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I only recently got comfortable with podcasting. I know I’m not amazing yet, but it doesn’t stress me out like it used to.

I’ve been thinking a lot about video lately. Why do so many people spend so much time on Youtube? Are they just dumb, or am I missing something?

I spent a few hours doing research, and what I discovered has changed the way I think about video. If you’re like me and you’ve been mostly ignoring video, lend me your ear for a few minutes. I’m going to try to change your mind.

Highlights, Takeaways & Quick Wins:
  • Sight is our strongest sense: 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and 40% of nerve fibers to the brain are connected to the retina.
  • Visuals are significant drivers in inciting emotion, instigating action, and achieving memory retention.
  • As with podcasting, making a video starts with a message—an idea of what you want to communicate.
  • If you want to grow an audience and reach people, start making videos.
  • If you don’t know what to say, start writing.
Show Notes
  • 06:03 I’ve always been a little curious about why so many people are so into Youtube, because I prefer listening to podcasts, audiobooks, and reading. I do like TV shows and movies like anyone else—I watch Stranger Things, Mr. Robot, and Preacher—but when it comes to learning, I prefer reading or audio. But I started wondering: why have I been ignoring video for so long? The other day, I saw an article that John Gruber linked to about a lawsuit where Apple sued Samsung for copying the industrial design of the iPhone.
  • 04:03 Apple was saying that the visual design is so similar that people think Samsung phones are the same quality as the iPhone and therefore are more likely to buy them, so Samsung owed them the profits because Samsung was piggy-backing on their design. This group of 50 different industrial designers and companies (the best of the best) wrote this PDF called Professional Designers Amicus Brief and sent it to the courts.
  • 04:38 This brief is a fantastic read on how visual design impacts sales and how important it is for things to be designed well, but inside this PDF was a quote from an article from MIT called The Rise of Visual Content Online that blew my mind:

Sight is our strongest sense: 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and 40% of nerve fibers to the brain are connected to the retina.

  • 05:42 The article continues: As a result of this hardwiring, visuals are processed faster in the brain than text. Not only are visuals processed faster, they are processed better. Some suggest that 80%–85% of our perception, learning, cognition, and other mental activities are mediated through vision. Visuals are significant drivers in inciting emotion, instigating action, and achieving memory retention. One interesting experiment showed that when someone hears a piece of information, they will remember only 10% of it three days later.
  • 06:22 Adding a picture to that information increases retention to 65%. Using visuals as a primary method of communication continues a longer trend towards short-form content and diminishing attention spans. In 2000, average customer attention span was estimated at 12 seconds, while today’s estimate is 8.25 seconds. Since it only takes humans about 0.25 seconds to process an image, we can still communicate much more information within these shortening attention spans with visual content.”
  • 07:03 After reading this, I finally understood. Most people aren’t like me. Most people don’t love podcasts. Most people are visual learners. To illustrate this point a little bit further, I read an article on Medium called Why a Visual Really is Worth 1,000 Words: “How to you explain what a circle is or what a circle looks like through audio? The correct answer is: a circle is a curved line with every point an equal distance from the center.” What? Sometimes it’s just easier to convey information with an image. You could just draw a circle! See how much simpler that is?

Is Video the Right Format for All Your Content? No.

  • 07:58 Let’s look at a counter argument. An article called Video Is Not the (Only) Future of Media says: “There is a use case for PDF reports, just as there is a use case for text articles, audio clips, video clips, and other formats. For example, text is a lot easier to skim than video or audio content, so it makes sense to opt for that format if you want to give audiences the ability to do so (skim).
  • 08:38 Additionally, videos are, by nature, attention hogs. It’s hard for audiences to get full value from the format if they’re not actively watching the visual content. So in return, you’d better be sure that your video is worth the time spent on it, or else it’s just another piece of clickbait. In other words, just because it can be a video, doesn’t mean it has to be a video.
  • 09:02 Great digital strategies are a mix of formats optimized for how audiences actually want to read, listen, and watch what you have to say. Before you publish on a subject, ask yourself if it would be easier for your audience to watch or read what you’re trying to communicate. Ask yourself whether a video should be the focus of, or a supplement to, your editorial coverage.

My Experience With Video

  • 09:45 I’m still not comfortable with video. I’ve still got a lot to learn. But I’m fooling myself if I can’t admit the truth; most people prefer watching video instead of listening to podcasts. I talked with my friend Brett Terpstra yesterday and found out that he’s seen at least one of my Youtube videos but he’s never listened to my podcast. He didn’t even know I had a podcast.
  • 10:36 He actually introduced me as a YouTube personality on his show. I laughed because I’m not trying to be a YouTube personality, I’m just trying to share and teach stuff that I care about. He said that he doesn’t listen to many podcasts, and I know most people don’t. Podcasting is on the rise, but I’m not convinced it’s ever going to be as big as video.
  • 11:29 I’m gonna get real for a minute. I don’t know that much about Youtube, but I need to learn. I need to start from the beginning. I need to swallow my pride and google “how to get started with Youtube”. I need to tackle learning this medium like I did with writing and podcasting. I still feel weird about YouTube personalities—all those vloggers who wander around and talk about whatever they want to, it just doesn’t appeal to me, but I can’t let that stop me from making videos. If you feel the same way, you need to stop for a second and think about why you’re resistant to making video.

If you want to grow an audience and reach people, start making videos.

  • 12:29 You’ll have to Google how to do it if you’ve never done it before. If you’re more comfortable just writing or taking pictures, you don’t have to make videos, but I want to encourage you to. Let’s do it together. I’ll share what I’ve learned, and you tell me what you’re up to. It’s also great practice for online courses, which are a great way to make money and establish yourself as an expert in your field.

How To Get Started With Video

  • 12:53 You’re probably wondering, “How do I do this? I’ve never bought any video gear before. I’ve never shot a video. Maybe I’ve shot a little bit here and there, but I don’t really know how to put a full video together.”

As with podcasting, making a video starts with a message—an idea of what you want to communicate.

  • 13:18 Write out your message, plan out the video, and hit record. You can get into shooting B-roll and getting different angles or investing in fancy gear, but it really comes back to what you have to say. It all starts with writing. If you don’t know what to say, start writing. You don’t have to publish everything you write, but if you do a little bit every day, you’ll start finding things to share in all different mediums; blog posts, podcasts, and videos.
  • 13:42 If you aren’t sure what to write about yet, pay attention to the questions people ask you. Pay attention to the stuff you talk about with your friends. Figure out your message and record a short video. Don’t use gear as an excuse not to get started; you can get started shooting video with just a smartphone. I started with an iPhone, a Shoulderpod clip, and a tripod. Good audio is really important so I invested in a little Shure MV88 lighting microphone, but you could also get the Rode SmartLav+ mic for $80, it sounds really good too.
  • 14:39 If you’ve got an iPhone, get a microphone that plugs into your phone, a smartphone mount and a tripod, you’re good to go. As far as tripods go, you can either get something affordable like the Amazon 60 inch Tripod ($23) or the Moby GorillaPod ($23). If you want a sturdier tripod and you’ve got a little cash to spend, I’ve been very happy with the Slik Sprint Pro 2 ($70). You can buy some LED lights to get better lighting, but you’ve probably got some natural lighting in your room that you can use. I learned a lot about lighting while shooting a mini-course called Getting Started With Video with Cory McCabe; I learned that you don’t want to have windows behind you when you’re shooting, so keep the windows in front of you and keep the camera between you and the windows so you’ll be lit up properly.
  • 15:07 For editing, iMovie ($15) is good and there are some other free video editing apps out there. If you want to record and edit screencasts, Screenflow ($99) is great for that (and for editing regular video, too). If you want to use your podcasting setup for recording audio, you can pick up a Logitech c920 webcam ($62), which is great because you can clip it onto the top of your laptop or computer monitor or stick it on a tripod. It can act as a standalone camera that can record video straight to your computer while you use your podcasting setup to record audio.
  • 16:38 If you already have a DSLR and are curious about microphones and interfaces for that, I actually figured out a way to run a shotgun microphone into an H4N portable recorder and then have a cable that runs out from the H4N straight into my DSLR. That way, the audio from the shotgun microphone was passing through and being recorded straight into the video, which comes in pretty handy if you don’t want to sync up audio files later.
  • 16:09 It’s going to take some time to learn everything, but I’m done fighting this. I can’t ignore video anymore because most people learn visually and I’m not going to get romantic about the medium. It’s about the message. If you’d like to learn more about getting started with video, stay tuned for the Getting Started With Shooting Video mini-course that Cory McCabe and I made. It’ll be perfect for you if you’re interested in making video but you’re not ready to invest in a DSLR yet. Sign up for my email newsletter and I’ll let you know when that course is ready.