How To Produce "Business-Quality" Online Video On A Small Business Budget

How To Produce Business Quality Online Video On A Small Business Budget

Can businesses today really create sustainable revenue and long-term profit around regularly publishing professional-quality online video, and keep their production costs well below the standards of broadcast-quality? Yes, if they're willing to be what I call "videoratis" - a video professional and publicist skilled at more than one job that relates to their business and their online community.

In my recent interview with Shelly Palmer, he expressed his opinion that for most businesses today, building revenue model around regular online video publishing is still too much of a challenge to overcome, both from a cost and logistics perspective. Shelly joked that sure anyone can do it on a one-time basis if you have friends over and pay them in pizza and beer, but he stressed that broadcast-quality video had a fixed price to do on a day-in-day-out basis of $3K per 3 minutes of video content. That's per day, per 3-minute piece. By Shelly's broadcast-standards and figures, that would be well outside the budgets of most companies looking to do video publishing as their business model, or chief part of it.

Quality Video vs. Broadcast Quality Video

Now Shelly's roots are deeply entrenched in broadcast television, so he's used to seeing big budgets for Internet television (typically lots of broadcast television shows, like on Hulu, with money generated from substantial advertising.) When I interviewed Shelly Palmer at the adtech San Francisco conference, he expressed to me that despite the wider access to online video, its regular business application for day-in-day-out content may be best reserved for broadcast-level agencies - i.e., those that have deep pockets and resources, and an established audience.

I disagree. I think there is a great opportunity for businesses that don't have a broadcast-level budget for regular, quality video production. The web is very friendly to the smaller business, and smarts will win out over budget, including with professional quality video. Now I'm not talking amateur quality; I do believe its essential to put out "business-quality" video.

What is "Business-Quality" Video?

Here is my definition of what I mean by "business quality"...

Business-quality video -content that achieves a proper scale of good production AND content for its intended audience, with an expected result from that audience related to whatever your business goals may be. (Note: these should be directly measureable business goals, and fortunately video publishing platforms are including better and better analytics to show that to us now.)

What's fantastic about online video today for business objectives is that there's enough tools and venues today (at an increasing low pricing scale and increasingly high platform quality) that allows you to be a hybrid-professional, or what I call a "videorati."

What is a "Videorati?"

I made up this term based on "digerati," a term used to refer to the elite of online communities. To me a videorati can have these qualities:

  • A hybrid-professional - can do more than one skillset, be it in planning, production, talent, publishing, marketing (including search marketing and SEO), and performance testing (including usability and analytics) of online video.
  • Is community-minded, and a leader â€" this is important for video publishers, since they require a large audience to build advertising and subscriptions around must be public with sharing their expertise and opinions, and be able to reach those people through search engines, video sharing sites, and social networking sites related to their industry or skillset. (This is where Video SEO comes in very handy, plus the gift of gab.)

I consider myself a hybrid professional when it comes to online video. I am the script writer, interviewer, co-producer, on-air talent, web developer and SEO guy. Sometimes I will have someone as a backup, but I can still do most if not all of the things on the fly needed to produce and promote business-quality video.

I remember what my business partner and co-producer of our ReelSEO podcast show, Bob Sandidage, mentioned during our interview with Shelly Palmer...

"Shelly is talking about how we're really in a period of a big transition right now, and nobody knows where its going to fall." Said Bob. "Nobody knows where we're going to come out on this. So, we're still looking at the old standards, and he does have a very definitive sustainability model on what it costs to regularly make [professional] video; and that's something that's fairly immovable. So the question then becomes, what internal resources do you have, how effectively can they be used to produce videos, and what's your criteria for what's an effective video once you make something? And then, when you look at where you're going with this video, what quality level do you need to have to meet the market that you're after? So there's a lot of really complex things at play here. I don't really have any simple analysis of the situation other than to say, learn learn learn!"

Strategies for Producing Quality Video on a Smart Budget

So I'll do my best to offer a simple-but-sound solution for how to be a videorati and produce and promote business-quality video for online consumption:

  • Capture what's online- take video content that's already out there, repackage and repurpose it. Do professional video screen capture of clips on the web. (SnapZ Pro, Camtasia Studio or SnagIt are all good inexpensive tools.)
  • Build a brand around it -always give your own quality brand, at the beginning and ending. Meaning, have a professionally-produced video intro and outtro, which you can reuse for most or all of your individual clips. Keep the pieces short, like video snacks. If you're going to do regular segues, then have those professionally produced as well. Pick a show format, and provide regularity with your audience. You don't need to produce an entire clip all of high-production value. When you show initially what you can do on a high-end level, audiences will be much more forgiving if you're shooting on a lower level for the body of your video.
  • Beef the audio -don't skimp on professional-quality audio! Audio has a considerably lower pricing point than video. Poor audio can ruin any video no matter what the image quality. Its recommended to do professional audio voice-overs with most of your clips, with a decent microphone that records right into your computer while the screen capture or movie is playing.
  • Grab television shows to your computer - get a television capture program like Elegato, and take those pieces and make your own news reporting and commentary from them.
  • Go to the library - by that, I mean professional stock footage agencies. Check out professional-quality multimedia libraries available for either royalty-free purchase or rights-based licensing. I personally use iStockPhoto or Getty Images for most of my work.
  • Get on a platform -a video publishing platform, where you can host, manage, and organize all of your video content for public consumption. The best free platform I've found is BlipTV. For just $59, Vimeo has a professional player (and hosting space) that will be a good entry point for new publishers. For a big step up, Brightcove has a Basic version of its platform that goes for $6K a year.

Television Re-Purposes Web Video all the time

Now, what about television borrowing from the Internet? We see CNN and Fox News (and yes especially Viacom's TV properties) doing it all the time with taking clips off YouTube and other video sharing sites or video publisher sites, and putting them on broadcast television shows. And hey, you know what happened recently to me: a television network in Japan has paid me twice already to feature one of my own YouTube videos on television. So I guess you can make money! (Ok, not sustainable, but good enough for several months of pizza and beer. ;)

About the Author -
Grant Crowell View All Posts By -

What do you think? ▼
  • Ray

    This is all fine and dandy, but are the small business owners really going to get results out of creating their own stuff? More than likely, no. Come on, people still like quality, and quality bring results! Let's not re-create a wheel, that doesn't need to be fixed.

  • http://imaginationmedia.tv/ Tim Danyo

    I love your insight Grant, but I will have to disagree with you on this one. What business need is a video professional to come in and provide a quality/value solution and get the job done right. The key is for professional videographers to hone in on this need and provide the video solutions. Saving a buck is great, but there is real value in a well produced image with a targeted message. I know there are businesses owners who are video savvy, but the vast majority are not. Sure, uploading Flip videos to YouTube, or talking head videos are fine, but I think that is as far as most people can go (at this point anyway)

  • Jason Lancaster

    I agree that businesspeople can contribute to YouTube and other popular video sharing sites with a minimum of skill, especially if they take advantage of stock footage, re-purpose TV footage, etc. What about the role of the low-cost video producer in this new age that Bob speaks of? Professionals using Pro-Am equipment and a MacBook Pro are able to produce decent quality video for a third of the cost mentioned by Shelly. I wonder if that represents the best bridge between cheap, user generated content with questionable quality and top-dollar professional production.

  • http://www.resourcenation.com Betsy Brottlund

    I agree with Jason and Tim. You need to have a professionally designed video if you want to keep your image professional. The 'do-it-yourself' method doesn't cut it now when you can hire professionals to do it for you cheaper. Try sporkmarketing.com.

  • http://imaginationmedia.tv/ Timothy Danyo

    If professional video content producers can show the amazing value in a lower cost, well made and truly internet capable video to their prospective clients, that client will most likely go with a pro video.

    Here's an analogy. Sure, I can do plumping work. I can go out, buy the tools and make the repair- even save me some money, but I won't. It's a pain and I might even mess things up and create a worse mess- not to mention it will take time away from my family and I've got a busy schedule as it is.

    There is a new rise in tech savvy media "do it alls" for sure. It comes with easy and accessible media creation tools and free education online, but ultimately people still need to really know what they are doing and be able to do it better, or just as good as a trained professional. You will always have "do it all" folks, but as far as it becoming a new wave in pro content creation? I'm skeptical.

    If anything this is the dawning of the age of one or two manned pro video content producers that write, shoot, edit, and distribute quickly with little production overhead. They can leverage the extreme power of online video- coupled with their pro quality edge.

  • http://www.reelseo.com/author/grantastic/ Grant Crowell

    Thanks Ray, Tim, Jason, Betsy everyone for your thoughtful and insightful comments!
    I definitely agree its always better to have a professionals with professional equipment handle video solutions for clients; but like everything other business area, we need to at least consider the possibility of another option, rather than just simply saying “don’t do it!” My point is to educate people on the pros and cons with solutions that may not involve the best professional equipment, or even a professional videographer. Perhaps if we do that responsibly, then the non-video professionals will have a better appreciation of what we do, rather than being made to feel too intimidated to even try on their own (so they can then learn on their own, which is the whole point of what we’re trying to do here – educate everybody!)
    Also to Timothy’s point on the “do-it-all” scenario. Some people are great handyman around the house, Some aren’t. I’m good at many things in video because I was trained in them separately through my years from a student to a professional, from education to application, including many client scenarios and case studies. I have confidence in what I can multitask on a video project and serve as a solid backup on, and what I know is best to leave to other experts. That being said, Timothy is right about we should know what we’re best at; but I say we should do what we love to do, and often times that’s more than one thing. That’s why I believe the hybrid is more important today in online video for business than the “specialist.”

  • http://imaginationmedia.tv Timothy Danyo

    It's funny. I purchased a WordPress theme thinking I could do all of it myself. I ended up hiring a professional coder to help me out! True, I did save money and I learned a lot, but I spent a huge amount of time.

    I totally agree with you, Grant, that our thinking should be solutions oriented. For some businesses it's a good fit to do all in house video work. We as video marketers and producers can then act as advisors and consultants and then be available if and when their needs grow. We can help them get started and build trust and confidence in our services.

    Grant I appreciate what you guys are doing at ReelSEO. I'm really stoked I've found your blog! I am a devote listener to your podcasts as well. Very good helpful, useful info. here! Keep it up!

    • http://www.reelseo.com/about/mark/ reelseo

      Thanks Timothy... I'm actually learning how to code the ReelSEO theme myself... HAHA - what a pain. I built the first version of ReelSEO and am rebuilding it for a relaunch coming up soon. Hope I can get it done myself. Thanks for the kind words about the site..

      Mark Robertson - ReelSEO