Rise above the noise: Gaining attention with screencasts

Resources, Training

The earlier post on ([communicating more effectively with screencasts](http://www.freelanceadvisor.co.uk/training/communicating-more-effectively-using-screencasts/)) introduced screencasting and covers tools and techniques. Here we’ll look at ways you can use screencasts to raise your profile to earn more trust and traffic.

## Screencasts give people confidence in your skills:

You’ve probably watched short tips and tricks video in blogs. These videos are very easy to make and they give your viewer confidence that you know your subject.

These videos are an easy way to get potential clients to contact you — if the client has difficulties and they can see that you really know what you’re doing (as opposed to people who just *say* they know what they’re doing) then they’re more likely to send you a question which begins a dialogue.

### Making a tip video

The most important point with this kind of video is that you just get on and do it. Don’t worry about crafting a perfect recording — tips can be a bit rough and ready (and you’ll improve with experience) — lots of tips are worth more to you than a few perfectly produced videos.

Give the post a good title, put the video somewhere public like YouTube and then write a good description so Google has lots of keywords to read to add to its search engine. Finally — submit the post to the social news sites you read to win some instant traffic.

### Building a whole series of tutorials and tips

One step on from here is to build an entire tutorial series — [Remy Sharp](http://remysharp.com)’s excellent [JQueryForDesigners](http://jqueryfordesigners.com) site is packed with tutorial screencasts and through the site he’s built an impressive audience.

By themselves these videos are great marketing material and you’ll build a set of eager followers who will publicise your videos. More importantly when one of the viewers is asked for a recommendation by their client they can confidently point at your site as say that “this freelancer really knows their stuff”.

### Proving what you can offer

A final an even more impressive type of video is one that shows direct proof of your skills. Imagine you worked with Search Engine Optimisation — a “before and after” video showing the improved ranking and traffic that you delivered would be a very impressive testament to your skills.

If you post this sort of video and link to your other tips you’ll be showing your reader that you can do it — and so can they (and if they need a professional — you’re their first point of contact!).

## Why screencasts help sell products and services:

You’ll have noticed the rise of demo screencasts on product homepages which give you a quick tour of the product (in face this is what my last company [ProCasts](http://procasts.co.uk) specialised in!). Intuitively we know that it is better to show rather than tell — with desktop screencasting tools you can create demo videos for your own products and your clients’.

Aral Balkan has some lovely demo videos (e.g. for [Feathers](http://feathersapp.com)). With a prepared script, an editor and some background music he quickly gets the point of his applications across to a viewer — there’s no reason why you couldn’t produce similar demo and training videos for your clients.

Tools like [MockupScreens](http://www.mockupscreens.com) are best demonstrated with a video — take a look at the 3 minute tour on the homepage and you’ll understand all that’s on offer by the end of the video even though you’ve done no other research.

The main reason these videos work is because:

- There’s visual proof that the application works — it isn’t vapourware!
- It is clear whether the application does something that’s useful for you
- The speaker is confident and sounds trustworthy — this gives us confidence to keep watching and learning more

## Work-in-progress videos are great for building trust with your followers

Do you have any side projects that aren’t finished yet, so can’t be presented as a complete project? Why not give a work-in-progress demo of what you’ve achieved so far?

I use this approach for my artificial intelligence projects (e.g. my [robot head](http://blog.aicookbook.com/2010/06/building-a-face-tracking-robot-headroid1-with-python-in-an-afternoon) and English Heritage plaque [machine vision](http://blog.aicookbook.com/2010/06/optical-character-recognition-webservice-work-in-progress) project).

These projects won’t be finished for a while but I can show my followers new ideas and techniques — in turn they keep following because they expect to get cutting edge ideas from me.

Making a work in progress video is super-easy — you just record 1-3 minutes as if you were giving a demo to a friend. You’ll demonstrate that you’re at the cutting edge and build a larger following — and if the topics are particularly interesting then you’ll win flurries of traffic from sites like Twitter.

## Distribution

In the ([previous post](http://www.freelanceadvisor.co.uk/training/communicating-more-effectively-using-screencasts)) we looked at some of the tools you can use to make a screencast. Having produced the screencast you now need to distribute it — you want to get the widest selection of viewers as possible.

Make sure that your video contains references to your main site — if the viewer finds your YouTube video embedded in somebody else’s site then they’ll need to easily figure out how to find your main site. Add your logo and URL to a title screen, you can add a closing title to the video with the same links and your voice-over can sign off by inviting the viewer to visit your site.

Some of the obvious upload sites are listed at the end of my [screencasting software](http://thescreencastinghandbook.com/screencast-software/) page. Three relevant sites are:

- [YouTube](http://www.youtube.com) which offers the widest general audience
- [Vimeo](http://vimeo.com) which offers the second widest general audience
- [ShowMeDo](http://showmedo.com) which offers a niche but very active audience of Open Source learners

Always use at least YouTube — it is very easy for a viewer to embed the video into their site which keeps on giving you exposure to people you’d otherwise not reach.

## Video licenses and length:

You need to add a license to your video — some people get very worried about infringing on other people’s works and won’t embed your video unless it is clearly allowed. I’d suggest using the most permissive [Creative Commons](http://creativecommons.org) license that you’re comfortable with — generally I use **CC:By** which allows commercial use and always requires that I get credit (so the viewers know where to come to find me).

The length of the video is simple — keep it as short as possible! Nobody likes to wait through waffle, “ums” and “errs”. Practice the demo if you have time and keep it to 1-3 minutes (the shorter the better).

### Getting started quickly with The Screencasting Handbook

I’m the author of [The Screencasting Handbook](http://thescreencastinghandbook.com/), the 128 page PDF is packed with 4 years of my own professional experience from building [ShowMeDo](http://showmedo.com/) and [ProCasts](http://procasts.co.uk/).

The goal is to lay out everything you need to quickly and confidently plan, record, produce and distribute your own screencasts. The Handbook is aimed at freelancers, teachers and marketing professionals covering both quick videos and in-depth productions. Visit the [blog](http://thescreencastinghandbook.com/blog) to find a lot of tips and links to useful software

An added bonus of the Handbook is the free [Screencasting Google Group](http://groups.google.com/group/thescreencastinghandbook) — over 130 screencasters are a member of this Group. Feel free to join and ask questions, we’re all happy to help you move forwards.

###### By [Ian Ozsvald](/author/ian-ozsvald) — author of [The Screencasting Handbook](http://thescreencastinghandbook.com/)