Online Video: New Opportunities Flourish Amid Some Drawbacks

Online Video provides a world of opportunity for expanding the use of video for both personal and professional reasons.

Online video makes it practical for any individual or business to essentially create their own TV channel with personalized programing of their choice. Not only is the technology easy to master and highly accessible, but equipment costs to enter can be as low as 50 bucks for a webcam. Compare that with the multi-millions once required for a start-up TV channel and it’s easy to see why online video is so wildly popular.

Overall, these new opportunities are overwhelmingly positive. What’s not to like about inexpensive, easy ways to reach the world with your video message? What’s not to like about a local dentist being able to triple his business with a few strategically produced and placed online videos?

Well, some in the professional video production world have some real legitimate complaints. I’ve heard the bitching and moaning. I’ve seen tons of resistance and even downright hostility to online video from those in the professional ranks.

Chief among the drawbacks is money. Since anybody can create online videos cheaply, who wants to pay the video professional what they are worth? What client in their right mind would pay $10,000 for a 5-minute video if they don’t have to? What video professional with years of experience and a $50,000 camera wants to work for peanuts? None that I know of.

So they grumble and cling to the notion that the $10,000 fee is still worth it to any savvy client because 90% of YouTube videos suck so bad any legitimate business would be ashamed to run them; so selling your services as a highly paid professional is not anymore of an issue than it was before web video and flip cams became so popular.

Granted, lots of YouTube videos do suck, but that does not make the entire statement true. In fact, IMHO, clinging to the desire to produce videos using the exact same procedures and pricing schedules you’ve always used is simply burying your head in the sand. Times are a-changing. Online video is indeed a new animal for the video professional, providing both headaches and opportunity.


If you’re pursuing clients who want online video, I promise that few, if any, are going to be willing to pay the same fees associated with offline video production. Some professionals I know simply won’t take online video clients for this reason. However, I’ve found ways to make it all work so I’ll share them with you now.

I often recommend to clients that they purchase webcams, then I teach them how to use it making simple talking head videos. This has created a whole new “product line” if you will for me: Teaching clients to master the scriptwriting and on-camera process associated with simple talking head videos. I came to the realization that on a practical level, this is what helps them the most and helping clients is ALWAYS the key to a successful service business.

I’ve also branched out into helping clients establish a good video presence online. I not only help them make the video, but I post them online using strategic methods for search engine optimization and customer acquisition. Videos help bring in traffic, search engines love video which makes them relatively easy to rank. In the same way that a TV spot run during the local news can bring in business, videos with good keywords attached get found in search results so bring customers in that way.


Create videos that highlight the people running the business, that’s what customers care about. They want to know and trust the people they do business with, so create simple videos that fills the need. Highlighting the wonderful equipment owned by the business is never as effective as highlighting the trustworthy and personal nature of the owners and staff. Whenever I work with a local client these days, I sell them on a package of 4-5 videos that all serve different purposes.

Do personality profiles of the owner and staff. List some credentials, but mostly, show them being friendly and helpful. Do a video history of the business, show how the owner is involved in the community like where his kids go to school or church. Do another video that directs people how to get there, show the exterior and neighboring areas. In short, create a package of videos that cover all aspects that a potential customer would be interested in.


No doubt about it, the single biggest difference I’ve discovered in creating videos for online compared to offline clients lies in the amount of time I spend creating the video. To keep the costs down, you have to learn to crank it out. I’m lucky in that respect as I have a TV news background. We always had to crank ’em out. I still shoot news style. I milk everything for all its worth. I use lots of royalty free video I purchase cheaply online. I use lots of quick-to-create graphics. I never in a million years thought would I ever use as many graphics as I do now but it keeps the costs down and no one has yet to complain.

In summary, I truly believe online video brought about a paradigm shift in video production whether the die-hard pros amongst us like it or not. I know many who don’t, that’s for sure. I hear them make fun of the poor quality found so often on YouTube. But speaking as a person who has fully embraced online video, quality online video is still fun and challenging to shoot. I am still able to make as much profit as I did back in the days when video production was still exclusive to the pro ranks. I just had to change the way I did things. It’s not about the biggest and best camera. It’s not about bragging rights to the shot with such exquisite lighting that it took 3 hours to set up. It’s about creating videos that serve a purpose. Which really, was supposed to be what is was about all along.

Written by:

Lorraine Grula is a 30-year veteran of the Video Production business. She started when film was more common than video and cable TV was a new-fangled invention offering a few new channels that mostly ran color bars and tone or old episodes of Leave it to Beaver. She spent the majority of her career as a videographer/producer/editor in the Nashville, TN TV news market. Now she works primarily online as an online video consultant, producing videos for clients all over the world. She also runs the popular blog, Video Production Tips for people who want to learn to make video for fun or profit.

  • Ryan

    When the first typewriters came out – not everyone became a writer and stuck with itWhen HTML and wysiwyg editors came out – not everyone became a website designer and stuck with itWhen processing power got cheaper and cheaper and Illustrator and photoshop came out – not everyone became a graphic designer and stuck with it.    Now everyone and their mother can buy a HD video camera for $200 and 3 cereal box tops -and get iMovie/Windows Movie maker for free – but not everyone will have the discipline to stick with it long enough to produce anything.    This is just another consumer trend that devalues the services of a video producer by making it appear a LOT easier and cheaper (and less of an investment)  than it actually is.    And its not even a question of equipment or softwware –  Anyone can buy a webcam – even iphones have video camera in them – however your average joe wont have the drive to spend the 20+ hours in post capturing, colour correcting, adjusting sound, adding motion grpahics and titles and cutting together a useable video.   They wont take the time or effort to learn how to frame shots, adjust sound, white balance, licence music so youtube doesnt brand their videos  etc     If it aint quick and easy – it aint getting done.    Until we as videographers work hard to undo the urban myth and effectively communicate the true scope of whats required – no one will pay for our video work while they are still under the delusion they can do it faster and cheaper and better.  Once a client realizes how much work is involved once the myth of how easy it is is debunked -THAT is when the perceived value of our services go up       But its up to us to effectively communicate that..Ryan McCann