Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Where Can You Find Free Photographs You Can Use In Your Videos?

Photo Credit: Jessica Gale, MorgueFile

Photo Credit: Jessica Gale, MorgueFile

Do you need some photos for your videos, blog posts, or marketing materials and have a small budget? Here are 2 sites we use that offer large libraries of free royalty-free photos you can use in your projects. [Note that I say “royalty-free”. While there are a lot of photos you can download off the internet, unless you have permission to use them, you shouldn’t. You don’t want to get a copyright claim on a video you have for sale or even one you are using for marketing. Plus it isn’t fair and it’s against the law.] These sites are great to use as they do not restrict your use of the photos besides using them in your own collection for resale, and may require attribution which is easy to do by putting their name either on the photo or in your video credits.

1) MorgueFile

While most of these photos are not shot by professionals, many do look pretty good. Also the library is so large that I almost always find something I can use. Make sure to read the MorgueFile‘s terms of use.

2) Wikimedia Commons

This collection has millions of usable photos and video files, searchable by keyword and category. Most of the images are submitted by individuals and some require attribution. Each photo will have its own terms of use so make sure you read that before downloading and using.

Here are a few more sites that I have heard of but have not personally used:

We also have found many free photos that we can use on one of our favorite stock photo agencies, Even if you don’t find a free one there that you can use, you’ll find that the fees are very reasonable and the library is huge.

What free photo sites have you found? Please comment and share below!

9 Tips for Shooting Instructional Videos That People WANT to Watch

InstructionalVideosMany niches are perfect for successfully producing and selling how-to instructional videos. Not only do these types of videos lend themselves to straight forward shooting, they also target most audience’s sweet spots: giving them information that helps them achieve what they want.

Due to the popularity of this type of video on free sites such as YouTube, it’s easy to get discouraged about making money on the information you are giving them. Because of this, you have to up your game. Ask yourself the following questions. Are your instructional videos shot well? Do they offer detailed original tips, images, b-roll, insights, case studies, or analysis? Or did you just throw your videos together without much forethought, were you sloppy in shooting them or have you only provided regurgitated or vague information in an effort to chase after some hot niche?

So what can you do to produce instructional videos that benefit viewers and your exposure? Here are 9 tips to make sure you get it right.

  1. Give Quality Content – Provide viewers helpful, quality, and detailed information that gives them solutions to their needs and wants. Avoid regurgitating existing content you find on others videos or the Internet. Make your video comfortable to watch and to listen to.  
  1. Get Prepared – Write well-designed, detailed video scripts even if you’ve been instructing and presenting on this topic for a long time. Once you get on camera, it is easy to forget key elements or fumble. If you don’t catch the errors until you are editing, it may be impossible to reshoot. If you are able to reshoot, it will look odd if most of your footage has a different look and sound than the previous shots. It’s tough to make something like that look planned or seamless.
  1. Explain in Detail – This is another good reason to prepare scripts beforehand. Your viewers mainly want the “need to know” details relevant to achieving their needs or wants. Avoid complex industry jargon to make sure your most basic viewers will understand. (Of course this depends on your intended audience.) To set yourself apart and to ensure your unique content is clear, you want to include specific steps, guidelines, precautions and your best tips. This is what will show your authority and expertise.
  1. Instruct Clearly and Patiently – Clearly guide your viewers through each corresponding step so they can follow along without having to revert back to a previous step. Start by telling them what they are going to learn by outlining the fundamental steps you’ll be covering in a sequential order, then go through each step. Finish the video by going over what they learned. Talk clearly and slowly but do put your personality into it so you don’t come across in a dull monotone delivery. If you are going to use a teleprompter, practice with it first so that you won’t look and sound as if you’re reading a script.
  1. Get Them Involved – Provide an exercise or two for them to do on their own. This can be a problem to solve, a fun activity, a survey, or steps to follow to achieve a desired end result. (The National Geographic show Brain Games does this well.) These don’t have to be on camera, in fact, if you offer them on your website, you give your viewer a reason to go there which not only helps your traffic, but is a good showcase for your authority on the subject. Exercises or assignments really help them solidify what you taught and gives them a direction on where to start.
  1. Leave the Fancy Shooting and Editing ALONE – Leave all of that for the movies. Stick to a basic shooting style, especially if your shooting skills aren’t that polished. People want your instructional video to help them, not overwhelm them. Also limit the amount of fancy editing tricks and font types. Your video will end up looking fragmented and amateurish.
  1. Share Yourself – Use your own experience when describing an instructional process. Think about the best ways you would follow through with your plan and be precise in your directions. Separate your ideas from the standard “industry ideas”, so your unique content makes an impact.
  1. Send Them to Your Website – Your instructional video should stand on its own; however, you can entice the reader to visit your website for even more in-depth information in the form of guides, diagrams, other videos, etc. by adding a call-to-action near the end.
  1. Include ReferencesYour original content needs to be unique and the star of the video, but if it’s related and helpful, include other references. The instructions you give can be your own spin on a basic principle and having that backup to reference will give your viewers some assurance of your credibility.

An instructional video’s primary purpose is to educate people in a short and concise way that conveys useful information to support concepts and procedures. Cut and dry technical videos can be incredibly boring for both the viewer and producer. Use the above list to deliver unique instructional content that’s engaging and never leaves your audience hanging.

Now, back to the challenge of standing our from the ever growing library of free videos online. You need to package and promote your video as a professional product that rightly should be paid for. I pay for online guitar lessons all the time, even though there are plenty of free lessons available. The difference is in the way they are marketed, the quality of instruction and the fact that the instructor is a recognized expert. If you emulate this formula it will go a long way to making your products stand out. You can learn a lot more about marketing your video in our book, Shoot To Sell, Make Money Producing Special Interest Videos.

What do you do to make certain your instructional videos are engaging, unique, and assert your credibility? Share your tips in the comments section below!

21 of Our Best Email Subject Lines and Why They Worked So Well

Best-Subject-LinesWe’re all barraged with email and have to be selective about what we read and what we toss into the trash, unopened. What is it that makes you want to open an email?

Back in the days before email existed I was using direct mail marketing. We had the same challenge of getting our mail opened. I learned that what was written on the outside of the envelope or catalog was the key to keeping my expensive mailing piece out of the trash can. It was the thing that must quickly grab the recipient’s attention and make the item seem relevant, the same thing that the email subject line must do today.

That why I want to talk to you today about the importance of your email’s subject line. After all, it’s the best way to judge the content on the inside.

When using email marketing of your videos and products, you don’t want to be one of those ignored or deleted emails in your subscribers’ in-boxes. The best way to do that is to make sure your email subject lines work for you in getting them opened.

What better way to learn how to do that than by examining our best performing email subject lines. As you will see, not all of these emails were for selling something. Many times you want to send emails to your list to give them information, tips, or updates so I included the subject lines that worked well for those too. All of these had above average open rates from 25% to 50%.*

1)   I need your help…

We’ve used this a few times – with great success – when we wanted testimonials, feedback, shares, and reviews. It is amazing how many people will help you out if you only ask. Be careful that you don’t overuse this though as that can backfire.

2)   I need your input. Would you check out our new site and let me know what you think

People like to share their opinion. It is a great way to hear from your prospects and customers to find out what they really think and want. Plus they feel honored that you asked them, making this a great way to build relationships.

3)   Who would buy your video?

We used this one for one of our weekly How To Sell Your Videos newsletter announcement. If you are sending out an eZine, increase your opens by posing some good questions that relate to your main topic. We’ve found that it isn’t enough these days to just say “News from XYZ” or “Weekly Digest from XYZ” to get your subscribers to open. You want to give them a good reason to do so.

Using questions work well because it is in people’s nature to answer and then see how their answer compares to others. The best questions to ask are open ended questions that can’t be answered with a simple yes and no.

4)   Why am I so picky about this? (And why you should be too!)

This is another way of asking a question. Usually we recommend having the message be about them by using the word “you” in the subject line, but this is proved another way to pose a question utilizing “I” that worked well for us and got us 33% opens for that newsletter.

5)   Want better videos? You need to invest in this…

We found in using this subject line that if you do ask a close-ended question, follow it up with something enticing to encourage them to click through to see the answer.

6)   Florida Crackers Is A “Must See”

Being direct worked in this case. It piqued interest in a new DVD, Florida Crackers: The Cattlemen And Cowboys of Florida, that we started selling. Our customers had to ask, “What IS this video I must see?” So they clicked through…and bought!

7)   Did you miss it? Florida Crackers Is A “Must See”

We sent this a few days after the first one was sent. This one also had a great open rate with the added question. People don’t want to miss out of something good either.

8)   Don’t make these mistakes in your next marketing campaign…

We found with this newsletter subject line that “warnings” are good too.

9)   I’m letting the cat out of the bag…

I think this worked really well because it combined curiosity with self-interest.

10) Try this simple yet incredibly powerful exercise to realize your dreams

Again, this was sent to our eZine list and promised action that would help the reader. One of the best selling topics is personal development so I had a feeling this would appeal.

11) The future of Florida – Special opportunity on October 8th and 9th

One of our lists is 75% from Florida so this one hit home. We were actually promoting an event we weren’t a part of but it gave value to our list and was a great excuse to stay on their radar.

12) Make Money While On Vacation

Used the very successful “Make Money” line to showcase several video tips we have on how to shoot video while on vacation and turn that into video products. And who wouldn’t want to make more money while they were on vacation?

13) 3 Audio Tips From A Sound Professional

People like tips. You can never send enough of these types of emails out. Other ones along this line that had high open rates were 3 Reasons You Need To Build Your List and 9 Promotional Uses of Video.

Hint: Use odd numbers in your lists…statistics show that people click on posts that include odd numbers over even numbers. Don’t know why that is but I have tested it and it seems to hold true.

14) Canon T2i Review

Surprisingly simple but we found that reviews are very popular. Is there a product related to your video you can review?

15) On Being Thankful and Improving Your Bottom Line

We sent this one out at Thanksgiving. It’s a spin on just saying thanks; it piqued interest in how doing that can give your pocketbook a boost.

16) In Search Of The Holy Grail Of HD Cameras

I know How To Sell Your Videos list is really interested and responsive to video camera news so it didn’t surprise me that this was a well received subject line. Is there a topic your list has shone high interest in?

17) Don’t miss this special opportunity for Christmas sales!

This was sent to bookstores and gift shops and other distribution outlets. It built urgency which is always good to use.

18) Patrick Smith Special Offer ONLY For Preferred Customers

People like being a part of an exclusive group. Who were are preferred customers you ask? They were the people on our list who had purchased from us before.

19) New Best Seller for A Land Remembered Fans

We used this to announce a new book that we were offering to one of our lists. This one used the popularity of my father’s book A Land RememberedIt implied that if you are a fan of that book, you’ll likely want to read this new book too.

20) I Thought Every Videographer Knew This…What I’ll Reveal At WEVA

This was sent to our list when I was going to be speaking at an event at the Wedding and Event Videographers Association Expo. Because most of my list would probably not be going to the conference, they were obviously interested in what I was going to reveal. It was like they were invited in on something only another special group was privy too.

21) Take A Magical Journey Through “Old Florida” AND Save 20%

This was sent out for our A Sense of Place video. It was sent out for the holiday sales season. We do not put this video on sale very often so getting it at a great price was an incentive. It also appeals to a lot of my customers because it implies that the viewer will get to see something magical and reminisce about a place they grew up with.

I hope this has stimulated your awareness of how not only how important your subject line is but also give you some good ideas for yours. You should spend considerable time writing those few words that will get your email opened. If you do it well your email will be opened more often and you’ll make more sales.

*Upon examining over 200 million emails average industry rates from Constant Contact customers, marketing industry email open rates average 15% and retail (including online) business open rates average 17%.

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