Podcast Epsiode #26: Creating Great Information Products with Jules Watkins

On this week’s Web Video Marketing Show podcast, Ryan Spanger talks to Jules Watkins about how to create cutting-edge video information products. So, if you’re thinking about creating your own video information product, keep listening.


Shooting Information Products

Jules is the creator of iPhone Video Hero, which is an online course that helps people create great-looking promotional videos on their iPhones.

Episode Notes:

1. “Where have you been?”/Episode Introduction [0:33]. Ryan explains where the Web Video Marketing Show has been hiding in 2014, and introduces his next guest.

2. From Then to Now [1:30]. Jules explains his broadcast TV background, and why he made the switch to creating information products.

3. Identifying Gaps in the Video Information Product Market [4:41]. Jules describes how he began down the information product pathway – creating a blog about the Flip video camera – and how it lead to his first lot of online income.

4. How to Leverage the Power of a Brand [13:22]. How do you identify a force to leverage? What makes a good product a great opportunity – for you?

5. Learning How to Market Products [17:57]. Ryan and Jules discuss iPhone Video Hero, and the important lessons Jules had to learn to market his videos effectively. Was it simply trial-and-error? Was it just copying what other people do?

6. List Building for Dummies [24:33]. How did Jules build his list to sell his information product? Here, he explains his approach to selling his product to his audience, building his image, and appealing to his target market.

7. “Focus”: The Be-All and End-All [35:19]. Jules details the lessons he had to learn about focusing on the value he can create for other people, how he could keep his ideas “lean” and nail what’s important to his audience.

8. Benefitting from Trends [42:22]. One savvy way to sell your information product is to identify a trend early, and come along for the ride. Jules details how.

Episode Transcription

Ryan Spanger: Hi, this is Ryan Spanger. About 12 years ago, I started a video production company in Melbourne, Australia called Dream Engine. Making videos is a huge passion for me and in this podcast, I’ll be sharing with you a lot of the ideas and techniques that I use in my video production business. I hope you enjoy the show and making some clear actionable ideas that you can implement in your business right now to improve your web video marketing and build a stronger connection with your audience.

Hi, and welcome to the Web Video Marketing Show. Regular listeners will have noticed we’ve had a slight sabbatical from releasing new episodes. Blame it on the Australian summer or the massive amount of video production work we’ve been doing as part of Dream Engine, my video production company, but the good news is that we’re back with more episodes and on today’s episode, I’ve talked to Jules Watkins.

Now Jules is a creator of iPhone Video Hero which is an online course that teaches you how to get the most out of your iPhone to create promotional videos. Jules has a great background in video production. He’s been a producer on some quite high profile TV shows in the UK and if you’ve ever thought about creating your own video based information product, keep listening because Jules tells a story of how he moved from the grueling, high pressure environment of broadcast TV to using video to create his own information products and own his own asset and in this interview, Jules shares some great insights into how he did it and some pitfalls to avoid.

Jules Watkins, it’s great to have you here on the Web Video Marketing Show. There’s a lot of video production experts out there but I think there’s few people who have the level of experience that you do and your background in broadcast TV, so I know that you’ve worked on some pretty high profile shows. Can you give me a little bit of your story, tell me a bit of your background and how you came to work in video production.

Jules Watkins: Yeah, sure and thanks very much for having me on your podcast. Well, my background’s pretty varied but I’ll give you a really short version. Start it off, passionate about photography, ended up going to college, did the Flip video but my photography, ended up as an assistant to an advertising photographer in London and that led me through various paths. I ended up actually moving away from advertising into news photography and that led me into a little bit of TV work.

I was overseas in former Yugoslavia for a while, led me into TV and basically, I managed to kind of really find myself in TV, really enjoying it and wanted to pursue that direction, so I ended up with a couple of these source, permanently in TV as a freelancer, working my way up to become a producer, director and it was in the boom time of … Well, we’re still in the boom time of reality shows but this was sort of at the cusp of reality shows, so a lot of quite lighthearted reality shows and entertainment base shows like for example Pimp My Ride, which is a car customization show which is on MTV, Biggest Loser, which is a huge global brand.

Obviously I’m working on the UK versions of those. There’s another show called Don’t Tell the Bride, which is a reality show where the groom has to organize the wedding for the bride, without the bride knowing anything, so all these kind of shock reality shows really and so found myself in that and you know I really, really loved that because it, TV, is becoming very … It’s become very multi-skilled.

As a TV director, you might think they just sit around and deliver orders but it’s a lot about actually knowing how to operate camera, to shoot as well as direct, as well as managing camera crews on occasions and contestants and very, very diverse role, fantastic role but really hard on your time.

If you’re a TV director, pretty much give up most of your life. You have to be running around different parts of the country or the world pursuing whatever show you’re working on, giving everything up and when you’re young and 20s, perhaps without commitments, it’s all really cool but as you get a little bit older, you start thinking, actually, I’d quite like to be able to plan what I’m going to be doing next weekend.

I started off looking online and seeing what people were doing and I just realized suddenly this whole nation of self publishing was fascinating to me because I had always been working for channels, for production companies, being bossed around, having people above making the decisions about, the creative decisions about the show and the finance decisions and suddenly I just saw people being liberated by the fact that they could actually create their own content and I started a tiny, little blog, very, very niche blog as my first experiment online, which was a blog just about a single video camera, which I’m sure you know it, Ryan, the Flip video camera.

Ryan Spanger: Yeah, yeah, absolutely.

Jules Watkins: That kind of … I met, I spotted that that was big in America and nobody in England was talking about it, where I’m based so I just basically started a tiny little blog. All I did was blog about the Flip camera, just to see if I could get rankings around Flipped video terms and get a bit of a following and you might think there’s not enough to talk about but there is because there’s so much culture around the Flip camera in its heyday and people’s videos, I would feature news about the Flip, tricks, accessories. I just found things to blog about.

Ryan Spanger: Jules, if you don’t mind me interrupting, just on that topic, was that because you were really passionate and excited about the Flip? Did you sort of discover this and think, “Oh, this is really liberating,” and you enjoyed going on that journey or was it more of a strategic thing in terms of this is something that I can share and promote and build an audience with?

Jules Watkins: I found it liberating because as a TV director, I was then with huge cameras. I would be using big shoulder mounted DSR500, it was called, Sony Cameras, shoulder mounted cameras as a shooting director and lots of camera kit and vans and I remember once traveling with like 40 boxes of kit to Korea and so it was constantly shifting kit around, managing kit, as well as carrying heavy cameras.

When I saw the Flip, it just sort of … for me, because I’ve got kids, it was just liberating that I could just film really easily, film memories and just my own stuff really and it was before like Smart phones became like the way that people would shoot video, so to me it was liberating but also I was aware of the fact that was this thing called niche blogging, so if you could build up a little tribe, you could perhaps start promoting affiliate offers or just even selling … My first ever online sale was one … I can remember the day I got an email.

Well, I checked my Amazon account and I had one sale so if the camera was about $100 and I made about $4 commission but that was my first ever, that online bill of income and I just suddenly realized, you know what, if you can build an audience then potentially you can make some money off it so it was twofold really.

Ryan Spanger: How did that feel to make your first sale?

Jules Watkins: Yeah, that was crazy because I didn’t, I was very skeptical. I did read a lot of blogs. I found some of the good reads out there and it’s all theory when you’re reading, it’s all theory and you think, “Well, can that really work?” You fit all the … Is it made up or can it work for me. I didn’t kind of believe it and you put this thing out and anybody who starts a blog, it’s like this emptiness out there, you don’t know if anybody’s really reading it or you can check the stats and you find out there’s like two people reading it and one’s your mother and it’s like do you keep going with it?

Is it really going to work? Is it really going to take off? But when suddenly, even if with this quite small amount of a small audience, when you just suddenly check your Amazon account and you’ve got one sale, then you think, “Hang on a minute.” It’s mathematics, right? A hundred people came to my site that week and one person bought a camera, so if I could get more people coming or was offering more products, more accessories, perhaps it could become a little affiliate earner.

In my best year with that site, that was after about nine months, I suppose, for that 12 months that followed, I did about $28,000 of Amazon sales of Flip related products, accessories, and cameras. Now that sounds like a lot of money but that was the gross, what I actually took from that was obviously about 4%, so it wasn’t huge money but there was … Amazed me, the volume of sales you could get just by literally ranking.

If somebody typed into Google in the UK, particularly about Flip video camera, I was coming out within a sort of top five results but also it was like Flip video tripods, Flip video microphone, that kind of thing, so that made me realize it’s kind of, it’s a numbers game and once you realize that, then it gives you a lot of confidence.

Ryan Spanger: Of course, so you built a platform when you knew there was an audience there. You knew people were interested in what you had to say and you could see that there was an economic model there but this was really just the start. This was the foundation. You were basically going out there and kind of taking the word to the masses.

You were coming from a TV background, working within the industry and essentially saying to people, “No matter who you are or what your background is, you can actually learn some basic skills and do this as well.”

I’m interested to know what the reaction was to people within the industry. I mean I’ve been working probably for a similar amount of time within the video production industry more the corporate side and in some areas there’s … I guess you could say … Almost like a snobbery or protectiveness of essentially saying this is our domain. This is not the domain of amateurs … and I’m wondering what people’s reaction was? Was it generally a positive reaction? Were some people threatened by what you were doing?

Jules Watkins: Yes, I mean I kind of expected that. I did get a few nasty emails from people who are … As you say rightly, there are certain sector of corporate video production who thinks the business owners shouldn’t make their own videos and that really if you want to get a video made, you’ve got to go and hire a professional and get it made properly with a proper budget.

I definitely got a few odd emails from those kind of people but, the funny thing was that because I was working in a highly multi-skilled TV world, I kind of got used to that because in the old days, in TV, you know, you don’t … You’d have a very set, defined roles. You have like the cameraman. You’d have somebody who’s doing the lighting, somebody doing sound and those barriers sort of broke down.

It was quite uncomfortable for a period when there was … Going back in time … There would be Unions and it … A director couldn’t pick up a camera and the lighting person couldn’t touch a microphone. Those are all broken down. TV was very multi-skilled, you just have to get on with it, so I was kind of used to that so it didn’t kind of put me off, so I got definite resistance there.

I thought initially, funny enough, I think I got a bit of resistance from Flip video themselves, which is strange because they were trying to build up their own social media presence and they had a quite a very popular Facebook page and they would be putting out sort of press releases and sort of trying to create a community and I always thought of doing the same thing and I … at some point I thought I was actually competing with their own social media department which was a little bit weird but pretty much all that came to end because as you realize that Flip was axed and that was a perhaps a slight mistake I made.

Yeah, I woke up one day, I got an email from somebody saying, “Do you know that Cisco have just axed the Flip camera and I just heard it in the news?” and pretty much that was it. There was a huge sudden shock amongst the Flip loving community that Cisco decided to not produce it anymore because it wasn’t part of their business model and so this sort of really loved camera that had a very huge social following, suddenly they were in disarray and I actually … I jumped on that.

I set up a save the Flip campaign and I had a site, I don’t think it’s live anymore. I’m pretty sure it’s not savetheflip.com, I set that up and I became like a campaigner and I had a little opting to become a campaigner and I got feature … I ended up being picked up by some sort of big news blogs because it was like this Flip crazy guy decides to try and save the Flip and people were wondering like could they take it over, could they take the brand over and make it sort of the people’s camera and I actually was really disappointed when they axed it because it was such an affordable camera.

As you said, it put it into the hands of the masses and you could do some pretty cool things with it, with a bit of training and it was a bit of a shock so I jumped on that as well and what I did, I’m pleased I did do, is I did the opt in box, I should have done it from day one, but I did add an option, I had a Flip cheating guide where I, that’s where I first started to build a list with just a little side bar e-book and I was planning to do a Flip course and had a lot of plans around it.

Then suddenly you build it around and I thought maybe one day there could be like a Flip video university and I was sort of naïve thinking that Flip would last forever and of course, once it went, suddenly I was like a little bit, well, what do I do next?

Ryan Spanger: Well, it’s interesting for people thinking about creating product, a good lesson for them that you can leverage the power of a brand or a product, like Flip at the time where it’s almost like GoPro today, there’s so much publicity and buzz about it that you can actually ride that wave. On the other hand, you’re building your platform on something else and the rug can be pulled out from you.

I know that your next step was to get involved with the iPhone which seems like could have more longevity but of course, you never really know how things work out but I think you put a bet on the right horse because you got involved with the iPhone, what was it? A few years ago and it’s really just gone from strength to strength.

Jules Watkins: Yes, actually, my first product was … I did have the list of Flip people and I’d already started the product and I realized that even though technically the Flip wasn’t going to be made, there’s still a lot of Flip users and I was sort of quite right down the road with creating it so I did launch a product which is called a Pocket Video Power which was basically my attempt to really attract people into pocket video cameras, so really I did cover … I covered the Flip, I had lessons, private, paid for lessons about how to get better results from your Flip camera but I also covered things like the Kodak.

There was a Kodak, the Zi8 which became very popular, it had a microphone input which was much better than the Flip and it became quite popular amongst the marketers, so I covered that, I covered the Flip and I started covering the iPhone, so a slightly broader course where if you owned any of these cameras, you would get some value out of it, so that was my first product and that was again a big leap for me, sort of going from just having made Amazon sales to actually launching a product and it kind of did okay and I got sales from that.

I got a few hundred sales, so I guess some people create products that don’t sell at all so I should be pretty grateful for that but time, as you said, quite rightly, time moved on, technology moved on and I noticed that my iPhone content was the more popular and I just started looking at Facebook groups and just really having a finger on the pulse of what was going on and noticing more and more people were talking about their iPhones and could they use it to video and, wow, the latest model’s got a really cool camera and I just …

You were right, I latched onto that and it had a lot going for it because it’s got very passionate audience around it, people who are … Tend to buy iPhones, spend a lot of money on apps and other related products. Yes, as you said, you know, of course, I realized the iPhone might disappear one day because you never know what’s going to go on in this world but I did see that it’s not likely to disappear as quick as the Flip might.

Ryan Spanger: Yeah, I think that the good thing with the iPhone is it’s part of an integrated package where it’s not just a standalone unit so … and people carry an iPhone with them and it’s for their surfing the web and email and apps and everything else so it’s less likely to just disappear.

Jules Watkins: Yes, I agree with you. I mean, unless, oh, I mean, of course, who knows one day Apple might say, “Oh, wow we give in. Samsung, you win. We’re not doing phones anymore. We’re just going to do laptops,” but … “And iPads.” I don’t think that’s going to happen, so, yeah, you’re actually right. I mean, your iPhone is sensational in the fact that you’ve got this sort of computer where … and you got connectivity so you can obviously upload your videos direct from the Youtube app inside of it.

You’ve got all the various apps for enhancing videos. It’s got a fantastic camera. It’s got two cameras. It’s got a nice big screen. It’s got so much going for it so to me I just thoroughly enjoyed my iPhone. I’d owned one … before I even made any training about it, I just kind of had the same passion as my audience for it and being accessible, being on you all the time as well as opposed to planning.

Even with pocket cameras, it was like you had to plan to take it with you, so you have to, get, make sure it was charged, and do you have the accessories with you and have you got a bag for it, so you’d be carrying that pocket camera and your phone. Whereas now, having it all integrated into the one device, so, yeah, I created … To move the story along, I decided to create a specific iPhone training course which is called the iPhone Video Hero and again, I was constantly learning about how to create products and how to market them and so, yeah, that’s been a huge sort of hit.

Of course, it’s taken off last couple of years, really, really big so that was my sort of … I guess putting all my lessons into practice and trying to learn to market it a lot better than I did previously and so, yeah, that’s been really popular.

Ryan Spanger: I would like to talk more about iPhone Video Hero and just pick up on what you said there. You said that you were over the time, learning how to create and market products. I’m interested to talk more about that for people who are thinking about doing the same thing themselves.

Do you have any background in teaching or educating? Do you think that’s important? How do you learn how to make a product? How do you know what people want? How do you know what style of teaching suits them? Is it trial and error? Is it looking at other products? How did you approach this?

Jules Watkins: Yeah, good question, you know, I approached it from the perspective of my TV background and I think TV is the great learning ground, not only making it but watching it because a lot of TV is actually educationally in the UK recorded factual entertainment, so a lot of their reality shows … I take a show like The Apprentice, it’s sort of reality show but it’s also got factual elements to it.

You learn stuff about business from the experts that appear, from the judges, so it’s got this combination and I made several shows, not The Apprentice, but several shows like the Biggest Loser where if you watch that show, it’s a lot going on there but you do learn stuff about diet and about exercise.

Some of these restaurant shows, where you get a guy goes in like Gordon Ramsey, whoever, tries to fix a restaurant. Again, you’ve got the reality side but you actually learn a bit about the business of restaurants and how to improve, so I lifted it from that point of view. TV, other people think it’s dying out, it’s still very popular. It’s still watched a lot. People love to be educated and entertained at the same time, so I took my background and I’m not a professional educator but I was a professional TV producer and director.

Sort of I was teaching people through these TV shows, so I looked at that and thought, well, how can I kind of apply that to what I’m doing and, you know, a lot of courses, the outside of them looks really attractive. When you go in, they’re a little bit dull. They’re sort of a bunch of PowerPoint videos, not a lot of visuals going on.

Sometimes the audio’s not that great either, you can hear the guy’s dog barking in the background and … I’m not, of course, not all courses are like that, but a lot of courses tend to be like that because they’re perhaps not made by people with any professional experience of content creation so I realized that my advantage was trying to make my courses entertaining. Put a lot of my personality as if I was almost like a TV presenter, putting that other personality into it, making a few jokes here and then … Things that people weren’t expecting.

If you go through it, the experience of going through the course, it’s a little bit like watching a TV show or watching a good video is that you’re always on your toes, what’s coming next as opposed to go into the course and everything’s just one after the other very samey or everything looks the same, everything sounds the same, there’s no changes within it, so I sort of tried to do that and that’s really worked for me because I do get a lot of feedback.

People say, “Well, we love your courses. They’re like really cool and so easy to watch and I felt entertained by it.” I mean, that’s been something that I hope other people could … I could share that with other people and they could perhaps … Well, they’ll see that if they go through my courses or they can literally as I said just …

You know, one step I often give is try and find a TV show in your niche, so if you’re in business, go and look at some business reality shows. If you’re in fitness, look at fitness shows. If you’re in dog training, go and look at Discovery Channel, the Animal Planet or whatever and try and look at something in your niche and try and pick out what are they doing there that’s exciting that you could apply into your own products.

Ryan Spanger: This makes a lot of sense to me because as a TV producer, the number one thing that you need to do is capture and hold people’s attention and TV viewers are sort of notoriously fickle and distracted and so it’s almost the same role that a teacher needs to play with kids in a classroom. How do you actually get people’s attention and how do you hold their attention and often it’s through entertaining people and through connecting with them emotionally and I guess with something like reality TV, you’ve got what people want and then what they need and you almost need to smuggle in what they need.

What they want might be controversy, drama, action, and then the actual learning is almost like snuck in there but if you put the learning, if learning is the billboard then immediately they’re kind of … Takes a bit of the fun out of it and sounds quite, could be a little bit boring, so I can really see how your background in TV qualifies you perfectly for making information products.

Jules Watkins: Yeah, I know, that’s exactly right and I think … Hopefully other people can apply that because what I teach is how to sort of make videos that are engaging and think a bit more visually and I think you can learn that as well even if you’re not … You know, not many people have got TV production background but I still think you can actually learn that and I do see entrepreneurs who have no background in this just because of their characters.

Once they get their characters out there, they start thinking of these creative ideas, how to make their sales videos more interesting or more fun or how to make the course more fun and they start to apply it and they get results, and just talking about the marketing. You asked about the marketing. It’s … I have to write the same thing. I probably went against the grain.

A lot of people teaching about creating a big audience with a blog and a lot of tireless blogging and building up a big list and … I just did a little bit different and I thought, “Well, how does a new TV show market itself?” It doesn’t create a blog and start writing about itself for weeks and weeks. It goes out and finds people that are willing to talk about it, so it would go and … You know, there’ll be press departments in TV companies and channels that will go out and reach out to bloggers and make sure that the TV presenter goes out and gets on TV shows or on podcasts or radio shows and literally make sure that people who need to know about it, know about it.

I definitely took it in a way that if I can go out and market it, I can sort of leverage other people’s blogs and traffic and things like that, and also if you’ve done value, as well as of course people who are looking for sort of affiliate income can perhaps promote my products as well. I very much took it, the approach of like a PR machine, although I was doing it all myself with occasional use of an outsourcer. I’m just trying to create this little PR campaign for my product and that seemed to work.

I think a lot of people think, “Oh, well, I can’t make a product until my blog’s really kicked off and I can’t do … There’s no point in doing it until I’ve got an email list of a thousand people,” but I don’t think that’s quite true.

Ryan Spanger: That makes a lot of sense to me. Actually, the first time I heard you was on a podcast called “Small Business, Big Marketing” with Tim Reed and I think that was a couple of years ago. You know, that basically just shows that their process does actually work and I listened to the interview and enjoyed it and had a look at your website and I’ve since bought your course and really enjoyed it. I guess that’s testimony to the fact that it does actually work but it sounds like you were really just proactive.

There’s a lot of people out there who want to create an information product but they have no list or a very small list and it just makes sense that if you have something valuable, that’s timely, get out there and get on podcasts and start talking about it and telling a story.

Jules Watkins: Yes, absolutely. I assign time to do that pretty much every day. I also just say, right, this is my marketing hour and I will … Because I’m now doing this full time. I didn’t even mention that, though I actually managed to get things to take off to such a point that I actually could leave my TV career behind me which was a tough thing to do but I really wanted to create my own assets and create my own kind of freedom, so, absolutely, I assign specific time where I will reach out to people and see what other people are doing and how can I help them.

Whether it’s Facebook or whether it’s approaching people direct, so I think that’s important. Not to say that having a really hot blog and having a lot of traffic isn’t a good thing because of course that’s ideal too but I’m always a bit hesitant relying purely on kind of Google traffic because it’s so changeable, so definitely and in terms of other people listening to this … We’re talking about video here, what really excites me is if you do build up these video skills, it can be amazing the result.

Because I think there’s a lot of people trying to create products and a lot of people are starting to get video skills. It’s not a new thing anymore, so much, but when you start getting good at video and I’ve seen people that I’ve helped that have no experience at professional video production but when they start getting good and they … I see a bump in their skills but also in their thinking and their ideas, when you get a video like that and you put it onto a sales page, immediately, you’ve just got a huge advantage because you’re engaging people from the first 10 seconds.

You’re keeping them engaged, you’re exciting them about your product and I get … People email, say, “Wow, I’m really excited to get started.” People really feel good about delving into it and I see other people doing that in all kinds of niches and I think it’s just a great opportunity to actually leap frog people because there’s so many products out there and people are hungry for products, there a lot of choice, so you’ve got to try and think what can you do to sort of stand out and I think one thing is by literally creating good videos that is going to give you a big advantage.

Ryan Spanger: What sort of style do you think works well? Sitting in front of the camera, screen capture, getting out there and interviewing people, animation, text, what approach would you … do you think I guess connects best with audiences?

Jules Watkins: I think it’s … Everything is dependent on the audience and the product. There’s no way I’m going to say I always get on camera because I don’t think that’s true. End of the day, right, the audience decides, so whatever you do, you’ve got to test what you do.

You may find that an animated video or just one of this really kind of pure text based videos where you hear the person reading the text and the text pops up. If that works, if that converts for you then that’s probably the best way to do it because sometimes having the text up there and your voice up there, explaining things with lots of clarity, really helps certain products, so I wouldn’t be constrained by it.

I mean, I personally, I’m a fan of on camera but that fits what I’m doing because I’m talking about video and I think that’s a big aspect of video. That fits me and I quite like to see people on camera. I think it feels more like the TV approach but again, I wouldn’t … If I found that wasn’t working then I would be looking at other ways and means.

Ryan Spanger: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense to actually just test it out and see what reaction you get. How do you actually go about doing that? How do you get feedback? How do you analyze what’s working and what’s not working and refine what you’re doing?

Jules Watkins: Yeah, good point. Well, you’ve just got to get some basic testing software. I mean I’m using … I mean, you can do it with inside Google Split Testing and there’s plenty of different kinds of software that works, but I’m using Vigil Website Optimizer which is a really nice little software for that and in fact they run a … I think it’s a 30 day free trial, so you can actually do it. You can sign up right now and go and test it out for like 30 days with a certain number of views.

Actually you can just flip between two pages, you know, A, B testing and you could have a talking head video on one page and you can have an identical page with a text based video in another and then you can literally track your conversions and you could use that whether you’re, got a video trying to get people to opt in to your free gift. You could track that or you could track how many conversions you get, how many sales you get, how many registrations to your webinar, whatever it might be, so you could just simply test two things against each other.

Obviously, that’s one way, test the video, other way is testing the headline, which is important, very important too, and press one button … talking about video, that’s one way. There are other, I think Easy Video Sweep, you can split test videos so it will actually just supply a different video randomly to people who lands on the sales page or just basically put in a different video into the player, so that’s another way of doing it, but I think, yeah, that’s definitely important because you may be surprised what that can do for you.

I mean, slightly different topic, but with photographs, I saw the test result recently where a scruffy photograph, a photograph of a guy in a t-shirt, sort of hiking in a mountain somewhere as a picture on a webinar registration page was converting like twice as much as with him in a business situation, say with a suit and tie on. Okay, so basically the t-shirt and the sort of hills in the background converted twice as much as a formal photograph with a tie on.

Now you could apply that to video, right, so is the formal interview with you in the tie, is that going to convert as well as you in a more of a casual blogging style, walking down the street and talking, looking into your iPhone. Yeah, that to me is interesting, which one’s going to work for your business?

Ryan Spanger: We did a test for one of our clients for a sales video where it was a voice over and text and one was just plain PowerPoint style black text on a white background. The other one was designed by a graphic designer, it looked really cool and it had nice colors and all that sort of stuff and just the plain one actually far out converted the other one which was a surprise to me at the time, actually.

Jules Watkins: Yeah, I know, it’s impressive and talking about professional videos, I just want to be kind of clear here that I think there’s a fantastic place for professionally made quality videos. You look at the big brands and how much success they get in with those sort of viral videos and very well produced videos, I think that that’s … That really fascinates me as well and as much as you can be yourself, I think as a business owners, there’s certainly a place for going and commissioning these glossier DSLR style videos and I think that the different layers of videos …

You can have your glossy video, perhaps that’s your sales video or something that’s very prominent on your site, I think there’s certainly a place for that, but I also think that being regular and being prolific with your videos is quite important. I think there’s definitely also a place for the informal videos where it’s just not practical to hire a camera crew perhaps, budget wise, or also you’re just creating them so regularly that you want to just create it kind of spontaneously and put it onto social media.

I think there’s definitely two ways of going about it and I found when I was doing TV, it was the same there. You’d have like the big glossy show and on the primetime channel and that would be often with lots of camera crews but then also you’d have like the behind the scenes show where often it would be researchers and junior people shooting some of the backstage footage. I think there’s definitely a way of working the two things together.

Ryan Spanger: Yeah, I agree with you and I’ve had a few people who’ve said to me, “Ryan, you run a professional video production company, why are you out there teaching people your own methods so they can do it themself?” and I think that there’s space for both. That I would encourage our clients that say, “I want to do a quick video for social media,” or maybe they’ve gone along to an event or a conference. They want to do a quick report and pull out the iPhone and send that, put that up on their blog. There’s plenty of opportunities for that sort of thing.

On the other hand, if they’re going to put a video on their homepage that needs to be as professional and glossy as their branding, as their logo, as their website design, and a professional video’s going to work a lot better there and the combination of the two, I think can really support each other.

Jules Watkins: Yeah, I think you have to think about, exactly right, your business, what image do you want to portray. If you’re a solar printer, one man band, blogger, perhaps, it’s fine having an informal video in your homepage. That’s going to work for you, that’s going to appeal to your target market.

If you’re in real estate or I don’t know, perhaps accountancy or something where your audience is expecting a bump in quality, then I think going to a production company, getting a quality video, and finding the right production company who’s going to actually come up with something a little bit original and something that’s going to actually be kind of talked about, I think, that’s pretty much key but I definitely think there’s room for both sets here because I think they kind of complement each other in a way.

Having a lot of little videos out and about on the web bring people back to your site and then they’re going to go and see your kind of premium content and I think it all works quite nicely together really.

Ryan Spanger: Jules, you’re in a good place now, I mean, got on a journey of a few years to get to the point now where you can work full time on creating your assets and I know what the TV industry is like, it’s long hours and sometimes, whether it’s working with some crazy people or the pressure of having to deliver in a short time period, you’ve now, over a few years built yourself to the point where you control those assets and you’ve got a great platform to build from but it did take a number of years.

Looking back are there some things, some lessons that maybe some things you might have done differently or some things that you know now that might have sped up that process?

Jules Watkins: Wow, yes, there’s a few. I mean, I didn’t talk about it but I did go off on a tangent at one point where I sort of lost the plot really and I started thinking, well, maybe I shouldn’t be teaching video. I know it sounds crazy but I thought, well, you know, and I’m into TV and is that really close enough to the sort of video production side of things and I went off on this tangent where I started looking at other options.

I even went off and did a show where I tried to make a Youtube show about toys, believe it or not. I had young kids and they were fascinated by toys and I thought, maybe I could create just like little mini-TV shows about different niches and I didn’t have a business plan, okay, so I start creating these shows that were quite high production values or costing me money.

I was hiring a studio to make them. I even hired a presenter, so I was sort of thinking in TV terms and I went off on this little tangent which I don’t mind having done now but literally the thing that was most obvious to me is just to stick with one thing to do the video. That was what people were looking to me for, so I would say, just step back a little bit and think what people are asking you, what questions do they ask you, what can you really contribute.

Then also I think don’t try and complicate your life too much. Don’t try and create something too amazing, it’s going to cost you a lot of money to create. Just try and do something that’s sort of within your capacity to do. Once I came back to the video focus, I realized, well, you know what, I don’t need a presenter. I can do it. I’m good enough to do that. I can create everything myself. I don’t have to sort of go off, a lot of other people.

I’d say keeping it lean and really thinking about what’s the obvious thing that you should be doing. I think people often … It’s obvious to me what they should do but they go off and start doing something, they get maybe nervous about their skills and they go off and do something completely different so that will be one thing.

I’d say don’t spend ages … Be very organized with your products. Don’t spend too long and don’t create a huge product to start with. I think my first product, Pocket Video Power was like five modules, kind of six videos in each, just quite a lot of content and I didn’t probably need to create so much so my second product, so a lot leaner and in fact people, particularly in business are so busy, they want to be able to get from point A to point B a lot quicker than you might think so keeping products lean and manageable, getting it out there that would be another lesson.

Then building quickly on your products, I think I perhaps, after Pocket Video Power, I did iPhone Video Hero, I left quite a gap and I launched a little membership site which is a VIP site for people who wanted more from me that I’ve got a continuity site which was a great idea to bring in continuity. Don’t delay with continuity because continuity is fantastic. You need to have a regular recurring income. I delayed that a little bit too long and then I kept on thinking about doing editing product but again I sort of …

I even worried about that. I was thinking, well, you know what, would the people really, would they pay me for an editing product and there’s so much on Youtube and in fact I sort of hesitated a bit but then I decided, no, you know what, I’m getting asked about editing a lot so I created, within about six months ago, I created the ScreenFlow product, training people how to use ScreenFlow for Mac and that has gone absolutely ballistic. It’s done really well and again, I regret having delayed that decision and once I’d made it, it was just a perfect complement because people who learned how to shoot and light a bit and audio and the next step of course is editing.

Having added that product in, it’s a really nice complement so again I would say, don’t delay and also think about your product line, what leads from what … What product can lead to the next product and where can you fit in continuity to it and think of sort of about the over arching plan rather than just, oh, right, here’s your first product, get it out there. Think about your portfolio as well.

Ryan Spanger: Some really good advice there, so, yeah, the first one you mentioned is focus, that it’s easy to get distracted with ideas that you think would be really cool or grand production that’s expensive and over the top. You sort of came back to your core approach which is basically what you were teaching people.

I think keeping it lean and simple is really good advice as well. Because as you say, people are looking for a solution, they’re not looking for volumes of information. Basically, your job is to refine it so they don’t have to go through the same process as you and just give them the actual, actually key stuff and then not delaying and continuity I think is really important.

Now you’ve said you’re building a brand where you’ve got this Video Hero, almost sort of master brand that you can connect other things to which I think is really smart so if people are starting a strategy and thinking about information products, it’s almost worth thinking about now, where can this lead? You know, once you’ve made the first one, what’s going to complement it? What other opportunities are there and actually prepare for that platform now.

Jules Watkins: Absolutely right, and as well, just plan out what you want. It’s really funny, but I talked to these net marketers and I kept … I asked some questions on what should I do and they’re saying, “Do what you want. Do you what you feel is going to fit how you want to work,” but other people I think create themselves a huge task.

Like for example, they think, right, I’m going to start off with a big membership site, a continuity site. I’m going to put loads of products and every month you’re going to get a new cause and they start off so huge and they create themselves this new job really that’s going to be really stressful, and think, think about how much time have you got, what can you start slowly and where is it going to end up but you’re not going to be such a lot of astray to what you’re doing and again I think for people listening to this who are not, who don’t …

Like I did, I didn’t have the luxury to suddenly quit my job. I was doing this blog while I was working, my first product while I was still freelancing. Think about what can you start off that’s not going to kill you and you can do in the background a little bit and then where might that lead and when you’ve got this portfolio, how much time is your continuity site going to take you and is that going to be the main thing or are you going to create these separate products?

Have a picture how you see your life going really and I think that really helps rather than sort of rush head first into and then realize later, oh, wow, I’ve really promised too much here.

Ryan Spanger: Well, I did buy your iPhone Video Hero product and really enjoyed it, definitely picked up a few tips on using the iPhone so if anyone asked me about what they can do to use their iPhone to create videos whether it’s for home or to promote their business, I definitely recommend iPhone Video HeroScreenFlow Hero, I haven’t checked out yet but that sounds great because ScreenFlow from what I understand is just such a simple product to use that people can be, get up and start editing in pretty much no time at all with the help of your product.

Jules Watkins: Yes, again, it’s a trend. It wasn’t that I sort of thought, right, I’ll pick ScreenFlow. It was that I saw people chatting about it. You know, you can, whatever niche you’re in you can find Facebook groups, the beauty of Facebook, you can go and join groups and see what people are talking about.

I noticed that a lot of people were talking about ScreenFlow, apart from the fact that there are the marketers that you and me know like James Franco and Ian Sharwick and … I don’t know … all the huge marketers who are Mac based and there are a lot of them are talking about ScreenFlow, so I knew that there was an audience there and I also noticed that there were other courses around on other sites as well, so, again, that was obvious to me that there was a need there and you’re right, it’s a simple solution.

It fits entrepreneurs particularly but I was wondering, I do get production companies signing up to my course, I’ve realized as well because, again, they want to be able to create and have sort of an … have to hire in freelancers and the fact is with something like ScreenFlow, you can not only edit video in a fairly simple way but it’s also got the screen capture elements, capture websites and social media and things like that plus you can do some pretty crazy things with animation and text.

It suits more entrepreneurs who want to just create something that looks pretty good themselves but also I’ve noticed smaller production companies, people like wanting to use it as well. Great little product, not … Inexpensive compared to something like Final Cut Pro as well, which doesn’t do screen capture so, yeah, definite … The winner, and I was really amazed when, again, it goes back to what we’re talking to at the top when I noticed that I was mentioned on the Telestream blog and they make ScreenFlow.

They put a mention to me on their Facebook page and that was some … I didn’t even ask for that. I just … I didn’t notice it and then that was amazing to me that they’ve actually noticed this launch that I’ve done and then I connected with the guy that runs the Facebook page and ended up with a article on their blog on the Telestream blog, all about what I’m up to with their product, so it’s amazing how if you approach something kind of, that gets a bit of buzz, how you can actually end up connecting with the brand who owns the actual software.

Ryan Spanger: That’s awesome, so if there’s people who are listening to us and they’re interested in learning to use their iPhone more effectively or learning to edit with ScreenFlow, where’s the best place for them to find your products?

Jules Watkins: Well, my blog which I’m not a prolific blogger but I always intent to be is at videohero.com, so very simple, videohero.com. That’s my hub and from there you can get links out to iPhone Video Hero, I’ve got ScreenFlow Hero. I’ve all got my VIP’s group which is much more about strategy, video marketing strategy is where I invite guests, experts in their own field to come and train my people, so they get a really broad perspective of what successful people are doing with video marketing in particular. All the links are on the homepage if you want to come and check me out there.

Ryan Spanger: Jules, I’ve really enjoyed talking to you. It’s been inspiring to hear about your journey going from essentially service provider to content creator and owning your own assets and as you tell the story, I think for people who are listening who want to create their own product to start to become more achievable by seeing the journey that you’ve gone on and learning from your successes and challenges as well, so I just want to say thank you so much for sharing that with me today.

Jules Watkins: Yeah, I know. Thanks, Ryan, for inviting me on.

Ryan Spanger: Thanks, Jules.



 Ryan Spanger


Ryan Spanger is one of Melbourne’s most respected and sought-after video production professionals. Ryan founded Dream Engine in 2001, and specializes in helping medium to large corporates, government departments, and the non-profit sector to connect with their audience by using video.

About us and this blog

Based in St. Kilda, Melbourne, Dream Engine is comprised of a small, close-knit team of energetic video production professionals.

Let us help you get your message across. Contact our Melbourne video production company today.

Subscribe to our news updates

Tell us about your project

Let us help you plan your next video production

Latest blog posts

See all posts