Jim interviews entrepreneur, actress, and video storyteller Monica McCarthy of Show and Tell Stories.
Time for Show and Tell
It’s really quite simple… take the fact that the new media world we live in is evolving and people are becoming their own brand + the meteoric rise of video on the web and you have Show and Tell Stories, a company that uses video to help people tell the world who they are.
I sat down with Monica McCarthy, the founder and creative director of the site to, well, hear HER story.
As with all my interviews, it is best to listen to the podcast above or subscribe on iTunes to get the full interview, but below is a highlight of the things we talk about.
The Big Picture
I feel there are 2 massive trends that are going to change everything: Mobile and Video. On the mobile side, there are 5 billion people that own cell phones but not smart phones, and a $20 Billion underutilized ad opportunity to reach people on those devices.
In terms of video, consider these YouTube stats:
- 800 million unique users visit YouTube each month
- 4 billion hours of video are watched each month on YouTube
- 72 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute
- In 2011, YouTube had > 1 trillion views — 140 views for every person on Earth
So I asked her, “Do you also agree that video is only going to continue to grow, and why?”
She absolutely agrees… it feels like the wild wild west still: everybody wants video, few know how to really use it for their brand or their business, and some companies are coming to her almost in a panic saying “I know I need video! How can you help me do video?”
See, to me that is the perfect sign that video is ready to keep exploding. When companies are throwing money at because they feel they’re “supposed to” — much like iPad apps a few years ago — we’re in that first phase of rapid, rapid adoption.
What was your path to get here?
Monica is a California girl by birth and studied Theater and Broadcast Journalism at Pepperdine. While traveling abroad during school she caught the travel bug, which led her to work
on a crazy game show singing with a big band in Japan modeled after Utrech, Holland with everyone wearing tulip costumes.
She eventually did some TV and Film and doubling for famous actresses such as Kate Winslet, Amy Adams, and Naomi Watts (I definitely see the resemblance, at right) and worked on Broadway.
This brought up the memory of a date I went on 10 years ago when I first moved to New York where I went on a date with someone that doubled for Charlotte (Kristin Davis) on Sex and the City. Quite the New York experience.
Then during a fateful run in Central Park (best life decisions happen during a run), she decided that she was pretty much done with acting.
After discovering that she is not a good employee, she started blogging and travel started calling to her.
This year came the revelation that people kept asking her about how to be more comfortable on camera and acting for video on the internet. Not just the technical side, but what to say and how to brand yourself. It makes sense because these entrepreneurs aren’t actors by trade…
People told her, “I get terrified when that red light comes on.”
She wanted to help people create the videos as well as prepare for them, so she expanded her network to find great videographers and editors.
From there we talk about the logistic of creating online video:
– Video as a marketing and branding platform
– Who should be using this?
– What effect does it have on your brand?
– How much does this cost?
– What is involved?
– Can customers find an ROI on their branding videos?
We both agreed on two things:
1) People aren’t aware just how expensive and time-consuming video is
And much like how everyone with a digital camera might have sticker shock when they find out how much a pro costs, the trend is happening around video now that everyone has a movie maker in their cell phone. However, it’s strange in that people have no problem paying hundreds or thousands of dollars for these pros at a wedding. It’s all about context.
2) That being said, people can slowly progress up the ladder
– Start by winging it – taking video with a web cam, their iPhone, a point and shoot, and doing no editing, no microphone, no lighting
– Upgrading to a $500-$2000 DSLR, picking up a cheap mic and inexpensive lighting
– Playing with greenscreen, editing in Final Cut Pro, and starting with graphics (see my starter setup at right)
– Moving up to nicer mics, better lighting, higher end editing and transitions
– Reaching the top level, including studio lighting and sound, pro editing and production
Video for courses and training
This part of the conversation was of great interest to me as I am deciding on my video strategy for my Udemy course. Do you go cheap and fast to start? Or high-end and super slick?
Monica says, “As always, the answer is it depends.” What are you going for? If you’re an established name and the brand you are selling is yourself, or perhaps with much greater ambitions (Landing a TV show, selling that next best-seller, starting your own media conglomerate), then yes, you should go high end.
Videos on this level that I’ve admired lately and look for inspiration include: Jonathan Fields, Marie Forleo, Ramit Sethi, Pat Flynn, and Derek Halpern. Take a look at each of those sites and you’ll see the amazing quality of the video they are putting out.
However, if you are a tech person with a blog reviewing the latest gadgets and just want to build your following, you might not need the highest end production values. In fact, having a simple setup where you can create lots of great content might even be more of an advantage. As long as you get a half decent mic and keep it short, you’re ready to start.
In terms of a bio video, it’s good to keep in mind that this will be a one time video that lives on your site for a long time and that everyone will see, so it’s worth it to make the investment to make it look quality.
Her new ecourse, “Close-Up and Personal” trains people how to become camera ready. The interesting part? She spends the entire first three weeks NOT on camera… it’s about format, digging in to find your role to have in the videos (expert vs best friend vs confidant), honing the script, etc. Then you’re ready to dive into the second half, which is speaking with confidence, what to talk about, etc.
Everyone is going to want launch videos and education videos. Get ready.
The Tough Questions
As it turns out, the “lightning round questions” were the hardest for her. Listen to the interview to find out how she answered the following:
– Which person or event has had the biggest impact on your career thus far?
– Describe yourself in 3 words
– How do you maintain work/life balance? (I loved her answer here)
– What’s the most valuable piece of advice you can give to people looking to start their own company?
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