Starting a channel on YouTube has become so affordable, just about anyone can do it.
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Yet, once you launch one, you realize that blogging goes far beyond just shooting videos and publishing them online. Besides gadgets – lights, camera, mic – time becomes your main investment. Truth be told, that technical part between shooting and hitting the “Publish” button sometimes requires much more effort than expected.
Good thing, there are hundreds of free tools that can help automate your workflow when it comes to post-production, thumbnail design, tagging, and social media posting. Some of them are reviewed in this article, so be ready to bookmark.
Free video editing software for Mac: iMovie
Clearly, video editing software is where you’ll be spending most of your time with, so take a serious approach to choosing one. If you’re on Mac, iMovie will probably be your best option so look no further. Apple has made it available for free to every iOS device owner and feature-wise it is so capable, many famous YouTubers stick to iMovie even after surpassing a million of subscribers.
iMovie has a clear concise interface, it’s intuitive and offers just about every feature you might need as a YouTuber – including color correction, title templates, transitions, and a decent audio editor.
Find iMovie for iOS here.
Free video editing software for Windows: VSDC
PC users have a much wider choice of video editing software. There is a good dozen of great video editors available for Windows at zero cost, including Movie Maker some may still have installed on their computers. For relatively tech-savvy bloggers, VSDC Free Video Editor might be a workable solution to start with. It’s a lightweight, powerful, and simple piece of software with over 50 built-in effects and various transitions.
You’ll be able to quickly cut and merge footage fragments, zoom in, create timelapses, add contour text, replicate effects often used by bloggers (such as picture-in-picture) and publish clips to YouTube directly from the program interface. On top of that, VSDC has built-in screen capture and webcam capture tools which might come in handy when recording tutorials or, say, reaction videos.
Download VSDC here.
Those on the latest OS, may proceed to a detailed review of free video editors for Windows 10.
Free tools for creating thumbnails: Stencil and Fotojet
If you are a student of YouTube Creators Academy, you have probably heard that thumbnails are like billboards. They have a tremendous impact on the number of views your video gets. When someone is looking for answers on YouTube, and several relevant videos appear among search results, the choice often depends on the thumbnail. That’s why a well-designed image is so important for channel growth.
Luckily, you don’t have to educate yourself on Adobe Photoshop to create a decent visual anymore. Consider using Stencil or Fotojet – online image editors and absolute no-brainers to use. You get access to hundreds of templates, stock images, and icons to build your own creative from scratch by dragging-and-dropping elements on the canvas.
The best part about both tools is that you can instantly resize your image based on where you’re planning to publish it. While neither app is positioned as completely free, both have robust trial versions that should be more than enough for a beginning YouTuber.
Free audio-to-text transcription tools
Video transcribing is the most efficient way to create descriptions, subtitles, and repurpose your content for other social media channels. It saves a great deal of time and effort. Audio-to-text transcription used to be performed manually and that was quite a pricey service just a few years ago. Now, there are free automated tools available, and you’ll probably regret you didn’t start using them earlier.
For starters, YouTube has a built-in tool that will transcribe your video and embed automated subtitles within several hours after you upload it. You’ll be able to access them in Creator Studio and download the entire text as a single document. Another way to turn your speech into text is using Google Docs.
Simply open a new text document in Google Drive, go to Tools and choose Voice Typing. One great thing about this feature – you can transcribe text in various languages, not just English. Note, voice typing works better if you’re using it in Google Chrome browser on a desktop. However, you can do it on a smartphone as well – just make sure to minimize background noise when recording.
Finally, there are few dedicated smartphone apps for converting speech into text. iPhone users may give Dictation a try. It is free and provides a pretty accurate transcription that can be edited, and afterword saved as a file or send via email.
Free keyword research tool – Ubersuggest
You may have heard about YouTube video optimization already, and therefore you know that tags have a significant impact on what search queries your video will be shown to. That said, using keywords in tags – as well as titles and descriptions – is quite important. Yet, what’s more important is using the right ones.
Keywords have few characteristics, but you should focus on two main ones: search volume and competition. The former shows how many times per month a keyword is searched for, the latter is a definition of how hard it will be to rank to the chosen keyword based on its competition level. As a beginner, you might want to target keywords and key phrases with high search volume and low competition.
There are quite a few great tools for keyword research and Ubersuggest is one of them. It’s free straightforward and doesn’t even require a sign-up. Simply type in the keyword you had in mind for your video and check the suggestions to choose the best option. Ignore the CPC column because it is intended for search engine marketers paying for ads placement among search results. Alternatively, you can perform the research using Keyword Planner from Google. It’s also free and intuitive, however, you’ll need to create an Adwords account first.
Go to Ubersuggest.
Free tool for social media posting: Buffer
Social media post scheduler is another timesaver. Once you publish a new video, you probably rush to all your social media channels to spread the word. Buffer helps you schedule post sharing on multiple networks simultaneously and make sure everything looks neat. When scheduling each post, you are able to see how it will look in the timeline, and whether text or image adjustments are required.
When it comes to videos, you can upload them directly to Buffer using the composer and they will be posted natively on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and Instagram. Or you can publish a link to your video that is already on YouTube. You may want to use the former to post short video fragments or teasers to generate interest, and the latter – to generate views after your video has been published.
The free version allows for connecting up to 3 social media accounts and scheduling up to 10 posts per month. Note that if you sign up for Bit.ly to shorten the links before sharing them, you’ll be able to see the statistics on how your followers are clicking on them, and which ones contribute traffic to your videos.
Sign up for Buffer.
Free stock materials: Unsplash, Pixabay, AudioBlocks, and Envato Market
Sooner or later you will need high-quality media for your channel: background music for the videos, graphics, and images for thumbnails or creative effects. While there are millions of media files available on the Internet, one thing you want to avoid is violating copywrite laws. Therefore, it’s best if you find few stock resources in advance and bookmark them.
Unsplash is among the best destinations to go for free photos and images that don’t require attribution – meaning you can freely use them in your projects. Pixabay is another amazing source of photos, illustrations, vector graphics, and videos available for free even for commercial use.
For music, sound effects, and audio loops, you can check out AudioBlocks. This website is a huge library of royalty-free materials you can use for personal and commercial projects.
Finally, there is Envato Market, where you can get up to 8 media files for free every month after joining the community. That includes songs, pictures, templates, graphics, site themes, and much more. Bookmark the Monthly Freebies page on your browser to check what is available at zero cost. Besides free creatives, Envato is great at sharing inspiring materials. Just pick a topic on Envato Community, and explore the recent articles about trends, useful tips, tricks, and tutorials.
Making the Best Online Videos and YouTube Channel Possible
There is no right way to start a YouTube channel and lead it to success. Yet, whether you have a text blog or a personal channel, one thing is true for both – content is the king. Hopefully, with the tools shared in this post, you may be able to automate your workflow and far better focus on what matters the most.
15 Unconventional Social Media Tactics That Encourage Engagement
Just about every brand is on social media nowadays, but not all of them know how to use it effectively. It’s not enough to have a profile on multiple platforms and post content regularly. You need to provide the right kinds of content and posts that will make your followers want to react, share and comment.
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To find out what works, we asked a panel of Young Entrepreneur Council members for their favorite lesser-known strategy for boosting a brand’s social media engagement. Here’s what they had to say.
1. Hold Contests and Giveaways
A great way to drive engagement and social growth is via contests and giveaways. “Tag and win” contests are a great way to drive action and at a relatively low cost. We use these to gain new followers and build brand awareness. It is a good idea to make it as easy as possible to enter and share with friends, as this will drive the viral nature of the post and go much further.
2. Promote User-Generated Content
User-generated content is a great way to encourage social media engagement. If you come off as being too promotional or professional, you give off the impression that you’re only there to do business. Encouraging customers to develop their own content allows businesses to show off their products from a more personalized point of view will increase engagement by highlighting your customers first.
3. Create and Share Useful Infographics
A great way to drive up engagement for image-based social networks, especially if your business is based on written content like mine, is to post infographics. If they contain interesting information presented in an aesthetically pleasing manner, readers will be inclined to reblog or retweet your posts. Small businesses can easily find freelance designers to help make them on sites like Fiverr.
4. Offer Exclusive Group Access
To entice our audience to engage with our Facebook Messenger bot, we entice them to join by giving them exclusive access to a free Facebook group that only our Messenger subscribers will have access. It includes exclusive training and Facebook live speed coaching that can’t be found anywhere else. By creating a unique “club,” it keeps the right people in our group and increases engagement.
5. Jack the News
Newsjacking is not “stealing the news.” Instead, it’s a valuable way for you to use a breaking story to shine a light on something you are doing at your business. While people are searching for the topic, new viewers will stumble upon what you are saying about the topic. It is a simple, cost-effective way for small business to generate tons of media coverage and social media engagement. – Blair Thomas, eMerchantBroker
6. Have a Virtual Party
Who said parties can only be offline? You can take your party online as well. We like to invite our customers, prospects and partners to join us for a virtual party. This is the easiest way to get discovered because when people share their voice, their audience sees what they are sharing as well.
7. Add Facebook Messenger to Your Website Homepage
It’s really easy (and free) to install the Facebook Messenger widget on your company’s homepage. As live chat becomes the No. 1 communication preference for online customers, bringing Facebook’s chat capabilities directly to your site encourages more interaction with customers. Plus, it’s a clever way to draw them into your social ecosystem.
8. Thank Your Customers Using Video
We love to use video on social media to thank our customers. A short, 15-second post identifying a great customer by name can create an amazing ripple effect. That person will likely share it on social, which will then create positive brand awareness. A small business can do this with an iPhone — just dedicate five to 10 minutes a day to these posts and watch the shares stream in.
9. Say Hello to Your Neighbors
As a physical location business, I love using Instagram’s geo-location feature. We can say hello to all the neighbors, to potential clients and to anyone who’s tagged themselves in or near our location. For example, I can see who’s nearby our massage studio based on who’s tagged themselves at the local gym, yoga studio or juice bar, and then “Like” and comment on their posts so they know we exist. – Rachel Beider, Massage Outpost
10. Focus on Image-Based Content
Several of my clients who are startup founders post images that are not necessarily about the product or service they sell but it talks about the industry they serve. For example, a pregnancy care app used to post images about newly born babies, which made them very popular. A picture is better than a thousand words — people always respond to something that is visually appealing.
11. Join a Relevant Group
Creating and joining engagement pods or groups with a similar niche is one of the underutilized methods to gain more engagement within your social media platforms. It’s essentially creating a community of loyal supporters to follow, like and comment on every content that you post. This will work for both personal and business brands.
12. Integrate Offline Promotions
If you have a store or retail related market, you can introduce items and posters within your store that will encourage people to engage with you via social media. It’s important to have a strategy in mind when you’re using social. How much promotion will you do? Discount offers? Value-driven content? Contests? Let people know you intend to provide this via social with in-person marketing items. Nicole Munoz, Nicole Munoz Consulting
13. Reach Out to Them First
I go through my followers’ followers and reach out to them on their pages. This means asking questions, commenting and retweeting their posts. I find that they then take the time to see who I am and discover what I do. This has significantly raised our followers in an organic way.
14 Take Advantage of Polls
Using polls in your Instagram stories is a great way to simultaneously encourage engagement and tap into valuable customer feedback. Pose questions in a fun and light-hearted way. This is a great way to take the temperature of your community. Are they willing to take two seconds to engage with you? If not, it may be time to re-think your overall approach to social media.
15. Share On-Brand Memes
Especially to the younger generations, memes are unique to our times and there is nothing like it in terms of engagement. Business owners sometimes have problems to not only understand memes but also to use them in successful campaigns. You need to have someone in the team that keeps up with pop culture and creates memes according to your brand, but you won’t regret it.
How to Make Them ‘Appy: 4 Top App Trends Rocking the Mobile World
As the App Store reported having more than 2 million applications available on it in 2018, it’s clear that the app market is a little saturated. However, through a sort of natural selection, app trends keep changing to ensure that users get the most out of their mobile and smart devices.
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If you follow what’s happening in apps, you’ll stay ahead of your competitors and build apps that people use.
Here are four trends that are changing the way people use apps this year.
1. Apps For Wearables
Despite a few hiccups with products like the Google Glass, wearable devices are alive and well. The number of people walking around with FitBits and smartwatches is only going to grow in the next few years. Along with these smart devices are the requisite apps to make them more useful.
Smart wearables are a great way to stay healthy for some people. A watch that also watches your heart rate, checks your daily step count, and alerts you of appointments is a great way to stay in check. When you can receive alerts to take medications or to get to the doctor, it creates a personal connection with the device.
Increasingly, companies are integrating productivity applications for wearable devices. While tablets and smartphones started out as devices to perform some leisure activities on, they now have tools to keep you working. This is a welcome change for some while others call it a shame for the way it keeps us tethered.
More products will come with sensors attached to them that are then synchronized with apps. There are lots of connected devices sure to bed developed in the coming years that we can’t even predict yet and each one of them needs an app.
2. IoT and Smart Home Devices
Most estimates suggest that in only a few years, the number of smart devices like the Amazon Echo and Google Home are going to outnumber people. With these devices connected and listening to our every move and command, they’ll become more integrated with our daily lives. Smart home devices give us a way to be more productive and integrate the technology we’re already using with our home life.
As these items become more useful and more prevalent, they’re becoming more integrated with one another. You can now control smart home devices remotely via apps. You can start heating up your home as soon as you leave the office or unlock your door for visiting guests while you’re out running errands. Many of these smart home applications can be accessed through mobile apps as well.
These devices are collecting more and more data as time goes on. When integrated with weather applications, your heater can warn you that you won’t need it because a warm front is moving in. If there’s a blizzard coming, your fridge application can tell you that you should pick up some milk before you get home since you’re almost out.
There are so many ways that WiFi enabled devices at home can connect with you while you’re away. You can turn off lights that you forgot to hit on your way out or even know whether you left the oven on by checking the app.
3. More Mobile Purchasing
As mobile internet use has passed browsing on desktops and laptops, the number of people shopping has also moved mobile. More devices are now integrating payment methods like Apple Pay and Google Wallet into their interfaces, making mobile devices more accessible. It also means that developers need to get to work on new ways to process transactions.
Making purchases is becoming easier to do without cash. To process payment of any type from any customer that comes your way, you need to have the tools at your disposal. Not having the ability to process a payment sends your customers to your competitors.
Wearable devices are going to get into the purchasing game as well. When they can process payments, you’ll see very people leaving the house with their wallet.
Combine all this with data collection and predictive analytics and you’ll find new ways to engage customer loyalty. If you sell products in a brick and mortar space, your customers can get notified of special promotions as they walk by a business. Get them to buy from a certain retailer by tracking their data and you’ll build customer loyalty through habitual purchasing.
4. All New User Experiences
As devices find new ways to collect and display data, mobile user interfaces are going to change. With smaller spaces come more interesting challenges. The most successful mobile companies are finding new ways to push intuitive design out to their clients.
Interactive interfaces require designers to create apps that allow you to do things you could never do on mobile devices before. With user attention split and constant interruptions, apps need to accommodate these challenges.
App development needs to use content layers and circular design patterns that help people manage their content. With the increased use of augmented technology, there will be new ways for people to explore the space they’re in. If you’re the first company of your type to take up space there, you can lead the way in your industry.
The standards for user interface keep changing, meaning that your designers need to be at the top of their game. As these standards change, so do customer expectations.
App Trends Are Going To Keep Shifting
If you think you’ll ever finish chasing app trends, you’re never going to be happy with this moving target. Once you realize that chasing trends is the way of the world in the app game, you’ll be much happier about the results.
If you want to increase your productivity, check out our latest guide for building projects with better tools.
A Blogger’s Guide to Using Instagram Influencers
To become a successful blogger, you need to find different ways to grow your blog’s following. And there’s no better way of doing this than to promote your blog.
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From content marketing to SEO, you can increase your reach and authority. You just have to choose the most suitable tactics for your brand.
One of the most effective ways to draw traffic to your blog is influencer marketing.
According to this St. Josephs Communications infographic, 67% of marketers believe that influencer marketing helps them reach out to a more targeted audience. In the same infographic, it also states that influencer marketing has the potential to generate 11x higher ROI than traditional forms of advertising like print and TV ads.
When it comes to social media platforms, Instagram proves to be one of the most potent for influencer marketing.
In fact, the platform is expected to host 32.3 million sponsored posts by 2019. And that only includes posts that have the hashtags #sponsored, #ad, #sp or #spon.
Given these figures, it would be foolish of you to not get help from Instagram influencers!
Therefore, below are five tips that you must follow to extend your blog’s reach, no matter what your niche is.
1. Don’t skimp on the research
One of the most important steps to running any type of marketing campaign is to do your research.
Explore your influencer options and reach out to those who are a good fit for your brand by looking at their core values, aesthetic style, and personality/tone.
Check out their profile and see
Look at the type of collaborations they have worked on in the past and see what kind of publicity it these sponsored posts have generated.
Some influencers buy automatic Instagram likes organically to boost engagement. Objectively speaking, there’s nothing with this approach as long as the influencer delivers the results.
You might also want to consider how often they post sponsored content. You wouldn’t want to work with an influencer who is all over the place.
2. Make first impressions count
Once you’ve narrowed down your influencer options, your next step is to make the initial contact.
Write a short pitch that clearly communicates what your brand stands for and how you’re interested to work with them.
You can introduce your brand via DM. But if you want to stand out, send them an email instead. This way, your proposal won’t get lost in the sheer number of DMs the influencer receives every day.
3. Compensate your influencers fairly
Even if your product or service has amazing benefits, that doesn’t mean that influencers will be clamoring to promote it for free.
Building up a following on social media takes effort on a consistent basis. Therefore, you need to make sure that you compensate your influencers fairly.
Also, creating a social media content strategy takes days – if not weeks. So you should be willing to pay your influencers what is due to them. You can even offer your influencers a commission for every sale they send your way.
Of course, you need to approach compensation with 20/20 hindsight.
Don’t promise an amount that you’re not confident with. At the same time, don’t expect the influencers to deliver beyond their capabilities.
You must make informed decisions to ensure that you’re getting your money’s worth.
4. Let go of some creative control
You may have brilliant ideas for your brand content. But at some point, you need to let go of some creative control.
Keep in mind that influencers are masters in their niche, so they have the know-how to promote your brand to their audience. This reason is why you hired them in the first place.
If you’re going to micromanage how influencers present your brand on Instagram, then you shouldn’t have hired them in the first place!
The idea of influencer marketing is for them to do the dirty job for you. Interfering with their process won’t bode well for your business.
Therefore, it is very crucial to research on the influencer – the type of posts they publish, what other brands say about them, how professional they are – before hiring the,.
Of course, you have the freedom to share your style pegs or visual references. At the end of the day, however, you need to let your influencers do what they do best. And that is to use their creativity to promote your product and services without resorting to outright selling it.
5. Don’t forget the stories
Instagram stories are a great way to interact with followers. It helps tell a much complete brand story and can also show the product or service in action.
Most influencers know this and will be more than happy to give you a mention in their stories if you ask nicely.
To help you find the best Instagram influencers to hire, make sure that they do the following on their Stories:
- Knows how to use stickers effectively – Stickers on social media aren’t simply just for making the posts cuter. A great influencer employs stickers to elicit a response or reaction from his or her followers.
- Uses videos – Unlike images, videos allow influencers to create more layered storytelling for their audience. The best influencers use videos to leave their followers wanting more or connect with them on a more personal level.
- Tracks and measures results – Some Instagram Stories are a hit or miss. Thanks to Insights, influencers can determine which Stories worked so they can engage more with their followers. If the influencer know his or her way around Insights, then you now have someone who will promote your brand!
Tapping into Instagram influencers teaches us a great lesson about growing an online brand.
Sure, it’s fun to generate more traffic and qualified leads to your blog with influencers promoting your content.
However, the most important thing about influencer marketing is that it’s all about building relationships.
Let’s face it: all successful brands and businesses are founded on relationships.
You are not only developing a connection with your audience through Instagram influencers. You are also fostering partnerships with high-level influencers in your field.
Without these connections, you won’t enjoy the level of success necessary to grow your blog. Therefore, you need to learn how to nurture your relationships from all levels to sustain your brand.
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