Video is an ideal way for you and your business to get known, liked and trusted. And it’s never been easier to make videos – you can film, edit and post them on your phone. Not only that, but embedding your own YouTube videos on your website improves your ranking on Google. It is more effective at pulling people into your content than either text or photos. And videos catch people’s attention when they’re scrolling on social media…
Who is your video for?
I used to be a professional decorator, then a photographer, but video is now 90% of what I do. The first question I ask my clients is ‘who is your audience?’ You need to know who you’re trying to attract and inform. Is it homeowners, commercial property owners or leaseholders?
Using social media is ideal for grabbing their attention. If you target home owners then Facebook, Instagram and Twitter is where they’re at. If you do commercial decorating, then LinkedIn is the place to be, as well as Twitter.
And once you get their interest, make sure that you have got some videos on your website.
What videos should you make?
Here’s a range of videos you can use to help promote your business:
• Testimonials from clients – ideally 30-60 seconds long.
• ‘How To’ videos to show off your expertise. These should be the bedrock of your video content. They’re the best way to prove you know what you’re doing.
• Slideshows are a great way to create video content out of photos you’ve already got. Use a few text overlays, and some free music from YouTube or a free music library.
• Live videos on social media can be useful if you already have an audience. Social media platforms like to promote live video and will often notify people if you go live. They’re mostly useful if you’ve got something really interesting to say and want to connect with your existing audience.
• Vertical videos are good for Instagram and Facebook Stories, and work quite well on Twitter on mobile too. Keep them very brief and interesting as people usually just watch short clips.
• Square videos can have a particular impact but you need to know how to edit them. They’re effective but can be a bit of a faff.
• Timelapse videos can show whole processes compressed into just a few seconds, and really catch people’s attention. They are easy to do on your phone – use a tripod for best results. They record for a long time so make sure your phone has got enough charge, or plug it into a charger. They’re fun to do too!
Videos on your website
As I’ve just said, having YouTube videos on your website is favoured by the Google algorithm. But just as importantly, video on your website can help potential customers trust you more. Here’s why:
• The more ‘rich’ your content is online, the more genuine, professional and expert you will appear. A multi-page website with a gallery of photos, an ‘about’ page, testimonials, blogs and videos… can instil more trust in your business than a one-page website.
• A video featuring you enables your potential client to ‘meet’ you before picking up the phone or emailing you. It creates that human-to-human contact.
• Video is an opportunity for you to show your skills, not just ‘before and after’ photos, but show you in action. And get detailed, a video I posted of how I sanded a kitchen door got over 2,000 views even though it was 6 minutes long. It proved my attention to detail.
• Testimonials – video ones are more effective than written ones.
Top tips for filming
• Make sure your camera lens is clean
Dust ruins video and photo quality. The inside of your t-shirt is usually a decent lens cleaner, but be careful not to scratch the lens.
• Keep your background uncluttered
Only record the things that you want people to see!
• Remember your audience
Imagine you’re speaking directly to an individual client.
• Make sure your audio isn’t annoying
Bad audio quality is more irritating than bad video quality. If someone is sanding or drilling nearby and you’re talking, or viewers can’t hear you, they will switch off.
Videos on social media
To get noticed on social media you need to stand out, and posts with images, still or moving, will always stand out more.
Video can do better than photos for two reasons:
• It gives you more of a chance to tell a story, to involve a viewer with what you want to say.
• All social media platforms encourage video and will place it high in the feed (with
the possible exception of Instagram) because it makes people spend longer on
• My tips for videos on social media are to be clear on what the purpose of your video is (see above) and secondly to keep it as short as you can. People will only watch long videos if it’s worth the investment in their time – either the video is particularly entertaining, or it contains information that they really want.
What kit do you need?
All you really need is your mobile phone and a cheap tripod. If you’re going to record yourself talking to camera, make sure the tripod is tall enough. You can use an action-cam like a GoPro for timelapse or as a head-cam – if you’re into that.
If you’re going to get into vlogging to build an audience, then it can be worth investing in a better camera and audio equipment, maybe even a ring light. But if you’re not, your phone is fine. A very big company going for corporate clients, should invest in getting a professional video producer to create some great content – it can create a real wow, but it doesn’t come cheap.
There are plenty of phone apps and computer programmes you can use to edit your video for free. iMovie for Mac and iPhone has plenty of tools, and for Android I’ve been told that FilmoraGo and Movie Maker Filmmaker are good, and they have free versions. Windows PCs have Windows Movie Maker for basic editing.
If you want more advanced tools, then Adobe Premiere and Final Cut Pro are the tools of choice for most professionals.
Appropriate music can enhance your videos, giving them more feeling. YouTube has its own bank of free music, or you can find free music online. I pay to subscribe to a music library for my corporate videos, but unless you’re doing it professionally, this is an unnecessary expense.
Use text to tell the audience what’s going on – especially with a slide show or if you’ve no speech in your video, and try not to use flashy effects unless you know what you’re doing – they can distract and look amateur.
The ideal video structure
• Tell your audience what you’re going to do – whether that’s talking to camera or a simple text introduction: ‘How we sprayed a 25 door kitchen’ for example.
• Get the message across as concisely and interestingly as possible. Explain what you’re doing and why. ‘We degreased and sanded every door to get maximum paint adhesion and the best finish possible.’
• Do some action shots of prepping and painting, and timelapse footage to add interest. Then show the finished result.
• Have a ‘call to action’ – such as ‘If you need your kitchen painting, contact us on…’.
• Although I’ve advised to keep videos short, people who are trying to find a decorator with real attention to detail will want to see that in your videos. Some of the decorating videos on my website are more than five minutes long, and my more discerning clients watched every second.
The Idaho Painter phenomenon
Some decorators have built amazing brands on YouTube, particularly Chris Berry, The Idaho Painter, whose channel is now called Paintlife TV. He started creating snappy videos eight years ago to share his expertise on how to paint efficiently, and built a following of a quarter of a million subscribers.
Some of his videos have over a million views. His trick was to create hundreds of ‘how to‘ videos that have been hugely popular with professional decorators and DIYers alike.
There’s no reason why you can’t grow a massive YouTube following, but it’ll take a great deal of time, effort and perseverance. Is it really what you want to do? You’ll only make it pay if you’re able to monetise your videos with ads, promos and merchandising.
So get recording!
Get started, make mistakes, and learn how to make better videos. That’s all I did. Your ultimate aim is to stand out from your competition, to be noticed for snappy, interesting content, to be liked for being useful and engaging, and to be trusted for your expertise.