How To Create a Video: 4 Tips

Yesterday, I published to YouTube, WRITE Club, a parody of the movie Fight Club.

My WRITE Club video is for writers, but I hope you non-writers will get a kick out of it too.

For personal use, video fills that gap between photograph albums and digital devices where photos are stored but never printed. For business use, videos can be remarkably effective in marketing and promotion.

To help you in creating videos, here are 4 tips. These easy steps will help you whether you're making a book trailer or a video scrapbook of your vacation. But, first, watch my video. I hope you like it and will click LIKE.

Joan's 4 Video Tips

1. Choose the way you will make your video.

You can make a video with a Smartphone, a video cam, various video editing software like Windows Movie Maker, iMovie for Mac, and a bunch of others. Just do an online search if you want to work this way.

Or you can take the easy way out and use a video design website. Very user-friendly and inexpensive. In fact, if you do an online search, you'll find a bunch of them. Register at all the video creator websites that offer free accounts.

Be sure and check out each website to see what you get at the basic free level. Then you can decide if you want to pay for an upgrade account. I primarily use Animoto and Vimeo, but I have accounts on most of the popular video design websites. For a small fee, you can upgrade either of these--and probably the others--to a Plus Membership which gives you added benefits or even the top level Pro Membership if you want to get serious about video design.

Right now, Vimeo, usually $9.95/month or $59.95/year, is having a sale. Here's a coupon code and link if you want to join Vimeo Plus. Save 5% on Vimeo Plus Annual! Use PROMOCODE: VIMEO5OFFSPRING. Ends 4/30.

I'd love to have a Pro account at Animoto and Vimeo, my two main sites, but I can't justify the cost because I'm a writer, not a video professional. So for my needs, the Plus upgrades work fine.

However, if you want to try a Pro upgrade, Vimeo is also offering 5% off to new users. Save 5% on Vimeo PRO! Use PROMOCODE: VIMEO5OFFSPRING. Ends 4/30.

So pick your websites to help you with video production and familiarize yourself with how they work. For me, Vimeo and Animoto are easiest, but you may like a different one. With all, you can upload to YouTube of course.

2. Organize the Video Components.

A video, like a movie, is made of these basic elements: visuals, sound, and story or message.

Many of these elements are created from photographs, video clips, and music tracks that you obtain on the internet. You can get some free of charge, and you can pay for them. In both cases, there are Terms of Service involved.

Be sure that you use only the images, photographs, video clips, and music that you have been licensed to use. This means you paid for it or received a license to use it from a free site or from the library available for registered users of websites like Animoto, Vimeo, etc. Most video design websites have libraries of images, video clips, and music available for registered users.

Always read the Terms of Service and do what they say in exchange for the license to use the file. For instance, if they say you must post a Copyright notice for a photograph and notify the photographer of any use, then do that.


These are the images and video clips you will use to tell your story. As mentioned above, you can obtain them from many sources. You can also upload your own images and video clips that you made or purchased/received free from various royalty-free websites.

Just do a search for "royalty-free photographs," or "royalty-free video clips," and you'll get a big list. In a future blog post, I'll give specific site suggestions for images, video clips, and music tracks.


Sound is the musical background and/or spoken narration. Again, Vimeo and Animoto and other similar websites offer their own libraries of sound clips. Again, you can do a search for royalty-free sound clips. These can range from inexpensive to very costly.

I'm a huge music lover so I spend a lot of time searching for the perfect music to help tell the story of my video. In some of my videos, I've used music from the respective libraries for registered users. In others, I've purchased music.

In my video for The Lingerie Covers, I purchased Suspicion, a music track written and produced by Skip Peck. I love all his music clips. When I bought the clip a couple of years ago, it wasn't that expensive. Now his work is usually more than $100.00 for most.

That's true of most of the music I've purchased including Mediterraneo by Ivan Paunovic which I used for Old Enough to Know Better. My favorite music composers are no longer affordable for me even though I make multiple use of my licensed music to split the expense among many projects.

For instance, I've used it as background music for the introduction and closings of all my audio books, and I use it for my videos. I've even put some of it on an iPod playlist that I listen to when I write. Once you "buy" it--license it is a better term--it's yours to use as long as you wish.

If you want spoken narration, then you can easily record the text if you have a good microphone and a computer/tablet, etc. Just write the script and read it. Of course, there's more that goes into good narration than just reading.

Make sure the recording is done without other noises intruding, without obvious clicks when the recording is started and stopped, without sibilant sounds on S's and so much more. This is why good narrators use sound editing software.

Also be sure the "actor" you select--whether that's you or someone else--has a pleasing voice. For instance, with my pronounced southern drawl, I'd probably never read something myself. Every time I hear my voice, I cringe and think I need voice lessons. *g* But that's just me. My friend Elaine Chase who worked in radio and television has a wonderful voice. She should be doing audiobook narration.


This is any narration you may include, as mentioned above. It also refers to text that may be presented as image "signs" and as captions to images.

In most of the videos I create, I tell the story with pictures and music. Any text that can't be represented by a stock image, I display as a "sign." The sign is usually a digital illustration I've created. You can watch some of the videos I mention and see what I mean.

3. Be aware of time.

With video, short is better. In fact, if you can come in at 30-45 seconds, that's perfect. Up to 60 seconds is good. Anything above that needs to be really compelling or viewers won't hang in there to watch it to the end. This means your video should be about one small message or aspect rather than about the entire subject.

I struggle with this because I not only want to put across my message, but also I want to give credit for the photographs, music, etc. that I used to create the video. I edit tightly, but I'm still working on being succinct.

4. Know your video message.

Every good movie has a plot. So should every video. Before you start putting together images, music, etc., figure out what you want to say. This will be said with visuals, music, and narration/text.

So what do you want to say? In my humorous video, How To Recognize an Author, I wanted it to be something funny about writers so I "talked" about common myths and realities of being a writer. I combined images with captions, created signs, and chose a music track that sounded quirky.

In Scents and Sensuality, I wanted the video to be the book's blurb. I chose the music Suspicion by Skip Peck. It's sexy and whimsical at the same time so it was perfect for this romantic comedy. Later I changed the book cover art so I'll be editing this video when I have time.)

I'll be posting more about creating videos in the future. You'll find all of the posts under the Video label, under Something To Talk About on the right sidebar.

Takeaway Truth

We are a visual culture--an entertainment culture.  Add video to your skill set.


  1. Joan,

    I just watched your WRiTE CLUB video, and it was amazing. It so happens that I run an on-line writing contest called WRiTE CLUB and its about to kick-off its fourth year May 2nd. The contest has been so popular that the DFW Conference is considering adding it to their agenda for 2015. I was wondering if you might consider tweaking your video so I could use it to promote this years contest.

    If this interests you at all, please contact me at

    1. Hello, DL. Nice to meet you. Glad you like WRITE Club. I'm amenable to discussing it. I'll email you.

  2. Just watched your summer fire video -- great! I'm looking to make one for my indie pubbed book Foolish Gamble. Your article has great tips...thanks for sharing! Lita Lawson