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Tyler Basu interviews video content strategist Trena Little on how to use video marketing to grow your online course business.

To learn more about Trena visit:

Using video marketing to grow your online course business @trenaNlittle Click To Tweet



[Tyler] Hi this is Tyler with Thinkific and today I am chatting with Trena Little and she is a video content strategist.

She specializes in creating—in video content creation and YouTube channel optimization.

She works with bloggers, online entrepreneurs, businesses.

She helps them create those videos that help them attract their ideal customers.

So Trena, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me today.

I’m excited to hear your insights on this topic.

[Trena] Hi. Thank you so much for having me.

I love talking videos so I’m ready.

[Tyler] That’s good.

So Trena, why don’t you start by telling us how you got into this?

Just a back story and walk us through your journey in.

What’s brought you up to where you are today?

[Trena] Okay.

So I first got into video in high school which was a while ago.

And it was an elective course when we storyboarded, edited, produced, starred in videos for like that ran in the morning programming in school or lunch time programming.

And I really loved it.

But I’m from a smaller town and didn’t really think Hollywood was for me.

Coz that’s what I thought video was.

[Tyler] Okay.

[Trena] Editing and producing films and stuff like that.

This was before YouTube even.

So that wasn’t even an option.

So I went to school for marketing and public relations.

And got a job.

Perfectly-paying job.

Pretty much the perfect job.

You don’t bring work home or anything like that but I wasn’t happy.

It wasn’t creative.

It wasn’t fulfilling.

But it allowed me and my husband to do a lot of things that we wouldn’t normally do because of the money we were making.

So we were able to travel and start visiting friends that have moved across the country.

And I started recording all of our trips and compiling them into videos.

And just creating basically like a yearly video of everything we did with our friends and uploading them to YouTube to share with everybody.

And I love the editing process.

I loved playing music to video clips.

And I was just more willing to watch video than to look at the pictures—

because you take a thousand picture and how often do you look back at the pictures?

So really love the editing process.

Fast forward to last year, the end of 2015,

I had kicked around the idea of starting my own business

because I really fell into the YouTube world earlier that year.

Same was going on in YouTube

How people were creating communities and relationships on the following they got on YouTube.

And my business brain clicked with my creative brain and I thought why aren’t businesses using YouTube for their business?

To develop the relationships and just really grow their business.

So I had started a YouTube channel while I was pregnant and was able to build a community through that.

And found a few clients that came to me and asked me to help them create a YouTube channel for them.

So by the end of 2015, I’ve decided, this is what I wanted to do.

I don’t want to be unhappy at my job anymore and just quit and started from square one in January.

And I really, really believe that video has been what helped me grow my business so quickly and to build my authority

because putting yourself out there and talking to somebody

and being one-on-one almost

because they’re looking at you.

So it feels like they’re there with you– really create the instant connection and shows people you know what you’re talking about.

You can’t fake it til’ you make it by being on video.

It builds that instant connection and build your authority.

[Tyler] Perfect.

Very cool.

So you were able to turn what started essentially as a passion into a fulltime business.

You said goodbye to your job and now you’re focused on creating lots of videos and helping other entrepreneurs in their businesses

[Trena] Yea.

[Tyler] and creating videos. That’s pretty exciting.

And one of the questions we get from our community of online course creators quite often is, ‘what can I do to promote my course?’

What we usually say, ‘well get some content out there. Maybe write an article or do a podcast or do go interviews like this or create videos.’

As you know there’s a lot of different ways you can share your message, share your content on the internet.

Why do you think that video is so powerful and why would you recommend it over some of those other types of content.

And I know you touched of them a little bit.

But what are like, maybe, 2 or 3 reasons someone should consider video?

[Trena] Videos important because everybody learns differently.

Some people learn better through text.

So people learn better through audio.

Some people are multi visual learners.

And you want to make sure you’re providing content for all of those people

because if somebody learns better through watching and actually happen,

they’re not going to want to buy a course that’s purely text-based because that’s not how they learn best.

But having video, it kind of knocks out all three of those in one

because you can just transcribe your video for the text learners.

You can just pull the audio out for the audio learners who want to learn while they’re in their car, commuting.

And then you have the video for the learners that need to see and hear and have that multi visual learning experience.

So that’s why video is so important to really improve your course and get more sellers—get more buyers.

So that you really aren’t alienating anybody.

[Tyler] Yea.

That makes sense.

And for course but also for the content outside of your course as well.

You can do the same thing like for example you put a video on YouTube,

you can still add that text component by getting that video transcribed.

Still have the advantage of hearing the audio if they want to.

What are your thoughts on setting up a YouTube channel

and then publishing some free videos to build your brand and to build your audience?

If somebody wants to go down that route and tap into all of those millions or billions or however many people are checking on YouTube.

What’s the starting point for getting a channel setup on YouTube and taking advantage of that platform?

[Trena] So YouTube is essential because it’s the second largest search engine in the world.

And people really don’t think of YouTube as a search engine but it is the second largest in the world.

So what I would definitely do to setup your channel is you want to make sure when you release your videos that you’re optimizing them.

And what I mean by optimizing them is figuring out what keywords people are actually searching for.

Because if you just throw up like Trena Little’s course module 1.

Nobody’s searching for that.

Maybe people are searching for Beginner’s Guide to Video Equipment.

You need to see what people are searching for you to be able to get your content out there.

Because it’s not a, ‘if you build it they will come and tell in YouTube.’

There’s a lot of content out there and you have to be able to realize you need to optimize your content to get found.

So most the important step is to find those exact keywords that people are searching for whether it’s through YouTube because if you search on YouTube,

it kind of has that predictive texts where  you start to type in a topic and things will pop up.

[Tyler] Oh right.

[Trena] So see what’s popping up around your course or your niche or whatever your video’s about.

And then what see what people have.

What types of videos are there?

And you can also go into Google keywords.

I think it’s the keyword tool and search that same phrase there and

see what people are searching on Google because that will optimize your search results on Google and YouTube.

So to really get your content out there, you need to do the research before you post that video otherwise, nobody’s going o see it.

You’re going to get like your mom watching it and that’s it.

[Tyler] Yea. Okay.

Great advice.

So do that keywords research ahead of time.

Figure out what your ideal students or your target market is.

What they’re typing in into the search engines and into YouTube when they’re trying to learn a specific topic

And that will help your video rank I guess for that search term?

[Trena] Yes.

[Tyler] Okay.

[Trena] So you need to make sure your using that keyword not only in the title.

You need to write it in the description.

In my videos I like to write almost like a mini blog in the description using as many keywords as possible.

Because YouTube is a search engine and it’s going to scan for all of those keywords.

And then you make sure you use those same keywords in the tags.

[Tyler] Yea.

[Trena] And I think you can have up to 500 characters in the tag section of YouTube.

You want to make sure you optimize that and use as many as you can there instead of just putting like 3 or 4 tags.

Use as many different variations of the keywords that you’ve researched as possible and those tags to help you be found on YouTube.

[Tyler] Okay.

Great idea.

Appreciate that.

Another question I had was in regards to the videos themselves like is there a specific length that’s good?

Should somebody be live in front of their camera?

Should they do like a screen share or like a PowerPoint slide?

Are there certain types of videos that you recommend in certain situations or what are your thoughts on that?

[Trena] I do—definitely if it’s a explainer video.

So if it’s you just explaining or talking about something.

You don’t really want to go over 5 minutes because of people’s attention spans.

If you can, maybe, break it up into smaller segments so that people can take it in smaller bites at a time.

[Tyler] Okay.

[Trena] because for someone to just sit down and take in 30 minutes of content can be content overload.

And maybe not getting the best out of that course as possible.

As far as types of videos that’s kind of what your course is based on.

You could do strictly screen sharing especially if your showing like a process on how to use a software or how to use a tool on your computer.

But I still think it’s important to maybe pop in at the beginning of the video

and just introduce the course or introduce the lesson you’re going to teach and

why it’s important just so the student can gain that instant connection with you and have a relationship with you by seeing you.

They want to see who they’re learning from

and it just builds up better relationships so that if you do plan to sell something else later on down the line.

They are more likely to buy from you because they feel like they know you and they have that relationship with you just by you popping in and

congratulating them on completing the lesson beforehand.

Really working towards getting to the end goal that you course is.

[Tyler] Yea.


Know, great.

Great advice.

What about like equipment?

Just getting started with the video.

They’re maybe a little intimidated.

They’re thinking of a whole studio, very expensive camera, microphones, lighting, all that stuff.

In your opinion for someone whose just getting into this,

should they invest in all that fancy stuff upfront or

is there, maybe, like a starter package of equipment and software that you recommend somebody gets started with and kind of see how it goes from there.

[Trena] Right.

So it can be kind of intimidating when you watch YouTube videos and you see people like these amazing quality and lighting.

Like all of these stuff.

[Tyler] It’s like a TV studio almost.

[Trena] But they need to realize who their audience is and who your audience is.

And a lot of the times, the most important part your video doesn’t have to be with you equipment.

It has to do with the content that you’re sharing.

And your content is really the most important thing with your video

because people are trying to have their questions answered.

[Tyler] Yea.

[Trena] You want to make sure your content is the quality answer that they’re looking for.

But when it comes to equipment, I tell my students and my clients with start with what you have.

If you have a computer with a camera, start there.

Everybody has a smartphone nowadays just about with the camera.

Make sure you’re using the rear-facing camera and not the selfie camera because the rear-facing camera has a lot better quality.

So start with that and just sit in front of a window because that best lighting you can get is the cheapest lighting which is free—from the sun.

Just make sure that window is right in front of you so that you’re getting a balanced light on your face.

If you have the window to the side, you kind of get that awkward dark shadow on one side and bright on the other.

Just start there.

As far as audio, you want to test out to see– you’re using the mic on our phone.

See if you need to speak louder, speak softer.

You just kind of have to test that out.

Trial and error.

If you don’t have money for a microphone.

And then my biggest tip for lightning is people have to do recording at night.

Or they don’t have a place that gets good lighting.

Just buy daylight balance light bulbs.

And I bought mine from Amazon.

It’s like a pack of 4 for $26.

And just put them in a lamp and you’ll immediately have that white professional lighting that you see in videos just for under $30.

And there’s light bulbs that fit to any lamp that you have.

It’s a great place to start with the lighting.

[Tyler] Okay.

Okay. Great advice.

Appreciate that.

Appreciate those recommendations.

I do want to chat a little more about YouTube.

If somebody’s bought–

Obviously, if they’ve created a course, they’re going to have some video lessons inside of their course.

Putting those stuff on YouTube, that’s the free stuff that they’re putting out there to build their brand to get some traffic to their course or track their students for their course.

So for the channel itself, what are some ways that you can setup your channel so that the branding looks good?

What are like the basic components of a well-put together YouTube channel’s homepage, I guess?

[Trena] So the first thing you need to have is a channel banner.

If you are going to start uploading to YouTube regularly which is key to getting ranked more often that YouTube, so I regularly—

I mean once a week or at a minimum once a month,

that help you build your authority on YouTube.

That signifies to YouTube that you are consistent content creator.

So that’ll help you boost a little bit longer—a little bit higher.

So decide on your upload schedule.

And then in your channel banner, use your brand fonts.

Your brand colors.

And put up there a little snippet of what you’re channel is about.

Like a short little sentence and what’s your upload schedule be.

So when people follow upon your channel, and they can click on it.

They can immediately see what you’re about and immediately see when you’re going to post any of your videos.

So that’s definitely key—it’s your channel banner.

And then the second key to branding is your thumbnails which is pretty much your marketing material to the world.

So your thumbnail is that little image that shows up in your video whenever you host it.

YouTube will give you like 3 images you can select from when you upload your video but they’re always terrible.

Always like mid-sentence talking and they’re not what you want to use.

It’s not going to be eye-catchy in the search results.

So you want to make your custom thumbnail and put something that’s really going to catch people’s attention.

Make it bright so that that’s going to catch people’s attention.

It’s really your billboard to get people to click on your video to watch it.

And that branding on that thumbnail needs to relate back to your channel banner and back to your overall business brand.

So that people don’t have a disconnect.

Oh this video is this color but the channel banner is this?

So it all needs to connect together.

[Tyler] Okay.

Now that makes sense.

And I’ve seen some channels where they have a welcome video.

It’s kind of like pinned to the top.

Do you recommend doing that?

Somebody maybe shoot even a short 1 or 2-mintue video explaining their channel.

Would that help as well?

[Trena] Yea. Those  are—

I think YouTube calls them channel trailers.

And so you could do like a welcome video just post quickly what your videos about.

Who– a quick snippet of what you’re about.

Why you do what you do and your upload schedule or talk about your course if your channels going to focus on your course.

Or if you don’t have the time to do it,

just feature a video that you’re really proud of and that you think really shows your best work.

Because when non-subscribers fall onto you channel,

that’s the first video that’s going to immediately play when they fall onto your channel.

So you want to make sure that’s going to connect with them to teach—

show them who you are or show them your best work and what you’re all about.

[Tyler] Okay, that’s a great tip.

Now, How should we go about choosing different topics to create videos?

Do you have like a process that you rely on for coming up with the next topic that you think would be valuable to your audience?

Just kind of planning ahead on a content calendar or how often are you going to create those videos?

[Trena] Yea.

So I like to see what’s going on in the industry

because people are searching things that are relative—that are trending.

So see what’s going on in your industry.

You should be probably following some industry leaders within your niche.

See what they’re talking about and then put your spin on whatever is going on in your niche.

The more you provide your input the more you build your authority.

And show people that you’re a go to person when it comes to this topic.

And I also like to just see what other videos people on my niche are doing too

and maybe I can put my own spin on it.

Show another process of how I do it.

Jus kind of check to see what’s going on out in your niche and what people are talking about.

And then another one that I love is just taking the questions you’re asked.

So I get no questions on twitter or Instagram or in my email specific questions about video.

And I know if somebody’s asking that, were’ not the only person that probably has that question.

So I will use follower feedback on questions to create content, too.

[Tyler] Yea.


Now those are some great tips there.

Now if we want to—

Let’s say we’ve done these things.

We’ve identified a bunch of questions our audience asked us.

We create those videos.

We get them on YouTube to help provide value to the people who already follow us

but also tap into some of those people who are on YouTube and don’t know us yet

but are searching for those topics.

Let’s say we’ve got some momentum going.

We’ve built up a bit of audience on YouTube,

what’s an effective way for them guiding that audience that we’ve got on YouTube

over to our own website on our own blog on even straight to our online course.

What do you think is the best way to get some of that traffic from YouTube?

[Trena] So when you’re planning your video and you’re kind of scripting it out,

you need to make sure that you take time to have a call to action in any single one of your videos.

Whether that is to subscribe to your email list or download a free checklist that you have to really get people on your list.

Make sure you call that out in the video and the link that you use,

you want to make sure it’s in like the top 3 sentences in your description box.

Coz there’s only like 3 sentences that you can put before they have to click more to see more.

So better make sure that link is very visible and like the top line of your description box.

And what’s great about YouTube is that they have a cards feature that you can link anything back to your affiliated website.

So if your YouTube channel is associated with your website minus

I can put whatever my landing pages is going to be to collect email

or to let them download a freebie.

I can put that in a card and I can direct people in my video to just click on the card right above me and that takes them directly to the download to get their email list

to be able to personally promote to them.

Send them more promotional materials and to really build your email list and grow your business.

[Tyler] Okay.

Great tips.

So a call to action in the video itself and a card and a link.

And not in the description but early on in the description site not hidden below that ‘see more’ tab that people need to click on

[Trena] Right.

[Tyler] Cool.

Are there any big mistakes that you see people make quite commonly

when it comes to creating videos or marketing those videos?

Or just for video marketing in general.

Like what are some top 3 mistakes to avoid as we venture into this path?

[Trena] So lighting is huge.

If people click on your video and it’s dark and they can hardly see you or just looks grainy,.

People aren’t going to watch.

They aren’t going to stick to it.

So you really want to focus on before you invest in anything,

make sure it’s the lightning as first because it’s so important.

Another mistake I see is people not promoting their videos.

So they put these video up there.

They spend all this time on the content and then they don’t promote it.

When I post a new video, those first 24-48 hours are really important in the ranking factor on YouTube.

So send out multiple tweets.

I’ll schedule like 3 or 4 tweets telling people go check out my video.

I’ll post it on Instagram.

Ill send on my email list an email telling them I uploaded a new video.

Talk about it on Snapchat.

You really need to get it out there so that people are watching it.

Because if you don’t get those views early on,

it kind of get hidden in the search results.

So like I said before you can’t have a, ‘if you build it, they will come’ mentality.

You really need to push it and get it out there for people to see.

[Tyler] Okay.

Now there’s really good advice coz I think a lot of people make that mistake

of just putting it on YouTube.

And then hoping YouTube is going to do all of the marketing for them.

So you’re suggesting get proactive upfront.

Sell as much as you can.

Share it however you can with as many people as you can.

Would that then signal to YouTube that, ‘hey this is a good video.’

Like people are checking us out.

Would that help it rank higher?

[Trena] So that’s a great point.

If you actually share form the share buttons within YouTube—

So if you go to your video and there’s all these little share buttons.

If you share from there, that creates a signal to YouTube that you’re link has been shared on different  platforms.

So the more you share it from that share buttons, the more outside links YouTube sees your video having.

So it seen as more valuable.

So I’d go in there.

I’ll share it on Pinterest.

I’ll share it in twitter.

I’ll share on all those links.

And then I’ll also share it again on my personal accounts.

If you have some business friends, ask them, go in there and share my video.

Put it on your Pinterest or whatever.

YouTube sees that as quality material but being having outside links—outside of YouTube.

And then embed it on your website.

Because that’s huge too.

And then if you can get business friends to embed your video onto their website.

Maybe saying ‘here’s a great video from so and so’ explaining something—

That’s another outside link that YouTube’s going to recognize and really help you get boosted higher in search results.

[Tyler] Okay.

Great tip.

So that’s different from copying the URL and then pasting that on twitter or something like that.

You’re actually going into the video itself and finding those sharing links.

[Trena] Yea and all those help, too.

[Tyler] Okay.

So generally get it shared.

[Trena] Yea.

Just get it out.

Send it to as many people as you want.

And I don’t have any shame putting it on my twitter 4 or 5x a day.

Because people aren’t typically on Twitter 24/7.


[Tyler] Right.

[Trena] They’re not going to see all 5 times that you posted it.

So don’t worry if you think people are going to get annoyed with you.

Unless they’re’ on Twitter the entire day with like a Twitter feed running on their computer.

They’re not going to notice how many times you’ve posted it.

[Tyler] Yea. That’s a good point.

Coz there’s different rules or different etiquette for each platform.

Like if you share the same video 5x in one day on Facebook.

People might be like, ‘hey what the heck Trena, what are you doing?’

[Trena] Yea. Or Instagram

People go to your Instagram and be like, ‘why is this video here 7x?’

[Tyler] Yea.

But with Twitter, I was told like the half-life of a tweet is 20 or 30 seconds.

People don’t see it right away.

They probably won’t ever see it so it’s okay to post the same thing.

[Trena] Yea.

[Tyler] So it just depends on the platform, right?

[Trena] Right.

[Tyler] Cool.

Well Trena, this has been a great chatting with you.

You shared a lot of great advice.

As we wrap up, is there any specific tips that you can get for the course creators out there?

A last word of advice for a specific actions that they can take

just to start creating more videos and being more strategic with their video marketing to help grow their online course business.

[Trena] Yea.

Just start creating different types of videos for your course.

Whether that’s screens share tutorials or slideshows or you talking to the camera.

The more versatile videos that you can create, the more people are want to going to stick with the course which is ultimately your goal is that people learn what you’re teaching them.

So really have a different variety of courses throughout.

Different variety of videos throughout your course.

And creating a promotional video and use it on Facebook ads.

I know a lot of my friends and fellow entrepreneurs have had huge success with Facebook ads and promoting their courses on Facebook ads.

The key there is to make sure you include some subtitles because the audio doesn’t play automatically so people can see what it’s about.

That’s been a great way for people to really get more views to their, not only YouTube channel, but to their course.

And just start creating video.

It such an amazing way to build that relationship.

If you don’t have a course yet or you have it in the works,

start creating YouTube videos to build that following.

Coz the people that start following you on YouTube are going to instantly become basically loyal followers and as soon as you have something to sell,

they’re going to be more willing to buy from you on a cold audience.

So just start creating content that’s helpful to your audience.

To your specific niche and just start doing it.

The sooner you start doing video,

the quicker you get comfortable with it.

[Tyler] Great advice.

Well Trena, thank you so much again.

I really appreciate you taking the time to tell us a little bit about your journey and so much great tips on creating videos.

Now for audience who wants to get in touch with you, your website is

[Trena] Yup.

[Tyler] So we’ll make sure we’ll link that below the video.

You also have a couple of YouTube channels, right?

You’ve got one like– Mommy tips?

[Trena] Yea. Mom and lifestyle.

I started that one when I was pregnant because I didn’t have a lot of mom friends.

Some of the mom friends that are out there were really judgy and like pushy on their ways of doing things.

So I want to create a community where you can do whatever you want as a mom because it’s hard enough than to be judged by other moms.

So I have that one and that’s just

And then my business channel where I talk about video content creation, video strategy, coming up with video ideas is

[Tyler] Perfect.

Well thank you so much.

Again, we’ll link to all of those– your website and the channels you mentioned below the video.

[Trena] Thank you.

[Tyler] I really appreciate your time and I wish you all the best.

[Trena] Yea. Thank you for having me.


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