Why I Might Not Watch Your Video Blog

Is your video blog a big turn off?

YouTube video Brandweer Nederweert—mauritsonline (Flickr.com)

I’m going to come right out and say it – some video blogs drive me round the bend. There – it feels good to get that off my chest.

This rant’s been simmering for a while, but I’ve kept the lid on the pot. That’s mainly because I know the blogosphere’s deeply in love with video, so I’m not sure how this will be received.

Please note, I’m writing this post purely from a customer’s perspective. I can’t claim any expertise when it comes to creating videos, because I haven’t produced my own yet. This is just how I see things as a consumer.

I think there’s a lot of pressure on bloggers to produce their own videos, and I know they can be a very effective way to engage with our readers, but I don’t think they always work well. I’m a great fan of YouTube and the first to admit there are some fantastic videos online but, let’s face it folks, there’s also a ton of unadulterated rubbish out there. And this isn’t just my opinion….

In a recent Copyblogger post, Beth Hayden talks about “an online world full of bad videos (including a host of problems with fuzzy screenshots, poorly thought-out scripts, and bad voice-overs)”.

Why is this?

My theory is that it’s partly down to the misguided belief that creating videos is always “a good thing”. But good for whom? Sadly, I’m not convinced bloggers always have their audience’s needs at the forefront of their minds when they’re creating video posts.

I’m well aware that embedding a video in a post can be a canny way to reduce your bounce rate, by encouraging (or maybe coercing?) people to stay longer on the page. As mentioned in my post about speed reading, we can read many times faster than we speak, so it’s going to take your readers much longer to watch a video than to read the same content in a written post.

If that’s one of your reasons for creating a video, you’ve lost sight of the main principle that should underlie all your content – because, as your reader, I’m screaming:

“What’s In It For Me?”

This famous copywriting principle applies just as much to video blogs as it does to any form of content: What’s in it for your reader? 

Most bloggers are pressed for time, so they’re going to want a jolly good reason for sitting through a video on your blog.

As a reader, there are some video blog posts I love, but some I find a huge turn-off – and here’s why:

I’m unlikely to watch your video blog if:

  • It’s much more than about 5 minutes long – unless you’ve convinced me it’s unmissable. Let’s be honest, folks, we’re all pressed for time.
  • You don’t grab my attention within the first few seconds and make it clear why it’s going to be worth my while to sit through it.
  • The sound or picture quality is poor.
  • It’s an unscripted, unedited ramble.
  • The subject matter’s not going to be enhanced by presenting it in a video format. If it’s content I could just as easily read on the page, why would I want to sit and listen to you “speaking” it to me?

What Will Make Me Watch Your Video Blog?

If you’re creating a video blog, you need to give it the same consideration as you would a written post. All your content should be reader-focused, so if you’re thinking about creating a video blog post, ask yourself this question:

  • Will it benefit my readers if I present this in a video format?

If you can answer that question honestly in the affirmative, by all means go ahead and create a video post. But if you do, here are a few ways you can make my day:

Make my day with your video blog

go ahead, punk, make my day – f_mafra (flickr.com)

  • Provide an attention-grabbing introduction. Make it clear at the beginning exactly what the video’s going to cover.
  • Check your equipment. Make sure your audio-visual recording equipment works, so that sound and vision is clear.
  • Plan it out. Prepare at least a rough outline or script, to make sure your video flows well. The more inexperienced you are, and the less skilled you are at ad-libbing, the more rigorously you need to script it out.
  • Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse! Remember, this is a performance, so you need to practise. Even the likes of Tom Hanks and Johnny Depp have to rehearse.
  • Edit your video, just as you would a post. You wouldn’t (I hope) publish an unedited written post – would you? If you’re still not clear about this essential blogging skill, check out my previous post on how to edit. Be ruthless in cutting out any waffle – if it belongs on the cutting-room floor, get rid of it.
  • Proofread your video, just as you would any content. I know regular readers will be sick of hearing this, but I’m going to repeat it because a lot of people still get it wrong - proofreading and editing are NOT the same thing. Proofreading is simply about spotting and correcting errors. For example, if your video includes slides with text, you’ll need to check for grammar and spelling mistakes.
  • Provide a written transcript or summary. People like me, who prefer to read content rather than listen to it, will really appreciate this.

I’d like to end on a positive note by citing some examples of fellow bloggers who, in my opinion, use video on their blogs very effectively.

Adrienne Smith, for example, has recently published a post on how to change your WordPress user name, with a very helpful instructional video.

Barry Wells has created a number of posts with excellent videos, including his recent article demonstrating the WordFence plugin in action.

Ms Ileane is one of the blogging queens of YouTube and has recently published a post with a great video on how to set up site search in Google Analytics.

In all these cases, there was a good reason for the use of the video format – they enhance the posts by providing the reader with useful audio-visual instructions. Additionally, these videos are all crystal clear and a pleasure to watch and listen to.

I don’t want to discourage bloggers from making videos and I’m not saying your video has to be ‘perfect’ before you put it out there, but I do think you need to be careful not to turn your readers off by providing superfluous or poor quality video posts.

It is nice to see a blogger’s face and hear their voice, and I agree it can be a great way to increase engagement by allowing your readers to see and hear the real ‘you’ – but unless you’re just producing a quick “Hi, this is me!” video for your welcome page, there’s got to be more point to a video post than that.

As Beth Hayden says, the web’s already full of dreadful videos – bloggers keen to get on the video blogging bandwagon need to take care they don’t add to the trash pile.

Over to you: What do you think about video blog posts – do you love them or hate them? What makes you want to watch them – or switch channels? And do you have any tips for bloggers planning to create their own videos?

If you have any views on this at all, please leave a comment below. And feel free to disagree – I love a debate :)

Last, but not least, please don’t forget to ‘share’ this post if you think your friends and followers might enjoy it.

All good wishes,

Sue Neal


Filed under: Video Blogging

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