individual clips. Keep the pieces short, like video snacks. If you’re going to do regular segues, then have those professionally produced as well. Pick a show format, and provide regularity with your audience. You don’t need to produce an entire clip all of high-production value. When you show initially what you can do on a high-end level, audiences will be much more forgiving if you’re shooting on a lower level for the body of your video.
  • Beef the audio -don’t skimp on professional-quality audio! Audio has a considerably lower pricing point than video. Poor audio can ruin any video no matter what the image quality. Its recommended to do professional audio voice-overs with most of your clips, with a decent microphone that records right into your computer while the screen capture or movie is playing.
  • Grab television shows to your computer – get a television capture program like Elegato, and take those pieces and make your own news reporting and commentary from them.
  • Go to the library – by that, I mean professional stock footage agencies. Check out professional-quality multimedia libraries available for either royalty-free purchase or rights-based licensing. I personally use iStockPhoto or Getty Images for most of my work.
  • Get on a platform -a video publishing platform, where you can host, manage, and organize all of your video content for public consumption. The best free platform I’ve found is BlipTV. For just $59, Vimeo has a professional player (and hosting space) that will be a good entry point for new publishers. For a big step up, Brightcove has a Basic version of its platform that goes for $6K a year.

Television Re-Purposes Web Video all the time

Now, what about television borrowing from the Internet? We see CNN and Fox News (and yes especially Viacom’s TV properties) doing it all the time with taking clips off YouTube and other video sharing sites or video publisher sites, and putting them on broadcast television shows. And hey, you know what happened recently to me: a television network in Japan has paid me twice already to feature one of my own YouTube videos on television. So I guess you can make money! (Ok, not sustainable, but good enough for several months of pizza and beer. ;)


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