Video Platforms: Finding Your Video Sweet Spot and Style

There are so many video styles and platforms available today, it can be overwhelming to try to keep track and sort them all out! Fortunately, we’ve done that for you…

With the deluge of websites, apps, web plug-ins and tools now available online, the real challenge is not just keeping track of what’s out there, but finding the best platform for your specific needs.

I call that your “Video Sweet Spot,” and finding it can mean the difference between video success and failure. Your Video Sweet Spot is your “go to” video style or platform. It’s the easiest and most effective video platform for you. One that’s so seamless for you that it eventually becomes your “default” style video, that you crank out anytime.

The importance finding your own, specific Video Sweet Spot is all about determining a style that works for you — one that you become so comfortable with that video becomes a “no-brainer.” One of the big benefits of having a Video Sweet Spot is that, if you’re more comfortable with a particular style or platform, you’ll be more consistent and make more videos. (More videos = good thing!)

In this module, we’ll be digging into how to find your Video Sweet Spot and how to use it to your advantage. We’ll show you all kinds of video platform options and opportunities, so you can test and experiment, mix and match, and find the right platform for you. That could be on-camera, off-camera, it could be doing video interviews or live streaming, or it could be video animation or screencasts. We’ll review various options so you can discover your own go-to style.

On-Camera videos, for example, include all “talking head” videos, such as YouTube tips, video blog posts, sales videos, about me videos, promotional videos and the like.

Live Videos, as the name suggests, include live webcasting or live streaming via Facebook Live, Periscope, YouTube Live, Snapchat and similar apps for creating videos live and on-the-go.

Continuing clockwise around our “video tree,” Hybrid Videos are a combination of live and screen-sharing videos, such as the videos you can create on Zoom or via Skype, as you toggle between being on camera and sharing your screen.

Animated Videos include video animation created using websites or tools such as Powtoon, GoAnimate, VideoScribe, VideoMakerFX, or other software that we’ll review later in this module.

Next up are “Screencasts,” or screen capture videos typically created with Camtasia, Jing, SnagIt, or voice over slide videos like PowerPoint to video.

And finally, Photo Montage Videos are exactly what the name implies: Videos created using a combination of photos (or video clips), music, and text or graphics. These video montages can be produced easily using software such as Animoto or Stupeflix.

What’s Your “Video Persona”

We’ve talked a lot about tools and resources you can use depending on your preference and your Video Sweet Spot, so let’s look at one way to determine your sweet spot by identifying your particular “video persona.” The following assessment is geared more towards on-camera videos, but knowing your video persona will help you determine what types of videos you should be creating in the first place.

As we’ve seen, one of the keys to being successful with video marketing is to be sure you’re creating the right kind of video for your personality — especially if you plan to create on-camera videos where you’re the star.

If you’ve had mixed results thus far with video, or have yet to tackle video at all, it could be that you’re attempting the wrong “type” of video for your personality. In working with hundreds of entrepreneurs over the last several years, I’ve identified three distinct video “personas” or personality types. What’s most fascinating is that there are actually ideal formats and styles of video for each individual video persona.

Why is this important?

By matching your video strategy with your own video persona, you can dramatically increase your chances for success, while saving yourself a lot of time and frustration. Once you’ve identified your specific video persona, you can gravitate towards the type of videos that are going to be the easiest and the most effective for you to create.

So what are the three video personas, and how do they differ?

The three main video personas are based not only on your level of experience, but also on your personality, your personal style, your comfort level with technology and your ultimate goals. You may instinctively know your video persona, but here’s an overview of the three video personas and what types of videos are the best fit for each style:

Video Newbie

Video Newbies have little or no experience with online video, though they understand the importance of establishing a video presence. Most Video Newbies would rather get a root canal than be in front of the camera, though in most cases, a little practice is all they need. Video Newbies also tend to be “technophobes,” since they don’t yet realize that there are many low-tech options for creating video.

The best type of videos for most Video Newbies include a brief “welcome” video for your home page, or “off-camera” videos such as photo montages, screencasts, or narrated PowerPoint videos. Obviously, Video Newbies need the most guidance and support, and can benefit most from online courses or personal coaching.

Video Explorer

Video Explorers are a bit more adventurous, and like to “do it themselves” — or at least know how to do it themselves. Video Explorers usually have some experience with video, though their initial forays into video may have been frustrating. Explorers are less intimidated by cameras and equipment, and most consider themselves relatively tech-savvy. Video Explorers are independent and determined to figure it out. Sometimes the “DIY” attitude of the Video Explorer can actually work against them, since even a little help can give them a big boost.

Best videos for Video Explorers include an on-camera video tips series, off- camera screencast demos or instructional videos, and promotional videos to promote products, services, webinars or events. Video Explorers are usually more comfortable experimenting with new tools and resources that satisfy their independent nature. However, Explorers can also benefit from coaching or support to sometimes help them “get out of their own way.”

Videopreneur

Videopreneurs are the more experienced, marketing-savvy professionals. They’ve been in the game for a while and are always hungry for the latest, greatest tools and short-cuts. They realize that video is a means to an end, and that the content of their videos is far more important than the technology. Videopreneurs have had some success with video, but realize that there’s much more they could — and should — be doing. Videopreneurs are on the vanguard and are on their way to becoming consistent content producers.

Best videos for Videopreneurs include just about any video content, though on-camera videos are typically much more effective (and satisfying) for this personality type. For Videopreneurs, the style of video is not nearly as important as the video marketing strategy. Videopreneurs can enjoy continued and growing success by developing an overall video strategy that’s tied to their long term goals. Videopreneurs benefit from a consistent strategy for content-rich videos to enhance their credibility and engage their followers.

The Match Game

As you can imagine, a Video Newbie who is somewhat camera shy is going to struggle if they decide to create a weekly videoblog series. While that’s not the ideal format for a Newbie, off-camera screencast tutorials or photo/video montages may be perfect for the video beginner.

And a Newbie isn’t going to be a Newbie for long. Once the less-experienced producer gets a few videos under his or her belt, they may quickly jump to the “Explorer” persona. Video Explorers are going to dabble and try on several video formats until they find one that fits. But don’t be fooled into thinking you’re a Newbie just because you’re an introvert. There are many savvy Videopreneurs who are also quite shy – They’ve just found a process and strategy that works for them. Again, it’s all a matter of finding that video “sweet spot” which will give you the best results based on your own video persona.

Knowing your style and understanding the ideal video plan for your persona can mean the difference between video frustration and video success. Whatever your results may be, the important thing is to find out what kind of videos work best for you so you can benefit from video marketing and actively participate in the online video revolution.

On-Camera Videos

At the end of module 3, we talked about the difference between on-camera and off-camera videos. Now it’s time to take a closer look at both options so we can begin to determine your Video Sweet Spot. We’ll start with the most obvious and traditional video style: On-Camera.

Appearing on camera in your videos is arguably the most powerful and compelling online video format, because so real and “present.” With on-camera videos, you can use the force of your personality, even if your more of an introvert, or the “strong, silent type.” There’s no better way to make an authentic, personal connection with your audience than with on-camera videos.

Being on camera is also the best vehicle for building the all-important “know, like and trust” factor with your viewers, because your sharing yourself and engaging your viewer. Talking directly to your viewers on camera is “relationship” marketing, and is, in most cases, the next best thing to in-person, face to face communications.

On-camera videos, often referred to as “talking head” videos, are also best for establishing your online visibility, since it’s you who’s appearing on camera and becoming more familiar and recognized to your audience. This type of “up close and personal” video is also great for establishing your credibility and expert status. If you want to be seen as the authority in your niche, you’ve got to be front and center on camera.

While there may be hundreds of ways to create videos, there’s simply no substitute for showing up on camera. There’s a reason why major brands spend millions to make professional athletes and celebrities their on-camera spokespeople: Being on camera makes an immediate, dynamic and visceral connection. And that’s good news because, for some situations, you simply must be on-camera.

When to Use…

Those “must be on camera” videos include your website’s main home page or “welcome” video, particularly if you are your business, or you’re the face of your business. Your welcome video on your website is your “first impression” video, so it’s best that you appear on camera to make that initial, personal connection.

On camera videos also include your “about me” video, where you’ve got the opportunity to share your story and background with your viewer. The “about” video is often a missed opportunity for entrepreneurs, since most small business owners usually settle for a standard text bio. Why not bring your website’s “about me” page to life with a more compelling video version of that bio?

In fact, you can make all your web pages or landing pages more personal and inviting by adding an on-camera video. For example, in addition to creating a persuasive sales video where you appear on camera, you can also include an on- camera video on your “Thank You” page after your customer opts-in to your mailing list or buys your product. Thank you page videos are the perfect opportunity to express your appreciation to your customer and ensure that the customer has made a wise decision.

And if you’re doing a live event or an online webinar, a more personal, on- camera video on your web pages can increase attendance and conversions, because you’re making your event more authentic and inviting. Anytime you include an on-camera video on one of your web pages, whether it’s an “about” page, a “thank you” page, or even a “contact us” page, you’re validating the viewer’s online experience, making it more authentic, and giving your viewer the promise that “you’ve got their back!”

Other instances where you’ll want to appear on camera include your “expert tips” video series, where you’re sharing your knowledge and expertise on YouTube or on your own website or blog. These tips videos not only add value for your target market, but they also position you as the expert and authority in your field.

For the most part, any kind of live video, online panel discussion or video interview is going to be an on-camera video, such as when you’re doing a Facebook Live video or livestream video. This includes webcasting and videoconferencing, like the multi-screen/multi-person videos you can create using a video service such as zoom.us.

You can also be on camera to create Video Emails, which are becoming more mainstream and more popular with services such as MailVu.com. V-Mail is an ideal way to make a more personal and intimate connection with a colleague or client. Your video email will easily stand out among the hundreds of other regular emails your customers receive.

Keep in mind that you can plug in on-camera videos just about anywhere in your marketing, whether it’s for video blog posts, video webinars, product demos or tutorial videos, as well as on-camera videos for a product launch series. Think about where you can bolster your business by adding personal, on- camera videos.

What’s Your Video Sweet Spot?

You may know you’re a natural on camera, or you may have to stretch past your comfort zone to find the right “video voice” for you, but once you do find your video sweet spot, the process of creating videos becomes much easier!

  • Do you prefer video over writing? Do video blog posts.
  • Do you like teaching? Create a video tips series.
  • If you like live interaction, try a video interview.
  • Are you more of a storyteller? Then maybe an animated video is more your style.
  • Or are you determined to build a following or fan base? You’ll need a compelling opt-in video!

Don’t be afraid to try different video styles to find your Video Sweet Spot…

Live Video

The use of live video has absolutely exploded, thanks in large part to Facebook Live, which has taken live streaming video to the masses.

Some of the Facebook Live highlights worth noting are that videos have 135% greater organic reach on Facebook compared to photo posts, and that Facebook has an average of 8 Billion daily video views.

Clearly, Facebook Live has changed the game when it comes to video. Today, anyone with a smartphone or computer can be broadcasting live video on Facebook in a matter of two clicks on their screen. And that’s exactly what millions of people are doing every day!

Of course, there are other live video platforms, most notably Periscope, Instagram, Snapchat, and even Twitter, but Facebook is clearly king when it comes to live video, if for no other reason that pretty much everyone already uses the social network. And it didn’t take long for YouTube and Twitter to up their live video game, but Facebook seems to be the platform of choice for the majority of folks using live video.

The popularity of Facebook Live could be attributed to it’s incredible ease of use. Especially on mobile devices, Facebook has made shooting a live video as easy as snapping a picture. And, Facebook continues to evolve and update their Live video capabilities by adding Snapchat like features and filters, along with other bells and whistles to make Facebook Live videos more fun and engaging.

Facebook Live is also a great way to wade into the video waters, even if you’re a video newbie — both because of it’s ease of use and it’s informal, “in- the-moment” nature. I’ll stop short of saying that Facebook Live has lowered the bar on video, but now that anyone can create a video anytime… anyone can create a video anytime! (And that’s not always a good thing!) Still, the “video intimidation” factor seems to be lower.

Facebook Live could be described as a “come as you are” video, with little need for pre-production, and rarely any need for post-production or editing. It’s about as “point and shoot” easy as it can be! That’s why I often recommend Facebook Live as a first stop for those just beginning to attempt on-camera videos. With Facebook Live’s privacy settings, you’ve also got the option to share your video to specific groups, or even to “only me” if you prefer to do a practice run.

Finally, there’s no better reason to do Facebook Live videos than the fact that Facebook gives them so much prominence. Facebook loves video, and there’s nothing more “newsfeed-worthy” than Facebook Live videos. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg himself calls video a “mega-trend,” and states that he “wouldn’t be surprised if you fast-forward five years and most of the content that people are sharing on a day-to-day basis is video.”

Facebook has doubled-down on video, and you should, too! Posting videos and going live from Facebook will give you more reach, more visibility and more engagement. For further proof, look at these statistics provided by Buffer on which type of posts get the most engagement. As you can see, video on Facebook leaves all other content in the dust!

Top 10 Tips for Maximizing Live Video

  1. Seize the moment — Live video is the perfect vehicle for “in the moment,” on-the-fly videos, so be sure to use it whenever the moment strikes you. Live video captures those spontaneous, sharable moments, and all you need is your mobile device!
  2. Engage! — Live video is ideal for engaging your audience, so be sure to acknowledge your viewers, give shout-outs to those who join, make them part of the broadcast and make your livestream interactive. Live video is a two-way street!
  3. Go live on Twitter — Facebook Live is the king of live video, but let’s not forget that we can also go live right from Twitter, thanks to Periscope (which Twitter owns). You don’t even need the Periscope app to use the live video feature on Twitter, which broadcasts your video right in the stream!
  4. Enhance your live broadcasts with third party apps — You can put your live webcasts on steroids with third-party software and resources like OBS (Open Broadcaster Software) at obsproject.com, or BeLive.tv. OBS allows you to add multiple cameras and graphics to your Facebook Live broadcasts, while BeLive adds the option of doing two-person broadcasts, along with a Q&A function that overlays viewer comments on the screen.
  5. Be consistent — One and done won’t really get it done when it comes to building visibility and engagement with live video. Try to go live often, or make a commitment to do a regular “appointment viewing” webcast once a week (or once a day if you’re more ambitious!)
  6. Try different livestream formats — Such as video interviews, Q&A live sessions, or “behind the scenes” webcasts. Experiment with different content and styles until you find your live sweet spot.
  7. Add Instagram to your live mix — Instagram may be best known for posting photos, but you can also post 3 to 60-second videos on the social platform, as well! And with Instagram’s 600 million monthly users, it’s another great way to get video visibility!
  8. Start with a plan — You don’t need a script to go live, but you should have a pretty good idea of what you’re going to say, do or show. Facebook Live and other live video platforms may be instantaneous and in-the-moment, but that doesn’t mean you should totally wing it
  9. Promote your live broadcasts — Live any live event, your livestream should be promoted in advance if you want to build buzz and awareness for your broadcast. While this might not be practical for impromptu videos, you can certainly let your audience know if you’ve got a live video pre-scheduled.
  10. Follow up after the fact — Once your live broadcast is over, your work is not necessarily done. Spread and share your video recording as appropriate: Cross post to your other social networks and leverage your video for additional views and greater visibility.

Follow these guidelines along with you own intuition and you’ll be able to make the most of all the opportunities live videos offer!

FACEBOOK LIVE CHECKLIST 

PRE-BROADCAST

  • Check your Internet connection/Wifi
  • Check your battery charge on your phone
  • Turn on airplane mode or do not disturb
  • Be sure to pre-promote your broadcast
  • Let your followers know when you’re going live!
  • Check your lighting and audio
  • Use a tripod to keep your phone steady and stable
  • Write a compelling headline/description to attract viewers

BROADCAST

  • “Hook” your viewers in the first few seconds Why should they watch?
  • Have a plan and purpose from the start Consider going live for 5 – 20 minutes
  • Acknowledge your viewers by name with “shout-outs” Interact and answer viewer questions
  • Ask your viewers to subscribe to future broadcasts Include a Call to Action before signing off
  • Tell your viewers what you want them to do next!

POST BROADCAST

  • Save your broadcast to your camera roll
  • Save an HD/higher quality version if possible
  • Share the replay on your other Facebook pages and groups (Use a service like “Live Leap”)
  • Download the broadcast so you can repurpose and share on other platforms Continue to respond to questions and comments on the replay
  • Edit your video (Choose thumbnail, add captions, etc)
  • Consider uploading to YouTube or Vimeo
  • Consider creating a :30 version for Twitter Consider creating a :60 version for Instagram

When to Use…

Live video can be used almost anytime, from anywhere. And if you’re going live from your mobile device, it’s even easier and more convenient to do those spur- of-the-moment live videos. More specific uses for live, on-the-fly videos include:

On location — Simply pull out your iPhone or mobile device and hit record — wherever, whenever you are at a cool location or special spot you want to share!

Live interviews — Perhaps you’re at a conference or an industry event and you run into someone who’s perfect to interview right then and there. Or, you can just as easily do a live interview if your guest is at another location. Live video is ideal for interviews or panel discussions.

Q&A with viewers — Third party apps like BeLive.tv for Facebook Live

make it super simple to conduct live Q&A broadcasts, where your audience can interact and ask their questions live on the webcast.

Special events — Events and occasions are perfect opportunities to go live. You can capture the action with your mobile device and “share” the event live with your viewers.

Behind the scenes — People love being taken “behind the scenes” and seeing what’s happening “off screen.” Give your viewers a glimpse backstage or share some rarely seen footage to make them feel like VIPs.

Share the moment — Any occasion — business, personal, unique or fun — can be turned into a live video that you share with your viewers. Next time you experience something, especially when it’s something visual, capture the moment and share it with your followers.

Announcements — Have you got a big announcement you can share live? Maybe a new product coming out, or a special milestone your business is celebrating? Share the excitement and the news with a live video!

Hybrid Videos

At the intersection of live videos and screen recordings is a video style I call “hybrid” videos. Hybrid videos are simply a combination of live, on-camera videos and off-camera screencasts or screen sharing.

Hybrid videos offer the best of both worlds, because you get the closeness and “connection” of being on camera, along with the ability to switch over to sharing your computer screen for demos, slide shows, or whatever else you want to display to your audience.

This style of toggling back and forth between appearing on camera and showing your screen can be very effective and engaging, and it’s a great way to keep the interest and attention of your viewer. It’s also a great way to conduct video webinars, since you can appear on camera of your webinar introduction; switch over to your slides on screen; then pop back on camera for a more personal close to your online event.

Hybrid videos are my personal favorite, and often my go-to style for sharing

tips, tutorials or a lot of information. Sharing my PowerPoint slides on screen is an effective way to get a lot of content out there, and the ability to switch back to my “talking head” shot on camera keeps the audience more connected to the event.

You can create those combo videos using various types of software, most notably zoom.us and similar video conferencing solutions. Most will allow you to stay on screen via “picture in picture,” but I prefer to either be full screen on camera or full screen on my slides. It’s really a matter of personal preference.

You can also produce hybrid videos using Skype, Go To Webinar, WebinarJam, and other third party resources. Each has its own features and benefits, but I usually recommend Zoom to my clients because of it’s ease of use and it’s generous free version — where you can host up to 50 participants on a 40 minute video conference. Once your video goes over 40 minutes, you’ll have to upgrade to one of Zoom’s paid plans, which start at just $14.99 per month.

While Zoom gets my personal recommendation, it is not the only video conferencing solution.

Video Hacks

Video marketing can be incredibly effective for entrepreneurs and small business owners who need to compete with bigger, better funded competitors. Promoting your business with video can level the playing field and give you a huge advantage because video builds the “know, like and trust” factor and accelerates the sales process.

However, many entrepreneurs feel that video marketing is beyond their reach because it can be so time consuming and complicated. Many people are missing out on the online video revolution because they fear the time commitment of doing video.

Fortunately, video does not have to take a ton of time or effort. There are all kinds of shortcuts and hacks for making video simple.

Here are my 6 favorite video productivity tips:

  1. That Jing Thing — Go download Jing at https://www.techsmith.com/jing.html. (Free) This simple sibling of Camtasia is more than a screen capture tool. You can also instantly record your screen for up to 5 minutes. It’s perfect for quick screencast videos or mini-slide shows. Just fire it up and start talking over your computer screen. Best of all: The 5 minute limit keeps you focused and succinct… a must for videos!
  2. Zoom in on video — If you prefer to be on camera, or if you want the flexibility of being able to toggle between on camera and screen sharing, then zoom.us is the perfect solution. Zoom offers video conferencing and online meetings, but more important, video recording. (Free for up to 40 minutes; Pro Plans start at $14.99/month). You can host up to 50 participants on the free plan, but the real “hack” here is to use it as a video recording tool. Record yourself or your screen (even with no participants), and you’ve got a fast and easy video!
  3. Go Live — Facebook Live, Periscope and now, Instagram all give you the ability to broadcast live with just your smartphone. With just a couple of taps on your phone, this may be the quickest and easiest way to create a video. And because platforms like Facebook Live are designed to be recorded “in the moment” and on the fly, there’s no need nor expectation for fancy editing or post production. Just hit record and go!
  4. Montage Mania — Having a bad hair day or don’t want to appear on camera? Then simply pull together a few photos and create a quick photo/video montage. Low and no cost tools like stupeflix.com animoto.com and Adobe Spark for the iPad (https://spark.adobe.com/) make it super simple to upload images or graphics and add words and music to create a great video. These services even provide stock photos, themes and free music to go along with your montage.
  5. Vmail is the new Email — Video email is far more engaging and effective than traditional email, because you get to connect directly with your viewer in a much more personal way. Email is perfect for direct outreach or follow up after a meeting or event, and it’s as simple as talking into your webcam or smartphone. MailVu.com and eyejot.com both offer free versions, while services like bombbomb.com start at $39.99 per month if you need lots of bells and whistles.
  6. PowerPoint to Video — Whether you’re using PowerPoint on a PC, or Screenflow on a Mac, you can narrate and record your slide presentation and save it as a video. This is a great way to repurpose your existing assets if you have any PowerPoint presentations, and it’s also the ideal way to conduct webinars.

Cranking out great video doesn’t have to be a chore. Use any of these time- saving video hacks and watch your video productivity soar!

Off-Camera Videos

Now that we’ve teased you with a short preview of some off-camera options mentioned in our “video hacks” section, it’s time to take a closer look at videos you can create without having to appear on camera.

Off camera videos give you a tremendous amount of flexibility and a wide range of options. This type of video is ideal for teaching and demonstrating, such as video tutorials or instructional videos. They are also a great way to deliver a webinar or present a lot of information. (You can use slides and graphics to visually illustrate your points.) You’ve also got the opportunity to create unique and memorable videos using off-camera methods, whether it’s animation, the popular “sketch” style videos, explainer videos or photo/video montages.

Some of the distinct advantages of off camera videos include the simple fact that you don’t need to appear on camera! That means no need for hair and make- up, no need for special lighting, and no need to worry about your background or setting. In many cases, off camera videos are quicker, easier and less hassle than on camera efforts.

Off camera videos also provide a nice change of pace from your typical “talking head” videos, and they can also be ideal for repurposing existing content. A written blog post or article, for example, can be given new life as a PowerPoint video with voice over. In fact, any kind of product demo or teaching video can make a compelling off camera video.

When to Use…

Images and music alone can create engaging storytelling videos; animation can be perfect to explain an idea or concept; and screen sharing videos can provide step-by-step walk throughs of your product or service. Here are some specific ways you can utilize off camera methods:

  • Webinar or video conference- Best way to delivery lots of information 
  • Demo video — Teaching or training using slides (PowerPoint) 
  • Animation — Creative ways to present ideas and concepts
  • Photo montage — Can be used to tell a story with photos
  • Screencasts — Capture or highlight your computer screen Promotional — “Sizzle” reel, speaker video, promo reel
  • Portfolio — Show off your work with screen shots, graphics or images

Other popular uses for off camera videos include the widely used “explainer” videos, which are typically videos created with motion graphics or animation. Animated text videos are referred to as “kinetic type” videos, which is another popular style.

“Sketch” or whiteboard videos are also seen often, where animated words or images are drawn on the screen. More traditional animation or cartoon-style videos continue to be popular, as are the “montage” videos created using words, images and music.

Video Tools

By now, you’re head may be spinning with ideas for creating off camera videos. But how do you go about actually creating these DIY masterpieces? That’s where our video tools and resources come in, and we’ve got a lot to choose from! Here are my tried, true and tested sources for creating off camera videos. In the spirit of finding your video sweet spot, I’ll organize the tools by video style:

Animation

Let’s begin with traditional, cartoon-style animation. It wasn’t so long ago that it would take a team of animators hours and hours to produce one minute of animation. “Back in the day,” when 

I worked for children’s television producer Saban Entertainment and the Fox Kids Network, we’d outsource animation overseas and have to wait weeks to complete a finished cartoon.

With the tools we have now, you can look like a professional animator in a matter of minutes, with little or no learning curve. You’re only limited by your imagination!

Start with Powtoon (https://www.powtoon.com/) created “so everyone can animate,” as their tagline reads. Even with their robust free version, you can choose from 16 styles, access 46 different soundtracks, and create an animation up to 5 minutes in length. Powtoon’s basic paid plan ($19/mo) removes the Powtoon watermark and outro, and gives you 24 styles to choose from, 88 music cuts, and up to 15 minutes in length.

While Powtoon is my go-to choice for cartoon-style animation, another viable option is GoAnimate (https://goanimate.com/). While they do offer a 14-day free trial, GoAnimate is pricier, with plans starting at $39/month or $299/year.

GoAnimate is arguably more business-focused, offering animated infographics templates, along with whiteboard animation, Common Craft (paper cutout) style videos, and even the ability to import your PowerPoint into the software so you can jazz it up. One other unique feature of GoAnimate is their Automatic Lip- Sync function, where you can assign a voice over to your cartoon character and have it automatically lip-sync.

Screencasts

Screencasts or screen capture videos are a popular and relatively simple way to produce off-camera videos. They’re ideal for teaching or demonstration videos, since you can essentially record anything and everything that you’re showing on your computer screen. In addition, most screen capture software also allows you to edit and embellish your screen recordings.

The best known screen capture software is also the industry standard: Camtasia. In fact, many people use Camtasia not only as a screen capture tool, but also as their primary video editor.

Camtasia has versions for both Mac and PC (though the PC version is more robust), and they also offer a free 30-day trial. The software is priced at $199 USD.

In addition to Camtasia’s screen recording feature, the software’s editing capabilities have come a long way and now offer drag and drop editing, animated backgrounds, music tracks, and even motion graphics. You can get a full preview of Camtasia’s features and sign up for the free trial at https://www.techsmith.com/camtasia.html.

If you’re just looking for screen recording without all the bells and whistles, Techsmith (the maker of Camtasia) also offers a less expensive screen capture software called Snagit (https://www.techsmith.com/screen-capture.html) This stripped-down version offers a 15-day free trial and retails for $49.95.

An even more streamlined solution from Techsmith is Jing, (https://www.techsmith.com/jing.html) a free download that allows both static screen captures, as well as video screen recordings up to 5 minutes in length.

Finally, for Mac users, there’s a viable alternative to the somewhat limited Camtasia for the Mac in Screenflow, (https://www.telestream.net/screenflow/overview.htm) a full-featured screen recording and editing software specifically for the Mac. Screenflow also offers a free trial, or you can buy the software for $99 USD.

Slide Shows (PowerPoint to Video)

While Camtasia and Screenflow can be used to record and narrate your PowerPoint (or Keynote for Mac) presentations, creating video slides shows can also be achieved by simply using PowerPoint or Keynote on their own.

Both Microsoft PowerPoint and Apple’s Keynote allow you not only to save your slide presentation in a video format, but they also give you the option to record live narration or voice over with your slides. I use this feature on Keynote for the Mac quite often, as it’s a simple, streamlined way to get a clean recording for a video tutorial or webinar.

Photo Montage

One of the easiest ways to create an off camera video is by putting together a photo/video montage. Simple photos, words and music can often combine to make a powerful and emotional video. My two, go-to resources for producing montage videos are Animoto and 

Stupeflix.

Animoto (https://animoto.com/) has been around for a long time, and continues to lead the way when it comes to producing video graphics and slide shows. They offer dozens of video styles, or templates, to choose from, along with thousands of music cuts to add your soundtrack.

With Animoto, you can create a brief, 30-second video for free, or sign up for one of their paid plans that start at $8 per month if you pay annually. They also offer a free, 14-day trial. Animoto’s numerous video styles offer a lot of flexibility to plug in your photos or video clips, and their “Professional” plan ($22/mo) removes the Animoto branding and gives you another 20 templates to choose from.

Stupeflix (https://studio.stupeflix.com/en/) is another viable option for creating professional montage-style videos. In some ways, Stupeflix is a better alternative than Animoto, because Stupeflix allows you to use their 16 themes or styles and create a video of up to 20 minutes for free! Stupeflix also offers music clips, video clips, and the ability to add titles or captions. In addition, Stupeflix makes it easy to upload your video to YouTube or Facebook, or to share or embed your video.

Sketch/Whiteboard

Another very popular off camera style is the “sketch” or whiteboard video. This particular variety was made popular with the increasing availability and affordability of software like VideoScribe, Commoncraft, Explaindio and VideoMakerFX.

VideoScribe (https://www.videoscribe.co/) was first on the scene and set the standard for whiteboard-style animations. Using VideoScribe, you can add images, text and music in a variety of “hand drawn” styles for a very profession look in minutes. Of course, you can also add voice over to produce an explainer video. It’s very user friendly and is reasonably affordable at $12 USD per month (paid annually). When your “scribe” is complete, you can publish it to YouTube, Facebook or PowerPoint. When you buy VideoScribe, you also receive their “Tawe” product, which turns photos into videos or unique presentations – also ideal for quickly animating sketch notes or diagrams.

Commoncraft (https://www.commoncraft.com/) is another popular video style, and has created a category all its own. The unique, cut-out style of videos they create are perfect for “explainer” videos and are especially popular with educators. Commoncraft offers 88 “ready-made” explainer videos, as well as a library of almost 2,500 cut outs you can use to create presentation visuals from scratch. Plans start at $49 USD per year, and they also offer discounted plans for non-profits and schools.

Explaindio (https://explaindio.com/fe/) began as an animated whiteboard creation tool, but has since evolved into creating 2D and 3D animation and motion video. Fees are $59 USD per year, or $69 for a “commercial license that allows you to create and sell your videos. Explaindio gives you 200 “pre-done” animated scenes and 800 doodle sketch images.

Finally, VideoMakerFX (https://www.loubortone.com/videomaker — affiliate link) is one of my favorite tools for creating animated videos, character videos and whiteboard videos. VideoMakerFX is easier to use than Expaindio, and more affordable for just a one-time fee of $67 USD. VideoMakerFX works on Mac or PC, the video themes and templates are easily customizable, and they even offer 20 music tracks to add sound to your animations. Of all the many animation tools out there, VideoMakerFX is the one I recommend most often.

Other Tools

There are a few off camera tools that don’t really fit into any video category, other than that they’re really fun, easy and affordable (or free!) Here’s an overview of my three faves:

Adobe Spark

Adobe Spark (https://spark.adobe.com/), formerly Adobe Voice, is an amazing — and free — video storytelling resource for iOS (iPad and iPhone.) Spark’s flexibility, ease of use and pre-designed templates make it a no-brainer as a video creation tool.

While Adobe Voice was limited to creating animation on the iPad, Adobe Spark has evolved into an even more useful resource, with three distinct, design uses: Spark Post allows you to create great-looking social graphics, using photos, text, and design filters that are all fully customizable.

Spark Page can be used to create responsive, magazine-style web pages, or what Adobe calls “web stories” — which is essentially a one-page website.

Finally, Spark Video, the original app, is a simple and lightening fast way to create animations, using your voice, text, graphics or icons (provided inside the app), and music. There’s virtually no learning curve, as Spark Video is intuitive and includes several, pre-made styles to get you started. You simply record your voice narration, match up your voice with text and/or graphics from their library, and select some background music. There are 32 styles or themes to choose from. Of course, you can share your finished creation to Twitter or Facebook, send it via email or text message, or embed it on your website.

Intro Designer

Another “ninja” video creation tool, specifically for the iPhone, is IntroDesigner (https://www.introdesignerapp.com/#). This handy and affordable ($3.99) app gives you access to 54 professional animation templates that you can customize with your own text or titles. In three quick steps: choose-customize- export, you can create flashy intros, openers, credits and more. There are pre- made templates for birthday and special occasion videos, as well as some more generic title sequences you can customize to create your show open or intro animation. All in all, it’s a handy app for four bucks!

Prezi

One other tool that defies a category, though it could fall into the “PowerPoint” realm, is Prezi.

Prezi is a unique presentation tool that you can use to take your typical PowerPoint deck to a whole new level with dynamic movement and engaging animations. Prezi presentations feature a map-like, schematic overview that lets users move or pan between topics, zoom in on text and details, and pull back to reveal context.

Prezi’s more free-flowing, visual storytelling style is a nice alternative to traditional slide-based formats like PowerPoint and Keynote. Press provides a large library of templates and designs to get you started, and they offer several pricing plans depending on your needs. Plans range from $4.92 to $20.00 per month (paid annually), and all plans include a 14-day free trial.

Best Practices

  • Your video marketing objective should determine your platform.
  • There’s no “one” single best platform. You get to decide!
  • Try different styles until you find your “go to” platform.
  • Your favorite “default” platform is your Video Sweet Spot! 
  • Try to use a combination of on-camera and off-camera videos. 
  • Most (if not all) of your “must have” videos will be on camera.

Recommendation: The Best Software For Creating Marketing Videos

If you want to save time creating high-quality marketing videos, I recommend using VideoCreator.

Using VideoCreator, you can now create all types of videos for any marketing objective.

The software includes animated transitions, 3D elements, and animations. You may have seen other video creation apps before, but VideoCreator offers over 600+ unique templates on its front end alone.

In just a few clicks, you can easily create scroll stoppers, product promos, e-commerce videos, motion tracking videos, explainer videos, animated videos, social media videos, and any other type of video you can possibly imagine.

Using other apps, users can only create short videos of 30 seconds. The VideoCreator application lets you create animated videos of any length.

Whatever your skill level may be, you can create videos with hundreds of customizable templates in minutes. Aside from that, the collection of royalty-free assets lets you customize any video to your liking.

To learn more about VideoCreator, you can read my comprehensive VideoCreator review first. 

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