Making a Technical Video for Personal Branding
Personal branding may start with your website or blog and flourish with certain social media, like beBee. But is that enough? Nowadays many experts in their fields opt for something more recognizable, something that helps them stand out of their often overcrowded field. Those people usually go for something like a book, because this medium has been around since the dawn of history, in some form. Of course nowadays it’s not as impactful, unless it transcends country borders or it has a recognizable name as its publisher. But when do you do if you don’t have the time or the connections to get such a book out there?
Enter technical videos, the medium of choice of the 21st century! I’m not referring to YouTube or Vimeo, where everyone can publish whatever they like with little or no concern about quality. Nowadays many (technical) publishers have a digital branch that tackles multi-media publications, such as ebooks, audio books, and lately, educational videos. These are usually made available online through a subscription model. One such publisher is O’Reilly, having the Safari aspect of it deal with all its online material.
Why Videos Are More Doable Than They Seem
Back in the day it took a specialist to create anything of decent quality, when it came to videos (and I don’t want to talk about the cost of such an endeavor!). However, things have changed now, as digital tools have become wide-spread and easier to use. With just a few days’ worth of training, you can now create your own video material that would take a trained eye to distinguish from the work of a professional. Also, for a technical video or tutorial, you don’t even need to do that much, since oftentimes a screen capture and a voice-over are more than enough to make something useful that’s also easy on the eyes.
Safari is full of examples of videos like that, most of which are contributed through various publishers, other than O’Reilly, after the pass a certain quality control. Of course, videos like that are rarely made using a smart phone, as they have a certain standard, which is why those who watch them are happy to pay for a subscription fee. Nevertheless, it’s clear that with platforms like Safari, publishing a video and making a brand out of your work is easier than ever.
If you are wonder whether or not you’ve got what it takes to make such a project happen, wonder no more. The main skills required for such a task are pretty straight-forward:
* Script-writing. This is like creating the text for a talk or a presentation, but with emphasis on succinctness, while also having in mind that the text needs to accompany some images, diagrams, etc.
* Some graphics. You don’t need to be a graphics designer, though if you know how to work an image processing program, that would definitely help. However, even standard slide-show programs, like PowerPoint, are enough to enable you to create the graphics you need for your technical video. Alternatively, you can do a screen-capture (specialized software required), or shoot a video of yourself talking, using an HD camera.
* Some audio recording. You don’t need to be a voice actor/actress to do this, as you just need to talk about what you are showing in the graphics, usually following the script you’ve already produced. In fact, this can be quite enjoyable a task, plus the processing you need to do afterwards is fairly simple.
* Some video-editing. Once you have produced all the material you need (graphics, voice recordings, video footage, etc.) you need to put it together to create a video. Fortunately that’s fairly easy, albeit a bit time-consuming if you are new to it. However, it’s the most creative part of the whole process and few things on the computer can offer more joy than when you push that “render video” button and watch your video come to life.
Naturally, a more artistic touch to the whole project can add a lot of value, but it’s not essential to get a technical video published.
Other Stuff Needed
What about other things, like promoting these videos? Well, usually the publisher does a very good job at that, since that’s how such a business makes its money. Of course, if you share the links to your vids on social media, that would definitely help, even if no-one would ask you to do so.
Another thing you may need is some specialized software. Fortunately, all of it has a freeware option, so you don’t need to buy anything in order to have the equipment you need (I assume you already have a computer). Besides, the extra features professional video-related applications have are too high-tech for most people, while the free applications out there are getting better and better.
Finally, you’ll probably need some guidance through this process, at least in the beginning, especially if you haven’t done this kind of work before. Fortunately, that’s not too hard to come by, especially if you are willing to learn and if you find this whole process enjoyable.
Where I Come in
I’ve been doing technical videos for about a year and half now, with very few breaks. In fact, according to recent statistics, I’ve contributed more videos to Safari than anyone else from the publishing house I work with. It must have been these videos that helped me qualify for an educational gig at the University of Washington last autumn, where I worked with some faculty and staff there to help upgrade their Python-based Data Science course. Also, these videos have helped me promote my other educational material (e.g. books).
My specialities are Data Science, AI, Cybersecurity, and Programming. So, if you are interested in doing a video in one of these fields, feel free to reach out to me. If your idea has merit, I’d be happy to help you out.
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