6 Simple Steps for Creating Dramatically Better Online Videos

This post is by Monica McCarthy of Show & Tell Stories.

Multiple choice question: What is the biggest benefit of creating regular online video content for your business?

A) Instant fame and fortune
B) Having Brad and Angelina on speed dial
C) Showing off your bling bling
D) None of the above

Fingers crossed you answered D. And though these may sound like silly options, deep down a lot of online content creators start making videos with starry eyes in their subconscious mind. And then when they don’t see instant payoff from their efforts they think: This video stuff is too time consuming. You can’t even use affiliate links in them. No one is watching anyway.

The truth is people are watching. But videos take time to attract a significant audience. And that audience will need time before they buy into whatever it is you’re selling. When done right, there is something well-crafted videos can do for your business that nothing else you put online can.

Cultivate a Loyal Community

Your people want videos. Why? Because most of the time that is the closest thing to a face-to-face interaction they will get with you, your service, and your brand.

In this age of information overload, facts and statistics don’t have the power to persuade like they used to. Stories do. And videos allow you to share those stories with greater impact.

So lets take a look at three online content creators and how incorporating video into their brand helped radically growing their business and fostered a devoted community.

Marie Forleo of MarieForleo.com

Marie is the Queen Bee of weekly video content. Her weekly Q & A Tuesday is filled with sass, humor, and tough love business advice. Her mission is to help women become more “Rich, Happy, and Hot” and her image on the show portrays just that.

What Marie is doing right:

1. Positioning herself as the expert

Marie is clearly establishing herself as the brand itself (hence it’s called MarieTV and not RichHappyHotTV). This is important not just for building credibility for her current business, but for future expansion. People who tune into Marie’s videos love Marie not just for the advice she gives, but for Marie, meaning they will follow her into just about any venture she creates next.

2. Investing money into production and post-production

This isn’t necessary for everyone, but if your target audience is people who want to live the high life, you have to portray you are doing just that. Marie’s team helps her look polished and professional. This adds to her online celebrity image, thus creating intrigue, and a desire to be more like her (which is what makes people fans and not just customers).

3. Consistency (with a twist)

Every Tuesday, come rain or come shine, you know what format to expect when you tune in. But you also anticipate funny antics and graphics with MarieTV. This is typical of any network television show: Create a pattern so viewers feel comfortable following each week but also add a “wow” factor to keep them wondering what will happen next time. 

Mayi Carles of HeartmadeBlog.com

I met Mayi in person in her home country of Panama this summer and was ecstatic to discover she is just as enthusiastic and passionate in real life as she is in her Friday videos. Mayi is on a mission to help creatives feel “happier, empowered, and loved.” And her videos show that she walks the walk.

What Mayi Carles is doing right:

1. Infuses her brand philosophy

Mayi shoots and edits her own videos in her own art studio. She purchased a simple lighting kit from Amazon, taught herself how to edit on iMovie, and films on her flip camera. Even though she is a one-woman show, Mayi clearly puts thought, effort, and energy into making her videos well worth watching.

2. Establishes trust

By allowing the audience to see the real Mayi, we know that everything she creates is from the heart (again, fitting with her brand). While she is still an expert, her videos make the audience feel like family.

3. Make anything look fun

Whether offering her tips for clearing clutter or dealing with deadlines, Mayi transforms the have-to aspects of running your own business (and life) into life-is-grand can-dos. 

Gary Vaynerchuck of GaryVaynerchuck.com

In 2006, Gary went from wine store owner to online celebrity with 100,000 daily viewers tuning in to watch his videos about wine. His show helped him achieve cult-like status by professed “Vayniacs” and with whom he conspired to create Vayniac Cabernet, the first ever community wine. Though his show ended in 2011, Gary continues to reap the success sown from his regular video series.

What Gary did right:

1. Approached a popular topic from a different perspective

Who knew wine tasting and the Jets could go hand in hand? Gary did. And instead of creating a fancy-pants show to attract high rollers into buying $1,000 bottles of wine from his business, he turned the wine industry on its head. By doing so, Gary trail-blazed his own path instead of following the breadcrumbs others left behind.

2. Kept it simple

The show was about one thing and one thing only: wine. The simplistic video style emulated this perspective. No suit and tie, no fancy lights or backdrops. Just Gary being Gary… with wine.

3. Valued his viewers

Gary wanted to make a commonly perceived “stuffy” subject understandable, relatable, and something the every-man could enjoy learning about. Instead of positioning himself as above the rest of us mere mortals, his videos brought the knowledge of Dionysus down to earth.

Each of these examples may not be exactly your cup of tea, but that means the people in them are doing something right: they are finding the audience that is right for them. And an audience that is going to watch you on screen is even more loyal than an audience that reads your weekly posts. That’s the power of face time and human connection.

6 Steps for Creating Better Online Videos

With that in mind, here are six actionable steps you can take to put yourself in the spotlight.

Action Step 1: Commit to a regular schedule and make it public

Accountability is a doozy. But the truth is your videos will never get done until you make them a priority. And nothing says priority like committing to it out loud. Also, whenever possible, shoot multiple videos in one day to eliminate set-up time (as well as excuses).

Action Step 2: Create your on-set environment

You don’t have to invest a ton of money to make movie magic. For filming, a simple flipcam or even your iPhone will suffice. Pick a background, and set up the shot ahead of time to see if anything is distracting.

Action Step 3: Develop your format

Continuity is key. It is important to establish from the get go the type of regular video content you want to create:  Is it a Q&A? An interview with a different guest each week? A step-by-step how-to guide? Your audience doesn’t want to wonder what they are in for. Storyboard a dozen topics so you know you’ve chosen a niche that you will have plenty to speak about.

Action Step 4: Practice!

Write out your script and practice saying it aloud. Time yourself. Keep re-writing until you’ve made your video as short and sweet as possible. Once I’m familiar with the script, I like to practice saying the words while I’m doing other things like blow-drying my hair or doing the dishes. By doing an action at the same time as saying the words, I don’t get stuck in a robotic cadence and I can quickly discover what lines I tend to forget.

Action Step 5: Get help when needed

If you find yourself tongue-twisted, consider hiring an on-camera coach. If you don’t want to invest time in learning how to edit, find an editor. Stop thinking about videos as afterthoughts and start committing to them as an integral part of your business. For example, I used to pull my hair out trying to teach myself WordPress in order to make my website look just how I imagined it should. So I hired a killer website designer. And now I can focus on what I do best and leave her to do what she does best. The End.

Action Step 6: Wave your freak flag

In other words, let your unique personality shine through. Your audience is tuning in to see the real deal. Think about the examples I listed above. Each person is having fun being themselves and allowing the audience to go on the ride with them. Playing it safe and trying to please everyone who watches your videos will lead to snooze fest. You have something to say, so Sing out Louise!


Who else creates can’t miss online videos? What is about them that keeps you coming back? Leave your comments below. I’ll bring the popcorn.

Monica McCarthy is a professional actress and on-camera consultant. Her newly released digital experience FRONT & CENTER offers guidance for getting your story video-ready. Her boutique video production company Show & Tell Stories creates professional web videos for entrepreneurs, coaches, and creatives including product launches, book trailers, and about videos.

19 thoughts on “6 Simple Steps for Creating Dramatically Better Online Videos”

  1. Monica,

    Thank you so much for these inspirational stories and tips!!

    I make really low budget videos with my iPhone every Thursday that cover tips for my community. It is me talking to the camera mostly. My lighting is not so great and my editing is even worse. I do plan on upgrading my production but cannot just yet.

    Do you think it was ok for me to follow through with the videos if they give something of worth to my audience? Or should I have waited until I could make better produced videos?

    I was torn for the longest time and then just figured to just dive right in and hopefully I can upgrade along the way. What are your thoughts?


  2. Hi Allie!

    GREAT question. I totally applaud you for making videos with your iPhone. In fact most of the videos in the e-course I created are shot on my iPhone as well as fun videos I like to make when I travel. As long as you don’t flip the screen (which allows you to see yourself but makes the image grainy) you’ll have HD quality video, which is great.

    As for lighting, just try to get as much natural light as you can without looking blown out. Always face the windows if possible.

    What’s great about what you’re doing is you’re focusing on your content and delivery, which are the two MOST important ingredients for watchable videos.

    Then, if after time, you feel your audience would best be served by “higher” end production values, you can consider making the investment into professional equipment (of which there is a BIG learning curve if you aren’t paying professionals to do the work for you). Not to sound self-promoty, but I do include my Equipment Resource Guide for Beginner/Intermediate/Advanced levels in Front & Center (link is in the bio above) if you end up finding you’re interested in various options.

    Keep up the great work!


  3. Hey Monica, thanks a lot for this truly inspirational article !

    It was the last bit of motivation I needed to launch my video blog.

    Best regards !

  4. Great tips. They are so timely as I am just preparing to shoot some videos for my launch in January. On my plan for 2013 is to do weekly videos each Wednesday. I’ve announced this to my list and will also share it on my website :)

  5. Love the tips!
    I’ve got big, meaty plans for video in 2013, but usually find myself screwing up my lines way too often so of course, Action Step #4 is a big pain point of mine. If anyone else wants to make their own teleprompter (I did and it helps big time!), I can vouch for Teleprompt+ for iPad ($15). If you want a legit teleprompter (so you can look straight into the camera instead of off screen where you have your iPad/Tablet propped up), I found this DIY on YouTube that seemed simple enough: http://youtu.be/ylXsumD1lNo.
    Then I realized that I could just buy a glass top jewelry box and be done with it :) $35 bucks later, I have a nice and simple teleprompter that works!

    1. Great tips! Thanks, Kristy! I would just add that it would be best to record yourself using it several times and then watch it to make sure the content is still being delivered in a very “natural” way:)

  6. Awesome, I’m thinking about starting a new blog on 2013, and I was thinking about doing videos, but first I need to polish myself on how to act in front of the camera, usually I get nervous and look and sound weird xD

    1. Hi Rodrigo!

      First, I say go for it!!

      Second, you are not alone when it comes to feeling awkward in front of the camera. Fortunately, there are tricks of the trade to help with that. And of course the most important tip of all: Practice, Practice, Practice.

      Go get ’em!

    2. Thanks Monica! 😀 I will, right now I’m going to gain some practice in it by making videos for my community of entrepreneurs, that way I’m not going to do the ridicule on the whole online world ahahahaha, but I will use this experiments to build momentum, gain experience, and then do the videos. :)

  7. Wow, this is amazing. I was thinking to start making videos for my blog yesterday and I got this post via mail today. I think God have some plans for me… :-)

    Loved the content and thank you for helping me out when I needed it the most.


  8. Yeah well the first example,

    you have to admit

    she’s basically a model so ya know that doesn’t hurt.

    Point taken anyway.

    I think the way her video is set up and the way she is postured is very professional. Gary’s vids are good too very conversational.


    Youtube or Vimeo?

    1. Haha- yes- it never hurts to look your best on camera.

      My take on the Youtube vs Vimeo debate. If your goal is simply eyes and the page/and or gaining a Youtube channel following then that may be your best bet. But for image quality and downloadability (especially if you’ll be posting the video on your website) I prefer Vimeo.

  9. Hi Monica,
    Thanks for the tips. I’ve been wondering when, where and how to add videos to my website for a long time now. I make them and then I think they’re not bright enough, or too long, or too short and it distracts me from staying focused. I like that you included some examples for us to check out and what they use to make their videos.
    Thanks again,

  10. I cannot stress action #6 enough!

    Let me tell you from experience when filming how-to videos about swimming pool and hot tub care. First of all, it’s the most boring subject in the world, but I happen to be a nerd about it. And I know a lot of viewers don’t share the same feelings about it as I do – I learned that the hard way.

    When I started shooting videos, I decided from the beginning that I would use my twisted sense of humor to make the videos “watchable.”

    You can search for pool care videos on YouTube to see what I’m talking about…or if you’re having trouble falling asleep. I wanted to be different, and I wanted to make the experience enjoyable for myself.

    Some folks don’t like my weird humor, so those folks are not my fans, but my videos don’t require fans because you watch them once or twice and you take care of your pool. There is no passion on the consumer end.

    To repeat, if you decide to film your own videos for your website, and you don’t want it to be a chore, make it fun to do by making it fun to watch.

    Great article! I’m gonna go shoot a video now :-)

  11. Great Monica! Three great examples for sure. I’m glad you point out that you don’t need a fancy set-up, because I’ve read that places and I know that would turn off people from doing videos.

    If you use video as a complement to your blog, is consistency as big a deal? I like doing a video every so often because speaking and writing are two different and dynamic ways to think.

    I’m going to start next year doing interviews, as those are always fun and you don’t need to bang your head to find interesting stuff to say all the time, you just listen and ask and learn!


  12. Hey Monica,

    I loved this post! And I love how many of the steps that you talk about here can also be applied to other things like Podcasting (maybe even a little blogging). But I have to say thank you for sharing this with others and also following your passion for wanting others to share their story through Video, it truly is inspiring and has been an encouragement to me.

    I loved this post so much that I had to bring it up to my listeners in my Podcast. Thanks again.

  13. The production value with these (particularly Marie) indicates to me that the “A game” has really ramped up. I’m also convinced it doesn’t take too much to get there– that’s the brilliance of the web and the march of technology!

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