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11 Tips To Look Good In Live Videos

More than 10 billion videos are viewed daily on Snapchat, more than 200 million videos have been broadcasted on Periscope and more than 100 million hours of video are watched daily on Facebook. Here’s how to look a little better on camera.

I hate being on camera. I am a very expressive speaker, so I make weird faces. I get self-conscious about my off-kilter nose (broken twice). I let my nerves get to me.

I mean, my claim to fame until 2014 was that I had never taken a selfie! Those days may be long gone (even this post is #selfiecity), but I still don’t enjoy being on camera.

But last week, I had the opportunity to be interviewed live for Mojocon’s YouTube channel. I said yes, took a deep breath and tried to smile. Here’s the video:

But, I forced myself to watch the video, and (surprisingly) it didn’t send me into a self-loathing shame spiral like I’d expected. Dare I say at moments that I was actually proud?!? Of course, there are things I would do differently if I had the chance, but we live and we learn.

Whether you’re being interviewed in a big way or just hopping on Periscope, here are some tips to look a bit better on camera.

Position Yourself For The Best Light

The brightest light available should be in front of you during your on-camera appearance. No one likes to look tired. No one likes to look old. No one likes to look like an Oompa Loompa. No one likes to look like a Smurf. Enter, good lighting. Not only does it make you look more awake and brighten your skin, but positioning yourself so the brightest light (preferably natural light) falls on your face also reduces unflattering shadows and strange colors.

You should also limit any distracting bright lights behind you—especially windows that will reduce you to a silhouette.

Pay Attention To Your Background

Although the goal is to be so engaging that your audience only pays attention to you, that isn’t the reality. People are going to look at your surroundings. Make sure they aren’t seeing anything unseemly. Can they see the bathroom through your hallway? Are your coworkers goofing off behind you? Does your office look like a tornado just ripped through? Is there sensitive or private information visible anywhere? Or, in my case, is my pig calendar or Twain Buddha artwork going to be a distraction?

Although it might be tempting to find a blank wall to film against, the best broadcasts have something mildly interesting—but not distracting—in the background.

For the Mojocon video, we were fortunate to have the beautiful and interesting Aviva Stadium. Although it might look we should be talking soccer stats, it was a subtle background that still provided a strong sense of place—the event was, after all, at Aviva Stadium!

Resolve Latency Issues

Every Sunday, I video chat with my four sisters and my mother. Every week we take screenshots of each other frozen in strange poses and send them in our group chat after the fact.

Although I would trust my sisters with even the most unflattering pictures, I’d rather limit the possibility of that happening when broadcasting to total strangers. Your best bet against this is to resolve latency issues before you start.

Use an Ethernet connection instead of WiFi if you can. Turn off any programs—even auto backup things like DropBox—that may be running in the background.

Watch Your Angles

Very few people look good from a low angle. Our faces look wider. Even the thinnest of us look like we have slight double chins. Not to mention, it can look intimidating to your audience.

Instead, position the camera/webcam/phone at eye level, or slightly above eye level. I know my best angle is from slightly above eye level with my face angled slightly to the left.

To find your best angle, look back at your profile photos. These are likely the photos of yourself that you’ve most liked. What do they all have in common? Chances are, this will lead you straight to your best angle.

Make Eye Contact

One of my personal pet peeves is video chatting with someone who is multitasking. I may not be able to see (or even hear) you type, but I can tell by your eyes. I can also tell when someone is reading notes they have slightly off-camera. Or, when someone is watching themselves on their own screen.

I’m not suggesting intimidating or even continuous eye contact, but establishing consistent and comfortable eye contact early on is helpful.

Sit (Or Stand) Up Straight

Bad posture will make you look self-conscious, so do as Mom always told you: sit up straight and roll those shoulders back. Some people recommend standing while on camera to keep you energetic. Do whatever works best for you.

Wear It Right

Although I’d recommend wearing whatever you feel confident it, and, for live broadcasts, just running with what you have, there are some things that tend not to look great on camera. For example, stripes can make you look wider and bold patterns can be distracting and look messy. I’d suggest keeping it simple with subtle solid colors.

Do Your Hair & Makeup

We often look washed out on camera, so amplify your blush and lipstick. I usually go one or two steps beyond what I’d be comfortable wearing out in public. If you have naturally oily skin (or men who are bald), consider blotting before and applying translucent powder.

Your hair can also make a difference. I usually go for all down, or half down. Although I love a good ponytail, even the best messy pony either looks like a total mess or way too tidy. Leave that slicked back hair look to the 2014 runways, where it belongs! And, of course, minimize frizz.

Rest Your Face

If you watched the video above, you probably notice that after the first question I inexplicably acquire the most unflattering duck face of all time. Damn! I wish I would have remembered this one.

Even in calm conversations, I’m a very expressive person, talking with my hands and showing you exactly how I feel about something with a furrow, a frown, a raised brow or a smile. Keeping my face—and body—calm is a challenge, but one that I really want to overcome so the duck face dies with that broadcast. #Weird.

Speak With Confidence

Whenever I get nervous or embarrassed, my neck and chest tend to turn red. It’s a super obvious tick—that’s why I usually wear crew neck shirts on camera! Although your nervous tick may not be as visible as mine, even things like speaking faster or in a higher pitch, or having a shaky voice are dead giveaways.

I promised myself I wasn’t going to focus on video or audio quality in and of itself, but I wanted to mention this one because it also is a matter of “appearance.” These nervous ticks can hurt your credibility and cause distraction.

As simple as it may seem, take a deep breath and stay calm. If you find this to be difficult, read on.

Realize Nothing Is As Bad As It Seems

When the anchors asked me that question about how my class has changed over the past year, I went blank. I sat there for what seemed like 30 seconds trying to formulate an answer, until I finally came up with the brilliantly generic answer I shared in the clip above. It was this moment that made me most nervous to watch the video afterwards. But when I made myself watch it, I realized what felt like an eternity was actually only a couple of seconds. Whew! Redemption for duck face, I thought. I had blown it way out of proportion.

After day two of the conference, I was at dinner with a couple photographers and I mentioned my crooked nose and how I hate being on camera. But even with their trained eyes, they said they couldn’t tell (or they were lying, but I choose to believe them).

Our own flaws seem so obvious to us, but others probably don’t even notice them. In a weird way, it’s almost as narcissistic as it is self-conscious. To think others pay SO MUCH attention to us that they would notice such minor flaws?

So, just let it go. You mess up? Lose your train of thought? You make a duck face? Acknowledge it and move forward. Life goes on, my friend!

About The Author

Hey, I'm Sarah!

I love teaching small businesses and solopreneurs to create better content and incorporate cool tech and tools into their content marketing machine so they can get better results in less time. After all, isn't that what content marketing is for?

Connect with me on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn.

9 Ways To Generate Traffic Without Building More Content

Just because you're too busy to blog doesn't mean your blog has to lose momentum. Here are 9 ways to generate traffic to your website without building new content.

I’m not sure if I’ve ever been busier than I am right now...which is why I’ve only posted one blog in the past few weeks. I’m making an international move, speaking at MojoCon Ireland and am booked up with a handful of exciting training sessions.

So, it’s been difficult to sit down long enough to write a super useful post, but I have just recently been inspired by my own insanity. Sometimes life gets in the way of building new content, but it’s sucks to lose momentum as followers unfollow, website metrics go down and your brand starts fading into distant digital memories.

During these past couple of weeks, I’ve struggled to come up with content to share without making anything new. But, as the busyness subsides, my creativity is coming back to me! Next time life gets crazy, I’m absolutely going to do these 10 things to maintain traffic and top-of-mind.

Curate The Content Of Others

Although this doesn't brand YOU as well as original content would, it still allows you to provide value to your audience. From sharing helpful stuff on social media to curating newsletters and whitepapers, simply save stuff as you come across it.

My favorite method right now is saving content from Pinterest, Twitter, Reddit and Feedly to Buffer. When a post inspires action that I don’t have time to take immediately, I save it to Pocket and add it to my to-do list on Asana later.

It’s also a great way to establish good will and get on the radar of ideal audience members and your awesome idols, which brings me to…

Partnerships: Formal Or Otherwise

These days, everyone is talking about formal affiliate plans to cross promote products and services, but not every partnership needs to be formal. Sometimes a simple give-take relationship on social media can go really far. It’s also a wonderful starting point for guest posting opportunities or podcast appearances when things or a little less busy.

Multiply The Content You Already Have

Chances are, you already have some awesome content. Turn a tip into a shareable image with Pablo or Canva. Clip a quote out of a video to share on Instagram or Vine. Turn a top 10 list post into an infographic for Pinterest or a Slideshare. Take some of those outtakes and turn it into a behind-the-scenes video. There are plenty of ways to breathe new life into your older content.

Create An E-Book From A Series Of Blog Posts

Chances are you have a full series of helpful blogs already written. Turn them into a list overview blog post with a download link for your e-Book. You could even sell it on Amazon, BookBub, Book Gorilla and AppSumo.

Original Social Content

Just because you don’t have time to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard doesn’t mean you don’t have tons of tips floating around in your head. Hop on Periscope of Facebook live to give a mini-webinar.

Take it a step further by giving your followers an exclusive link to one of your related content upgrades, too.

Guest Blog Posts

If you’ve invested some time into 1 or 2, you have some relationships you can rely on. Ask people you respect for guest blog posts, or solicit them on social media.

Just be sure you have a way to "add value" for them. Maybe choose people who are 1 or 2 steps behind you but have a brand that jives with yours (without competing directly) and ask them to share their insight.

Guest Interviews

In my opinion, this is perhaps even better than a guest blog post because it only takes 20 or 30 minutes to provide a lot of value—and it’s a smaller commitment for your guest, so you’re more likely to get the ‘yes.’ You can post it to SoundCloud as audio-only, or record the video and post it to YouTube, as well.

You even have an easy content upgrade—a transcript! And it might not even take you any of your own time to create it—the app, Rev, charges $1 a minute to do transcribe for you. You also have the bonus distribution from your guest. Easy peasy lemon squeezy!

Expert Round-Ups

Take to Twitter and ask 10 experts what their favorite app, tool, tip or quote is. Take 20 minutes to fill in the blanks, pull together bios from their Twitter profiles and post it to your blog. Not only was it exceptionally simple, but you’ll also have 10 more people to share your blog when it’s complete.

(And, you've established some new relationships for options 2, 6 and 7.)

Post To Communities & Forums

Take time to answer peoples’ questions on Facebook groups, Twitter chats, Reddit and Quora. You’ll help people by briefly sharing your knowledge, and (depending on the rules) you could even link to previous posts that are directly relevant.

About The Author

Hey, I'm Sarah!

I love teaching online business bosses to create better content and incorporate cool tech and tools into their content marketing machine so they can get better results (more traffic, more customers, more money) in less time. After all, isn't that what content marketing is for?

Connect with me on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn.

11 Steps To A Smarter Facebook Video Strategy

Are you sharing your videos on Facebook the right way?

Create less, promote more.

That phrase coined by content marketer Salma Jafri causes anyone with a commitment to good content to cringe--I completely understand that feeling. BUT, it also has a lot of wisdom to it.

Maybe it's not that you should be creating less, but instead that you need to realize for every piece of content you create, you have to commit a significant amount of time to get it into your audiences' hands.

You're producing this content for a reason, whether that be to ask for donations for a good cause, raise money for your business idea, or sell your product. If people aren't seeing it, they can't do what you want them to do, and video's super ridiculous awesome conversion power is wasted.

So let me ask you something...

Would you ever record someone reading an article on camera and post it as a video? Would you copy and paste article text into InDesign or Canva, add a background and a border and call it an infographic? Of course not!

Most content producers know that each medium has different benefits, best uses, and requirements.

For example, an infographic works best when you have lots of stats or a workflow to visualize. And video works best when you have compelling visuals, need to build trust with an audience, or want to interact live.

So, we produce our content right, only to make a big mistake that severely limits our reach, engagement and conversions. We post the video to our site and share that link on every single one of our social platforms, usually with the exact same text teaser and thumbnail.

But not all social platforms treat video the same way.

In fact, it’s almost stunning when you start drilling down how different each platform is! So, why would you treat each social platform the same way and waste the potential of your video?

So I give you my first post in a series of posts that will teach you how each social platform treats video, and how to make the most of it. This week? Facebook!


In January 2016 alone, there were more than 9.1 million videos uploaded directly to Facebook by 1.7 million different creators, generating more than 212 billion views. More than a year ago, users were uploading more video hours to Facebook than YouTube.

All these stats are crazy impressive, especially if you consider that Facebook wasn’t even a destination for watching videos just a couple short years ago.

If you’re ready to post your videos directly to Facebook, or simply do it more effectively, be sure to follow these simple rules.

1. Upload your videos natively.

To get to where they are today, Facebook has made it posting original videos natively very worthwhile. Here are three reasons you should absolutely be posting your videos directly to Facebook (in addition to YouTube).  


Videos uploaded directly to Facebook will automatically start playing in your friends’ and followers’ newsfeeds (unless they’ve disabled it in “Settings”). For a platform that has become the place to post still photos, the extra activity can be extra-appealing by comparison.

Increased Organic Reach

Video has an organic reach of 8.7 percent, according to a study by Socialbakers, compared to 3.7 percent for photos. That means for every 100 fans, almost 9 of them will see a video post, while only 4 of them would see a photo post.



They Look Good

Sharing a YouTube link on Facebook isn't pretty.

These days, Facebook is making it straight up suck to post videos directly from YouTube. Say you share a link to a video hosted on YouTube. On your timeline, it will appear as a small thumbnail with a tiny “play” icon (which already sucks), but when that link shows up on your friends’ newsfeeds, it gets even worse—the play icon is gone entirely.

To combat this, some YouTube loyalists started uploading screenshots of the video and providing the link. But even then, you’re missing out on the autoplay benefit bestowed on native Facebook videos.

2. Post content people want

Like any other platform, there are specific types of people Facebook users are more inclined to watch. Of the most watched Facebook video creators, there are some trends in the types of videos being produced, liked and shared.

Three of the top 10 most watched Facebook video creators were Buzzfeed channels, which often feature “listicle” videos and short tutorials. Other popular creators focused on news, food and anything/everything funny.

3. Keep it short.

Even though Facebook will allow you to upload videos up to an hour long, that doesn’t mean you should. You want people to make it to the end, so they can take you up on your awesome call-to-action.

Most videos do NOT need to be longer than 2 minutes. If yours is, you’re probably trying to cover too much. Pick one thing. Take the second idea you’re trying to talk about and make another video, if you want. Do what you can to keep your video short.

4. Use an active and eye-catching clip first.

You might have static video shots or even still photos in your video, but that first shot should absolutely catch your viewers’ eyes so they realize it’s a video and are more likely to turn on the audio and engage with your content.

5. Add a descriptive title slide.  

Visuals can be extremely compelling and emotion, but audio drives your story forward. Even if you have an awesome intro clip, consider adding a short text slide with a description, or often, the first sentence of my video (which should usually be pretty illustrative of the video, anyway).

I do this first because I want people to have an idea of why they should want to watch my video and secondly, so they don’t miss out on important information from the start. 

6. Follow the rules.

Facebook is pretty generous in video types and lengths it will support, but here are the quick details:

  • File requirements: Facebook supports almost all video file types, but recommends mp4
  • Maximum length/size: 60 minutes, or 2.3 GB
  • Supported aspect ratios: horizontal, square and vertical videos

7. Don’t forget the text.

Just because you’re going visual means text goes out the window.

Be sure to include a text teaser with your video post to intrigue people to turn on the audio and engage with your video.

This is also a great place to tag people and brands who helped create your video, starred in it or are in some way relevant to it.

8. Choose a custom thumbnail.

Even though Facebook’s autoplay feature might seem to make thumbnails less important, thumbnails are still vital for reaching people who (for data-saving reasons) may have turned off the autoplay function, or people who want to look at ALL of the videos you’ve posted.

Facebook videos can also be embedded on sites now, so there you have it. Three reasons you still need to take the time to choose a custom thumbnail.

9. Utilize Facebook’s call-to-action feature

Seriously. You’d be crazy not to. Video is one of the highest converting mediums. People who watch a video are often looking for “what next?” So, what do you want them to do? Share? Visit? Donate? Buy?

To do this effectively, not only do you have to define your goals for your video from the outset, but you also have to anticipate the frame of mind your audience will be in after watching your video.

For example, if you post an emotional video about children who lack access to clean water, what will your audience be most likely to do? Buy a branded t-shirt for the campaign? Donate money to make a difference? Spread the word? Put yourself in their shoes when you’re choosing that call to action.

On this same page, also title your video using important keywords and relevant tags.

10. Choose a video to feature.

Despite space online being essentially free, prime real estate is still hard to come by. Facebook allows users to feature a video in the lefthand sidebar of their page, along with other vital business information.

Take advantage of this by featuring your most popular video, newest video, or “About Us” video. Regardless of what you want to promote, don’t let this space go to waste.

11) Pay attention to the right numbers.

Facebook considers a “view” when someone has the video on screen for at least 3 seconds, and does not require that the person turn on the audio. YouTube “views,” on the other hand, are estimated to count only after about 30 seconds.

With those numbers in mind, it’s important that you don’t see the difference in views and assume Facebook rules and YouTube drools. Beyond those views, calculate what percentage of “viewers” actually engaged with your content. That will be a much more valuable measurement! 

Facebook also offers some other valuable metrics, like 30-second views (how many people watched your video for 30 seconds—or to the end, if your video was less than 30 seconds long) and autoplay versus click-to-play comparisons to show you how many of those viewers actually clicked on your video to watch it.

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Maybe you're spending $3,000 for a professional to produce your video, only to get 200 views. Maybe you're putting your own heart and soul into your work to see it go nowhere.

Maybe it's your video, but maybe it's your promotion strategy.

You can't post the exact same link and teaser on every social platform and expect them to work equally in your favor. You have to do some of the hard work yourself. Your job doesn't end when you hit publish. In most cases, that's only the beginning.


About The Author

Hey, I'm Sarah!

I love teaching online business bosses to create better content and incorporate cool tech and tools into their content marketing machine so they can get better results (more traffic, more customers, more money) in less time. After all, isn't that what content marketing is for?

Connect with me on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn.

Steller: From Storytelling App to Social Network

steller, storytelling, app, mobile storytelling, multimedia

For the past few weeks, I’ve been lucky enough to have some time to travel around Spain, Portugal and Morocco (which explains my lack of blog posts—Sorry!). Even though I might have been taking a StoryLab break, I certainly wasn’t taking a break from storytelling, and continued to post my adventures on Instagram and Steller.

During my last week, in Barcelona, I produced two stories, one about the city’s largest open-air market, La Boqueria, and the other about the street art of one of the city’s oldest, artsiest and most culturally diverse neighborhoods, El Raval.

While my story on La Boqueria received a few dozen likes, my story on El Raval received 157 and was ultimately featured on the front page of Steller’s site! We’ve all heard the old philosophical thought experiment, “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” As with many questions of philosophy, there isn’t a straight answer. But, when applied to marketing, the answer can be heard loud and clear. If you broadcast a message, and no one hears it, it’s as though the message never existed in the first place.

Although storytelling techniques (like a diverse range of media types, context for images and videos, and overall creativity and quality of storyline, which I will say were much better in El Raval) are always important, social media success can be made easier or more difficult (Ahem, Facebook) by the social network itself.

Steller began solely as a storytelling app that relied on its users posting their stories to other social networks to gain traction and an audience. But over the past 18 (or so) months, Steller has re-envisioned itself as a social network in its own right. In my experience, Steller is best used for stories in the realm of travel, food, fashion and art, but I’ve also used it for historical pieces, behind the scenes sneak peeks, and pre-promotion for larger future stories or campaigns. Steller is far smaller than similar artsy competitors, like Instagram, but has a tight-knit and committed group of users.

Steller’s Tagline: “Everyone has a story to tell. Tell yours with photos, videos and text, all right from your iPhone.”

Here’s what I think Steller has gotten right in helping its users feel engaged and create a sense of community:

The Democracy of Discovery

Remember when Facebook made it very difficult for business pages to succeed without paid posts? You won’t find that kind of pay-to-play model on Steller. When a story starts to gain traction, Steller will share the story on its front page, or add it to collections, such as “Places,” “Food + Drink,” “Style” and more, regardless of a user’s past success, likes, or followers. On Steller, there’s nowhere to input your credit card information; it seems the believe the good stuff will rise to the top. Based on my own surfing, they might just be right!

“Marketing is like sex. Only losers pay for it.” —Original Source Unknown

Social Network Integration

In Steller’s early years, the app relied on other social network sites for distribution. So, it should come as no surprise that the ability to share your stories in a very attractive way on other social media networks is incredibly easy. Steller even has a collection titled, “Featured on Instagram,” because they realize their success isn’t measured only by the amazingly supportive group of Steller users. Users will also want to share their stories to a much broader audience, like on Instagram or Twitter. This also means that people with stunning Steller stories will be sought out on other social platforms by other Steller users.

If you broadcast a marketing message and no one hears it, it’s as though the message never existed at all. A good story can help your message get discovered, but a strong network is also important.