I have a confession to make. I love blogging with video. Of course, you probably already figured that out, what with the amount of videos you’ll find on this site. But if you’re new to video, you might feel a little overwhelmed at the thought of recording, uploading, and embedding a video on your site.
Why Video Blogging?
– It’s super easy. You can use a Flip camera, a point-and-shoot with video capabilities, or a screen capture program like Camtasia.
– It’s a fun change of pace from your standard blog posts.
– Different customers prefer different formats, so mixing it up a bit can increase your readership.
– Some how-to topics are just better suited to video.
Where to Host Videos
Once you’ve figured out what videos to make and how you’ll produce them, the next big question is where to host your video. Your fist thought will probably be YouTube, which is a fantastic choice for a lot of your videos. It’s free to set up an account, it gets an amazing amount of traffic – YouTube is actually considered one of the most used search engines, so it’s great for SEO – and it’s easy to use.
The downside of YouTube is that your video will be publicly available for all to see. You can prevent your videos from being embedded on other sites, and you can make them private (invitation only) but that rather defeats the purpose of using YouTube. The upside of hosting on YouTube is that you won’t be charged for bandwidth and it’s simple for you to embed your video on your site as well.
Another option is to host your videos on your own server. This gives you complete control over who sees it, but it will cost you both in storage space and bandwidth. In addition, if you have several visitors simultaneously trying to watch your video, you’ll very quickly crash your site. Unless you have a very small readership, or a very large hosting account, we don’t recommend self-hosting videos.
One of the best options for hosting video is on an Amazon server. This is a network of servers that Amazon (yes, that Amazon) owns and makes available for webmasters and developers. The cost is minimal – and nearly free for the first year – and you won’t have to worry about getting hit with a huge hosting bill when you run over your allotted bandwidth, or worse, getting your site shut down. To set up an Amazon S3 account, visit www.aws.amazon.com.
Protecting Your Bandwidth When Hosting Videos
Depending on where you host your videos, you may need to take steps to protect your bandwidth. For example, if you’re hosting videos on your own server, it’s a simple thing for an unscrupulous webmaster to embed your video on his or her website, stealing your bandwidth and potentially earning you a big fat hosting bill to boot. The same is true of Amazon servers. While the bill will be lower, you still don’t want to be in the business of providing free videos to your competition!
If you host your video on you own server, then preventing hotlinking can be as simple as installing a bit of code in your .htaccess file. But if you host your files on Amazon, you’ll need something a little more sophisticated to keep the bandwidth thieves at bay. The problem is, in order for you to allow others to watch your video, you need to set the access permissions on Amazon to public, and that means others can simply take the link to your video and plug it into the player of their choice, making the video available on their site.
The way to stop that from happening is to install a plugin like S3 Media Vault (from the makers of Digital Access Pass). How this plugin works is by generating a dynamic, expiring URL for the video every time it plays. So even if another webmaster looked at your embed code and discovered the link, it wouldn’t work on their site. It’s kind of like getting a temporary credit card number for making online purchases. It only works for a few minutes, and then it’s disabled, preventing theft.
Streaming Video Blogs in WordPress
Now that you have your hosting sorted out and you’ve protected your assets, it’s time to actually install the video. Again, depending on where you’ve hosted it, there are any number of plugins to help.
- YouTube: Add a new post or page to your site, make sure you’re working in the HTML tab and simply copy and paste the embed code you’ll find under the video on YouTube.
- Self-Hosted: Add a new post or page to your site and from the menu options choose “add a video” (second from the left in the top row), and just follow the prompts.
- Amazon: You’ll need to install a plugin first – either S3 Media Vault (if you want to protect your bandwidth) or FV WP Flowplayer, then follow the instructions provided. **Note: FV WP Flowplayer does not officially support streaming video from Amazon, but in my experience, it does work.
Don’t forget search engine optimization when you use video on your site. While Google gets better at finding great content every day, it still can’t “read” video. Make sure you include at least a brief introductory paragraph to go with your video, and a keyword-rich title. Also, make sure you fill in your description tag to entice Googlers to click your link.
If you’re just getting started with video, consider making a few how-to videos. They’re always popular, and if you know your subject well, you can make a quick video tutorial in just a few minutes. Best of all, with screen capture software like Camtasia or Cam Studio, you don’t even have to appear on camera.