amy-harrisonSome of you may have seen Amy’s video series, Content Marketing Stripped. She’s created a total of 20 videos so far — each one a gem filled with storytelling, humor and value.

Perhaps (like me), you found yourself giggling out loud and sharing the videos with your friends and colleagues. Maybe you wondered (like me) how she does it. How she’s able to create such shareable content on a solopreneur’s marketing budget.

When I saw that she’d made a tiny change recently to the branding (now she’s calling her videos “AmyTV”), I twisted her arm (not very hard) and convinced her to spill the beans on her creative process and what she’s got planned for the future.

Watch the interview here (to get all the flavor of our conversation + her nifty British accent), or skip to the text summary below:

Tea: How’d you come up with the idea for this video series?

Amy: It was about this time last year and I was looking for new ideas. I’d studied script writing for TV and have always loved coming up with funny sketches.

I was also frustrated with what’s available in my industry. There’s plenty of tutorials, but everyone takes themselves so seriously. I wanted to do something lighthearted and fun but still really useful. 

The first one was an experiment. But after that, I was hooked and knew I wanted to do more.

I told my husband that I wanted these to be kind of like Sesame Street but for businesses that wanted to write better content. I wanted them to be short, fun and accessible.

Tea: Did you have a background in acting, too?

Amy: Not really, no. The last thing I did was Dorothy as Wizard of Oz in University. But it was a straight role. I was so envious of the Lion, the Tinman and the Scarecrow. They got to have a lot more fun.

Tea: How far in advance do you plan these videos?

Amy: The first one took the longest because I used a local production company and they needed to have every last detail planned out. Now, that I’m doing them myself, I tend to shorten that planning process quite a bit.

I have a file open on my computer that I’m constantly dumping things into — ideas about lesson topics as well as funny things that I love, but have no idea how or if they’ll work.

From there, I try to see where I can pair things up. Is there a skit in there somewhere?

If I’m really disciplined, I can write and plan it out one day, film it the next day, and then edit and publish the following day.

Tea: Wow, so you do the editing, too?

Amy: I do. I found that working with a production company kept me in more of a box. They had fantastic equipment, but I love having all the control in editing. I’m constantly changing my mind right up to the last minute as to what I’m going to keep in and what I’m going to cut out.

Tea: What have you learned this past year about the process of making videos?

Amy: When I look at my earliest videos I can see a difference. Then, I talked a lot more to the camera and my intros were a bit longer.

But you want to get people’s attention within the first 5 seconds. So now I do a quirky few seconds at the front to get the viewer’s attention.

I’m also cutting scenes together a lot quicker. There’s less lag time between shots.

Tea: What equipment are you using?

Amy: I’m on a Mac. I bought it just for this purpose. I realized after doing the first one with the film production crew that I wanted to do a lot more of these and that I’d need to do them myself.

My camera is a Canon 650D DSLR. I only use it for videos tho. I have no idea how to take a photo with it. I’ve tried, but all my photos are out of focus and blurry.

I have a Mac Book Pro and use iMovie that came with that. I also bought a couple of lights. And I have a little lapel mic but I’m looking to upgrade that next.

Tea: Who does the filming?

Amy: I do. I use a tripod. So it’s me doing the filming, too.

I plan out all the shots ahead of time so I can group together as many as possible.

I’ve got a little remote which is a godsend — it let’s me start the camera from the across the room.

Yep, It’s just me, running around my flat like a mad person.

Tea: How often are you creating these?

Amy: I’d love to do these once a week. But right now I’m doing about 1.5 month.

Tea: What have you seen in terms of response from viewers? How have these impacted your business?

Amy: It’s been great. It’s been a real eye-opener.

One – I just love doing these. It was a true passion project. It wasn’t something I decided to do strategically.

Web traffic is up. Subscribers increased. Social media engagement increased — that’s been huge in terms of sharing. People are a lot more likely to pass them on.

They’ve opened doors for me as well.

I just got back from speaking at SXSW. I’m connecting with more people. 

Plus, I like sharing them because they make people giggle.

Tea: Do you have more clients now, too?

Amy: It’s generated a lot more conversations about work and working together, yes. But what I really noticed was that if people came to me through the videos, they were easier to convert because they felt a lot more hooked into me. They felt like they knew me and what it would be like to work with me.

I also get more inquiries from previous clients who said the videos remind them that they’d wanted to do another project together.

Tea: If somebody thought they wanted to do something similar but they didn’t have experience with video, what would you recommend? How much experience with video did you have before you started?

Amy: I had zero experience with making videos. The only experience I had was that I loved to watch them.

So now, I’m watching videos a lot more with an eye toward composition. I’m noticing how things are edited, the sound effects they use, all sorts of things I never noticed before.

Tea: What advice would you give to someone who wanted to get started with videos?

Amy: You don’t need to invest in a lot of equipment. I was traveling in Romania and did one on my iPhone. I took photos along my journey and then interspersed them with me chatting about them.

You could find a problem or frustration that your customers have and see if there’s something funny about it. Then keep it simple. 

Think about how TED talks are presented — they use just one image and then talk over that. You don’t have to get fancy.

Tea: Any other advice? Warnings?

Amy: When I was at SXSW, I was there to encourage women to use humor in their marketing — if they want to. 

One of the mistakes I see tho is when people try to use humor but they direct it at their customer. Or they use sarcasm. Those are dangerous areas because they can be taken the wrong way.

Instead, focus on the problem. Make fun of THAT.

If you want to keep credibility and make funny videos, you’ve got to make sure you’re offering value too.

Unless you’re a clown selling clown services. Then you’re good.

Tea: What’s been your favorite episode so far?

Amy: I love them all, but the “Content of Doom” episode’s been very popular.

Tea: What’s next for AmyTV?

Amy: I want to try run things more like a TV show with a programming schedule. I’m going to focus a lot more on the workshops I’m doing — the videos need to tie in more to the services I’m offering.

Got a question for Amy? Want to share your favorite episode with us? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!