Use video to promote your creative business is a fantastic way to tell your story and explain what you do and why – with much more emotion and impact than any written blog post ever can achieve!
We at The Design Trust love videos!
The Design Trust are increasingly using video content as another, more creative and visual way to talk with our readers, to capture our events or to teach business skills in a very direct way.
We were very pleased to have met photographer Richard Foot and digital media artist Arron Fowler of R&A Collaborations recently, who create films specifically for designers and makers. And we asked them to write this practical guest post featuring 3 of their videos with designer makers.
About R&A Collaboration
R&A Collaborations was born out of an open submission for the Craft Council UK’s ‘Power of Making’ Exhibition in 2011. With their new found love of all things crafty, they soon realised that there were some fascinating stories out there to tell.
R&A’s ethos is to promote makers by engaging public interest in the person behind the products. The films aim to capture the makers’ personality and get across the reasons why they are compelled to do what they do.
It is important to R&A that each film is created with as much care and attention as the works they set out to promote. So far they have made over 20 films which have taken them on adventures all across the country.
Here they explain 6 common questions if you want to start using video to promote your craft or design business:
1: What’s your story?
‘People visit your website and can read about your qualifications, exhibitions, shows that you’ve done and photos of your products.
However it’s much harder to convey the story behind why you do what you do.
Having a short film made which shows behind the scenes, you working, the ephemera of your workspace, places that inspire you and what makes you tick, is much more likely to draw people in and become interested in what you do.
If there’s a compelling story to be told, people are much more likely to want to become customers and buy into you and your brand.
Your work bench or tools may not seem that interesting to you, you are so familiar with them, but they can be the key to grabbing someone’s attention. We’ve certainly found visiting people’s studios and workshops to be fascinating.
Seeing the making process happening, can explain the worth of a product, in a way words and photographs can’t.
For some viewers watching you talk with great passion for your work, or the idea’s behind it, will be the hook.
Some viewers like the sound of a loom clunking, the messy bench of a jewellery maker, the clack of a typewriter making a mark on a negative.
The story behind a product is full of potential, endless, varied and above all littered with moments that everyone can identify with.
We have found our own hooks, for a variety of crafts, over the past year and none of them came from write ups or photographs. Our hooks are made of conversations with people who have shared their passions with us.
No passion, no story, no hook.’
2. What to consider when you want to have a film made?
‘Film is becoming more popular with the advance of the web, social media and smart phones.
How long should your film be? People’s attention spans are short therefore it needs to be focused and between 1 and 5 minutes long.
In terms of content you need to think about what the focus of your film will be. It could be fairly general about you, like a biography, or more targeted about a new product, or range you are bringing out.
It’s easy to convey the hard elements like size, cost, postage and packing, but to get across the soft elements, like the love that has gone into making, the smell of the process, the feeling making has on you, the obsession required to achieve a detail that might not be noticed by anyone else, is harder.
After all who gets excited by P&P?
But to know that tin cries like an angel singing, when worked, is something you do not get from the brooch that was made from it.
Even to write it, does not do it justice (‘Tin cry?’ I hear you say!) It is something you need to hear to hope to understand.
Film is a way of communicating the softer side of your process, capturing the sidelines of the making.’
3. DIY or use a professional film maker?
It’s tempting to make your own film in this era of mobile devices and cameras in every pocket.
Some people will have the gift and nail a sublime film first go. We filmmakers hate these people, but if you are like most normal people, your DIY film will be rubbish.
Don’t let this put you off of making films and experimenting, it can be incredibly rewarding, but would you use the poorest quality materials to make your products and ask a novice to do the production?
A film on your website will make a statement about the quality of and confidence in your work.
It’s worth getting a professional filmmaker in, simply because they have trained in that field. They have made their mistakes, learned their lessons, thought things through, dream in aspect ratios, make viewfinders with their hands in public without a hint of shame, they use good equipment and ultimately live in fear of having their work rejected by you and make sure that won’t happen.
As filmmakers we would not make a film about ourselves.
There we have said it.
But it is not because we are not able. It is because we are too close to ourselves. We can’t see the wood for the trees; we would overlook the interesting parts of our own story, for the bits that we most care about (the money).
We hate the way we sound, the way we talk and the way we look.
You might hate the sound of your own voice but the filmmaker won’t and they won’t let your prejudices, affect their judgment, about the worth of what you are saying.
A good filmmaker will ask you questions you haven’t thought about before and make you think in a different way, about what you do, something which won’t happen if you try and make it yourself.
4. What does the filmmaker need to know about me?
To get the film that’s right for you, it’s important to communicate clearly with the filmmaker about what you want – the focus of the film and your story.
If you draw up a hit list of images you want to include and things you need to say, it will maximise the time when you come to shooting the film.
If the filmmaker does not get your values, care about your work or fill you with confidence, then it is time to say goodbye.
There are more film fish in the film sea.
5. What do I do if I hate being photographed or filmed?
Many of you may be camera shy, but there are ways around that.
Your film doesn’t have to feature images of you at all, if you insist.
If you don’t want to feature in it directly, then that is the challenge you set for the filmmaker. The more challenges there are, the more opportunities for genuine creative solutions to arise.
Remember that your issues are not your problem; they are the filmmaker’s problems.
Don’t be tempted to provide all the answers yourself; this might lead you to never taking the opportunity to make a film in the first place.
The films we make are born out of the problems we have to overcome. This is how we like it!
6. How can I use my film to promote myself?
The most common places to upload films on the web are YouTube and Vimeo, but there are many other options. From these it’s possible to link to, or get an embed code. This makes it easy to post to social media pages and using the embed code, to place the film in a more permanent way, onto your own website.
This is simpler than it sounds and involves copying and pasting a small piece of html code from the films location, into your site. If it’s too techy, then either the filmmaker, or the person running your website, should be able to help.
We would always assist with this for our clients, as it is really easy if you know exactly what you are doing!
Posting the film to your social media pages, blogs and mailing lists is the first step to sharing the joy, but mostly that audience already knows you.
How to reach new audiences is the next big step. You could try locating people who blog about your subject, or product and ask them to post it for you. Persisting is the key! Think big, be brave and barter a favour or two. People are genuinely helpful in the online community, if you are personable and friendly.
Your film should have an airing in the real world too! Popping it onto a laptop screen at a trade show, showing it in a shop window, producing a DVD and putting it in the snail mail all have potential benefits. If you make your film with artistic principles, the world of exhibitions and film screenings can provide an avenue to alternative customers.
Sustaining the use of the film is also important and finding the right balance of reposting it takes a bit of experimenting.
Don’t go over board and post it too often. Try to mix the way in which you share it. Posting the same link, in the same place, week after week, will not make you friends.
From time to time try Googling terms such as “top tips on getting my video seen online” and you will be amazed at the help that is out there.
If you want to contact galleries or shops, as potential stockists, it can be a useful first port of call and warmer than an email and will give more of a feel for you and your work.
We are in the digital age so embrace it and communicate to people you wouldn’t have previously imagined.’
If you liked this blog post on starting to use video, you also might like …
to read our blog posts with professional tips to create images for your website, print & social media by photographer Yeshen Venema and A graphic designer’s guide to creating a brand strategy for your design or crafts business by designers Broadbase.
Our Business Club members can also watch …
- This very practical and step-by-step webinar with photographer Jackie King on how to use photography to create your brand,
- Or a webinar with photographer Yeshen Venema on How to work with a professional photographer
- And this webinar with Patricia van den Akker on how to create a successful brand and find your voice.