Video can be a wonderful form of content. It has a lot of benefits that written content just can't provide. But it has it's own challenges as well.

Because there is a video camera on practically every device, it is easy to think that you can just whip out a video on your own. And you could! I am the first person to say that you shouldn't let perfection hold you back, otherwise you will likely never make a video.

Accept the fact that your first video isn't going to be perfect (mine isn't!). It is going to be a starting point. Everyone who has built a large following using regular video content had to start somewhere. Recently some of them (Marie Forleo and Gary Vaynerchuk) showed some of their early videos just to compare. It was pretty entertaining!

I am not a videographer and this post isn't about how to do great videos. This is about what you need to think about to get a video done - period.

The reason to consider doing video is that it is such a power form of content. It captures people's attention for much longer than written content. It is extremely effective at building relationships with viewers, as well as converting them into followers and clients. This is because we are wired to interact with each other face-to-face. We download a ton of information in seconds when we can see someone's expressions, appearance, and body language.

So, I encourage you to put out a video, even if it is just to post on Facebook at first. And when you do, here are some things to consider:

Location

In a video, there are three components to the location you choose: the background, the lighting, and the sound. Outside videos can be nice for background and lighting, but are often challenging with sound, whether it is other people, cars driving by, birds honking overhead. It is a little less predictable than an indoor location. Decide whether you want a plain background or if you don't mind seeing something behind you. (Although probably not your dirty laundry!)

Appearance

Your own appearance in the video also plays a role in how you are perceived. Think about what you will wear, your hair and make-up. It doesn't have to be over the top, but it should match your branding, your personality, and how you show up in your business. Depending on the lighting, a little extra makeup can give you more color and make sure you don't look washed out or shiny.

Personality

This part is what holds a lot of people up. Being in front of a camera is a skill that must be practiced. Many people seem awkward or flat when they first do it. The best advice I've gotten to lessen the nerves around speaking on camera is to practice, practice, practice! Stand in front of a camera and speak. Do your elevator speech or introduction until it rolls off your tongue. When you are in front of a camera, you have to add a little more "personality" than in normal conversation. And watch how fast you talk, as it is easy to rush.

Equipment

The first three items need to be considered no matter what level of video you are creating. Here is where you start to have choices. Will you take video with a simple mobile device or computer, or do you have a video camera? How about a microphone? Do you need a tripod? And there is much more as you get higher on the continuum of video quality. I've seen videos at all levels, and I encourage you to use what you have to get started. That way you can make educated choices as you improve. I thought I was doing great with my HD camera and lavaliere microphone, but I ended up with a buzzing noise throughout my video that had to be edited out. So, don't over complicate things unless you are ready.

Technology

Do you need video editing software to make the proper cuts and changes? What will you do with your video once it is created? Posting it to YouTube or Vimeo requires a certain amount of technical expertise. If you have tools for this and are reasonably tech savvy, it is possible to take it on. Otherwise, you may need to get some help in this area.

No matter what you decide when considering these things, it is a really good idea to have some help along the way. Having done video on my own, I won't be doing it that way again! If you can afford a professional videographer, then go for it! They have the equipment and expertise to make the whole experience smoother. If not, at least get a video buddy. Someone who can check your hair, press record, and monitor the camera. If you schedule a video day with another person, you are more likely to stick to it. Plus it's a lot more fun!

Consider scheduling a video shoot as part of your content creation plans. I can't wait to see it!
 
 
Content marketing is such an incredible tool, and is becoming the cornerstone of online marketing. But it can seem very broad and unclear. It overlaps with many other forms of online marketing, which adds to the confusion. So what exactly qualifies as content marketing? 

Well, it's not as complicated as you might think. First of all, it requires the creation of content that aims to share value and build relationships with your prospective clients. I've spent a lot of time talking about what content is and what forms it can take. But, content marketing is the umbrella for all the things you can do with that content. 

There are many specific ways that you can use content, and that is where the overlapping and confusion comes in. It's a little bit like when I was learning about shapes in elementary geometry, and I was told that a square is a rectangle, but a rectangle isn't necessarily a square. The rectangle has a broader definition, while the square is more specific.

In the same way, e-mail marketing can be a form of content marketing, but not all content marketing involves e-mail. Blogging is a form of content marketing, but not all content marketing is about writing a blog. SEO is significantly affected by content marketing, but not all content marketing is about SEO.

Because there are so many faces to content marketing, it can be difficult to know where to start. So, perhaps it is better to think about, not the specific uses for content, but the broader marketing purposes it can serve. 

The ultimate purpose of content is to build relationships with the people who see it. But how you use the content determines what role it will play in your overall marketing plan.
In this sense, there are really only three purposes for content marketing: Drive traffic, capture leads, and nurture leads.

Drive traffic

The first role that content plays is in increasing traffic to your website and your message.  There are several ways you can use content to serve this purpose. First of all, having a significant amount of content on your site improves your rankings on the search engines. If you are using keywords in your content that people are searching for, your site and articles will show up in their results, driving them to your site. 

Another way content can drive traffic is when you post it in other places where there is already a lot of traffic. Posting links to your content pieces on social media sites, popular blog sites, or other networks increases your reach and encourages people to visit your website. This could also happen in the form of partnerships during a launch or marketing campaign, when others encourage their followers to visit your site.

Capture Leads 

The second thing that content can do is allow you to capture leads. This happens when you require people to opt-in in order to view your content. While this is a simple idea at its core, there are innumerable ways that you can execute it. 

There are many different types of content that can be used for this purpose: e-books or white papers, videos, webinars, tele seminars, etc... The opt-in can be something that lives on your website for a long period of time, or it can be part of a launch or shorter term marketing effort, using landing pages and other tools.

This is a critical component of content marketing. Capturing information from your leads is the only way to be able to communicate with your prospective customers and clients who find you online. If you don't capture their e-mail address, they will disappear and you have no way of building a relationship with them.

These days, you must have a compelling piece of content for which people are willing to exchange their contact information. Not everyone will opt-in for the first thing you create either, so new opt-in campaigns should be built occasionally based on your overall marketing plan. This is where content marketing begins to overlap with e-mail marketing.

Nurture Leads

The final purpose of content marketing is to nurture leads. This is critically important as most people will not be ready to buy from you or hire you when they first encounter you. You need to establish trust and deepen your relationship with them, always moving them  closer to the ultimate goal of becoming a paying customer.

This is typically done in the form of e-mail marketing. Sending your prospective customers, whose information you have captured, content pieces that they find helpful, interesting, and valuable. You can nurture leads in other ways as well, but using e-mail marketing in an authentic way is the most efficient and effective way to maintain a relationship with many people.

There are off-line ways to use content to achieve these goals as well. And there are other marketing tools, that do not require the creation of content, to achieve them as well. But hopefully this helps you to think more clearly about what content marketing is and how it fits into your business growth.
 
 
If you want to market your business online, you must become a content creator.

That is the reality of online marketing. You may also be a coach, or a designer, or a consultant, or a fill-in-the-blank. But in your role as a small business owner in charge of getting your message and your service out to the world, you must begin to see yourself as a content creator.

The truth is that it is an essential part of running a business, and it is a role you must embrace. Entrepreneurs who understand this and are using content marketing effectively are growing their businesses much faster than those who are not.

I run into too many small business owners who push against the responsibility of creating content, claiming all kinds of excuses. Becoming a content creator is a mindset shift that can be challenging, and there are many hurdles that come up for people. But here are some ways to overcome those hurdles and begin to embrace your own inner content creator.

Connect To Your Passion

When I work with small business clients and begin to ask questions and draw out their passion, they often go on and on. They can talk about it for hours! 

When they realize that creating content is really about being able to express their passion and talk about the things they feel strongly about, suddenly creating content isn't so tedious. In fact, it's kind of fun!

Isn't that why we all started businesses in the first place? Because we have a passion for something and have ideas about how it should be done and why it is important. It is easy to get busy doing our work, but taking some time to connect to our passion is important for our journey as an entrepreneur. And it also happens to be a great way to attract clients and grow our businesses!

Use Your Strengths

The most common excuse I hear from small business owners is that they aren't good writers. I have two reactions to this. First of all, everyone I have encountered who runs a successful business, especially in the online space, creates a substantial amount of written content. It is a critical skill that can be learned and improved.

However, I also don't want this hurdle to prevent someone from becoming a content creator. So, rather than getting stuck on what you aren't good at, find a way to express yourself that you are good at. Do you like speaking in front of groups? Talking on the telephone? Taking pictures? Have you always wanted to be in a video? Or maybe when you consider the other options, writing doesn't seem so bad!

There is a way to begin creating content by leveraging your strengths. And when you find the format that fits your strengths and your voice, creating content can become both an enjoyable and highly productive part of your work.

Make The Time

Another thing I hear a lot is that creating content takes too much time. I understand that time is a precious commodity, which is why it should be spent on things that are truly worthwhile. And let's be honest, what we spend our time on is really a matter of priorities and self-discipline. It is easy to use this excuse around something we don't want to do, but find time for other things that are more enjoyable, but perhaps less productive.

I have heard several online business owners say that if they had to pick one thing to focus on with their budget or time, it would be content creation. It is the foundation of a successful online business.

Part of becoming a content creator is setting aside time for it, and making it a priority. Put it in your calendar, and that way when you get to your "content creation time" each week, it forces you to embody your content creator.

Problem Solve

If creating content is not happening consistently in your business, view it as a problem that needs to be solved. Many entrepreneurs love to solve problems. That is something we are good at! 

Set a content creation goal, like starting a newsletter or a blog, and then figure out how to get it done. If my suggestions aren't resonating with you, then create your own solution.

The point is that creating content isn't an option where you can choose whether you want to do it or not. It is a necessity for building a successful business. So don't approach it by asking Yes? or No? but by asking How?

I hope you will begin to shift your mindset and start getting to know your own inner content creator.