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How to Track Conversions from YouTube Viewers [Video]

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YouTube Partners can now link out to other sites within their video annotations, which can be a great way to drive new readers to a blog, ecommerce site, landing page, etc. You can also, of course, add links to your description and channel page. Very few people are creating video content consistently, so you have the opportunity to really stand out in your niche if you create videos.

But traffic (from YouTube or otherwise) is nothing if that traffic doesn’t convert. Once someone comes to your website, are they actually performing the action that you want them to perform? Are they buying your product? Or signing up for your mailing list?

In this video, Ileane Smith walks you through exactly how to set up a Google Analytics goal and track conversions. If you’re new to Google Analytics, don’t worry; she really breaks it down so you can easily understand how to track conversions. Check it out:

I loves the goals feature for Google Analytics for conversion tracking, because it helps me understand the best source of traffic according to my goal. Sometimes, raw numbers don’t tell the entire story.

Have you set up goals to track conversions?

How Video Bloggers Can Use Flow: 5 Questions to Ask to Improve Your Vlogging Skills

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Gideon Shalwick is one of my favorite video bloggers, and in this video, he talks about using “flow” to be a better video blogger. This is actually a skill you can apply to almost anything in life. Flow is what you might call “getting in the zone” and it helps you master a skill even when you’re starting with zero knowledge.

Here’s how Gideon suggests you use flow to improve your vlogging skills:

It boils down to asking yourself the following five questions:

  1. Why are you video blogging?
  2. What clear goals do you have have as a video blogger?
  3. What information do I need to reach my goal and where can I get it?
  4. What easy actions can I take to get a result that works toward my goal?
  5. Based on my results, how do I need to improve?

Again, although Gideon applies these tips to video blogging (and skateboarding) in his video lesson, you can use this same process to improve at just about anything! Give it a try and let me know what you think in the comments below.

How to Create a Web Series with a Small Film Crew

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small film crew

So you want to create a web series, but your budget is too low to hire a full film crew? No problem. That’s the great thing about creating video content for the online space: you don’t need much money to get started! It’s okay if you have a very small film crew if you know a few tricks to making the most of the helping hands you have on set.

Here are a three tips to help you get started creating web series or videos with a small film crew:

Tip #1: Use tricky camera shots to make your crew seem bigger.

First, you can make your crew seem much larger by using some special camera shots. Vimeo created a really great tutorial on this topic that goes over how to film a swipe cut and how to film a split screen shot (as well as how to use your iPhone for audio). Check it out:

Tip #2: Work with multi-talented people.

That diva actress friend of your who refuses to touch a camera and would rather spend time in her dressing room than helping on set is probably not someone you want as part of your crew. When you’re getting started, looking for people who can jump from role to role easily. Partner with a director who can also act. Hire the make-up artist who has experience with post-production work. The more people are willing and able to do, the fewer total people you need on your crew, at least at first.

Tip #3: Write scripts with your limitations in mind.

If you know you have a very small crew, cut out the scene you wrote where a crowd is chasing the main character. Having limitations stinks, but you’ll get there. Keep your scripts simple to start, and think about how you can change your initial vision to make it work even if you only have a two- or three-person crew. Get creative! It can be pretty fun to overcome challenges if you think outside of the box.

What tips do you have for creating awesome content for your web series, even if your crew is tiny?

The Only Four Things Your Really Need to Start Video Podcasting

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At NMX 2013, Perry Lawrence gave a great presentation on how to get started video podcasting. When you break it down, there are only four things you really need to begin:

  1. An Idea
  2. The Desire
  3. A Budget
  4. Discipline

Let’s take a close look at these four necessities to help you on the road to video podcasting.

An Idea

Every business online starts with a good idea. Your idea needs to be something you feel passionate about, especially if you’re creating a weekly podcast, but it also needs to be an idea that has the opportunity for a community.

In other words, pick a niche. You don’t want to go too broad, as it will be extremely hard to compete with established names if your podcast is simply about all things tech, for example, but you also don’t want to go too narrow, since it will be hard to find an audience that way.

Along with choosing the topic matter, your idea also should include a way to present that topic matter in a fresh way. Will your podcast present the news in a humorous way? Will your podcast feature new guests every week to talk about the topic? Will your podcast be politically slanted? Think outside the box and try to come up with an idea for your podcast that your target audience can’t get elsewhere.

The Desire

Do you really want to start a video podcast? No, really. Ask yourself this question. Because video podcasting takes both time and money. Don’t do it because you think you have to.

And don’t do it because you think it will make you money. Any video series or podcast can make you money, but this isn’t going to happen right away, and the time you put into it is likely going to far exceed the time you should be putting into it based on your income. Do if for the love first, the money second.

A Budget

You don’t need a million-dollar budget, but you do need a budget. If your budget means recording videos on your iPhone from your home office, that’s okay. If it means getting the latest and best video equipment money can buy and converting your guest bedroom into a studio, that’s okay too. But you need to set a budget and stick to it.

Video podcasting isn’t cheap. You need mics, cameras, editing software, and more. If you plan to podcast at events, you’ll need a kit for the road, and you may also want to invest invest in professional lighting, new clothing, backdrops, and other things that will make you look good on camera.

Don’t forget a budget for travel, hosting, and other miscellaneous costs.

The bigger your budget, obviously, the better the final product will be. However, don’t let finances keep you from getting started. Like I said, you can get started simply shooting with an iPhone and doing most of the work yourself.

Discipline

Lastly, you need discipline. Don’t start video podcasting unless you can commit to recording every single week for at least three months. You also need to set aside time for editing, uploading, and promoting.

If you aren’t consistent, your audience won’t be consistent either. Doing this for fun? Have at it! Post once a month or even just once a year in that case. But if you actually want to build a following and maybe even make a little money at this, you have to have the discipline to podcast regularly and release new episodes on a regular basis.

Perry’s session at NMX 2013 of course covered many other tips on getting started video podcasting, including what kind of equipment to buy, how to set up shots for the best lighting, what to shoot, and what editing and distribution tools you’ll need. For more information or to get access to Perry’s session, check out NMX University today!

NMX Speaker Paul Kontonis’ Predictions for Web TV in 2013 [Video]

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“We’re beyond linear growth. We’re now at explosive growth.” – Paul Kontonis

During the IAWTV awards this past January, BeetTV got a chance to catch up with IAWTV Chair and NMX Speaker Paul Kontonis, who gave some predictions for the world of Web TV over the next year. Now that we’re almost two months into 2013, do you think his predictions are still on track?

If you want more from Paul about the future of Web TV, check out his NMX session, Where Is All Of This Headed? The Future Of Digital Entertianment, which is available to NMX University premium members.

How to Better Develop Your Web Series Characters using Secrets

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If you’re producing a fictional web series, you’ve probably spent a fair amount of time developing the story arcs. While I don’t personally produce web series, I have written my fair share of fiction, and today I wanted to share with you a character development technique that I learned from a fiction-writing class and that helped me create better characters for my fiction.

The One-Sheet

The first step of this character development technique is to write up a one-sheet for each main character, starting with your protagonist and expanding to include any character with a recurring role or any character who is important to a single episode. Essentially, if the character is given a name, you probably want to write up a one-sheet profile.

Each one-sheet includes as much information as possible about the character’s background, even when the details aren’t shared in your web series. When was your character born? How did he or she grow up? How does your character react to stressful situations? What does your character like to do on the weekends? Is your character healthy? Fill up the profile with details, details, and more details. Then, when you think you’ve written enough, add more details!

The Secret

Next, take a look at the one-sheet you wrote and give each character a secret that makes sense.

In life, we all have secrets. Even very innocent people have secrets. Maybe your character shoplifts. Or maybe he or she has a bank account the spouse doesn’t know about. Maybe your character cheats on his or her diet. You can make the secret as big or little as you want. If your character is likely to have several secrets, focus on the secret he or she finds most important and is least likely to tell anyone.

The Telling

Lastly, you want to write a quick scene where your character spills the beans. What would possibly get your character to tell someone else his or her secret? For a character who is pretty innocent, this might be as easy as admitting it to the person behind them in line for coffee. For someone more secretive, the answer might be that they tell someone while on their deathbed.

Again, this secret and the scene where they tell it do not have to be related to your web series at all (though it might give you some good ideas). You can get as detailed or be as vague with the scene as you want; just make sure you think it through. What would your character really keep secret and why would he or she ever tell someone?

What Have You Learned?

After completing the exercise, think about what you’ve learned about your character. You can incorporate this into the rest of your story to make a more realistic, cohesive character. For example, when I completed this exercise for a character in one of my short stories, my character was a mother who kept very little secret – other than the fact that she often got very bad headaches sometimes and was too afraid to see a doctor. This led me to thinking about how mothers, like the one in my story, often take care of themselves last and although they can seem superhuman at times, they have fears just like the rest of us. I incorporated what I learned into the story and it was much stronger than my first draft.

I hope this exercise helps you with your own character development. If you give it a try, leave a comment below letting me know if it worked for you!

Top Advice for Video Creators from IAWTV Award Winners

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IAWTV sponsored an awesome video track at NMX 2013, and after the conference, they also hosted an awards ceremony for web TV content creators. NMX sponsor .tv got a chance to work the red carpet, interviewing some of the nominees and winners.

But in this case, the question wasn’t “Who are you wearing?” Instead, correspondent Mark Yoshimoto Nemcoff asked these top content creators to share their very best tips for up-and-coming video creators. Check out what pros like Kristyn Burtt, Grace Helbig, Goldie Chen, Chris Hardwick, and Tim Street had to say:

Many winners and nominees at the IAWTV awards were actually speakers at NXM 2013. Want to see their presentations? You can get all of the conference recordings as a premium member of NMX University with our 2013 Virtual Ticket. Learn how to sign up here.

Occupy Conan: A New Level of Community Interaction for Television or a Lame Stunt?

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When we talk about video and new media, we’re usually talking about web series. But I think we would be wrong to ignore the ways traditional television shows and networks are also finding new and interesting ways to connect with their online audiences.

So, last night when I was channel surfing and happened upon the very beginning of Conan, I knew I had to blog about their “Occupy Conan” show today.

For “Occupy Conan,” the producers posted an entire episode of the show online and asked users to submit videos of their favorite parts, being as creative as possible. They then stitched together the video submissions in small blips to recreate the entire episode. Submissions included clay-mation, live action with green screens, puppets, videos from celebrities like Tina Fey and Joel McHale, and even an homage to Stick Stickly. At some parts, they showed the real show in a split-screen action, but most of the time they simply showed the user submissions.

Through the entire episode, Conan himself was live-blogging from the duel-screen app, available for download on his website.

Here are a few of my thoughts on this show:

The Good

  • This was an amazing idea to build community by making them part of the content creation process.

As many online content creators know, video is hard. Although many fell into the so-bad-they-are-good, some of the submissions were amazing in terms of quality. When someone spends that much time creating content for you, it really solidifies their fandom. Even people who didn’t create videos get the warm fuzzy feeling because the submissions are from “us” – the Team Coco community.

  • It encouraged people to watch the entire show.

If you were one of the people who submitted a video, you definitely watched the entire show to see if clips of yours were used. However, I certainly didn’t submit a video, but I still watched the entire show. Why? Several of the clips were really goofy. I wanted to see what they’d show next!

  • Pattern interrupts are good.

“Occupy Conan” was really different. I’m usually a “sometimes I catch it while flipping” Conan viewer, but this was so weird that I had to watch. Late shows are all pretty similar, so even though an entirely fan-created show was definitely a risky idea, doing something different is a breath of fresh air.

  • It was great promotion for their social sync app.

I bet a lot of new people checked out the duel screen app in order to see what Conan was live blogging. After every commercial break, he had a short clip promoting the app and talking about what they were doing.

  • If they do it again, it will likely be even better.

Now that people have seen one, I bet the next time, people will create even cooler stuff to submit. It’s a contest of sorts, since there’s only so much airtime and they can’t show everything. The bar has been set.

  • The episode is sure to get press attention.

Whenever you do something weird, you get attention from the press. I’m sure Conan will be heavily discussed over the next few days, and whether people liked the show or hated it, starting a conversation online, especially where people can debate, is definitely a major way to promote your show while spending no advertising dollars.

  • They used social media to keep the experience live.

Not only did Conan live blog the episode, but they also took the conversation to social media. The episode had its own hashtag, which was mentioned several times, giving fans a way to interact on Twitter. Creating an episode-specific or even just show-specific hashtag is something I think more shows need to be doing. Chris Hardwick announces a hashtag during each episode of The Talking Dead, for example, and it is a great way for fans to interact with one another.

The Bad

  • They didn’t receive that many submissions.

At the start of the show, they said they received “hundreds” of submissions. Now, to you or I, getting hundreds of video submissions might seem amazing, but Conan averaged 1.1 million viewers per episode in 2012, according to Nielson. That’s a huge community, so to receive only “hundreds” of submissions makes me think that that they didn’t advertise enough, didn’t give people much time, didn’t explain the directions well enough, or had some other problems. They should have gotten thousands, not hundreds.

  • This isn’t something they can do often.

It was a good idea, but it’s not something they can do every week. Once a year, if ratings were good enough, is pretty much as often as they can do something like this without it losing its appeal. So, although an interesting idea, it’s not one with a lot of mileage.

  • This was likely an expensive episode for TBS.

One of the appeals of late night talk shows is that they are relatively inexpensive to produce. Sure, you have to pay the host, but the set doesn’t change from week to week, and guests are there to promote stuff, not get paid. This show, however, undoubtedly took a long time to create because people had to sort through submissions and edit them together. Time is money, so I’m sure this wasn’t a cheap endeavor.

  • They missed an opportunity to credit fans.

As far as I know, there were no prizes for people whose clips were used. However, they missed an amazing opportunity to give a little prize of credit and encourage even more social media action. With each clip, they could have put the creator’s Twitter handle somewhere small on screen so that people could Tweet at and follow their favorites.

The Ugly

  • There were butts.

Not every submission was a winner, and I’m sad they showed that one. If you saw the episode, you know which one I mean. Talk about ugly.

My final verdict is that this was a great idea, despite having some problems. Did you see the show? What did you think of it? What would you add to my good/bad/ugly list? Was it great strategy for competing with web TV or a silly publicity stunt? What have you seen other shows doing to be more interactive? Let’s talk about it in the comments!

Image Credit: John J. Kruzel/American Forces Press Service

The #1 Best Way to Understand Your Audience—And Why This Matters for Your Content

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“The best way to understand the mind, the hopes, the fear, the dreams, the desires—everything that’s inside your clients, you’re customer’s brain—the best way to understand it is to actually be it.” – Dino Dogan

We often talk about creating a profile, an avatar of sorts, for your audience members so you understand who you’re creating content for. This is important whether you’re a blogger, podcaster, web series creator, or even business owner. If you don’t know who your audience is, it’s extremely hard to create content for them.

Click to tweet this quote!

At NMX 2013, Dino Dogan spoke on turning your audience into extremely loyal fans, and this is one of the topics he covered during his session. But he took a step farther. Don’t just think about who your customer is. Be your customer.

The NMX Story

If you’ve ever seen our NMX co-founder Rick Calvert speak before a keynote or if you’ve ever had a personal conversation with him, you might have heard him talk about why he decided to start NMX (previously BlogWorld). Rick was a blogger himself in the early 2000s and being someone who has always worked in the trade show and conference industry, he decided to attend whatever trade show or conference was out there for bloggers.

Except there wasn’t one.

Rick was astounded to find that there was no event out there to provide more education for bloggers and others in the new media industry. So, he decided to create one. This was the birth of BlogWorld, which has now evolved into NMX. Rick is his own customer, and this is one of the things that lends to the success of this conference.

Why Being Your Customer Matters

I use the term customer as Dino has in his presentation, but very loosely, to also not just mean people who are buying from you, but to also mean people who are doing anything you want them to do (read a blog post, listen to your podcast, etc.). You have to be this person to truly understand this person.

Creating an avatar is great, but it’s impossible to truly understand another person through research. You don’t understand what it’s like to be a mother until you’re a mother (or so I’ve been told…I am not a mother). You don’t understand how it feels to lose a loved one until you’ve experienced that loss yourself. You don’t understand the frustration of not finding clothes that fit if you’re someone who always walks into a store and finds several options.

And if you don’t understand what your customers are going through, what they truly feel, you can’t do the best possible job creating content or products for them.

Over the past two(ish) years, I’ve watching the freelance writing industry change drastically from what it was like back in 2005-2006, when I first started writing online. At that time, it was very easy to find content writing jobs. To make ends meet as a recent college grad, I wrote about everything from lawn care to oil rig jobs. Today, those jobs are nearly non-existent. Why? Because people realized that someone who doesn’t own a home with a yard can never truly write a great article about lawn care, no matter how much research she does. At least not compared to someone who is passionate about that topic.

Become your customer if you aren’t already. You’ll be amazed at what you learn and how that affects your decisions.

More from Dino

Being your own customer was just a small piece of Dino’s 2013 NMX presentation on insane loyalty. But the good news is that you can still attend the session virtually, even if you missed attending live in Las Vegas! Become an NMX University Premium Member and you’ll get access to our complete 2013 Virtual Ticket, which includes a recording of Dino’s session, along with sessions from hundreds of other speakers!

Quick and Dirty Video Production

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From writing a script to lighting and sound, recording with the built-in webcam on your laptop, editing, production and post-production with Apple’s iMovie, award-winning speaker Dave Taylor demonstrated every step needed to create your first YouTube-ready video during his session at NMX 2013. We had the pleasure of seeing Dave’s workshop yesterday at NMX. Here are some of the highlights from his talk:

  • “You don’t need to invest yet to get started.”

iMovie comes preloaded for free on Mac computers and Dave fully explained how to use this free software for all it’s worth. From tips about shooting footage to best import options and title and transition tips, Dave explained all the options and best practices for creating a quality video. He then went on to put together a video in front on the attendees, demonstrating exactly how to implement the topics he covered.

  • “There is nothing that you can come up with that can’t become interesting.”

Anything, even the most mundane topics can become an interesting video. The key is presenting it in a fun, engaging way. Make a story out of a seemingly uninteresting topic to capture viewers’ attention.

Dave also shared many easy tips about recording and editing throughout the entire session, including:

  • “Really focus on looking at the camera, not the screen.”
  • “Shorter is better than longer.”
  • “Do something engaging.”

Did you know we have tons of bonus content from the show being uploaded everyday? Head over to NMX University to see videos, livestreamed keynotes and more.

About Dave:

Dave’s been online for over thirty years, during which time he’s founded four startups, published twenty books, and earned both an MS Education and MBA. He currently writes for a wide variety of online publications and produces how-to and marketing videos for a variety of clients, including Intel, Kingston and TrackVia. Find him online at DaveTaylorOnline.com

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