The Business Case for Video



Catherine McCord
Hetal Jannu

Moderator: Stacy Morrison

Catherine: I had a TV background and worked on a TV show starting at 20, and ended up as a food blogger by accident. I started my mom-focused blog, and made homemade purees for my son. I was blogging for a few weeks and my husband suggested I video. My husband shot it, which was a great plan but 3 weeks later we didn't do anything. So I ended up paying $99 for Apple classes and learned how to edit week after week at the Mac Store. Someone at the store said I like your videos- I'm a director. And now we've been working together for 6 years.

Hetal: Hi everyone! I work with my partner and video together, both of us have children who had just started full time school and had time to do anything we wanted to. I had a finance background and found it hard to jump back in. My husband said why don't you show people how to cook on video? I seriously laughed at him. I never had any experience, but all I needed was that encouragement from him. And I'll show you the video to see how you can start. We've been doing this for 6 years and get 45,000 hits a day.

Stacy: I'm the Editor in Chief of BlogHer and oversee video projects. I am so excited for this panel, these two women have so much to share and have been around for a long time. I'll have them start by introducing themselves, but to go into it: why did you go into video in 2006? I'm so interested in how you jumped in so early.

Catherine: Yeah, people can find photographers or videographers on Craigslist.

Stacy: Talk about what video has done for you. For Hetal it became your primary expression and Catherine its help you grow.

Hetal: When I go online, I see a million recipes. Video has helped me put a face behind the recipe. Your face gets recognized more and you are your own brand ambassador. I get recognized everywhere now- we were in Key West and a car drives by and they recognized me and took pictures with me- you know who would have thought? I was in finance sitting behind a desk to now, people emailing me from all over the world and it’s an amazing feeling

Stacy: Talk about how to expand your brand.

Hetal: Indian food is a small niche market, and it’s great to find that little spot and you’re filling a need that’s there. But there’s a whole world out there and you don’t want to limit yourself. So we started with Indiana but we expanded to Thai, Mexican and Italian- but we put our own flair to it. People come to respect and trust your recipe, because you have your own spin and people trust you and know it will be worthwhile for them.

Stacy: Catherine, tell us about the audience growth.

Catherine: When you think about video, you're building a strong emotional connection to your audience. You can write, but when your audience sees your face and hears your voice, you've created a bond that helps people coming back. Second is your brand- everyone here is their own brand. Whatever you want your brand to be and how to monetize it- video will offer you opportunities in brand strength. And financially, when you monetize your brand, video is a thick lucrative layer to what you've started

Stacy: That comes from sponsored posts- you worked with Odwalla, and I think those things are so interesting. I think a great place to start is what are the mistakes you made in the beginning. They brought their first and more recent videos. What are your little nuggets of advice?

Hetal: Both of our husbands helped us and they got their cameras out and said ok film. That was the first mistake- by the second or third week we fired them. You have to find your voice, the learning experience we had was that we didn’t know where it would go. We thought it would be a teacher-student format because there were two of us. It didn’t work- because it made one of us as a nitwit- and if we do it long term we both needed to be the "teacher." So find your method of delivery- if that means practicing different ways to deliver your content, and then do it.

Catherine: I started Delicious, and for 2 years I didn't do any advertising. I was loose-goosey- I wasn’t making any money for a long time. Now I have 230 videos just for delicious, and had to go back and make sure each one was tagged for SEO and on YouTube and make sure everything is well done because you’re a brand. YouTube is the big shot- you have to be on it.

**Shows videos**

Hetal: I don't want to go through the whole thing because it’s so embarrassing- but I wanted to bring this video- we came such a long way. We didn't have a lot of sound equipment, the lighting and format are horrible, and we are horrible because we didn’t know what to do. We started off on YouTube and then went on our website. So when people searched Indian food we got a lot of great feedback. This lets you know that you can start anywhere, and will go up from there

Stacy: Something they did well, they broke it up with other things. People will only watch 10-30 seconds and then get bored. But breaking to multiple shots, it’s not so sophisticated, but changing it up helps keeping your viewers. Graphic screens are great, having music in the background is great for pauses in the video and those are tips I learned from Blog Her.
So let’s show where you are today

**Shows video**

Hetal: I feel we've come a long way. We now have great sound equipment and lighting- you want to see that avocado and want the viewer to hang on everything you're showing. We have two cameras, one close up and one front shot. It’s a matter of learning how to edit- we do everything- we recipe research, edit and film ourselves. We use Sony to edit. We have a remote control with the videos. It’s amazing what you can do with no one else in the kitchen. The lighting is a box light- everything is about the food, so the overhead light lights the top.

Stacy: Box lights are great for seeing every detail and softens the details- its everything you want and more. Lighting is where the magic is.

Hetal: Video on the internet- the shorter the better. When we started, we say all the ingredients- but now as we add ingredients we talk about it and save a lot of time.

**Shows Video- Delicious**

Catherine: That’s horrible. We're so pulled back, I don’t have a Mic, you can’t see me or hear me, can’t see the food. We can go on and on but why not just flip ahead.

Stacy: And again it’s not terrible- so really just begin

Catherine: I shot a before and after- we used simple lights- its $120 from Amazon. I do 3 types of videos so these are just for Delicious. Anyway here’s the second one

**Shows Video*

Catherine: The first had no mic, the second had bad lighting, and the third lighting is better. At the end of videos have a Call to Action- don't forget to subscribe and leave a comment below. I have 2 million views but less subscribers. Subscribers are very important. We upgraded our box light sets, with your videos- just add more, mics and lighting. Now I have an overhead camera which is a small investments- it’s great.

Stacy: It’s like a gateway drug.

Hetal: You have a great advantage to start in video now. We didn’t have BlogHer or anywhere to get tips, so we had bad videos. But if you know what you need to buy you can produce fabulous videos from day one.

Stacy: Questions?

Audience Member: Catherine, you said you have 3 types of videos- can you talk about that?

Catherine: I do Delicious videos, and now creating videos for different brands, and I just shot my cookbook videos- again just having a book trailer. Half of the videos go on YouTube. Some brands don't want YouTube, and others will go up. Vimeo is another place you can upload videos.

Audience: Something that scares me is people are really seeing your face, house, and kitchen- you can get negative feedback. Have you experiences it?

Hetal: We get comments on our videos about our hair or clothes- at the end of the day you have to grow thick skin and get over it. You won’t please 100% of the time- some people will love you and others are trolls, but don’t let them affect you. It’s not always rosy, but 95-97% of feedback is A+, and 3% with negativity, we don’t even respond.

Catherine: I’ll say the crazy of the crazies are on YouTube. Get a lot of MILF comments- I don’t even let my husband read the comments anymore. Just take it with a grain of salt, you’re doing this for you and your audience- and YouTube is where it has to go.

Stacy: YouTube is a swimming pool and cesspool. I had a book about my divorce, and some people were saying really mean stuff. But I realized that the people who needed my book were being reached. They may not comment, but they’re getting it. Just keep going and put out your content with a clear vision.

Catherine: This has been fascinating. I’ve been deep in the analytics- I made videos for moms and my biggest traffic is 13-19 year olds and a lot of college kids. Cooking is cool now for kids. Parents let their kids watch YouTube and cooking is a safe place- keeps that in mind too.

Stacy: Brings up a good point- you don’t choose your audience, your audience chooses you. You started with Indian cooking and then expanded- you can have an idea of what makes your voice original, but don’t need to know your audience right at the start and set yourself free and what do you want to deliver.

Audience: How long does it take to set up all the lighting and mics? And do you have tips for wardrobe, hair and makeup?

Hetal: The way we have our schedule, we have kids who leave at 8am and come back at 3pm- you are cooking for the world, it’s not just for the food it’s you as a source of entertainment. So look presentable. The equipment is not a lot of time. For us it takes a long time to perfect the recipes. Filming is valuable time so we make sure it works before.

Catherine: Kids out the door, gosh yeah. When I shoot we try shooting at 9am and have an assistant who comes and cooks the end product. I have my film guy who sets up and edits. It’s the 3 of us and we shoot up to 12 videos a day within 7 hours. If you're just starting- be gentle with yourself. You can do 1-2, but when you get better at it, we just go. As for hair and makeup- I try to look different and buy $4.99 shirts from Forever 21 so I look different.

Hetal: You do want to look different; we shoot 4 videos a day, 3 days a week. We schedule the videos far apart so you don’t have to change every single video.

Catherine: I highly recommend, if you do a video once a week or once a month- do it on the same day and time so people can expect it.

Stacy: You guys have your wardrobe as consistent- there is a way to think about the visual imprint. You can do environmental curating. When it comes to makeup, I realized on the Today Show, that if I applied my makeup the way I do usually as 3 layers- then it will look good on camera.

Audience: Have you done media training- I’ve done one or two videos and I’m horrified to look at myself.

Catherine: I did media training when I was 19 and felt so forced. The beauty of what we do now is that it’s natural. Pretend the camera is your friend- be goofy if that’s who you are.

Stacy: Be gentle with yourself. I used to really be stressed about it being on TV, because I was on maybe 4-5 times a year. Watch it with simple things but not a critical eye. Take away the criticism and just learn from how you act. Because it is weird to video yourself and then watch it.

Catherine: Do you remember the Jamie Oliver videos where he would have a conversation. Maybe you can do it with someone sitting there to take it out of your head.

Hetal: The first time you see yourself on video it’s weird, but to everyone else you just sound like yourself.

Audience: I want to know about monetization about videos and your success and how to achieve it.

Hetal: When we started, the first month on YouTube we made 25 cents. It takes time, not overnight success. If you build an audience with subscribers who expect your videos- the more videos on a regular basis the more revenue goes up.

Catherine: As your library grows, the more you have. I have two video players on my site.

Sstacy: We have more than 95 million women on the blogs collectively, and what BlogHer did- we were swimming upstream- we distributed video blog like ads on the sidebar, which wasn’t helpful. Secondly, bloggers couldn’t monetize and didn’t want it on their blog. YouTube gave millions of dollars to 120 groups, none of them turned into functioning shows. If you search YouTube partner failure you can read why it didn’t work. The distribution is the X factor. You had a great product and moved consistently and slowly. The growth on your blog was natural and consistent

Catherine: I syndicate my library to Disney, Scripps, etc. and can make money that way too. For everyone- keep your focus narrow because there are more and more production houses that are looking for new ideas. Doesn’t always have to be videos for your site.

Stacy: Video is kind a mess, lots of content that is not being distributed effectively. Some industry report was that 17% of video is getting well distributed. But there are tons of opportunities for syndication.

Catherine: I was just creating tons of content. The companies found me organically. I was putting them up weekly and kept it narrow.

Stacy: Lots of people's jobs now are just to scan YouTube.

Audience: Can you speak about the branding size- how important is quality content vs. audience numbers?

Catherine: It’s really both. No one is going to watch if you if it’s not good and too long. But now people want volume. It doesn’t help if you have 6 videos.

Audience: But I have great content, but not necessarily a lot of audience.

Stacy: Either it’s a RevShare or PreRoll and don’t care what your audience numbers are. Scripps has a new product and amassing lots of content.

Catherine: The fact is, you’re not going to make that much for the amount of work going in. But it’s an investment. It’s all a continued investment. I partnered with Kin network and am female focused. Ellen DeGeneres is their biggest commodity. I do videos for them- Father’s Day, etc. We tag each other in the videos. We’re working together to get numbers up. These channels help each other out- and my subscribers have been going up tremendously.

Audience: Where should the focus be?

Catherine: I go for my passion, I think it comes from different places in different ways and figure out which partners are right for you. And I met with someone last week and they just want new fresh faces. It’s like dating- it’s about figuring out who is right for you.

Audience: I work with Urban Spoon and we want more videos. I get a lot of bloggers pitching me- what are some of the pieces that you need to build partners?

Stacy: It comes from 2 directions- talent with built audience, which is likely to sell to sponsors. Sponsors spend money on Sponsored video, which can do it in an authentic way. Second way- who is an amazing talent, and then try to partner and grow together. In the beginning, you don’t make a lot of money. It’s about can you make a successful business venture.

Catherine: I think the presence itself- there is so much value. And making it look good. Don’t have bad looking videos.

Audience: Assuming you have good content- what’s the natural progression for monetizing? And what are some basic metrics you can give how much money you can make?

Hetal: We don’t rely on one source for our income on the videos. When we put something out on YouTube it’s all on the website we partner with Blog Her and other advertising companies to utilize real estate on our website. We noticed there are trends; some companies have better results in different parts of the year.

Catherine: It’s a time commitment. Call them up- and ask about your rates. Contacting the companies you want to work with and tell them what you're about and they will give you love back.

Audience: About producing content- when you create recipes, how much is motivated by the video?

Catherine: For me- this changed. I used to make whatever I want to make or reader driven. But it also goes back to YouTube- I go and look for top 10 recipes people search for and make those videos. Often now that’s how I’m doing it.

Hetal: We do the same thing, if you’re familiar with Indian cuisine- just because you’re making the best recipe doesn’t mean anyone will find it. If you’re interested in monetization think about keywords and throw it in there so you’re found.

Stacy: Talk about keywords, tagging and SEO- how do you decide what to do for that?

Hetal: We have a list of 20 keywords that are tagged on every single video- Indian cooking, my name, etc.

Catherine: Look at tagging as a big pie. Every time you add another word you’re taking away from the time. Be really specific to what your video is about. YouTube will give 4 extra words on the bottom- and think about what people would type to search. Titling is really important that it has everything. You want it to say chocolate chip cookie recipe delicious cooking for kids- because Google will find.

Audience: Would you recommend releasing video every week or more as hoc?

Hetal: We guarantee that every week there will be a new video because it builds subscribers and fan base. Being consistent is important.

Catherine: For subscribers on YouTube or on your Newsletter- I know that on let’s say Sunday Fun day- I look forward to that. It becomes part of your reader’s routine.

Stacy: I think of it as building speed bumps. We're going to be launching Logs for Mondays and Fridays because it’s easy for people to pick up the cues.

Catherine: It's commitment- it’s full on. Video is so time consuming. Under my videos I have all the social media tools right underneath- you want your video followers to find you wherever you war.

Stacy: People are looking a lot on mobile, and Google mobile optimize and things will sort out. Make sure your buttons make. And package your content to solve people’s problems.

Catherine: 55% of my traffic comes from mobile. People watching videos on their phones.

Audience: I wanted to know about best practices for managing your YouTube page.

Catherine: I had to go back and put all videos on YouTube and did whatever tag. But I went back and made a conscious effort for every tagged word. For strawberry fruit leather- how to make strawberry fruit leather, recipes for kids, delicious. When someone looks through videos- have an easy call to action that will get someone to click on your video. With YouTube, I took pictures for each video so it’s the actual recipe so you can see what the finished product is. You should have a picture not a screenshot- it looks better. At the end of my videos you can add in annotations to subscribe.

Hetal: With video, it’s not optimized. There’s no text in the video. Next the video there is a small paragraph of how to describe the video. That’s what the search engines pick up.

Stacy: That’s what Google spiders pick up.

Hetal: When you add in words that are helpful and carefully placed, it gets picked up.

Catherine: Peoples time is so precious, so be specific about what you’re giving them. Subscribers are precious- that’s where you get monetization. You want your views and subscribers to reflect each other.

Audience: What success do you see with a recipe video or a video without recipes- more lifestyle videos?

Hetal: When we take a vacation, I took my camera with me and did food from different countries. I wasn’t making a recipe but showing what is going on- that went over really well. I have 45K subscribers who know for recipes. But they like those videos too- you are a form of entertainment, once they accept you they will watch you.

Catherine: I’ve helped my girlfriend with creating videos. Sit down and write 20 things you want to do and make videos, and knew the mission of the series. She is literally sitting on her couch; she has lighting and didn’t have to spend a lot of money. You can do a gardening video from beginning to end- and subscribers are just your real value.

Audience: In terms of lighting, sound, etc. My kitchen sucks though- are there other tips for people who don’t have the best set to work from?

Stacy: I think you don’t need the whole kitchen set. You can do a video that is all just the food that is beautifully lit. Just because were used to seeing the kitchen, you don’t have to do though. Look at your space with new eyes, and think about where the lighting is best. You can always add and edit yourself. Take yourself away from your idea of what a video should look like. I worked in magazines for 22 years- think about how to re-package everything.

Catherine: It’s all about the re-editing. I work with a producer, and she shot these kids videos totally different than I would have thought. You fall in love with her personality and she was really successful. It’s all about the creative out of the box way to edit.

Stacy: I'm creating a video contest for Blog Animation- and think about stop-animation. You can draw in whatever you want and think about the interesting graphic things you can do in video. I love the Shit White Girls Say videos- she does amazing graphic things. She'll shoot a video and take everything out but captures every fourth step- she has that chalkboard thing. Look around on YouTube and think about what you can do.

Hetal: Chef Jon on YouTube, you never see his face just his hands working and he’s fabulous.

Audience: Have either of you explored Vine or Viddy and what success you have in it?

Catherine: I’m starting a new thing.

Stacy: Were doing a contest about doing a calling card in 6 seconds on Vine.

Catherine: Someone always tells me just use your iPhone and videos and puts it up.

Audience: So you use YouTube and then use Ad Pre-Roll? And also syndication: is that the major way to distribute content?

Stacy: You can also sell sponsored video, but that’s a whole other can of worms.

Catherine: That’s about hiring a production company; it’s a lot of money. Delicious videos cost $50-$100 per video. But when you’re a brand, you’re getting into thousands of dollars. It depends on what you’re doing. Either keeping budget low for myself, or if someone else is paying for it.

Stacy: SEO Appetite- is part of Fresh Bites blog, you can page through days and days of popular search terms. It gives you a sense about what people are searching for. You were an amazing audience, and thank you Hetal and Catherine- can you believe the knowledge these women have?