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3 Videos You Can Make (Without Being On Camera)


Some people really hate the idea of being on camera. For people who don't crave the limelight, appearing on video can feel more like a prison spotlight.

Believe me, I hear you! I, too, don’t enjoy being on camera very much. Despite that, I’ll grin and bear it, hopping on Periscope (@SarahRedohl) most weeks for mini webinars and being a “face” for StoryLab when I need to be.

But for a lot of video newbies, the idea of appearing on camera is enough to make them never try video at all. And I think this is the wrong way to approach things.

Yes, it’s super easy to shoot a Twitter video reply, hop on Periscope or shoot a “talking head” expert video. But there are other ways to create video content without the need to put your face in it. Here are a few options.

'Hand-imated' videos

I don’t literally hand puppet videos, necessarily. I just mean a video in which your hands are the only cast members. These are just as easy—if not easier—as hoping on Periscope! All you need to do is have a concept. One brand that uses these types of videos a lot is Google.

Want to go behind the scenes at Google? Follow the adventures of #NatandLo →

Posted by Google on Thursday, July 23, 2015

Paper cut-out videos

They print out images (that of course they have the rights to use) and basically use them to illustrate a story, like this one above.

Other times, they’ll just write out a story on a white board or a piece of paper:

White board videos

To shoot a video like this, all you need is to write out your storyboard and decide the best way to tell the story. Prepare your materials, set up your camera facing directly down on your “stage” and record your story and voiceover on your Smartphone. Of course I suggest using a microphone if you have one available (even if its just the mic on your earbuds).

Since you want to keep your videos short anyway (about a minute or so), it will be really easy for you to repeat your video a handful of times and choose the best take.

The act of just doing the video a few times and choosing the best option will save you loads of time trying to edit everything together from bits and pieces of video clips.

Estimated time, from story concept to clicking ‘Share’: 30 minutes

Animated videos

These videos require NO filming. None. You can create one with nothing more than a story to tell.

There are also all sorts of resources that make production super easy for people who’ve never created an animated video before in their lives.


(Or PowToon, Moovly, or Animaker)

Probably the most well known video animation option is GoAnimate. Using the service is exceptionally easy.

You can add text, icons and charts to illustrate your point without ever picking up a camera and clicking ‘record.’ The GoAnimate library comes with a handful of pre-built templates, customization options, and thousands of icons, so you can really make each video your own.

They offer a 14-day free trial to the service to see if it works for the types of videos you want to create. After the two-week trial, GoAnimate costs $39 per month, but if that’s too steep for you, there are a ton of other options.

PowToon is a free option, but there’s also cheaper options like Animaker and Moovly. I’ve used GoAnimate and PowToon, and while I like GoAnimate’s interface better, I do think $39 for the benefit of a prettier interface is a little much.

The best option? Create one animated video in each before you decide which star to hitch your wagon to. If, after it all, you don’t choose a favorite, you’ll still end up with four animated videos to start sharing!

Adobe Voice

This is a super sweet app you can use to create animated videos on the go. Although the amount of information you can put on one video slide is limited, the interface is so easy to use it’s perfect for beginners. It’s so easy most people may not even need to write a storyboard before getting started on production.

Simply choose the type of story you want to tell and narrate your story sentence by sentence, choosing one or two of hundreds of available icons (or your own original photography from your phone) to illustrate your points.

In just a few short minutes, you’ll be able to explain abstract ideas quickly and directly, using just your phone (and hopefully a microphone if you're narrating)!

Estimated time, from story concept to clicking ‘Share’: 20 minutes

Photo slideshows

Another option to add some motion to your social feeds without appearing on camera is to turn your photos into a photo slideshow. This is a great media type to show off an event or other photos that may not necessarily tell a story on their own.

Often, you may not even need to narrate the slideshow; you might just be able to add some music and you’re done!

With more than 100 photo slideshow apps, you’re sure to find one that has themes you like and a simple workflow.


I’ve used Flipagram, Animoto and PicFlow, but Flipagram is probably my favorite for the control the app gives you over changing layouts, timing, music and narration (and it’s free).

Estimated time, from story concept to clicking ‘Share’: 10 minutes


Even if you hate being on camera, hopefully these three ideas will give you enough of a push to get started with video. If you do, I think the benefits you’ll see will make you see how worth it video can be!


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.


14 Ways to Generate Better Content Ideas


Here are 14 tools to help you generate content ideas that are based on science, social proof and metrics, so you can deliver your audience the content they really want.

 Google “Creativity is like…” and you’ll get a lot of encouraging results.

“Creativity is like a muscle. The more you use it, the more it grows.”

“Creativity is like a flower. You can make it bloom by giving it positive affirmation.”

“Creativity is like a tap. The more you turn it on, the more it flows.”

For anyone who is under the constant pressure to be creative, that sounds like a bunch of crap. In my opinion, this quote is much, much better:

“Creativity is like washing a pig. It’s messy, it has no rules, no clear beginning, middle or end.”

In my own words, creativity is like a squatter. It arrives unannounced. It might stay for a minute or a month. And you can never seem to reach it once it’s gone.


For people who constantly have to be creating original content, creativity can be mentally and emotionally draining. So, rather than approaching creativity like it’s a muscle, a flower, a tap, a pig or a squatter, I choose to approach creativity like a scientist—giving myself an outline to follow that will definitely give me some good ideas to get started with.

To approach creativity like a scientist, there are a few “laws” you should follow. You need to discover a problem, ask some questions, do your research, ask an expert, and measure your results.

Discover A Problem.

Being able to isolate and anticipate your audience’s pain points—the problems they’re facing—and provide solutions through your content is probably the most effective content strategy.

Reddit & Quora

See what sorts of questions people are asking about your industry on Reddit and Quora.

Look at the top questions on Quora and Reddit to see what people need help with. If you have a more specific idea, these are also great places to ask people about their problems. (What do you find most frustrating about _____?)

The only problem with Quora and Reddit is that they define your audience to a specific topic, not a demographic. For example, not EVERYONE who cares about video will be my ideal customer. For that, you have to go social.

quora screenshot.jpg

Facebook, LinkedIn & Twitter

Check out related Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups and Twitter chats. See what questions people are posing, and answer them in your own blog posts.

My favorite method is by using Twitter chats. I spend a great deal of time on Twitter Chats that my audience hangs out on, find people who are my ideal demographic, look at their profile and see what blog links they're sharing. From there, I have a running list of blogs that my niche follows and I look at the comments. What questions do they still have after they've read the post? Not only do I get ideas from their questions and comments during the chat, but I also get ideas from their comments on the blog itself.


Visit Amazon and look at products similar to yours or books related to your services and read the reviews. Because there is SUCH a variety of books, you can really niche down.

You can look at the type of book--does its branding convey anything about its target demographic? Then, you can also look at who's commenting. Man or woman? Old or young? People often give some context of their own experiences in their reviews, too. Do they fit your ideal customer profile? If so, what complaints did they have about the book? People often talk about what they wish the author had included more about. Bingo, more ideas for you.

Ask Some Questions.

You don’t have to be an island. Oftentimes, the easiest way to generate content ideas is simply to ask your existing clients or customers a few questions.

Ask Your Customers

I’ve done this using surveys after providing one of my training sessions, informally over coffee, or sending out personal emails. Rarely has anyone turned me down cold. Most people answer at least one or two questions.

Plus, a secondary benefit of asking people you actually know is you can send them the link once your blog is posted. Not only did you produce a well-informed post for your readers, but you’ve also added value to someone who should be very valuable to you (a current customer).

Here are some questions I ask my clients (just replace content marketing with your own product or service):

  • What is the most frustrating thing about [content marketing] for you?
  • What was your main hesitation when deciding to hire someone to help you with your [content marketing]? What made you pull the trigger?
  • How does [content marketing] benefit you and your business?
  • What three things do you wish you knew more about [content marketing]?

Although the best blog posts are rooted in our customers’ pain points, we also have our own unique insight on what we do. So, it’s also important to ask ourselves some key questions. These questions can make excellent pillar content (content that provides a strong base for the rest of the content you’ll be producing).


Here are some questions you should ask yourself (just replace content marketing with your own product or service):

  • What questions do people always ask me about [content marketing]?
  • What are the top misconceptions about [content marketing]?
  • Why is what I do so important to my clients?
  • If people don’t do [content marketing], how might it hurt their business?
  • What are the biggest mistakes I’ve seen people make with their [content marketing]?
  • What often keeps people from taking action and hiring someone to help them with their [content marketing]?
  • What are some current trends in [content marketing] that I might have insight on?

Do Your Research.

Spend some time to discover what is already trending. With today’s analytics, it’s easy to find what content is already resonating with your audience. It’s important to add your own spin to each topic, but it’s a great place to seek some scientific inspiration.


Search your keywords on BuzzSumo to find the most popular blog posts on any topic.


Google Trends

Use Google Trends to look for what people are searching for. Set your location, time period and category, or look for specific search topics.

Social Media

Look at trending content on the social media platforms your audience hands out on.

Ask An Expert.

Blog topic generation tools can also be useful. You will certainly get some duds, like this one, “How Nostradamus predicted GIFs. No, really,” (which I may yet find a use for), but you’ll also generate some attention-grabbing headlines.


HubSpot’s Blog Topic Generator is one of the best to find some topics that each blog should probably cover about their niche at some point or another.


Portent’s Content Idea Generation Tool will give you a bunch of funny headlines that play off pop culture.


Measure Your Results.

As you continue to produce and publish original content, it’s very important to measure your results to make sure you’re getting enough of a return for your investment of time.

To do this, you first of all have to isolate your goals. What are you hoping to achieve with your content? Try to dig deep on this. Your first instinct will likely be to get more followers or to build your list, but you need to get to the root of your motivation. For most of us, this means increasing our income. How will your content efforts increase your income? And how will you measure your success?

Be sure to tell me your favorite ways to come up with awesome content ideas in the comments!


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.

The Right App for the Job

camera, android, tutorial, video, smartphone, video smartphone, content marketing, mobile storytelling, videography, storytelling, audio, apps, applications,

There are almost a million apps available in the App Store, alone. Then, throw Google Play and the Android Marketplace, and we're far above the 2 million mark.

With that many options, finding the best app for a job can be really difficult. You might have to try out a handful of camera apps before finding one that has all the features you want. And, if you're new to iPhoneography or any sort of mobile media production, you might not even know what to look for.

One of the top questions I get is, “Which app do you recommend for this or that?” But, I don't have a set answer. Even if I find an app I like, a software or app update could make the app unsuitable for my needs overnight. Maybe there's a feature they've removed, or a compatibility glitch between app and device. And sometimes, the good old apps can become irrelevant as people put better apps on the market. So, instead, I'm going to share three posts this week outlining the top features you should look for in a camera app, a photo editing app and a video camera app.

Tomorrow, camera apps. Stay tuned! We'll be here all week.

The Five Keys to A Killer Video

cinema fv 5, android, tutorial, video, smartphone, video smartphone, content marketing, mobile storytelling, videography, storytelling, audio, apps, applications,

The main reason people tell me they don't make videos, even if they're doing all sorts of other multimedia right is that they don't know where to start. Usually right after that, they ask, “Well, what should I have in my videos?”

I usually tell people there are no special ingredients for your video, beyond making sure to make a call to action clear. At the end of the video, be sure people know what they're supposed to do. Like you on Facebook? Visit your website? Buy a new service? Donate to a cause?

Beyond your call to action, a video can tell all kinds of story ideas.

#1 Story

How many times to videos with terrible quality make it to the top of viral video charts? A cute dog or kid video might be taken vertically with a whole lot of shaking (usually from too much laughing). If you apply humor, emotion, helpfulness or a story. Ultimately, all the stories we do aim to be genuine and authentic, and even enjoyable.

As time has gone by, the messages we've shared through video have adapted. Once, all we said was “Who,” like in the Bulova example above. Then, we started sharing who we were and what our products did. Then, we started showing you more about how they worked. And today, not only do we tell you who we are, what our products do and how they work, we also tell you why we do what we do.

#2 Sound

In videography, sound makes up 51 percent of the audience's experience. The sound IS the story. It propels the narrative forward. It creates a mood, gives great color to people and places and directs the audience's emotional experience, which is so important in audience engagement.

If an audience has to choose between shaky video and great sound, or poor sound quality and great video footage, they are far more likely to choose the video with great sound. They can always use their imagination to mentally construct the surroundings. Think about it. We have NPR pieces that create so much depth you feel as though you're there. But a photo without a caption gives us a very little bit of the story.

Secondly, even though you should always strive for good video quality, you can always use still images, animation, graphics and other visuals to fill in the gaps. There's no substitute, though, for good sound. It's also very time consuming, and sometimes impossible, to edit bad audio. And we want to keep video production as simple as possible to produce amazing videos for your business. Using a mic is a key part of collecting good audio.

#3 Visual Variety

The more variety of shots we have, the more engaged our audience is. The more engaged they are, the more likely we are to convert them to do what we want to do in that call to action.

To do this, we must rely on getting a variety of shots from a variety of depths and angles (more on this to come). Ideally, we shoot a handful of shots for every action so we can have enough clips so they don't have to be up on the screen too long.

#4 A Great Intro

More than 20 percent of people will click off your video within the first 10 seconds, almost completely missing your message and certainly missing your call to action. So, in these first 10 seconds, you need to let people know what they're going to get out of the video, whether that's a great story or a new skill. It also wouldn't hurt to frontload some of your best shots ;)

#5 Length

In videos, shorter is almost always better. I shoot for less than 30 seconds when I'm sharing things directly to social media, and I try never to go beyond 2 minutes. Peoples' attention spans are short and online they have a million distractions.

Even if you can't control the length of your video, faster pacing of your video clips can make the video seem shorter. Scientifically, fast cuts cause blinking, which improves visual stimulation and engagement. And with science behind it, that's something you can believe in ;)

So, if all else in your video fails, if you have a compelling story, good audio, variety, a solid introduction and keep it short, you're five steps closer to video success.

Zambia: The Week in Review

storytelling, zambia, nonprofit, storyup, 360 video, virtual reality,

In our first marketing makeover with StoryUp Studios, we headed to Zambia to teach the PET Project how to use iPads to tell the stories of the people they literally lift off the ground.

In the end, 40 Zambians who lack mobility were given hand-powered carts (an alternative to crawling, wheelbarrows and being carried, in most cases), we shot a 360-degree virtual reality video to show their experiences (more on that to come), and we taught the staff how they can keep sharing their amazing stories after we leave.

Check out these vlogs from throughout the week, all shot, edited and shared in under an hour using only my smartphone and earbuds. If anything should show that YOU are capable of this, these videos should! Got a free hour?

The first in hopefully many marketing makeovers for deserving organizations abroad that lack the money, time and training to share their stories of changing lives and changing the world for the better.

P.S. If you know of a deserving nonprofit organization, comment below!