Just about everyone has heard about the need to have a great Kickstarter campaign video. It's all very well to know what you need to put in your video, as we outlined in our article How Successful Kickstarter Campaign Videos Are Made.
But if you don't have a masters degree in film production (heck, even if, like me, you do), and you don't have large amounts of cash lying around, then how do you go about actually making that video without breaking the bank?
Fortunately, there are loads of excellent cheap or free resources online that can help you put together a video that looks a million dollars for next to nothing.
We've actually used these same tools in previous marketing jobs to create a radio spot for clients that was actually aired, and cost only $26 to make (and it could have been done for as little as $6 if it didn't need 5 different voice over artists).
So let's take a look at the tools you can use to create a powerful campaign video for the same, or even less:
Mailchimp - Nothing beats getting a persons email for turning them into a backer later. These days spam filters are better than ever so people are looking at their emails, while at the same time, platforms like Facebook are making it harder and harder to have your posts seen without paying for the privledge. According to Facebook themselves only 16% of your followers will ever even see any given post you put out. Beating 16% open rates on email (for free) is easy. So who to use?
What if you could have the industry's leading interface, and didn't have to pay a cent for up to 3,000 people on your mailing list? That's MailChimp. Others will try to charge you $40-$50 per month, even if you don't have many people. Even when you do get larger Mailchimp simply can't be beat for ease of use. There's more than a reason (or two) we use them here on Crowdfunding Dojo. (Oh and yes, those are affiliate links, although they don't actually make us money, and we wouldn't recommend them if we didn't use them ourselves).
Campaign Music Resources:
Jamendo.com – At the time of writing this, Jamendo.com has over 350,000 music tracks, Creative Commons licensed in just about every genre you could imagine and then some. There's a couple of tricks to using Jamendo, legitimately and legally though.
Firstly, you'll notice that Jamendo is plastered everywhere with buttons and links offering to license the music for you to use commercially. Here's the secret. Other than music under the “Non Commercial” (NC) Creative Commons licenses, all the other creative commons music can be used commercially for free.
That's right, despite all their banners, you don't need to pay Jamendo a cent, unless you want to license something under a non commercial license. Now, you'll also need to avoid “No Derivative” (ND) licenses and be aware that if you use a “Share Alike” license that others can legally reuse your video for their own projects.
Ideally you want either a CC-BY or CC-Zero license. CC-BY you just need to credit the artist somewhere in your video, CC-Zero you don't need to do anything. There are still many thousands of tracks available under both licenses, available for download, free, instantly. There are still nearly 20,000 tracks under CC-BY alone, which you can find at this link:
Other similar but smaller sites, that also use the same Creative Commons licenses:
The Free Music Archive – Contains a wide variety of Creative Commons Music, with a notable collection of classical music.
CC-Mixter – Largely a community of electronic music focusing on remixing. Musch smaller, but often with a polished level of high production values.
Finally, if you don't want to mess around with checking and complying with Creative Commons licenses, one of the cheapest sources of quality royalty free, stock music is:
Jewelbeat – Specializing mainly in short, commercial music like what you'll hear in radio ads and videos. Most competing sites will charge $35-$400 for similar music.
All tracks at JewelBeat are only $2.99s. While their tracks are usually short (1-3 minutes), ideally you want to keep your videos under this length anyway as most research shows that when they get longer, the chances of the entire video getting watch drop dramatically.
Voiceovers and Sound Effects:
Fiverr For short voice overs (say 1-5 minutes, maybe 10), it's hard to beat the price of Fiverr, so called because the base cost of everything is 5$ (although extra fees may be added for some things like rush jobs).
Fiverr also has a very active voice over community with many people of various ages and genders. A couple of things to watch for when getting a Fiverr voice over:
That they have a video and that you like the sound and style of how they read
That the quality of sound on their video is good. Do their voices sound tinny? Is there any background hiss or echo?
What's their feedback like and turn around time? Remember, some bad feedback is normal, but most people will choose not to leave bad feedback. 98%-100% positive feedback is normal. Below that I'd be asking questions.
Elance – Here you get an even wider range of speakers than Fiverr, and there tend to be more real professionals.
The prices are significantly higher though, usually starting at around $100. The up side is that where people on Fiverr tend to charge by the minute, Elancer's tend to charge by the project, so if you're planning a 20 minute video, Elance may still be cheaper.
As with Fiverr, check that you like the sound of their recordings. In Elance you casn usually do this by looking in the “Portfolio” link on their profile.
Freesound.org – Similar to Jamendo.com, but for sound effects instead of music. Nice to add extra emphasis or fun to important parts of your video.
OpenClipart – Open clipart is fantastic. It's a collection of clip art in SVG format (which can be viewed at any size in many image applications and browsers). Unless stated otherwise, all of the images are Creative Commons Zero licensed, meaning simply that you can do whatever the heck you want with them.
Some of the images are fantastic, others not so much, with most being somewhere in the middle. Regardless, you can quickly search for, download and use any of the many excellent images quickly, easily, and legally for free, without having to worry too much about complex licenses.
Flickr – Almost everyone knows Flickr as one of the most popular sites for posting photographs on the line. What many people don't know is that with a couple of tricks, you can find fascinating photos, usable in your project for free.
The trick is to do two things:
- Firstly do a search, click on the “advanced search” link (to the right of the SEARCH button) and check all three of the checkboxes in the “Creative Commons” section at the bottom of the page.
- After search results come up, you can choose to sort results by “Interesting”, which brings up the photos people have liked the most first.
Voila. You now have a bunch of photo's, already chosen for being interesting that you can use in your project for free, with only the need to credit the original author (we recommend in the credits at the end).
So, what's the good of having visuals, voiceovers, music and other material if you can't actually turn it into a video?
There are quite a few paid options on whatever operating system you're on. What we're going to look at here though, is a couple of free and open source options that you can download, legally for free on Windows, Mac or Linux and use without any restrictions to make your campaign video.
If you want to see what they can do, just look at any of our videos. Yes, this is what we use ourselves (for reasons beyond just price).
Audacity – It's interface looks like something from the early 80's, but Audacity is a full featured and reliable workhorse of an audio editor used by many podcasters, and completely free.
With nice features for adjusting the volume of any part of a recording without losing any of the quality of the original, chances are, audacity has all the features you're going to need and then some. Learn the cut,normalize,noise removal, compressor and envelope functions and you know pretty much everything you're likely to need.
Ardour – This is a Mac and Linux one only, and it comes with a steep learning curve, but Ardour deserves a mention for providing a slick and truly professional level audio mixing and editing package comparable to Cubase.
It's definitely an amazing program, however I'd recommend Audacity for most people as it is much, much simpler to learn.
VLC – VLC is the swiss army knife of capturing, playing and conveting video into just about any file format on Earth. It's particularly useful for recording video's of your screen, a staple of internet marketers, especially when combined with a Powerpoint or LibreOffice Impress presentation.
Also worth keeping an eye out for is VLMC, VLC's easy to use video editor. At the time of writing, it hasn't been officially released yet. Early test versions are available though, and it looks like it'll be worth using when it comes out.
Blender – Blender is a bit of an odd one in this list. We're recommending it here for it's fairly basic video editor and enthusiastic community support which can help you learn it, relatively quickly. In this respect, it's not glamorous, but like Audacity, it can do (and has done) the job.
Blender comes with a rather large caveat though. It's main design is not as a video editor but as a 3D application for special effects. It does this amazingly well, but these areas of the program are wildly complex and best avoided unless you have the desire to become a digital film maker / animator / special effects artist.
We recommend watching a couple of YouTube tutorials on using it to edit video and sticking to that.
That said, if you ever do want to do something fancier like greenscreen, compositing, titles etc. you know that, while it may need some learning, that Blender can handle it. This is a studio grade piece of software, even if the editor is pretty basic.
To see what Blender's really capable of, check out their 2011 showreel here.
So, as you can see, with the tools listed above, and a bit of Googling tutorials, it's possible to make a professional level campaign video for as much, or as little, as you're prepared to spend. This list isn't by any stretch of the imagination everything that's out there, especially in the software category.
We'd love to hear any other great resources you've come across in the comments.
What it does show though, is that you have everything you need to get started, right now. The tools are basically free. As with Kickstarter, all you really need for your campaign video is an idea, a passion and a willingness to make it real.