I have been making recipe videos since 2009, actually I should say, I first attempted it in 2009, and then later realized it was completely necessary for me to go this route, and I picked it up about three years ago in earnest. You may wonder why I had a gap. To tell you the truth, I thought that making videos was difficult and quite honestly intimidating. I am not thin, I am over 40, and not exactly the person you would typically see on TV.
I personally feel that creating video for recipes is really necessary, why? A picture conveys so much more than a written recipe. I can show you how long to stir something, I can show you what I mean by browning roast before you put it into the oven. It works much better when I can physically demonstrate a technique rather than typing it out. For me, it also means that I can augment my content that I have already done for my website. So my current and existing content gets more life to it. Please note, this is just a highlight of my video making process and is not the subject in great detail, to cover this well you much go more in depth, here are the highlights.
Videos do wonders for SEO
Videos help your SEO tremendously. You are creating customized content that fits you and your message. You are giving your audience a reason to stay on your blog. They will linger and watch your video more. You are creating trust, and each video is your own commercial. Youtube typically ranks number 2 or number 3 for web searches. Google also adds videos to SERP. So you can potentially rank for 2 spots in the top 10 rankings. Who wouldn't want to try to do that?
Read More about the benefits of using video
Video as marketing – find new and different audiences
For me, I thought that all of my video views would be done from my own web page. This turned out to be really false thinking, really false thinking. Now days view from my website only represent about 40% of my video views. The rest come from Youtube, and others that might embed my videos. You will find your videos will take on a life all their own once you launch them into cyberspace.
My Youtube audience is radically different than my blog audience. My blog audience is people like me, middle-aged women. My Youtube audience is 40-% men, 60-% women and the age range is all over the place. I get comments like I wished you were my Mom, proposals for marriage, and how much people like my kitchen. I have some folks that as soon as I put up a video they are writing comments. I find an audience is more passionate, and much more diverse.
Is a solid Youtube presence going to get you a lot of traffic to your blog? Not directly. This was also false thinking for me. Lot's of folks love watching videos, they aren't rushing into the kitchen. That's ok. They see you, your message, and they want to keep up with what you are doing.
With this being said, these are just some of the reasons that I am pro-video, and will tell people you should definitely create videos. It is important to augment your content, and to be where you can find new and fresh audience continually.
Planning your video
Should you plan them out?
I think it is important before you sitdown and do your first video that you spend a few moments thinking about what you are going to say, and to plan it out. Really good video requires some forethought. This is your map or your guide for the video, this will help you audit out bad ideas. While I think creating a storyboard is a great idea, that may seem daunting right at first. Think of it as having a recipe for your video. So I would urge you to think about the video in shorter segments. This is how I think about my videos.
Introduction – 30 – 45 seconds I talk about the recipe, what's unique
Special Ingredients – If a recipe contains any, I talk about those
Fundamental Cooking steps – a scene is done for each one
Show Finish Dish – I show the dish finished
Exit – Talk about the dish, thank people for watching, and any other Call to Action goes here
So the way this would look if I were making a fruit salad would be:
Introduction: Introduce the fruit salad, say its great to serve for a brunch
Special ingredients: I might say how to select a ripe pineapple, or say where you can find star fruit
Fundamental Cooking Steps: Cutting up the fruit, making sauce for it, and then stirring it together. So for me, this would be 3 scenes. This could be done in one take, but I need to get these three steps in there, or the recipe would fail.
Show the finished dish: I would hold the dish up and say this is what it looks like
Exit: Talk about the recipe again, and thank folks for watching, and give my social media links
I am going to give an example of a great intro, and this would be one of my favorite recipe videos. This is for Bacon Pancakes, within 18 seconds you see whose channel it is, their branding, the a finished shot, and they tease you and grip you with what they are making. One warning, this musical recipe is infectious. You will remember this song.
Here is one of my favorite examples of a great exit, and it's not a food video. I can't think of a better exit. Marie Forleo is an inspirational speaker who is great to listen to. During her videos she will give you something to tweet out, and she will also close with all of her social media message, a great closing shot. I am going to pick this video up during her close. She also does a nice trick of adding an out take our two at the end to keep you fully watching until the end. This is an advanced technique that maybe I will cover in a future write up.
In Front of the Camera or Not?
This is a personal choice. I personally love, Chef John of Foodwishes. He is funny, he gives solid instruction, and in person he is amazing. You will never see him in front of the camera. EVER. His reasons for doing this are that when he is doing voice overs he gets a chance to be witty, to make sure the technique is described well, and he gets a chance to edit what he does. If you are really new, I think this is the best way to approach videos. He was a big inspiration to me. I met him at IFBC in New Orleans, and I had a chance to sit down with him and discuss the why and the how here. After this conversation, I went home and starting doing videos just like this. My best compliment ever was I was the female version of Foodwishes. Yes 😉 If you want to see how this looks, please check out one of my favorite behind the scenes camera guy.
When you get ready, you may want to go in front of the camera. I do this on the majority of my videos now. After publishing a couple of cookbooks, I thought I should associate myself with my work. This is a much harder way to go. Why? You better it right the first time OR you may need to go back and reshoot. Unlike a blog post, you can't go back and edit something quickly or easily. Things I learned to stay away from are calling out measurements, I always refer people to the written recipe. Why? I sometimes say measurements I don't mean. People notice that smallest details, be ready for this, and have a thick skin, video is not for the timid or the faint of heart. Just like with a blog, sometimes you wonder if the person who watched your video watched the same one you created.
When shooting video and you are in front of the camera you need to think about many things, what you are wearing, where is the camera, how do you point towards the camera, not looking at the camera like you are a fool, making sure your technique is good, making sure you are talking on task, and making sure you are highlighting the critical steps. For me that means I make mistakes on teaspoons and tablespoons, so I avoid those like the plague. If you uploaded a video and your measurements are wrong you can add some annotation, and admit your mistake, but, you are really better off reshooting.
You will develop your own person style in time. It takes time. Don't worry, no one but your friends and your Mom are going to watch your first videos. Don't worry though, later on, they won't watch them anyway. Co-workers may watch them ;). Don't worry about your style, some people are very relaxed, some are highly professional, others, aren't. There is wide range in here. You will find an audience that will resonate with you. Give it time.
Your appearance for in front of the camera
When making food videos I suggest you wear simple clothes. Where styles that are timeless, and preferably single colored. Prints look busy on film, and they will date you. You are hopefully creating long-term, green content that will be viewed for a long time. Don't wear something that is too trendy. I personally have a set of shirts I wear for video only. These are plain nice quality t-shirts. This way if I have to reshoot something, I know from where to grab in the closet. I also buy colors that are complimentary to my skin color. I have more clothes, I promise, but you will typically see me in the same six or seven shirts.
For makeup, I go with a natural look. I do try to overemphasize my eyes. Day to day I am pretty much a natural girl, but for film I put on lots of extra mascara, and black eyeliner. This way you can see my eyes. I also go with a heavier application than I do in real life. I shoot with two or three lights, and I am very fair, for me this is necessary. If you are a guy, I will suggest at the minimum putting on some matte makeup primer, and some powder. This will make your face not shiny. Shiney faces just make you look oily.
Now let's talk Equipment
Microphone – the most important piece of equipment, it isn't your camera
People will put up with bad video, but they won't put up with bad audio. You will need to invest in a microphone. You can buy a very inexpensive microphone. Actually the set that I bought had 5 of them for 6.95. Neewer 3.5mm Hands Free Computer Clip on Mini Lapel Microphone (5X Lapel Microphone). They were cheap, and not all of them worked great, but a few did. I had used this set for about 2 years before I upgraded the microphones. This gives you a direct audio input and it eliminates background noise. It is also great because you don't have to shout to make yourself heard.
When I got started, I started with a digital camcorder. Why? Well, cell phones weren't doing video back then. I used one much like this. Samsung F90 Black Camcorder with 2.7″ LCD Screen and HD Video Recording . It has the advantages of being cheap, it auto focuses, and it works well. I personally like the models without memory cards, and those that just simply upload with a cable to your computer.
You can use your cell phone by all means. Just remember flip it sideways. They do a great job, and they make it easy for you. Here is a helpful video for phone camera tips.
I currently use a couple of Cannon DSLR cameras. I have been using these for a couple of years now. I use a Cannon Rebel, and a Cannon EOS 60D. These work great for video. I will allow others to elaborate on the specifics here. I will update this with lens types and other information in the future.
Most of us aren't blessed with kitchens with great lighting for filming. I personally use two or three shadow boxes. My set isn't expensive, but it has lasted for about 200+ videos, and it will last for a long time. This set does well, and while it isn't incredibly sturdy, I have been happy with it.
Fancierstudio 3000 Watt Digital Video Continuous Softbox Lighting Kit 9026S3 Fancierstudio
If you don't want to go with a light kit, you may still need to come up with a lighting solution, which may include shooting during the day only. Opening up all of your windows and blinds that are in your kitchen. My one big suggestion is if you have a kitchen window, do not shoot in front of it, your camera won't do nice things for you, position yourself near it, but not right in front of it. Doing it like this will look like you are too dark, and your background is way too light.
You may want to get a couple of lamps, and position them to where they are throwing light on you.
Your video is shot, now what?
Editing Your Video
You need to edit your video. Editing is your friend. If I didn't edit, you might think that Gordon Ramsey and I were separated at birth, and I can't open cans, and oh yes, my cats love to jump up and be part of the cooking experience. Edit, Edit, Edit. I try to clip out anything that isn't essential,informational, or at least amusing. I have used Moviemaker (its free for Windows), iMovie (Mac), and FinalCutPro(not free). I personally think that for the most part Moviemaker and iMovie do the job for 90% of what you need. Editing seems daunting at first. This is where you learn that for every minute of video you keep, you will spend about 20 minutes editing when you get started. I promise, this gets easier with time. There is a learning curve here. Seriously, be patient, back up your raw footage, and have a glass of wine, and start the editing.
Which one is best? It depends on your operating system. I am a Mac person now, so I really like iMovie, it works well for me.
Guess what, now you can upload that video
I personally just upload to Youtube, and embed the video on my site. You could also upload to a variety of other sites as well. You shot the video, so you might as well do it. With Youtube, you can monetize your videos. You may not become a Youtube millionaire, but hopefully it can offset the expenses that you put into the video, and it is 100-% marketing for you.
Where to upload videos
Once you have uploaded your video, now what?
You need to edit your video description. You need to put in the title that people will search for, you need to add words to the description bar, and tags. Everything that you have read about SEO applies here as well. You may even want to transcribe your video, and add this. You will want to annotate your video with links to your channel, and to your G+ profile. You may also want to add links to your blog, your Facebook page, Twitter, Instagram, you get the idea.
Here are some more tips.
Advanced SEO Tactics to Drive More Traffic to Your Videos
Close Captioning is also a great tool for Youtube, you can manually add this yourself. Or you can do what I do, I use a service called Speechpad, it is a service that will do annotations for you at about a dollar a minute if you can wait about a week. This is a great tool to help with the SEO for your videos as this will tell Youtube exactly what is in your video. I do not think Youtube does a great job at trying to decipher exactly what we say right now. I am sure it will get better.
Just because your video is on Youtube, doesn't mean everyone is going to watch your video. You need to tell them about your video. So share your video on all of your social media. Growing your channel takes time and effort. It doesn't happen over night. People will subscribe when they start to see you have great content, and produce it consistently. Be patient.
While isn't an exhaustive guide at all, here are some of the tips and insight I have learned about over the last few years of creating food videos. I will say that I have enjoyed creating videos over the past few years. Thanks to video I have landed local (Houston Channel 11 Debra Duncan Show), and National TV spots (3 Episodes of Live Well Network). I am currently working on a series of videos for a national meat company. I hope you give making videos a try soon. I think it is a fun and exciting way to connect with others, and to help augment what you currently do on your blog.
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