By Dave Lieber
By now, as a columnist, writer, information entrepreneur, whatever you call yourself these days, you have figured out that the chief currency in this stage of the information age is the keyword search in a search engine of your name.
Borrowing from Microsoft’s search engine, when someone looks you up on the Internet, does it go BING?
Previously, you needed a Webmaster to help you with tags and headlines and keywords to bring your rankings high.
But now Google’s search engine, which accounts for 65 percent of all searches, is trying to compete in real-time with Twitter and Facebook. That means your postings may show up quicker if your Web site catches crawlers (if your blog is properly aligned and registered to attract these search spiders.)
That means your newest stuff, at least temporarily, can rise to the top of the search-engine heap minutes after you post it.
There’s one tactic you, the columnist, can use to launch your rankings higher with next to no effort or expense.
That’s with video.
Here’s the basis for this argument to build your following: If you shoot a short 1-minute video, a quickie, that teases your column or your blog post and is embedded in the actual blog post as a click-on video, you can get more hits. Certainly, a lot more than the post or column would attract without an accompanying video.
In the subject line, you use the word VIDEO. Last month I posted with this title:
VIDEO: Kicked out of a Texas electric co-op meeting
The curiosity factor was high enough that the video got a fair amount of hits on my WatchdogNation.com blog as well as a few other blogs that I contribute to.
The video was simple.
Part One: As I held the camera, jerkily, a brief drama ensued where people kicked me out of a meeting I assumed I would get kicked out of. But it was to prove a point: Electricity co-ops are often secretive organizations without real public accountability.
Part Two: Outside, afterward, holding the camera at arm’s length, I gave a brief synopsis of what happened and what it means for everyone else. I shot it twice and used the second take.
The editing consisted of stitching scene 1 and scene 2 together.
Shooting a quickie to “tease” your real writing will pay off; it’s like your own TV commercial.
If you haven’t done it yet, you probably dread the thought. But this process is as easy as taking a digital photograph and downloading it to your Facebook page. If you can do that …
To shoot, you can use either the video portion of your digital camera or purchase, for about $150, a basic Flip Mino hand-held camera, called a pocket camcorder.
I use both methods, but the Flip comes with its own editing software that allows you to stitch scenes together and add opening and closing text. Music can be added, too. It’s nothing fancy, but anyone can make a video now.
A Flip camera is smaller than a cigarette pack and very sensitive to movement (my jerky ejection from the meeting shows that), but most of the time it sits on a mini-tripod and captures a clear picture.
Flip comes with a built-in USB attachment so it plugs into your computer. Conveniently, as soon as your computer senses the Flip is plugged in, the Flip software opens.
Essentially, there are three kinds of video columns:
1) Camera Talk. Columnist essentially talks column into camera. (Think Andy Rooney).
2) Columnist Auteur. Columnist, a frustrated screenwriter, actually makes a mini-movie (Time consuming, and it may not generate the views it deserves because there’s no flying cat at the end).
3) The Desk Chair Swivel. Columnist turns to camera and talks as if to a friend.
Let’s look at The Desk Chair Swivel, because it’s the easiest and quickest. You swivel your chair toward the camera as if you are turning to your work colleague in the next cubicle. It’s personal and intimate.
Here’s the key: the tone of your message must be passionate and heartfelt. Show, not tell, why your message really matters to them. Keep it under two minutes.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have a car-wreck quality to it. Make people want to look. How? Well, you can pretend to be a British newspaper editor. What would he or she say in a headline to attract attention and gain a click through.
See me naked.
(Haven’t used it yet. Feel free to borrow.)
Once you finish the quickie (uh, video), you upload the file onto YouTube.com via your personal YouTube.com channel. (A free channel takes 5 minutes. Go to YouTube.com and search for “create a YouTube channel” to see a vid on how to do that.)
YouTube then gives you a URL assigned for that video. You copy and paste that into your blog post as an embedded video. (If confused, ask any 14-year-old.)
The vid shows up as a big TV box in your posting with a play arrow inviting everyone to your little party.
You can also use the NSNC’s YouTube channel. I set up YouTube.com/columnists after the 2009 conference in Ventura. So far, only three other columnists have posted videos on it – Tracy Farr, Karen Rinehart and Rick Horowitz.
Why haven’t you? Obviously, in a day filled with so many tasks, posting a video on an NSNC YouTube isn’t your top priority.
But learning how to create a teaser video in under 10 minutes and using that video to draw more “fans” to your work is something that is very beneficial. Ideally, you should post one quickie video a week tied to your latest work.
At the video’s end, tell the viewer how to find your piece quickly: I say, “Go to WatchdogNation.com and search for the phrase ‘See me naked’ ” – or something like that.
So consider treating yourself to a Flip camera. Or, to edit videos made on your digital camera, get the best inexpensive video editing software on the market today (Adobe Premiere Elements).
And I invite you to post all your work on YouTube.com/columnists. E-mail me for the password at dave@YankeeCowboy.com.
Along with Dennis Rockstroh of the San Jose Mercury News, Dave Lieber was America’s first Internet video columnist in the mid 1990s. The early history of those videos is found at http://www.yankeecowboy.com/video/index.html.