More thinking. It’s not like I could join him, right? I mean, video content every day in 2017? That’s a crazy idea. Right?
December wore on. I was still thinking about it. Planning my next few video podcast guests and scribbling notes for new vlogs.
When I started doing video content late last year I had just one thought: this is my MVP. I’ve never edited a video myself, despite having project managed editing many times. I’d written scripts and questions, invited guests, set up filming days but me and my own skills and equipment had never been pressed into service.
When I thought about all the reasons that I didn’t want to do video after the initial and most natural thought everyone has — eek! Is that really what I look like?! — it came down to the quality of my videos. I knew that I didn’t have the equipment or skills to go straight in with a polished final edit.
But then my internal monologue of doubt started to listen to what I tell my clients. Everyone has to start somewhere. Quality content always shines through. Think of this as a first go, you are building from here, every time you do this is a chance to improve and grow.
Suddenly it didn’t seem to daunting. Just playing around and recording the ideas that I had seemed to work. I was pleased with what I had said. I contacted my first podcast guest to pitch her the idea, and she agreed. I was off!
So when I thought about video content every day in 2017, I was suddenly thinking — why not?
As of today, Saturday 14th January 2017, I have published video content everyday. For me, I’ve chosen to include all video content in my challenge, including Instagram Stories and Snapchat. I have learnt so much from just messing around with these already that I know I’ll use for my vlogging and podcast.
I’ve recorded my second podcast episode, which I’m so proud of. Recording one could have been a one-off, but no, two makes it real! I’m going to edit it this weekend and release it next week.
So, I’m off to a good start. I think. It was only yesterday that it got to the end of the day and I realised I’d not made any content and recorded a hasty message on my Stories. Every other day I’ve found nice things to record or document, retold a little story or shared a client challenge from work.
I’ve got a long way to go, but I’m keen to have you all along for the ride. You can follow me on Instagram or Snapchat as @thatlaurawinton and subscribe to my YouTube channel here.
Here are 6 things that I learnt. I wanted to pass them on here so you don’t end up with outtakes like this — although to be fair I’ve warmed to the outtakes since I recorded them.
1. What Can Everyone See Behind You?
I recorded my first video where I have all my video calls — from my dining room table with the window behind me. I wouldn’t recommend doing this.
As the light changes so does the light in your video — which makes editing it together from different points difficult.
When I tried a first go at my vlog the week after I tried to film a little insert when I was editing. It looked awful as the light had changed so much I could have been recording from a different location. Not good.
After that I moved to the study upstairs where there is plenty of light but none of it is behind me. That way I just look well-lit and not like I’ve been recording all day in a never-ending vlog session.
2. Can Anyone Hear You?
I’ll let you into a little secret. My first video podcast, with Kat Loughrey, is not the first recording that we did.
Kat was so generous with her time and we arranged a Zoom call to record the podcast.
When we were done I was so disheartened to find that what we had recorded was just unusable.
The format I used for the podcast was to record an online conference call using Zoom. Whilst there were a few crackles on the line before we started and while we were recording, I didn’t expect the recording to come out so badly.
I was very lucky that Kat was so understanding and we recorded it again the week after the first attempt. We were both agreed it went far better the second time around, I think we were both more relaxed about it and enjoyed it more.
Have a quick test of the recording quality before you start. Just record and playback a minute or so to check that what you can hear is what is actually being recorded to avoid any crackling or other sounds problems.
No one wants to see frozen screens and hear the audio jumping around. Make sure you have the highest quality for telling everyone your favourite stories, tips and tricks.
3. Who is your guest? Check the (little) details!
I had said Kat’s name out loud a few times but once I said it out loud in front of her I wished that I’d asked her instead of guessing.
Check your guest’s name. Check what they want you to call them and how to pronounce it.
Check their bio. I had read up on Kat from her website and social profiles but actually I should have asked her how she’d like to be introduced.
You know why you’ve invited a guest to join you but your take on what they do might not match up with theirs. Ask what they want you to mention and which projects they are keen for you to highlight.
4. Where is this conversation going?
Think about what you want to talk to your guest about. I sent Kat over a set of questions that I wanted to ask her.
There were a few topics that I thought would be interesting for us to talk about and that I was keen to cover. I also wanted to make sure that Kat knew where the conversation was going and could come back and suggest things she would like to talk about.
We ended up with a long list of questions that I realised we would never get through when we recorded. That didn’t matter. I wanted to make sure there was plenty for us to discuss and we could see where the conversation went, rather than sticking rigidly to just a few questions.
5. Embrace your outtakes.
I didn’t really think about how I would edit the video. I did think I wouldn’t do much editing but it hadn’t occurred to me how I would approach those moments when nothing went to plan.
Watching the video back when I was editing I cut out a little snippet of me tripping over (all) my words. It made me smile. So I used it as a teaser for the episode while I finished editing it. And then as an introduction.
It is nice to see where you went wrong. I didn’t think every single thing would go according to plan and sharing the moment when it didn’t go so well felt fun and honest.
6. Nail your shout outs! Who are you actually referring to?
In my first vlog I wanted to mention a few articles that I feel show the value of content, which was my chosen subject.
My fandom came across with the words — I’m paraphrasing but it really was basically this bad- ‘so there was this guy and this girl who went to a conference.’ ARgh!
There are a few problems with this. 1. It’s embarassing. 2. It’s unnecessary — write yourself a note with the name and title of the article before you hit record!
But most of all it leaves you with no way of reaching out to say ‘hey, guess what, I mentioned your amazing article.’
Having seen a great recap of a video from Lewis Howes where he gives links straight to the moment in the video that talks about a certain topic, I had thought of doing something similar. I thought a quick link, starting at the mention, tweeted to those I’d mentioned would be a great little virtual high-five all round.
But then using the words ‘that guy’ doesn’t make for such a great shout out. I shelved that idea for next time, when I’ve remembered to write myself a note of exactly who I’m mentioning!
So, there you have it. 6 things I will not be repeating, laid out for you to go through and action so you don’t have the ‘d’oh’ moments that I did.
I hope you enjoy producing your video content. Please leave me a link in the comments and I’ll be sure to check it out.
I’m so pleased to share my new video podcast with you all.
I’m always having such great conversations with people about social and content. I find new stories and perspectives so refreshing and inspiring so I’ve started my own podcast to capture them.
Follow Me: Social Media Perspectives will feature a different guest each time to share their insights into their niche, how they create content, how they use social and what the future might hold.
My first episode is live now on my YouTube channel. It was a total pleasure to have Kat Loughrey join me to talk about content and social in her work, the startup scene in Berlin and freelancing. Check it out and subscribe for future episodes:
Kat helps startups and creative businesses revamp their brand online, create meaningful content and grow their community authentically. She is based in Berlin and took the leap to freelancing two years ago. She’s working with CloudPeeps, Freelance Friday and more. Catch her in the Buffer, NomadList and Berlin Startup Slack communities, CloudPeeps and Freelance Friday FB Groups, or just contact her directly via her website or Twitter.
In the podcast she mentions her articles with great tips for freelancing on the CloudPeeps blog. You can check these out here:
There are lots of things that you tell yourself you don’t like. For me, at work, networking is at the top of that list. I’ve always felt like it is a skill that I don’t have whilst everyone else is just out there, meeting new and fresh contacts daily whilst busily following up with everyone they met last week and doing amazing ‘networking’ business I can never hope to access at glamorous networking events.
Now that I’ve decided to go freelance I’ve had to sit myself down and give myself a good talking to. How am I possibly going to grow my client list, business, skill set or future success if I don’t get on with networking? Then what do you need to do, I ask myself? Network! Go out and do the one thing you don’t like doing and get on with it for the good of what you want to achieve. In short: suck it up, Laura.
On the flip side of this I also thought about what I am good at. One of my strengths has always been research; getting out there and finding out what is going on and how this can inform the project that I am working on. Who is saying what? How can companies that I work for be part of that conversation? I’m also good at connecting the dots. Want to work with that person or company over there? Well, great news because they work with this person, who knows them, who is new to that and it turns out they are looking for someone just like you.
By now I think you might see where this short post is going. Turns out that not only do I network all the time I actually know how to do it a lot better than I thought. When I knew that I wanted to work for myself I reached out to friends of mine that I knew well and worked in areas that I was interested in and approached them. It felt like a nice gentle way to start, ask some advice, have a chat, pick someone’s brains over a coffee and a catch up. Everyone had a different perspective and recommended a couple of companies, networks or people for me to look out for. A few even put me forward for work they had come across which was an amazing start.
Now that I’m set up and ready to go I’ve got straight on Twitter, LinkedIn, Medium and am in the process of setting up my own website and blog. I’ve sought out all those friends and the people they put me in touch with. Through them I’ve found new people and organisations and interests and followed those too. I’ve done my research and connected the dots and it has given me a great start and lots of avenues to explore. And it starts to look a lot like networking to me or at least it has started to look like my version of networking: seeking out people I want to connect with and seeing how I can work with them to benefit us both.
I’m unsure if there are different ‘types’ of networking or whether the agressive go-getting idea of networking I had is just wrong but I think it can also be our natural instinct to have our heads turned by the loudest, biggest, brightest thing within our sights. It can seem like whoever is shouting is getting the most attention but new movements like Susan Cain’s Quiet Revolution are starting to focus on the benefits of a quieter approach. On a related tangent, Paul Johnston, was musing about how he choses which conferences to attend in his thoughts about innovation: 2 Degrees of Innovation.
My approach has always been to seek out the smaller conferences, where you are guaranteed a level of intimacy with the speakers, and the other attendees. The speakers could often be described as Edgers. The smaller conference fosters more conversation and also often allows for harder questions to be asked in any Q&A. It also generates a community around the ideas.
I think that is more what I’m looking for from networking, the feeling that I’m making more of a connection with others who I’m interested in working with, a better understanding of what they are hoping to achieve and how I might be a part of that now or in the future.
Best of all it has made me get out there and just start talking to people. I’m a lot less worried about the conversations that end badly and a lot more interested in where the great conversations could lead. And it turns out I’m not quite as bad at networking as I thought.
Yes, there are so many similar lists out there. As content creators and marketers we all know the magic of the list post. Easy and quick to write, looks good with images and numbered bullets (translation: very scannable content) and quick to share.
However, I’ve started to find it harder and harder to discover quality content. When you start looking for content in any given subject you cast the net wide. I find now that over time I’ve stopped reading from one source, stop checking another, a newsletter changes focus and I’ve unsubscribed. I’m left with fewer and fewer ‘go to’ sources.
Now I find that when I’ve set aside time to see what is out there, I’m never quite sure where to look or what to read.
So I’ve taken the time to actively seek out and curate better sources of content. Some relate to what I do: social media and content. Some are just great sources of information for life in general. And if, like me, you are always looking for something new and interesting to read then I hope you find some recommendations in this or future posts like it.
Please make sure to add yours in the comments — I’d love to check them out.
Convince and Convert
I wonder if part of the reason I’m in this situation is that it is very difficult to be invited into my inbox. I am the person that constantly clicks ‘no thank you’ on your well-crafted opt-in box. Sorry about that.
This is a great example of what it takes to actually get into my inbox.
Last year I read Youtility by Jay Baer and loved it. At the time I was just starting out freelancing it really spoke to me about how I thought content should be. Quality, useful content for your audience.
So I’ve been in the same space as Jay Baer and the company he founded,Convince and Convert, all this time. I know they are out there. I follow them on twitter. I read the occasional article on their blog. It’s been almost two years like this.
What made me subscribe finally? I was reading a killer article on their blog and had just tweeted about it. I finally thought, I should get these sent straight to me. There and then I found an opt-in box on the website and signed up.
So, now I’m in, what have I found? What I really like about Convince and Convert is the voice they use in their writing. It speaks in a way that instantly gives thanks for your attention and shows why their content is worthy of attention.
Each newsletter includes sponsors under the headline: ‘We love our sponsors. You’ll love them too.’ This little headline says it all — we’ve handpicked these people because we love them. Who usually says that about their sponsors?
Their round-up email comes as ‘Your 5 Favourite Posts This Week.’Everything is centred around you as a reader and why you will get value from the content they are sharing.
Their articles continue to deliver as well. Insightful, relevant and useful information about content marketing. They have quickly become a must-read for me.
I like the articles that I’ve tried from the blog so much I’ve added it to one of my feedly collections so I don’t miss out on any. I’ve put a few quick feedly tips at the bottom of this article if you are thinking about how best to curate your account.
Fortune CEO Daily
Another way to get into my inbox? Come recommended by someone I already like and hear from.
Fortune CEO Daily was recommended to me through Laura Vanderkam’s blog where she did a round up of what she’s been up to, what she’s writing and what she’s reading. I love Laura’s writing and her wonderful approach to time management — I’m a big fan.
And so, through her, the Fortune CEO Daily came into my inbox. I thought it would be good to get some business-focused news every day to keep myself in the loop.
What I wasn’t expecting was the wonderful way in which this newsletter is written. With a long-form intro and few graphics, it doesn’t conform to the usual clickbait templates you see in some newsletters. There are no attention-grabbing headlines or slick graphics here. Long paragraphs full of well-written opinion and analysis await you and they are so worth it.
I’ve been reading about business with real interest, not that I wasn’t interested before, but now I find that it is presented in a way that gives it real relevance.
On Sundays they send out a round up of great articles from the week. These are from a range of publications and each article comes with an intro/commentary on why it makes an interesting read. Again the long-form intelligent writing really gives the articles context. A recommended business read.
Top Tip — Curate Your Content Sources Regularly
Now I’ve identified that I want to work on having great sources of content at my fingertips I’ve also started to think about how I can make that happen.
One thing this had lead me to do is to start using my feedly account more.
When I set it up I just searched for broad topics and followed those. Which is great to start off with but I’ve found that over time I’ve checked it less and less.
Now I’ve realised that actively curating my content sources is a quick and easy way to make sure I can discover as much quality content as possible.
I started with a good clean up of the topics I was following. Some I just took out all together. Others I went through and had a look at each source within the topic. Had I read anything from this publication or blog in the last few months? Did anything on the list from them look relevant? I took out ones that I realised I was constantly skipping over anyway.
I took the super simple step of rearranging my follow list to reflect how I want to browse content when I have a moment to read. I’ve put a collection of my current favourite blogs at the top, followed by news sources and then areas like social media and content marketing.
And finally I’ve developed a new habit. Every time I read a blog article that I like I hop over to feedly and add the blog into my account. This has been great for discovering new content from people whose writing I really enjoy.
Please let me know your tips for discovering new content and what blogs/newsletters and other content sources you can’t live without.
When I taught English as a foreign language I was horrified at the start of my first year when one of the teachers I worked with taught his students the phrase ‘winging it’ in the context of him ‘winging’ his lesson with them as he hadn’t prepared. When I first started teaching I would never had done that, how could I wing it when I had a class full of students looking at me expecting a planned lesson?
However towards the end of the teaching year I found myself there. I was the one winging it. I’d done countless marking and written evaluations that week — and other such excuses for these situations — and there I was, stood in front of my class with a chunk of lesson time remaining. I looked at them, I glanced at our lesson topics and then… then my lesson really did fly. Instead of stalling or resorting to just chatting with my students I taught a revision segment on comparative adjectives which was still going strong when the bell rang.
It felt different from my usual teaching, I felt like I was in control of the lesson, pushing it forwards with the answers at my fingertips as I watched my students engage and enjoy themselves. I could see what I was doing in that moment, where I was steering things, I knew my stuff, I was confident, I wasn’t winging it I was flying.
Since then, and I think before then I’d just never named it before, I’ve often found myself in a similar groove. As I work or play with my kids or talk about subjects that I feel passionate about or enjoy time with my family and friends there are moments when I’m no longer consciously thinking my way through what I’m doing I’m just getting on and doing it. It’s like I’m on some kind of conscious auto-pilot where what I know is making everything move along smoothly and I’ve no need to pause and collect my thoughts.
The more I ponder this feeling the more I don’t think this is a coincidence. As we learn new skills like teaching or parenting, as we become more informed on subjects that we are passionate about or begin to perfect work skills we seem to earn the right to have things run like clockwork. Often it can feel like every thing we do is an uphill climb, more challenging that what’s gone before and forever testing us as we push forward to achieve more success in a chosen field. We rarely take the time to appreciate that with every newly acquired skill another one that we’ve been honing for a while is suddenly there at our fingertips for daily use.
So now I would say that I do ‘wing it’ quite a lot. The more that you strive to learn the more you earn the feeling that you are flying through the things you do know very well indeed.
I’ve been thinking a lot recently about my use of social media. On a quest to reduce my screen time I was reminded of the words of a wise friend of mine. She said that since she’d had kids her social interaction had gone down but her social media use had soared.
‘I used to spend all my time with my friends, now I just spend all that time on Facebook.’
I think it’s a common problem whether or not you have kids. Screen time can creep into your life and quickly get out of control. Now that we have smartphones that can do so much, there is a temptation, and actually sometimes a benefit, to using them for a range of tasks. If you aren’t desk-based all day then a smartphone is an easy way to achieve a range of things away from your laptop. I tried to think about all the things I do on my phone: email, social media, checking the weather, directions, web browsing, managing ebay and PayPal, managing my bank account. It really left me wondering if I could reduce my screen time at all.
I found myself spending a toxic amount of time on social media, mostly Facebook and Twitter. I use the word toxic because it actually felt that way. I’d go onto a channel to have a quick look at something, and would still be sat there 20 minutes later, scrolling through newsfeeds telling me things I had little interest in. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of social media. I work in social media. Getting lost in the warren of Twitter, where I start reading about one thing and end up finding 5 new people to follow, is great but that just wasn’t my daily reality anymore.
Then I read this article on Medium giving a teen’s view of life online. A few things mentioned really rang true for me. I’ve long felt uncomfortable about the amount of advertising on Facebook with sponsored links etc. and to hear someone else say that they keep mainly to the groups for that sole reason made me think — yes! I liked the insights into identity online, I really get Tumblr a lot more since reading this article and find more and more joy there with every visit.
It gave me a starting point and I was soon thinking about other aspects of social media and how I use it. And, of course, I signed up to Medium. I found this by someone who had left social media behind and felt the benefits. One thing that stood out was the phrase ‘does this bring you joy?’ — if it doesn’t then get rid of it.
Suddenly I had a lightbulb moment and since then my social media habit has been pretty much cured. By asking myself every time I try and check a feed or an article whether I really want to do this, I’ve pretty much reduced my social media time to a fraction of what it was. And I do now just check Facebook to see what happened in groups that I’m a member of! Like Helena Price I find myself checking my phone, clicking on an app and then just switching it off again. It’s like a habit I can’t quite break until I’ve clicked and then remembered — oh yes, no joy here.
Whilst this has reduced my screen time overall I am also using the time on other bits of the screen. I think before I read articles. When I started thinking about screen time, I just regarded all screen time as equal — equally good or bad — without really questioning it. Now I’ve realised there’s toxic screen time, where I’m just looking at a random social media feed for no clear reason, and screen time that I’m really starting to enjoy.
I’ve come back to the idea of quality in what I read, in seeking out trusted sources of interesting and informative articles to read and enjoy in a quiet moment. I’ve gone back to podcasts I used to enjoy and discovered new ones.
And I’ve never had so many ideas for blogs and posts as I’ve had since this started. It’s like the part of my brain that always came up with these things went quiet, dulled with the constant chit chat of mindless social media but now I can’t keep up. In an attempt to really limit my screen time I’ve taken to scribbling down my thoughts on a notepad. I’ve filled pages in the last week, who knows when I’ll get to put it all down online somewhere. By trying to limit my own screen time I wonder if I will actually (hopefully) be increasing someone else’s as my writing continues to improve.