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Smartphone Video Gear for Less Than $100

It’s that time of year again - everyone is shopping up a storm for friends, family, co-workers, etc…and with video continuing to grow in popularity, it make sense to showcase gear that’s on my radar (full disclosure: some I’ve used, some I haven’t…but, I’m religious about reading reviews, and wanted to pass all of my research on to you)!

All of this gear is for folks using their smartphones to step up their game! And yes, each piece is under $100! Oh, and full disclosure - if the product is sold on amazon, I’ve included an affiliate link at no additional cost to you, if you want to give me the kickback of like, 5 cents or whatever. ha!



Ok, here we go:

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  1. Handheld Video Grip

The more you make videos, the more you realize…your arms get tired! I’ve heard a LOT of rumblings about this rig, and how it’s great for folks producing a lot of handheld smartphone video. But, remember: keep those elbows in, that will make your picture way more steady! The cool thing about this grip is that it also comes with space to clip on a light, or mic.

Also, another cool thing about this rig is that it’ll be easier to shoot on the fly, because the handles have a bluetooth button for start/stop. Great for events!

2. Ring Light (stand included)

Ohhhh la la, does this look great. Lighting can be terrifying when you’re just starting out - but this piece is going to make you shine. I know it’s $99, so, right on the top edge of the price point for this post - but, it looks worth it. What stands out to me, is that the bulbs have two different color temps. Which, is huge - because most other cheaper ring lights require that you manually put on a separate filter, no fun. It’s also dimmable, AND has a tripod FOR YOUR SMARTPHONE. Talk about all in one! Boom.

Keep in mind, this is going to be awesome for desktop video blogging! Nice even light on the face. Good stuff.

Hi, it's Erica :)

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3. Rode Smartlav+ mic

If you’ve read my blog in the past, you know this is a repeat from last year…and for good reason. Mine is still going strong, and I beat that thing up! It’s reliable, and literally plug in and use, easy as that. Also, recently - the mic on my iphone has been sounding like crapola, but if I plug this little baby in, it’s alllll crystal clear.

Keep in mind…if you have an iphone with a lighting port instead of a headphone jack, you’re going to need a little adapter like this:

The only downfall with this, is that it IS pretty short…so, you might want to get one of these extension cords with it as well!

4. Pico Dolly

A dolly will add really smooth movement to your video, as long as you’re on a smooth surface. This is great to show different angles for product videography, or - to give your audience a different perspective at an event, conference, around the office, etc…

So, what does it look like to use a dolly? Here is a video I shot with Ellen - you see how the cam is going back and forth? That’s a dolly track :) It’s basically the hefty version of the little guy I’m recommending.

And there you have it - a few pieces of gear to help you UP your smartphone video game, in a quick and easy way. What other fun tools have you been using? I’d love to hear more in the comments.

If you want more tips like this (I’m not gonna spam you, gross), feel free to sign up for my newsletter.

And, if you haven’t already registered - I’m giving a Mobile Video for 2019 Workshop on December 6th!

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Thanks again for reading, stay awesome - and keep puking rainbows!

Erica Hanna
Owner, Puke Rainbows Creative
Speaker, Director, Producer
MInneapolis, Minnesota

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How to Relax on Camera

We've all been there...the camera flips on, BOOM - we freeze.  What is it about the lens that makes us lose our cool?
Here are a few tips to help ease your nerves on camera! 

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1. Forget the Script
All too often I see people trying to memorize WORD for WORD what they are going to say. Unless you are in a highly regulated industry, this is a huge no-no. Especially if you are talking about something you LOVE. A script is the fastest way to take the life out of your voice and make you sound like a scared robot. Instead, try...

2. Using Bullet Points
Keep the bullet points close to the camera. Make sure they are big enough to read and in your sight line, this way you have jumping off points - but, won't be concentrating on reading something you already know! 

3. Get Silly
Alright, stay with me here...this may sound weird, but it's gonna work. On your cue sheet with the bullet points, about halfway down - tape a photo of something that ALWAYS makes you smile. It will remind  you to relax, and to...

4. Pause
My mentor, Don Shelby...always said, "Silence is more compelling than the word, "um"." This is SO true. The best speakers I've seen purposely work pauses into their presentations and videos. He would always joke, "People always expect something profound after a pause! Half of the time I'm just trying to remember what to say...but, if I do it as I look around with confidence, it looks brilliant!" 

5. Tell a Story
Too often we try to "craft" the perfect "soundbite" - and then we lose the passion in our voice. Think of an example to illustrate your point, work it into the bullet points sheet, and let your imagination take you to that place. Use action verbs like, "As I was walking into the building I thought...." and it will actually tell both YOUR brain AND the VIEWERS brain, that you are physically moving. Which, calms you down naturally. Fun trick, eh? Wow, our brains are cool.  

What tricks do you rely on to relax on camera?
I'd love to hear any other tips, and I'm sure everyone reading would, too!

Also, want to get better on camera, AND with live video? Your timing is perfect :) 
Next week (Feb 22nd) I'm teaching a workshop to help with just that! See the link below, or click here before tickets run out :) 

Thanks for reading! Stay awesome and keep puking rainbows :) 
Erica

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What Should You Wear On Camera?

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"Nooooo....I don't know what to wearrrrrr...." is the most common response I get when I'm the bearer of the fabulous news that they are the lucky one that is going to be on camera. It's usually followed by a rush of panic, asking about outfit after outfit. But, when it comes down to it, when you're dressing to be on camera, you need to keep it simple. Here are a few rules to go by:

1. Wear something comfortable. 
   (no tugging)
A lot of people will go out and buy a brand new outfit for the shoot, then sit down in it for the first time when they get to set. That's a no-no. Wear something you feel comfortable and confident in, it will show on camera! Avoid shoulder pads or really tight shoulders, because they will rise up when you sit down. And don't forget to think about what colors you look good in. 

2. What looks good on camera? 

Avoid really tight patterns, dots, and pinstripes - long story short, they mess with the camera and can be very distracting. Also, avoid straight up black and white - because it's a bit of a lighting nightmare. The safest bet is bright, solid colors, or classic, bigger patterns. 

 



BONUS: Bring options! I always tell people to bring at least three clothing options, because you never know if you are going to show up in the same outfit as someone else, and you want to make sure you have something that pops off the background! For example, winter in Minnesota can be brutal...so wearing white outside would be a no-no, blues are soothing to the eye, and red equals power. Thing about what you want to convey, and go for it! As long as you feel like a million bucks, you'll look like it, too! 

THANKS FOR READING, EVERYONE! 

 

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DIY Video vs Hiring a Professional (Updated January '18)


Here is a video update with where I stand on DIY vs hiring a professional crew. Not a lot of changes, but - I do have a suggestion for figuring out if it's worth it for your org! 


(original post from Feb, 2015 is as follows)

In January I had the privilege to sit on a panel with some amazing video experts in the Twin Cities, at Social Media Breakfast. We gave DIY tips, tricks, and resources to check out. We talked about the evil thing that is autoplay (in my opinion), and which brands we think are doing a great job when it comes to video content. But, we ran out of time before getting to one question.

"When should you hire a professional? When should you just do it yourself?"

Great question. Of course, being a professional that would like to work with you (hint hint, I like your new outfit...you look great!), of course I lean towards the "You should always hire a professional," camp. But, with the technology and creative spirit that is out there, I don't think you should go without video content...just because your budget doesn't allow for a professional. So, here are a few scenarios where...if playing the part of content strategist, I'd make the decision to hire versus doing it in house.
 

First, what videos are best done in house?

1. Behind the scenes videos: anything meant for social media/candid content.Are you reacting to a current event? What about office games, singing happy birthday, off the cuff reviews of a product? Why? These videos are meant to show the current personality of your team. They show how real you are. Spontaneous. Back during my days at BringMeTheNews.com we took a video of our newsroom when our website was down. We were playing paddleball, reading, dancing, juggling...of course it was staged, but it was fun content to throw on social media, to curb the complainers while our IT folks worked their magic to get us up and running again.

2. 7-15 second vine/instagram style posts. Again, this will be very "inside baseball" content of your team. Of course, if you want these to appear polished and if they have any type of comedic timing whatsoever...I'd say hire a pro to shoot a bunch of them at once to maximize the time you're paying for.

3. Challenges. Think: ice bucket challenge, the lutefisk challenge. These are easy to do with your smart phone (Just remember to turn it sideways! Vertical video is evil! Do you suffer from vertical video syndrome?)

4. Media moments. Is your boss being interviewed? Take a quick video before, during or after the interview, to post to your website and/or social media accounts to get some extra PR out of the deal. Build buzz.

When should you hire a professional?

1. For everything else. (ok, just kidding...)

2. Videos starring people who have never been on camera before. Seasoned directors know what it takes to get new talent to feel at ease, and deliver in an authentic/non-salesy manner.

3. Content with staying power. Do you have a great video idea that will resonate with your audience and share for a long time due to the timeless content? Or, something that will live on your website/be sent to potential clients or partners, for a good chunk of time? Remember, if people are seeing something from your brand for the first time, you want that initial impression to be a good one.

4. B2B Content. Research shows that 65% of executives will visit the website of a vendor, after viewing a video from them. Boom.

5. When your other content is no longer helping you achieve the goals you set out to tackle. Are things stagnant? Nobody watching? A professional can step in with an objective/honest opinion. Some are only comfortable on the production end of things, but folks like Puke Rainbows (shameless plug, yes!) also handle strategy, and look at market research to help figure out where things could be goin' South.

6. When you want to take a creative risk. Video professionals live for this stuff. We want to help you stand out, and push our creative chops as well. With so much content out there, taking a risk...really isn't as risky as it once was. Want to cut through the clutter? Ask a professional for help.

7. Training videos. If you are going to make staff sit through these things...the worst thing is watching something that has horrible audio, or questionable craftsmanship. In fact, it detracts from the idea of training the employee.

8. When the expense makes sense. Many companies think that DIY video in house "saves money"...this is not always the truth. Just like any profession, video professionals are much more efficient at what they do, than the average bear. This is the same reason why I hire an accountant to do my taxes. Because it's just not worth it for me to try to do it...it takes me days, it takes him 45 minutes. Back in my TV days I'd write/shoot/edit more than six videos per day. I've held the hands of teams of 3-4 inexperienced folks attempting DIY video, and it takes them 2 full weeks, 80 hours/per person to put together a 2 minute video. That's more than $6,000 for employees making $25/hour. I'm willing to bet, their time would have been more valuable to said company, spent actually putting together a distribution/PR plan for the video, instead of producing/shooting/editing it. Weigh the cost of your employee's time, before you scoff at giving them a budget for video.

I know these are just a few examples, but it's a good start! Let me know if you have any questions or comments. This is just a simple conversation starter. :) Keep puking rainbows, my friends...and thanks for reading!

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Mevo Camera Review: Is This The Easy Live Stream Fix You Need?

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Most people know I'm a fan of live video. I spoke about it at the 2016 MN Bloggers Conference, embraced periscope when it first came out and racked up quite a following, and now and again spill my own guts on facebook live. Coming from a newsroom background, live video doesn't seem as scary to me, as some - just a guess. But, I know the technical hurdles, missteps, shoddy internet connections, and sync issues are enough to scare off even a seasoned video professional. That's why I love this little camera I'm going to tell you about today (yipppeeee!). Well, I love MOST things about it...I'll include some not so great features at the end. Here we go...

The MEVO Camera! (video is of the Mevo Plus Version and via Mevo by Livestream on youtube) 

 

First of all, a huge credit to Lizz Winstead and Kat Green...because they are the reason I had the chance to try out this little baby. The MEVO camera is tiny, but mighty!  We used it to stream Lizz's News Years Eve Comedy special (Lizz is the co-creator of the Daily Show, and founder of Lady Parts Justice), make sure to follow her on twitter!

Here is a quick clip of our footage...reminder: we were only 4-6 feet away from Lizz. This is what it looks like to switch between shots with your iphone.  Language is NSFW! 

Here are a few things I loved about it: 
 


1. Size: this thing is tiny, lightweight, and doesn't get into the sightline of people in the audience because it's honestly the size of a small fist. 
2. Ease of Use: sync it with your iOS or Android device and BOOM, you're ready to go live. 
3. Different Shots: you can basically crop in on the wide picture and direct your own show from your phone. This makes it feel like you have a few different cameras going. Nice feature. Even though it's just cropping the photo - the quality still looked pretty damn good for us. 
4. You have the choice to get audio from the camera itself, OR (yay!) hook into another source - so, we plugged in to the audio board at the show, and had flawless audio - sweet! 
5. The camera isn't "ONLY" for live streaming - you can also record to a mini sd card!

Now, that being said....here are a few things to be wary of: 


1. The flawless audio will only come after you buy a few adapters. I needed a headphone to lightning adapter for my phone, as well as an iRig - this way you can take the quarter inch plug out of the audio board, and into the eighth inch plug of your headphone jack. 
2.  You need to be really close to your subject. I mean, like...we had the camera approx 4 feet from Lizz, and could still crop in on the shot for a closer picture. So, don't think you'll be able to show up and put this at the back of the room. Nope. 
3.  You need fast wifi. It took me a good 15-20 seconds to connect when the event started, and that's no good. That spinning wheel of death is mortifying so make sure you test your wifi first (did you know, if you're going live on facebook, you can test it and turn the audience to "only me" - yeah, pretty cool, then you can see what it looks/sounds like in the timeline, but not look like a dummy to all of the fans if something is wrong while you troubleshoot)
4. The biggest hiccup I faced was that once I had it setup under my facebook profile, it would not let me switch profiles to Lizz - even though I was logged in as her on facebook. We ended up just going live from one of the pages I had access to, so it wasn't a biggie - but, in the moment, it was frustrating, since we'd done the testing through my page, and switched to her profile well before the event, but it kept defaulting to me. Shrug. 

So, yes - the list of pros and cons is pretty even....but, I have to say - there is something really charming about the little thing. I dare say, it's cute, pretty affordable, and easy to lug around at an event - which are all huge pros, too! 
 


A few other things to keep in mind:
- I ended up throwing it onto a light stand I already had, so I could go a little higher than the mevo tripod allows, it was really easy to do. So, if you have existing light stands, the special mevo tripod isn't necessary.
- I also ended up keeping it plugged in during the entire broadcast, because the battery on the mevo (not mevo plus) seemed to only last just under an hour, and we had a show that was longer than that - didn't want to risk anything. 
- I have not taken time to compare the mevo vs the mevo plus, but will be doing that in an upcoming post after I have some time to research. 

So yeah, if you're interested in buying one - here is the amazon link (I do get a small kickback, at no extra cost to you - and no, Amazon/Mevo didn't pay me to write this post...I just review stuff I really dig, that I think other people might not know about). 
 

(If you can't see it due to adblocker, just go here for the mevo camera) 

(Or, go here for the mevo plus package)

And don't forget the iRig if you want to connect it to an audio board :) 

Thanks for reading, and keep puking rainbows! If you're a MEVO user, let me know what you think! And, don't forget - if you don't have the budget for it just yet...your smartphones put out pretty great live video as well. Don't let technology get in your way, jump in! 

E

ps. Just getting started in video and feeling overwhelmed? Here is a free download to help you prioritize your thought process around it :) 

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Video: Look More Professional Using Everyday Items

All too often I see beginners in video get hung up on things like finding the perfect tripod, the lighting set with the best reviews, the perfect furniture setup. But, the truth is...a lot of this is simply, procrastination. I know, because I've been there. But, you wanna know a secret? I didn't use half of the gear my classmates did in college, and I still pulled out better grades for creativity...because when it comes to creating something, it's all about using what you have. In fact, I didn't buy my first light kit until two months ago. Granted, I have a director of photography who has some amazing lights, and that's what we used for professional shoots - but, when it comes to my personal vlogging setup, I was simply sitting in front of a window, so my eyes would pick up the window panes and sparkle. Tah dahhhhhh. See below: 

It doesn't look bad, right? Because using natural light in the right circumstances can be awesome! I was lucky to have an apartment at the time that had great natural light not only in front of my face, but streaming in from other windows behind me, at a lesser intensity. 

When you are first getting started, video is all about using what you have - instead of concentrating on what you want. Be creative. Innovate!

Whenever someone takes one of my video boot camps or mini sessions, they are allowed access to "Team Puke Rainbows" - a private facebook group to bounce ideas off of each other. I love this, because all too often I've seen newbies post the work they are proud of in a forum of Film School grads who tear it apart to feel better about themselves. WTF. Ugh. Not necessary at all. So, we have our own small safe space for Team Puke Rainbows folks to show their setups, gear, toss around ideas, ask for feedback on new videos, etc...

The Innovative Setup

One of our team members, Valerie, posted this photo the other day - when I mentioned that I love the innovation of her tripod setup, she said it actually made the interview easier and more dynamic because she would swivel the chair for some subtle movement. Genius! She also used the lighting she had, and angled it in a way that would minimize shadows. Boom Diggity! 
 

 Gorilla pod on a wastebasket/swivel chair = a DIY Dolly. Very creative! photo:  Valerie Turgeon  

Gorilla pod on a wastebasket/swivel chair = a DIY Dolly. Very creative! photo: Valerie Turgeon 

Other ways to use floor lamps would be to take the shades off and point them at the wall directly ahead of you if it's white, and bounce the light off. Or, by using a window as natural light (like I did above) and simply putting daylight colored bulbs in the lamps behind you, so they don't look orange in comparison (they'll say "daylight" bulbs in the store), this is a pretty good bet in Minnesota - because winter light is such a "blue" color outside anyway, so it will match the color temp bouncing off of the snow.
 


Here are 4 other "how to" hacks if you don't have equipment and are using a smartphone: 

1. No Tripod? Use books. Stack them up, lean your phone or camera against them, and go to town! 
2. No mic? Slip another phone into the front pocket of someone's shirt, and hit "voice memo" - then sync up the audio in your edit. 
3. Another mic workaround is using  your headphones, but maybe disguising the earbuds by threading them through your shirt, so just the mic area is sticking out like a lapel mic. 
4. Use natural light, outside - try to stay in the shade, unless it's the "golden hour" - within 2 hours before or after sunset, when the sun isn't direct, and is really flattering. 

Of course - buying video gear isn't a "bad" thing. Have the budget? That's awesome. If you're looking to invest in some of the more inexpensive gear, take a gander at this blog post I wrote last month. 

So, get out there and create! Stop waiting for permission and the perfect gear setup, because it probably won't happen if you do ;-) Plus, the more you practice without the fancy gear - the more you'll appreciate it when you DO invest, and the more ideas you'll have for how it can make your videos even better. 

Keep puking rainbows, friends! And if you need other tips on how to get started, click here for a free guide for beginners. Try something new, you've got this! 

As always, I'm here if you have questions! 

Erica



 

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4 Tools to Increase Productivity in 2018

I'm a procrastinator. There, I admitted it! I love the rush of a deadline. But, the past year - it's caused more stress, than a rush...and with a new diagnosis of ADHD, things are all starting to make sense. Making lists is usually how I get things done, but even then - I used to find myself doing the things I enjoyed before the most important task. Until I walked into a little store on Grand Avenue in Saint Paul and found two simple tools to change that. 

Erica Hanna of Puke Rainbows in Minnesota shares 4 tools that are helping her get things done faster, instead of waiting until the last minute. Hear how her productivity has gone up in the last week and a half of 2017, with her video production and speaking business.

 

1. The Productivity Planner
    I was a skeptic at first...it looked like a glorified list. But, what I didn't take into account is that the tasks were also prioritized from most important to least important. And, here is the kicker - you have to give yourself a productivity score at the end of each day. Boom. That was one of the keys. I don't like to "lose", even if it's against myself. So, the more and more I use it - the more I see my score improving. This has helped me accomplish more in the past few weeks, than I could even imagine. While others were taking well-deserved time off, I cranked out edits for 10+ videos, two strategies, multiple contracts, a couple of blog posts, started meditating more, messing around on the internet less, and really am leaving behind this feeling of, "I could be doing so much more with my time to help my business...." 

2. The FocusKeeper App
    The Productivity Planner uses the pomodoro technique: breaking down work into 25 minute sprints, with a 5 minute break to breathe, get a snack, etc...I like using the app on my phone, because then I'm not checking my clock every two seconds to see how much time I have until I can cuddle my cat for 5 mins. (Cat cuddles are important, people - don't mock me)

3. The Self Control App
    Self Control is an app I've used on and off for a few years now. But, partnered with my productivity planner, and the focuskeeper app - I feel like it's sooooooo much more impactful. Basically, what it does is shuts down access to sites that distract you. You create this list yourself - so be honest! I set my timer in 25 minute sprints along with Focuskeeper, so I can still check twitter and facebook every half hour for a minute or two - in case new clients have contacted me there, or I want to send my boyfriend some mushy message or inside joke GIF. (barf, right?) 

4. 5 Minute Journal
     So, how do you keep all of this productivity "in check" and keep your life in balance? For me, that's important, because when I get on a productivity kick, I do tend to zone out every other thing in life, hold my breath while I edit or work, and find myself so wound up, I'm close to panicking. But, the same day I picked up the Productivity Planner, I also grabbed a 5 Minute Journal. Get this: you really don't have to even have to be a writer for this journal to work. You simply fill in the blanks when it asks you questions about the good parts of your day, and how you'll improve it tomorrow. Voila! Self reflection, and you get to start the day on the positive note, and end the day on a positive note before bed. I've been sleeping better, have been able to "let things go" easier, and have overall, been happier. 

As I mentioned in the video - not every method works the same way for every personality type. But, for this ENFP business owner, it's been pretty damn rad. I'm SO ready for 2018, with this simple new plan - and I hope it helped you, too. 

----

ps. This is not a paid post. I just like this stuff :) 
     

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2018 Video Marketing Trends To Watch For

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Every year for the past 3 years I've heard from marketers, "This is the year for video!" And, well...they've been right. And right, again. And again. And well, you get the idea. Owning a video production company has been incredibly rewarding, but - this year I could feel a shift in what clients were asking for. Based on the asks, some emerging research, and well...plain old gut instinct, here are the 5 video trends you should be on the lookout for, in 2018! 

 

1.  Live video becomes not just something to dabble in – but crucial. 
Both, as a way to make good content, in a cheap way – and repurpose it., and as a way to continue the conversation with consumers. Places most popular to repurpose to will be: youtube,  instagram, blogs, emails, and twitter.  Trendwatch: The mevo camera has stepped into the space, which – I’m using this week, and will review next week. But, it looks like it’s gonna be a game changer.  See amazon ad below (affiliate link): 
 

2.   Facebook Watch becomes a big player!  
Get ready for a spot to put long form talk show style videos, on the most popular social platform. Does your brand have something that should be a TV show? Make it. Do it. Especially with younger folks consuming 47% less television – evergreen content is here to stay, so why not be a player? Just like nobody could imagine original movies coming out of a streaming service years ago...and it happened, evergreen content/appointment "TV" will become a thing for live video. Much like how blogtv was about 10 years ago, but...this time it's here to stay! 

3. Re-allocation of budget to “smarter” video. 
We saw a lot of brands jump in feet first with video in 2017 – but, it seemed like a lot of folks just put TV ads, on social – which, is not what social is for. Look for internal marketing teams to be tapped, or even combine forces WITH production agencies to keep things going out consistently and smarter. This could mean you see more retainers, consultants in house to help with efficiencies, or on site trainings – I’m seeing a lot of demand for all 3.

4. Internal video communication.
Sick of the boring newsletters from your CEO? With people making the corporate jump and folks in fortune 500 looking to make company culture more appealing for great workers, folks in the C suite will be getting training on how to be more approachable on camera, especially in bigger organizations, in order to bond with employees and to help them feel heard/valued. It's time to make the big cheese in the corner office more approachable, and the best way to do that is NOT by sending a stuffy newsletter. 

5. Immersive, really personal experience.
Look for brands to section off into individualized facebook groups or email lists to target more effectively with video. Also, with youtube – you’ll see more companies doing “choose your own adventure” type of storytelling.
 


BONUS: 
Lastly, 360 video is something to start brainstorming for – but I'm not seeing most companies being able to invest in this quite yet. Be smart about this. Consumer cameras aren’t great yet, and since 85% of big corps have INTERNAL video teams - I just don't think it's realistic at this time....IF you rely on an internal team, because it's easy to become very overwhelmed, and they'll be pumping out the above mentioned items. But, as technology develops and comes down in price, this will be more and more relevant for internal teams, for sure! Areas I see using this more and more will be: real estate, higher ed, and concert/event spaces. For those looking for more info about 360 video and VR, I recommend talking to my buddy Chuck Olsen over at Visual

*The above link to the mevo camera is an amazon affiliate link. If you're thinking about buying the product anyway, feel free to use my link at no additional cost to you. If not, that's cool too! 

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What I Learned From the Students At My Video Workshop

I love teaching people about video, pretty sure this hasn't been a secret at all. And just when I think I'm getting to the top of my game, the industry shifts - and their are new tools, tricks, tips, and gear to learn about. But, that's one of the reasons I love it...so much change! 

As a public speaker in Minnesota, I tend to rely on a few "tried and true" speech decks that have been met with positive reactions from crowds. One of these, is my smartphone video workshop - that, in 2017 I expanded and turned into a 4 hour "bootcamp". Because, wow - your brain does get a workout trying to ingest all things video for that long. 

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The feedback from attendees, overall has been positive - and seeing lightbulb moments as they go from frustration, to excitement - is one of the most fulfilling feelings in the world. But, when I started these bootcamps, one thing I didn't expect...was to learn FROM my audience. Here are a few things these extremely smart people have taught me. 

1. LEAVE TIME TO BREATHE
     I've realized that I'm so afraid of not covering something that people want to learn, that I was filling absolutely every single minute of time. New skills take time to process, and feeling overwhelmed without a brain break - hasn't ever helped anyone. 

2. ASK WHAT THEY WANT MORE OF
    After the bootcamp, I stuck around for about an hour and a half having conversations with students and answering questions specific to their organization. One of the consistent questions people kept asking was, "I can never get people to open up on camera. How do I do that?" The funny thing is, is that when it comes to video in the professional realm, technology hasn't really been my strength - I leave that up to my director of photography, most of the time. So, my actual strength IS interviewing people, and a few different crews in town have told me as much. I realized, my deck had a lot about storytelling in it, but not a lot about how to conduct the proper interview. (hits self on forehead...duh, girl!) So, what's in the works for 2018? A special breakout bootcamp with hands on interview techniques. As well as a bootcamp about using live video platforms, and a potential "shoot and share" hands on only bootcamp. 

3. SHOW THINGS INSTEAD OF TALKING ABOUT THEM
    I brought a few pieces of equipment with me to the bootcamp, so we could pass them around the room, touch things and get an idea for how easy it would be to use. This included my Joby Gorillapod Pro as well as my brand new, bright blue yeti usb microphone (I'll be using it for voiceover vids and podcasts mostly!) 
 

At the end of the session, Tom came up and said, "Man, I'm so glad I got to handle that tripod, because it's so much more sturdy than the one I have that I thought was the same thing." This has also inspired the idea of a "show and tell" workshop - with way more hands on opportunities. 

4. THE WORKSHOP IS ABOUT THEM, NOT ME
    Of course, it's about the students. But, the control freak in me started to panic when questions were flying and we were getting too behind to finish all the content. In the end, I had to let go - and realize this audience wanted to learn more about legal scenarios, than editing in premiere - and just roll with it. This also has me convinced I should probably break the bootcamp into a class format at some point, so the topics are hyper focused and we can deep dive with one thing at a time. 

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5.  CONNECTIONS ARE JUST AS IMPORTANT AS KNOWLEDGE
   The unexpected side effect of both of these events this year has been this: by keeping the class at 25 people or less, people are more likely to ask questions....both of me, and of their neighbors. There is a certain level of solidarity that comes with being thrown in a room together and learning at the same pace. I feel comfortable knowing that if I'm not around, they'll reach out to their classmates if they troubles. And, the coolest part? A few of them have projects lined up to do together in 2018. We also have an hour long strategy session at the beginning of the class, and since most weren't in competing industries - they felt comfortable sharing some of their wins, strategy goals, and tips. Collaboration is so great, especially for a lot of these folks - who are often times "one man bands" in their content departments. 

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Overall, I have been sooooo impressed by the people who've attended the events I've hosted. It makes me sad that I haven't made the time to create a private facebook or linkedin group for them, or offered to host a Puke Rainbows Bootcamp alumni event, haha. My hope is to do this in the future. Who knows? Maybe they'll all come armed with their smartphones, and livestream it so you can be there, too ;-) 

It's so nice to learn, when you expect to teach. A huge thanks to everyone who has attended a bootcamp or class of mine in 2017, you are the true teachers...and I'm honored to learn from you. 

Thanks for reading! 
Erica
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Oh, and yes, Puke Rainbows is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.  (buuuuut, I don't recommend anything I don't stand behind - these were all on my list, and happen to be sold on Amazon - if you can find them somewhere else, go for it -I don't blame ya!) Stay awesome. 

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Top Tools I'm Loving for DIY Video Production

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Let's be honest...the reason why a lot of folks avoid smartphone video, or video in general is because all of the technology seems SOOOOOO complicated. I'm with ya there. I love seeing technology in action on my client shoots, but when it comes to getting it up and running, I usually stick with the simple stuff. 

So, here are my recommendations for things to use when you're getting started. 

1. A tripod: 
Your tripod size will vary depending on your setup. If you're using a smartphone, my #1 recommendation (and cheap!) is always a gorillapod. I love these things. Small. Easy to use, and the coolest thing? You can wrap it around anything to create a stable surface. The legs are bendable, and yeah...I might mess with it like a toy from time to time. 

Now, if you're looking for something a little more heavy duty for a DSLR - we all have our favorites. There are Joby tripods hefty enough to hold a DSLR like this one: 
 

But, if you for some reason don't like a tripod that feels like a kickass toy of the future (whatever, you're no fun...ha!) - then, I always recommend manfrotto tripods. And, in all honesty - it's just because I don't have a ton of experience with other ones - so, you use what you know, ya know? 
This is the one currently in my bag-o-tricks (and you're gonna drop a lot more money this way, just to warn you): 

2. Lighting
When it comes to doing lighting on the cheap...nothing beats natural light from a window. Remember to look at the window, and not have it to your back! But, if it's too harsh and you feel really squinty, just invest in a sheet to tack up. Any flat, cheap sheet in white like this one will do: 

But, for some - a window won't always do the trick, especially here in Minnesota - with these short days! If you're looking for a fill light to clip on to your smartphone, I just saw a review that might help you out....I haven't used it myself (yet!) but I've heard great things about the FlII light! It just clips right on, and boom! Plus, it'll only set ya back around 10 bucks. Which is great, right? Oh, and bonus - you can keep it on your phone and it's great for selfies. 

 

If you're looking to take things to the next level - you can purchase a bigger ring light, or...for a nice soft look, purchase a softbox lighting kit with LED lights (they don't get hot, are lighter, and this particular set you can adjust to two different color temps!). 

3. Sound/Audio
Now, this admittedly is where folks usually get squeamish. I'm the same way. Running audio is my least favorite thing on set...even though (ironically) I started out as a radio/audio major in college. Weird. I've heard absolutely AMAZING things about the rode smartlav+ mic - but, keep in mind you mind need to get the extension cord they sell with it. 
 

But, what if you don't have a spot to plug in the mic to your iphone (those fancy new gadgets!)? Hmmmmm....well, if you're using any kind of USB microphone that you might already have for podcasting - then, it's simple. You just need a USB to lightning cable like this: 

Buuuuuut, what if you don't already have a USB mic, and want to get some sound into a phone without a headphone jack? Then you're gonna want to try one of these little headphone jack to lightning adapters: 


4. Fun extras! 
Ok, so...you've got some basics down. Now, what about the fun extras? Well, those all depend on your budget. I've actually had a few shoots recently where my director of photography has brought along a little Osmo handhead camera. Those run you about $400+ bucks, though. But, have gorgeous output! 

Can't swing that much money? Then, for around 100 bucks, check out this non DJI gimbal that you can simply hook your smarphone into, for cool shots with movement, etc...
 

5. Boring but necessary
As always, when you're shooting - BACK UP YOUR STUFF. My choice lately for an external hard drive is this little cutie: 
 

For your lighting, in order to stay safe...you're gonna need sandbags.  I swear, being on set with video production in Minnesota - there are never enough of these bad boys (insert some lame joke about sand being used on the snowy roads, right? lol) The reason you need sandbags is because cheap (ish) lighting stands don't have a lot of weight to them, and tip over very easily. If you're blogging at home with kids, or around busy adults - tossing a sandbag on each leg of your light is a great idea. Don't want to have any lawsuits, right? Eeeeeek. 
 

So, there ya have it. A little wishlist for your small biz, office, or personal blog if you're just getting started with video - whether it's with a smartphone or DSLR camera. Above all, remember that research is key. There are tons of reviews out on youtube, and plenty of information out there.  I can't wait to see the videos everyone starts to make! Take care, and keep puking rainbows! 

Erica
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Can't find exactly what you need, at the right budget? Use my link to find what you're looking for: 

 


Oh, and yes, Puke Rainbows is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.  (buuuuut, I don't recommend anything I don't stand behind - these were all on my list, and happen to be sold on Amazon - if you can find them somewhere else, go for it -I don't blame ya!) Stay awesome. 

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December Smartphone Video Bootcamp

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Since we had such a blast this spring  in Minnesota with our smartphone video bootcamp - we're bringing it back, just in time to wrap up 2017!

By the end of this year, online video will account for 74% of web traffic! But, how do you get started...without breaking the bank for your organization? Smartphones have come a long way since the Zach Morris days, and they hold the answers for many businesses on a budget. Jumping in feet first can be daunting, so this bootcamp is designed to keep things simple for beginners. 

Topics will include:

- How to shoot and frame video
- Easy lighting tips and tricks on the go
- Simple ways to get better audio
- Tips on how to make the most of out of a shoot day
- Questions to ask when you are interviewing someone to get the most moving response
- How to prioritize the steps in your video strategy plan (where the heck do we start, right?)
- Editing basics, and programs/apps to help you
- Maximizing your video once it's done: tips for uploading
- The differences in shooting for videos meant to be viewed on mobile vs desktop

Eventbrite - December Smartphone Video Bootcamp

Early bird tickets are on sale now, and the discounted price is available until November 17th - spots are limited, so buying a ticket sooner rather than later is recommended. I can't wait to see all of you there! Celarity is our host/sponsor, and they will be providing a light breakfast, coffee, and snacks. 

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Maximizing Video Content

When it comes to putting content online, there are a few key things you can do to maximize your effort. Here is a tactical list of my favorites, and a few examples of people doing things right!

1. Respect: your platform, audience, and moment.

One of the biggest mistakes we make, is in thinking the video content, or any content…is about US and what WE want. Are we the target audience? Most times, no. The University of Minnesota Rochester does a great job of recognizing their audience on the respective social platforms. They engage with user generated content, memes, and hashtags that are relevant to their students.  We took this same messaging into play when we sat down to talk about what kind of admissions videos we wanted to create. The result? Relatable content. We took a complicated idea/majors, and made them as conversational as possible. We also made it possible to break up each of these long videos, into smaller – micro content. We did this because that respects the audience for different social media platforms like instagram, where content is much shorter – so in addition to the 4 long videos we did together, we also gave them many short, raw clips of video to use elsewhere. 

2. Content Empathy
One of the most common questions I get from people is, “WHEN should I post my video?”
The answer?
When is YOUR audience most likely to interact with it? We need to put ourselves in their shoes. Celarity does a great job doing this, because as recruiters – they know a lot of people are searching for jobs outside of normal 9-5 business hours, so they’ll post content before 9a and after 5p. The result was a big increase in their content interaction, and conversions.  So, remember…as you’re putting together your video, take a minute to scroll through your feed on your phone, and keep in mind what the video will look like when it intersects with the content of others. Putting yourself in the shoes of the viewer, gives you a sense of empathy while creating your content.  We also took into consideration, for celarity – their brand. “Relatable, real” were terms we heard a lot in our discussions with them, and that their process and benefits were you unique - so it was important to point that out visually. So, we put together a look that was transparent, by showing production elements, and even showing that their employees were nervous talking on camera. It helped keep their relatable brand, human. 

 



3. Reciprocation
Often times, when we get to the video distribution process…we throw it out there, and expect a firestorm of conversation. But, we forget…WE need to be a part of the conversation.  Especially if we are dealing with influencer marketing. So, make sure – if someone is re-posting your content, asking a question about it, etc…that you’re following up with them to answer the question or say “thank you” for the compliment. Manners don’t fly out the window, just because you’re online. The more the fans/friends/consumers feel loved, the more likely it will be for them to engage with your content in the future. Here is an example of a quick video @productpoet did as an influencer, for Enterprise rent-a-car, after they tweeted him poetry in order to get his business. Considering he has more than 140,000 followers on twitter – this extended their brand reach substantially! So, for them…responding to a tweet amounted in hundreds of dollars of direct sales revenue, and a huge brand reach boost. It wasn't fancy, but was exposure for both Enterprise and Dodge. 

4. Have a Soul
A lot of video content is being consumed on mobile devices these days. Now, let’s take a step back for a second and think: what do people use their phones for? Well, avoiding calls from loved ones…(hehe, kidding), texting, uploading photos, etc…right? Very PERSONAL things. So, whatever you’re putting out there, is going to need to be either useful or compelling enough to convince them it’s important enough to give time to. This means, having a soul when you’re creating things. What moves the audience? In the case of the Science Museum of Minnesota, our audience was children. So, Science Museum sourced kid generated questions, which we asked an actual NASA astronaut. I mean, what kid doesn’t want to talk about farts? It showed that the brand didn’t take themselves too seriously, and that they understood their audience. They knew it was something they'd want to show their kids. 

As far as non-profits go, charity: water is the king of having a soul! Here is another example of using meaningful content, in a simple way – to tell a story. Keep in mind, they shot a lot of these storytelling pieces at events they held with supporters. This is a GREAT way to capture your biggest fans on camera, all in one place!


5. Trending Data
If we’re looking at what’s hip and new right now, the mannequin challenge is right up there. The Texas A & M gymnastics team nailed it, and a Minneapolis, Minnesota rapper took it to another level at a live show – very cool. 
 

Last fall, we embarked on a quest to capitalize on trending data with WINGS Financial Credit Union. We did this by creating a “pumpkin spice checking” video. So fun! Their organic video views increased by 35%, and they spent 75% less on this project, than they have on videos in the past. Less spend, with a better result? Sounds good to most of us, right? 

6. Pro Wish List
Lastly, I wanted to touch on what to have ready – if you’re going to be working with a professional. Because this, is going to maximize not just your video…but, your budget – since the professional won’t be figuring these things out with you.

A. Know your goal: conversion, reach, brand awareness, event promotion?
B. Know your audience: who are you trying to reach? Narrow it down.
C. Know your distribution platform: we’ll shoot things differently if we know they’ll be shown in certain spots (i.e. mobile only, a movie theater, etc…)
D. Know your budget range. Going to a professional without an idea, is like asking a realtor to find you a house, without boundaries. As a rule of thumb, many professionals tend to work in the 3k-100k realm. With standard internet content on the lower end of that. Often times, if clients as about this – I’ll provide examples of what different types of videos look like in different ranges, as a guide. J

Best of luck using inbound marketing to maximize your video content! As always, sign up for e.mail updates, or pop me a line if you have any questions. Keep puking rainbows, and making the most of whatever budget you have! 

Erica




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LIVE VIDEO PLATFORMS: KICK BUTT AND STAND OUT

This weekend, I had the opportunity to speak at the Minnesota Bloggers Conference for the 4th time. After speaking with the organizers, Jen Jamar and Mykl Roventine about past sessions and what I've already covered, I was asked to cover the new-ish topic of live video platforms. Immediately I was stoked, not just because I'm a periscope addict, and facebook live fan - but, because I've reaped some awesome benefits myself from these cool platforms. New friends, press opportunities, and worldwide perspective to name a few. It's REALLY fun to talk about something that you're genuinely happy to help others see the value in. 

Obviously since the presentation was an hour long, condensing it into a short blog is a bit challenging - but, after a quick scan on the twitter feed...it seems like these were the points that resonated the most with people who attended my session: 

LIVE VIDEO: KICK BUTT AND STAND OUT

 photo by: Laura @ 1Girl2Cities   

photo by: Laura @1Girl2Cities 

 

1.  YOU HAVE PERMISSION TO TRY

If you're able to have a conversation with someone, believe me...you're able to use live video. The more you do it, the better you'll get, really - it's not like you expected to be a proficient conversationalist when you were a baby...so, cut yourself some slack when it comes to perfectionism of live video. Start by talking about something you absolutely know like the back of your hand. 

2. FEAR IS REAL

This was a biggie. There was no shortage of comments/questions about being afraid. What if nobody watches? What if too many people watch? What if I'm trolled? What if I stutter? What if I'm boring? Know this: you aren't alone. Everyone is terrified the first time they do something. 

3. CUE CARDS ARE YOUR FRIEND

Now, I'm not talking about writing down your entire thought process/idea/pitch, but...if you know you have three main points you want to make - write them down in a big bold font and tape the printed sign to your wall so you can just glimpse at it and have a rock solid idea of where you're going next. 

4. TOPIC IDEAS

We had a great brainstorming session with my attendees. Some of the ideas for using facebook live and other video platforms were:  behind-the-scenes tours, demo-ing a product, explaining a process, answering the FAQ's on your website, and interviewing someone your followers are interested in. We talk about repurposing existing content in video for a LOT in my other workshops, because it's ready made content - but, people learn/consume content differently than they did just a few years ago. Why not adapt to the audience? 

5. WATCH COMMENTS

The point of live video...is to talk back to people and have a conversation. All too often people get on, and treat live video, exactly like produced video - a pitch, talking straight at camera. Not cool. Ask your viewers who is in the room, and what they want to learn. If your audience is global, make sure to ask where people are from, to gain insightful context behind their questions. 

6. YOU'RE NOT DONE WHEN YOU FINISH BROADCASTING

Maximize that content, folks. Write a blog post about it! You can save your facebook live video, then upload it elsewhere - creating new content. Or, if you did have your topics broken down, feel free to edit each topic separately and upload mini videos as micro content. Ask collaborators to share it, if their audience is interested in the topic, and offer to go live on facebook or another platform with other folks to help extend audience and get the word out, about whatever you're passionate about. 

7. PASSION IS CONTAGIOUS

Do you think chewbacca mom thought she'd make almost a half of a million dollars, after putting on a chewbacca mask on facebook live? Whatever you love, someone else also loves it. Give it a try, go live, answer questions, and start creating! 

 chewbacca mom wins! 

chewbacca mom wins! 


Obviously I covered a lot more tactical things over the course of an hour such as using natural light, the concept of having weekly office hours, analytics, etc... but the points above are the biggies people were tweeting about. Sam gave a review here as well! 

(warning: sales pitch, yo) As always, if you'd like to host a workshop for your staff, your clients, or a weekly "teach me" session with your employees - I really do love doing what I do, and making complicated things, seem simple. I 100% understand that not everyone has the budget to hire a 6 time Emmy winner to produce/direct their videos, but - I'm also available for consulting, and love to teach these skills...because price point should NOT be what gets in your way of using creativity to make something kickass. I feel lucky to love every moment of every day when I do this kind of work. Thanks for reading, and making it possible to continue to my dream job. Y'all are the best rainbow pukers out there.


Let me know if you have questions! Happy creating, everyone. 

Erica

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4 Mistakes to Avoid While Shooting Smartphone Video

  College of Saint Benedict and   St. John's University participate in a Puke Rainbows DIY smartphone video workshop

College of Saint Benedict and St. John's University participate in a Puke Rainbows DIY smartphone video workshop

More and more content teams and small businesses are using smartphones to capture video content. And, why wouldn't you? It's inexpensive, and is great for certain platforms. While you're not going to become Martin Scorsese overnight, there are a few common mistakes you should avoid to get the most of your top tier smartphone video skills. 

  1. Shooting without a plan. 
    Video is so accessible to us on our phones, and in some ways that can make us lazy or frantic in our efforts. Instead of going to an event with a plan, we may simply shoot as MUCH footage as possible. But, this also means way more time sifting through it in post production (editing). Have a plan. Know what you need the video for, first. 
     
  2. Shooting vertically with your phone. 
    Chances are, you’ve never watched your TV vertically, right? When you shoot your video vertically, instead of shooting in landscape or horizontal mode, it makes it tougher to use across all platforms. Sure, spots like instagram crop it into a square, anyway - but, think about the fact that if the video is as good as you want it to be, you very well could be using it in an upcoming meeting, at a conference, or in a presentation - on an HD screen, and shooting in landscape mode will safe you from editing hassles of putting it on a background, etc...
     
  3. Forgetting about speed effects. 
    Hanging out at an event? Set up your smartphone and shoot a timelapse to show how many people are flowing in and out. Looking to show emotion? Get in close, and use the slow motion feature - smiles, laughs, tears in slow motion allow viewers to live in that beautiful moment, even longer.

     4. The “to catch a predator” interview technique.
         If you sit someone in FRONT of a window, and try to film them as they are backlit...chances are, they        will look like a silhouette. Instead, have them look AT the window. The light will be even on their face. 

Not sure if you should try the DIY route with a smartphone, or hire a video crew? Here is a handy post that may help you make that decision: DIY Video vs. Hiring a Professional

Best of luck with all of your video content missions, and as always - feel free to message me if you have any questions. I'm also offering internal Smartphone Video Workshops if you'd like to bring your team together for some fun training and Q & A to save time while you're learning this fun new world. Thanks for taking time out of your busy day to read the tips - stay in touch! 

Erica Hanna
Emmy Winning Video Producer/Director/Speaker

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Expand Your Circle: The Comfortable Networking Trap

I'm a networker. A people person. I absolutely love meeting new humans, learning their stories, and figuring out how to create something with them. When I took the leap and went full-time with Puke Rainbows 1.5 years ago, I figured I'd have to network my butt off to get clients. So, I did. 

Every marketing event. I was there. 
I joined committees, a task force, wanted to do ALL THE THINGS! 

 HI. I love people. 

HI. I love people. 

But, the strangest thing happened. 
I didn't get crap for business from those things. And it was a puzzling place I found myself in....networking, yet - my new clients would come from somewhere completely different. Places I didn't expect. Conversations in passing. A reference from an acquaintance. 

And that's when I realized, I was stuck in the comfortable networking trap: only attending events focused on my industry, with people I already knew. 

Derp. Erica, what in the world were you thinking? The first realization came when I attended Prestige Conference last spring. The crop of folks there were mainly entrepreneurs and developers. I WAS LOST AT FIRST.  I didn't understand half of their inside jokes. I felt out of place. Then, I heard them talk about content. My ears perked up. They were speaking about it with LOATHING. 

Whaaaa? There are people out there who DON'T like to produce content? I couldn't believe it. I was so used to going to events centered around content and marketing, that I was used to all of us fan girling all over each others content and how much we loved producing new, creative things...that, hearing someone bash what I did, was shocking.  Now, does this mean those events you attend with fellow experts in your field are worthless? No, quite the opposite. They are wonderful - when partnered with perspective. And the realization that how other parts of the team feel about projects are just as important as how your team feels about it, when it comes to communication. 

So, how do you find these other events? Ask a friend. Open your eyes. The internet is pretty damn cool. This month alone was filled with slightly "uncomfortable" networking on my end. Meaning, I was at an event where I wasn't the expert. Eeeeeeeek. For a perfectionist, type A person - this is a nightmare, I'm telling ya. But, it's humbling. Here is why it's great to network this way: 

1. It puts you in the position of student once again.
Asking questions is a very healthy thing. We don't ask as many questions, when we have already read every trade journal or study on the topic. 
 

 Fun with my fellow speakers at BushCon. Their topics: Eliminating Food Waste, Transgender Education, and Empowering Muslim Women to Lead, and How to Give a Great Speech. Pictured: Alex Iantaffi, Nausheena Ali Hussain, Aly Walberg,  Asya Mikhailenko.  Very cool peeps. Learned a lot! 

Fun with my fellow speakers at BushCon. Their topics: Eliminating Food Waste, Transgender Education, and Empowering Muslim Women to Lead, and How to Give a Great Speech. Pictured: Alex Iantaffi, Nausheena Ali Hussain, Aly Walberg, Asya Mikhailenko. Very cool peeps. Learned a lot! 

2. You meet people who work in other industries.
     T
his helps in a way that you can listen to their conversations, and figure out what it is they really need for their careers/businesses. Is there a way your skill set can help? Cool. Is there a way their skill set can help you be more efficient or creative? Definitely possible! When you network with people of all your same background, aren't you just competing for the same folks at those events? 

3. You just might learn something new. 
    This year, I was a speaker at Prestige - the conference that first sparked this idea of uncomfortable networking for me. It was amazing. And, I learned so much! About small business law, estimating, the accounts side of business. I left with not only new networking pals, but a bunch of new facebook friends as well. 

 Davis Senseman of Davis Law, with her talk, "How to not fuck up your business." - Amazing stuff! 

Davis Senseman of Davis Law, with her talk, "How to not fuck up your business." - Amazing stuff! 

 Jess Jurick schooling the crowd on proper estimating techniques and process. This is absolutely going to help me in the future with Puke Rainbows. After all, a positive estimate process helps keep communication open - and that's how first time clients become lifelong ones. 

Jess Jurick schooling the crowd on proper estimating techniques and process. This is absolutely going to help me in the future with Puke Rainbows. After all, a positive estimate process helps keep communication open - and that's how first time clients become lifelong ones. 

4. Outside perspective.
    I met with Don Shelby last week for lunch. He's an amazing dude, with more awards and accolades to list. But, we didn't talk about television (the industry we used to work in together). No, we talked about his love for theater. How much fun he's having. How much hard work it is. We talked about being public speakers, and balancing authenticity with expectation. And in the end, when I felt as if I'd contributed nearly nothing to the conversation...he told me, "I always feel inspired after meeting with you. You keep my brain from becoming arthritic. Wicked smart." Which, was pretty incredible - considering I thought I had simply rambled about what I love, but hadn't contributed much to our conversation. His perspective on passion, helped re-light my fire. 

 Myself and Don Shelby after lunch 

Myself and Don Shelby after lunch 

5. You see more than what's on the surface for both positions, and people.
    This networking theory can also be applied to our personal lives. Or, conversations in our professional lives. The people who hold certain positions, or like certain things socially - may be completely different under the surface. Or, their MOTIVATION for doing the things they love, could be completely different than you imagined. 
    

 On set with Jason Matheson

On set with Jason Matheson

For example: I had the privilege of working on a project with the lovely Jason Matheson. Jason is a talk show host, and a FORCE. Fierce and clever. I didn't know him well beforehand. But, after a few intimate interviews, I realized that he, too - was bullied as a child like I was. The confident, successful, on air personality became an insta-friend. Suddenly, when you listen to someone's story - your relationship with them changes. You understand each others strengths in a better way, making it easier to become an advocate for each other. 

This can also happen in your personal life. All too often, we gravitate towards people who are "like us." Why? Because it keeps things comfortable. Easy conversations. No stress. A lot of smiling/nodding.
I met a lovely human back in December, and was invited to his birthday party this month. To be honest? I was nervous. I'm used to going to parties with people I know. And, to up the anxiety - it was a costume party, in May. FUN, huh? I mean it. Great idea! But, there again - was another layer of fear: what if I was the only one who went all out with a costume? Would people think I'm stupid? What if they chose a board game I didn't understand? 
So, what happened? 

 At lake superior with Eric

At lake superior with Eric

I had a blast at the party. Met new friends. Who look at things differently than most of my friends do. Refreshing. 

And this expanded knowledge base continued, as we spent more time together solo later in the month. Learning all about Ren Fest (I've gone twice, but - he's a performer), and the social importance of Dungeons and Dragons (which, I've never played - but now realize is a wonderful teaching tool for ethics and human interaction). These were topics I'm not used to speaking or learning about, but - more info about both helped me see things very differently, and appreciate the passion and love around these things. In turn, I nerded out about music, and raved about improv comedy, video, and a few of my other passions to him. 

In closing, it's important for us to look at our circles of friends, and the events we attend. Are you 100% comfortable while you're there? Then, you might want to add something else to your networking repertoire, or a few other folks with different backgrounds to your circle of friends.

Because the more we learn about others, their needs, their motivations, the more we learn about ourselves. 

Thanks for reading! 
Erica
 

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Sticker Shock After an Estimate? Stop Taking it Personally.

The videos I create have a lot of moving parts. Pre-production, crew, post-production. And with so many businesses getting on board with video, it means a lot of "first timers" are coming to the space. Which, is awesome - right? More people experiencing the power of video marketing! It's so fun to hold their hand as they step into this new world. 

 On a shoot for Mayo/University of MN - Rochester

On a shoot for Mayo/University of MN - Rochester

But, when it's your first time at anything, there are typically growing pains. And usually, that means a bit of sticker shock when they receive their first estimate. This used to bum me out, I took it personally, telling myself, "They don't think you're worth it. This sucks!" When, in reality - that has nothing to do with it.

Here is the thing: being offended gets you nowhere.

It simply means their budget is not allocated for that much money, and they're probably scrambling and not sure what to do - because nobody wants to tell their boss they need more money, right?

I instruct a lot of "how to" video workshops. And, recently, a fellow video producer said to me,
 

"It just drives me crazy when people like you talk about video for social media and digital marketing it's all "this is great" "you need to do this" and how to promote it. Yet, when I get clients who ask me for video, and I explain the workflow and prices involved they get sticker shock." 

 Speaking at Social Media Breakfast - photo: Teresa Boardman

Speaking at Social Media Breakfast - photo: Teresa Boardman

 On a "how to" video panel. Photo: Teresa Boardman

On a "how to" video panel. Photo: Teresa Boardman

Here is the thing...many of the workshops I give, are honestly a direct result OF sticker shock, and I'm completely OK with that. Sometimes it's because a client and I have really explored what goals they're looking to accomplish, and how often they should be producing videos - and we realize, they just don't have the budget capacity to keep up high/professional level of production all year. But, if they're looking to do simple things like video blog, or learn how to do a timelapse with their phone to capture and event...why wouldn't I just teach them how to do it? I'd rather lose a big video project, and gain the trust of a new collaborator via a workshop, then alienating them to the process overall because they didn't get results with their grand idea that was mis-targeted. Because, honestly - I LOVE video, and think it's a beautiful way to communicate with your target audience. I want you to love it. And if you don't love it, I at least want you to understand it. 

One of the biggest mistakes I see video producers making, is huffing and puffing about clients who don't understand budget. If they don't understand it...it's actually your fault. My business advisor pointed this out to me, early on. He noticed that I was waiting until we were knee deep in creative, and 3 meetings in, before mentioning price at all. Therefore, I'd feel very sad about the fact that I was giving creative away "for free" only to not have a conversion. Now, I bring up a rough price range upon first meeting, every time. It saves a lot of headache. And, I also offer to sit down and itemize the quote with the clients, so they can understand why the price is higher than expected. 

 

 Speaking at the American Marketing Association "MN Ad Bowl" about Superbowl ads. 

Speaking at the American Marketing Association "MN Ad Bowl" about Superbowl ads. 

Not all companies "need" pro level video.  Gasp. Yes, it's true. Depending on their industry, something along the amateur lines may even be more effective. It's up to me as a producer, to help them figure out how to best reach their audience. Example: a non-profit approached me last summer about doing a grand "about us" video. But, when we drilled down and looked at goals - we realized their biggest goal was to prove to donors on a monthly basis that their money was doing good. One video wouldn't have accomplished that goal. So, providing a workshop about how to capture events on a mobile phone was the best option. This way, they could interview people who are impacted by this service (in this case, a food shelf), and send out little clips via email - bringing donors monthly story snippets. Instead of giving them one amazing "We Are Awesome" video, that probably would have left donors wondering, "Did my money go towards making that video, instead of directly to the people who were hungry?" 

Often times when I sit down with a client to explain the process, they immediately get on board and realize professional grade production is a lot more time and work than an iphone and an actor. In fact, I had two clients last year that, after going through this process - came back to me, and offered to pay above the budget I had proposed, because they felt I was underbidding for what I'd be doing. 

 On a shoot for Brenda Knowles Golbus.

On a shoot for Brenda Knowles Golbus.

So, to the bitter folks who rant and rave about clients not "getting it" I encourage you to look in the mirror. Because if they don't get it, chances are you might not be explaining it in a clear fashion. Or, there is the slim chance that they're just a d-bag...and in that case, aren't you lucky that you are missing that "opportunity" to work with someone who's close minded about your craft? ha! Taking it personally doesn't help anyone. You have a budget for your business, in the same way that they have a budget for theirs. Help them learn more about the process, and who knows - maybe next year they'll fight for a bigger bucket for video, and come back with a request for a really cool project. 

Clients refusing to pay a certain amount of MONEY...does in no way hurt or lower, your actual VALUE. 

Thanks for reading, 

Erica Hanna
6 time Emmy Winner
Video Director/Producer
Minneapolis, Minnesota

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Why I Don't Mind Being Called a "Self Promoter"

"Nobody talks about you...as much as you do." 

When someone said this to my face, it stopped me in my tracks. Suddenly, I was paranoid. My heart, racing. Panic attack, pending. All I could think of was, 

"Do people think I'm a bragging jerkface?" 

 Our crew for Lizz Winstead's New Years Eve comedy special. L to R: Ian Schwartz - Engineer, Liz Zilka - hair/makeup, Nick Kesler - Dir of Photography, Lizz Winstead - Executive Producer/ass kicker/the star, Erica Hanna - Production Director, Maggie McPherson - Executive Producer

Our crew for Lizz Winstead's New Years Eve comedy special. L to R: Ian Schwartz - Engineer, Liz Zilka - hair/makeup, Nick Kesler - Dir of Photography, Lizz Winstead - Executive Producer/ass kicker/the star, Erica Hanna - Production Director, Maggie McPherson - Executive Producer

So, I sat back. Didn't talk about work, life, coffees with friends, etc...for awhile. And I felt, bummed. Not because I was looking for recognition, but mainly because when my clients ask me to help them make cool things, I only sign on if it's something that makes me EXCITED. And, when I'm excited about something - I love to shout it from the rooftops, because you never know who else will be excited, too.

It's part of the idea of creating a career that you never feel like you need a "vacation" from. I don't dread getting out of bed anymore (OK, some days when we have 6am call times for shoots, it's not alllll that glamorous, but still), and since I love my crew members like family - it's a treat to get to see them. 

 Speaking at the "Lean In MSP" conference about confidence. 

Speaking at the "Lean In MSP" conference about confidence. 

The difference between now  and before - is that I  post a lot more on social about work than I used to. But, that's because work makes me HAPPY! I want to talk about it. I don't need to post photos of myself getting wasted in an attempt to escape my job...because my job, IS the fun part now. (But, hey...I'm not going to turn down a small sip of Glenlivet, if you're offering - wink wink)

 Hanging with comedian/creator of the Daily Show Lizz Winstead, before our shoot.

Hanging with comedian/creator of the Daily Show Lizz Winstead, before our shoot.

What confuses me, is that I get crap for talking about what I love....yet, nobody bats an eye when people complain about what they hate. Politics. Work. Family. Healthcare. Some folks drone on and on (oh yes, I realize - I rant about politics a lot - guilty!), yet - they AREN'T classified as "SELF COMPLAINERS". Why? Because well, it's "normal" to whine. It's normal to bitch on social media, but not always normal to concentrate on what is good. 

I heard a great quote by Scott Stabile the other day,

Talking about our problems is our greatest addiction. Break the habit, talk about your joys.”
— Scott Stabile
 Pictured: Nick Kesler. You know you've found the right Director of Photography, when you call to talk to each other about life for 2-3 hours at a time. 

Pictured: Nick Kesler. You know you've found the right Director of Photography, when you call to talk to each other about life for 2-3 hours at a time. 

So, go right ahead...call me a self promoter. I call it living out loud, loving what you do, and who you do it with. And, if that makes you uncomfortable - I guess that's none of my business. 

Keep Puking Rainbows, 
Erica
 

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2015: A Year of Puking Rainbows

2015...wow, what a year. Where do I even begin?

After starting out slow, and questioning my decision to fly solo every single day for the first two months of the year, things really have ended with a bang!  Below is an infographic showing some of the rad highlights of the year. But, as far as putting words to them - there isn't much else to say except, "Thank you for growing with me." 

I made a lot of mistakes my first year in business. And for the first time, this perfectionist is happy about that. I learned that delegating is the ultimate compliment you can give someone, and that you can actually hurt a project by taking on too much. I learned that stress can be disguised in the form of LOVE of what you do, and manifests in adrenaline....tricking your body into thinking it never needs to sleep. Nope, wrong - sleeping is what keeps your brain functional, and...you out of the doctor's office (yeah, about that "acute exhaustion" diagnosis in July...oops, lesson learned). 

But the biggest takeaway from 2015? Trust. Trust the people around you who tell you to try something completely new, crazy, fun, and different. I've always wanted to push the envelope with creativity and video, and now - applying that philosophy to life, has been freakin' priceless. A few times being pushed past fear paid off this year: 
1. Acting as Production Director for Lizz Winstead's Comedy special (I cried in fear when I said "yes"...not lying)
2. Signing my first retainer contract with Emmy Winners Tonic Sol-Fa (working side by side with friends can be daunting, but so worth it)
3. Signing my second retainer contract with Steven C. Anderson, and helping him fill 2,500 seats at the Cathedral (yup, was terrified I would fail)
4. Saying "yes" to helping an old friend rescue a video project that another agency had dropped the ball on, and turning around a new product in just a few weeks
5. Helping the U of M Rochester Promote their new Health Sciences Programs in collaboration with Mayo Clinic (I honestly thought I'd never learn the terminology and I'd offend all the doctors).
6. Working with a NASA astronaut to deliver some fun social content for the Science Museum

All of these things....SOOOOOO SCARY at first. But, ended up being some of the biggest highlights of my career so far. Proving once again, that fear - sometimes doesn't know what the hell it's doing, and needs to quiet down. 

 So, thank you for holding my hand through the mistakes. For helping me put on my big girl pants, and grow up in the process. Because of those "failures"  and "fears" I feel more equipped than ever to handle anything life/work throws at me in 2016.
Happy New Year, rainbow pukers! 

 Don't judge me....you know I fudged the number of curse words. Blame the creative cloud. 

Don't judge me....you know I fudged the number of curse words. Blame the creative cloud. 

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The Value of a Working Vacation

"Working vacation? You have to be kidding!" That was the reaction from most people when I used the term. I had planned a two night getaway to Duluth. Craving the sight of water, zen and a need to "buckle down" when it came to planning my future. I've heard from quite a few business owners who struggle with this: hammering so hard on the day-to-day operations/making rent, that thinking about the future seems like something always just barely out of reach. 

beanerscafe

I had big plans for what I was going to accomplish. Tactical solutions for a hurdle I've been encountering, planning and process to make sure I don't drop the ball on projects, planning my 1-year Puke Rainbows Party (you're invited!), and a list of approximately 7-8 other things. 

It was ambitious.
It was aggressive. 
It was...not at all what I needed. 

You see, my job has been this HUGE source of joy for me this year. It's more than a job, actually - it's inspiration, daily - both from the clients I work with (yup, kissing ass here), and the other production folks I learn from (yup, another round of ass kissing). But, that joy has been laced with some anxiety. Always this little feeling in my stomach that I'm not doing "enough." That I could be refining a process. That I could be quicker with an invoice. That I could just be...better. 

But, as I sat down to write my business plan for year two, I thought about goals. "Just TYPE, Erica..." I told myself. Because writing is always something that simply flows. So, I did. And this, is what came out: 

pukerainbows.com

Then, I chuckled and stretched my hands above my head. Cheering to myself a bit. Laughing, knowing it wasn't that simple. But, nonetheless - it just felt....good, to see that statement in writing. 

Just a few moments after I posted the above photo, there was my buddy Blois Olson - on the phone. Offering great advice. What followed was a quick 15 minute conversation about where I'm at, what I enjoy, and where I want things to be. Really valuable stuff (Thanks, Blois). 

And as I hung up the phone, I felt a sense of calm and reassurance. I already KNEW what I wanted. But, hearing the words come out of my mouth - and tossing around ideas/thoughts with a colleague, was what I NEEDED. Not some fancy 10 step plan. Not a complex strategy. Just...articulation. 

I closed my laptop. 
And looked outside. 

duluth

The water was blue. Choppy. The perfect metaphor, honestly. Just like being a business owner.

Because when you're in the middle of things, there are times you quickly go from swimming and playing in the water, to a feeling of drowning. But really, all you need - is to step out of the water for a minute (or perhaps a day or two) to remind yourself you've really been swimming hard, and that it was worth it - because you made it to the other side of the shore. 

This is probably the part of the story where you expect me to say I kept my laptop closed for the remainder of the trip. 

I didn't. 

But, focus DID change. Instead, I spent a little bit more time looking back, than I had expected. Re-hashing the highlights of the year, crunching numbers, mapping out rough goals to keep in mind - and possible ways to accomplish them, instead of a rigid plan full of tools I don't understand quite yet. More focus on balance. 

One other thing also change. I turned on my TV.   Because, I never do that. Ever. In fact, I don't have a TV anymore - because, well...the internet. Tuning out - brought a sense of escape and balance to the process. Commercials would come, and I'd continue to hammer away at things in between before/afters on HGTV (don't you dare judge me!). Also, indulging in the guilty pleasure of an hour of reality TV (couldn't stomach more than that) brought perspective - because damn, I am SO GLAD I don't have the same life as a "Real Housewife" in New Jersey. ha! 

So, as I pack up my things and gear up to head home - I've learned a few valuable lessons: 

1. Sometimes you already know what you want to do, you just need to jump out of the water to see it. 
2. Don't let the lack of a 20 part plan stop you in your tracks. There is more than one RIGHT way to do something. If you know the goal, keep moving toward it - be agile, eyes open,  and allow things to have breathing room/flexibility. 
3. Talk it out. Bouncing ideas around with someone is a great way to get out of your head. 
4. Never underestimate the stress relieving power of driving for 2 hours with the radio on full blast.
5. A little reality TV never hurt anyone. And, it can make you feel way better about your life. ;-)

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Video Content: Simple is the Creative Goal

As I was sitting in a coffee shop, listening to two gentlemen attempt to "out buzzword" each other, it occurred to me that most things we do as marketers - end up overcomplicating everyday conversations we have. And, the same holds true for creative. Sure, it may be clever...but, if in the end your consumer/viewer doesn't understand the point - you've probably lost a client (or, at least you should). 

Listen, Minneapolis is full of amazingly talented and creative people - there is no doubt about that. But, the more I start to heed the advice of an old boss and think of creative as a vehicle to simplify a message - the better off the end product is. Here is the little coffee shop rant inspired post. 


Who do you see that does this well? I think the guys over at Sandwich video are killing it (yes, gasp! I'm promoting a competitor - and totally fine with that) And, the folks behind the Dollar Shave Club commercials are really doing a great job as well. Simple doesn't need to mean boring, remember. 

Thanks for stopping by, you guys - tell me what you think. And, as usual - keep puking rainbows! 

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