In my previous post, I talked about how not everyone is going to understand your software intuitively, and that instructional videos are needed to get people started. But have you seen how much it costs to make a video? Videos are expensive!
I just found this article (How much does an explainer video cost), which states that most videos will not only run you between $1,500 and $15,000, but they’ll also take you about 6 weeks to get done. Yikes!
Creating affordable videos
There has to be a more affordable alternative than the thousand dollar options above. And there are – but you have to be careful. There’s a fine line between making a video that’s semi-professional, and making one that looks like it was created in your mom’s basement.
There are services out there that allows you to make a custom explainer video (such as Powtoon), but I haven’t tried them yet. They look great, and in the future I plan to give it a shot (although I worry they’re a bit limiting), but for now let’s discuss making a video mostly from scratch.
The super cheap option: Do everything yourself: $0
It is possible for you to do everything yourself, without spending a dime. Here’s how to do it:
1) Write a script.
What do you want to show people how to do? Write notes that you can follow as you show people how to do it on screen. It’s important to start off with a reminder of why they’re watching the video. Show them the end result of the feature first, to get them excited about watching the next few minutes, which may be boring.
2) Record your screen
The only video you’re going to be making is of your screen, while you use your side project. Screen recorders are pretty simple to use, and there’s a free one for windows called CamStudio.
You’ll have to set to record audio from your mic as you demo your product.
The tough part about this is twofold: 1) I hate my voice (yes, I realize almost everyone hates their own voice). If I hate my voice, I’m going to cringe every time I watch that video, and if that’s the case I’m not going to be sharing it. I need to be proud of everything I create, and excited to have people watch my videos! 2) It’s hard to command the screen and speak at the same time. I’m no good at multi-tasking.
Note that CamStudio only records what you see on your screen in real time. If you desire fancy fade in effects, titles, etc., then you’ll have to shell out some money for a more professional video editing program. I’ve used Camtasia before, and it’s been pretty good. They offer a free trial, but when that runs out it’s $300.
3) Upload to YouTube and embed
That’s it – after you’ve made your video just put it on the web with YouTube. Be sure to pick a nice keyword rich title and description, and also consider transcribing it so it’s more search-engine friendly. Then just get the embed code under the ‘Share’ tab and stick it on your site.
The end result
Check out the first video I ever made using this approach. It’s embarrassing, right? Notice the squeal in the first 5 seconds?
That was horrible, but I’m sure you can do better than me.
There’s also another option to consider: borrow a voice.
The better option: Borrow a voice: $50
I felt that the audio in the video above is what made it seem so amateur. But how can you get the quality of a professional mic, a sound proof room, and a soothing voice without breaking the bank? Hire a voice over artist.
Finding a voice-over artist
I had found a video that someone on Reddit had made, and I liked it a lot. I sent the creator a message to ask who he used for a voice-over, and he pointed me to PeoplePerHour. It’s a simple site like Fiverr where people post gigs they can do for you, but it’s for work that’s a little more professional. I found quite a few voice-over artists on there, and ended up buying a gig of a 500 word voice-over for $35.
Creating the video
The rest of the process is pretty similar, you still record your own screen and write your own script, you just have someone else do the audio. I do recommend timing the script yourself to add little notes on where the voice-over artist should pause. Then you’ll be able to record your screen with the audio playing and guiding you what to do (no more multi-tasking!).
The only other thing you need to do which can be a little difficult is to combine the video with the audio. I ended up using Windows Live Movie Maker (which comes free with Windows). Simply choose your video, then choose your audio soundtrack. Export and done! If that’s over your head, I also saw some gigs on the Fiverr where people will edit a video for you for $5, which could accomplish this merging for you.
The end result
I feel like this video is sooooo much better. Check it out:
It’s nice to have something I’m proud of, instead of that embarrassing first take.
Hopefully this has given you some ideas and options for creating a semi-professional video that doesn’t cost $1,000. It will take a bit of your time, but shouldn’t use up 6 weeks like the alternatives.
Have you created a video before? Post a link to your video in the comments – I’d love to see them!