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Enhance Your Website with Video

Thinking about adding video to your site? Here's how to do it.

Communicating with your customers through video can offer them a fresh alternative to basic text on a static website. We all know the saying, "A picture is worth 1,000 words." The principal is the same for a video on a website.

When deciding whether to add video, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Will adding video enhance sales or provide another benefit to my business?
  • Do I have the time and financial resources?

If you decide video is right for you, here's a look at the steps you'll need to take.

Creating Video
If you do it yourself: Depending on the quality of the video you want, you could create it yourself. I wouldn't recommend using a $500 home camera for shooting. A more professional camera could cost $1,500 and up. These cameras will give you the quality you need to make a video suitable for online viewing. Once you have purchased a video camera, you might want to consider accessories, such as an external microphone to capture audio more clearly and a tripod so you won't have to hold the camera with your hand.

If you hire someone: Hiring a professional videographer will ensure the video is of the best quality. It might be fun and adventurous to do the video yourself, but do you have the time or expertise? Hiring someone isn't cheap and will add several hundred to several thousands of dollars to the cost of the video, depending on what you have them do.

Licensing Video
There's a lot of video already available that you could license and use on your website--or integrate into a promotional CD or use as part of a TV advertisement. Sites like Mochila specialize in creating a marketplace for video producers and consumers to buy and sell video. Brightcove--a more mature version of YouTube--has more than 2,000 member-supplied videos in its library available for license. Brightcove, Podtech.net, YouTube, Blinkx, Google Video, MSN Video and Yahoo! Video have thousands of videos you can embed in your website for free.

Editing the Video
If you've hired someone to produce the video for you, or licensed it from a third party, you can skip this section. However, if you've decided to make the video yourself, you'll need to edit it. Windows XP comes bundled with Windows Movie Maker. This will suffice for a few test videos. However, if you want to create a more professional video you'll need features that Windows Movie Maker doesn't have. Consider video-editing software from Pinnacle Technologies, Ulead or Adobe Premiere. Apple's Final Cut Pro is one of the best video-editing tools, but is only available for Macs.

Hosting the Video
The easiest way to enable the video for others to see is to use one of the services listed above to host it. These services will host your video for free if you advertise or for a fee if you don't advertise. If you host the video yourself, you have to manage the space it takes on your web server and ensure there's enough bandwidth for people to view it properly.

Like everything else on the internet, publishing content is only part of the process. You also have to make sure people view the content by marketing it. Right now, using online video for business is not as popular as e-mail marketing or websites; however, it's growing. You might want to keep your eye on this market and start testing its viability for your business now. You'll be ahead of the curve and ahead of your competition in engaging customers.

Ramon Ray is Entrepreneur.com's "Tech Basics" columnist and editor of Smallbiztechnology.com. He's the author ofTechnology Solutions for Growing Businesses and currently serves on the board of directors and the technology committee for the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce.

Ramon Ray is editor of SmallBizTechnology.com and author of Technology Solutions for Growing Businesses.

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