The craft of producing salable living legacies, celebrations of life, genealogy periodicals, family newsletters, time capsules, biographies, fiction, memoirs, ethno-plays, skits, monologues, autobiographies, events, reunion publications, or gift books.
First posted on Monday, July 14, 2008
How to Make Great Video or Web-Based Family Newsletters, Living Legacies, or Time Capsules
© Anne Hart 2008
How to Make Great Print, Video, Online, DVD, or CD Extended Family Newsletters
DESCRIPTION OF BUSINESS
Here’s how to design memorable video family newsletters. In addition to the usual desktop publishing print-paper-text format, include a DVD or CD of video and/or multimedia for your annual (or frequent) extended family newsletter. Let the viewers see and hear you as well as read your latest news, celebrations of life, events, updates, and announcements. The video extended family newsletter also is appropriate for holidays, turning points, and significant events as well as for family history and genealogy research or news.
What you need to organize to Write and Produce Great Video Family Newsletters
Learn from your research and teach others, including genealogists and family historians the following skills:
How to design and write family history newsletters--or teach others to do the same.
How much time to spend letting each student talk about the work they have done during the week--depending upon how many students you have in class.
How to organize family history files.
How to break topics into memoirs or biographies (family or clients).
How to keep organized and accessible research files
How to write inquiries and queries by email and letter.
How to abstract and transcribe basics.
How to write client or family research reports and summaries.
How to write personal use research reports and summaries
How to make time capsules.
How to put historical context into essays, numbering formats and citation formats.
How to compile and send family newsletters.
How to prepare to write a family history or genealogy-related book.
How to publish and promote a family history or genealogy book.
How to Research, Learn, and Organize the “How-to Skills”
Start by researching the newest trends within families or communities and use compressed video in small mobile players such as cell phones and iPod-like devices. A CD or DVD video or MP3 file of audio may be downloaded to a mobile device—iPod, cell phone, or similar listening or viewing gadget that students frequently use to record lectures.
Anyone with a digital video camcorder, microphone, computer and some technical savvy can launch an Internet video podcast show to inform, direct or enlighten. You can offer foresight, insight, or hindsight. Open a business or find a job delivering family history and genealogy digital video recordings - usually free – as podcasts.
If you want to make money with family history or newsletter video podcasting, offer to sell a sponsor’s publicity and advertising on your video, or an author’s creative works, interviews, or sermons. You can even show people how to fill out tax forms using a video podcast for instruction on most any subject people can learn independently.
People who subscribe to video podcasts usually want to view for free. You can charge for a course to train or teach a class by video lecture and/or demonstration, but what if you want an actual paid job in video podcasting? And can you make more money in video than in the older, audio MP3 file ‘radio’ podcasting?
Check out the RSSJobs Web site at: http://www.rssjobs.com/index.jsp?cid=10. Careers in video podcasting are beginning to bloom as seen by a variety of podcasting associations, news publications, and career information. Even job listings unrelated to podcasting are ‘broadcast’ by RSS feeds. Create your own job in podcasting by showing others how to find new trends and applications in their careers. Make informational, how-to, and motivational video podcasts. What if you want to use video podcasting to actually get hired? Are there jobs right now in video podcasting? Or is the field still primarily for trade publication publishers, syndicators, and video entrepreneurs on the Web?
Any job you’d get right now would be as a content producer for a large news corporation, as an online journalist, or in the technical end of setting up podcast tedhnology for larger corporations in information dissemination and news broadcasting or at colleges that offer courses online.
To get into the field, you might start with your own video podcasting Web site offering to help others find highly valued hard-to-find information or data so new the media hasn’t seen it yet. Video podcasting is a front-loading ancillary like a newsletter-type trade journal particular to a specific industry. An example would be a video podcast on the latest news in XYZ widget manufacture on what deals the competition are signing or what’s new in a specific industry. The difference between a slow, paper print industrial newsletter or trade journal and a video podcast is the speed the news is delivered, fresh from an RSS feed.
When you use RSS feeds to look for any type of job, you use an RSS Reader to make Web browsing less time consuming. An RSS feed researches every RSS capable site you want to read at one time. The feed gives you a list of everything on the site. The RSS feed also lets you know which items you’ve already read. Then it highlights the updated and new Web sites that you haven’t seen.
Not only can you search for a job, but you can find a job, make a career, or open your own business writing, producing, and syndicating video podcasts. What’s in it for you? And how can you compete with the huge news TV conglomerates already distributing free news video podcasts on the Web? Podcasting also is a global pulpit. Churches are using video podcasts.
Aren’t the news organizations merging, downsizing, and employing fewer newsgathering personnel in favor of expanding news syndication channels? Video podcasts are not only for news and opinion. Compressed video files on Web sites that can be downloaded to mobile players such as video iPods and comparable devices are wonderful tools for learning and creative innovation. Video content finally has been democratized.
Podcasting, a term originally based on the name for Apple's portable media player and similar devices from its competition, allows customers to download audio and/or video segments for free to their computers and portable devices. The popularity of home-grown broadcasters is revolutionizing movie making. In a parallel information dissemination industry, print-on-demand publishing revolutionized the ability of freelance journalists to become published book authors.
Here are the steps you can follow to learn how to open a business producing short video segments that can play on viewers' mobile players or personal computers. These video segments can be how-to information, interviews with authors, courses, tutorials, religious sermons, life stories, animation/cartoons, games, plays, narrated, dramatized novels, science, travel, parenting skills, children’s programming, music, dance, poetry, infomercials, reality TV, historical, news, opinions, health, nutrition, exotic, ancient, or traditional ethnic weddings, rites of passage celebrations, reviewing movies, books or other creative projects such as architecture, housing, or virtual reality, sports, competitions, job interviews, exercise, comedy, or financial advice.
Broadcast commentary or conduct interviews about business, politics, global trade, environmental science, organizational communications management, or anything that is popular culture, high-brow, ethnic traditions, folklore, comedy and humor. Research what topic is most in demand by niche audiences compared to what is requested by the general public.
Your video podcasts may be aimed at various age groups, children, adolescents, parents, honeymooners, young married couples, middle-aged empty nesters, or mature adults and gerontologists. If you do your market research before you start, you’ll find an audience or special interest group for your expertise or field of concentration.
Offer an alternative from the usual cooking shows seen on satellite TV, such as special diets or vegan cooking, or ethnic and holiday cooking not seen on TV, such as cooking without added trans-fats, salt or sugar, or cooking for metabolic syndrome. Or offer after-school tutoring or home-schooling with videos of trips to local museums. Perhaps you want to show video segments of what’s it like to be old or how parents can solve problems with new babies or pet training. You’re the expert in the topic. Videos can serve hobbies such as scrap booking and quilting or hiking local trails. Or show what is it like at work in different careers aimed at young people deciding on what college major to choose.
The popularity of home-based entrepreneurial broadcasting revolutionized the creative expression industry. Home-grown radio shows, called podcasts are saved as audio MP3 files and uploaded to the Web. Bandwidth-saving video compression software takes up far less space than the usual ‘mpeg’ or ‘wmv’ video files uploaded to the Web.
Following in the steps of the largest news conglomerates that feature online video news segments, home-grown audio broadcasting soon evolved into online, downloadable video. From school lectures, politics, and pet training to music, comedy, and life stories, video segments can be compressed and saved to small, mobile players such as video iPods.
News programs are among the most popular podcasts, but amateurs have changed podcasting into a global phenomenon. Video podcasts can help you learn a foreign language, plan travel, or entertain kids with movies or games in an auto’s back seat while you drive.
What sells best to the general public in video podcasting is how-to information specific to very specialized niche areas. Examples would be how to knit a certain type of garment, how to home-school children in a specific subject, how to build a tool shed, dog house, or repair a broken toilet, sink, or other appliance.
If you think video podcasting will follow the type of entertainment that’s on satellite TV stations, you’re correct. The music videos, the talking-head lectures from distance learning universities, and the general fare that you see on TV and pay TV will be what will also be offered on video podcast. However, you’ll see the niche, underground, and hidden markets as well.
What’ you’ll see on video podcasts are tutoring in high-school or middle-school subjects as well as university courses, weddings and funeral eulogies, pet training and house-sitting, numerology and astrology, psychic readers, the usual pornography videos, and religious programming. You’ll also see more distance learning and home schooling alternatives, more travel and extreme telecommuting to one’s job or business from anywhere on the globe with Internet access on the go.
Video content competes with the entire entertainment industry and schools. To sell your video content, you need to market your video clips as if they were self-published books competing with all the books on bookstore shelves. But even in the book industry, a little more than 55% of books are lined on the bookshelves.
The rest are sold in niche, hidden markets. Examples would be sports, gift, and specialty stores, book fairs, school librarians, and in specialty catalogues. School librarians buy contemporary controversies and issues in the news books and pamphlets that students use to research term papers.
Follow the market that school librarians buy from. Lead with video podcasts
Provide research and resources that help students organize their assignments, term papers, and debates. Follow the money and the markets used by self-published book authors that are successful in marketing their wares. Market your video podcasts—to niche audiences and markets by launching your content in the media.
Educators, preachers, advertisers, counselors, consultants, lawyers, doctors, dancers, artists, musicians, politicians, historians, librarians, movie producers, documentarians, life story videographers, chefs, knitters, crafters, dog trainers, house remodelers, contractors, strippers, pornographers, social scientists, radio talk show hosts, demographers, novelists, scientists, lecturers, travel agents, professional travelers, resort owners, publicists, public speakers, activists, infomercial producers, journalists, playwrights, parents, students, sales representatives, song writers, rappers, and poets (and anyone else with video content) have equal access to video podcast production and content creation.
The common denominator of what might sell as video podcast content and become a viable business is whether the content offers the audience what the specific audience wants to see. Some of the best markets are how-to videos that show people how to solve a problem and get results step-by-step so the viewers can follow.
Here’s how to start a career, get a job, or open a variety of businesses in video podcasting. It’s about putting up on the Internet’s Web video content that anyone with a device such as a video iPod can download video content. If you want a job in video podcasting, you can work for the companies that make the equipment—hardware or software, or those who produce the video content. Or you can start your own business by putting your own video on your Web site. All you need is a camcorder, a computer, and a software program that edits your video so you can create a video podcast online.
Content is in demand now, that video podcasting is still in its infancy. So there’s room to jump in at any age and from any niche.
You can still go the relatively “old fashioned” route for your latest music television productions (MTV) if you’re a musician by looking at the content available through music stores online such as the iTunes Music Store. Or you can put your own content online for streaming video that’s downloadable to devices such as iPods and its competition.
School lectures, foreign language learning, and anything that can be taught are ripe for video podcasting. You can open your own school and teach what you’re expert in, without having to show your degrees and licenses, as long as a license or degree is not required for the subject you’re teaching. An example would be on how to knit dog sweaters or how to publicize your book. You can interview authors and put up a speaker’s panel that people can download on life experiences.
Examples of a video podcast movie would be Crookz, a video podcast (iTMS link) spoof of Cops, is offered at the iTunes Music Store. View what’s out there, and then make your own movies, documentaries, or other video offerings.
What you need to start your own video podcasting production business is a Web camera called a ‘webcam’ and a digital video camera, called a “DV camera.” Creating a video podcast is the first step in becoming a video producer on a neighborhood budget.
Podcast listening is not for music fans any more. Students want to see lectures in video. Older adults want to see their life stories on an iPod or other small, lightweight, mobile device. Children want to see video while they sit in the back seat of cars when on long vacation rides. Adults want to see automobile travel videos showing them where they are going.
So by democratizing video content on the Web with video podcasting enterprises and services, the whole movement of video production for all is following in the path of print on demand published authors. And you need to market your video podcasts much in the same way as print-on-demand published authors market their books to specialized, niche audiences and markets.
It’s a revolution that you want to join, moving from print-on-demand text books whose content is not controlled by copyeditors from major publishing houses to public speakers whose content is not controlled by major news media conglomerates. Now we have video content producers whose visual imagery is not controlled.
This has all come about because there are far more book authors and video producers in the masses than there are room for the converging publishing houses and large video production corporations to allow every author or producer publication or dissemination. Now everyone potentially has a voice and video content that can be heard around the world.
Blogging isn’t enough because many video blogs lack credibility in the mainstream media. Video podcasting now has become simple for non-technical people to publish creative projects online. With less people reading books, and more books being published by print-on-demand authors, the door is open for businesses to step in and offer what people want: visual learning.
Video offers those who want to learn by seeing, or see how hands-on learning is actually done. Text almost always moves to audio and then to video in a variety of learning situations
You’re still competing with the entertainment industry just as computerized interactive learning modules of the 1996 era competed with textbook publishing. According to the Apple Insider article titled, Apple Files For Podcasting Trademark, September 14, 2005 posted at the Web site: http://www.appleinsider.com/article.php?id=1271om, Apple has applied for trademarks relating to the word iPodcast.
If you’re starting a business or looking for a job or career in the world of video podcasting, you need to list as many forms of video entertainment, learning, and leisure that would make money as video podcasts. It helps if you can find celebrities to endorse your how-to, entertainment, or infomercial video podcast.
You can produce and upload video content for other entrepreneurs, including vendors at trade shows and expos. Let’s look at how to product a typical 28 ½ minute video podcast informercial for a Web site, DVD, or CD used to market a product.
If you’re going to make money working in the field of video podcasting, one of the most commercial ways related to schooling or training is the infomercial for a product. Although no audience would pay to watch an infomercial, your advertiser certainly will.
Your clients would be corporations, advertising agencies, publicists, book authors, doctors and other healthcare professionals in practice with advice to sell, and manufacturers as well as technical and business training schools. Here’s how you begin to develop your video podcast infomercial.
The Video Podcast Family Video Newsletter as an Infomercial Selling Family Communication
Produce Video and MP3 Pod-casts and DVDs: Internet Family History and Events Video Infomercials Solving Problems, Revealing Results & Showing People Benefits and Profits
Let the viewers follow your instructions step-by-step
Keep everything you show in a video grouped in threes. People remember three items grouped together. Information given in threes impacts the memory and stays within the average attention span for watching a video segment.
Infomercial pod casting is do-it-yourself online radio, which can also be put on disks such as DVDs or CDs. You create video podcasts as well as backup MP3 audio files that people can download from CDs, DVDs, or their computers through your Web site. Pod casting also is about listening to your infomercials on iPods and other audio players. Making videos for podcasts as well as MP3 audio files are easier and cheaper to produce than recording videos. If you want to go the video route, choose an industrial-quality camcorder, not an amateur quality.
According to the October 18, 2005 article, Creating a Video Podcast on Mac Os X, Apple has added a tutorial at http://www.apple.com/quicktime/tutorials/videopodcasts.html to its site giving directions you easily can follow to create a video podcast using Mac OS X and QuickTime Pro. You’ll learn how to use QuickTime 7 Pro to make an .m4v file that has H.264 video and AAC audio, compatible with iTunes and the latest iPods.
To produce professional-quality podcasts, you need an RSS feed. Check out the site at: http://www.masternewmedia.org/news/2005/03/22/where_to_find_the_right.htm. There are search engines and directories entirely devoted to the indexing of RSS feeds. Read eWeek at: http://www.eweek.com/. Build your own RSS feed for your Web site. Go to Feed for All RSS Feed Creation Tool at: http://www.feedforall.com/. Pay attention to the FeedForAll Web site if you want to learn how to create, edit, manage, and publish RSS feeds.
According to the site, RSS is the standard for content distribution and syndication. The reason you create an RSS feed is to keep visitors to your Web site informed of current material. New RSS feeds can be quickly and easily created with FeedForAll. Advanced features enable you to easily and rapidly create professional looking RSS feeds. Also, read the informative book titled, Syndicating Web Sites with RSS Feeds for Dummies by Ellen Finkelstein, ISBN: 0764588486, published 2005.
Learn about podcasting and/or vodcasting (video podcasting) because you can build your business around your own podcasts
This is one more way to show people how to cut expenses. Your audio books also can be podcasted as MP3 audio files and narrated as video podcasts saved as Windows Media files or mpeg, or any other file extension commonly accepted by the audience for video podcasts. Where you find this information is in the numerous video podcasts magazines and e-zines on the Web. In your search engine use the key words “video podcasting how-to publications” and take your pick of this burgeoning information industry.
Another way to publish audio books as narrated video podcasts is to promote business clients by having dramatizations and public speakers or panels and interviews as video podcasts. Author interviews are a good way to start interviewing people on video or dramatizing documentaries from real life or life story applications. Streaming video and DVD multimedia also are other possibilities.
You can use podcasting to create travel or neighborhood walking and touring guides, talk about any subject, or show people by example how to cut expenses. It’s about making your audio files mobile. People not only listen to current information at Web sites, but also can listen to advertising at trade shows. Podcast online or on disk infomercials and instruction on any subject, including how to start niche-market businesses.
Show others how to save money by shopping for shelf-pulls and overstocked items at hidden markets. Help your audience find little-known opportunities. Offer tips for making non-toxic cleaning products from basic household ingredients, spices, or natural scents.
Sure, you can record to CDs, DVDs, or your Web site, but podcasting is the current trend—broadcasting news from your Web site or downloading the audio MP3 file to an iPod or other audio device. Downloading video via portable devices is here now. Podcasting in MP3 audio to Web sites is like 1940 radio compared to current high definition television. Video is as mobile as audio is mobile. People listen to talk or music podcasting and radio while driving, but view video podcasts when at school lectures, in libraries, while hiking, and when riding public in transportation. An example would be while taking a long overseas or cross-country flight.
Use podcasting for training sessions
Put travel guides in the podcasting formats so people can download the video MP4 and/or audio MP3 files as they walk through various neighborhoods. The podcast video promises mobility of viewing dramatizations and documentaries or listening to hundreds of songs or lectures, books, or training materials, even learning foreign languages saved in the MP3 file format and also podcasted from your Web site as news or easy listening. Anything that can be recorded in video can be viewed as a video podcast and used as instruction or entertainment. Combined, you get ‘edutainment.’
Your next step is to develop direct mail copywriting on podcasts or DVDs to show people how to cut expenses. Infomercial producers can write or hire a freelancer to write infomercials sharing information with people on how to cut expenses and get higher quality goods from hidden markets such as shelf pulls and overstocked items or wholesale items that may be ordered by anyone.
Video podcasting infomercials are similar in production techniques to the “cable TV” and trade show-style infomercial. These 28 1/8 minute-in-length ads broadcast direct mail marketing programs and track TV-shopping audiences. Direct mail copywriting and producing for video telemarketing is one of the highest paying freelance writing available. The manufacturers of the product pay you to podcast the infomercial or produce it on a DVD.
Writers who specialize in writing direct mail copy for both print mail order and video infomercials headed for cable, Internet, or Satellite television can create thriving writing and production businesses catering to telemarketing and mail order corporate clients and copywriters. Another career track is to write in-house for firms who manage telemarketing.
For those who enjoy the music business, you may wish to contact musicians, and open a business that sells their music to the movie industry. Another venue is medical marketing. Write reviews of audio books and videos online or for magazines.
You have a choice of either writing or producing an infomercial or doing both. An infomercial is a long commercial video, running to a half-hour in length, but usually precisely timed at 28 1/2 minutes. It's created to sell by telemarketing. The best infomercial producers use around 400 cuts with music. Many people are interviewed in the infomercial.
Infomercials wait for audience response. The viewer orders the product or service by phoning a toll-free number or sending money to an address flashed on the screen to order the product.
A demonstration video script that solicits audience response through telemarketing on cable stations, or a videobiography script for non-broadcast television personifies and proves a point. Read the book Response Television, by John Witek, Crain Books, Chicago, IL (1981), to get an idea of how response television works. Also read Television and Cable Contacts, Larimi Communications Associates, Ltd., 5 W. 37th St., New York, NY 10018 (212) 819-9310.
Video family newsletters producers of infomercials can also approach corporations to do success story and success case history print or video newsletters. Although it’s more in demand to teach family history classes, producing video newsletters of success stories for corporations can bring in more money by focusing on a target market—the media and the corporation’s public relations budget.
You may wish to charge by the hour, and include production expenses. The current fees vary with location and complexity of job required. Some producers charge $35 and up an hour plus expenses of production. Check the current rate in your area charged by your competition. Check the current rate in your area charged by your competition. Others create a budget with all expenses first, including cost of tape and crew's requirements, then add an hourly fee, plus the post-production editing and distribution expenses.
BEST LOCALE TO OPERATE THE BUSINESS:
Infomercials can be produced on-site at any location of a business. Being near your clients helps. Big centers for production of infomercials include Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, New York, Chicago, and Orlando, Florida. San Francisco is the hub for multimedia and interactive infomercials, including the San Jose/Silicon Valley area for the software infomercials.
It's best to take courses in video production or read books on how to produce infomercials before you begin. Join professional associations and volunteer. Attend trade shows for infomercial producers and watch a variety of infomercials. Study the number of cuts in popular infomercials.
GENERAL APTITUDE OR EXPERIENCE:
Creativity, imagination, and experience with a variety of sales and marketing alternatives are beneficial. You're always offering the benefits and advantages of a product. Therefore, sales and marketing training combined with video production experience or coursework is best. It will save you money if you can write your own scripts as well.
You'll need your Internet or digital video camera attached to your PC and hooked into your Internet Service Provider, narrator, host, editing equipment or access to video editing services, your video crew, and a good sound stage or work area to tape the commercial. There should be an audience, and special effects to show the phone number and address where television viewers can phone or send in the order for the product. You'll need to hire operators who take the call on a 24-hour basis. Charge the cost of phone expenses to your client's budget.
You'll also need a computer to track your customers so you'll have a list of television viewers who shop after watching infomercials. Watch infomercials and note the special effects used.
OPERATING YOUR BUSINESS:
Escape doesn't work in a how-to infomercial. A viewer watching a tape on on how to buy real estate doesn't want to be swept away to a castle in a fantasy setting for long. It might work in an infomercial selling a general idea or theory that applies to many people in many jobs, such as how to get power and success in relationships or careers.
Infomercial scriptwriters don't resort to gimmicks. They give information for decision-making by presenting the points in as straightforward a manner as possible for intelligent decision-making. The questions of who, what, how, why, where, and when are answered as in an in-depth straight news article.
The viewers want to be well-informed before they spend their life-savings, their "blood money" on a cable television advertisement. They are wondering whether they can buy it cheaper in a store or at the swap meet as they dial the phone.
Will they be hit with a handling and shipping charge that raises the cost another ten dollars? The customer wonders what happens when they give their credit card number to a total stranger on a toll-free number across the country. Who else will have access to that credit card number?
Some beginning infomercial writers turn out scripts that use the techniques of a Hollywood filmmaker to make people watch. Instead, they should be writing to make people buy one brand over another. There's no correlation between a person liking an infomercial and being sold by it.
Should you use direct, tough commercials because they work? Or do they? Hard hitting, informative infomercials and commercials may sell a product where the customer is watching solely to get information. Soft-sell imagery doesn't work in infomercials like they do in 30-second commercials selling the imagery of the pleasure of eating a bar of chocolate.
Infomercials emphasize believability, clarity, and simplicity over creativity. Don't write confusion into a script by putting in too much dazzle, sensation, and entertainment that overpower the information and message. The emphasis is on helping the customer make a sensible purchase.
Small budgets often do better than big ones in the infomercial for cable T.V. production. TV's longest-running commercial which offers a record set of "150 Music Masterpieces" through mail order by phoning a toll-free number, was made in 1968 for only $5,000. It sold millions of dollars worth of records through mail order because of this one television advertisement.
There are a dozen types of infomercials. They include the following:
1) Product demonstration.
Scripts are used for trade show exhibition and continuous loop playing.
Real people on tape add credibility for a product.
3) The pitchman.
A straight narrator delivers a sales pitch on the product to give vital information in the shortest period of time. This is a talking head short that should only be used for brief commercials or a scene in an infomercial of less than 10 seconds.
This is a dramatization between two people and a product.
In an infomercial or training script, the dramatization is a container that can be used to portray true-life events to teach people how to make decisions or how and where to get information.
5) Socio-economic lifestyle.
The social class of the user is emphasized to show how the product fits into a certain economic class such as blue collar, yuppie, new parent, career woman climbing the ladder, or senior citizen retiree.
Examples are Grey Poupon, the upper-caste mustard selling to social climbers and Miller Beer dedicated to blue collar workers celebrating the idea of the working man and woman being rewarded for hard labor with a cold beer. (View the Mustard Museum Web site at: http://www.mustardmuseum.com/.)
Cartoon infomercials sell to children in school and at home. Adults become impatient watching a cartoon demonstration. Animation is expensive to produce for cable television. Use it only to sell to children or to sell supplies to professional animators in non-broadcast demonstration video tapes used to sell products through mail order or at an animator's trade show or exhibit.
Lyrics work in short commercials because they are remembered. A best-selling board game called 'Adverteasements' makes players recall all the advertising jingles and trivia information from their past. Ask any person in the street to sing the jingle of an advertisement, and chances are he or she will remember the jingle.
8) The mini-feature film with visual effects.
(Case studies don't report that action set in fantasy ‘scapes’ sells more products.)
In short commercials humor works well as in "Where's the beef?" In long infomercials, it distracts from the information. Some humor can be used to prove a point in a long commercial. Infomercials sell credibility. Humor distracts from believability.
10) Serial characters.
A fictional character who appears in print ads and short commercials, such as Mr. Whipple or the Pillsbury Doughboy is very effective.
In a longer commercial, viewers will soon tire of the fantasy character and change the channel. Infomercial viewers want to see real people's testimonials, people like themselves with whom they can identify. Keep the fictional character out of a true-story informational commercial. People want references. Give them references who testify why the product works so well.
11. Tell-me-why infomercials.
Give people reasons why the product works as it does and why they should buy it. Reason-why copy works better in print than in a short T.V. or radio commercial. However, in an infomercial for cable, obtaining "tell me why" information is the reason people watch in the first place. Viewers want the writer to go ahead. Make their day.
12. Feelings, Intuition, and Sensation.
Tug at my guilt-strings. Persuasive infomercials use feelings backed up by logical points that prove a point about a product. Move the viewer by writing genuine emotional copy. A dramatization showing a person shedding tears of joy that someone has telephoned long distance is persuasive. It makes viewers feel guilty they haven't called their mother in years. Infomercials emphasize demonstrations, testimonials, pitchpersons, and straight-sell formulas.
A little emotion within a dramatization can be very persuasive. Either it will sell the product or evoke guilt and anger in the viewer for not having lived up to expectations. The viewer could have conflicting feelings.
He may not want to call someone he dislikes because of having suffered emotional abuse in that person's presence. A whole slew of nasty or sentimental feelings totally unrelated to selling the product can be unleashed by one emotional scene in a commercial.
The emotional, "tug at my guilt-strings" ‘approach’ works when selling nostalgia. Emotion persuades people to make more telephone calls, or send more candy and flowers by wire.
Using the emotion strategy in infomercials works well for selling sentiment, communications products, craft and knitting machines, charm bracelets, products for the elderly, or greeting cards. Look at the success of the long-running AT&T commercial, "Reach Out and Touch Someone." Who doesn't remember that command to extravert?
To write an infomercial that sells, first find out the producer's budget
Then deliver a selling message within the budget and time limits. Turn the sound off. Can you still understand what is being sold? Sight and sound works together. Use sound only to explain what the picture is demonstrating.
Keep the pictures simple. Use words to make an impact, the fewer the words, the better. The more complex the graphics, the few the words are used to explain them. Computer graphics, special effects, and animation are expensive. The stand-up presenter and demonstrator cost much less.
Ninety words can be spoken in 60 seconds. Forty-five words can be crammed into 30 seconds. Many 30 and 60-second commercials contain far less words so the viewer can really get the information. Compare this to the print ad which usually runs 1,500 words in a 30-60 second read.
Sell every second the script is on the airwaves. The first four seconds of an infomercial are the same as the headlines of a print ad. The viewer takes four seconds to decide if he/she will sit through the rest of the infomercial or commercial.
Open the infomercial with a real-life situation. It must hook the viewer in those first four seconds. The music and visuals can add the background. The opening is called the cow-catcher. It's supposed to grab the viewer. After seven minutes, the average attention span wanes quickly.
Use motion to keep attention riveted. Show the syrup pouring, the machines working, the demonstrator moving. Let the viewer hear the whirr of the machine as it moves forward. The sound is more appetizing than the look.
Use titles superimposed over the picture to reinforce a sales point not covered in the narration. The address and phone of the company are always superimposed in addition to the narrator's spoken words. What if the viewers are deaf or blind, can they still read or hear the infomercial? Have titles superimposed on the infomercial saying "Not available in stores," when applicable.
The market for Spanish language infomercials is skyrocketing in the Southwest and in California and Mexico. Bilingual video scriptwriters are in demand. In some of the major cities such as Los Angeles and New York, infomercials in several foreign languages are broadcast on cable television's ethnic and foreign language programming stations or on radio.
Some video magazines to sell products are made in two languages, especially to reach the huge Hispanic market in California and the Southwest. Every infomercial repeats the product name and selling point several times. Most viewers aren't paying attention when the infomercial comes on. A repetitive script is necessary in this case. The product name and selling point is repeated at the beginning, middle, and end of the infomercial.
Viewers of infomercials get bored quickly if the presenter isn't somewhat different. You may wish to use someone who looks five years old, for example, to sell a product emotionally that would appeal to those who with experience around similar individuals. Have an adult present the points and logic behind the demonstration for credibility.
Show people using the product constantly throughout the infomercial. Product neglect is the primary reason why infomercials don't sell. Show people demonstrating, talking about, and applying the product to many different uses. Proven techniques in print ads also work in television infomercials, such as color reversals, black background with white letters superimposed over a photo, etc. In infomercials, viewers call or write to order the product.
Announce this at the beginning with something like, "Get your pencil and paper ready to take advantage of this one-time offer." Few people sit down in front of a T.V. set with a notepad. It's entertainment time. Someone also may reach for a digital voice recorder.
The infomercial is an unwanted intrusion that angers a lot of people. Late night infomercials interrupt late night films. People may be grumpy at 3:00 a.m. or 5:00 a.m. when many infomercials are broadcast. Prime-time cable infomercials interrupt the entertainment. Give people a chance to get out of bed or away from the graveyard shift desk clerk slot and get paper and pencil.
Use a celebrity to do a voice-over or on-camera narration. Identify the celebrity by name and superimposed title. In local retail infomercials, give the directions or address of the store.
Short T.V. and radio commercial basic lengths run 10, 30,60, and 120 seconds. Infomercials run 5, and 30 minutes. The 30 minute length actually runs 28 1/2 minutes. Infomercial lengths stop short of 30 minutes or 5 minutes to allow for short commercials to be broadcast before and after the infomercial on cable T.V. stations.
The 10-second commercials identify a product to support another longer commercial. Sometimes two different product companies share one commercial--offering two different products.
Mail order advertisers use 2-minute infomercials on T.V. to be convincing, then follow up the campaign on cable T.V. with a longer infomercial to give more complete product demonstration. Cooking shows that demonstrate appliances such as food choppers are popular.
A short T.V. commercial sticks to one main sales point. Only in five to thirty-minute infomercials and in print brochures is there the time to cover all the points. So the only reason a person watches an infomercial or reads a lengthy sales brochure is to consider the most important points you want to emphasize.
The video script format for infomercials uses the two-column format. Video (visuals) is typed on the left. Audio (sound, music, speech, and special effects) is typed on the right.
The video directors are given in upper and lower case letters. The audio or speaking part is typed in capital letters so the narrator or actor can see the speaking parts stand out for easy reading or memorization.
The visuals show the product demonstration. The narration tells the viewers the unique features and benefits of the product. Don't tell how good it is, tell how it will benefit the viewer.
The ending makes the most impact. A play on words can lend humor to the script if it also lends credibility to the product and emphasizes how the customer will save money and get superior merchandise.
If something is more expensive on T.V. than it is when found in the store, sometimes the customer is persuaded by being told he's worth it. The emotional impact hits home by asking, "Don't you think I'm good enough to deserve this product?" It works particularly well on wives who know their husbands are very tight with money and affection.
The customer's attitude toward infomercials is "When someone starts to make money, someone else will appear to take it away." To combat this psychological attitude, infomercial producers focus on "target marketing." It's the idea of having different promotional videos aimed at various segments of the market.
Software sometimes labeled in artsy language, which simply said is “aiming.” In a direct campaign, you target a specific audience of consumers or niche market that includes short news releases explaining the purpose and main pointers in the infomercial. The summary may aim an infomercial campaign at doctors by sending video tapes to hospitals' training departments and another infomercial campaign aimed at lawyers--for the same computer product. You look at what lawyers and doctors have in common—the need for training on software that does specific tasks that both lawyers and hospitals’ training departments perform.
A writer of infomercial scripts uses numerous testimonials, endorsements, and product claims highlighted by music, hundreds of cuts to the product, to users of the product, to satisfied customers amidst a background of special lighting and entertainment to maintain the viewer's attention for the half-hour commercial.
The average adult's attention span for viewing a non-fiction video is only seven minutes. Cut this to five minutes for children’s attention spans. Commercials often are inserted in TV programs after each ten-minute segment.
The quality of an infomercial writer's script can be carefully measured by audience tracking to see how many orders for the product come in at any time. A video demonstration tape or video magazine acts as a company brochure to sell a product requiring non-impulse buying. The customer still has to come into a store or send away for the product, such as real estate.
This is the age of product intelligence for video scriptwriters. Consumers demand real information. Information has turned the word 'sell' into a noun as in information becoming "real sell."
Infomercials on television advertising became popular when the cost of buying time on cable television became low. Advertisers can afford to run five minute to half-hour commercials on cable.
The video scriptwriter of infomercials needs to give complete information and a sales pitch at the same time. Interactive technologies allow viewers at home or corporate viewers at the office or plant to choose which segments of an infomercial they wish to see instead of flipping through a parts catalogue.
Corporate viewers now use their computer keyboards to order products seen on a video tape linked to their computer through desktop video devices. Desktop video enables viewers to interact with a personal computer at home or in the office and with a video cassette tape played on a home or office VCR player and send out orders through a computer modem to anyone's telephone number, usually, with a toll-free 800 number.
Consumers are hungry for information by which they make decisions. A video writer puts in information and leaves out the jingles and other frills seen on short T.V. broadcast commercials that imprint the brain and wring the emotions.
In one survey, 68 percent of viewers said that short commercials don't give any points about a product. They only create an image. An infomercial is designed to give important points. It's similar to a product demonstration tape script or an instructional video.
Information alone is not remembered. The viewer will always take images emotionally. A creative writer's tendency to achieve dramatic results by waiving the rules works in short commercials where style and form evoke more emotions than substance.
For example, a black background with white lettering where the white lettering is printed over or with a photo background imprints the brain. People remember a reversed color advertisement better than white background with black letters.
The success rates of infomercials that break the rules are unpredictable. Video copywriters use what works to obtain consistently high sales results. In any bookstore the how-to books dominate and appeal to the mass audience reader. People come in for straight information when they want to make decisions on what to buy or how to build it.
HOW TO WRITE THE SCRIPTS FOR THE VIDEOS YOU WILL PRODUCE:
Use symbolism and metaphor in your infomercial. A script can visualize the waves of the ocean, flow of a river, or waterfall, or ticking of a clock with the handles speeded up to show the passage of time or evolution of a species. A toy crane truck can recreate an accident to teach decision-making.
Use symbolism and metaphor on camera to re-create the events of your life as they flow, perhaps, by showing the flowing river near a client's hometown.
Symbolism creates new meanings in a script. The symbol must be recognizable by the audience and cross-cultural. What works in one culture may be taboo in another. Find out what the taboo colors are for the country the video will go to.
For example, in Saudi Arabia, red is a taboo color. Writing is never shown in red ink. In China certain shades of blue signify death. Exporters who featured blue dishes in China found the products didn't sell because of the shade. Color symbols are important if the tape is headed for export.
In video production, symbolism is used in corporate history videos to show the change of a company's product. It can also show someone age on camera or grow up from childhood. Metaphor compares a person to another object.
In an infomercial (to publicize someone's color consulting franchise whose logo is a rose), show the main character or proprietor to symbolize her logo. She is like a rose and is selling a product that is supposed to remind the viewer of everything a rose symbolizes. The product is like a rose. It's colorful,-sweet-scented, and blooming.
To symbolize this imagery in a video script, cut to the leading character's velvet, black hair and pouting, red lips. Then cut to a bouquet of dark, red rose. Go back to the character walking through her home dressed in the same shade of red to form a certain imagery of the soul of Spain or a wild, Irish rose.
Then a quick cut to her business, a color consulting firm, where she's matching the red shades of a lipstick to a client's best colors. Then cut to your logo stationery, a red rose. A final cut to a bouquet of red roses is placed in her arms as she welcomes her new baby home, named Rose. (The client may want the baby to turn into the business logo on camera.)
HOW DO ALL THESE CONTAINERS FIT TOGETHER TO PRODUCE AN INFOMERCIAL?
A video script's design is composed of all those containers, edited together, fitted side by side. The important points plus the container adds up to (or equals) the springboard.
A creative springboard is the sum total of each container and each point combined, edited together, fitted so that the whole video or film flows like one piece of cloth with no seams or hanging threads. Is the script sound-oriented for radio, or audio-text? A visually-oriented script with fewer words is filled with symbolism and metaphor instead of straight points. Which creative springboard does the producer define?
Time is budget. A sound-oriented or verbal script's purpose is to persuade, to inform, to warn, to close a sale, to obtain feedback, or to be remembered. A visually-oriented script is there to entertain, evoke emotions, and imprint the imagery on a viewer's brain which will be recalled later without thinking. It's subliminal.
Verbal-oriented video scripts offer information that enable viewers to make intelligent decisions about a product or service. Subliminals imbedded in an infomercial are never revealed verbally. Infomercials and information videos work on the left-hemisphere of the brain, the logical, analytical, decision-making side that seeks verbal information.
Visual-oriental scripts work on the right hemisphere of the brain that controls emotions and imagery. That's where subliminal works are imbedded, and art forms evoke feelings.
One day a viewer daydreams about that candy bar shown on television next to the image of a beautiful woman in flowing chiffon making romantic gestures. Who can forget the decade-plus in the past Nestles’ chocolate bar lyric in the background that begins, "Dreams like this..."?
Writers who specialize in writing direct mail copy for print mail order and video infomercials headed for cable, Internet, or Satellite television can create thriving writing and production businesses catering to telemarketing and mail order corporate clients and copywriters. Another career track is to write in-house for firms who manage telemarketing.
For those who enjoy the music business, contact musicians, and open a business that sells their music to the movie industry. Another venue is medical marketing.
Video and audio tapes are sent by mail order along with print advertising copy and information to customers. Video newsletters may also be included. Direct mail order copywriters for video or print write advertisements, sales letters, and demonstration video scripts to obtain orders for products such as magazine subscriptions and insurance.
A company purchases computer-sorted mailing lists of people in certain geographical, income, professional, ethnic, or age groups. The demonstration tapes or video newsletters are sent to potential customers to motivate viewers to buy a product by direct mail order. An audience-tracking study is followed up to measure the effectiveness of the written copy or the video script. If many products sold through mail order, the writer is judged excellent. The writer's income goes up. The freelancer is now in demand by infomercial producers and direct mail order copy publishers.
Anyone watching an infomercial is an information seeker. A sales video, like a feature film, informs as well as sells escape. The reason to write a nonfiction video script is to create grounds for a decision from the viewer's end. A decision is made not only about a product or service, but about those who identify with the product or feel repelled by the tape.
The infomercial producers set their own guidelines to battle poor public perception of the long-form commercials. The National Infomercial Marketing Association (NIMA) requires members to produce programs based on truthful information in compliance with laws and regulations.
Guidelines cover crucial issues such as sponsorship identification, program production, product claim substantiation, testimonials and endorsements. See the former National Infomercial Marketing Association's guidelines for members. The former National Infomercial Marketing Association is now called the Electronic Retailing Association. The group’s Web site is at: http://www.retailing.org/new_site/default.asp
Writers need to work into the script the ways in which customers can order and pay for the product. What prices are fair? Can the customer buy it cheaper in a discount chain? Then why would he order from cable T.V. and pay more? Is it sold in the stores? Are similar and competing products sold in stores, but this product is sold only on T.V.?
The writer must write copy to sell at the client's prices, sometimes knowing in advance that the customer can get it cheaper in the store than by ordering from T.V. Also, what warranties are on the product? What guarantees do the claims make on T.V.? What are the guidelines for refunds?
THE NATIONAL INFOMERCIAL MARKETING ASSOCIATION (Now called the Electronic Retailing Association)
In the early 1990s, as a condition of the National Infomercial Marketing Association (NIMA) membership, guidelines on refunds, guarantees, warranties, and prices in their information publications for members stated that refunds, guarantees, warranties, and prices are required. Not all infomercial producers are or were members of NIMA. Not all clients of infomercial producers are or were members either.
Today, as a potential video podcaster, you’d look for a client with a product if you do not produce your own product or service that you want to promote through your video podcast. It's the client who makes the product, then hires an infomercial producer as an independent contractor or freelancer. The infomercial producer either hires a freelance infomercial video scriptwriter for the project or has staff writers working in-house. Some video producers specialize only in making infomercials and nothing else in a local area. As a video podcaster, you can make your own product and promote it in your podcast. An example would be an inspirational or motivational speech or sermon, news, or a course offered online.
Back in the early nineties, membership guidelines stated that among NIMA members, if a guideline is violated, a complaint is presented to a review board--two NIMA members and three consultants. If the board finds a violation, the program must be removed from the airwaves within 10 days.
Members in good standing can certify TV station and cable networks that each infomercial complies with the guidelines. NIMA provides telecasters with a list of members in good standing every six months. By codifying the conduct of infomercial producers, the infomercial industry can be lead out of a difficult period when many viewers’ attitudes toward infomercials were low.
Regulations set by NIMA state in part that each video will be preceded and followed with a clear announcement that it's a paid advertisement. There must be sufficient product to meet the demand within 30 days. There must be reliable evidence for all claims. Testimonials from consumers have to be voluntary and from bona fide users of the product. The stated price of the product must disclose all additional costs, postage, and handling.
You can produce and/or write direct mail copy for advertising agencies, direct mail firms, and manufacturers. Also, sales videos or podcasting compressed video files, MP4, or audio MP3 files can be made ready on a Web site for downloading. You can produce video podcasts for realtors, marketing research firms, distributors, and any company wishing to create video or slide-show advertisements as video podcasts. Anything you produce as a podcast also can be recorded on DVDs to mail out to customers and saved in your hard disk drive for updating.
Associations of Interest
American Medical Writers Association
40 West Gude Drive, Suite 101
Rockville, MD 20850-1192
National Association of
Science Writers, Inc.
P.O. Box 890, Hedgesville, WV 25427
American Society of Journalists and Authors
1501 Broadway, Suite 302
New York, NY 10036
Society for Technical Communication
Association of Professional Writing Consultants
Council of the Advancement of Science Writing
P.O. Box 910
Hedgesville, WV 25427
Careers in Science Writing:
World Association of Medical Editors
Text and Academic Authors Association
P.O. Box 76477
St. Petersburg, FL
Education Writers Association
2122 P Street, NW Suite 201
Washington, DC 20037
Council of Biology Editors
American Society of Indexers (for indexing careers)
10200 West 44th Avenue, Suite 304,
Wheat Ridge, CO 80033
Society of Professional Journalists
Eugene S. Pulliam National Journalism Center,
3909 N. Meridian St., Indianapolis, IN 46208
Diversified Media Associations
American Business Press
American Society of Business Press Editors
Associated Business Writers of America
Associazioni ed Enti Professionali -America
Contains a list of South American, Canadian, and US writers’ organizations, including language translation firms.
American Marketing Association
Association of Professional Communications Consultants
Writer’s Encyclopedia A-Z List
Editorial Freelancers Association
The current online Yellow Pages, published annually since 1997 includes listings by skills as well as a specialties index. This association published the hardcopy, Yellow Pages, a listing of Association members who wished to advertise their skills and specialties, between 1989 and 1999.
International Women’s Writing Guild
The International Women's Writing Guild, headquartered in New York and founded in 1976, is a network for the personal and professional empowerment of women through writing.
Video Software Dealers Association
Public Relations Society of America
Deep Dish TV
Video History Project
Advertising Research Foundation
The Mail Preference Service
Advertising Associations Directory
Mailing Fulfillment Service Association
Television Bureau of Advertising
Home Improvement Research Institute
Professional and Technical Consultants Association
Association of Independent Commercial Producers
National Cable & Telecommunications Association
International Association of Women in Radio and Television
National Communication Association
The Association for Women in Communications
Society of Telecommunications Consultants
European Training Media Association
Advertising Research Foundation
641 Lexington Avenue • New York, NY 10022
International Women’s Media Foundation
Independent Publishers Group
American Society of Media Photographers
150 North Second Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106
(Electronic imaging and digital technology)
International Interactive Communications Society
International Multimedia Association
National Cable Television Association
Electronic Retailing Association (Formerly, the National Infomercial Marketing Association)
Association of Independent Commercial Producers
Directory of PR Consultancies and Press Release Writers
It's easy to start, teach, and franchise a creative genealogy writing club, class, or publication. Flesh out each category with your additional research and resources.
It’s easy to start, teach, and franchise a creative genealogy writing club, class, or publication. Start by looking at the descriptions of each business and outline a plan for how your group operates. Flesh out each category with your additional research pertaining to your local area and your resources. Your goal always is to solve problems and get measurable results or find accurate records and resources. Or research personal history and DNA-driven genealogy interpretation reporting.
You can make keepsake albums/scrapbooks, put video online or on disc, and create multimedia text and image with sound productions or work with researching records in archives, oral history, or living legacies and time capsules. A living legacy is a celebration of life as it is now.
A time capsule contains projects and products, items, records, and research you want given to future generations such as genograms of medical record family history, family newsletters, or genealogy documents, diaries, photos, and video transcribed as text or oral history for future generations without current technology to play the video discs. Or start and plan a family and/or school reunion project or franchise, business or event.
Another alternative is the genealogy-related play or skit, life story, or memoir.
You may wish to check out my book, How to Start, Teach, & Franchise a Creative Genealogy Writing Class or Club: The Craft of Producing Salable Living Legacies, Celebrations of Life, ... Events, Reunion Publications, or Gift Books. Paperback – June 12, 2008 by Anne Hart (Author). It's at this date at the Amazon.com website and/or at the publisher's site.