Author Blogging 101: Video Interview Tools & Tips

by Joel Friedlander on January 16, 2012 · 13 comments

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Video interviews online are becoming more common, and many bloggers and online content marketers are interested in taking advantage of video for lots of reasons.

When you come from a print-oriented world, the move to video might seen strange, frustrating at times, but it can also be very rewarding in the end. There’s no other way to engage your audience as well, and no more engaging way to teach than with video.

I had to find a very simple—some might call it primitive—way to make video work for me. Without the time or inclination to do lots of product research or experimentation I simply imitated what I saw other people doing.

Now almost all my interviews are on video, and you can do these interviews, too, with just a little equipment and some practice.

If you want to bring the power and immediacy of video to your author blog, here’s the way I do video interviews like the recent ones with Dan Blank and Brian Felsen. (Look for more interviews with lots of tips for marketing and distributing your books in the weeks ahead.)

Here’s my rundown.

Video Interview Resources

Software

  • Skype—One of the great inventions of recent years, Skype allows us to connect a virtual phone line over the internet. Since Skype can broadcast a video signal as well as audio, video interviews are as easy as pushing a button. Free.
  • Call Recorder—This inexpensive plug-in for Macintosh makes recording Skype easy. It also allows you to do the “side-by-side” split-screen recordings that I use here. $19.95.
  • Screenflow—This screen-recording software, invaluable for making screencasts, also has a rudimentary editor that allows you to crop and adjust your audio and video, add text with effects, and do basic editing. It’s not much of a video editor, but it makes the job easy to learn and quick to get done. $99.
  • YouTube, Vimeo or other hosts—You’ll need to store and host the videos somewhere and the easiest free alternatives are Youtube and Vimeo. With a new Youtube account you might not be able to upload 30-minute videos, but you can at Vimeo. You can also use both. Free.

Hardware

  • Apple iMac—Apple computers come with a built-in webcam and microphone. Neither of these will win any awards, but you’ll be surprised how good the quality of the cameras on the newer iMac is.
  • Samson Go Mic—Video experts say that people will tolerate poor video, but they won’t tolerate poor sound. There are lots of choices, but one good one is the Go Mic. This little microphone plugs right into a USB port, has a sturdy clip to attach to a laptop, works on both Mac and Windows PCs, and gives very nice sound. $38.


Environment

When it comes time to do your interview, are you ready? You might find your own challenges wherever you’re doing your recording, but here are some things to think about well before the appointed time.

You might want to set an alarm for yourself 30 minutes prior to air time to give yourself plenty of room to be rested and ready when the time comes.

  • Dogs—Attendees at a recent live webinar I broadcast got to meet my two Boston Terriers. Unfortunately, they weren’t on the agenda. Now they get moved to the other end of the house well before show time.
  • Cats—This can be tough. Our calico went into an extended “hunting screech” during a recent interview and, even though the door was closed she turned up on the recording.
  • Phones—Some phones need to be unplugged, others can be muted. Base stations of wireless phones may not have an “off” switch. Don’t forget your cellphone, too. Oh, did you unplug or silence the fax machine?
  • Computers—During your interview you don’t want your “You’ve got mail” tone chiming in the background, or other alerts pinging. Mute all the computers around you, including laptops and tablets.
  • Agenda—Spend some time developing questions that will lead your interview in an interesting direction. Share the agenda with your guest well beforehand.
  • Defaults—Have you borrowed a laptop to do an interview? If the software is defaulted to record calls automatically, clicking the “Record” button will stop the recording. Double check before you get started.
  • Background—Spend some time checking out the way you look on screen. Do you have something hanging on a wall behind you that appears to stick out of the side of your head? Maybe swivel one way or another.
  • You—Make sure you take a minute before you get started to look at yourself in a mirror in a well-lighted room.
  • Practice first—Get a friend with Skype to pretend to be an interview subject. This is a great way to get comfortable with your setup before going live.
  • Lighting—It can take a while to master the lighting, so just make sure when you get started that you have a lot of indirect illumination. You can even bring an extra light into an otherwise dark office. We’re trying to keep this simple.

And keeping it simple is the way to keep it from being overwhelming. Like anything new, getting started is the hardest part. You can solve this by having fun with it, and making your first video as an “experiment.” You’ll be surprised how quickly you get better at it.

Creating videos gives you an incredible tool to use on your blog. Although video is becoming more common, bloggers who are comfortable producing video content, including interviews, are still in a minority. Video interviews can give you a clear way to set yourself apart as a blogger.

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    { 12 comments… read them below or add one }

    Nancy Jacob March 2, 2013 at 10:18 am

    Dear Joel and readers,

    We would like to draw your attention to Automated Online Video Interviewing service – Jet HR (www dot jethr dot com)

    Video Interviewing is best suited for. There are many benefits to live and recorded video interviewing:

    1) Interviewer can ask same questions to multiple candidates
    2) Interviewer and candidate can save time, money and effort on travelling
    3) Recorded interviews can be viewed repeatedly and shared with other team members.

    If you are interested in trying out a video interview system for free, please visit our website (www dot jethr dot com)

    Team Member
    Jet HR

    Reply

    Beatrice February 16, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    Thank you Joel for your great tipps!

    Is there any tool which one can make an interview – the one part from pc, the other from Mac?

    It is very difficult, to find such a video tool.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander February 16, 2012 at 5:03 pm

    Hi Beatrice,

    I’m not sure if it’s a tool you need or not. Depending on the editing software you’re using, why not convert both files to the same format (like .MOV or .MP4) then put them both in the editor and cut each one into short bits. You could then cut from speaker A to speaker B pretty easily.

    Reply

    Beatrice Fischer-Stracke February 17, 2012 at 12:46 am

    Thank you Joel. This will be the best way to do. It was also my idea.

    I only thougt, perhaps is there any tool compatible with both systems.

    Reply

    freya January 18, 2012 at 9:04 pm

    You’ve got some great tips here Joel. I recently got a Mac and I’m looking forward to trying these tools out. :) I recently did a few home videos with a friend and learned some of this the hard way. I’d like to add Audacity to your list. Its a great audio editing tool with lots of videos and posts available on how to use it.

    A tip for those who can’t avoid certain sounds would be, to keep quiet or repeat what you said again after the sound receeds. These sounds can then be edited out. My friend’s a wire-hair dachshund breeder and we couldn’t avoid the dogs completely, so we edited those bits out. Also it helps to record 10 seconds of silence at the start. This means that you get a sample of the background noise (like fans, a/c, and other hums) that can then be used on Audacity to clean up the entire track.

    Reply

    Aaron Driver January 17, 2012 at 9:26 am

    Thanks for the great article, Joel. Picked up the Samson Go Mic on your recommendation, for online teaching and video blogging.

    A question: Do you use Screenflow to edit entire videos, in addition to its screencasting function? If so, is there a reason you prefer it to iMovie?

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander January 17, 2012 at 1:14 pm

    Hi Aaron,

    I had a lot of trouble learning iMovie and found it rather frustrating. So when I realized I could use the very simple interface of Screenflow I just switched to that, and use it for all my video editing. It lacks many of the controls found in iMovie, but it works pretty well for me.

    Reply

    Carol Costello January 16, 2012 at 6:17 am

    Thanks again for the highly accessible cutting edge info, Joel. I was thinking of asking you to put together a book on author blogging but everything would be outdated in a week. Hence, the value of blogging! You are the best resource out there for self-publishers and anyone with something to share!

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander January 16, 2012 at 9:42 am

    Thanks, Carol. You are actually pretty intuitive. This series of posts on Author Blogging is intended to end up as a training program I’ll be making available later this year. Online training is so much better than printed books for this type of material because it changes so quickly. Wishing you massive sales in 2012.

    Reply

    Neonil kitmour January 16, 2012 at 3:10 am

    Hi Joel, I appreciate your intelligence. The way you describe video interview tools and tips, it’s really easy catch every points. I’ll definitely share this post with my buddies. It’s really good for knowledge. Thanks :)

    Reply

    Kerstin Broemer January 16, 2012 at 2:53 am

    Hi Joel,

    thank you so much for your tips, they are great! I’m thinking about doing video interviews, so your article comes just in time. :)

    You recommend Call Recorder which seems to be brilliant. But it is for Mac only. Do you have any recommendations for PC users?

    This blog is great and full of useful information. Thank you for all the work you put in.
    Kerstin

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander January 16, 2012 at 9:40 am

    Kerstin, the one I hear about most often is Pamela. Here’s a link:

    Pamela Call Recorder for Skype

    Hope that helps.

    Reply

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