Why you should make Instagram videos

Ever thought of making Instagram videos? I hadn’t until a few weeks ago, but I gave it a try and in this post I’ll share why I did it and what I gained from it.

I enjoy making videos, but sometimes I resist making them. Why? Because they can be a lot of work. To make a good, useful video you need to to plan out a script or storyboard (even if it’s a simple one) work out its goals (are you aiming to get more views or subscribers on YouTube? Or build your mailing list? Or make a whole series and turn them into a course?), sort out you lighting, software, camera, mic, backdrop, hair and makeup, then record and edit.

But what you need to catch attention online is the opposite of that carefully structured approach. What catches attention is novelty, fun, creativity and imagination and often those come from spontantaneity.

So how do you balance both? That’s what I was getting to grips with a few weeks ago. So I decided to give myself a quick break from the careful video-making, have some fun and try new things. Which is why I decided to make Instagram videos.

Instagram video is the opposite of YouTube video because the videos have to be short and catch attention. I mean really short – just a few seconds. On the other hand, people tend to go to YouTube to learn how to do something, so they are more open to paying attention to a video for a few minutes. You still have to work to keep YouTube viewers engaged of course, but their expectations are very different to Instagram. With Instagram people are looking for fun, relief from boredom and to look at something that makes them say ‘wow’. Think flicking through a magazine.

Video tutorials are very much my thing, so it took me a bit or research and experimentation to get into the mindset you need to make Instagram videos, but I’m getting there. Here are some of the videos I’ve posted there:

My first tutorial…

This got a respectable number of views considering I’d only been using that Instagram account properly for a few days, but I still think it was too long and ‘too YouTube’.  After that I tried to make my shortest ever tutorial at just under 20 seconds:

I was getting more into the Instagram video vibe here. But I believe it would be a mistake to focus on teaching in Instagram, instead I want to get across ‘hey, did you know I make tutorial videos?’

This is great because I can now try lots of other fun stuff to catch attention and connect with people. So here’s what else I’ve tried:

In the video above I was just playing around with an animation smartphone app called Flipaclip. My results were pretty amateur, but it was fun and I had a few people asking me which software I’d used to create it. Incidentally, you can do amazing things with Flipaclip – take a look here – it’s going to take me a while to get to that standard! Then I tried another video with Flipaclip, which made on my Android phone in front of the TV one evening:

So it looks like I’m addicted to this animation app then! #animation #heart #video

A video posted by Helen Lindop (@totallycourses) on

As you can see Nick Park has nothing to worry about from me 🙂 but it’s had more views than any of my other videos.

I have more videos in the pipeline, so if you want to see how I get on you can follow me at Instagram.com/totallycourses.

So the take-aways for me are:

  1. It’s easy to get stale and stuck in a rut but not even notice. Every now and then you need to shake things up, have some fun and experiment.
  2. I’ve connected with a whole load of people on Instagram that I hadn’t found on Twitter or Facebook. Yes, you do need to take care to not spread yourself too thinly across too many social media platforms, but if you’re able to spread out a little then you can find entirely new people.
  3. Because it’s fast, I’m posting more often and that means more visibility. Blindingly obvious but true. I’ve started to get more Twitter action just because I’m sharing my Instagram posts to Twitter daily rather than just my blog posts weekly.
  4. Video definitely doesn’t have to be a long, complex process.

So why not  have a go yourself and make Instagram videos?

How to clean up audio in Camtasia Studio 8

Ever recorded a video and wanted to get rid of the sniffs, ums, errs, crackles and background noise? Here’s how to clean up audio in Camtasia.

The best way to get clean audio is to keep background noise to a minimum when you record and use a good microphone. Not only does this give you the best result, it also saves you a lot of time. Video editing can be really time-consuming, especially if you’re fairly new to it. And if you pay someone else to edit your videos this will save you money, too.

Sometimes you do need to clean up your audio when editing, though. Here’s how to do that in Camtasia Studio 8 (but it’s a similar process in other software):

By the way, I already have a video on how to minimise background noise when recording here, so do take a look at that before you start recording if possible.

Here’s the link for my done-for-you courses that I mentioned in this video: TotallyCourses.com

If you’re wondering why I’m using Camtasia Studio 8 when version 9 was released a couple of weeks ago, well that’s a good question! My feeling is that most course and content video creators haven’t upgraded yet and won’t for a while. But I’ll keep my ear to the ground and start to switch over to version 9 when people need me to.

I now have a few really popular videos in my video editing playlist on YouTube. Maybe there’s a tutorial there that could help you with your video editing? You can take a look here.

Good luck with your audio, and if you need any more help you can find me in the Really Useful Web Video tips Facebook group!


Don’t let perfectionism stop you from making videos

Things often go wrong when you’re making videos, but don’t let it stop you. Just take a look at just how many problems I had when making this video! Other people need to see your journey, not just the success at the end and after all, the only way to learn is to jump in there and DO it.

So put your perfectionism to one side and go make a video.

Here’s a video that explains more about that from The School of Life youtu.be/BY6bGhcnDDs

Links to other things I mention in this video:

How to reduce background noise in your videos

When you’re making videos, it’s easy to focus on the visuals and forget about the sound quality. But having good, clear, crisp sound in your video is essential. Background noise in videos can be incredibly distracting and could make your viewers stop watching completely. You’ll only need to watch a handful of random YouTube videos to see (OK, hear) what I mean!

The best way to eliminate background noise is when you’re recording as it’s easier than doing it at the editing stage. In this video I give you some cheap and easy ways to reduce background noise in your videos. And yes, I did hide under a blanket for part of this video!

If you’ve already recorded a video with less-than-ideal audio, then you can improve the sound quality using video and/or audio editing software. If you’s like me to make a video on that, then please leave me a comment!

How to add music to a PowerPoint video

Yes, it’s another tutorial on making PowerPoint videos. This time I’m showing you how to add music to a PowerPoint video!

This one follows on from last week’s How to make a PowerPoint video. Also, if you’re more of a Keynote kind of person than a PowerPoint one, take a look at my review of  how to make an awesome demo video with Keynote.

Here’s the video:

Adding music can really enhance a PowerPoint video and here’s where I show you how to do that.

The music can be added with a narration or just on its own. You can also choose whether the music plays for just one slide or the entire video. I’ll also show you how to change the volume and remove the speaker icon.

I’ve added music here, but you can add any sound file you like using the same technique, from a narration to birdsong or a even sound effect.

By the way, if you’d like more useful tips and ideas for using video, you’d be very welcome to join my Facebook group, here’s the link:


How to make a PowerPoint video

Did you know you could make a PowerPoint video? Yes, using just PowerPoint and nothing else? Well, you can!

Some members of my Really Useful Web Video Tips Facebook group (please do join, we’d love to have you!) wanted to know more about using PowerPoint for video so I recorded this tutorial for them. In it,  I’ll show you how to create a PowerPoint presentation, add a template, add some content and then export it as a video. There’s a lot more you could do with a PowerPoint video of course – add music, narration, images and more. But this is enough to get you started and making your first video.

I’m happy to do some more videos on PowerPoint, maybe adding narration or music? I could also explain the benefits of using screencasting software and PowerPoint together compared to PowerPoint alone? Just let me know in the comments what you’d like and I’ll get cracking on some more videos.