WebProNews has been producing online videos for years now, but we recently started doing the real-time live video thing, so this subject hits close to home for us. We quickly learned that the difference between live and produced videos is quite great.
While at SXSW last month, we spoke with Wayne Sutton who spoke on a panel about real-time video blogging. In the first part of the video (this is the produced version of a video we did stream live at the time), Sutton discusses geo-location for business opportunities, which is a great subject in itself, but the video stuff begins around the 2:40 mark.
Following are a combination of tips from Wayne in the above clip and some of our own.
8 Tips for Real-Time Video Blogging
1. It's less about quality, and more about opportunity
Quality is good, and it's certainly worth focusing on and improving upon when possible, but the fact of the matter is that live streaming gives you opportunities to break stories or get exclusive coverage you may otherwise not be able to get. At times this may be at the cost of other production elements. The on-the-fly approach doesn't always give you time to include aspects you might otherwise include. That said, you can always go back and look at your coverage and analyze how it looks. Look for things you can do better and address them next time if possible. This leads us to the 2nd tip.
2. Improve Upon the quality of what you can control.
Intros and outros are two things you have direct control over during a live stream. You're running the show, and this is one area where you can clearly look at quality and improve upon it. You can see what works and what doesn't, and keep that in mind for the next stream, as opposed to say a live interview that falls between the intro and outro, where you never know what somebody will do or say.
Other factors, such as the behind the scenes stuff are also in your control: what platform are you using to get your videos out? Is it providing a quality experience for viewers? Ease of use for you? Are you using the best equipment within your means? This brings us to the next one.
3. Be Prepared and Have the Right Equipment
While there does come a time when you if you're going to do it, you just have to jump in, you should do some testing before hand, and evaluate whether you have the right equipment for the job to meet your requirements for the quality of video you're looking to do. This may include things like cameras, mics, computers, phones, wireless access, etc.
Depending on what kind of things you are looking to cover with your videos, mobility may be a significant factor, and is worth giving careful consideration when going out to engage in said coverage. It may not be the most convenient thing to lug too much heavy equipment around.
4. Promote it Ahead of Time When Possible
This is common sense, but if you know you're going to be doing live video of a particular event, let viewers know before hand. You can attract a lot more viewers for a live stream if they know about it before it happens. Otherwise, you're going to have to rely on them just happening to be at the right place on the web at the right time. Give them some notice.
5. Pick a Topic and Be Consistent
This is really no different than blogging in general. Successful blogs stay (for the most part) on topic. Unless you just want people you know to read your blog or random visitors from scattered, but occasional traffic, it's a good idea to have some basic theme, topic, or niche that makes your blog a destination site for information and/or opinions regarding that topic. The same goes for live video blogging. It's going to be harder to maintain a steady audience if one day you have a good interview about search, but then you jump around to motorcycles, then to playing with your dog in the back yard, then to a clip about what you thought of the most recent episode of Wife Swap.
6. Take Advantage of the Real-Time Part
As the first point said, real-time video blogging is largely about opportunities. Doing video in real-time means you're putting out something that's happening right now. This is why it's a good outlet to be first with news if you are able to take advantage of such opportunities. You can get your content on the web really fast (nearly instantly - though in some cases there may be a slight lag).
7. Keep it Short
Unless you have something so compelling that it requires a long-form live video stream, keep your live streams brief. This isn't really different from non-live video. On the web, time is valuable, and the more information that is shared on the web, the less time people have to get through it all. If you can be brief, people won't have to leave in the middle. This will also keep a positive experience in their mind, and may encourage future viewing.
8. Consider Letting People Know You're Going Live
If you're out in the world looking for stuff to stream live, keep in mind that not everyone is comfortable with being on live video, and if you're going to stick a camera in their face, it's polite to let them know they're on live.
In the end, it's about balancing convenience, quality, opportunities and expectations. If you have other tips for real-time video blogging, we'd love to hear them. Please share them in the comments.