As the world of online video becomes more democratized and even more accessible as a small business marketing tool, how do you distinguish yourself from the stupid cat videos and “meTV” videos flooding YouTube and your email?  Spend some time on pre-production and find a workflow that fits your goals.  Once you discover a method that works, keep tweaking but keep it simple and consistent.  Uploading videos to the web may seem confusing but with a bit of knowledge and a little practice you’ll have your web series up in no time.

Here are a few tips to get you started:

1. Choose a Video Hosting Site(s) that fits your needs– Everyone knows YouTube is the place to search for and watch videos and as the second largest search engine in the world, it is definitely THE video site.  However, keep in mind there are lots of other sites that can host videos without the constraints of YouTube (lack of ownership and control over videos, 15 min limit, lower quality). Explore or Vimeo.  These sites are geared for longer, higher resolution videos. Vimeo is more for HD content and aspiring filmmakers, while is more for web series. sets itself apart from other sites by allowing producers to cross-post their video to other sites (such as Vimeo and Youtube) and mobile devices, while creators still retain ownership of the content.

2. Always direct viewers back to your blog or website– YouTube is great for posting short content trailers and promos to get people interested and then lead them back to your site where they can find longer form content and information. To not overburden your web hosting service, embed videos from your video host like directly to your blog or website. even lets you customize the video player.

3. Be consistent– Whether you shoot in HD or SD, use a flipcam or a red camera, make sure you edit natively (or uncompressed), i.e. use the same settings you shot with to edit with. If you shot in multiple formats, edit using the settings that matches the majority of your footage. Only when you are ready to export your video and upload it, start thinking about compression for the web.  If given an option for “Current” settings, it is often best to select this preference.  This can help maintain the correct aspect ratios and not stretch, squeeze, or unnecessarily letterbox your video.

4. When in doubt, use the h.264 codec– Whatever program you use to edit your videos (Final Cut Pro, hint – hint) export one high quality uncompressed video to keep as your master. Then, either with the same software or another compression program (Apple Compressor and Adobe Media Encoder are great but pricey; Handbrake and MPEG Streamclip are great and free) prepare a video for web upload through compression and encoding.  This will dramatically decrease the file size and make it compatible for streaming on the web. The h.264 codec is universally recognized as the standard for quality video compression.  Make sure you are using it.

5. Compress for your audience– Think about who your audience will be and compress your videos accordingly. Video compression is not an exact science.  It is constantly changing with web and technology advancements, but it also depends on your target audience.  If you expect that your viewers have slower internet connections or older computers, then you may choose to reduce the data rate or video size.  Likewise, with higher bandwidth you can basically increase all settings.  Videos with less motion (like talking heads or fairly static images) are easier to compress than videos with fast cuts and lots of motion.  For most videos a data rate of 2 to 5 mbps is ideal. helps with this issue by allowing you to upload multiple versions of the same video and let the viewer choose which one to watch.

6. Be smart about Tagging your videos- Use specific and descriptive keywords to tag your videos so that people can easily find your videos through simple searches. Be simple and succinct but think carefully about who could find your video through searches and what keywords they might use.

As always in Social Media – Content is King – that said, once you have something of value to share, make sure you present it in the best way possible.

~ Jake Nicol is an integral part of the team at the Community Center of Marin and MarinTV, a huge proponent of Community Media and an expert at many things … including web video.