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
- 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.
- 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.
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.