When’s the last time you read a hefty textbook from cover to cover, then leaned back and thought: “Wow, that was fun! And I remember every single thing I read! Thanks, textbook!” Probably never, right? Most of us would avoid textbooks at any cost, and wouldn’t think of reading them from front to back just for fun.

That’s because textbooks — although full of awesome information — are just one tool in your learning toolbox. And they’re often boring, overwhelming, and ineffective on their own. To have a truly educational experience where you understand, engage with, and retain information, you (and your students) need more than black and white words on a page.

One learning tool reigns above the rest. It transforms your online course from “words on a page” into a multi-sensory experience. It makes your information engaging, effective, and incredibly valuable. In any form, it’s more powerful than basic text. And it’s not hard to make.

Surprise — it’s video!

Video is incredibly popular in our Internet Age. YouTube alone reaches more US adults 18-34 than any cable network, and it gets 1 BILLION unique visitors every month. (That’s not even counting all the other video channels out there.) So it’s no surprise to us that video is poised to become the next big thing in online education.

Here are just a few reasons why we love it.

Video is easier to consume than other types of content

Have you ever noticed it’s easier to sit and watch TV for hours (and hours and hours) than it is to read a book for hours? And did you know that by 2017, Cisco predicts that video will account for 69% of all internet traffic?

That’s because TV and other types of video speak to our eyes and ears in a special way that makes us crave more. It’s why we can’t look away from TV screens in a restaurant or bar, no matter how hard we try.

Because you’re taking in both audio and visuals, your brain doesn’t have to work as hard to imagine or understand what’s going on. In an online course, this means your students can spend less energy trying to comprehend what’s being taught…and more time focusing on the bigger picture.

Video has a human touch and builds trust

There’s a reason college courses have a professor at the helm instead of some soulless Education-Bot 5000. (But give it a few years…the robots may take over!) It’s because true learning needs a human touch. Video provides that human touch, allowing your students to see and hear you instead of just reading your words.

Putting a face to your course also increases trust, which helps you build a long-term relationship with your students. Axonn Research found 7 out of 10 people viewed brands in a more positive light after watching their video content.

Video lets you show, not tell

There are things you can do with video you just can’t accomplish with words alone, and that includes showing action instead of describing it. Seeing things happen in front of you is far more effective than reading about them and trying to fill in the nuances with your own imagination.

For example, a cooking newbie have more success roasting a chicken for the first time after watching an expert do it on TV than they will by reading a recipe. With video, you can see, understand, and mimic. With words alone, students are often left grasping at straws.

Video can be watched anytime, anywhere

Reading requires a specific mindset. You need time, you need to be in the right mood, and you need a setting that allows you to concentrate. With video, these things are less important. That’s why you can comprehend the content of a short video on a loud, crowded subway more easily than you can comprehend the content of a book or PDF in the same situation. Video opens up accessibility, allowing your students to consume your course wherever they are.

Video is best friends with Google search rankings

Did you know Google ranks video higher than text in search results? That’s because videos are slightly more difficult to make than text articles, and tend to have more densely packed information. It’s actually 50x easier to end up on the front page of Google search results with video than without.

Creating a video sitemap or text transcript for your video will help it rank even higher. Wistia can teach you how, or check out www.castingwords.com to easily create an SEO-friendly transcription of your video.

And although the landscape changes all the time, using a service like Wistia will keep your videos SEO friendly without you needing to become an SEO expert. This is a gigantic time saver.

Now, let’s help you make your very first video. It’s actually quite easy! Here are the 4 Things You Need to Make Your First Video.

    1. Wistia

Wistia is an amazing resource for everyone who makes online videos, and we’re big fans. Their website contains a wealth of informational videos and blog posts that will teach you everything you need to know, and they also offer products that allow you to deliver, customize, convert, analyze, and promote your videos.

Summit Evergreen integrates directly with Wistia, allowing you to embed your Wistia videos into your Summit Evergreen course in a snap. Take a look at Wistia’s site, start reading and watching, and bookmark it for future reference.

    2. Camera

If you’re going to make a video, you need a camera. But you don’t need a fancy camera. If you have some expensive equipment, great. If all you have is your iPhone, use your iPhone! iPhones take amazing video, and Wistia will teach you how to get the most out of yours in this tutorial video.

   3. Lighting

Lighting is the most important element for elevating your video from amateur to professional. Fortunately, you don’t have to pay a lot to do it…and it’s okay if you don’t even know how to get started.

Wistia has put together a $100 “Down and Dirty Lighting Kit” shopping list that includes basic items you can buy from Home Depot or Amazon. They’ll also teach you how to set it up. It’s a small investment for a big payoff. (Our very own Co-Founder Keith just set up his own lighting studio for about $150. All he’s made so far are videos of him staring intently at the camera…but we have hope there’s more exciting things on the horizon.)

   4. Video hosting

Once you’ve created your video, you need someplace to put it. YouTube and Vimeo are popular places to host your video, but we recommend Wistia for hosting instead. They provide fantastic features that benefit your business, like sending traffic to your site instead of YouTube, analytics and heatmaps, clickable calls to action, email signups, no ads, great SEO…the list goes on and on.

Wistia also offers you the ability to set where your videos can be displayed. That means you don’t have to worry about someone finding your private/locked video and sharing it on YouTube for others to watch for free. This kind of control saves you big bucks and lots of headaches. Read more about hosting your videos here.

Despite the popularity and effectiveness of video, some online course creators are still hesitant to get involved. We understand…change can be hard. And if you’ve never made a video before, it’s natural to have doubts.

But don’t let doubts stop you from making your course the best it can be. Here are our rebuttals to some of the most common misconceptions about teaching through video.

“I can’t make a video — I don’t have time!”

You DO have time.

If you have time to create an online course, you have time to create a great video. If time is really an issue for you, we suggest you outsource your video editing. Editing is often the part that takes more time for a beginner, but a freelancer should be able to breeze through it quickly and for low cost. It’s far easier to outsource your video production than it is to outsource the writing of your course content.

If you’re not comfortable outsourcing, there’s nothing wrong with making a quick, down and dirty video that takes up minimal time. Set up your camera and lighting, and just talk at the camera. Then, make two edits: cut out any dead time at the beginning of the take, and do the same for the end of the take…and you’re done. No other edits required.

Above all, it’s more important to have ANY video than to have a highly professional video. Save the fancy editing and special effects for down the line.

“I live in a tiny/messy/loud apartment/house/cardboard box! I have no place to shoot nice video!”

Not true! If you have a 3×3 foot space somewhere — your home, your garage, a public park — you have a video studio just waiting to be created. Your backdrop doesn’t have to look like a professional film studio. All you need is you in front of a camera, wherever that may be.

Need inspiration? Here’s a video shot in a basic room. Here’s one that was shot in a public park. And here’s one that was shot in different outdoor spaces throughout Tokyo. Heck, you can strap a GoPro camera to your hat and walk around town if you want. All you need is light (daylight counts!) and a camera.

“I’m too shy…nervous about public speaking…uncomfortable with my appearance to be on camera!”

A little tough love for you…get over it!

Here’s the thing. Everyone gets nervous about being on camera when they’re first starting out. It can take time to get used to hearing the sound of your own voice and seeing yourself on the screen. That’s okay! It’s normal, and the more videos you make, the more comfortable you’ll become.

Also, keep in mind that you’ll be more critical of yourself than others will be of you. Just remind yourself that you don’t have to be perfect. You just have to try.

If you REALLY don’t want to be on camera, you can still make awesome videos. Try recording a voiceover on top of a PowerPoint presentation. Or, put subtitles over a string of relevant images. Even if your video is low-fi, remember that video in any form is more powerful than basic text.

Above all, be easy on yourself. You won’t be completely polished out of the gate, and that’s totally fine.

Follow these quick tips to help you keep moving forward instead of getting stuck in Hesitation Land:

  • Give yourself time to practice before you turn on the camera.
  • Start with really short videos (less than 5 minutes) to get into the swing of things.
  • Force yourself to ship by committing to making 3 videos before you evaluate yourself.
  • Record yourself twice and use the version you like better instead of recording 50 times or spending hours in the editing room trying to get it “just right.”
  • Instead of worrying about making videos that are 100% perfect, follow the 80/20 rule. Expend less effort on perfection and reap more results.

Once you start creating videos, you’ll see just how effective they can be for you and your students. You won’t want to stop! Visit Wistia or sign up for our weekly newsletter to learn how to build your online course.

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  • Renata Haupt

    Great post, thanks! I’ve never created content videos before but I’ve been thinking about it and this was just what I needed.