To encourage community around your blog, you must offer value to your readers. How can you add value and interest to your posts? Use podcasts, photos, and videos to enhance what you already have. In this three-part series, I’ll cover how each of these can help you build the content of your blog and offer even more value to your readers.
So far I’ve tackled using podcasting and photos to give new dimensions to your content. Today I’ll finish up by discussing how to create and use video (also called screencasting or vlogging) on your blog.
When should you use video in your blog? Well, video is ideal if you are providing a tutorial. Although written instructions are always appreciated, seeing how something is done is even better in some instances. Not only does a video allow you to show your audience what you’re talking about and where to click (for example, if you’re explaining how to do something on your blog), it saves you from having to write lengthy step-by-step instructions. Many times when your audience sees what you’re doing in a tutorial, it makes more sense to them.
What if you’re not writing tutorials? Why should you include video in a blog post? As Skellie explains, Video is Your Chance to be a Pioneer:
We’re at a point now where every niche imaginable has been saturated by written content. You can still forge a name for yourself and gather an audience for your stuff, but it’s harder than ever to set yourself apart. . .Video blogging immediately sets you apart. You offer readers a different sensory experience and a different kind of engagement with the content. Often it’s an experience that simply can’t be translated into text. In fact, great video bloggers often make poor writers, and vice versa.
Using video on your blog can add an entirely new dimension to your blog community. Not only can your readers hear what you have to say, but they can see you as well. It’s an entirely different way to connect with your readers. Jendi (Jendi’s Journal) has put together a series of tips for bloggers who want to incorporate video into their blogs. Her advice includes
- what to include in your first video
- how to plan your video (hint: you need to write a script, even if it’s just an outline)
- consider the background of your video (avoid messy cabinets!)
- how to light your video
- use a stable camera (in other words, don’t hold the camera)
- make sure there are no distracting noises during your video
Amy Oztan at Selfish Mom does a screencast every morning to keep in touch with her readers and does the opposite of what Jendi (and many others!) suggests. Instead of worrying about getting herself made up, Amy just starts taping. “The recommended way would take too much time. . .The really great thing about my vlog is that I don’t waste a lot of time stressing about getting it “right.” When I type something out, I go back and edit and try to make it as perfect as I can. With my daily videos I made a rule for myself that I would just turn the camera on (usually in the morning, in my pjs, without make-up and with bed-head), and what happened happened. Sometimes I have nothing to say. Sometimes one of my kids busts in and ends up being a guest. Sometimes I say something dumb. It all gets posted. No editing, no deleting.”
I also asked Amy what equipment she uses and what bloggers need if they want to start vlogging or screencasting: “I have two Sony Vaios, a laptop and a tiny Lifestyle computer. Both have a camera built in. I record and save, and upload to YouTube, and then embed the video on SelfishMom.com. It’s incredibly easy.
“Being a fairly lazy person, I would recommend getting a laptop or computer with a camera built in. Everything will work together seamlessly. But if you don’t have that option, you can use any camera that captures video. Sometimes I use my Casio Exilim and then just put the memory card into my laptop and use Casio’s software to upload directly to YouTube. I know a lot of people who use Flip and Vado cameras. As long as you can get that video file onto your computer and get an internet connection, you can get your vlog onto YouTube.”
When you have your video completed, where should you upload it? Well, you can always go with YouTube and create your own channel. Or you can use vimeo–it’s fairly popular too. If you’re in the mommy blogger community there are actually two really great places to upload your video for free and also be part of a community: NewBaby.com and MomTV.com. Both are owned by my friend Maria Bailey of BSM Media. I have uploaded all of my travel video to NewBaby.com (over 40 videos from my Mommy Blogger Disney Cruise in January, 2009!) and I uploaded video from the Tulsa Mom’s Night Out/Blogger Meet Up to MomTV.com. I’ve been really happy with the service.
- Video Download Helper: An Essential Firefox Extension
- ScreenCastle Records Your Screencast without Software
- Screencasting – What is the Ideal Length?
Don’t forget: Blogging Basics 101 provides several video tutorials.
A version of this article was cross-posted at BlogHer.