Freelance Toolkit: How to Get Started Video Blogging
It was just a few years ago when the major bottleneck for websites was producing content — you had to be an expert in web design AND a good writer to put content on the web. Video production was even more difficult with bandwidth issues, dozens of formats to consider, and that doesn’t even include the cost of shooting, editing, and post-production.
Today is completely different. Content is incredibly easy to publish, both written and video. Now that’s not to say it’s particularly quality content, but it’s definitely easier than ever. And the biggest opportunity for freelancers is to start producing video.
Video content is much easier to get to rise to the top of Google rankings, especially when you post your videos to YouTube and use their code on your site. Give it a shot. Run any how-to search; if there is quality, relevant video available, these will be at the top of the results.
If you’re strongly considering getting going with some video work, here are some ideas to get you started, and don’t forget to check out the resource links at the end of this article, especially if you would like to try out any of the tools recommended inside.
The Poor Man’s Video Rig
Likely the cheapest way to break into video blogging is to use your smartphone. If it has video capabilities, then you’re ready start! Just hit record, set it up, and go! In minutes you can have it uploaded to YouTube and the video playing on your site. While this won’t get you any awards for production or directing, it works, it’s simple, and you don’t have to go out and buy anything else to get going.
For software to edit the videos, you have several free options. For Windows users, Microsoft has Windows Movie Maker for free. Mac users have iMovie. Just transfer the video file from your phone and drop it into one of these free software packages.
Don’t ignore YouTube’s very own editing feature. You can upload your video, make edits, create transitions, save it, and call it done.
The Production Setup
If you are ready to commit, then you should consider the proper equipment and software to get the job done right. Quality video, the kind you want to sell to others, takes time to produce. Once you get good with the tools, it’s pretty straightforward and you can quickly make really great videos.
This can range from a moderately priced webcam to a camera worth tens of thousands of dollars. This is something that is going to have to be completely up to your discretion. If you want to sell HD video, then you should invest in a camera that can shoot in 1080p, no question about it. Generally speaking, a high-end webcam should get the job done if you’re just sitting down and explaining a process.
Screen Capture Software
You may not even need a camera. Many video bloggers are simply showing people how to perform tasks on the computer. Instead of aiming the camera at the computer, this is where you would want to use screen capture software.
The best-of-the-best (arguably) is Camtasia by TechSmith. This is a full-featured (and full-priced) software package. It’s amazing and well-worth the price in the time you will save and the quality you will get if you start producing video regularly.
Many free screen capture software packages are available, too. One of the most popular packages is CamStudio, it’s open source software that does a great job. You won’t have all the bells and whistles, but it’s a good starter package until the money comes-a-rolling in.
You don’t need anything fancy. You’re just capturing voice, which is a fairly low-bandwidth audio source. If you are using a camera, be careful if you try to use the built in omni-mic. Camera microphones are designed to pick up anything, which can be distracting on your video — nobody wants to hear car horns in the background.
Ideally you can use a microphone that plugs directly into your computer or camera, which can be purchased for anywhere between $20 to hundreds. Choose something that fits your budget, experiment a bit, and you’ll find that perfect fit.
Avoid that blue/white monitor glow that you get when sitting in front of a computer. Instead, a small investment in a few lights (three is a standard setup) can make your videos look professional. Lighting kits range from $50-$1,500, depending upon how fancy you want to get.
Keep in mind what kind of video you are producing. You don’t need lots of special effects and high-transition effects. You just want simple editing features. There’s likely no need to purchase a $30,000 hardware/software rig (and this price is for a cheap top-notch video editing suite).
Adobe Premier and Final Cut Pro are the two software suites for PC and Mac, respectively. Both have excellent editing capabilities and lots of extra features.
Free software includes the above mentioned Windows Movie Maker for PC and iMovie for Macs and even YouTube’s online editor. Learn more about free video software.
If you are not going to use YouTube — who wants all those ads, anyway — you’re going to need to compress your video for the web. Adobe has Media Encoder, which has excellent compression quality. The premium video editing packages have built in tools. For an excellent free compression suite, check out the Miro Video Converter, an open source project designed to help video work for HTML5.
Summing it Up
Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed! There are tons of opportunities for freelancers willing to jump into video production. You can get started for free if you select your software carefully and use your smartphone. If you’re ready to invest, you can produce professional video for under $3,000 if you choose the right gear carefully.
A video post is a fun new world and an incredible tool for making extra cash-flow. Who knows, maybe it’s your next big windfall!
Screen Capture Software:
Video Editing Software
- Adobe Premiere (paid) (PC/Mac)
- Apple’s Final Cut Pro (paid) (Mac)
- Windows Movie Maker (free) (PC)
- iMovie (free) (Mac) (comes with all modern Mac computers)
- YouTube Video Editor (free) (PC/Mac) (all online, no download needed)
Video Compression Software
Audio Recording Tutorials