All posts in Tips and Tricks

Jujitsu-ing the Pain of Disappointing Yourself to Become a Kick-ass Creative (a remix of Ira Glass by Daniel Sax)

The video starts with just simple text, “For Everyone in doubt.”

A few seconds later, “Including myself” slowly fades in.

Take a couple minutes and watch, then we’ll discuss.

THE GAP by Ira Glass from frohlocke on Vimeo.

Like Ira says, every creative needs to be told that they have good taste, but, when we first start, what we’re making is probably not that good. And that’s just fine. You’re doing this because you like beauty and you want to see more beauty in the world.

But, that pain, the pain of disappointing yourself, is what helps you to grow your skill. Keep putting shit out there. Keep making videos, keep writing, keep drawing. Whatever it is, keep going.

There are many ways you can improve. One of the big ways is following our very own Zug’s Laws to Creative Feedback. (Yeah, that was a cheap plug for our own content, what’re ya gonna do?)

Sometimes in the necessary rush of making and shipping things, it’s easy to take “it’s not there yet” feedback the wrong way – which is a very effective way to poison a project or a team.

Thanks Daniel for making this. As one video guy to another, I truly hope this keeps you going (I know it’s helped our team) and gets you more work. Good job.

You can watch the whole Ira Glass talk in four parts over at this handy-dandy playlist we put together.

Also, take a look at Kirby Ferguson’s Everything is a Remix series. Daniel’s use of Ira’s talk was a great example of how to remix and repurpose in a compelling format.

Video Hacks in the Ferocious Age of Publish, Publish, Publish

I gave this talk at Pipleline Deals event: Growth Hacking 2014.

After an impromptu demonstration of how to put a mic on I launched into my talk:

Before getting to the video hacks, let’s get the stats behind video out the way up front.

Video is reported to triple site traffic, double visitor’s time on your site, and increase the organic traffic you see by more than 150% (sources: SoMedia and Impact Branding & Design).

Video also increases conversions on site; some studies suggest a video increases a client’s likelihood of buying by 85% (source: SoMedia).

It is estimated that by 2017 66% of mobile data traffic will be video (source: Cisco).

In Dec 2013, Google (YouTube) had 159.1 M unique visitors and 13.4 B videos viewed by them for an average of 6 hours. For that same time period Facebook had 79 M unique visitors and 3.7 B videos for an average engagement of 50 minutes (source: comScore).

Wonderful … but how does that relate to my business?

Your customers are consuming more and more video every day. And they are looking for it. They expect video content.

So, how can you respond to their video expectations?

  1. Ignore – Focus on your business and don’t worry about video.

  2. Delay – Put video off until you have time and money to do video really well.

  3. Engage – Feed the content beast with video. Create video with the resources you have at your disposal.

We all have phones or computers that can capture high quality video footage. Use these tools you already have to start prototyping video content without sinking additional capital into video resources.

Start by identifying the areas of your business that could use video. Do you have something that you or someone in your organization constantly repeats? Or is there someone who has a ton of valuable knowledge who will never take the time to write it down? These are the perfect things to record and deploy internally or externally depending on the content.

Do the same thing with client testimonials. Select your top clients and show their testimonial rather than write about it on your website. These don’t have to be long and shouldn’t be. Aim for 5-15 seconds. The client doesn’t even need to come to you. Just have them record with their phone or computer and send it to you.

Product updates are also prime candidates for video. Use your webcam to record someone explaining the changes that you’ve made. Then put that resource in a place your clients can easily access.

Adopting video for your business requires you to make it part of your workflow. To do this you need to set aside a couple hours a week to devote to it. Have someone in charge of video. They determine who or what is being recorded, why they’re being recorded, and schedule the session with them. Then record with your phone or webcam and publish it. Someone who has done this well is Rand Fishkin with his Whiteboard Fridays at Moz.

Something you might not have, but should seriously consider adding to your arsenal to make the transition to video easier is good, reliable screencasting software. A couple good options are:

  1. Screenflow – It has a free version to play with, but it puts a watermark on any video you export with it. The paid version is only $100 and doesn’t have the watermark on export. For that reason alone,  I would go with the paid version. Screenflow is great because of the cost and because it is easy to use. Its also PC and Mac friendly.

  2. Camtasia – Provides a free 30 day trial with video tutorials to help you learn their product. It retails for $299. It is also a good solution, but it is more for the expert.

Reflector is a cool, new $13 app that allows you to mirror your iOS device to your computer. So you can use it in conjunction with Screenflow to create an app demo. Run your app on your phone or iPad and use Reflector to send to your computer with Screenflow and use Screenflow to capture that demo. Then just export and upload.

Another neat thing you can do is use your iPad like a whiteboard with a drawing app like Paper. Just record with Reflector and Screenflow and publish.

Transcribing your videos is also a great practice you can adopt. It gives clients a second method of ingesting the information and helps people find your content. NPR does this really well. A couple resources for this are Speech Pad and Mechanical Turk.

After you’ve created videos and published them you can start A/B testing. Our sister company, What Now? Exactly!, is an animation studio and currently has a project in the A/B testing phase to determine if the anthropomorphic or non-anthropomorphic stills get more interaction on their client’s website. I personally prefer the anthropomorphic one.

A simple way to employ A/B testing with video is to use Wistia. Wistia is similar to YouTube, but it is a paid service. You upload your videos and then let the data show you which one generates a higher playrate.

I want to leave you with a few tips to get going:

  1. Avoid standing in front of lights or windows. This will eliminate silhouettes in your video.

  2. Don’t worry about audio just yet. If you’re using your iPhone, it’ll get you where you need to be while prototyping.

  3. Use your team. There is no need to go out and hire an actor or a full film crew (just yet, at some point you’ll want to, but again, this is just to get you going to find out what has traction).

  4. Have a diverse video offering. Meaning don’t just have explanations of your product also show the development of new products or office shenanigans or creative ways to use your product.

  5. Prototype rapidly to figure out what works for you and your clients.

  6. Connect with your clients and build community around your brand

  7. Set realistic expectations. You’re not going to have a viral video out of the gate.

  8. Be original!

You can find dozens of other tips and tricks out there to help you as you explore video creation.


zug’s laws of creative feedback

I’ve been doing creative work as my core livelihood since 1994, which is like 198 internet years (1 temporal year = 11 internet years, because everyone knows the internet turns things up to 11).

In doing creative work, I give and receive a ton of feedback.

Sometimes in the necessary rush of making and shipping things, it’s easy to take “it’s not there yet” feedback the wrong way – which is a very effective way to poison a project or a team.

This morning I started writing down some important touchpoints to keep in mind when having these sorts of conversations.

Without further ado, I give you a shitty first draft of…

Zug’s laws of creative feedback

1) Making things people love is hard.

2) When we work to make things together, you will hear a lot of “it’s not there yet” from me.

3) “It’s not there yet” is NOT code for “you suck + should be fired + never allowed to procreate”

4) It is not possible for me to say “it’s not there yet” out of anything other than deep gratitude – that you’ve chosen the ass kicking work of birthing “awesome” into the universe is humbling.

Embedding videos without default YouTube branding and chrome

There are a few different ways to embed YouTube videos without the default Youtube branding on a video. These examples are taken from these articles over at ReelSEO

Example 1:

  • No Title Bar
  • YouTube branding shows in the player, on hover only, after video has started.
  • No related videos at end

<iframe src="" frameborder="0" width="500" height="280"></iframe>

Example 2:

  • Title Bar visible
  • YouTube branding shows in the player, on hover only, after video has started.
  • No related videos at end

<iframe src="" frameborder="0" width="500" height="280"></iframe>

Example 3:

  • Title Bar visible, with YouTube text in title bar, on hover only, before playing
  • No branding in the player, on hover, after video has started
  • No related videos at end

<iframe src="" frameborder="0" width="500" height="280"></iframe>