I’m not very good at making videos.
Sure, I can do the video screen capture videos to demonstrate something. That’s pretty easy. Nearly impossible to mess that up. I just need to remember to put a little excitement in my voice and try not to sound like a robot.
But it ain’t screen capture videos I’m talking about.
What I’m talking about today are cool physical product videos or other videos that include editing. You know the ones I’m talking about; they get tens or hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube.
I’m amazed at how popular product review videos are on YouTube, especially good ones. The view volume is nuts. The ad revenue alone is okay. Throw in the affiliate commissions and they can be terrific.
In 2017 I launched a new niche blog focusing on a product-centric niche. I bought much of the different products in the product line, took hundreds of photos and worked on a ton of reviews (some of it outsourced but the guts of the reviews based on my testing of each product).
I also made 13 product review videos. The problem is the videos aren’t good. Utter junk. Terrible. Yet, and this blows my mind, they’ve gotten more than 100,000 views and I’ve not done any promotion.
When I saw that after a few months I’d gotten over 100,000 views, I realized I needed to ramp up the video quantity AND quality.
I also knew me and my iphone just wasn’t gonna cut it. I needed to get some pros on the project.
At the same time, I didn’t want to spend $500 per video; not anywhere near that. I wanted to keep the cost to $50 to $75 per video. That’s a tall order for a 3 to 10 minute video… or so I thought. After all, the average cost of product is $350 (which I bought) so adding video costs would escalate the entire project really fast if I wasn’t careful.
While there are a good number of sites that review this product line, few make great videos. Video turned out to be a great opportunity.
And so I did something I had never done before.
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Posted an Ad for a Videographer on Craigslist
I posted an ad in Craigslist in my neck of the woods for a videographer to create high quality 3 to 10 minute product review videos and take 30 to 40 photos of the product.
I posted a remuneration rate of $75 Canadian per video (that’s about $60 USD).
The number of qualified applicants was crazy high. I couldn’t believe it.
I ultimately settled on a duo; one guy is a photographer and the other a videographer. This way I’d get top notch photos and videos all for $75 CAD per product.
I had the guys over to my office. They convinced me they could do the job. We made a deal.
Two weeks later they delivered the first video.
I was blown away. It was awesome. 100 times better than anything I had done or could do. The sound was great, solid pacing, music, clear product demo… it was super slick. It was about ten minutes long but didn’t get boring (especially for people interested in learning all about the product).
Posting the ad
Spend time on your ad posting and include plenty of detail about what you need, expect, etc. Don’t just write “looking for videographer for product reviews”. Include the following:
- Whether it’s a temporary gig or permanent job;
- The number of videos you need;
- Any other media such as photos, write-ups, etc.
- You retain copyright;
- Start date and overall project deadline;
- Explain what types of products they’ll be shooting;
- Ask to see one to three video examples; and
- Stipulate they must have the necessary video/photography equipment;
Why hire local?
I wanted to hire local because I wanted to meet the people in person and be able to easily get them the products.
In fact, a key take-away here is that there are great hiring opportunities locally. Many of us bloggers and publishers are locked on the idea of having to hire virtually, but that’s not always the best approach.
For instance, being in Canada, it’s much better to pay in Canadian currency than USD, which is the currency of the Web.
Moreover, I find that many freelancers online charge a ton of money. Local folks, especially people in college or breaking into a field, can do outstanding work and are willing to do so for very reasonable rates.
Why is the cost so low?
In the case of the guys I hired, they’re young guys aspiring to develop a professional video/photo portfolio. I offer that opportunity. I don’t need TV commercial quality. Likewise I don’t have that budget.
It’s really a win/win. These guys make some money while building up a sound portfolio of work. I get an opportunity to get a new niche blog off the ground without having to invest thousands of dollars.
I can tell they put everything into the videos; it’s worth every nickel.
This brings up a very important point. There are many people who can do very good work looking to get a break and develop a portfolio so that down the road they can charge more. These people are excellent candidates for lower budget bloggers getting started. It’s a real win/win.
Good physical product videos can be tough to make
I don’t have lighting, microphones or a proper video camera. More importantly, I don’t have the time it takes to shoot and edit these videos. It’s a lot of work.
Sure, I can do what I did and make quick videos with an iPhone, but for a slightly larger investment, I can get video reviews that are so much better.
Tips for hiring and setting up the deal
1. Ask to see at least one example: While you don’t want a top priced professional, you also don’t want to hire somebody who has no video making experience at all.
2. Stipulate you retain copyright: Make it clear that copyright of the video resides with you. The last thing you need is a fight over the copyright of videos you commission.
3. Establish a timeline: Make it clear when you want the videos delivered. You may have to be a little flexible, but you don’t want to wait 3 months. You also want to set out payment terms such as partial payments as stages are completed.
4. Get one delivered first: Ask that you be able to review the first completed video before they do all the work. This way you can provide feedback that can be implemented in the other videos.
5. Stipulate the price includes all editing: The last thing you want is huge chunk of raw footage that you need to spend hours upon hours editing. The agreed upon price should include full editing so you end up with a polished final version. You of course also want copyright to the raw footage and all photographs.
6. Get their opinion: I also required that they provide me a brief written opinion about what they think of each product. Since they’re testing and learning every product, they’ll have very valid opinions which will add some great material to the written reviews.
Does outsourcing the review diminish credibility?
This is a tough question and it might. It really depends on the nature of your blog. If the blog is your personality much like Fat Stacks is really my personal IM/business blog, then outsourcing may diminish credibility.
However, if you have a non-personal branded niche website where you’re not the face of it, outsourcing video reviews is totally cool. Many major review sites have employees and freelancers doing the videos. You can, by all means, dictate the content of the review, which retains the site’s credibility because the video ultimate reflects your opinion.
Why are video reviews so good?
In addition to the huge number of views you can get on YouTube, the video reviews show you have the product and have tested it. The demo aspect alone is helpful to anyone considering buying the product. There’s nothing like seeing a product in action to help someone with their decision making.
All-in-all, product video reviews for more complex products are more helpful than written reviews, especially when a demo helps people understand how a product works and its capabilities.
What’s the big take-away here?
While this can be applied to a lot of different projects and videos, my intention for writing this is to let people with product-centric affiliate niche blogs know there’s a fairly inexpensive way to get really, really great product video reviews. I think video is a terrific opportunity in any niche, but particularly good in product-oriented niches such as your run-of-the-mill Amazon niche site.
Jon runs the place around here. He pontificates about launching and growing online publishing businesses, aka blogs that make a few bucks. His pride and joy is the email newsletter he publishes that’s “the best blogging email newsletter around.”
Hyperbole? Maybe, but go check it out to see what some readers say.
In all seriousness, Jon is the founder and owner of a digital media company that publishes a variety of web properties visited and beloved by millions of readers monthly. Fatstacks is where he shares a glimpse into his digital publishing business.