How I Quickly Created a Video to Attract Freelance Writing Clients

Attract freelance writing clients with videoI thought I had the whole freelance marketing thing down. I knew how to attract freelance writing clients.

Send out queries and letters of introduction? Yup.

Maintain a basic writer’s website to point prospects to? Definitely.

Fumble around with Skype for a client meeting? Got it.

Make video to grow my freelance business? No way.

Why? It’s too hard! I don’t know anything about video editing. And it will cost too much to pay someone else to do it.

But video is a powerful marketing tool.

In a recent Forbes report, 75 percent of business executives said they watch work-related videos weekly. An estimated 54 percent of senior executives share videos with their team. And industry analysts estimate that 96 percent of businesses use video for online marketing, sales, and communication.

I decided it was time to make my own marketing video to attract freelance clients.

Here’s how I did it — by myself, and without spending a dime.

1. Get over your fears

The last time I edited a video, I was sitting in the control room of a makeshift radio and TV station in high school. That was 20-plus years ago, long before digital media dominated the Interwebs. No, I wasn’t using a reel-to-reel machine, but editing on VHS tapes makes me old enough.

A couple weeks ago I read a QuitN6 book by tell-it-like-it-is marketing guru Buck Flogging (aka Matt Stone), and he suggested making a PowToon video. Huh?

The idea sounded interesting. But with no experience creating digital videos, I wondered if it was even something I could do. Fortunately, I moved past that fear and decided to take action.

In about two hours, I created a customized video for my freelancing business for FREE. I uploaded it to YouTube, added it to my site, and started including it in my LOIs.

2. Create a PowToon account

You know the drill for this kind of stuff. Go to PowToon.com. Sign up for free to create an account. Check your email. Log in, and you’re ready to go.

Are there other video-making platforms that offer a similar service with easy-to-edit templates? Probably, but I didn’t waste time trying to find out.

3. Choose a video template to customize

I knew the start-from-scratch option wasn’t for me, so I chose a template from the tab marked “Customize a Ready-Made Powtoon.”

The “Teacher Intro” template under the “Education” tab worked for me, but there are lots of other templates that would be easy to customize for your freelancing business.

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4. Edit the text

Seriously, it’s that easy. Before I did anything to the animations, graphics, and other features, I wanted to get the message right, and I wanted to keep it short. The core message I include in LOIs came to mind.

I cut the template down to seven slides and used a total of 59 words. It’s easy to change fonts and text size, but I didn’t deviate from the template defaults very much.

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Slide 1: Looking for a freelance health writer?
Slide 2: Hello! My name is Evan Jensen.
Slide 3: I’m a copywriter, journalist, busy dad, and ultramarathon runner.
Slide 4: I write about health, fitness, nutrition, chronic disease, preventive medicine, and wellness.
Slide 5: I write for newspapers, magazines, and businesses like yours.
Slide 6: Got a project you need to assign to a Freelance Writer?
Slide 7: Evan Jensen, thehealthycopywriter.com, jensen.evan@gmail.com, xxx-xxx-xxx

5. Customize the look

This probably took more time than anything else. I changed the teacher-lady to a friendly-looking guy. I took out most of the school-related graphics. I adjusted the timing of when the text and images appear on the screen, very similar to adding animations in PowerPoint. I added my logo to each slide. And I cut the length of the video to wrap up in under a minute.

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You can even pick a different music track or upload your own, change slide background colors, and record your own voice-over to go with your video. But I didn’t use these features.

6. Export to YouTube

Once I was happy with my 50-second video, I clicked the Export button and the option to Upload to YouTube. (Note: I did have to create a YouTube account first.)

In a couple of minutes, my PowToon video magically appeared on YouTube. And from there, it was pretty easy to figure out how to get the video on to my site, and grab the link to include in LOIs.

It took me about two hours to create this with no prior experience using PowToon, posting a video on YouTube, or editing videos online. And once it was on YouTube, it was pretty easy to do the basic behind-the-scenes stuff to get this on my website.

Does video marketing work?

When I send out LOIs, I include the video URL in my signature line. And it’s getting noticed. I’ve heard back from a number of prospects that specifically mention the video. A handful of those will likely have paying work in the near future. The video also helped attract a potential client without any marketing on my part.

About a month after creating this video, I received this inbound lead:
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After much back and forth with this prospect, I didn’t move forward with the project because we were too far apart on price. But the fact that my video generated an inbound lead is a good indicator to me that it’s working.

Make your own video — easy as that

Writing well-crafted queries and LOIs are key to growing your freelance business. But it’s no secret that smart and consistent marketing efforts make a difference too. Follow these simple steps to create your own video that will help you attract freelance writing clients.

Have you done any video marketing? Share in the comments below.

Evan Jensen is a freelance writer, newspaper editor, and reporter who’s plotting a path to leave his day job. When he’s not writing or chasing his three kids around, he runs ultramarathons.

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55 comments on “How I Quickly Created a Video to Attract Freelance Writing Clients
  1. Riannon W says:

    This is awesome! Such a cool tool. Thanks for sharing!

  2. This is great! Yet another self-promotional string in the bow of writers – awesome. I’ve always looked like a cartoon character, so this should work out well…. 🙂

  3. Jeffrey Hill says:

    Awesome idea. I’ve never tried video marketing, but I do have a little bit of video recording and editing experience so it shouldn’t be too hard to accomplish. I definitely see how it could help convert new clients.

  4. Well, this couldn’t have come at a better time! I was wondering how I was going to produce some quality content for my youtube channel. Thank you for the info, Evan and Carol.

  5. Ravi m says:

    I know the benefits of having a video about us and our business. But it will be more helpful if we appear—at least as a motionless picture—along with our own voice in the video.

    Uploading the bio video in YouTube as a “Private” or “Unlisted” video is my tip for this, if you don’t like to keep your video in “Public” just as I do.

    • Carol Tice says:

      I think the head-shot video of yourself is a different approach, and can be great — but not all of us are that photogenic. 😉

      I’m actually getting ready to post a welcome video with my real self on my blog. I can tell you it took AN ENTIRE DAY with a professional videographer to light and shoot and get it right — and I’m lucky that that videographer happens to be my husband, but most people don’t happen to have a UCLA film school grad hanging around the house.

      While the cartoon approach seems like something you could do in a half-hour, that’s appealing and fun. We all know video makes people ‘stick’ on your website…of whatever type.

      Personally, I’ve gotten pretty far, being a cartoon. 😉

      • Doug DiZoglio says:

        Hello, when i read the title i didn’t think it was for a particular
        subject of the fear. i was thinking how to overcome fear generally in the writing subject. When i read it as how to in video making which was very good. I wondered if you had a philosophy on how to in other areas,. In sales at a place i trained other agents,we referred to it as two people, Timmy and Freddy`, Timidity and Fear`. I found that overcoming it was as simple as this, When we do the thing we fear the most the death of fear is certain! It was the part that got people to do that thing they feared the most`that was challenging. In the field it was near impossible but in training classes with few people watching“it was different. Once in training i added what is referred to as the R2/A2`METHOD .once these folks got rid of that fear which did not take long at all, they reached record heights in personal sales. They wanted to achieve, They did the thing that terrified them in order to succeed. That is a very big deal Want to is what it is all about,even tho i am speaking about sales ,this applies or can also apply to writing`or any facet of life we choose. I needed to say that because I watched a good number of people over the years become excellent sales people, because they were willing to sacrifice, and many times they felt embarrassed but hung in there like warriors and they achieved.

        • Carol Tice says:

          I’m not sure what this comment about fear has to do with making a video to promote your freelance writing business…maybe you can enlighten me? Maybe that we’re afraid to make a video?

  6. Carl says:

    A very insightful post. Most marketers keep off video marketing because they lack the know-how to create the videos or just don’t understand how effective videos can be in marketing.

    The details you have provided on how to create the videos make the whole video creating process appear quite easy and doable. Certainly, video marketing is a marketing frontier worth exploring.

    Thanks for sharing.

  7. Fiona Tapp says:

    Thanks for this share, I had great fun playing around with it- I made a video but can’t put it here as I get a “mu-04” error message, but if you would like to see it search “Fiona Tapp” on youtube and its right there-thanks so much!

  8. Allen Taylor says:

    Explainer videos have been around for awhile, but I like PowToon. I didn’t know they existed until now. The brand imaging is terrific, and the video quality is above standard. I’m going to have to try it out now.

  9. Kathy Marshall says:

    I was so excited to run across this post! Thanks Carol for always having useful info. Evan, great idea and thanks for sharing! The thought of making a video has been intimidating but this is an excellent resource.

  10. Cool post! Funny that I read this just now, as I just started working on some new YouTube videos for my channel.

    I recently started experimenting with YouTube and it’s a lot of fun. So far I have just posted activist stuff and a book trailer, but I was just thinking to do some videos providing self-publishing tips for other authors. I’ll look into PowToon.

    I would also encourage all my fellow non-techy writers to experiment with Windows Live Movie Maker. It’s a free Windows program, but you can do quite a bit with it once you get the hang of it. It’s what I used to make my book trailer!

    • Evan Jensen says:

      Hi Samita,
      That’s great. Thanks for suggesting Windows Live Movie Maker as another easy-to-use program to create videos.

  11. Thanks for this post! I love your video and can’t believe how simple it is to put together. I am one of those non-techie people who find video too intimidating. But this is such a great option, and the main reason I like it is I don’t have to speak or be seen on it! Lol.

    • Evan Jensen says:

      Hi Deevra,
      This was a lot easier than I imagined. For some reason, when I came across this marketing idea, I just thought, “I’m going to try this,” instead of talking myself out of doing it for all kinds of lame reasons.

      Props to the software developers who created a user interface that my 10-year-old could probably figure out.

  12. Kala says:

    This is great to know, I knew some of these tools were out there. But I want to add for the bolder writers- try doing a short video of you talking to the camera! Why?
    It’s even more likely to bring in leads-people are seeing you and starting to feel they know you, perhaps like you and eventually trust you.
    I do some freelance writing but I’ve mostly used videos in another work area for my more woo-woo stuff of intuitive consulting.

    It’s proven that in terms of social media marketing- video helps folks warm up to you more. So far my channel where I post a video a week or more has started to generate clients for that work.

    One tip: is for YouTube-put your website url right below the video in description, that will make it a live direct link (do this as well as putting it on banner within the video itself.)

    Tip two: the title is important, you may want to do a bit of SEO research to help narrow down optimal title of video. And if you are looking for local or regional then include that in title. That type of video will rank easier in YouTube search.

    • Evan Jensen says:

      On-camera video starring “you” talking about your freelancing business is a great idea. You may have to do a couple of takes to get it right, but I totally agree..

      “It’s even more likely to bring in leads [because] people are seeing you and starting to feel they know you, perhaps like you and eventually trust you…It’s proven that in terms of social media marketing- video helps folks warm up to you more”

      • Kala says:

        Thanks for the reply Evan-yes and your option is excellent too. In fact I think it’s even better if one has to refer to things that are hard to show in person…for instance something imaginary…
        Say I wanted to show a worried client- rather than a stock photo of someone looking perplexed or simply saying it-in the animated version, you can show that easily.

        I’m gonna experiment with this for sure.

    • Carol Tice says:

      I think the video of your face is a game for the young…some of us would prefer the cartoon route. 😉

      • Kala says:

        I chuckled, I’m not young but it’s all relative! I’m sure you are warm and personable on camera. It just takes practice to see how we look and to relax a bit. It does take time.

        Carol have you done anything on podcasting for writers who may be shy on camera?

        • Carol Tice says:

          I present podcasts every month…sometimes about every week! But I’ve never done trainings on it — not a bad idea! I have a background in traditional radio and a lot of broadcast experience. Thanks for the idea.

  13. Thanks for sharing this, Evan (and to Carol for hosting it!). I’ve been toying with the idea of doing a video for my business (writing and translating) as I’ve heard how big video is these days in marketing terms. I haven’t yet, partly because I haven’t been sure how to approach it. I’ll definitely check out PowToon, though!

    One of my other reasons for being hesitant about video is that I’ve wondered if the benefits are over-exaggerated. Personally, I NEVER take the time to look at a video. It takes too long and I’d rather quickly skim through written information (I’ve never been one for podcasts or lectures either). Sometimes I’ll be convinced to watch a clip when enough people go on about it being awesome, or when I need to be shown how to do something (such as how to attach an attenuator to my TV aerial, for example!)

    Anyone else like me out there? 🙂

    Anyway, it’s obvious that a lot of people are attracted by video from what you report, so would be foolish to leave it out of the bag of tricks!

    • Kala says:

      That’s why he recommended keeping it short, no more than 3 min. is ideal. If folks have a need they will five a short time to video.
      Also you can put the transcript below the video in the description that helps it get indexed even better!

    • Evan Jensen says:

      Hi Eloise,
      I used to think that, too. Then my boys (ages 7 and 10) got interested in YouTube videos to learn magic tricks, Ninja warrior stunts, and Lego-building creations.

      I paid attention to the “views” and some of these basic videos have 5-10 million views. That got me thinking about video marketing.

      Some interesting facts in this infographic about the power of YouTube: http://www.mushroomnetworks.com/infographics/youtube—the-2nd-largest-search-engine-infographic

  14. I’m going to try this. It might help me. Thanks!

    • Evan Jensen says:

      Try it. I’ve done my share of waiting around wondering if this or that marketing strategy will work, which produces ZERO results 100 percent of the time.

  15. Rohi says:

    Thanks a ton, Evan!
    I bought a microphone a couple of months ago but haven’t even taken it out of its box yet. That’s inertia / resistance / techphobia. This is just the push I needed to go ahead and record my first video. I’ll follow your roadmap. Hooyah!

    • Evan Jensen says:

      Yes. Get out your microphone. Plug it in. And get going. Taking action is a motivating force, something I’ve learned in The Den from Carol Tice, Linda Formichelli, and other Den members.

  16. Thank you, Evan. I have been wanting to do this for my own website, but now that I see how easy (and fun) it is to assemble, I can’t wait to get started.

    And I don’t know if I would have thought about also adding it to YouTube. I’m currently learning how to best use social media for my marketing efforts, and this tip is golden!

    • Evan Jensen says:

      Great to hear this post has given you a little motivation to expand your marketing efforts and add a video to your website.

      Once you create a PowToon video, there’s a built-in feature that allows you to add it to YouTube. If you already have a YouTube account set up, you basically press a button in PowToon to publish on your YouTube channel.

      I don’t know that potential clients are searching YouTube for “Freelance Health Writer,” but I was surprised to find my video is ranked highly on YouTube for this phrase.

  17. Sandra Haven says:

    Thanks, Carol, for introducing this method to us. About a year ago I bought my first iPad and saw the video function–just had to try it! I had a client’s book (I do fiction editing) that involved recipes and in a flash of bravado, I set up my iPad to record me cooking up a recipe to fit her book. Somehow (don’t recall how!) I got it on my iMac, used iMovie (never did that before either!) and within about 3 hours I had a movie introducing her book, showing me cook the recipe, and had it on YouTube. Then I celebrated by eating the resulting peachy dessert. I did everything with templates and Googled instructions. I’d say the lesson is to just DO IT! There are so many programs and devices set to make this magic happen … we just have to be brave enough to start.

  18. Jerry Nelson says:

    Here’s mine from a couple years ago. I definitely need to update it.

    Enjoy

    youtu.be/bNDtqzeF6nk

    • Evan Jensen says:

      Hi Jerry,
      Nice. Did you create this yourself or work with someone else? What kind of leads has your video generated for you?

      • Jerry Nelson says:

        I wrote the script and bartered with a client in England for the video production — the images in the video are mine though — I took them.

        The amount of work this has generated has been phenomenal, but I haven’t taken the time to bother how much referral business it has generated.

        Glad you like it.

  19. Jude Scinta says:

    Hi Evan…thank you. Making a video is now at the top of my marketing to-do list!

    • Evan Jensen says:

      Hi Jude. That’s great. Making a video this way was a lot easier than I expected. The Den has really helped me do a better job at taking action, market more consistently, and try new strategies to grow my freelance business.

  20. I noticed on PowToon’s pricing page that the free version doesn’t have commercial rights. Do you suppose posting it on a blog would be considered a commercial use?

    • Kala says:

      Not if it’s your own blog, I would think. THat’s the whole point of the service isn’t it, to get you to try it.

      • Carol Tice says:

        I looked at their offer — you CAN use it for commercial purposes free — it just means the PowToon logo stays in the corner. You want that off, you pay.

    • Evan Jensen says:

      Hi Will,

      Good point. I’m not an attorney, nor do I play one on TV. But the way I understand PowToon’s policy on this is that its free for business use. But for the free version, the PowToon logo will be part of your video. If you don’t want PowToon branding on your video, you have to pay.

  21. Megan Nye says:

    I love this! I would have had no idea how to do this, so many thanks to Evan for sharing the process and the incredibly snazzy result of his efforts. It’s always wonderful to find creative approaches to marketing that don’t take ages to create or maintain.

    Thank you for sharing this post, Carol!

    • Evan Jensen says:

      Hi Megan,
      Thanks. One of the things I’ve learned from being in the Den is to be willing to try out new ways of marketing.

      • Carol Tice says:

        I’m very fascinated by this, which is why I wanted to feature it — I’m highly nontechnical and this makes it seem like I could create a promo video too, all by myself!

        • Evan Jensen says:

          FYI – I’ve now owned a smartphone for one whole week. Before that it was a text-only dumbphone, no apps, no camera, no emogis. Learning something new, whether writing better LOIs or making a video, is always worth the effort.

    • Gayle Herbert Robinson says:

      I’m a little confused. LOl is “laugh out loud,” right…or does it mean something else in business writing?