In the fall of 2011, the Write Place entered a competition to win a $5,000 grant in the Dream Big Grow Here competition. Our dream was to use the money to sponsor a book contest—we would publish the winner’s book, free. As part of this process, we created a video to let people know who we were and why we wanted to win. The Write Place owner, Carol Van Klompenburg, wrote the post below about our first foray into video. We hope this will be useful to others who want to try their hand at video creation.

When The Write Place entered the Dream Big Grow Here competition, we had never made a YouTube video—or even considered doing it.

But when contest guidelines recommended creating a video, we went for it. Even though we’re not technical wizards, we found the process manageable. Perhaps our steps might inspire or help you. Here’s what happened.

  • We wrote—and rewrote—a script. The final version was one-third the length of the original—and therefore more interesting. Shorter was also easier to memorize.
  • Because we didn’t have video-editing skills, we planned a video that didn’t need splicing. It could be filmed non-stop in just one take.
  • We planned the set, advised by a friend who runs a casting studio. Among the things she told us: keep the background simple, coordinate our clothing with the set, and avoid white in clothing or surroundings—it’s an eye magnet. We covered the white table with a blue cloth.
  • We borrowed a flip-video for recording, which we soon discovered was a great choice. It was easy to use, and the files transferred to computer easily via USB port. We started a YouTube account. Since I already had a Google account, it took just a few clicks—and a little on-screen hunting—to add a YouTube account to that.
  • We uploaded the video to YouTube:

With our connection, upload was time-consuming. It took 45 minutes. The unexpected also happened; we enjoyed the process! Our continuous-run strategy produced significant outtakes and bloopers that left us laughing at ourselves. Once we had a respectable version completed, the pressure was off, and we decided to try splicing together an outtakes version.

I downloaded Windows Moviemaker, found it user-friendly, and started splicing—condensing the footage to the shortest possible running time:

We used the link to our outtakes version as one day’s entry in our social media campaign. We’ve heard significantly more comments on the outtakes version than on the original.

One caveat: The process was very manageable for newbies, but time-consuming. By the time we finished, we had invested more than 25 hours.

Neither video has gone viral; we didn’t expect them to. But as I write this blog, YouTube tells me that 346 viewers have watched the videos since we uploaded them a week ago. That’s 346 more people who now know about our business—definitely worth doing.

Thanks Dream Big Grow Here team, for challenging us to go beyond our comfort zone! I’m already wondering what other video we can create—and I’m putting a flip-video on my Christmas gift wish-list.

Carol Van Klompenburg
The Write Place

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