Should freelancers use video to market their businesses?

The answer, says photographer and videographer Matthew Lemke, is an unequivocal yes.

“Video is a very powerful storytelling medium because it uses more than one modality: sight, sound, text … the more we use, the more we retain,” Lemke told a crowd of us at the January meeting of Freelance Austin.

Matt is a WCA member and runs Matthew Lemke Productions, which provides video production and still photography to corporations, businesses and freelancers in Austin.

Besides being a video guru, Matt’s also pretty funny. To encourage participation during his presentation, he tossed Hershey’s Kisses to audience members who attempted to answer questions.

“Who inspired the creation of YouTube?” he asked the audience. (We didn’t know, but several people got chocolate for some good guesses.) “Janet Jackson. Remember the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show and the infamous wardrobe malfunction? Supposedly, one of the men who became the founders of YouTube was frustrated because he couldn’t find any video of said occurrence, and YouTube was born.”

(I looked this up; he’s right. The two other founders said they wanted to create an online dating service modeled after the website “Hot or Not.” Hey, the muse works in mysterious ways.)

Lemke says no matter what your business, video has too many advantages to ignore. For instance, video testimonials carry more weight than written ones, he said, because seeing and hearing a real person say good things about you is more believable and harder to fake. Video also increases open rates in email marketing and is easier to absorb on mobile than dense blocks of text. Finally, video gives a big boost to SEO, telling search engines there’s good, relevant, dynamic content on your site.

“Video helps send signals to search engines that your page or site contains rich media relevant to search requests,” Matt said. “And remember, who owns YouTube? Google, the biggest search engine.”

That’s all good and well for businesses. But is it really worth it for freelancers?

“Absolutely. We can all come up with things we could share with our potential customers in videos, and freelancers are perfectly suited to DIY a video,” Matt said.

DIY Video Production

Matt explained that a video has three components: Camera, audio, subject.

  1. Camera – “What’s the best camera to use?” he asked. “The one you have with you,” responded the audience (resulting in a shower of Hershey’s kisses).“For your video, your phone’s camera is perfectly fine. Put it on a tripod so your video won’t be shaky. For the camera angle, have the camera slightly above eye level and pointing down for a more flattering look.”
  2. Audio – As a Hershey’s kiss-earning audience member said, “People will forgive fairly amateur video, but not audio.” Matt recommends using an external wired lavalier microphone plugged into your phone, then clipped to your shirt or lapel to record your speaking voice. Don’t use your phone’s built-in microphone because it’s designed to take in all the sounds around it, while the lavalier is much more focused. And wired lavaliers aren’t that expensive – wireless yes, but you don’t need anything that high tech.
  3. Subject – Experiment and practice. With your camera in hand and set on the selfie view, walk around in the space you’re going to shoot and see what you look like in different lights. Natural light is best unless it’s too dark. Use a simple backdrop: Stand in front of a blank wall or a hanging bedsheet. Then, practice, practice, practice! Your video shouldn’t be longer than 60 to 90 seconds, so memorize until you can recite your script naturally.

If you just can’t get every second perfect, Matt reminded us that magic can happen in editing. Use cutaway footage, or b-roll, and rerecord audio segments to mask areas where you stumble.

Of course, hiring a professional videographer is always an option. Matthew Lemke Productions is ready to help any freelancer or business create a goal-oriented video that supports a communications strategy.

One big thing to remember, Matt said, is that a video is not a Swiss army knife. Keep it focused on a manageable goal.

“If you try to make your video all things to all people, then it will be nothing to anyone,” he said.

All in all, it was an extremely useful meeting for everyone who made it, and next month’s meeting on live mobile video and social media promises to be as well. As always, thanks to Fibercove for donating our meeting space.

Learn about the 4 Categories of Videos to Create for your Business from Matt Lemke on the WCA blog.

P.S. WCA and Freelance Austin are looking for volunteers for FY 2017-2018, which starts in June. Get the benefits of getting involved!

Cindy Dashnaw