Tuesday, December 12, 2017

What are “Special Interest Videos?”

August 25, 2009 by  
Filed under All Posts, Special Interest Video Biz

I’ve wrestled with finding a better phrase to define what I call “Special Interest Videos” (SIVs, for short) for years. It just doesn’t really describe it well. We’re currently experimenting with the phrase “Non-Fiction Videos,” but that doesn’t have a ring to it, does it? I welcome suggestions for a better name. In the meantime, I’d like to try to define what they are.

Regardless, when I refer to SIVs, it is a very broad topic. Right away you think of “how-to-do-it” videos, and that is exactly right. But it means much more.

I got my start in this business back in the 1970’s, producing educational filmstrips for schools. This was before the advent of VCRs, and older readers may remember filmstrips that go “beep” when it is time to advance the film. I didn’t really realize it then, but these educational filmstrips were special interest productions.

Of couse, as soon as VCRs were available in classrooms we switched to producing videos. Some of our topics were very mundane. One of the first videos we produced was called “The Elements of Pruning.” It was about how to prune trees and shrubs. Exciting, huh? That was around 1983. Can you believe that video is still selling today, 27 years later? Check it out here.

As you can see, it now sells for $80.00. This price has been reduced from its former high of $125.00. (It is getting a little long in the tooth.) You see, educational videos to schools sell for a much higher price than consumer programs, and that is why I’m still producing programs targeted to educational institutions. I’d guess that at least 5,000 copies of this program have sold in its lifetime, and at an average price of $100, this simple little program produced with the most basic 3/4″ video gear from the 1980s has earned upwards of $500,000.

So yes, SIVs does mean “how-to” videos. I buy SIVs all the time. If I get stumped about how to do a technical thing with my video editing equipment I’ll buy a downloadable tutorial on how to do it. Witin minutes I can have the solution. In fact, I’m in the market for a new high definition video camera, so I bought a series of downloadable videos from an expert I respect, about high definition video cameras and how to select one based on the type of work you do. It was fairly dry and technical, but oh so helpful in my shopping. I also buy a lot of tutorials on how to play guitar, my current obsession. Those are all examples of SIVs.

My most successful video in the last few years is a documentary I made about my father, a well-loved Florida writer. I produced “Patrick Smith’s Florida, A Sense of Place” for under $1,000. It went on to win several film awards, including a Telly, and has sold over 5,000 copies. I sell retail copies at $19.95 and school versions at $95.00. I estimate that video has earned more than $100,000, and spurred the sale of an equal amount of his books. That was a special interest video.  You can see it here.

Do you have a hobby or special interest? Maybe you enjoy fly fishing, woodworking, model trains, quilting, scrapbooking, gardening, golf, travel, motorcycle maintenance or something specific? Those are all topics ripe for producing SIVs to sell to others who share your interest.

Basically, SIVs are a form of publishing information. That’s all. Books do the same thing, but videos use sight and sound, and allow the viewer to “be there” with the camera to experience or witness something.

I tell people to not get caught up in the technical side of producing SIVs. You don’t have to have a Hollywood background, have expensive equipment or have years of experience. Today’s equipment is so fantastic and affordable that cost of equipment should not be a barrier. In many communities you can use the equipment from a local public access service. Or you decide to hire a video producer if you don’t want to go it alone. You don’t have to do the actual production to be the producer.

The best advice I can give if you are interested in this business is to just get started. I have two DVDs on this site that will really help you. One is called “My Secrets of Producing Successful Special Interst Videos.” It talks about my own experience with the process of producing SIVs.

The other title is “Make Money Selling Your Own Videos.” This tackles the marketing side of the business. This is the big barrier for most people. We all have great ideas for SIVs, and many of them would be successful, but most people do not have the slightest idea how to get started marketing their videos, and no matter how good your video is, it won’t sell without a good marketing plan.

You can see both of these programs here.

Video technology is changing rapidly as we move into the high definition, tapeless era. There are a lot of problems to be solved, and the manufacturers do not all speak the same language. Likewise, marketing is constantly evolving with the breathless rate of change of internet technology. This is incredibly empowering, but also bewildering.

We spend a great deal of time researching and digesting information that will make our lives as SIV producers better, and we look forward to sharing this information and providing encouragement to get you started in this exciting and rewarding business.

Rick Smith & Kim Miller


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