Video Killed the…

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Eighteen months ago, I didn’t know from online video.

I’d done a few Flip videos and posted them online. But I was, first and foremost a writer. Video was more or less something people did to waste time or share their goofiness.

Then, something happened that shattered my understanding of the power of video.

In the final hours before my last book launched, we created a video book trailer. Just me, sitting in front of a camera. Totally unscripted, telling a story. Professionally filmed and edited, but simple as can be.

The video went live and the response was like nothing generated by anything I’d written. It took me by surprise in a huge way. I never had the need to be in front of the camera. Still don’t. I’d actually much rather hide behind the screen. But I couldn’t ignore the response to the medium. Here’s the video…

Since then, I’ve made a series of big moves into online video. The venture that’s become my driving focus over the last year, Good Life Project, features a broadcast-quality weekly interview show. The educational side of that venture was launched not with a text landing page, but a 22-minute video that sold out our flagship training program in days, two years running.

One of the things I decided, right away, was that if I was going to do video, I wanted to raise the bar. No home vids or iPhones. We film on-location with a crew, three cameras rolling and everything is professionally edited.

Does that cost me waaaay more than writing posts or creating a text-driven website or landing page for offerings? Absolutely. But, at least for me, the outcomes have been more than worth the investment.

It’s building community, brand-equity, value and delivering impact way faster and at a higher-level than almost anything I’ve done. The daily emails I receive from the web-show regularly leave me breathless with gratitude. And, from a pure marketing standpoint, I’ve learned well-scripted and produced video moves people to action phenomenally well.

A few more examples of people tapping video to do big things…

1. Marie Forleo – 

Marie Forleo produces a weekly web-show, Marie TV, that offers advice on business and life. In a matter of a few years, she’s built a massive, die-hard global audience. While her show is angled toward women viewers, her advice applies pretty much across the board to anyone looking to do big things in life. And the production values set the standard for web-shows.

Looking to serve and solve the needs of her huge, devoted community, Marie created a series of educational experiences and products and launched them all with video. In fact, right now, she’s smack in the middle of a stunningly well-crafted video product launch for her online B-School.

Here’s the entry point for her video marketing sequence and here’s the product detail page that just went live today. If you’re interested in how to tap video to launch anything, watch her entire sequence.

Doesn’t matter if you want to buy what she’s selling or not. Just go check out how Marie’s leveraging video to build a powerhouse, value-driven marketing “funnel” that honors and gives along the way (P.S. – If you do end up investing in her stuff, I’m a friend and an affiliate and will benefit from your purchase. But, like I said, that’s not the main point here. The real thing is to devour how she’s using video to market and to learn).

2. A.J. Leon –

A.J. and his wife, Melissa, are the co-founders of Misfit, Inc. They were featured on an early episode of Good Life Project. Days before their wedding, A.J. walked out of a 6-figure job to rebuild his career and life with Melissa in a way that honored the man, husband and human being he wanted to be.

Together they launched a new venture, Misfit, Inc., in the quest to create something that would let them to travel around the world, work together and build a for-profit business that served as an engine for philanthropy. They’ve since raised millions of dollars for causes and foundations globally, helped build schools and bring fresh water to villages in need.

They often tap video as a primary vehicle for community-building and messaging, though because they’re often filming in some of the rawest places on the planet, it’s less about production-value and more about storytelling and sharing reality.

Today, A.J. tapped video in an entirely new way. He launched a Kickstarter project to fund his new book The Life and Times of a Remarkable Misfit. The entire campaign is exceptionally well put together. And his use of simple, close-up, story-driven video is drawing donors to the project on a level that’ll likely see it funded in less than a day.

Where does that leave us?

There are so many great examples of people tapping video to create content, build brands and launch ideas, services, experiences and products. Yes, highly-produced video still costs real money. But far less than it did only a few years ago. And, you’ve got to look not only at the investment, but the impact and growth side of the equation.

I’m a writer, that’s still my primary medium. I’ve written more than 800 articles on my blog and two books with plenty more to come. But, I can no longer ignore the astonishing power of well-crafted video to engage, connect and inspire action.

Has video killed the text star?

Not entirely, but depending on the audience and the intended use, it’s become an extraordinarily powerful tool in the communication arsenal. One I think you’d be nuts not to at least explore as you figure out how to get where you want to be and leave the footprint in the sand that’ll best honor your time on the planet.

So, what do YOU think?

Share your thoughts in the comments below…

With gratitude,


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41 responses

41 responses to “Video Killed the…”

  1. Jonathan, I totally dig your thoughts here and am entirely on the same page.

    For my first foray into video, I actually hired a good friend of mine who’s an extremely talented film maker. I sent him on a mission to independently interview 5 of my clients, and just surrendered to his artistic process – I wanted it to be about THEM… and if they honored me, then it’d be a reflection of my true value to them.

    Anyway, the outcome was extraordinary. It’s been a massive tool in my sales strategy (giving prospective clients a real life example to resonate with). It hasn’t been (and wasn’t intended as) a traffic generation tactic, so my next move is to look at how I can take this same high-product-value and aesthetic approach and do that.

    This article helped. Cheers! 🙂

  2. YESSSSSSSSS!!! Ok, perhaps I’m a bit biased (my business is creating professional videos for start-ups/entrepreneurs/artists as well as teaching people how to create videos themselves) and I know not everyone loves video. But aside from in-person interactions, I truly believe nothing creates an immediate connection like video. The caveat to that, of course, is that there is a learning-curve. And nothing creates disconnect quite like a poorly done video or petrified on-camera talent. Kudos to you for embracing the medium to help share your message! I’ve had dozens of clients/students mention how inspired they are by your videos. Cheers!

    • It’s a good thing my business doesn’t require me to be a good speller since I spelled my website URL wrong when posting my previous comment. If you’re looking for it, it’s 🙂

  3. Oooh yes. I’ve seen how much things have taken off for you, your book, and your business since you’ve added video. It really is like adding another dimension, that text can’t quite convey.

    I love how you’ve gone into video so much this year, and also the quality you bring to your videos. Always top notch. It’s on my calendar to record some of my own, too. 🙂

  4. AJ Leon says:

    Dude. Thank you so much for the shout! And I coudn’t agree more.!

  5. Jimbo Paleo says:

    I’m really glad to read more about your move to video and the Good Life Project. I personally love online video, both as a consumer and creator.

    For me, the content is more important than production values, but the quality of Good Life and others is changing my mind about that… as I appreciate the quality more and more.

    Thanks for this … I hope to read more from you about your experiences with video.

    Appreciatively, ==>Jim

  6. Erin says:

    This is exactly the reason why we’ve seen an explosion of our Premier Accounts at — Live streaming video is powerfully intimate, even though you may be broadcasting to thousands. For the audience member, it’s just the two of you, so delivering your message via live-streaming, interactive chat has almost as much impact as sitting right next to each other. The written word will never die, but alongside video, it’s the best of both worlds.

  7. Jonathan, you consistently inspire me, and this post is so timely! I’ve been thinking so much this week about how it’s time for me to get going on video. Marie’s work is part of what has convinced me just how powerful video is to create and enhance connection. I’m looking forward to checking out A.J. too. Thanks for this confirming virtual nudge. 🙂

    I’m curious about your advice for how to start to build that production team when you are just starting out on video with a relatively small budget. What/who do you consider the bottom-line must-haves–or the best place to invest those dollars first? If you can’t yet hire a whole team, but still want to build toward well-produced video, what type of person do you suggest reaching out to first? Grateful for any resources (how-tos, books, etc.) you’d recommend, too.

    Thanks again for being such a positive and inspiring presence!

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Hey Carrie.

      I love having my crew, I get to turn over all the decisions and post-production. And they’re amazing.

      But you can also do a lot yourself in the beginning. Depending where you are, you may even be able to rent a nice dSLR like a Canon 5D Mk II or III for a day with a good lens, then shoot a bunch of videos on a single day.

      One thing I’d do is spend a bunch of time searching on tutorial video on lighting and sound. Most people don’t realize that the real huge jump on the viewer experience comes from those two things. And bad sound and lighting will kill an otherwise well shot video.

      • Thanks so much for these tips. Yes, I look forward to hiring professionals who have the expertise to make those decisions and help guide the process! I’m in Center City Philly, so I am sure there are multitudes of great people in a small radius. In fact, as I type this, I’m starting to wonder…why wait??

        It’s so helpful to have your “starting point” suggestions. The hardest part of any new initiative is just getting into action, right? …Once you start, it becomes about building on that foundation. I’ll get going on the lighting/sound research you suggested. Among other things, it can only strengthen my conviction that it’s worth doing this, and worth doing well.

  8. Jon says:

    Thank you for helping me understand the power of video to connect with people and amplify my message.

  9. Great post, Jonathan. One line resonated with me… “if I was going to do video, I wanted to raise the bar. No home vids or iPhones.”

    As you know, I took the exact same approach with my book trailer (we shared the same editor) and am doing it again with my next course. People should understand the investment isn’t just for quality, it’s a marketing expense for your brand.

    I don’t think this means iPhone videos are going away… the quality of videos people shoot on them is going up all the time… but I think more and more people will jump to the higher end if they really want to separate themselves from the pack.

  10. Hi Jonathan…thank you for this post and for all the encouragement it contains. I have been slowly working my way through your videos on Good Life Project and have to admit I think you are one of the best interviewers out there…AND I’ve listened a A LOT of them. I actually just listen to the audio because that fits my lifestyle better–but I find all of your interviews so insightful and interesting….and perhaps best of all is how you guide your guests to revealing information that is wonderful. So many other interviewers want to do most of the talking or ask questions that aren’t that important–you have a very strong talent for asking the right things and then letting the answers flow out of your guests. Thank you for that!!! Please, please please keep doing it! I’m also interested in your book trailer too–it was made very well and I might even consider it for my own work in the future. thanks for all you do! ~ Kathy

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Kathy – Thanks for the kind words. One of the big differences I’ve found is that I’m generally more interested in the who and why, where most other shows are about the what and how. Makes is easier to guide my questions. We’re still experimenting a lot with video time. Everyone says go shorter, but I’d rather keep them long and just people the audio option for on-the-road listening.

  11. Multimedia convergence is a must for any blog, business, or individuals. Cover your bases with text, audio, and visual, and you’ll capture the world. Excellent post Jonathan.

  12. This is a timely post for me. I’m refocusing onto a new project that I hope to become my life’s work. Part of that involves a blog and part will involve a live component. I’ve been thinking about recording the live component and composing them into video to share on my blog and on Youtube. Thanks for sharing this, I’m really excited about the potential of adding video.

  13. Jonathan:

    I was not only inspired but motivated to keep going with making videos. It wasn’t long ago when I decided to make a series of videos and making them totally accessible so that every single person in the world could have access to my message(s). Like you, I’m a writer but I now realize that one should not underestimate the total power making a video. This article is very timely!

    I want to also say that the Misfit guy was totally articulate – it was really easy to read his lips and his video message was totally authentic. I wish to hell I still lived in NYC so I could meet him.

    Thanks Jonathan — I may not comment much but I sure read your stuff a lot. You totally rock dude.


    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Thanks for the kind words, Stephen. Yeah, AJ was great on his Kickstarter video. The project was fully funded within hours!

  14. Kevin Riedel says:

    Video will never replace text. It’s just another arrow in your communications quiver. Use it where appropriate.

    In the post, you slightly knock iPhone videos (and so does Jim in the comments). I don’t agree with that angle. I think current iPhones are capable of delivering pretty incredible video quality. Yes… there are better options… but people shouldn’t be discouraged from using iPhones.

    For those looking to experiment with video, I think more focus should be placed on proper lighting and good editing. Just my 2 cents.

    One other thing to keep in mind with video is length, Just like words, people have tolerances. While I do love your Good Life Project videos, they tend to be on the long side and I tend to not watch them because of this. Please don’t take offense to this. The videos are outstanding and I’ve watched several (and will continue to watch!)

    What I am saying is that it would be cool to see some shorter videos from you every now and then. Your Uncertainty video was incredibly powerful… at just over 3 minutes.

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Kevin –

      Totally agree! Text is not going away, but video is something even staunch text-creators like me should actively explore.

      Also, not knocking iphone videos, what I said is that I wanted to raise the bar for production value. iPhones ARE great. But they are also very limited compared to what we shoot with and what I wanted to do. That’s my choice, right for what I’m looking to build. Everyone else needs to make the choice that feels right to them.

      Agreed on lighting, editing and sound, mentioned that in an earlier comment. They’re so important.

      Length is an interesting thing. We are experimenting with it. Last week’s video was one of the new Jam Session formats at only 10 minutes and it was well-received. But I don’t anticipate ever going to really short form, at least under the GLP umbrella. I know my audience will grow a lot slower with what Seth Godin calls “slow media,” but the tribe who’s interested in going long and deep is actually the community I’m most interested in connecting with, so at least for now, that’s cool with me. That’s also why we’ve made all the shows available in mp3 format, too, and will soon be launching the podcast version. It’s amazing to get emails from people saying the listen to the show while they exercise for inspiration. Crazy world. 🙂

  15. Marc Winn says:

    If you think about it text is really a floored medium for communication. It has all tone and body language removed so in essence most of our ability to communicate. The mischief in me would say that the written word is ripe for serious disruption over the coming decades as platforms for ‘proper’ human communication continue to develop and evolve.

    You only have to look at how bad e-mail has impacted negatively in the way we communicate. It has become a form of conversation with most of the message removed. That wasn’t the original intention of the medium!

    The more we move to video the more we will be able to communicate to the world in the way we intended. Your message is strong in text but off the grid when you actually see the passion in your eyes for what it is for what you do.

    As the song goes ‘video killed the radio star’. It may yet kill the author as well.

    That for me is why the future is video and why I am moving in that direction also.

  16. I prefer audio to video. Listening stimulates my imagination as I picture the scene. BTW, my new audio podcast has been pretty successful, so far. Perhaps I’m living in a fools paradise? Hmm.

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Ha, not at all. We’re about to make some much bolder moves into audio as well. Will share notes once I’ve got enough data. Big point is to explore beyond print.

  17. Jennifer says:

    I’m the only anti-video person out there–I rarely watch online videos because they take so much freaking time for me to watch. I’m a speed reader, so text is quicker for me, plus I can check more easily as to what you said, and I remember it better because I can’t recall 95% of what someone said to me aloud. If I want to remember something on a video, I have to stop and rewind it a bunch of times while I attempt to write it down.

    So, one vote in the other direction, I guess.

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Love it, Jennifer. There’s no right or wrong, only what works for each individual.

  18. Thank for you doing the Good Life project. The interviews are so good and thought provoking.

    Funny you just posted this today. I was JUST thinking I could keep up with The Good Life project better if there was an iTunes feed I could listen to in podcast form.

    The videos are excellent! I just don’t have time to sit and watch them in front of a screen. I could, however, listen to them on a walk or in my car.

    Is it possible to do both formats or are you afraid something would be lost if the interviews could be consumed through iTunes? If something would be lost, what would it be?

    I know the mp3s can be download manually, but that is too much of a hassle to do for each one.

  19. Stephanie says:

    Amazing video and thank you for telling this story. Video makes you so much more real and vulnerable. I love it! To be able to look into someones eyes while listening to what he or she has got to say actually means a lot. The words come alive. Maybe video will be my next step as well.

    Love, Stephanie

  20. Maryam says:

    U know? There is just one little problem. I do believe that the generation who has to deal with txts would be more creative. I mean for business men its better to use videos. Cause it can attract people much more.due to the videos power in affecting the minds. When we watch a video we accept more and think less, comparing to the time we read a txt. The speed of data transfer leaves us no moment for thinking. That s why txts are less successful in advertising or sharing an idea or so.
    I guess in the future, as the reading will decrease ( i do believe that the education would be video- centered) we would have a generation who hadnt a chance to think about ideas. Like their minds is under videos attack.

  21. I love your vids – they are so powerful and had been wondering how you made them. So three cameras – but only one camera man?

    My goal is to make some too on the iPhone to get started. But I keep putting it off. I love to hide behind the written word so it’s a big jump.

    People like Marie seem to lap up the limelight but it’s great to see that peoeple also love videos with quiet performers like you.

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Annabel – We usually roll with two camera people, 1 editor. But it sometimes changes based on the logistics of the shoot. I tink we’re going to turn the cameras around for an upcoming GLP Jam Session and take people behind the curtain because so many have asked how we shoot.

  22. Carla Arena says:

    Dear Jonathan, I’m a Brazilian educator and have been following you for a while. I don’t think video has killed text, but it has enabled me to be with you and your guests on the go. I listen to the interviews in the car, at the gym, at home…at least two times a week, you are there with me.i can’t even tell you the impact you and your guests have had in my life and the ones around me and my sister! We are building and planning incredible things because of you and the power of your words. The text + video blend is explosive! Thanks for the push and the inspiration which are rocking our world.

  23. First Jonathan I want to say thank you for talking about such important and ‘off the beaten path’ topics. Many of your messages I’ve felt have been crafted just for me! They always seem to be right on time.

    Concerning today’s blog: I am still at the beginning stages of developing a marketing plan for my jewelry and art businesses but I am quickly beginning to see the need for potential customers and clients to be able to put a face with a name. Not just for branding purposes, but to give others the opportunity to connect; many consumers are buying items online and may never see the person providing them with a service or product. It adds a little humanity back into the transaction.

    The lightbulb came on for me reading your blog. My jewelry is amazingly different, eclectic, and includes influences from many different cultures. All of these things make my work fabulous pieces of art but admittedly potential consumers may be a bit unsure of how to pair my pieces with their clothing. So why not make videos to show how my jewelry can go with various clothing ensembles??? I love the idea, am intimidated by it, not sure how it is going to work but I am willing to try it!

    Most business owners may not think of video primarily because they don’t believe themselves to be very photogenic (myself included) or they just may be painfully shy. But who else would be able to talk about my business better than I would or with more passion and enthusiasm? So I wouldn’t dare give the job as spokesperson to someone else.

    Thanks for the advice and encouragement!

  24. Cat says:

    Both pictures and videos can be amazingly powerful. And I love watching Marie’s videos.

  25. Tom Bentley says:

    Jonathan, your GLP videos are so enveloping, and the full humanness of the participants sometimes just SHINES. Don’t want to sound too woo-woo there, but there is such a deep dimensionality in gesture, facial expression and all the meta-language biz of videos. It’s why the movie-viewing experience can be so rich (if the script and the actors are right there). Thanks for your work in the medium—looking forward to see how it evolves.

  26. I’ve been thinking of getting into “vlogging” too, but have been intimidated by the lack of experience I have in this field. I see that it’s the way the web is moving, so I think I need to invest in some equipment to be able to start putting out some half-descent videos at least. We’re still in the fledgling stages with our brand, but I think a good way to catapult us to the next level is to regularly release some videos sharing lour message and mission.

    Thanks for the reminder, Jonathan 🙂

  27. […] you have not discovered Jonathan Fields- Facing Uncertainty – do yourself a favor and visit his blog.  In the video trailer for his book, he speaks […]

  28. […] you have not discovered Jonathan Fields- Facing Uncertainty – do yourself a favor and visit his blog.  In the video trailer for his book, he speaks […]