I had a chance to interview Brendon Sinclair about his ventures into online video. You may recognize Brendon as the author of the highly publicized Web Design Business Kit on Sitepoint. He is also the owner of Tailored Consulting in Australia.
Website publishers often ignore video, first, because of the bandwidth, second because it appear to have minimal search engine optimization value (not exactly true) and secondly because of the effort and cost involved in producing it. Should you ignore it? After reading this interview you may have a different opinion.
1. What first initiated your interest in online video?
My interest was increased when I kept seeing the increasing uptake of broadband and the subsequent increase in the use of higher bandwidth technologies, such as podcasts. We developed a podcast that has proven quite popular and I saw how visitors react to having more information.
Because the web is about content. Content is King. The more content the better.
We also manage quite a few holiday resorts and I saw video as an excellent way to demonstrate the quality of the resorts. The more information you have the more likely visitors are to book. And video seemed like a great way to show the resort, show the proximity to the beach, show the nice staff, etc.
All the signs pointed to online video becoming increasingly popular and effective – high uptake of broadband, high penetration of online media players and increased time online.
They’re not even close. The video review converts at 3-4 times the rate of the text review. And I’d expect it to – I can provide so much more information via video through using graphs, graphics and audio (I can do that to an extent with the text page but not nearly so well) that really help me get my message across..
The other critical aspect of the video review is that people get to see me. They can see, I hope, my genuineness (is that even a word?!) and my passion about Aaron’s book. And they can see my passion about the very positive influence that successful search engine optimization can have on a business or person. An important part of the video is that I can also demonstrate some credibility.
I’ve been on the web for a while now and through my own book, the SitePoint Tribune newsletter I write and a few little successes I’ve had visitors can see that I actually know wha I’m talking about. I really try and avoid the usual hype associated with online marketing and I think video is a way where visitors can get a sense of who you are and what sort of person you might be.
Whilst text is great and, in some cases, better than video for visitors looking for information figured the target audience would be mainly tech-savvy and be receptive to video. It’s a matter of delivering the message in the right way for the target audience. Video does that for a search engine optimization book review.
3. How many hours went in to putting together the web video on SEOBookReview.com, from start to finish?
It took a while. Getting online video together is a very time-consuming job. A good rule of thumb is for each minute of video allow 1 day. That’s not quite true for the SEOBookReview.com site – it took a day to come up with the concept and then write the script, a day to set up and shoot, and then a couple of days to edit, do all the techniocal bits and pieces and then put the video onto the site.
So that’s 4 days in total.
You learn so much in the process. In the video you’ll see me seated at a desk in my office, the wall behind me has a range of pictures (photos, plaques, etc) and we have a plant and a section of a bookcase. I’m wearing a white shirt and a blue sports jacket.
All of what you see in the video is done for a reason. And the set up takes quite a while.
I’m wearing the white shirt and jack to look professional. Some people say I should have worn a tie – good point. But we wanted to look friendly and approachable because I see our market as non-stuffy 20-40 year olds who are a bit more relaxed.
The desk is clear – implying I’m organised.
The plaques in the background are for some awards I’ve been presented with (not that you can see them well) – suggesting we’re good enough at something to actually win.
And you probably noticed that I’m not reading from notes – I’m actually reading from my laptop which is positioned just under the camera (if you look closely you’ll see my eyes move down a few times).
So, 4 days in total. And that was 1 day for me and 3 days from Tina. And Tina is experienced at editing video.
4. Other than a video camera, what software and hardware is used to put together a typical web video?
It’s remarkably simple to get a video online. Get a video camera and shoot. Then get an editing program to edit it (Windows XP comes with Moviemaker 2, Mac comes with iMovie and there are lots of reasonably priced simple editors around.). Then upload it. It’s that simple.
But of course, like so many things, the better quality video you want the more sophsiticated your equipment needs to be.
We started off with just the camera and tripod. Here’s a run down of what we have now:
Shotgun Microphone (great to have, but you can do without for lots of simple
Firewire card ($30 US)
Firewire cable ($15 US)
Edius Pro (Canopus product) ($230 US)
Procoder Express to export from Edius (comes with Edius Pro)
Flash ($700 US)
Flash video encoder
Headphones ($30 US)
Reflector ($40 US)
The only other thing you need is great content. And great content is informative, entertaining and what your visitors want.
5. I am seeing more bloggers move into podcast and even video casting. You also run TailoredPodcast.com, any chance that will become a videocast someday?
Yep, it’s on our agenda. we see video is a more interesting experience. Sound is great and a step up from text, but video is another step further. The only trouble is that not everyone easily plays video (we currently do our videos in Flash 7 for a whole range of reasons related to accessability), but if we can produce consistently informative and entertaining video then those few who can’t see the video will go to the trouble of downloading the required player.
We envisage having a live video podcast in the future with calls/IM/emails coming in to be it as interactive as possible. That’s a while away, but in the meantime we’ll develop some video podcasts similar to what’s about at the moment.
Video works and it works really well at converting visitors to buyers. It’s because they ‘buy’ your message because your message is more comprehensive than any other way that can be delivered.
And video works well for expressing ideas for exactly the same reasons. And, importantly, the ideas are delivered in a way that it easy and convenient for the visitor. Video podcasting is a great way to inform, educate and entertain your visitors – and that’s when they’ll come back for more.
I really see online video as a huge opportunity for web develoeprs and marketers. Now is to time to get onboard and learn the skills that will make a huge difference to online sales.