Make money from online video training
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Today’s PhotoProfit, my special guest is Varina Patel. She’s an amazing landscape photographer from the United States and she will share about “finding your groove”. It is the process of feeling where you can actually make money in photography.
Now, Varina tried a number of things to make money out of photography. After going through all that, she settled on creating video lessons and selling them online. Today we’re going to explore how to do it and all the things involved when it comes to creating video. Prepare to apply these great tips to get started!
In this Episode
(01:15) Good idea to find your groove
(02:15) Try certain things until you found the one that works
(03:24) What really worked?
(06:59) Creating video course
(08:53) Audio Issues
(10:05) What tools to use?
(19:03) The actual content of the course
(24:10) Have a framework for the lesson
(25:26) Promoting the Product
(27:58) Production of the Course
(30:14) Some Action steps
PhotoProfit – business of photography
Varina Patel – visualwilderness.com & photographybyvarina.com
show notes – photoprofit.net
- Finding your Groove
- Creating video lessons and selling them online
- How to do it
- Good idea to find your groove
- Having issues – selling prints, selling photos to magazines
Try certain things until you found the one that works
- written eBooks
- video courses
What works best for you?
- video courses
- teaching workshops
Creating video course:
Variety of skills
- have photo skills
- the videographers
- the audio
- audio quality
- indoor and outdoor sound quality
- background noise
What tools to use?
- shotgun mic
- zoom recorders
- little lapel mics with afros
- red light check
- the clap – synchronize the audio
- 2-3 cameras
- steady cam
- 2 cameras – same model
- really important not to use out of focus
The actual content – the lesson of the video course
- kind of subjects
- broad audience
- talk about specific things
- narrowing it down within those subject areas
- detailed outline
- do a case study
- need conditions and locations
- go out on your backyard and try and film yourself
Have a framework for the lesson:
- present the concept
- Explaining how it applies
- simple pieces to show how it works
- the technical side
- physical-visual explanation
Promoting the Product:
- create short little videos – course introduction
- course cover – professional, simple, beautiful and readable
- website – professional
Production of the Course:
- video editing
- tools used – Trello
Action steps for starters:
- film yourself
- start speaking for local camera clubs
- public speaking
- create a couple of YouTube videos
- keep them short = a 2-5 minute lesson
- break one lesson into smaller lessons
- outline what you wanna say = don’t script it
- get comfortable with editing
- ask someone to cut out
- when it’s good enough = doesn’t have to be brilliant
Brent: He guys Brent Mail here from Photo Profit, the Podcast about the business of photography. And today my special guest is Varina Patel from the United States. She’s an Amazing landscape photographer. And we call this Podcast “Finding your groove”. Find the place when it comes to photography where you can actually make your money. Now Varina has tried number of things to make money out of photography. And she settled on creating video lessons and selling them online. And we’re gonna explore how to do it. You know all the things involved when it comes to creating video and the audio that goes with it. And Varina’s got some great tips for you on how to get started if you want to create video content and sell it online. Just remember guys all show notes at photoprofit.net. Let’s jump right into it.
Why do we need to find our groove?
Brent: How are you doing Varina?
Varina: I’m doing great. Thanks for having me on the show.
Brent: Awesome, now Varina and I got back a few years actually I think it was about 2 years ago that I interviewed you guys for the first time.
Varina: Yeah I think that’s about right; maybe a little longer.
Brent: Alright, so let’s just jump right in. So Varina why is it a good idea to find your groove when it comes to making money out of photography?
Varina: Well I think the issue that people run into is that they get an idea of what they’re gonna do with their photography. A lot of times that is selling prints. That’s what most of us think of or maybe writing for a magazines or selling photos to magazines. And then when we find that we’re not filming as many as we’d like or we’re not getting as many covers as we’d like. It’s really easy to give up. And say “well I guess I just wasn’t cut-out to be a photographer” and then you’re disappointed and then you go off and you don’t quit your day job. I think that there are so much opportunity out there for photographers. But maybe it’s not that easy to find as just jumping into the first thing that comes your way.
Brent: Okay so you’ve tried a few things. Obviously made money in certain areas. And maybe made not any as much as you wanted to. And you’ve kind of jump from one thing to the next to try certain things until you found the one that works. And we’ll get into that. So maybe you can just run through of what you’ve actually tried in the past and where you have made many and what hasn’t work for you.
Varina: Yeah absolutely. I have done everything from weddings and events and portraits to shooting interiors for hotel chain, to shooting for stock, to writing eBooks, to doing video courses. And probably from other things that I have not even thinking of right now.
Brent: So weddings and events normally people can make quite many out of those.
Varina: But I found that I really didn’t enjoy it. They were very stressful for me. I’m really an introvert. I guess I prefer not to be around groups of people. I tend to get stressed and feel really exhausted by the time it’s over and also shooting weddings is extremely timed consuming. People think you just show up for the wedding. It’s a couple of hours and then you move on but the reality is it takes a lot more than that.
What worked for you?
Brent: True, so you’ve tried all these things. You shot weddings, events, stocks. You’ve written eBooks, so what worked for you?
Varina: Well I think at this point what’s working now is our video courses that we’re shooting all over the world. Jay and I do this together. My husband Jay Patel. That’s been great for us and maybe your listeners don’t know that you were the tool to that. You started it.
Brent: You guys actually come to me and said “hey look we want to do workshop in Australia coz Jay he got a redundancy in his job” so you had a bit of time and you wanted to come to Australia and do a work shop and I suggested that “hey while you’re here let’s create a course” and we did it. And it was the Ultimate Landscape Photography course which was sold really well. We made some good money out of that. So you came out here. You recorded the course and we all promoted it. How did that changed everything? How did that changed your view of making money out of photography?
Varina: It really was a complete paradigm shift for us. You know I guess I should say we were at that time dealing eBooks. They were selling very well. We were teaching at workshops on location. They were filling up quickly and you know we were really enjoying that. But again the amount of work that goes into those is huge and the return is not that great. Even at workshops you make a good chunk of money in one weekend unless you’re teaching workshop pretty consistently it’s really hard to make a living plus doing that. So when we started doing these video courses we realized that we can work you know normal people hours. And by that I mean the number of hours not the normal hours that other people are working and certainly not a 9-5 job. But we could work a reasonable number of hours. Make a reasonable amount of money and feel good about what we are doing. You know really enjoy it. And really eliminate quite a lot of stress that comes along with teaching workshops.
Brent: Yeah and I think workshops are great. The thing about it is you’ve traded your time for money. So you’re out there helping people photograph landscapes. You’re teaching them. You know I’ve watched you guys teaching the workshops and I noticed how intensely focus you were on the participants in the workshop, the people coming to the workshop. You know how you run around. You’re working on people’s camera settings; making sure that they’re getting great value from the workshop. But afterwards, after like 5 days it’s pretty exhausting because you totally focused on the people there and you actually not taking your own photos, not really doing what you wanted to do which was come out to Australia and take beautiful photos. And I think with a video course after we created the video course which was quite intense too because we only had a limited amount of time. I mean we’re out filming like mostly too many hours every day. But the good thing about video course is once it’s done it leverages your time coz you can sell it for the next few years online. And you don’t have to actually be there to do it. You’re not trading your time for money anymore. And that’s the great thing about it.
What it takes to create a video course?
Brent: But let’s jump into what it takes to create a video course. Maybe you can run through the steps. Okay someone listening to this is a great photographer and they wanna create a video course to put online too; to leverage their time so that they can sell it for the next few years. What does it actually takes to create a course?
Varina: Well it takes quite a variety of skills. First of all you need to have the photo skills like you said. We also needed videographers, and that’s where you and Johny came in. You guys came out. You were our crew. And since then we actually had my brother and his wife helped us out for one course which was really neat to be able to work with them. And what we found is we can’t shoot these courses ourselves. Even though there 2 of us, it’s just not enough. Because not only are we dealing with teaching the photography and also filming but we also have to deal with more than camera angle for the videography and the audio which can be pretty complicated. And that was something we learned down there with you guys in Australia with the cicadas, the pounding winds. You know all those things that you don’t think about as a photographer. They really matter when you’re shooting a film.
Brent: Okay so let’s dig a little bit deeper into the audio side because as photographers we don’t realize how complex the audio can be. Maybe you’re talking about the cicadas, what we call the Christmas beetles over here they make a massive noise around Christmas. It is screeching in the forest and yes you got to get away from the bush or the forest to actually record anything worthwhile. You know you’ve got the wind like as soon as the wind gets above us at a certain speed it gives like a “crrr” on your mic. So you can’t actually use a shotgun mic on top of the digital SLR when you’re recording because of the wind noise or you can if you got a dead cat on it. But at a certain wind speed that doesn’t work either.
Audio Issues Encountered
Brent: What other issues that we have with the audio and how did we solve that?
Varina: Well you know there were issues with the difference in the audio quality based on where you out the mic. So if it was hanging over you it had a nice quality. If you put it in your jacket maybe you’re picking up the motion or the movement of your clothing or anything that brushed against you or somehow. There was a difference between indoor and outdoor sound quality and trying to get that quality to match which was really hard. And of course the background noise that you are talking about. And also just people going by, cars going by. All those issues and then of course once you get it back to back home and you’re dealing with it in post, that’s a whole different skills set too.
The Right Tools to Use
Making the Audio
Brent: Okay so a couple more questions on the audio. What kind of tools that we used? You know people are thinking about filming someone talking to the camera. They often think about it. Okay so you may put a shotgun mic on top of the camera, and it’s pointing at the person speaking to the camera. So it captures that person and not too much of the environmental sounds. So that’s one way to do it. So what did we actually used Varina?
Varina: We actually ended up using the zoom recorders and little lapel mics which were fantastic. And Brent made these great little afros for each of the lapel mic. So that was our tiny little dead cat for the lapel mic.
Brent: If people don’t know what a dead cat is. It’s like this little fluffy thing that goes on the microphone to stop the wind noise.
Varina: And it really does kind of look like a dead cat.
Brent: Yes it does.
Varina: So we named all our dead cats; very good companions during our travel. But yeah very useful for the wind because without them the wind noise is just unusable audio; absolutely unusable.
Brent: And often we actually film back facing the wind. So that way you could actually stop the wind from hitting the microphone which is on your lapel or clip to the somewhere near your throat area. And if people don’t understand what we’re doing. Let me explain in a different way. So instead of having an audio mic running to a transmitter which then transmits to a receiver then it goes straight into your camera, the audio jack in your camera. What we did was we actually recorded the audio on the person we were filming. So Varina had a zoom H1 which is a little like a handy audio recorder and then we had a lapel microphone going from her lapel into the recorder which is in a pocket, back pocket or side pocket of your pants or whatever. And we had a little system for making sure that the audio was on so there’s one little button on the zoom H1 which is really simple. You press it and then the light comes on and then you’re recording.
Varina: The red light check.
Brent: Yes, so we have a red light check every time. So we’re filming, we had a shotgun microphone on our camera as a second audio source. And then we had the zoom H1 recording on the person. And then we also used what we used to sync up the audio. So people don’t understand this so later on in post when you’re editing and putting all together, yes you got to synchronize the audio on the person with the audio on the camera. So that when you move your lips the right sound is coming out.
Varina: But then you actually turn off the sound from the camera so that there’s you know so it’s not an overlay and of course the sound on the camera isn’t very good. You don’t really want that there.SO it’s that process that it takes some learning. You know there are a variety of software applications that you can use to do that.
Brent: So there’s one simple thing we used. Do you remember what it is Varina to synchronize it?
Varina: Oh yeah our clap; the clap.
Brent: Yeah so we run in front of Varina and clap really loud and that little spark in the audio you can see it on the camera and on the audio device. And that’s really in post to then synchronize the two.
Varina: So yeah if you’ve ever seen a video you know of some kind of film recording happening you’ll see them holding up a little board and has a little piece at the top that you open and close that makes a little snapping sound. And a lot of times it’ll have a little chalkboard or something on it that’ll have the name of the scene. But that’s what that’s for. That little snapping sound shows up as a spike in the audio and that’s how you can align it.
Making the Video
Brent: Alright so that’s the audio cover. That’s how we did the audio guys. So when it comes to video how did we do that Varina? What did we use?
Varina: Yeah so that was fun. You know luckily we already understood the way light works. Thanks to our photography. But you know what? There’s a whole different element when it comes to videography. So what we had set up is we were using 2 cameras. One was or I should say 3 cameras I supposed because one was the one that the photographer was using Jay or I as we were teaching. And then we had one that was set up to capture the scene on a tripod. So it was getting still oh not stills sorry it was held still but it was shooting videos.
Brent: Yeah in a wide angle I think
Varina: Yeah in a wider angle, exactly. And then Brent was going with his second camera set in video mode and he had it on was it called Brent? You’re little non tripod thing?
Brent: Yes my steady cam so something to hold the camera still while you’re moving around.
Varina: Yeah so it’s got like a counter back up and a stabilization system but as you move the camera stabilizes itself so it never jerks or wobbles or anything like that too excessively. It sorts of cancels i=out your natural movement as much as it can. So you were going around and you know filming us or zooming in the back of the camera or you know getting in close to show details. So we had those 2 cameras going in and then on top of that Johny was taking notes as we went through. And he was saying “okay so you talked about the histogram and you talked about I don’t know adjusting the aperture” or something like that and after we had filmed the whole lesson we would actually go back and do close up shots, video shorts of you know just my finger adjusting the aperture or turning a filter or whatever it was or the back of the camera which was really important or a big part of it. So that really made a big difference.
Brent: And that’s super important guys. If anyone’s gonna do a video lessons, you need someone making notes of all the B-roll footage that you need to put into the lesson because it gets a little boring just watching someone talking to the camera. You want to break it up a little bit with some extra footage. So sometimes you can actually use some still images there. So you might just take a still image of the back of the camera and insert that or you can take a still image of the scene that Varina shooting and insert that too. But what we did was we got some video of Varina on the back of the screen moving around, showing it again. Sometimes you have to actually film the lesson and then afterwards figure out all the little B-roll footage that you need and then film that afterwards. So we get Varina to do it again. So basically the person teaching the lesson has to be a bit of an actress or an actor because you got to redo it again and a lot of those stuffs. And also we had two different makes of cameras, a Canon and a Nikon filming. And that also bring quite a lot of complexity when you’re putting them into a video editing software because the picture styles and the white balance isn’t often the same. So you flick from once camera to the next you got to turn the different camera scenes so they’ll look the same. So there’s a lot of things in there. I would suggest if anyone’s ever gonna do this and you’re gonna use 2 cameras. Make sure they’re the same model.
Varina: That would definitely be the easier way to go. We spent a lot of time comparing different picture styles on Nikon versus the Canon just to try and match them up and get something as close as possible. And if you really watch those early lessons you’ll actually notice that there’s a little bit of switching back and forth when it comes to color balance.
Brent: And also we were trying to shoot it with a very shallow depth the field too. So we wanted like a cinematic look on these videos. We wanted to do obviously separate ourselves from the competition. And not just have something that’s everything is in focus. We wanted to have Varina in focus and the background is slightly out of focus and then you know we just wanted a really nice shallow depth the field look on all the video.
Varina: But you know on that note we should point out that it’s really important not to use out of focus. When you’re using shallow depth the field like that because we actually have footage we couldn’t use where you know the focus is jumping between my face and what’s behind me and back and forth and back and forth as I’m speaking because I don’t hold still when I speak. I moved a little bit so the camera will try and focus behind me and then it would focus on my face and obviously that’s completely unusable.
Brent: And that comes down to the aperture that you’re using. You know with the depth the field range so we wanna have it in a range that someone when they’re talking obviously the eyes on focus and the nose is out of focus and move one inch back and then everything is out of focus. You don’t want that. It really adds an extra complexity to creating the video.
The Video Content
Brent: Now we’ve gone to the audio settings that you need and some of the tools we’re using. We’ve gone through the video. I think probably the most important thing Varina is the actual content; the lesson that you’re putting together. And I think that’s where the real skill comes in. So you can always hire or get a crew to come in and film you but the real skill to putting together the course. So let’s run into that. So how did you actually put together a full course? You know with a quite few lessons in a way that’s gonna really teach your audience. And I suppose you’ve got a lot of experience putting together an eBooks and writing blogs on your website visualwilderness.com and you know doing all that for quite a few years that’s obviously helped putting together a video course. So now what are the steps that you take when you create a new video course?
Varina: Well it starts with brainstorming. We start talking about what kind of subjects we think most people are gonna be interested in learning about in most photographers. We don’t wanna be too advanced because we’re then narrowing out potential pool of people who might buy. Potential buyer pool is narrowed if we’re too advanced. If we’re too beginner then people are you know you get kind of annoyed by a product and you don’t learn anything. You want people to really learn so that’s important. But it can’t be too complicated. So you’re looking for a very broad audience. So that’s the first thing. Then we start talking about specific things. We’ve done one on filters, we’ve done one on histogram, and we’ve done one on focus and another on hyper focal distance. So there are all these different things that we talked about. And then you know once we have a couple of topics that are potentials we started the outline. And then say if we’re gonna do exposure for example then we need to cover aperture. We need to cover shutter speed. We need to talk about these different things then we start really narrowing it down within those subject areas to talk about individual lessons that need to be taught. So we start out with a pretty detailed outline of the things that we need to talk about and on top of that we say “okay so you know this particular subject might be a little more complicated to understand. Let’s make sure we include a special section on that and maybe do a case study” that’s part of how we teach too. We do these case studies where we walk you through the whole process as we actually shoot in the field. And we’ve found that that’s a really good way to you know connect with our audience beyond just you know I’m standing in front of the classroom and teaching you. So you know we’re doing all of this in the field. And then to be able to take it a little bit further to take you through an actual case study where we cover that particular subject are really important. So we’re actually planning each of those case studies as we go as well. But I think really the hardest part of the whole process getting to put these all together and once we’re in the field we know when we write up this outline for the course that we need certain conditions and certain locations in order to talk about some of these concepts. Some of them can be done anywhere but not all of them. And so then we have to coordinate everything; make sure that we’re in the right place at the right time with the right light and we’re ready with our crew, we’re ready to talk about whatever it is that we’re gonna talk about. We have our gear ready at the right moment and you know all of you landscape photographers out there who know how hard it is to capture that moment of perfect beauty of the sunset, now imagine also having to teach a lesson and having all your video and audio and everything ready to go at that particular moment it’s a feet.
Brent: It’s pretty complex and I think anyone thinking to this one might say “hey this is just too hard to do” there’s a lot of things that needed to come together and that’s where having I think a good video crew really takes the stress of because then the person teaching really only has to focus on what they’re teaching. And getting the lesson across and actually taking the right photos that you can overlay them afterwards.
Varina: Yeah that’s absolutely key and you know I would actually recommend to people who wanna do this before you spend a million bucks go out there and find your perfect location and you know have your course planned out and you’re gonna shoot it in this remote location. Go out on your backyard and try and film yourself doing a lesson. Just with the experience because Brent you’re absolutely right. It is not reasonable to go out there and think that you can record a course of yourself. It doesn’t sound that complicated but trust me once you’re out there it’s a whole different world. So don’t spend your money and then be disappointed because you didn’t bring a crew along. Try it out somewhere it doesn’t cost you money to get to and then you’ll find yourself hiring a good crew.
Framework for the Lesson
Brent: Okay so we’re going to more action steps in a minute. You know things for people to do. One question I wanna ask you about creating a course. Do you have a framework for the lesson? So do you have a way to actually to teach your one lesson? So the course might be broken up into 7 or 15 lessons or whatever it is and a few case studies. Does each lesson fall into some kind of framework?
Varina: It does in a way. What we’re generally doing is we’re presenting the concept. Explaining how it applies to overall subject of the course. And then we’re breaking it into very simple pieces to show how it works and the technical side of it. And then we some kind of physical-visual explanation so that you can see as using this particular piece of equipment you can see how the back of the camera changes as we make this adjustment or whatever it is.
Promoting the Product
Brent: Alright so that’s creating the course section. What we have missed here Varina? So we’ve gone figuring out what the course needs to be. We’ve gone through the video. We’ve gone through the audio. We’ve gone through creating the course. What are the things do people need to consider?
Varina: We’ve missed something huge. And that’s not just because you have a product it doesn’t mean it’s gonna sale.
Brent: Yes promoting it.
Varina: Voting it, marketing, getting it out there in front of people where they can see it. That is absolutely really huge. And one of the things that we’ve done is create short little videos which are little intros to our courses. And then we used those and that’s part how we market our courses. So you might’ve seen on our website, on our social media or somewhere. You know one of our short little sales videos and they’re just a couple of minutes long. We’re trying to keep them as short as we can. But we give people a little bit of information about who we are and what we do. And then an overview of the course so that they know what it’s about. And then of course the cover is pretty important because it needs to look professional and still look simple and beautiful and needs to be readable. Probably professional is the most important thing there. And then you know we need to have a website that looks professional. We need to have a way to get to people to our website and that’s where our blog comes in. And for you, you have your community and your blog and you have other videos as well that you put out. We do the same thing. We have lots and lots of videos in our YouTube channel. You know all kinds of little things that are always pulling people in. You know “come on and read this blog post” and “oh do you wanna buy a course?” You know “come and watch this interesting little quick tutorials video”, “oh and do you wanna buy a course?” “And join our mailing list and we’ll send you little tips in the mail and you know if you want to you also buy a course.”
Brent: I know we’re just kind of running through that really quickly and look we could even do a whole podcast on just the content marketing side of this. So what Varina is using and Jay and me is we used content marketing to get eyes on your website; eyes on your content, so you give out really good information for free. And then people come back to your course and if they wanna learn something more, then they can buy a premium course. And then jump in to the actual premium lessons. So that a very huge product. What I’ve found is the energy we put in to creating a course even though it’s pretty complex and there’s a lot of things that need to go right to make it happen, you put an equal amount of energy in marketing course; getting it out there.
Varina: Absolutely and probably even more energy into maintaining a steady stream of good free content to keep people interested in coming back.
Production of the Course
Brent: You know one thing we didn’t talk about is the production part of the course; so once you’ve got all that footage in the field and we’ve recorded it; all the audio, video, the screen or the still images. You know sometimes there’s things we need to do back in the studio and that’s maybe a screen capture on the post processing like say if you’re editing one of the landscape images you might record that with a voice over. And then there’s putting it all together, the production side. And we outsource some of that. And we that some of ourselves. We actually got a video guy in Scotland, Russell.
Varina: Hi Russell.
Brent: Who does all the video editing and put it all together. We also got tools that we used to make sure that the project is running properly. We use Trello which is free project management software online that we used to make sure that each lesson is coming out right. And if we didn’t use that we could be in trouble. So you need to manage the whole production side of it which is another whole podcast we could do on that.
Varina: But is keeps us coordinated throughout the globe.
Varina: It’s part of this because we’re working with our Australian film crew. Jay and I are based in the U.S. And Russell is off in Scotland. So we’re all over the world.
Brent: Yeah and let’s just recap on what we’ve talked about Varina. So we’ve run through you know finding your groove. Basically how do you make money? How do you find which area in Photography you can make money? You’ve tried obviously a lot of things. You’ve tried all sorts of weddings, events, eBooks and even fall into making video lessons, so teaching through video as the place where you guys are making money. We’ve run through actually what it takes to create a course which is there’s quite a lot involved in creating a course.
Varina: With location and post processing.
Brent: And then we’ve gone through with creating a lesson. Like how to do that. And then the production and then the marketing part of it. How to get the course in front of people?
Action Steps for Starters
Brent: Now let’s go to some action steps Varina. So if someone wants to take this route and wants to start creating video lessons, what would you suggest people do? A couple of action steps they can start with. Can I throw in one to start with? Like say for me, like Varina might a bit of an introvert and I was the person in high school who when you had to go and stand up in front of the class and say something, I’d be hiding in the backhoe and hoping that they’d never call my name.
Varina: I was back then too. I was shaking.
Brent: So when I started making videos for YouTube a few years ago, I sucked. I was really bad. I couldn’t look at the camera. I was stumbling around with my words and everything. But you gotta do it. You just got to stop making videos and probably the first video took me about 20 or 30 takes. And I put that online and I still got it online jut to remind me how bad I was. After 30 takes it’s still pretty shocking. But you actually get better at it. You get into state where you’re in it’s just a way of teaching. So that would be the first action step I would give anyone who wants to try this. To film yourself may just yourself. There’s no one else around. And try many times until you feel like you’re okay. You don’t have to be brilliant but you’re okay because from there you’re just gonna get better. So that’s the first action step. Anything else from your side Varina?
Varina: I agree with that entirely. You know another way you can practice that is to start speaking for local camera clubs and some things like that because a small of people or speaking in front of a small group of people can help you start to feel a little bit more comfortable in front of the camera too. Part of the problem of speaking in front of the camera is that you know that somebody’s gonna be watching you and so you know that’s another way to do it. Another way to practice that is a little bit like public speaking. Bu then the difference is that with video you can go back and correct a mistake. So that’s you know I think sometimes being able to remind yourself of that that can take the pressure off. You know you can go back. You can edit it out. You can fix it. You can make yourself look amazing.
Brent: So people are watching well listening to this actually watching one of your courses, and you looked so polished. And so did when you’re presenting, can you just let people know what did actually it takes? How many takes to get that right?
Varina: Well you know the funny thing I think everybody should take a look at our bloopers video that I put out a while ago because you can see the, you know the mistakes that we make. And the goofy things that we say and you know “oops did I say that” you know it’s just part of the process but the other thing is that I think for me I found that if I was teaching in front of the camera it only took one take. But if I was trying to film some kind of introduction or explain what I was going to talk about something like that, “oh my gosh” I mean you remember Brent. It was terrible. It was stilted. You know Jay and I, both we have trouble making eye contact with the camera, we’re looking of in weird directions. It was a disaster. So you know those we actually ended out. If you watched some of our earlier videos you will find that the intro, in fact all of our videos the intros are voice over with dropped in footage because we found that’s just something we weren’t very good at and so we have certainly gotten better at overtime with practice but we find that it really works well to do voice over rather than our actual you know talking head talking into the camera.
Brent: Any other action steps that you can suggest people do? I mean I’ll throw another one in guys. I think once you start filming yourself I think create a couple of YouTube videos and put them online so that other people can see it. That’ll give you the confidence that you can actually get your message across. And if you keep doing it on a regular basis you’ll get a lot better at it. And then from there you can probably create your first course.
Varina: And I think I can add to that too. So a couple of things; one keep them short. Keep in mind that really most people aren’t looking for a 2 hour course on the internet. Honestly, a 2-5 minute lesson is perfect. Most people won’t watch beyond that first 5 minutes anyway. So tailor it to the digital generation right. Most of us will not watch a 20, 30, 40 minute video. We’re more interested in shorter videos so don’t put a pressure on yourself to create something wrong. In fact do what you can to shorten it. And create something that’s quick and then done.
Brent: And we’ve found that by looking at our stats in the videos. Videos that are over 12 minutes, after about 6-8 minutes the drop off is massive. You’re losing probably half 2-3 quarters of the people because they can’t focus for that long. So that’s how we got to that point. So 2-5 minutes is a great lesson. So if you got a course break it up into smaller lessons.
Varina: And then the other thing that I’d suggest outlining what you wanna say before you say it. Don’t script it necessarily. Reading a script sounds very flat. It sounds very monotonous and kind of difficult to do. But if you have a very clear list for yourself of little points that you wanna cover as you go through your lesson. It’s gonna help you stay on track and it’s also going to help you avoid rambling which can be a real problem with videos on the internet. So those 2 things and then the final thing is get comfortable with editing. Think about how many videos you’ve seen on the internet where part of the video is taken off with stuff that you really don’t need to see. Feel comfortable cutting out large sections of recorded video because it’s not helpful. Take out the part where you’re waiting for your computer you know put your computer screen to change is not necessary. Take out the part where you made a mistake. But don’t feel that you have to take out all the mistakes either. Because you know we’re all human and some of that can be funny or make you feel connected to your audience. So I think the editing for me, take a look at some YouTube videos that are out there even the ones that don’t seem to be professional. The best ones are the ones where you can see they’ve been edited but part have been edited out.
Brent: You know we were putting so much energy to creating these videos. So much like emotional energy that you don’t want actually to get rid of some video footage because you already emotionally invested at. And I think it’s a good idea to maybe just give that to someone else to cut for you coz then they can cut out. They are not emotionally involved. So they can cut out the things aren’t gonna help the lesson. And then another that you mentioned there which is really important guys is when it is good enough? It doesn’t have to be brilliant. It doesn’t have to be like to present on T.V. It’s just to be good enough to get your message across. And when it’s good enough then you put it out there and sell it. Varina it’s been so good talking to you again. You’re so full of information. I know we’ve gone down to this journey together. You know creating these videos. So obviously I know a lot of things in the background that we’ve done and covered. So that’s great. Thanks Varina. So of anyone wants to find out more about you and what you’re doing. Where should they go?
Varina: You can find me at photographybyvarina.com or at visualwilderness.com and you know I’m on Facebook. I’m on Google+. I’m on Twitter. I’m all over the place. I’m hard to miss.
Brent: And any final words for someone listening to this podcast?
Varina: I think you know we started out talking about finding your groove and video lessons, video courses might not be your thing. Get out there and look at all what’s available for you. Maybe you don’t wanna sell prints. Maybe you don’t want to shoot weddings. But photography is a huge field. There’s so much available. You just have to look for it. You know when I was a kid my parents thought that I couldn’t make it as a photographer. They were not supportive of the idea that I wanted to be a photographer when I grew up. But for myself, looking at the career I’ve built. It is a possibility. In fact it’s a very realistic possibility if you’re willing to work. There are so many different ways that you can get into photography and make it a living.
Brent: So just to reiterate, don’t give up guys. Whatever you’re doing just try. If it’s not working try something else. And you’ll find the groove. You’ll find something that works for you. And people listening to this Varina, how did this changed your life? The way you do things now as to when you’re trying to do different things. You’re shooting weddings, and doing eBooks and workshops and all that. How has making video course changed things for you?
Varina: Well you know what? Part of what’s been hard for me specifically is that I have kids. I have a lot of kids and you know they require a lot of my time. And being able to focus on photography and building a course while I’m away and then come home and really focus on my family has been really important to me. And it’s made a huge difference of my life in that way. But also it means that when I’m on location I can relax and really enjoy what I’m doing because our film crew is awesome. So much fun to be with. You know we’re always joking around. We’re always having fun. And we’re out in this amazing location so it means that we can go wherever we want to go. We can travel whenever we wanna travel within reason. You know we do have families. All of us have families. We all have children and so you know it’s not easy. But while we’re there we can really do what we love doing. And the stress level is so much lower when you’re doing something that you love. You’re in a place that you love. And you’re with people that you love.
Brent: That’s right and guys keep an eye on the course that we’re gonna create in Fiji. We’re just planning it right now. So we actually got the whole process that we’ve spoken about in this podcast. And we’re gonna create something amazing in Fiji.
Varina: We’ll let you know on the way right.
Brent: So thank you so much Varina and we’ll put links into how people can actually contact you and see what you’re doing. And also we’ll put a link to the bloopers video that you’ve put together. Just so t=you can see that you don’t have to be perfect when you’re creating you know video content.
Varina: Never take yourself too seriously.
Brent: Never take life too seriously. Well it was so good talking to you again Varina. I’d love you on again in a couple of months’ time. And maybe dig into other areas of the business especially the content marketing side because that really interests me. How do you get people to actually come to your website and follow you? Capture the email and eventually buy your video courses so that’ll be probably the next podcast on Photo Profit.
Varina: I would love to do that. That would be a lot of fun. Thanks for having me today.
Brent: Awesome, bye.
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