There’s nothing like a Chicago summer. For three short months, the Windy City comes to life with beautiful weather, crowded beaches, hip street festivals, and a renewed sense of city pride. But as they say, all good things must come to an end…
In a few short weeks, my summer will be over and I’ll be heading back to Harvard for my junior year of college. These past few months have been a rollercoaster of invaluable experiences for me. As the summer intern at Demo Duck, I was involved in a wide range of tasks — from helping with client outreach and pitch decks to managing social media platforms and fine-tuning our website. But you might be wondering what drew me to Demo Duck in the first place. Well, I knew I wanted to work in video production because for the past few years, as I had already been making videos in my free time.
It all began in high school, when I began writing, producing, and directing for my school’s “TV show”: a 15-20 minute montage of sketches and shorts aired weekly during homeroom. I recorded bits as the host of the show; I wrote and co-anchored Wednesday Update (our parody of SNL’s Weekend Update); most importantly, I filmed a dramatic reality TV series about my school’s librarian with my best friend (aptly titled The Librarian). What was originally a way to procrastinate schoolwork had turned into a passion for writing and video production. At the end of high school, I created a YouTube channel where I posted my favorite videos to share with my friends. Little did I know, my YouTube career was just getting started.
My freshman year of college, I posted a dorm room tour on a whim that ended up garnering more than 600,000 views. I’m certainly no Keyboard Cat, but I did gain a fair amount of subscribers and a renewed passion for producing and posting videos more regularly. Now, with over a million channel views across fifteen videos, I’d like to think that I’m slowly creeping my way toward influencer status.
Although my time at Demo Duck wasn’t my first experience with making videos, it was my first glimpse into the world of creative business video production. Throughout my time here, I’ve learned many valuable lessons to take with me throughout my career, and there are some in particular that I can apply to the world of YouTube as well. So whether you’re looking to create a video for your business or you’re just interested in becoming the next YouTube influencer, enjoy these lessons that I’ve learned about how to make the video production process the best it can be.
Embrace the Brainstorm
In the past, when I’ve felt like creating a YouTube video, I’ll pick a popular type of college video (a dorm tour, a day in my life… anything that simulates the college experience) and just go for it. And while they might turn out to be high quality and even become popular, I’m not sure that I really feel creatively satisfied because I just pick the first idea that comes to my mind and go with that. No longer!
At Demo Duck, I’ve been able to sit in on brainstorms for various clients, and I’ve learned so much from the process. Brainstorms are essential for determining a video’s framework and strategy, and they allow the team to collaborate on concepts and develop each others’ ideas. Most importantly, brainstorms allow you to hone in on a specific concept you want to emphasize in a corporate video. It’s now clear to me that simply taking the time to outline a concept and jot down a few ideas (even without a team like Demo Duck’s) will result in a higher quality video because it will be clear how and why I chose the idea for my video.
Consider Targeting and Metrics
I’ll be honest here. Am I frustrated that The Librarian series only has a few thousand views? Of course. But sometimes, the videos you feel proudest of are the ones with the least number of views, and that’s fine–particularly if you aren’t looking for any action to be taken during or after the videos. Working at Demo Duck, I’ve come to realize that high-level statistics like views are a lot less indicative of success than value-based metrics. In the explainer video world, that can mean a purchase or someone signing up for an email list, but for me, it means subscribers. Everyone’s metrics goals are different, but I’ve realized that it’s more important to me to drive channel growth than obsess over the number of views on a video. I’d rather have viewers who continue to come back for more than lots of one-time watchers that don’t want to stick around because that creates sustainable growth.
Demo Duck has also taught me to think more critically about my audience. Who are you making videos for, and what do they want to see? Listening to your audience is a crucial step in the video production process. Luckily, YouTube makes it easy to listen to your viewers through the comments section, which can offer direct insight into their thoughts. It’s essential to leverage your social media platforms to listen to and stay connected with your audience. That’s the first step in creating content that they’ll actually want to engage with.
Staying On Schedule
As a college student, procrastination is a daily challenge. With all sorts of assignments, midterms, and extracurricular activities happening non-stop, it can be easy to put making videos on the back burner. When I arrived at Demo Duck, I was amazed at how the producers were able to manage so many videos effectively. But it isn’t always easy. I’ve learned that sticking to a video timeline can be critical for the success of business video production because, without one, your project can easily lose momentum.
When I make videos for my YouTube channel, I often delay post-production because of other commitments and eventually and lose momentum on the project – and the end result may suffer (or never happen!) Sticking to a schedule can help you stay engaged and put out your content in a timely manner.
Working Outside of Your Comfort Zone
If you look at my channel, you might notice a few common themes… lots of “Harvard” and typical college-related videos. Like I mentioned before, I’ve just intentionally been trying to make typical college videos and they’ve still been popular. But when I watch YouTube videos on my own time, I find that style trite and frankly a little boring. Working at Demo Duck, I’ve realized effective and successful videos don’t need to be typical, serious, or dull–in fact, making them unique and giving them some personality can make them much more successful.
Some of my favorite Demo Duck videos (the Crohn’s and Colitis Pediatrics video, for example) tackle serious topics in a fun and inspiring way, making them all the more effective. As an added plus, making videos unique and distinctive is a great way to avoid feeling burned out, something a lot of content creators often experience. I’ve tried to give my videos hints of my personality, but I want to do a better job pushing myself to be innovative and creative–it just might pay off.
Bringing It All Together
So there you have it. While the YouTube influencer and business video worlds may seem like they’re very different, there are actually quite a few common themes and overlapping lessons. Ultimately, all of these lessons intertwine to contribute to a successful, gratifying video production experience. If you use a brainstorm to come up with unique and creative videos that you feel passionate about, it can help you feel motivated to stick to your production schedule and can improve your most valued metrics. It won’t be easy, and it won’t happen all at once, but testing out different video ideas and distribution methods are the best ways to go because you never know what you might discover.
Like Chicago summers and this blog post, my internship at Demo Duck is quickly coming to an end. I owe a big thank you to the Demo Duck team for such a rewarding summer and their warm welcome into their inclusive, supportive, vibrant team. And while you’re here… don’t forget to like and subscribe!