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August 11, 2016

Lights, Camera, Action! Video Options for Bloggers

by Donna Huber


Have you tried to add video to your repretoire? A couple of years ago I tried to raise the presence of Girl Who Reads on YouTube by doing a weekly "What am I reading" video. They were decently received, but they were time consuming and no one seemed to miss them when I stopped.

I recently went to a Digital Storytelling conference and of course the main topic was video.

Video has seen increasing interest, and there are many more ways than YouTube to share video. How many of you have a SnapChat account? (that's one social media channel I haven't jumped on, but it is an option). You can post video to Instagram.

While book trailers have always been a bit of a hit or miss, there are some new options for those interested in doing more video.

Both Facebook and Twitter have LIVE video options. These options would be good for a Q&A or a book club type discussion. Have you tried Facebook Live or Periscope (Twitter's live video option)? A few of tips on being successful that I garnered from the talk by a Facebook executive

  1. Give advance noticed. Advertise your Live event much as you would any big promotional activity you do. Some business managers and such are setting regular days/times for these Live chats and usuing them kind of like open office hours.
  2. Videos should be at least 10 minutes long. This will allow for stragglers to join in as their friends and collegues make mention that they are attending the live event.
  3. Make a transcript of the event to post afterwards.
Another tip shared during the talk about videos on Facebook was that videos with closed captions get more engagement than those that are audio alone. I know I often rather read the captioning than listening to the video. Also, it makes your videos more accessible to the deaf and hard-of-hearing.

video tipsDuring the talk about reaching Generation Z, it was commented that they are more interested in knowing the people behind the brand. They are looking for personal connections. When I did my weekly vlogs, many people commented on my accent. It was something people would never know if they were just reading my words on the screen.

You may be thinking that this is all well and good, but you don't have video equipment or the knowledge to pull off a slick production. Well, there is good news on that front as well.

The video capabilities of smartphones are always getting better and there are a few free video editing programs available. During the Facebook talk it was mentioned that people aren't put off by amatuer video. In some cases it provides a more personal touch.

If you have a steady hand and a decent smartphone, I encourage you to give video a try.

I recently videoed a bit of my Special Collections Libraries tour. These videos then were shared on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and this site. Click the link above to see the videos. They are definitely amateur, but it was fun and I think added a little something special to the post.

So what should you make a video of?

  • If you do an overview of your week, consider doing a video instead of a write up (or both if you don't include captions on the video).
  • A tour of your "library". Show off your bookshelves and reading piles.
  • Did you travel some where fun? Shoot a minute or two of video and share it on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.
  • Attend a bookish event and film a few minutes to give your readers a feel for what it was like to be there.
  • Anything else that will share a bit of who you are with your readers.
Tips for making a good video:

  • Good lighting, though in front of windows isn't always the best option. The changing daylight can cast unwanted shadows.
  • Pick an interesting, but not overly busy, background (stay away from the paisley and striped wallpaper!). 
  • When possible, outline what you will say to keep yourself from rambling or forgetting what you wanted to say.
  • Walk slowly and do not turn quickly if doing a moving video.
  • Consider a tripod for stationary shots.
  • Do not zoom when you can walk closer. You lose resolution when you zoom. This is particularly important if using a smartphone.
I would love to know how you have used video in your book blogging. Have you used it for teasers or do you fully video blog? What tips do you have to share?

Donna Huber, founder & publisher. Donna is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the founder of Girl Who Reads and the author of how-to marketing book Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour.

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  1. I don't have a problem speaking in front of people but I'm not comfortable recording myself. I might try it. Thanks for the info!

    1. The one of the Live options might be good for you since it isn't a recording.

  2. I've thought about this often and cringed at the idea, but I also know it's the new wave and we've got to be on it. Thanks for the timely reminder Donna. I'll try and strap on my big boy cajones someday soon and give it a go.

  3. Thank you for this timely post. I am at this moment getting ready to narrate a power point program on our trip to the Grand Canyon and turn it into a video to share on my blog tomorrow. I've done this before and plan to do more, but I sure forgot all the steps. So I would suggest whatever a writer wants to do for a video, do it often so you don't forget how! Good tip on including captions. I'll add those today. Thanks.

  4. Great piece. Most people seem reluctant to put themselves before others. That is a personal issue each needs to overcome in order to be successful.