Most marketing experts agree that video is the future of online content. Don’t worry—this doesn’t mean that writing and still photography are going away anytime soon; people love reading and gazing at beautiful images. However, it does mean that savvy travel writers and photographers would be wise to start experimenting with video.
Now, there’s no need to go out and invest in expensive camcorders or editing software… you probably already have everything you need in your pocket. That’s because most new smartphones have cameras capable of shooting high-quality video and even come with built-in editing software.
Anyone who is at least mildly active on social media has a platform, and I decided to leverage mine to practice making videos. As a professional travel writer and hotel reviewer, I spend a ton of time overseas, and I often make little stops in interesting places that might not merit an entire story but are still interesting enough to want to share with friends and family.
On a trip to Cyprus last October, I decided to start using Facebook’s “ Live” feature on my smartphone to highlight places that I found interesting. I’ve always been interested in creating little video stories, but I wanted to challenge myself by narrating the videos myself.
At first, I was nervous. Even though I knew that the only people who would watch my videos were friends and acquaintances, I was afraid that I would come across as bumbling and awkward… writing has always come easier to me than speaking. And although years of teaching and lecturing have made me comfortable speaking in front of groups both big and small, I was still worried about how my words might be scrutinized.
To my surprise, I consistently got a ton of positive feedback! My friends loved seeing my little adventures and—at my request—mentioned what they thought wasn’t working well (for example, I had some audio issues in a few videos that friends gave useful feedback on).
Most importantly, a lot of people mentioned how much they liked the natural, go-with-the-flow nature of my videos, free from scripts or editing.
While I am still trying to figure out where I want to go with video—whether I want to do organized, edited clips or keep things more natural—months of practice in front of the camera has helped me become confident enough that wherever I decide to go with video, I know I’ll make a decent host.
So, the next time you’re traveling, try making a video to share with your friends and family. Think of it as practice for the videos you could be making—and profiting from—in the future. There’s no need to appear on camera—you can narrate from behind the lens. Find a historical site with an interesting history or legend to tell. Show an example of local wildlife. Or even share a particularly appetizing meal.
If you feel uncomfortable speaking off the top of your head, jot down a few talking-point notes. But don’t make it sound too scripted—the idea is for the video to be fun and natural.
Video is a hot trend… but there’s no need to feel too camera-shy to give it a try! Just practice whenever you get the chance for a guaranteed friendly yet constructive audience.