What’s the most effective way to attract new clients?

If you’re in business, you need to tell your story and video is at the center of innovative storytelling. Awesome Videomakers produces the latest business video news with insights, interviews and reviews of the most successful video campaigns.

New ideas, new technology, fresh startups, small businesses and entrepreneurs with youtube channels (it’s beginning to seem like that’s almost everybody) are all using video to attract new clients.

“OK, that’s all very well and good”, you say, “but, isn’t video expensive?”

“and, time-consuming?”

“and, kind of hard to do?”

Most small business owners shy away from video marketing because they think they need to buy a lot of specialized gear or they need to hire an expensive videographer.

But it’s not true.

If you’ve ever asked yourself: “Why should I use Video?”

“How does a small businesses like mine use video effectively?”

“Why do I need a video strategy?”

“How can I get started with video?”

“How can I make videos on a budget?” …You’re in the RIGHT place!

Here’s how Awesome Videomakers helps you get ahead in the world of business video news & marketing

Awesome Videomakers is a fast-growing community of, well, awesome videomakers, who are sharing their experience and their process. Filled with business video news & reviews of the best visual storytelling and video marketing practices, it’s like a film school in a blog. Each post is a lesson and a guide – with video examples from some of the best videographers around the world. You can learn to make awesome videos using resources you already have.

Get Noticed. Stand Out. Be Everywhere.

If you’re online and you’re reading this, then you’re obviously interested in staying current with best video marketing practices and receiving free video training materials. Subscribe to our Newsletter, get our Free Video Marketing Course and see how you can be an Awesome Videomaker.

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What’s the secret every entrepreneur needs to take the plunge?

take the plunge

How Jumping cold water every morning helped grow my business

I used to work for Outward Bound. Every morning we jumped in the ocean. It was always cold. Really cold. And yet we made everyone take the plunge. There was only one way to get used to it.

Do it every day.

At first it seemed like maybe this really wasn’t such a good idea. But by jumping in every day, it became normal. We didn’t just turn it into a daily practice, we made jumping in the ocean part of our cultural identity. When we each agreed to take the plunge, we became members of a tribe who were people of the water. We jumped in every day because we now believed that this was how we how we thrived.

It sounds crazy. It was crazy. No matter the weather, no matter how cold, we jumped in all the way.

Getting your feet wet as a daily practice

Since then I’ve seen first hand how developing a regular practice of ‘getting your feet wet’ works really well for growing your business.

We tend to develop our new stuff in a closet. Musicians call this ‘woodshedding’ – as in a long period of practicing your instrument out back in the wood shed so no one can see or hear you until you’re good enough.

This is not the way to grow your thriving enterprise. If you spend six months developing your next big project on your own, you may well find that you’ve spent all that time on something that no-one cares about.

You need to take the plunge with your new projects.

Jump in – get your feet wet – every day. I know. You’re not quite ready yet. It could be really cold!!

But, if you share some small part of what you’re working on you’ll get feedback right away.

Show Your Work

You may have noticed that this site is all about making videos. So what can you do with video as a daily practice? You can show your work.

Austin Kleon has a great little book called ‘Show Your Work’ devoted to this subject. His secret to getting known? “Do good work and share it with people”

It’s all about reaching out to those you want to connect with. And you know what? If you start sharing part of your work each day you will change your identity. You will move from someone who’s thinking about doing something to someone who’s doing it.

Like Austin, I’m totally a morning person. I like to get up and stay unplugged while I do my most productive tasks for the day in the morning, while my mind is clear. Then, by the late afternoon – when I’m winding down – I’ll start listening to the conversation on my social networks and look for ways to share my inspiration for the day.

The art of a daily share-your-work practice is about experimenting your way to success – to stop planning and start acting. In their fantastic book, ‘Creative Confidence’ authors Tom & David Kelley talk about three action catalysts: create peer pressure, gather an audience, do a bad job (and learn).

If you’re thinking about plunging in yourself you may be wondering what exactly does it look like? To help get you started, I’ve created a Free ‘Take the Plunge’ guide that you can access instantly just by sharing this page:

To walk the talk I’m extending an invitation to join me in a #dailyplunge practice. I’ve just created a Facebook group where you can join and start sharing your work – as well as give feedback and support to the work of others.

Jump in & join the Standout Biz Club on Facebook >


Want to create something wonderful? Rinse and Repeat

rinse and repeat

I’d like to let you off the hook.

If you’re like me, you are a bit of a perfectionist. Any time you’ve thought of bringing your work into the world you’ve wanted to make sure that it’s your best. And you take a lot of time polishing and tweaking before you feel ready to show it to anyone.

It doesn’t have to be this way. In fact, your work will get a whole lot better if you focus less on perfecting and more on creating and sharing as often as possible.

How do you ensure you’re doing your best work? Get out in front of people and get their feedback

Case in point comes from a cool little book called Art and Fear. A pottery teacher split his class in half and asked the first half to focus on making one incredibly wonderful piece of pottery. Then he told the other half to make a lot of pots saying they’d be evaluated on their quantity (rather than quality).

So, who came up with the best work?

Invariably, all the best pots came from the group making as many pots as possible.

You can apply this lesson to whatever endeavor you’re engaged with: if you want to make something really great, you need to start making. Striving for perfection will just get in your way.

I know. You just don’t feel ready. You have a Goldilocks mindset. You want everything to be just right.

Don’t let your inner perfectionist hold you back.

Treat your work as an ongoing experiment and embrace the mess you create. Expect the unexpected. Treat everything you do as a learning process.

Do this often. Rinse and repeat.

case study: pulse reader

In 2010, right at the time the first ipad came out, two students, Ankit Gupta and Akshay Kothari, were in a one-month course called “Launchpad” in which the students have to start a real company. In order to get into the class you have to pitch a business idea so our two heros raised the question, “why is the experience of mobile news browsing so bad?” And they pitched the idea of a creating a news reader app for the ipad.

Their first assignment was to build a functional prototype in 4 days.

rinse and repeatTo get the job done quickly, they chose to sit in a cafe (a room full of prospective users for their reader) where they had a quick, rough version of their app open on an ipad. Since the ipad was brand new, this was super attractive to everyone who passed by. People who had never seen one would ask about the ipad and they’d let them play with the basic version of their new app. They got tons of immediate feedback from cafe patrons and, as a result, went through hundreds of small revisions each day.

Their published app, called “Pulse Reader” turned out impressive enough to be shown off by Steve Jobs himself and, later on, was sold to LinkedIn for $90 million!! (this story came from the book, Creative Confidence)

How can you get into the rinse and repeat mindset?

Move from planning to action. Share quick, rough versions of a product or service your working on to get fast feed-back. Put a time constraint on yourself. Imagine you have a boss who’s telling you, “I want to see something by the end of the day.” See how quickly you can turn your ideas into action.

Rinse and repeat is a core principle of the Broadcast Your Brilliance™ strategy. It’s about engaging your audience in a way that they ensure you’re doing your best work.

As an experiential educator I’ve seen first-hand how well learning by doing works. If you want to do your best work (and if you want your business to thrive) then you need to jump in with rapid innovation cycles of creating a piece of work, showing it off and learning from the feedback you get. Learn by doing. Rinse and repeat.

Want instant feedback for the next project you’re working on?
Join our group on Facebook and share often >


What kind of video camera is best? (it’s not what you’re thinking)

The first question that almost everyone asks when they start thinking about making videos is, “What kind of camera should I use?”

Nature Photographer Ansel Adams got asked this question a lot. His advice? “When people ask what kind of equipment I use, I tell them my eyes.”

Use the camera you have (in your pocket)

Camera makers don’t want you to know this, but the truth is, it doesn’t really matter what camera you’re using. Just pay attention to using natural light, framing your subject, the sound you’re getting – and most importantly, getting the right message on camera. If you tell a good story, you’ve made a good video.

So, the answer to what kind of video camera is best could be, “the one you have” (in your pocket).

what video camera is best

Mini tripod, Joby GripTight, Rode SmartLav

Smartphone cameras can provide good quality images and their simplicity makes them a good choice – especially if you’re just getting started (and you already happen to have one). The spontaneous and portable nature of a smartphone, the availability of some excellent image processing apps and the ability to share the work with a wider audience, makes it a powerful and liberating tool, capable of some surprising results.

Two other essential gear items: microphone & tripod. In addition to the phone you need good sound – so getting a microphone will make all the difference in the quality of your video. To keep your phone steady get a smartphone tripod mount and a basic tripod.

There are several apps that will add to the quality of your video. One of the best I’ve seen is called FilmicPro – which helps you control settings like focus and exposure.

You can also edit your video right on your phone – and making short segments with simple edits and uploading them directly to your online network is a great strategy. Keep it simple. Shoot and post often!

Here’s a great video from Wistia showing iphone video-making tips:

Case Study: Intelligent Details

I can hear the gearheads out there saying, “OK, Brad, don’t go all Yoda on us with this ‘use your eyes young jedi’ – show us some equipment already…” So, if you really want to trick out you smartphone and start shooting as if you were making a feature film, have a look at the “Inteligent Details” video above. (Make sure to watch the video through to the end – where they show behind the scenes views with the equipment they were using).

The guys who made the “Intelligent Details” video for Bentley (above) did just that. They shot the whole thing with an extremely accessorized iphone – and then used an ipad for their editing. Their client, Bentley, actually told them that they had to shoot the video with an iphone and then invited them to edit the video with the ipad airs that were installed in the Bentley Mulsanne that was used for the shoot! So, naturally they tricked out their iphones with some pretty fancy gear.

On his website, director Austin Reza had this to say about the gear they chose:

We undertook the challenge utilizing three Apple iPhones (5s) and a few, select, third-party products.

For our handheld rig, we used an iPhone 5s with a BeastGrip case, which worked seamlessly with a handful of threaded lenses, most notably the Neewer 0.3X Baby Death 37mm Fisheye Lens.

Our second iPhone was mounted to a new prototype BeastGrip case with suction cups for interior and exterior mounting. This was a smaller unit built for speed and additional b-roll angles.

For our steadycam rig, we equipped our third iPhone 5s with the MōVI M5 case and Schneider iPro lens. MōVI 5 was among one of our most important pieces of production equipment. It made every shot dynamic and increased the production value far beyond what we anticipated. The Schneider iPro played an important role as well, easily removing and attaching optics, with a modified iPro case.

Finally, with the help from Filmic Pro software—which records at 24fps and 50 mbits—we were able to increase dynamic range and maximize production quality.

The video was assembled in the comfort of the Mulsanne’s back seat with fully integrated iPad Airs. Using iMovie we were able to complete initial cuts and review rushes. We were also amazed at the quality of the phone footage once we moved to the black and white timing. The entire production staff was shocked to see how beautiful the final shots actually looked.

OK, it’s pretty cool to see far you can go with an iphone – especially when you have Bentley footing the bill.

But what was the budget?

what kind of video camera is bestMost of the equipment they used was quite affordable: two iPhone 5s’ were mounted onto a $75 BeastGrip case. BeastGrip lens adaptors allowed them to use threaded lenses, including the $38 Neewer 0.3X Baby Death 37mm Fisheye Lens, as well as the Schneider iPro lens, which you can buy in a kit for $230.

So far so good.

As far as software goes, the “fast and dirty” edits were made using iMovie, while the $5 Filmic Pro was used to offer more control over their cameras.

But they also used one of Freefly’s MōVI M5 gimbal stabilizers for all of those beautiful handheld shots. The MōVI M5 runs $5,000! You might instead opt for a Stabylcam iphone stablizer for $75.

The video is shot in a documentary style – they interviewed two design executives from Bentley while they were riding in the car. While this makes for a very informal, unscripted storyline, of it would have worked even better if they had talked more about the experience the car rather than the features of the car. Also, they were both riding in the back seat – not driving. This was to call attention to the ipads that were cleverly installed but it seemed to imply that if you’re a Bentley owner then you wouldn’t be driving your own car!?

One nice touch is in the way this video is displayed on the Bentley site itself – in which the video player is framed as if you’re watching from within the car.


Do you have Creative Compulsive Disorder? – the cure is to share your process

You’re a creative person. And you’re working on stuff that you are crazy for. You say you’d do it even if you didn’t get paid. But there’s something that happens with creatives. They tend to stay in their creative closet. It’s a kind of block that’ll keep you from revealing your true talent. But, with just a little, regular exposure, your creativity can come out of the closet.

In the music making world this is called ‘woodshedding.’ As in ‘Out back practicing in the woodshed for hours and hours to get good enough.’

But you can build your audience, and be engaging, while you’re still in the woodshed. You can share your process – a little at a time – no matter what you do and no matter where you are in your learning curve. Each day you can post a small tidbit of what you’re working on. And you’ll learn so much in the process.

It doesn’t have to take a lot of time. Your share can be a tweet, a Facebook post, a photo on Instagram. But most engaging is a short video. Just pull that smart phone out of your pocket and show us something you’re doing today. Take 30 seconds and then share the clip.

Do this often. Make it a habit. People will respond and you’ll build your community. And once it becomes a habit, it will become part of your creative process – driving your work forward.

How you can do this yourself

The video above is about as good as a ‘share your work’ video can get. It shows just how engaging a story about someone’s process can be. It’s an endearing interview with artist Zina Nicole Lahr and a close look at her process – something she calls, ‘creative compulsive disorder.’

Zina needed something that would showcase her work but also tell a little bit about her personality and her interests. She had two days to shoot and edit so she and videographer Stormy Pyeatte shot the interview and smashed something together to meet their deadline.

But at nearly 6 and 1/2 minutes this video is long. And it shows so many projects. You could easily break this down to eight or nine separate short clips. There’s the LED parasol project, the robot project(s), the tarantula project, the crane puppet, the train puppet, stop animation, the soldering iron, the sea monster… each one of these could be stand-alone 30-seconds-in-a-day-in-the-life-of-the-artist videos.

How do you do this? You keep your smart phone handy with a simple tripod and turn it on when you hit an interesting or inspiring moment in your day.

You can also get help. Zina enlisted her friend who was a videographer. You don’t even need to go that far. Any friend who knows you well could sit behind your smart phone and make sure that you’re in the frame and ask you questions, interview style.

All you have to do is answer. No script needed. Best situation would be to partner with someone and help each other out with making short ‘share your process’ videos with each other. Not only will this make it easier, and better quality, but you can hold each other accountable.

Zina’s video ended up with a lot of visibility. It was chosen as a staff pick on Vimeo and has over 1 million views on facebook. Gives you some idea of the potential response to a ‘here’s what I’m up to’ video.

(On a sad note: On November 20, 2013 Zina passed away due to a hiking accident.)


What BB King taught me about standing out (while sitting down)

In 1973 I saw BB King play at the Harvard Square Theater in Cambridge. It was a complete fluke. I had just finished my freshman year in college and was looking up a high school friend. When I called him up he said he was headed into the show and had a spare ticket and could I make it? Well, yeah…

What it really means to be a rock star

Only two things from the concert stand out clearly in my memory. The opening band was Grand Funk Railroad and the lead singer, Mark Farmer, spent the whole set prancing and strutting around the stage with his shirt off – showboating his speed and fretboard mastery. At one point he turned around and proceeded to rip into a long improvised solo – playing his guitar behind his back…

The understated way of standing out

bb kingWhen Grand Funk’s set was over and BB King took the stage, his presence was entirely different. There was no strutting or prancing. He simply sat in a chair by himself in the center of the stage and played us some of the best blues ever. Nothing fast or flashy… but every note made a statement.

He did, however, have one trick up his sleeve. About half way through his set he calmly stood up, turned around and broke into a long improvised solo – playing his guitar behind his back! Then he looked up at us and smiled.

The place went wild.

That night he showed us all what it really means to be a rock star…

(The live concert video above is an hour-long show.)

Indulge! Take the time to watch and learn a lesson in standing out from a master.

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Recycled Beauty: Supporting a Cause with Video

Can advertisements be used to inspire people into supporting a cause like recycling and inform them about best-practices along the way? Ellen Callaway of Callaway Photo, is using her skills as a food and product photographer to do just this. She’s created an advertising campaign called Recycled Beauty that’s designed to build knowledge and passion around recycling. Her photos are beautiful and informative and also promote recyclables as valuable raw materials in the economy.

I’ve been passionate about the environment for as long as I can remember. In fact, when I began college at a non-recycling institution, I sent my mom home with bags of recyclables like smelly milk jugs and crusty yogurt containers whenever she visited. So, I recycled and built my awareness about best practices throughout my education and early travels as a photographer, but really began to dive into the topic when I opened my own photo studio in Arlington, MA. From that steady location, I began to look-into the specific recycling rules and regulations of that area. I wanted answers to the pressing recycling questions that I’d held for years, such as ‘What if food is left in the recyclables?’ and ‘What if an item is made of mixed materials?’ So, I started volunteering with the Arlington Recycling Committee to find out.

In turn, I’ve answered these questions and more about how recycling works for various materials, observed the challenges that my town faces in diverting trash and in communicating guidelines to the public.

In time, I saw the connection between my trash reduction research and passion for descriptive photos to tell a story. Here, I had an opportunity to make visual connections between the wastes that we humans generate and how we can reduce and reuse them, give them new life through processes that are way more beautiful and exciting to take-on than a generic stock photo might portray.

So, the images in Recycled Beauty are informative and capture these valuable wastes as I would an intriguing product to be sold in the marketplace – transforming the “eyesore” of trash into an attractive, valuable raw material with endless potential.”

I ultimately hope that these Recycled Beauty photos are used to educate the public about the importance of recycling and how to do it correctly in a clear and inspiring way. Meanwhile, I’m working with entrepreneurs and leaders in the recycling community to build knowledge and excitement around recyclables as raw materials – earthy friendly and good for business.

Support a Cause: Recycled Beauty

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Video Marketing to the Affluent

How do you capture the attention of the most discerning consumers – those who have the most to spend? When you’re marketing to the affluent how do you stand out within a crowded field?

With video, marketing to the affluent does not have to be hard.

Let’s say you’re interested in selling your house. OK, so who do you call? This requires some major decisions involving your most valuable assets, so how are you going to develop trust in whoever you find to work with?

But when you browse most realtors’, financial planners’, insurance companies’ or law firms’ web sites, you see that they all look the same. They all say, basically, the same things.

This is actually good news because it makes it easier for you to stand out and attract just the kind of clients you are looking for.

The Agency – A Case Study

Here’s a remarkable case study of how one brand new real estate agency in Los Angeles (called The Agency) became a market leader and did over $2 billion in transactions in their first 2 years.

What was their magic for differentiating themselves?

They used video to tell their story.

Take a look at this video which they placed on top of their web site’s ‘About’ page.

Redefining Real Estate

The Agency deals in multi-million dollar properties, but the services they offer are not really all that different from other luxury realtors. But when you watch this video you learn exactly how they’ll go about marketing your home. Because of the upbeat style, the video garners attention, interest and attracts more business. Plus it has a long shelf life. Once in place, the video can live on, introducing the Agency’s unique approach 24 hours a day.

Now take a look at this second video – from the bottom of the Agency’s About page.

People want to connect with real people and a video like this one let’s people meet you online in a way that goes way beyond ordinary text description. This video does a great job at giving you a sense of the culture at The Agency. The video serves as a recruitment video – for potential hires – as well as clearly showing the personalities and values of the founders.

It’s also worth while to note that The Agency’s videos are hosted on a video platform called Wistia – instead of Youtube.

Why did they do this?

If you place your video on youtube and then embed it onto your site – anyone searching for the keywords that are in your video’s title who finds your video will be sent to Youtube – not your site. But with Wistia’s hosting, you get the direct traffic that your video creates. Also Wistia’s analytics are far superior to Youtube’s. So, instead of merely seeing how many views you’re getting, you’re able to see how long people watch your video and when they lose interest. And the Wistia player lets you create a specific call to action so that you can direct your viewers to a specific offer that can be updated over time.

All of this can greatly enhance your video’s performance in attracting just the right client for your business.