Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Are You Serious About Your Video Business?

HOW SERIOUS are you about your video operations? Do you limit yourself to video as a hobbyist, or are you attempting to “work” your enthusiasm into a business? To what degree? Are you going to settle for being a part-time independent professional video services provider or will you pursue this more actively, aiming toward a full-time business? Will this become a career-changing move, or simply augment your current job/position or retirement income? Is it time to assess your desires and ambitions, or do you simply wish to continue along a non-committed path of serendipity?

HEAVY QUESTIONS, for sure, but it might not hurt to take a good, long look at what you really want, what expectations you have at the top of your thoughts, or subconsciously — somewhere in the back burner of your mind where you rarely check to see what’s cooking. Not all of us take ourselves or our businesses so seriously. But maybe we should, especially if we actually expect something to come of it.

THE FIRST and foremost question is “How can I get a job (start this business) without experience” quickly followed by “How can I get experience (make this business work for me) withoug getting a job?” The answer, especially in the video business, is actually very simple: “Just do it!” In any career or business effort there is simply no shortcut to getting there. You have to put in the time and effort, invest the money and take chances in order to accomplish any goals in life.

Starting out with this realization will help keep the depression and disappointment of perceived failure at a minimum, and keep you focused on the long road — the road that leads to success. Keep in mind also that “success” is not only a state of mind as much as a reality of life, and perceptions have a lot to do with whether you, your friends, others in the business or your clients consider you successful. So consider the term generally, but don’t hang a lot of specifics on that tag. It’ll drive you nuts.

WHAT YOU NEED RIGHT NOW is some degree of knowledge and some basic equipment. For everything else there’s Google :-) and keep this in mind: You can learn a lot by reading material such as the articles on E.C. Come, E.C. Go, visiting other video related blog sites such as Lorraine Grula’s and Jay Michael Long’s, paying the price for a few lessons (but first check out the free samples) at Lynda Dot Com, not to mention viewing the literally millions of video production samples by independent (as well as commercial films) video producers.

THE CLASSROOM CONCEPT of education for film and video production has proven value, but a lot of that environment is based on theory, if not unproven concepts, and carved-in-stone “rules” that don’t always provide the needed answers once you’re out there in the trenches. Contrary to general opinion having a degree alone isn’t all that and a bag of chips. You need to immerse yourself in the effort and that means going hands-on.

SIMPLY REALIZING THE ESSENTIALS you might begin to ask yourself if it is worth the effort, the expense, the time ...
... We’ll take a look at that during the next segment of this ongoing series on E.C. Come, E.C. Go.

Remember: If you market, you will make it! © Earl Chessher

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Make Your Plans NOW!

You’ve got plenty on your mind this next few weeks, but it’s not too early to start making plans for your video business operations and marketing strategy for 2011. As soon as you read this, and if you feel ANY inspiration at all, pick up your iPad, laptop or other computer, open your Circus Ponies or other planning software, or grab a pencil and a tablet and start your outline.

Before simply continuing with what you already are doing, think about new paths and directions. For some, what they are doing is perhaps enough, for others more will be needed to continue to survive the coming year, much less anticipate or consider growth, even expansion of your video business operations.

There will ALWAYS be weddings, or maybe not. But let’s just say your wedding business operations are where you want them to be and the referrals are pouring in. Whether you’re full time or part time in the video business, there are things you can plan for now that will help you achieve your 2011 income and business goals.

STEP ONE
Go through your 2011 production calendar and note all the holidays and special days: Valentine’s Day, President’s Day, Tax Day (just kidding), Easter, Memorial Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and all the other days of observation. Copy them to your planning program.

Aside from weddings, what other possibilities are there for these special days?
• Personal documentaries
• How to videos on unique Easter egg decoration, cake creation or sugar molds
• Patriotic themed productions
• Small and independent business promotions and web video

STEP TWO
Do some research to identify where, how and to whom you can market for these and other video production/product concepts. A good Google search will generate an abundance of opportunities, groups, clubs, organizations and even generate some new ideas for marketing and potential clients that you never thought of before. Go with the flow and develop some concepts. You don’t have to flesh them out now, simply get them down so they will not elude you later.

Make your list and check it twice ... LATER.
• Potential new businesses that might be receptive to video in their marketing
• Groups, clubs and organizations that could use video in promoting their programs
• Those small businesses that might have never pursued a video or Web presence
• Church groups planning for their silver, golden or 100th anniversary celebrations
• Memorial themes recognizing members who have died
• Other potential avenues of video need that might often be overlooked

STEP THREE
Jot down some quick notes as they pop into your head. They don't have to make sense, but believe me when you begin working on some freestyle thinking like this little nuggets will get discovered. These can often wind up being nothing more than fool’s gold but a few are diamonds in the rough, if you’ll kindly overlook the cliché. Decide your best approach after the holidays.

• Expand on this, or that idea or concept
• Can I make this happen
• Is this too big for my operation
• What can I do NOW
• What do I need to work on long term
• How saturated is the market for this

Within the first 10 days of the New Year you’ll want to visit those notes, concepts and ideas and make an actual action plan for 2011. Action can often accomplish more than reaction, so YOU be the one to get things started.

It is never too early to begin a campaign but we often start too late. February 1, is not the time for mailing out promos or social networking or advertising for Valentine’s Day special proposal DVDs (relationship photos put to music and ending in “Will You Marry Me?”) or for developing and selling personal Valentine’s Day “Roses are red, violets are blue ...” video DVD cards.

It may, in fact, be too late already, but if you get something going during the first half of January, before heads and hearts start leaning toward February 14th and boxes of candy, you can probably open up a whole new approach to speciality video production.

Remember: If you market, you will make it © Earl Chessher, 2010

Monday, December 06, 2010

New Wedding Marketing Approach

This one is experimental, but not without precedence. And the concept isn’t without a foundation in my personal wedding market experience either. It is most evident in many of the ethnic weddings I’ve produced, and it’s an option for all but the most snooty social upper crust. Well, maybe a few of them as well.

Some Call them Sponsorships.

The activity is a little like a gift registry, something like gift cards or certificates and I’ve come up with another concept that just might take this approach to funding a professionally produced wedding video another step forward: announce acceptance of sponsorships, gifts or donations toward purchase of a professionally produced wedding over the social networks.

Why Not?

People are already posting on just about everything else in their lives: where they eat and shop, who they like or despise, where they’re going for their vacation, what they’re going to do with that discretionary money. So, how about letting your Facebook “friends” and Twitter “homies” and other social network contacts know how badly you want and need a professional wedding video producer for your upcoming event?

Brides-to-be already e-mail their contact lists with notice of intent to get married, where they can go (or participate online) to utilize a bridal gift registry, and get updates on the planning and programming for that special event. Might as well utilize those effective networking strategies everyone keeps posting, blogging or bragging about.

Socially Unacceptable or Incorrect?

Very little these days, fortunately or not depending on what side of 50 your age lies, is considered socially intolerable. Where it used to be taboo to serve champagne in a Dixie cup or even do wedding dinners cafeteria style, this is no longer the case. They’re even “trashing” REAL wedding dresses nowadays for goodness sake.

So tell me, what’s so wrong with suggesting to your budget-impaired bridal prospects that there might be an acceptable and potentially successful way to fund their professional wedding video production without cutting into the ice sculpture and live band funds.

The implications to or reflections upon independent professional video service providers certainly can’t be any worse than those found on Craig‘s List: “do my wedding for free and I’ll put you in touch with all my friends who are getting married,” or “videotape my wedding for nothing and I’ll brag about you on my social network.”

Over the years I’ve had a degree of success in the bridal market with lay-away payments, monthly payments and gift registry video. I think I might start suggesting the social network fundraiser approach and see what happens. Why not? It’s been working for politicians.

Remember: If you market, you will make it! © Earl Chessher

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

They Shoot Funerals, Don't They? Production Outline

Production Outline for

They Shoot Funerals, Don’t They

release date Dec. 15, 2010.


They Shoot Funerals, Don’t They: The Definitive Publication & Resource Program for Independent Professional Video Services Providers Seeking to Expand their Business


I. Introduction

A. Synopsis: It’s a Funeral, Get Over It!

1. Professional Video Services for a Seriously Under Served Market


B. First Things First: Marketing Funeral Video Services

1. A Story: Edit Out His Girlfriend!

2. Marketing to Funeral Services Facilities

a. Funeral Homes

b. Mortuaries

c. Cremation Service Providers

d. Pastors, Ministers, Rabbis, Bishops, Deacons, Priests, Officiants

3. Marketing to Churches & Synagogues, Temples & Chapels

4. Marketing to Individuals

5. Other Marketing Options (Necessities)

a. Your Domain Name

b. Your Website

c. Using Your Social Network Connections


C. Establishing Competitive, Reasonable, Profitable Fees

1. A Story: Taps, Fly-overs, Bikers and Military Escorts

2. What is Your Competition Charging

a. Do You HAVE any Competition?

b. What is Fair Value?

c. Adding Extras

d. When it Becomes ‘Nickel & Dimeing’

3. Competing with Funeral Homes & Places of Worship

4. On Location VS Multiple Sites

5. Rosary, Viewings, Visitation, Wakes & Receptions

6. Graveside & Committal Services (What‘s the Difference?)

7. Extreme Customer Service: Success Means Going the Extra Mile

8. Keeping Your Business Profitable


D. Family Clients Don’t Know What to Expect

1. A Story: Sometimes They Do Wail

2. Yes, Uncle Charlie Also Operates Here

3. “Edited” Doesn’t Mean Leaving Out Anything

4. Mostly It’s Another Celebration of Life

5. Let Those Attending Know You‘re Videotaping


II. Establishing Relationships

A. Get to Know Who Manages the Counselors

1. A Story: Most of the Time They Celebrate, Sometimes Wildly

2. Get to Know the Family Counselors

3. Get to Know the Service Directors

4. The Officiant Can be Your Best Friend or Worst Nightmare


B. Your Word is Your Bond

1. A Story: Hallelujah It’s Raining Men

2. Make NO Promises You Cannot Keep

3. You MIGHT Get One Pass, but That‘s Probably It

4. If You Mess Up, Fess Up

5. Politics: If “They” Mess Up, Don’t Tattle

6. It’s Not My Job! Be Helpful


III. Working Well with Others

A. Musicians, Soloists, Doves, Bag Pipers & Processionals

1. A Story: There‘s No Business Like Show Business

2. Other Vendors are Your Friends

3. Keep it Upbeat. Don‘t Gossip, Grumble or Gripe

4. NO! You Absolutely May NOT Eat Unless They Insist

5. How Relationships Can Work for You: Networking


B. How You Dress is Important

1. A Story: It Helps if You Know There‘s a Theme

2. Ethnic Funerals

3. Formal Funerals

4. Informal Celebrations of Life (Still a Funeral)


IV. Putting It All Together: Producing Your Video

A. Videotaping

1. A Story: Tell the Guy on the Pipes to Quit Playing

2. What You WANT to Videotape

3. What You DO NOT Want to Videotape

4. Ask First, But Probably Videotape the Casket

a. It’s a Casket, Not a Coffin

5. Get There Early

6. How Long Does a Funeral Last

7. Standard Definition or High, 4x3 or 16x9


B. Audio

1. A Story: I Know it was a Compliment, but Leave it Out

2. Redundant Audio Backup

3. Your On-Camera (Built-In) Mic

4. Other Audio Recording Needs

5. Speak from the Podium, or Else


C. Lights, or Not?

1. A Story: Masons, Knights, Cops & Mariachis

2. When to Use Them

3. When it’s Better if You Didn’t


V. Putting It All Together: Editing Your Video

A. Basic Shoot, Deluxe Production & Unedited

1. A Story: This is Why People Hire a Professional

2. What Goes Into a Basic Production

3. What Goes Into a Deluxe Production

4. Do you WANT to Offer RAW Footage

a. Clean it Up First? (That’s Editing)

5. What Gets Left In, or Left Out

a. Do I Need the Family to Fill Out a Form


VI. Other Services You Can Offer

A. Photo-Music Memorial Montages

1. A Story: Facilities Don’t Always Get it Right

2. Production Levels & Styles

3. Scanning the Photos & Digital Resources

4. Remember: It’s the Photos

5. Keep It Short for Service, Longer for Reception or Family Only

6. Fast or Overnight Turnarounds Often Necessary

7. Offering, Giving Away, or Selling the Scanned Jpegs on CD

8. What Should I Charge


B. Satellite Feeds

1. A Story: Monitoring the Feed Guerrilla Style

2. What Does it Take to Do This

3. What if I Add Videotaping, Other Services

4. What Should I Charge


C. Audio Recording Only

1. A Story: OK, I’ll Take a Video Too

2. Back it Up for Security, Sales

3. What to Use for Audio Only

4. What Should I Charge


D. Memorial Montage Projection

1. A Story: Twenty Minutes Until Showtime & No Lamp

2. What Do I Need to Offer This

3. Have a Second System, Lamp (Know How to Replace)

4. What Should I Charge


E. Other Options & Opportunities

1. A Story: I Want to See My Memorial Montage Now

2. Heritage Productions: End of Life Testimonies

3. Personal Documentaries: Full Production Treatment

4. Something Special for Alzheimer’s & Hospice Families

5. On-Site Family History or Short Documentary Kiosks


VII. Support & Resource Materials

A. Direct-mail Postcards


B. Direct-mail Letters


C. Art & Graphics


D. Release Forms


E. Agreement Forms


VIII. DVD & CD Samples & Resources, PDF files


Advance orders are now accepted at a substantial savings over regular and special pricing. Inquire via e-mail to echessher@hotmail.com

Current pricing set at $49.99 plus S&H advance orders; $79.95 plus S&H for orders received between Dec. 15, 2010 and Jan. 10, 2011; Regular price $129.95 S&H included.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

They Shoot Funerals, Don't They?

Provide Professional Video Services
for a Seriously Under Served Market

(Excerpt from “They Shoot Funerals, Don’t They” publication by Earl Chessher, to be announced for publication, release and purchase between December 15, 2010 and January 10, 2011. Advance orders accepted.)

by Earl Chessher

Videotaping and producing funeral and memorial events is not for everyone, and not everyone is interested in acquiring this service. It has been my experience over the past 20 years, however, that everyone who is made aware affordable professional videotaping service is available has at least considered the opportunity to preserve a very personal and meaningful end-of-life experience.

Primarily, with client families, the decision is based on finances, and not so much on emotions. If they can afford to do so the majority of them will. Contrary to the opinions of many, most funeral services providers (funeral homes) are not offering videotaping services in an effort to “squeeze” another dollar out of a grieving family, but to offer a valid service for the preservation of special memories, eulogies and moments during this celebration of life.

“They Shoot Funerals, Don’t They” will correct much of the misconception and misinformation that exists today regarding funeral videotaping. A lot of what you read and hear is myth, or misconstrued “fact”, heavily based on personal opinion but not much experience. Not everyone has faced an end-of-life experience with a loved one, but until we have each of us has developed a personal scenario based on emotions, and bad information.

This resource will help you not only understand the very real need for funeral videotaping, as well as photo-music memorial montage, end-of-life heritage video, and personal documentary production, it will provide the information you need to pursue this market. Even if you aren’t seeking to specialize or actively expand into the funeral and memorial video production business, the information contained here will enable you to comfortably say “yes” should a request be made, knowing that you can in fact do what’s right and do it right.

To expand on your awareness of what goes on, and what can happen, during a funeral I’ve taken the liberty to share some of my experiences. In the interest of protecting the privacy of my client families I’ve either used fictitious names or none at all, but every vignette shared throughout this publication is real. These events actually happened. Reading them, along with the practical information, will prepare you for rewarding real-life opportunities in funeral video production.

You will learn what to expect, and what is expected of you. You will be surprised that much of what you’ve thought and heard throughout your life is not relevant to the business of funeral video production. You’ll become aware of the very real value placed on your services, and the deep sense of personal reward doing so provides.

You’ll be amazed at how often people who are mourning the loss of a loved one, families who have paid you to professionally videotape this private, often very personal, event will thank you for doing so. They will hug you, hold your hand, share a special personal story and say ‘God bless you,’ for being there. And your heart and soul will burst with feeling, empathy and emotion you never thought possible while in the middle of a bunch of strangers.

Editor’s note: Availability date of “They Shoot Funerals, Don’t They” will be announced Dec. 15, 2010. Advance orders are being accepted. Contact me via e-mail at echessher@hotmail.com regarding how to order.

This resource guide will include valuable informed and accurate information based on the author’s many years of experience in producing funeral, end-of-life and celebrations of life videos. Chapters will contain the information you need, from developing and marketing, to production and recommended equipment.

“They Shoot Funerals, Don’t They” will include templates, sample letters, direct-mail graphics, samples of funerals from basic coverage to fully edited, military honors events and more. There will be PDF and document files you can revise for your specific purposes and needs, as well as release and agreement forms, brochures and instruction sheets.

Remember: If you market, you will make it! © Earl Chessher

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Wichita Video Works Posts Interview

Video StoryTellers!™ associates Pat & Judy Handley, of Wichita Video Works, have recently conducted some great interviews for the Video StoryTellers!™ program in Kansas.

Check out this interview for now (other VST producers will soon be featured): the quality, the content and the production value. Yet another reason for being a part of the program and for hiring professional video producers to help share, save and preserve stories and memories. Everybody has a story!

Check out other links at this blog to find out more about how you can increase your income and market reach, as a startup business in video, or an established video professional looking for a way to expand your business.

Also, see John’s story, produced by Wichita Video Works, featured below. These two great Video StoryTellers!™ interviews will be the featured “StoryTellers of the Month” on the official VST website.




Saturday, October 09, 2010

Video StoryTellers!™ Gains Exposure

Video StoryTellers!™ (VST) will be the main focus and thrust of my video business for the remainder of this year and beyond. Why? Because this global program is going to become one of the most popular video services in the world, surpassing even youth sports and wedding events. And, it is going to MAKE ME MONEY!

While I’m conducting a major thrust with this program, brand and marketing now, I anticipate that this will develop into a significant portion of my 2011-2012 business strategies. I expect to be too busy producing people's stories on DVD to do much of anything else!


Based on the very real fact that everybody has a story, I’ve moved full-throttle into a major direct-mail campaign, guerrilla marketing strategy and business promotion program for VST during the remainder of this year that stands to generate $300 to $500 a day, building toward an unimaginable figure over the next couple of years. All I have to do is work the program.

While I maintain a solid business market with event and Celebrations of Life! videos ranging from memorial and photo/music montages and projection, to funeral videotaping and production, youth events, dance recitals and school performance video, I plan to continue an aggressive campaign with VST.

Some have joined me in this venture and others will come onboard during the next quarter 2010 due to the special 50% savings being offered through December 31, 2010. With the momentum that is continuing to build, still others will gladly invest over the next two years to become a part of this valuable worldwide branded service.

Thanks to the ongoing inspirations shared by VST associates Heidi Mueller of H Mueller Design, Canada; Jim Nicholson of Nicholson Video Productions, Pennsylvania; Bill Mecca of Mecca Video Productions, New Jersey; Luis O. Maymi of Xeneuxe, Puerto Rico; Chris and Val Harding of Softweigh, Australia; J. Michael Long of JML Multimedia, Mississippi; and a host of others, Video StoryTellers!™ has developed, grown and evolved into a significant brand representing professionals who offer an affordable approach to the sharing and preservation of personal stories and memories.

Next to come will be news and magazine articles, a unique website (under construction at VSTWorldWide.com) featuring private and public forums, blogging and live chat for associates and the many storytellers who will be seeking our services around the globe. Development of marketing strategies and materials, news releases, articles and more will be ongoing.

For more information check out the related articles on this blog, send me an e-mail or call using the information on the VST site linked at the beginning of this article.

Remember: “If you market, you will make it!” © Earl Chessher

Saturday, September 25, 2010

50% Off Global Program Through December!

“Everybody has a story!” Think about that for a second. Where have you been with another individual, group, the family or friends that someone, or all, have failed to share one anecdote, one story, relate one memory or synopsis of an occurrence. Whether it happened this morning, yesterday or to their great-grandfather, you’re going to hear somebody’s story today.

Even while recently conducting “Person-on-the-Sidewalk” interviews during a recent live marketing activity I had no problem getting total strangers to share their recollections of what they were doing and where they were during 9/11, The Challenger Explosion and JFK’s Assassination. Many of them shared more personal recollections as well and freely gave me permission to feature them on a website for worldwide preservation and sharing of stories — Video StoryTellers!™

video

It’s THAT easy! Video StoryTellers!™ is a global marketing and branding program for the preservation and sharing of people’s stories and memories. And PEOPLE WILL PAY YOU for this service, starting with the totally affordable base price for receiving their precious memory or story on DVD.

Find out more by checking the links throughout this blog. There is an extra added bonus for anyone coming onboard with Video StoryTellers!™ during the next few months. From NOW through December 31, 2010 you can become a part of this worldwide branding and marketing program for 50 percent off the standard investment price.

Sign up today for your service area, or go for state or country associate level and offer others in your “territory” their own franchise and service area for extra income.

A minimum effort, IF YOU WORK THE PROGRAM, based on eight hours a week (working part- or full-time) will bring you more than $26,000 a year ONLY producing stories — one at a time!

Remember: If you market, you will make it! © Earl Chessher

Monday, September 13, 2010

eCommerce with WordPress

Editor’s Note: This is the fourth and final installment in the “WordPress for Videographers” four-part series by guest author Heidi Mueller, of New Westminster, BC, Canada — an accomplished commercial video producer, website developer, editor and writer.

IN THE WORKS! Heidi will be developing and offering an up-to-date “how to” video that takes you through the necessary steps for developing a WordPress website using a “real world” project. Watch for the announcement here, and also on Twitter, Facebook, Videomaker Forums and DVProfessionals as well as the Video StoryTellers!™ Facebook Pages.

1. Overview of WordPress Article Series

So far in this article series we have explored WordPress as a possible website platform for a videographer or videography business. But what if you want to sell products on your website like DVDs, stock footage, movie posters, t-shirts and so on? Can this be done on your WordPress site? This is what we will discuss here.

2. Overview of eCommerce

Before we talk about the actual implementation, let’s do a quick review of what ecommerce is all about. In order to sell products over the Internet, you require essentially three components:

A Product Catalogue

This is essentially a list of all your products, typically stored in a database of some kind. For each product you would have at least a title, description, photo and price. You could also include additional optional information like size, colour, shipping, and so on, depending on the type of product.

A Shopping Cart

The shopping cart temporarily stores the information about products that a shopper has selected on your site. When the shopper is done selecting products, he or she can click the Checkout button to make the actual payment.

Payment Gateway

This is basically a system that allows a shopper to make a payment by providing the credit card information over a secure Internet connection. Commonly used systems include PayPal and Google Checkout.

While each of the ecommerce components are quite complex, with WordPress it is easy to add ecommerce capability to your website.

3. The Basic PayPal System

If you have only a few products to sell, say two DVDs, you can use the basic PayPal system. That way you don’t have to set up a product catalogue - all you need is a Products page in your website listing your DVDs. You then use PayPal’s shopping cart and buy now buttons.

I have set up a Our Products page and listed one (fictitious) DVD as shown below:


The Products Page with no ecommerce features

The next step is to log into your PayPal account (more on this later) and go to the Merchants section and select the Create Buy Now Button link as shown below:


The PayPal Merchant Page

Enter your first product details and click the Create Button Now button at the bottom of the page.


The PayPal product description page

PayPal will now create the button embed code. Select the code and copy to the clipboard.


The PayPal embed code

Back in your website, go to the Products page and, in the HTML editing window, past the button embed code close to your product area:


Pasting the code on Products page

And voila, you have a PayPal button!


Your Product page with PayPal buy now button

I have only done one DVD product. If you have several products, repeat the above steps to get a button for each product, and then finally to also get a Shopping Cart button.

Now when someone clicks the buy now button on your Products page, the product is added to the PayPal shopping cart. When the shopper checks out, PayPal manages the credit card transaction and you are informed by email and then you have to ship the product to the shopper. PayPal will transfer any monies in your account to your personal bank when you request it.

4. The PayPal Account

Whether you use the basic system that I have just described or a full ecommerce system, you will need a PayPal Account. There are many videos on YouTube that will take you through the steps of setting up your account, and PayPal has a useful Getting to Know PayPal help section.

5. Full eCommerce

The basic PayPal system described above can quickly become tedious when you have a large number of products, especially if some are products that need to be downloaded by the client (eg video clips). Fortunately there are several excellent plug-ins that will turn your WordPress site into a full-fledged ecommerce site. Perhaps the most popular plug-in is WP e-Commerce which, amazingly, is free!

These ecommerce systems are quite sophisticated and beyond the scope of a short article like this. I would recommend a new book "WordPress 2.9 e-Commerce" by Brian Bondari. He goes into how to set up and manage a WP e-Commerce site in great detail, and also discusses the other available plug-ins.

6. Conclusion

In this series of articles I have tried to show the WordPress is indeed a viable website platform for a videography business. It allows the videographer to easily create and maintain a professional website. The tools in WordPress allow you to showcase and market your products and services. In addition there is an extensive collection of plug-ins that allow you to add extra functionality, such as ecommerce as we discussed in this article, to your website as your business needs expand. The main benefit of using WordPress is that everything is fast and easy to implement, leaving you free to focus on your video production business.

“Easy” is of course relative. If you stick to the basics it is easy. But if you want to dig into the guts of WordPress, there is a learning curve. A final warning: there are so many fun things you can do in WordPress - it can become addictive.

WordPress is web software you can use to create a beautiful website or blog. We like to say that WordPress is both free and priceless at the same time.”www.wordpress.org

H Mueller Design

# 206 - 56 Merrivale Street

New Westminster, BC V3L 2P6

Canada

604-523-1523

hmuellerdesign.com

twitter.com/hmuellerdesign

Saturday, September 04, 2010

WordPress for Videographers Part 3 - Including Video

Editor’s Note: This is the third of a four-part series on “WordPress for Videographers” by guest author Heidi Mueller, of New Westminster, BC, Canada - an accomplished commercial video producer, web site developer and writer. The final article will discuss adding “eCommerce” to your WordPress website.

Introduction
In the first two articles in this series we looked at reasons why a videographer would consider WordPress as a website platform for his or her business and what the process is to do that. In this article we will look at how to include video in your website. These days this is really easy.


Hosted Videos
If your video is already on a video host like Blip.tv, YouTube, Vidler, Vimeo, etc. then you can display that same video on one of your website pages or in a post in your blog. These sites will allow you to copy some embed code representing your video that you can use on your page.

The advantage of this approach is that the host company’s server does the heavy work, rather than the web server where your WordPress website is hosted. And as part of the embed code, they provide the video player.

Another advantage is that your video is promoted both by your website and the video host. The downside of course is the time it takes to prepare and upload the video to the video host.

There are basically two ways of using hosted videos, embedding and “shortcodes”. The end result is the same. I prefer to embed because then I have a bit more control over the position and look. We will use YouTube as an example. Here is my webpage without any videos as yet.



Screen with no video


The next step is to go to YouTube and obtain the embedding code for the video that you want to place on your website. On the YouTube screen you have options for the size of the player, as well as a colour scheme. I chose red to go with the H Mueller Design colours of course! Once you have chosen the options for the player, you highlight and copy the embed code as shown in the screen capture below.


Getting the Embed Code from YouTube

Next, switch back to your WordPress website, and open the Videos page in edit mode from the Dashboard. In the little edit pane where you normally put your text is where we will past the video embed code – but you have to do it in the HTML view as shown in the screen capture below:


Pasting the embed code in HTML view

That’s it! Click the Update button and admire your handiwork.



Uploading Videos to WordPress
If you do not have your video hosted on a video service, you can upload the video to your WordPress website. It does mean that your web server will have to serve the video which can slow it down if your video is large. The most common formats for video on your own server would be .flv (Flash) and .mov (Quicktime). You not only have to upload the video file but you also have to provide an appropriate player which can be a bit tricky.

But don’t worry, that’s why you chose WordPress—there are plugins for the tricky stuff! In fact there are many video plugins to choose from. If you need a solid, easy to use plug-in, consider the
Viper plug-in. The player will also allow you to play hosted videos as well as video files uploaded to your own website. This is an important feature as it will give you consistency in how your videos are displayed no matter where they are hosted.

Video Galleries
This is definitely a step up in sophistication. A video gallery page is basically a page showing a series of thumbnails of the videos in your gallery. When a visitor to your site clicks on a thumbnail, the corresponding video plays in a player. Again there are many plug-ins to choose from. The plug-in will do all the heavy lifting for you. But they can be a bit more tricky to configure and only worth the effort if you have many videos to show.

Summary
In this article we discussed how to embed hosted videos from YouTube and similar hosting services. This method is easy and quick to implement, and will not load your own web server. We also discussed other video display options briefly should you have need for them.

In the next article we will discuss the possibilities of adding ecommerce to your website in case you would like to sell video stock footage, DVDs, and so on.

WordPress is web software you can use to create a beautiful website or blog. We like to say that WordPress is both free and priceless at the same time.”www.wordpress.org

H Mueller Design

# 206 - 56 Merrivale Street

New Westminster, BC V3L 2P6

Canada

604-523-1523

hmuellerdesign.com

twitter.com/hmuellerdesign

Monday, August 30, 2010

WordPress for Videographers – The Process

Editor’s Note: This is the second of a four-part series on “WordPress for Videographers” by guest author Heidi Mueller, of New Westminster, BC, Canada - an accomplished commercial video producer, web site developer and writer. Future articles will feature “The Process,” “Using Video,” and “eCommerce” with WordPress.

Introduction
In the first article in this series we looked at reasons why a videographer would consider WordPress as a website platform for his or her business. In this article we will look at how to go about implementing a WordPress website. It is not a step by step article, but rather its objective is to give you some sense of what to expect when you decide to use WordPress.

Prerequisites
Website Planning
As you will see in a moment, before you know it your website will be live. But there will be no content! It pays to think before you commit what pages you want on the website and what text and pictures you want on the pages. It is helpful to have a Word document for each page so that you can copy and paste the content into the WordPress pages. That way your website will not be live without content for long. Typical pages to start with would be Home, About Us, Portfolio, Our Blog, and Contact Us.

Basic Website Stuff
For any website one has to have a webhosting company to host your website on their web server, and then you need a domain name (e.g. www.videoco.com) that points to the server. WordPress recommends a number of hosting companies. You might want to consider a local company so that you can go and talk to them if needs be. Once you have set up a hosting account with the company of your choice, they will create a folder on the web server for you. It is referred to as the “root” folder.

WordPress Stuff
For WordPress to work, you need three things on your web server. Firstly there is the WordPress system itself (it is a collection of files and folders). Then your server also needs PHP and a MySQL database.

Installing WordPress
This basically means that you have to download WordPress from their website, and copy it to your root folder on the web server. So just how do you do that? I have no idea!

No really, there are different ways to go about it depending on the hosting company that you have chosen so you need to ask them first. If you Google “installing WordPress” you will get many articles and how to videos on the topic.

As we mentioned in the first article, all the content that will make up your website will be stored in a database. Part of the installation process is to link the MySQL database to your WordPress so that it will be able to access your website content.


Using Notepad to link the database to WordPress

Administration
The last step of the installation process is to set up the administration. You will be the “administrator” for your website which will give you the right to create pages, add or edit content. In this last step, WordPress will ask you for a Title and Description of your blog, i.e. the name of your company and your business tagline respectively. It will also ask you for a username and password that you would like to use. When you have entered the information and clicked to confirm, your website will be live!

Your browser will display the “Dashboard” which is your control panel from where you can now add content to the site.


The Dashboard

Website Is Live!
If anyone enters your domain name in their browser, they will see your new, as yet content-less, website. At this point your website will by default have two pages, home and about. Your company name will appear at top of the web page, which is nice. Below that is a beautiful but inappropriate banner image, which you can ignore for now.


The Opening Screen of the New Website

Your first step is to add the additional pages you need, and paste the content into them that you have prepared beforehand. As you create pages, WordPress will automatically create links to them on the menu bar! So how do I create pages, you ask? As administrator, you will have access to the control panel for your website. In WordPress lingo it is called the “Dashboard”.


New site, with some text and a custom banner image

Google Connection
Once you have created your pages and added content to them, you need to let the world know that your website is ready. That is easy. You go to http://www.google.com/addurl and enter your URL (e.g. http://www.videoco.com) and it’s done.

More Tweaking
At this point your website is on the Internet; it looks good, and has content. So for now, give yourself a pat on the back, and take a well deserved break! But soon you will probably start to think of the further tweaking that you may want to do. It will require a little bit of learning but there is no immediate rush. For example, you may want to replace the default banner graphic with something more appropriate for videography, and perhaps include your logo. These are easy to do but outside of the scope of this short article.

For more information you can go to the
official WordPress website which is very comprehensive but rather overwhelming I have found. I do recommend an excellent online tutorial by Lynda.com. The tutorial covers the installation, use and maintenance of your WordPress website. Then there are many books on WordPress that you can order through Amazon.com – just make sure that the book covers WordPress 3.0!

Upcoming articles will focus on:
• Using Video - one would expect to see video on a videography website. Article 3 will discuss the ins and outs of showcasing your video on your website.

• eCommerce - Article 4 will look at adding ecommerce to the website for videographers who would like to sell products such as stock footage, how to videos, and more.

“WordPress is web stofware you can use to create a beautiful website or blog. We like to say that WordPress is both free and priceless at the same time.” — www.wordpress.org

H Mueller Design

# 206 - 56 Merrivale Street

New Westminster, BC V3L 2P6

Canada

604-523-1523

hmuellerdesign.com

twitter.com/hmuellerdesign