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Surviving troubling times

When everyone else is panicking

I'm sitting writing this blog on my balcony* overlooking the sea at Portimão in the Algarve. I fly back to the UK tomorrow morning to empty shelves, social distancing and self-isolation. It's all very worrying.

* I'm home safely now, but I did write this in Portugal

My biggest concern is...

Not about catching the virus, because if I do I will be fine... chicken soup is amazing stuff... I am more concerned about passing the virus on to more vulnerable individuals, but that's also not my biggest worry.

My biggest concern is what's going to happen to people's businesses, lively hoods and work:

The view from my 8th floor balcony as I write

Now I'm lucky... I've had 5 days in the sun, away from all the madness, the constant news updates, the panic buying and the speculation, so I've been able to spend some time thinking. And in times l like this there are some positives:

There are of course people who are profiteering from this event... Hand sanitisers that usually cost a pound and going for £6-£20 and the range (and cost) of surgical facemasks on eBay is unreal. That aside, I've been wondering...

Is there a way to survive, even prosper in a more loving, caring, supportive way...? And I believe YES it is possible - and not just for me...

But for you too

Especially if you are a person who earns their living:

As meetings and gatherings are being restricted, how can you continue to earn if face-to-face is what you do?

Move your business online

What to do if you are a coach, trainer or you run live workshops

You can create an online version of your workshops or training courses and get them live very fast on platforms such as Thinkific or Plugstreet... Now you, being the expert, know your content well, so it wouldn't take long to "translate" your live presentations into video, pdf and even quiz content.

Depending on the size of your workshop you could have an online version created in a under a week ready to market to all those bored and frustrated people at home.

Then complement your online course with 1-2-1 coaching via Zoom or Skype and create a FaceBook group to keep your learners motivated with challenges, feedback and Q&A sessions.

That's all there is to it

What to do if you sell a product or service that requires demonstrating

You create an explainer or video demonstration or a white board animation video that you then send to potential clients and then discuss details over Skype, Zoom or the phone.

Animation is particularly great for explaining services

What to do if you get most of your clients from live networking events

Now remember, people buy from people, so they need to see you in order to get to know, like and trust you. Consider Facebook live events / broadcasting and video conferencing, and create videos where people can get to learn about your services and get to love you and your business without even meeting you.

You may find you do better this way then you did when Networking

If this all sounds a bit daunting

Do not worry, I am here to help.

For the 30+ years I have been in TV and Video Production, I have specialised in making engaging and inspiring content that help people learn.

So rather than worry about empty workshops and the reduction in face-to-face coaching clients, let me help you translate your expertise into online workshops in which your clients can participate from the comfort of their own homes. Let me also support you in setting up Zoom conferencing and a Facebook group if that is necessary.

And allow me to help you get your workshop up on Thinkific or Plugtreet so you can start marketing and selling it.

If you have a product or service that needs explaining - let me help you create a demo or explainer video, or let my animators loose on your story.

And finally, for you serial networkers, let me help you create videos that will build "know, like and trust", attracting new clients you may never have met face to face.

So just pick up the phone and give me a call (number's in the footer below). And let's have a chat about how things may not be quite as bad as you think.

Images by Neil with his iPhone and Tumisu from Pixabay

Yes, it’s finally happened. I’ve found (wonders of wonders) someone who wants to spend time with me as much as I want to spend time with them. Yes, I’m in a lovely relationship, with a very special lady. And now I’m “in it” I can’t understand why I found it so difficult in the past to find someone…

But in truth it was a struggle to find someone, extremely frustrating … and a long time coming.

And all through the journey I’ve had people giving me advice, making suggestions as to how I can find the perfect partner, how I can get to know them and allow them to get to know me, and ultimately, how to get them to want to be with me.

And then I got thinking… Could that advice be related to business?

Well, yes…

How do you get people to fall in love with you and your business…

Before they’ve even met you?

I often been heard saying…

I help potential clients fall in love with your and our business before they've even met you.

But how…?

Well let’s look at the relationship advice I was given, and see if it can be related to finding new clients and to growing your business.

Step 1 - Be the kind of person you want to be with

I sat down about 10 months ago and wrote a list of attributes I wanted my perfect partner to have; she would be fun, creative, independent, a little bit naughty 😉 reliable, my best friend, smart, similar height to me, female, musical and willing to work on herself and with me to make our relationship great.

To follow the advice, I needed to be that kind of person; fun, creative, reliable... in fact, everything I wanted my lady to be other than female, of course.

And it worked… My lady is all that I was giving out and much much more...

So how would this work in business…?

You need to be the kind of business you would hire

Make a list of attributes that draw you to other businesses:

Then look at what’s important to you in another business?

Would you hire your business the way it was operating right now? If “no” what can you do about it?

Look at the list you have created and then be that kind of business.

Be honest... Does your website, email marketing, flyers and marketing material speak to you and make you want to work with that business? Does the way you speak about your business inspire? Do you offer the results your clients want?

Be the kind of business you would want to work with.

In Step #2 we see that Actions speak louder than words.

Isn't love a wonderful thing. It makes everything look so much better. It throws light on darkness, makes you a better person and interactions, not only with your beloved, but with everyone feels so much sweeter. So....

How do you get people to fall in love with you and your business...

Before they’ve even met you?

Being told "I love you" is wonderful, but feeling that love is even better.

When people feel loved they love in return

So how does that relate to business?

Step 2 - Actions speak louder than words

Telling people what you do will not connect as well as them getting a feel for the difference you will make for them.

In business show people you care about them, that they are important to you and show them the difference you can make for their business. It is perfectly fine to tell people what you do, but there is way more power in showing.

Here are some suggestions between saying and showing

We are reliableDo what you say you will do, on time and on budget – go the extra mile
We offer great serviceDo what you say you will do, on time and on budget, or better still, deliver more than you said you would, before you said you would
We offer great valueOver deliver. Don’t do the same for less, do more for the same – start at the extra mile
30 years of experienceDo what you say you will do, on time and on budget – and do this without any fuss and with a smile on your face
We are professionalDo what you say you will do, on time and on budget – and don’t do it in your pyjamas

Notice there's a little bit of a pattern forming... It's so much about getting on with what you say you will do, with a smile on your face, love in your heart and (in my case), a cheeky twinkle in the eye.

Show people what you do, rather than tell them

Let them feel your love and passion in what you do and that will give them a feel for what it's like working with you.

In Step #3 in Getting people to fall in love with you and your business (before they've even met you) we look at why Your client is more important than you are.

I spent the last 2 months of 2017 re-branding...

And if all I managed to do in that time was create a new logo and work out my brand colours, then it wasn't such a good use of my time.

But the time I spent working with Lynne Stainthorpe, who led me through the re-branding process, was time well spent.

Yes, we came up with a new logo, colour pallet and font library, but that was just a fraction of what we did.

The most valuable part of the process was that I got to understand what I did better so I could communicate it to others.

More than just a logo
The process got me clear on the services I offered, helped me define my purpose, vision and mission and enabled me to get my message out there so potential clients "got me" instantly.


Create authentic stories to help people who make a difference, make an even bigger difference.


The No 1 award-winning, sought-after director creating training films that engage, inspire and make a difference to people who watch them.

The No 1 director training people to make their own videos with passion, fun and authenticity.


To unlock the magic of storytelling and inspire people to learn and grow.

Now you know, why not have a good look at my website and see the branding work in action.

What to do when you get stuck and don't know what to write?

Writer's block is not unusual, and it doesn't have to be a script you're stuck with. It can be a report, a proposal, an email, even a tweet.

So what do you do when you get stuck writing?

This is what I used to do when I got stuck in the middle of writing a script....

Helpful tip
Give yourself permission to "come up with the answer", then go and do something completely different without thinking of the block... The answer will come.

Life is too short to work with difficult people...

That was the advice I was given by one of the BBC's top drama directors. But what she said after wasn't exactly what I was expecting.

The full phrase went like this

"Life is too short to work with difficult people, so don't be a difficult person!"

I'm really glad she didn't say "Life's too short to work with short people, so don't be a short person" otherwise I would have been stuffed!

Other Advice
Have fun, and the camera will capture that positive energy. Be stressed and the camera will capture that negative energy.

They say "never work with children"!

But I disagree, I loved working in BBC Children's and BBC Schools Television because I used to meet, talk and film young people.

What I loved about working with kids was their honesty. Ask them a question and you'd get a straight answer... not always the answer you'd want, but certainly an answer that is true to them and that results in some very amusing interactions.

Lessons learnt
Children are the most fun to work with, so I am always happy to work with them.

Even talented, professional TV presenters get star struck

When I got into the BBC, but before I started in telly, I used to spend every other Saturday morning answering the telephones on the live Saturday morning kids TV show Live and Kicking. I did this extra work to give me more opportunities to see how Children's television programmes were made.

During this time I got to know Phillip Scofield quite well. We used to chat some mornings. I'm not sure why he decided to chat with me, maybe it was because I was one of the few male telephonists, or maybe it was because he was just a lovely guy and wanted to connect with everyone working on the programme, including us lowly telephone-answering individuals... I think it was both actually.

Now Phillip was quite a celebrity, he had launched the Broom Cupboard and was now a rising star in BBC Children's TV, but on one Saturday morning I saw Phillip being totally and utterly star struck.

Lesson learnt
Celebrities are people too, and even they get star struck. Treat people as you see them and you can't go wrong.

No matter how hard it was to get that shot, sometimes you need to let it go

When I got into the BBC in their IT department, but before I started working in telly, I took a week's leave and trailed a producer on Blue Peter called Richard Simpkin. Richard was a lovely guy and looked after me well. I remember sitting in edits with him, attending studio production meetings, watching him direct voice-over sessions and of course, being in the studio and sitting in the gallery as the programme was going out live.

It was on the Thursday show that I learnt about "letting go". Richard had directed a three and half minute film all about canal boats, where Yvette Fielding (one of the presenters) was doing a barge trip and talking a bit about the history of narrow boats, and it was this film that I saw him finishing off the edit and doing the voice recording for.

In those days Blue Peter used to transmit live, but they would always have an "as live" rehearsal in the afternoon. It was during that rehearsal that they realised the programme was 3 minutes too long and something had to go.

And what had to go was Richard's film.

Lewis Bronze, the then editor of the show, went through the running order and very matter of factually said "we're going to lose the canal story and add 30 seconds to the interview before". And that was it... Two weeks work gone in an instant.

When asking Richard if he was upset, he said "No, it's the best thing for the programme."

The lesson
Sometimes you need to let go of something that has taken you a lot of effort to create, because that is the best thing for the final product.

Directing Joanna Lumley and Hugh Laurie on the same day was "interesting"

I was very lucky to have had the opportunity to meet and direct many "celebrities" in my time.

One day that particularly stands out was the day I was recording voices for some animations, and I got to direct Joanna Lumley in the morning, and Hugh Laurie in the afternoon.

Both were tremendously talented performers (they still are!) and lovely people, but were very different to work with.

The lesson
Don't judge the person's ability by their personality. Joanna was outgoing, gregarious and a real darling, Hugh was quiet, focused and slightly cold, and both gave absolutely perfect performances.

And just to let you know, my dad is doing fine after the surgery all those years ago.

Not everything is as it seems in the world of television

If you ever have the opportunity to walk round The Eastenders "lot", go up to one of the buildings and give it a bit of a bang with your fist. You'll be surprised. Rather than scratching your knuckles on the bricks, the rough -ooking facade will feel smooth and give out a very different sound (when banging) than you'd expect.

The buildings are not built of bricks, but are in fact made out of a combination of wood, fibreglass and decorated by very talented set painters to make them look real.

Keep your eyes open
Nothing is as it seems, so keep your eyes open and see what you spot.

Lily Savage was great even if she hadn't learnt her lines

In the mid 90s I directed an English programme on Love Poetry starring Lily Savage. All was great, I thought, until I found Lily's agent hadn't passed her the script and she turned up to the studio with no idea what we were doing.

So, while her alter-ego got changed, we had an hour to sort out a solution. Autocue!

But in the end, even that wasn't necessary. Lily was such a great improvisor that we got the perfect performance from her with just a few cue cards and a bit of directing before each take.

It only goes to show that there are always solutions to difficult situations. And, finding out the skills and abilities of the person you are working with, before you start working with them, is always a good idea.

Dog Portrait artist Claire Thorogood invited onto Channel 4's Crufts

I recently finished editing a promo video for Claire Thorogood, who is an amazing Dog Portrait Artist based in North London.

Claire started her painting business in late spring 2016, and she wanted a video on her website that demonstrated the painting process so new clients could see what she did.

We are both very proud of the finished video, which tells The Story of the Painting of Herbie, a 13 year old toy poodle.

What's incredible about this promo video is that Claire and her assistant Janet shot most of the footage themselves on their iPhone.

They did get training on how to shoot with their phone from me, and I created a storyboard of shots for them to collect, but they did all the hard filming work.

Since we made this video, Claire has opened her own studio in Hampstead and was invited to attend Crufts, painting no other than Iwan Thomas's dog.

What an amazing transformation in a business started just ten months ago.

Now I'm not saying this self shot promo video was the sole reason Claire got the TV offer, but the broadcasters were able to watch it, see what she did, and decide whether what she did would work for the programme.

Claire on Channel 4's Crufts

You can watch Claire talking about working with me here and of course check out my "Film Yourself Service" which she went through in order to create this video.

Why this may be of interest to you?... Well... The training and editing to help Claire make this video cost about 75% of what it would have 25% if I had come in and produced this video for her, shooting everything myself... Also, this is just the first of many "Story of the painting" videos which Claire is planning to do, so all future story videos we produce together are going to cost her a quarter of the original fee, as she will only have to pay for the editing.

Visit Claire's website to see more of her amazing work.

Only 14% of people keep their New Year resolutions for a year

45% give up in the first month

66% within the second month

80% have quit within 3 months

How do you stick with the promises you've made?

This is a bit of a "closing the stable door after the horses have bolted" kind of statement, but part of the problem (as I see it), is that people make up BIG resolutions that they'd like to do, but deep inside they know they're not going to... They just feel the making of the resolution will create the motivation they need to succeed.

Sadly just making up your mind isn't strong enough in many cases.

According to Statistic Brains the top 5 resolutions made this year are:

  1. Lose Weight / Healthier Eating - 21.4%
  2. Life / Self Improvements - 12.3%
  3. Better Financial Decisions - 8.5%
  4. Quit Smoking - 7.1%
  5. Do more exciting things - 6.3%

They also say that people in their twenties are more than twice as likely to keep their resolutions than those over 50! Surely us oldies should have learnt by now!

Get support

I'm no longer in my twenties so statistically it's harder for me to keep my resolutions, and for years I have been saying "I'll lose weight and eat healthier" with little success.

I get very enthusiastic, I might even buy a diet or nutrition book. I'll shop for healthier food and avoid chocolate and crisps... for a while... And then I have a stressful day, or maybe a long day filming and I'll crave chocolate... So I'll give myself a little "treat" to make me feel a little better... And then I'll have a bit more, and then 3 or 4 days have gone by and I've forgotten my health kick.

I know I can't do it by myself. On my own I give up too easily, I'm weak and lazy and go for the "easiest" option which isn't necessarily the "best" or "healthiest" option, or the goal I really, really, really wanted to succeed in.

This time I'm doing it differently, I AM going to eat more healthier. And to guarantee I succeed I'm getting the support of a nutritionist. She's going to be checking my food diary and will be tough with me if I slip up. So that way, if have some chocolate I have to write it down and justify why I had that sugary "treat" in our weekly calls, which between you and me are not that comfortable. So when that urge hits me I have that added thought "do I want to have a difficult conversation... is it really worth it?" Sometimes it is worth it, often it is not. That means I am eating less unhealthy food and am more likely to succeed in my goal.

It's the same with making video

I meet lots of people who are keen and enthusiastic about growing a YouTube channel with lots of videos. They come on one of my workshops, or sign up for my online course, or even have 1-2-1 coaching and they learn how to shoot video blogs, or info videos, or video testimonials. They tell me about their amazing plans to shoot 20 videos, grow their YouTube channel and get a mass of traffic flowing to their website.

Do they do that? Well some do, sadly most don't. That's why I have coaching programmes that support you in your video production. When you decide how many videos you want to make you get me on your back supporting (nagging) you to finish them, and helping you when you get stuck. After all, your success is my success.

Business jargon, what's the point?

I only ever watch one episode of each series of The Apprentice... The one when the contestants have the interviews and get ripped to shreds because most of them are full of BS.

Yes, I'm calling them contestants as it's a game show in my opinion and not a serious business programme

All this business lingo just drives me crazy, why can't they just talk properly. I can just imagine what a business meeting would look like with one of the apprentices. Possibly a bit like this?

Thank you joining me for this pow-wow, as you’ve all been on my radar for a while.

I just wanted to touch base and run something up the flagpole. We’ve been flogging a dead horse and need to think outside the box because as a team we’ve not been singing from the same hymn sheet.

I’m not suggesting reinventing the wheel but with some blue sky thinking we can get that low hanging fruit.

Now I appreciate we can’t boil the ocean, but a quick look under the bonnet and I’m sure we can find an idea with legs.

At the end of the day we need to hit the ground running because this is a game changer.

OK... so I’ve moved the goalposts but I am giving you the heads up that we need some joined up thinking.

When push comes to shove it’s important to get all our ducks in a row, peel back the layers of the onion and square the circle.

It’s not rocket science, so I’m reaching out to you to pick it up and run with it.

Comprendey? Great.

Action that!

You don't get anything done speaking like that

When I was directing multi-camera studios, there would often be 30 or more people waiting for my instructions before they would do anything, so my instructions had to be clear, to the point and understandable.

If I started the day saying "Good morning studio, lets hit the ground running" I'd get laughed at and ignored for the rest of the day. However, if I started the day (as I did) saying "Good morning studio, I'd like to start by rehearsing scene 3 from shot 49... Geoff (the floor manager), please get artists in and ready... Cameras you get in position and we can block through the shots while lighting finish their adjustments."

I'm giving clear instructions that everyone understands and we have hit the ground running though I never needed to say so.

Speaking in front of camera can be normal too

Most people think they need to do something special when they appear in front of camera... Talk in a particular way... Use more "polite" language, or slow down (or speed up). Well that's not necessary.

I find the most engaging business videos are when the person in front of camera is talking just how they do every day of the year, naturally and normally.

So if you think you need to do something special to make a video then you are wrong... You are already special, just be yourself and your videos will be great.

Talk like I have written above, using business lingo and I will add the Benny Hill theme or similar comedy music track to your video... You have been warned.

Creating a USP is possibly the most important thing you can do for your business

What do you mean you don't have one?

With a USP you make your business stand out from the crowd. Customers will be easier to come by. Happy customers will gladly spread the word about what you do because they love you.

On the other hand, if you don’t have an effective USP, building an audience or getting any customers to pay attention to you will be a really tough.

Your USP can mean the difference between success and failure

It's not about being the best - Having a great product, creating amazing content or offering first class customer service on its own is not enough to make your business stand out, especially if you're a small business competing in an ever crowded market with lots of big boys.

So don't compete at all, instead be the best at something no one else is doing and your unique selling proposition is the starting point.

How to come up with your USP

If your business is built around you then use your personality. By stamping your personality on all aspects of your business you create something that no one can compete with, after all, there's only one of you.

Define your niche - When you say you're all things to all men (or women) you end up being nothing to everyone. Compare these two statements:

I've met both types of coaches at network meetings and I may know many businesses who want to increase their sales, but I find it so much easier to recommend clients to the second coach. Defining your niche helps others recommend you.

When you work in a competitive market it helps to narrow your target audience.  Me, I work in video production and there are lots of video production companies out there. Am I interested in competing with them? Hell no. I'm interested in creating my own niche and working with a narrow target audience. So this is what I say about what I do:

Helping coaches and trainers who struggle to communicate their expertise, create authentic video content that establishes them as the "go to person" in their field

Lets break down my USP:

Helping coaches and trainers - straight away you know who my target market is... coaches and trainers!

who struggle to communicate their expertise - narrowing my offering, I work with coaches and trainers who have a problem, they struggle to communicate the expertise... That suggests I offer a solution to their difficulty.

create authentic video content - ah, here you go, here's the video production bit, but it's not just any sort of video, it's authentic video which resonates with the way many of my clients want to work.

that establishes them as the "go to expert" in their field - here's the benefit of working with me...

In one simple sentence you get who I work with, what the problem is I help them with, how I do it and the benefit I give. It wasn't simple to come up with that sentence, but it was worth the time taken in creating it.

Having a USP doesn't restrict your business

Even though I say I work with coaches and trainers, that doesn't mean I don't work with other business owners. In fact I get many business owners who aren't coaches or trainers contact me who connect with the "struggle to communicate their expertise" or want to make "authentic videos" who are a real joy to work with.

The clarity in my USP offering makes it so much easier for others to recommend me and to build a following.

In the mid 90s I left the BBC and became a freelance director. Over the next 15 or so years I was fortunate enough to direct many different programmes, for many different television broadcasters, including:

Every programme I worked on developed me as a director, taught me new things and helped me hone my craft.

It was what I learnt directing Teletubbies that has helped me the most when directing business videos

No, do not worry... If you hire me to make videos for you, I'm not going to expect you to dress up in a brightly coloured suit and dance over a grassy field covered with flowers and bunny rabbits going "eh-oh"!

But it was what I learnt from Anne Wood, creator of Teletubbies, that I still use when I direct today.

In early 2001, I was a location director on the show. I used to direct the little films that popped out of the Teletubbies tummys, the ones featuring little children doing fun and interesting things.

As a location director I had to come up with the ideas for the sequences, find the locations, cast the children, direct the sequences, record the voice-over and supervise the edit. But before I could start I had to be fully briefed on the Ragdoll Productions way of directing.

The wisdom Anne Wood shared in the training has stayed with me ever since:

It is not possible to direct the young children who appear in these films so don't try. Just create a safe space for them to play in and then capture the magic

OK. I don't get to work with many child business owners, that said, I'm not going to try and direct you. Unless, that is, you have be trained as a presenter or performer.

What I am going to do is...

Create a safe space..

How many business owners are confident being in front of camera? Not many.

Having a camera stuck in your face, a microphone dangled over your head and having "action" shouted at you can be most nerve wracking. Video production is unfamiliar and scary for many people, so my first job as a director is to make you feel safe, because when you feel safe you are more likely to come across naturally on camera.

How do I do that? The truth is, I don't really know, I just do... I guess I have a knack of making filming feel kind of everyday and nothing special. Having directed for over 30 years there's very little that phases me, so when I arrive at a new location, I walk in with confidence, which helps put my contributor at ease.

for them to play in...

OK, you're not going to be getting the Scalextric or your My Little Ponies out during filming... Actually, if having a toy car race before a shoot, or plaitting a pony's rainbow-coloured hair makes you feel calm and helps you in front of camera then yes, have them in your office.

For me playing means having fun in the shoot and getting you to do what you are most comfortable doing. So if you are confident delivering a 1-minute elevator pitch, I'll make the filming feel like an elevator pitch. If you are comfortable answering client's questions, I'll pretend to be a client and ask you questions... I'll just stand behind the camera so it captures the answers you are giving me.

The idea is to make the process as fun and normal as possible.

then capture the magic

Filming the video needs to be the easiest and least intrusive part of the process.

There is no point in having beautifully crafted shots if the person talking on camera is sweating profusely and stuttering their lines. Many production companies spend way too much time setting up the lights, creating the perfect framing, getting the location to look beautiful, but forget that all this preparation can add to the tension and affect the performance of the business owner.

For me, all the technical stuff needs to be kept as simple as possible, or better still, handled well before the business owner appears. That way all the focus can be put on the performance.

This is why I often film on my smartphone. If you know how, the quality can be as good as using bigger, more "professional" kit, but it doesn't feel such a big thing. This helps make the whole filming process less threatening and much easier.

Oh, and I don't worry about scripts or autocue either, because unless you have been trained to deliver a script or use autoecue, you will not come across as naturally as you can.

Business video production with me will feel safe, fun and I'll capture a performance you never thought was possible

Are you, or your business, your brand?

I'm not entirely sure what it is, maybe it's my stunning good looks, or my amazing talent, or my dry sense of humour... But once someone's met me they rarely forget me.

And that's certainly what you want from a brand, to be remembered, isn't it?

Does one person make a business?

I mean, I'm the only full time employee in my business. Being in video production I hire talented freelance crews, designers, editors and admin staff as and when I need them. Without me there would be no business.

And my USP, it's totally built on my many years of broadcast and video production experience. With another Producer / Director at the helm my business would be completely different.

Welcome to Anim8 Productions

Actually, I've been running Anim8 Productions since May 2013 when I was commissioned to produce 36 animated kid's songs and rhymes for an old client of mine. Songs like Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes and If you're happy and you know it...

Anim8 seemed like a great name to me at the time, after all, I was producing animation. But ever since that animation project I've put all my other work through the company, even though very little of it was animation.

As Anim8 only appears on invoices and other legal company documents, very few people know the name.

So, do I build Anim8 Productions into my brand, or build me, Neil Ben, as the brand? After all, if I ever go to sell my business at some point in the future and it's called Neil Ben it'll be hard to separate myself from it!

2 unique brands - 2 USPs

What about creating 2 brands?

1 - Develop myself as a brand, especially around my coaching and training activities, because that work tends to be one-on-one and I'm being hired as me as the one who can help an individual.

Brand: Neil Ben
Helping coaches and trainers who struggle to communicate their expertise, create authentic video content that establishes them as the "go to person" in their field.

2 - Develop Anim8 Productions as a brand around my training video and animation production activities - after all, I want to create something that is bigger than just me to be able to help large organisations.

Brand: Anim8 Productions
Working with training organisations to create engaging video content that inspires their learners to learn, and empowers them with new knowledge and skills.

UPDATE: If you look at the footer of this website you will see I have come up with a solution. I trade using the name Neil Ben Films, but have the below on all official documents.

"Neil Ben Films is a trading style for Anim8 Productions Ltd"

It's Friday, it's five to five and it's Crackerjack!

When I was 11 my parents got audience tickets to go and see Crackerjack being recorded at the BBC. This was the first time I had sat in a television studio and I loved it.

Not only Slade, my favourite group, was on the programme, I just loved watching the lights, the cameras, the floor managers... in fact everything that was going on both in front and behind the camera. That was the day I decided I was going to work in telly.

So how do you get a job in television?

1 - Make a clear decision about what you want to do

So the next day I wrote to the BBC and told them I wanted to work for them, and was invited to join a school tour of the studios.

A couple of weeks later my mum and I arrived at the BBC studios but the school party didn't, so we got a private tour, just me and my mum. It was amazing... I went into the Top of the Pops studio during rehearsals and saw Christopher Cross singing Side Show, I saw Daleks in the props store, we got to experience BBC-Tea in the canteen... It was amazing... Yes, the BBC was where I was going to work.

When I went to school the following day I told my teachers that I was going to work for the BBC and make TV programmes for children. Their response was pretty much unanimous:

"Don't do that, you'll never get into the BBC, television is a difficult career, you're way too smart to work in the entertainment industry, do maths, do physics, do computer science... They'll be more job opportunities that way."

Being a well behaved, compliant little boy, I did what I was told, but I wasn't happy.

2 - Never give up on your dreams...

11 years later I graduated with a Computer Science Degree from Brunel University and I'm working in the IT industry designing information systems for the Royal Navy. Oh, and I still wanted to work in telly.

3 - Do whatever you can to gain experience

To satisfy my creative needs, I did Children's Theatre and volunteered at Great Ormond Street hospital radio, Radio GOSH, producing and presenting radio shows, oh, and I became a Children's magician!

4 - Be ready for when the luck arrives

One of the other volunteers at Radio GOSH worked at the BBC for the World Service, and every week she'd bring in Ariel for me (BBC's internal magazine), so I could look at the job pages in the back. One week there was a job in their computer department that I was perfectly qualified for, so I applied for the job and got an interview.

I did a great interview, they agreed I'd be good in the role, but then came the question "Why do you want to work for the BBC?"

My answer was simple "Because I want to make TV programmes" and I told them my story from when I was 11.

They offered me the job, and in August 1987 I started working for the BBC... OK, it wasn't in TV, but my chances of making TV programmes went for "no chance in hell matey" to "it's not going to be easy".

5 - Work twice as hard as everyone else

For the next 2 1/2 years I did two jobs. The one I was being paid for in the IT department, and the job of learning everything I could about directing. So I answered the telephones on the Saturday morning kid's show Live and Kicking so I could  be in the studios as much as possible, and helped out with Children in Need. I also sat in viewing galleries, got audience seats when I could, watched so much television output and came up with new ideas and formats for TV programmes.

The BBC had a scheme called the Attachment Program. The idea being you can be "loaned" from the department you worked in to another department, in order to grow your experience. Once a year Trainee Assistant Producer Attachments were available both in BBC Children's and BBC Schools Television - 6 for Children's and 3 for Schools. That's 9 opportunities a year. OK, several hundred people applied for the attachments each year, but still it was a chance.

So each year I'd apply for the attachments, and each year I'd be one of the 100 or so people invited for interview (all the hard work meant I came up with great programme ideas for the application), and every year I got through the first round of interviews, because the producers who grilled me loved my enthusiasm and ideas.

And every year I'd do a great second interview but got told the same thing... "Sorry, we've never had an engineer make TV programmes before". Yes, they thought IT was engineering back then!

6 - Be stubborn

Being the person I am, I always asked for feedback, so I called Lewis Bronze, the then editor of Blue Peter to talk about how I'd done in my interview with him, to which he was very positive and slightly disappointed that I hadn't been given a chance as he thought I'd be a great asset to the department. I asked if I could spend a week trailing one of his producers on the programme so I could get a bit more experience and he was more than happy to help. So I took a week of my holiday entitlement and in October 1989 I spent 5 amazing days following a lovely Blue Peter Producer called Richard Simpkin.

I sat in edits, watched studio planning meetings, sat in the gallery during the live programmes and watched a voice-over session. I even managed to write the opening of the Thursday Halloween Show.

It was an amazing week and I learnt so much, and at the end of the week I asked Richard if I could write that year's Blue Peter Christmas Panto. Richard said "sadly no, we already have a script, but I think you would have done a great job, what with all your kid's theatre background".

What a shame.

7 - Grab every opportunity

A couple of weeks later I was in the BBC canteen and I bumped into Richard, the producer I had worked with on Blue Peter. "How's the Panto going?" I asked, "The script is shit" was his response. "Don't worry, I'll have a great script on your desk tomorrow morning."

I stayed up all night, writing a pantomime script for Blue Peter, and true to my word it was on Richard's desk the next morning and he loved it and they went with it.

8 - Change people's perception of you

I was no longer the engineer who wanted to work in telly, I was the guy that wrote the Blue Peter Panto.

Timing was perfect as a week later I was having a meeting with the Head of BBC Schools Television, again trying to find out why he kept saying I'd be a great asset to his department, but why he never offered me a chance. His answer was that I had no experience working in television.

9 - Believe in yourself

I got angry "How the hell can I get experience working in television and show you how good I'll be unless you give me a chance."

With that little outburst, and him seeing the work I had done over the years, as well as knowing Blue Peter had taken a chance on my script, he repented and offered me a six-month attachment as a Production Trainee.

10 - Never give up until you succeed

That was December 1989... Since then I have had a very long and successful career in television and video production. I have worked with some wonderful craft people and talented performers, won awards and had a thoroughly enjoyable time doing what I knew I really wanted to do.

And I have so many stories from my time in telly.... But those will have to wait for future blogs.

When is an excuse valid and when is it a cop out?

This is something I've been asking myself all day, when I've struggled to finish writing this blog. Are my excuses good reasons to leave it for today, or are they an easy way to give up?

As George Washington Carve said:

"Ninety-nine percent of the failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses."

Now I'm not willing to be a failure, but I have loads of thoughts running round my head such as:

Then I get bored with all these excuses

But what can I do? I'm a single dad, I'm raising two kids on my own whilst building a business from scratch... It is hard being mum, dad, cook, cleaner, managing director, content creator, bookkeeper, marketing manager, networker, oh, and doing the job that actually earns me the money to pay the bills which is producing directing, script writing, coaching, training and editing.

So, it's ok for me to say I'm tired... Isn't it?

Yes it is...

But it's not ok for me to use it as an excuse to avoid doing the thing I said I'm going to do.

I've had a busy day achieving lots including:

Surely I can have a break and leave finishing this blog til tomorrow, even though I said I'd write it today?

Well I could leave it, but then...

It's 10 pm. Back from our second rehearsal, a great read through of Acorn Antiques the musical, which we'll be putting on at the Radlett Theatre in May. Now I'm finishing off this blog for publishing tomorrow and printing out a 114-page script, only 93 more pages to go.

And although I've had excuses flying round my head all day, with lots of reasons for not finishing this blog, I've stuck with it... Why?

Because keeping my word is important

So I listened to my excuses and said "thank you for sharing" to them and finished this blog... Well it will be finished in it two more short minutes.

What do you think?

Do you have conversations with yourself?  Do you give up when things get tough? Is keeping your word important to you?

Please leave a comment below, as I'm interested in what you think and whether the struggle I had to go through to finish this blog was worth it.

Improv can improve your business

Not only that, it can make your life so much more rewarding.

DISCLAIMER: As they say at the start of every improv show. "Nothing that follows is scripted, everything you see and hear (watch and read in terms of this blog) will be invented on the spot, for one night only, never to be repeated."

I've been doing improv (improvised comedy) for many years. I did my first workshop over 30 years ago, but really started to get serious when I attended a residential workshop at Osho Leela in 2010, hosted by The Maydays, an amazing improv troupe based in Brighton.

The following year, not only did I participate in the workshop, I was asked to film the event, and you can see the promo I produced up top.

Why improv is good for you and your business

The main thrust of improv (as I see it) is to make your on-stage colleagues look great while they are trying to make you look great... When everyone does that the results are amazing. So when someone says "makes an offer" (says a line or does some action) you build on it. To do that (and be really great at improv) you need to, as the Maydays taught me:


When you're on stage you have no idea what your fellow performers are going to do, after all it's unscripted, that means you really have to LISTEN to them. If not you'll have no idea what's happening.

In business too, listening is very important.

If you don't listen to what your customers or clients are saying, how do you know they like (or hate) what you do? How will you be able to improve the service you offer them? Many times I have been at a network meeting and I get talked at by someone who's not interested in listening...

So what I do is listen, which makes the "talky" person feel good. I may also ask them the odd question or two which makes them feel even better, and then when they have finished I have so much information about what they do and what is and isn't working in their business. I can then tailor a razor-sharp offering to them by coming up with a solution to their problems. My brief response to their elongated soliloquy is focused, to the point and often surprises them as they have no idea why I know so much about their difficulties!

Say "YES"

"Hi Charlie, how's the new job?" she said winking at me.

If I say "I'm not Charlie, I'm Derek and I'm too young to have a job" the scene has just died. Whatever you are offered in improv you need to say "YES" to, that way the scene builds in a way that no one expected or planned and the audience loves it.

"It's OK, I suppose Britney, but the snake-skin leotard really chaffs. " Charlie replied, scratching his bum.

Now the scene is going somewhere interesting... I said "YES" to the proposition and now Britney can build on that...

This is the same in business. If I am offered feedback on a job I have done (good or bad), I can ignore it (wrong), or I can listen and quietly say "YES" to myself  and build my business offerings with this new information.

And Commit

COMMITMENT comes down to how much energy you put into delivering your line. "It's OK I suppose" is a bit of a downer, so in improv terms you deliver it as a BIG downer, you COMMIT to the feeling of the line, so that when Britney responds she has your energy to bounce off.

BRITNEY: "It's terrible that the boss insists you wear it inside out, when I worked for him I had a sequined one!"

CHARLIE: "I feel your pain honey I really do."

In business nothing happens without action, so once you've LISTENED and said "YES", you now need to COMMIT to doing something about it. Commitment for me is like passion... If you are passionate in your business (you are committed to doing whatever is required), you will stand out from all your competitors.

So go on, find an improv group local to you and go and do a workshop. It's a lot of fun and you might learn something that will help you in business.

What else have I learnt about improv performers?

That they make great performers in training videos, and they are a real joy to direct. So I hope to be making many more improvised training videos in the future... Ones like the clip below:

If you are a training organisation who would like to include video like the ones above as part of your training offerings, then check out some of the training video productions I have worked on.

Is working for FREE bad for business?

I do not know the answer to this question so I value your comments. But I have been thinking a lot about it.

Two things happened to me earlier this week which made me question whether giving my best advice, sharing my expertise and working for free, was good for my business:

  1. I was asked to present a webinar on how to shoot videos with your smartphone
  2. I offered my support to a videographer who was new to the business and wanted to know how to edit a promo

The webinar is going to be part of a series about digital marketing and sales funnels. My role is to present a cost effective way to create video content using your smartphone or tablet, which if you know me you'll know is a core part of my business.

The chat with the videographer started off as a possible sales call and ended up being a pretty one sided conversation lasting well over an hour. In the call I talked the videographer through editing a promo video.

That's several hours work with no fee

Part of me is more than happy to share my expertise, after all, many people have helped me get to where I am today by sharing their expertise with me. I also believe everything is about energy... the more energy you put out there the more you get back.

But then I'm not sure...

If it fits into my marketing then that's good to do, after all the webinar is going to give me great exposure and people who've never heard of me before are going to be introduced to me and what I do.

But then, I have a mortgage to pay and kids to feed and keep clothed (and they grow so fast), and free don't pay the bills.

I was told there are only two reasons for working for free

  1. Because you've just started in business and need to get some testimonials and recommendations
  2. Because you're so minted you can afford to do pro bono work

For a few years I stuck to this argument, but now I'm neither a new business, or rolling in money, so neither option applies.

So I share my expertise for free because it just feels right to do sometimes.

But is that a good argument?

Two years ago I made 5 videos for FREE

The videos were for a charity called Demand, who make bespoke equipment for people with disabilities. The five videos were shown at a Gala event at Watford Football club and helped to raise £24,000.

And do you know what, when I was originally asked if I would be willing to make one of the five videos I said, without hesitation "No, I'm not going to make one video for you, I'll make all five".

Here's one of the videos shown at the Gala

Five videos like this would usually cost around £5,000 to produce, but I was happy working for free as it was a real pleasure to know my skills were being used to help a very valuable cause.

The thing is, it's a real pleasure to know my skills are being used to help someone's business grow, or help someone learn AND get paid for it!

I would really value your opinion here

Is offering your services for free good or bad for business practice?

Are there times when you should or should not work for free?

Please leave a comment below.


They say "Laughter is the best medicine"... I agree with whoever the they are that says this... But I say more

Laughter is the best educator

I need to take you back 27 years when I first realised this. I was an Assistant Producer at the BBC working on Maths Programmes. The series was called Square One TV, which was a co-production between the BBC and the Children's Television Workshop (CTW), the makers of Sesame Street.

Now CTW are the worlds best at combing education and entertainment and Square One TV was a very successful series in the US which the BBC wanted to replicate for British kids. It was my job to write and direct it here in the UK.

We did game shows, animations and comedy sketches and before we started filming anything, a team of scriptwriters from CTW in New York flew over for a few days of meetings to go through all our scripts.

So there we are, sitting in a meeting room, with me describing a scene I had written all about recognising different sorts of graphs.

The story was about two gangsters in the early 1900s who ran the illegal licorice market, Al Malone and Bugsy Capone. Al was going through his figures with account Joe, but Joe was getting all flustered and couldn't make heads or tails of the figures.

Al grabbed Joe's collar, yanking him toward him and screamed into his face

"If you don't sort these figures I'm going to call da boys in on you!"

To which Joe whimpered "Yes, but who ya gonna call?"

"Graph busters!"

Then, three kids dressed with outrageous Ghostbuster type costumes run into the building and spray graphs all over the wall, which of course Al could understand.

graph busters

The guys from New York loved the sketch but they gave me one piece of very important advice. They said:

If you can make the punch line of the sketch coincide with the educational point, the kids will remember it

And for the past 27 years, I've have been practicing doing that, because people find it very difficult to remember facts but they will remember their emotional responses. So get people to laugh and the will remember.

This is why I love using comedy in the training videos I produce

Since leaving the BBC and building a business making training films, I focus on producing films that

Engage, Inspire, Educate and Inform

You have to Engage the viewers first, or they won't really watch the video (they may sit in front of the screen but the content will wash over them). You engage by making videos with great content and high production values

You Inspire the viewers in to wanting to learn by giving them a reason why they should learn. Inspiration and why's come through the emotional response.

It is then, and only then, that you can Educate or Inform you viewers.

If you are a training organisation who would like to include video as part of you training offerings, then check out some of the training video productions I have worked on.

And then book yourself a discovery session below and lets have a chat about how I can help you engage and inspire your learners.

"I don't want to be on video!"

... is the biggest excuse I hear from people who avoid using video as part of their business marketing.

The first thing is to look at the real reasons why people avoid video. These are the most common excuses I hear:

 - I don't like the way I look or sound on video
- I'm not going to be good enough

Lets deal with the first one first.

I don't like the way I look or sound on video

When you watch yourself on camera for the first time, you're experiencing yourself like you've never experienced yourself before - exactly how you look and sound!

Eh? Let me explain... Unless you are prone to out of body experiences, the only way to see yourself moving around is in a reflection... Looking in a mirror, in a puddle, in the reflection of a shop window, so the image of you you're most comfortable with is your reflection.

That means, when you see yourself in video for the first time (not as a reflection), the immediate response is "that's not me". But it is you and it is exactly how everyone else who knows (and loves) you, sees you.

What about how you sound on video? We all hear when our ear drum vibrates, but there are two ways to get it vibrating.

  1. when sound waves enter our ear hole then hits the drum
  2. when sounds vibrate through the bones of your skull and vibrates your drum

You hear your voice through your skull, and as the sound travels through your bones they spread out and lower in pitch, giving you a false sense of bass. When you hear your voice on video, it sounds higher and unfamiliar to you.

See what the BBC says about why we hate hearing our own voice

So when you first watch yourself on video you are seeing and hearing yourself as everyone else sees and hears you, but not how you have ever experienced yourself before. This "new" you is going to take a little time to get used to. But this is no excuse to avoid making videos.

I'm not going to be good enough

When I was nine I started learning the clarinet. It was difficult to begin with and the noise coming out the end of it didn't sound a bit like the sound my cousin was able to get out of her clarinet. "I just wasn't good enough..."

Or maybe, I just hadn't had enough time to learn how to play it properly and practice.

This is true of every new thing we try... It is unlikely that we will be great at it at our first attempt. But this is no excuse to avoid making videos.

You need to practice, get a great teacher, coach, mentor, trainer, director and let me help you though those early uncomfortable moments and support you in becoming confident in front of camera.

And just to let you know, in the nearly 30 years I've been working in television and video production, there's not been a single person who I haven't managed to get over their initial fear and helped them look great.

I had to overcome my fears too

Yes... When I first saw myself on video I didn't like the way I looked or sounded. I also had to get over seeing my disability which was tough... But do you know what got me through?

My passion

When you talk with passion and enthusiasm the camera loves you, and all those doubts and worries about how you look and sound disappear. Which I talk about in this video below.

So come on... No more excuses, no more avoiding doing what I know you want to do. Just give it a go, get yourself started, practice and get a mentor / director to help you in your journey.


That doesn't like shooting video!

How is that possible?

Anim8 Production Company is run by Neil Ben, and ex-BBC Producer / Director and yes it's true, Neil doesn't like shooting video.

But his company has won a business award for the Innovative way it helps businesses use video.

Again, how is that possible?

Simple really. Neil prefers to teach his clients how to shoot videos themselves, using their smartphone or tablet, through his coaching and training programmes.

One of the most popular schemes is his Local Hero Programme

How the 'Local Hero' coaching programme works


So what can you do if you're a local hero?

Once you know how to capture great footage with your phone, there are many different videos you can shoot that will make a massive difference to your business, including:

You will get all the training and support you need to shoot these videos, creating great quality footage that we will professionally edit.

And the good news is, as you are doing the filming yourself you only pay for the editing, which is a really cost effect way to get loads of great quality videos, and a much better option than hiring a "normal" video production company who shoots the videos for you.

The Local Hero Programme is awesome, but don't take my word for it. Listen to Duncan and Bernard from Believable Finance, who are creating amazing videos for their finance training membership site through the Local Hero Programme.

The 30 day blogging challenge

With added video, just to make it a real challenge

So I'm sitting in the kitchen with my business mentor in early August and she says to me...

"I think you should do Sarah Arrow's 30-day blogging challenge, here's her webpage... just put your name and email address in there."

Now I'm a good boy (most of the time) and follow the advice I'm given, so I did what I was told, entered my name and email address (being careful to spell my name right as I've done it wrong before and got emails sent to Meal) and the challenge begun. No um-ing or ah-ing, no hesitation, just went for it.

No, I REALLY went for it

I'm not a man for taking the easy route, and because my thing is video I decided to make this a video blog challenge, so all (except one) of my blogs contained at least one video, some had 2 and one even had 4.

And it's been fun and it's been easy.

30-days of video blogging... Easy?

Ok, there were challenges, but do you want to know what the hardest thing was? You do? Then watch the video below to find out...

To blog or not to blog - That is the question

I apologise for Rudolf muffling my mic at one point, he does like a cuddle!

So guys and gals, do have a go at Sarah's 30-day challenge, and if you find that too easy and really want a challenge, guess what, I have a 7 day video challenge From selfie-shots to self-shooter in seven days, which will be growing into a 30-day video challenge, so watch this space.


It's what you will do after working with me

That will make the difference

How would you like to have:

And how would you like learn the skills to transform you from an unknown to video internet sensation through a fun and painless process?

You would?

Every over night sensation has to start some where, and your superstar status can start with a conversation with me. So pick up the phone, give me a call and together we'll get the world to see you as the expert that you are. The number is at the top of the screen and I can't wait to talk with you.


Easy-Pro Video

Having the tools and knowing how to use them is not enough.

You may know how to use a pencil, but can you write a great letter to your granny, thanking her for your annual Christmas Jumper? If you were 3 you'd probably struggle, needing the help of a grown up. But as you got older you'd develop your writing skills and could do it yourself. Now, my guess is, using a pencil and writing notes is easy.

You may know how to use a keyboard and mouse, but can you design a thank you card (for that jumper) using Photoshop, print it out and send it to your grandma? Some people can, and they can because they've mastered a new skill and now find that easy.

And what about your phone. Can you use it to communicate with your gran? 'Course you can, you just pick it up and give her a call to say "thank you".

That is how most business owners use their phone to communicate with their clients. But there is some much more you can do with that phone in your pocket that will enable you to communicate with 10s, 100s, 1000s, possibly millions of people in one go.

What's stopping you mastering a new skill and using the tools you already have?

Making your own videos is easy with Easy-Pro Video. And with a single video being able to communicate with millions, isn't it time you signed up for one of my 90-day coaching programmes?

That way, in no time at all you'll be making business videos that will be making a difference to your business.

You can make yourself

With your smartphone or tablet

Mobile video consumption rises 100% every year on YouTube, 75% of executives watch work-related videos on business websites at least once a week and 92% of mobile video consumers share videos with others...

Well you know the rest, I'm a big fan of video and as much of the video consumption and sharing is on mobile devices, using your mobile device to create that content is a great idea.

Top 5 business videos you can film yourself


When you say how good your business is it can come across as boasting. When your clients say how good your business is it’s proof.

The video testimonial is the most powerful video you can have to promote your business and should form a central part of your video strategy.

Ask your clients open questions, or get them to tell a story about working with you, so when people see their video they get a great idea of what you do, how you work and how you can help them.


How to videos are the most searched for style of video on YouTube.

There are amazing opportunities to create content that people will devour (some of them literately if you make cooking videos). My kids love learning stuff off YouTube like "How to play the piano" or "How to paint your nails". Me I love videos that relate to my work, so "How to add moving text to a premier edit" or "How to create a great business card"

If you know your stuff you should be making how to videos, because when people learn from you they see you as the expert and when they have a more complicated requirement that videos alone cannot solve...

"Who they gonna call?" Ghostbusters... Um, no... You!


When someone shares their expertise it helps to build the know, like and trust factor.

The more you share your expertise in bite sized videos, the more you will be seen as the go to person in your field. Potential clients will get to know you through your videos and feel more confident with spending money or coming to work with you.

When planning expert videos, think about the information potential clients may find helpful and then create a series of videos around that subject.


Clients both old and new always have questions.

Yes, you can have FAQ page on your site, but why not think of having an Information Video page. Examples of information videos that can work for business include:

Depending on the information being presented, these can feature the boss, administrators or other members of your team.


Unless you have a promotional video on your home page, this should be the first video people see on your site.

What do you want people to do when they arrive on your home page? Do you want them to sign-up for your news letter or register for an upcoming workshop? Are there special offers available or pages you want them to look at?

Or will it help if you tell your visitors a bit about what you do and the kind of clients you work with?

A welcome video answers all these AND the average internet user will spend 88% more time on your home page as it has a video on it... Win - win!


What's stopping you?

Now you know the kind of videos you could be shooting yourself using your smartphone of tablet, it's it about time you got started. Sign up for one of my 90-day coaching programmes and in no time at all you'll be making business videos that will be making a difference to your business.

Without video you will disappear

A few years ago if you didn't have a website you'd get forgotten, nobody would be able to find you or know what you did.

The same cane be said these days if you don't have video.

No video means:

If you don't have video as part of your marketing strategy, eventually you are going to disappear.

Video is sooooooo important.

Do you need to hire a professional video production company to get your videos made?

No, not at all... All you need to do is to go into your pocket and pull out your smartphone, or go into your bag and pull out your tablet and use that to make your videos.

I'm going to be straight with you, it won't be possible for me to teach you how to make great videos in a single blog, or a two or three minutes video using your smartphone, but I can give you enough to get started.


The most important thing to remember when filming with your phone

And you're not going to believe this. The most  important thing about shooting video with your smartphone is not the picture but the sound. You have to get your sound right because if people can't hear what you are saying the will stop watching your video, even if the picture is great.

So many people film using the on-board microphone, but that could cause you problems like handling noise, picking up background noise and echo.

iPhone_iPad_iPod_Earbuds_Earpods_HeadphonesWorry not though, you do not need to spend a fortune buying professional mics. Your phone probably came with an amazing microphone... The earbuds that came with the phone.

As well as listening to music, you can make calls and to do that there is a little microphone to capture your voice and it's a pretty good mic. Some smartphones (like the iPhone) have noise cancelling headphones too which help improve the sound when listening to music, they also help to reduce the background noise when recording your voice

You can hook the earbud / mic end in your t-shirt or if you are filming somebody hook it there's.


Getting great quality picture

So you've got your sound sorted. The next thing is the picture. Most high definition, top of the range smart phones and tablets have a camera at the front and a camera at the back. Film yourself with the camera at the back, the quality is so much better. But how can you film yourself on the back camera when you can't see the screen to see what you are doing? Do not worry, check out this video blog where I show you how to set up the shot when you're not in the shot to set it up!


phone holderKeep your shots steady

Now you're filming yourself using the back lens, which is great, it will also help you an enormous amount if you stick your phone on a tripod to keep your shot steady. To do that you'll need a phone to tripod adapter. Just search for smartphone tripod adapter on Amazon and get one to screw your phone to any tripod, which makes the phone really firm and your shots so much better.

The most important thing when filming on your phone

When you clip you phone on the tripod make sure the phone is in landscape, not portrait. Videos are landscape, YouTube is landscape, TVs are widescreen, our eyes go left and right they don't go up and down, so if you shoot a
video in portrait it looks unprofessional.


This is just a start, giving you a few ideas a few tips on how to film with your phone or tablet. You can find so many more hints and tips on my video blog, or check out my YouTube channel.

Can I put you in the picture?

I've been getting involved in a FaceBook thread for the past few days. Here's the question below:

Does anyone in this group do video blogs? I am looking to start and need some advice on good quality yet affordable recording equipment, as well as video editing software. Can anyone assist me with this?

What a gift, if you've been reading my video blogs or know me, you know this is absolutely my area of expertise.

So I write a few answers to this question, ones that I think will be helpful

Neil Ben Yep... me... check out by vlog
I also run workshops on how to shoot great quality video using your smartphone, have one coming up in September if you're interested

I even get endorsed by a few people in the group, one who is particularly well respected.

Roy Smoothe- If you are going to do it - Do it right. Talk to Neil Ben - the guy is off the hook with this kind of thing... I advise my Personal Branding clients not to do the facebook live or video blogs until they get the visuals, imagery and sound right... For when you open your mouth you tell the world who you are... Neil is the Best Ive seen so far... Going to be doing some stuff with him myself!

And still the guy is asking questions... What camera should I use? I want it to be easy? Help me I'm so lost!!!

Then someone posted a link to this page

What is the Best Camera for Vlogging & Youtube?

Here's the link:

This being my thing, I think it's worth a look and see the article talks about 5 great cameras, with many awesome features like:

Notice a theme here? The features they talk about are all to do with the image and video capturing capability of the camera. Which is perfect, after all these are cameras and you'd expect great image capture, especially if you are planning to take photos or shoot silent movies. But they are less than half the camera you'll need to make great video blogs.

What do you mean, less than half what you need?

It's simple. People are more likely to switch away from your video blog if they cannot hear or understand what you are saying, in other words, if the sound is dodgy your video blog is useless, no matter how good the picture it.

So you have to make sure the sound is right first.

Only two out of the 5 cameras in the article had the ability to take an external mic, so from my point of view, the other 3 were useless as cameras to do vlogging with.

And I needed to search for the information on the sound recording capabilities of these cameras, they were not up there as an important feature. Which some what baffles me because if these cameras were being presented as the best for video blogging, then recording sound should be an important feature that people think about.


Or don't you want to be heard?

Do you freeze in front of camera?

Or don't know what to say when the director says "action". Maybe you are suffering from presenter's block.

First of all, I have no idea if presenter's block is a real term or not, so I am going to define it just in case

WRITER'S BLOCK - the condition of being unable to think of what to write or how to proceed with writing

PRESENTER'S BLOCK - the condition of being unable to think of what to say or freezing in front of camera

So what do you do when you freeze in front of camera
and don't know what to say?

Having worked for the BBC for many years and shot lots and lots of people, the number one reason for freezing in front of camera is - making it a "big thing"

When I worked for BBC Schools Television I'd often have to interview head teachers, class teachers and other school staff and there were times when the contributor would be so nervous they wouldn't be able to answer a question coherently. So this is what I did.

I'd get them to forget they were being interviewed

"How did you do that Neil?"

Funny you should ask

As we set up for filming (the crew putting up the lights, getting the camera ready and clipping on the radio mic) I'd chat with the contributor naturally, asking them things like "do you eat the school dinners here?" or "how was your sports day?" Questions that were easy to answer and felt  like a part of a pleasant, natural conversation.

I'd then have a secret signal that the crew would look out for, like scratching my nose, which would tell them I wanted them to start recording. I'd carry on, chatting away with the contributor, asking them open questions and then I'd scratch my nose and slip in one of the questions I needed the answer to, with exactly the same tone as all the other questions.

9 times out of 10 they'd give me a great, relaxed answer and I would say to them "that was an amazing answer, [to the cameraman] I really wish you had been recording it", to which the cameraman would say "I was".

I would then compliment the contributor, thanking them for their answer and that they were a natural in front of camera. That would make the rest of the interview run smoothly.

"That's all very well Neil, but I'm not an interviewee,
I'm trying to present my own content to camera
and still struggle, what do I do?"

Funny you ask, actually it's a similar issue. You're making your filming "way too important" which is causing you to freeze. Making a video is NO BIG DEAL

If you are making a business video, where you are sharing your expertise, then you should have no problem talking to camera. Here's why I think that?

Which means talking about your expertise is easy and being filmed on a phone is not alien, you're just combing the two.

"Logically Neil I know that, but I still get stuck"

Ok... Ok... You're being stubborn here. So let me tell you a couple of tricks I've been using for years to help people through.

  1. Practice, practice, practice... The more you do it the easier it gets
  2. Imaging a client is standing just behind the camera and talk to them
  3. If that doesn't work, get a photo of your favourite client, cut a small hole out the middle of the picture and stick it on the back of the phone so the hole is over the lens. Then just talk to the picture.
  4. Get it wrong, get it wrong again, get it wrong lots of times, laugh at yourself and think "this isn't a problem, after all, I can always shoot it again". Eventually you'll get it
  5. Learn how to edit. That way you don't need to capture the whole of your video in one shot, you can do several different takes and edit the best bits together. I teach you how to do that in my coaching programmes

This one is from the archives, with a few more
tips on presenting to camera

The camera's set, the lights are on, you press the record button or the director shouts "Action!" and then what?

Where do you look? How do you talk? What do you do with your hands?

So check out this film and the next time you're in front of camera won't seems so scary.


Video blogging and the best way to do it

I saw this question in a FaceBook group, posted by the lovely Carol Hanson

I'm finally reaching the 21st Century when it comes to using video and being brave enough to put it You Tube and embed on my website as part of my blogs!! But I could really use some help! ...

1. I've read that it's good to include text with a video post and so have dutifully done so on the ones I've published to date - it's effectively a written transcript of the video (around 300 words) - effectively copying the way that the Huff Post do this. Is this the best approach? Or is there something else I should be doing?

This is the best way to plan your vlog

Dear Carol, thank you for your question - here's my answer.

You are absolutely right, having text around a video is extremely useful, because even though Google loves videos, it cannot "translate" the video content to know what it is about, so effectively the words around the video helps. So this is what I suggest you do:

How (and why) to add description and tags to your YouTube video

This video is from my online training course Easy-Pro Video Online

Right, that's the first question answered. Now for the second question

2. If I want to share on social media (having embedded the video from YouTube should I do this from YouTube or my website), given that I'm trying to build my sales funnel.

Thanks in advance superstars! x

Should I share my video or my video blog on social media?

It all depends... If you want more people to subscribe to your YouTube channel, then share the YouTube video url on social media... The link in the description will point them back to your website. But you have said you want to build your sales funnel, so you want to share the url to the funnel webpage with the video in it, because there's one less click for people to do, they watch your video and the signup box is there waiting.

Hope that helped

You could read this blog but...

80% of you are not going to absorb the information as well as you would from a video because you are visual learners. You need to see stuff rather than read stuff.

Your brain has to work much harder when you read text and in these days of instant gratification and quick fixes video gives the majority of consumers what they want without having to work for it.

Reading articles and watching videos require two different brain processes. When we read, the process requires us to be actively involved. The brain gets a much better workout when reading vs. watching, and the process requires a longer attention span and deeper cognitive efforts.

Watching a video, is passive. It’s much less demanding and more of an automatic process, asking a lot less energy and effort on behalf of the person watching.

Psychology Today

 If you want them to fall in love, use video

I talk all the time about engaging and inspiring your audience. The way to do this is to make videos that create an emotional response. It is much easier to become emotionally attached to something we watch in a video than something we read in an article, and from my point of view it is way easier to create a video that gets an emotional response than write an article, blog or report to get the same effect.

Ten more reasons to use video

This video was made 3 years ago and is even more true now!

training-n-promo films was the name of my company before I re-branded


And it's not all about video (although it mostly is). As people prefer visual stimulation, photos, charts and info-graphics work well too.



The only difference is Google loves video more than it loves images. SO USE VIDEO.


To increase your Video views

If you're thinking now's the best time to create some Rio related videos around the Olympics, you're probably a bit late. But you can start planning for Tokyo.

When you create videos around big events it's called Tent Poling and can have an amazing effect on your video views.

The calendar is filled with a number of special events that get people excited: Halloween, Christmas, the Super Bowl, and those aren't nearly the only ones.  When it comes to online video, releasing content that capitalizes on the buzz surrounding those events can also mean a boost in your viewership.  And you don't have to do just the major ones.  You can find special events almost every week and capitalize on them if you plan accordingly.  Take a look at a calendar and start finding the events that create buzz, and have a video out during the days or weeks leading up to those events.

Source: How to Increase YouTube Views with Tent-Pole Events: YouTube Playbook
©, All Rights Reserved


You've missed the boat, what do you do?

You start looking for the next big event. Where are we now? August, we're getting towards the end of the summer holidays in the UK. So here's what I'm thinking:


Oh, in case you missed it, I've got some Olympic footage of an event they didn't show on the telly. It's the Dogtathlon... It's a bit like the Decathlon, but for dogs

This was from a kid's series Megamutt that I directed for Discovery Kids, presented by the amazing Paul Hocker and Produced by Matthew Rose. You may recognise my dulcet tones.


How do you increase you video views through a tent-pole event?

Strategy: Create and release content themed around tent-pole events.

Why It Works: Tent-pole events drive search trends, editorial opportunities, and advertiser campaigns.

How To Do It: Create and publish content according to a programming calendar.


Is it really too late for Rio?

Maybe not, the Olympic Parade of UK athletes will be in Manchester sometime in October which gives you a little while to prepare something. But it's best to get your parade videos out there 2-3 weeks before the event as the buzz will start early.

Just So Darwin

BAFTA nominated series

In 2009, to celebrate the death of Sir Charles Darwin, I was asked to produce an animation series for the BBC. The brief was to get across the teachings of Darwin in an engaging and entertaining way.


The background to the commission

200 years ago Charles Darwin was born. In his 20s he became the naturalist on a British Science Expedition, traveling around the world in a ship called the HMS Beagle. His job was to keep a record of all the new wildlife, plants and animals he found during his journey. During his trip he visited the Galapagos Islands. He was a good storyteller and it's said there he would sit down in the evenings and tell the sailors about the animals and plants he had found and how he thought they had developed their special features, such as the giraffe’s long neck. These ideas he later developed into his theory of evolution, which he published in a book called ‘The Origin of Species’.


I was lucky, I was working alongside Lambros Atteshlis, an ex-BBC Producer, through his company Glasshead Productions. He helped me find a great team of educational advisors, script writers and animators. But we still had a problem, how do you get a difficult subject like evolution across to 8 year olds?


Engage the kids first - using high quality television production, animation and character voices
Inspire them - through great storytelling
Educate them - by weaving the learning points into the stories


The concept we came up with

What if the stories that Darwin told all those years ago had been overheard by a young tortoise who was hiding in the grasses? And what if that tortoise remembered those stories and many many years later (tortoises can live for hundreds of years you know) retold those stories to his grand child?

What would those stories sound like now?

After 9 months of production, we had created 13 episode, they were all Produced and Script Edited by Neil Ben and where a Glasshead Production for the BBC


Thanks to the efforts of everyone on the team we were nominated for a Children's BAFTA, sadly we did not win, but to be nominated was honour enough.

It's not just enough to Inform

With many years experience in video and television production, particularity in making educational and training films, I get asked a lot for feedback on people's training videos.

What I see is that people are great at getting the didactic stuff right, they get all the learning points on screen and are very clear and logical in presenting the information they need the learner to get.

Great job? Well it's a start

They are using video to replace the teacher or trainer, which is not the best use of this amazing medium. You need to engage and inspire your learner first before you teach them anything.

Engaging your Learners

Your first challenge is to make your video engaging. No matter how good the educational content is, I'm sorry, if it's boring people will either watch it reluctantly (as they are in an environment where they are being shown the video and can't escape) or not watch it at all. In a previous blog I wrote about How to make your videos engaging, and this is your first challenge.

How many things in this video use electricity?

How many did you get?

Thank you to the lovely Heather Urquhart and Jason Blackwater their amazing performance... What fun... And pretty engaging too right?

Now I could have made a video to where a voice over goes something like this:

"So many things in our life today rely on electricity to work, in fact, without electricity our lives would grind to a halt. The average house hold in the UK uses 4,000 KWh of electricity a year, and the more electronic devices you have on in your house the more you will use"

 Educationally correct, informative and useful information,  but not very engaging. The only benefit the teenagers are going to get from watching a video like I described about (and sadly see too often) are to learn more facts and figures which they can get from reading a pdf printout.

However, my video sets a challenge which means they have to concentrate on the video and it's content to take part. The learning happens after they've watched the video when their science teacher builds up a list of the devices that everyone has spotted and can extend that learning in so many different ways with questions like:

The video engaged them, the learning happened after in the classroom.


Inspiring your Learners

Great, you've made an engaging video by putting a lot of energy into it. You might have used comedy or drama, or presented your knowledge passionately. That's step one. You now need to inspire your learners to want to learn.

What exactly does that mean? Simply, you need to give your learners a reason why learning this stuff is important to them.

A few years ago I made a series of training videos to teach care-workers how to look after the elderly. In this video Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults we had to deal with the difficult subject of elder abuse and the law and regulations around that subject.

For research I watched many videos in this area before making this one and all of them just talked about the law, the care standards, the responsibilities of the care-worker. None of them gave the care-workers the why. Unless you give the learners a reason why they need to learn they are not going to be invested in their learning.


The why in this video is answered by saying, if you don't follow the guidelines then this could happen to one of the service users under your care. The opening shot was a massive jolt to a lot of care-workers who watched the video, their reaction "I don't want this to happen in my care home, I better pay attention"


Educating your Learners

That's the bit that you are an expert in, you know your subject and the learning points you need to get across, so I will leave that to you because if you have engaged and inspired your learners this bit is easy.

Having fun is just a personal thing. I believe that if you are having fun in what you do you are more likely to remember the experience and want to repeat it. So if you want your learners to come back to you again and again you need to make the whole process fun.


Tbafta logohe ultimate accolade for a Television professional is to be nominated for a BAFTA, which is what happened to me for a children's animation series I produced for the BBC a few years ago. The series was created to teach a young audience about Darwin's Theory of Evolution. It was an engaging, inspiring and educational series for the audience and that is why is got the nomination.

I will talk more about the series in my blog tomorrow and show you one of the episodes, so keep an eye out.



Thank you for your question

I didn't get to where I am today without people helping me out, so when I post a video, or a blog and get questions I am more than happy to share my experience. It's kind of like a "pass it on" thing... I've been helped along the way, so I am happy to help others along too. So ask away.

I am, after all, an expert in what I do

As a multi-award winning Producer, Director with over 26 years working in television and video production, I know a fair few things about the industry I am in, including; video creating, directing, presenting, television broadcasting, story telling, writing scripts, working with actors and presenters, editing, sound mixing, animation, documentary filming, multi-camera studios, audio dubbing, folio, working with professional puppeteers, directing A-list celebrities, working at the BBC, Chanel 5, Discovery, Nickelodeon, Sky, video marketing, YouTube, training... and probably a few other things to do with creating television and video content.


There is not much I don't know about the TV industry, and if I don't know it I know people I can ask.

One of the questions I get asked a lot is "where's your neck?". Now obviously that has everything to do with making awesome videos and as you have been kind enough to interact with me, the least I can do is answer you. Here goes:

My neck is between my shoulders and my head... It's the bit that connects my head to my body, without it my head would be rolling on the floor. In fact, I guess If I didn't have a neck I'd be dead as they'd be nowhere for my spinal chord to go, and without the signals from my brain going to vital organs like the heart and lungs I wouldn't last very long.

Ask people who've had their heads cut off if you don't believe me... On no, you can't 'cause they'll be dead too.

Actually, I think you asked me the wrong question. What you should have asked me is "why is your neck so short?", that's a far better question. I mean, it's like me asking you "where's your brain?"

That would be stupid question to ask, because if you didn't have a brain you wouldn't have been able to view my video, let alone type a question in comment box. A better question for me to ask you would be "Why are you interested in my body when I'm a video expert? Do you fancy me?" something like that.

Sorry, got side tracked... Lets get back to the original question "where's your neck?" I'm going to take it that what you meant to ask is "why is your neck so short?"

So here is my answer, I hope it satisfies you

I was born with a condition called Kilippel-Feil syndrome. If you are really interested, there is a good read about the condition at the US National Library of Medicine in their Guide to Understanding Genetic Conditions

But if you are feeling lazy, I've copied the following overview for you

Klippel-Feil syndrome is a bone disorder characterized by the abnormal joining (fusion) of two or more spinal bones in the neck (cervical vertebrae). The vertebral fusion is present from birth. Three major features result from this vertebral fusion: a short neck, the resulting appearance of a low hairline at the back of the head, and a limited range of motion in the neck. Most affected people have one or two of these characteristic features. Less than half of all individuals with Klippel-Feil syndrome have all three classic features of this condition.

I have all three of the classic features (lucky me) and to make things even better, one of the vertebrae is missing. I think it's C3 or C4 for those of you that know what that means.

What the US National Library of Medicine in their Guide to Understanding Genetic Conditions don't say is how a person with this condition will direct television programmes, or what people will learn from them when they go on their filming workshops. They do say "Some people with this condition have hearing difficulties, eye abnormalities, an opening in the roof of the mouth", but fortunately I do not have those difficulties.

I do have other difficulties, like being in pain if I stand for too long, dealing with ignorant individuals who think physical differences means they are incapable of doing anything of value in their lives or finding a chair that is comfortable to sit on.

Do I let these difficulties hold me back... Hell no!

When I was little... Ok I'm still little, just 5 foot 1 inch (that's another result of the syndrome). When I was about 6 or 7 and being constantly prodded and poked by doctors and nurses, I was told I wouldn't be able to do much. Teaches would say "Neil, you can't do that", my friends would say "that'll be too hard", doctors would say "he'll never be able to..."

And I would say "What the fuck do you know?". Never to their faces though, I was only 7 after all and I probably didn't know the word fuck yet, but I would think "They have no idea. I live in this body, of course I can" and that turned me into a very determined little boy.

Whenever I was told "no you can't", my reaction was "of course I can" and I set out to prove everybody wrong.

And then, when I was 11, something amazing happened. For my birthday my parents got me tickets to see Crackerjack being recorded at the BBC. For those who don't know Crackerjack, it was a kids TV entertainment show. It was on that day that I sat in the studios, I decided I was going to work at the BBC making television programmes. I loved the atmosphere, looking at the lights, the cameras, the floor manager, the whole vibe of the show. But my teachers told me "no Neil, you can't do that, it's a far too risky career to go for... You're clever, do maths, do physics, do computer science". Like a good boy I did what I was told and ended up with a 2:1 Hons degree in Computer Science from Brunel University. I still wanted to make television programmes.

It only took me 11 years from the day I decided I wanted to work in TV for me to get into the BBC in their IT department (I helped computerize the Radio Times don't you know), and another 3 years being an absolute pain sitting in studios, trailing producers and writing the Blue Peter Pantomime one Christmas, before I finally got offered a trainee assistant produce role in School Television (making maths programmes). I never went back to computing.

You see, when I make up my mind to do something I do it. Is that a side effect of the condition? Maybe, I don't know, I'm not a medical expert.

I'm lucky, I really love my work and maybe I'd never be doing the job I do now if I had had a neck.

To seriously answer you're question "where's your neck" I'd have to say "I gave it away before I was born in order to have the life I wanted"

And it's not a promo film

Let's start with a list of some of the videos that you can have on your site:

All of these are great and of course there are many more videos you can have, it is only limited by your creativity.

I've deliberately left one off this list. Any idea what is it? No?


Watch this video to find out

Here's what some of my clients have said


“Neil, you are a man of utter passion and dedication to your art. Your films capture the essence of my work, allowing others to see in an instant what my workshops offer”

Malcolm Stern, Director of Alternatives and Psychotherapist


“I didn’t like the way I looked on camera. I didn’t like the way I sounded on camera. I didn’t really know what to say. [Then] Neil explained how easy it is to create professional videos using only an iPhone. I’ve been producing videos ever since.”

Karen Faulkner-Dunkley, JFD Jewellery


“I got an enormous amount of value from your knowledge of self-shot video and the kit you can use to improve your filming.”

Stuart Reid Consulting, Trainer / Facilitator


“My video blog starts tomorrow. Thank you for giving me the confidence.”

Shirley Batten-Smith, Planet Wills


“Neil has incredible ideas all the time. He’s a genius at what he does.”

Kerrianne Cartmer-Edwards, Kickass Branding


“There are lots of people out there with the technical skills to shoot a video. But being able to tell a story with what you shoot is quite a different skill set, and Neil has both.

The training DVDs that Neil produced for me knocks the socks off anything else out there.”

Jason Buckley, The Philosophy Man


My clients are lovely and they have said some wonderful things about how I have helped them. And still...

The video testimonial is so much more powerful then just words

Is it not enough to just have video?

That statistics are very persuasive:

Which means people are eventually coming round to the idea that having video on their website is a good idea. But is having video enough?

Not if it's boring!

It's like any content you put out there... Write a boring blog post and no one's going to engage, make a boring video and you've missed an opportunity.


How do you make your videos engaging?

You make sure the viewer has an emotional response


How do you get an emotional response?

Having some of these elements will raise your "average" video to being a "great" video and get people engaged

Standing there and talking in a monotone voice is not going to engage.

Next time you shoot a video, think about what you can do to connect to your audience and get them to feel something, because when they feel something they won't only be engaged, they will remember you and your message.

You can't spell and your grammar is terrible

I know the feeling... And this may not be a diagnosed infliction, but I'm sure I've got typing dyslexia. My brain knows what it wants to type but the signals get muddled up on the way to my fingers so they don't always hit the right keys.

When I was at school I remember being told (when I was about 7 or 8 at the time), that I'd never be good at English. Sadly, in the late 60s and early 70s getting the technicalities right was more important than the content.

The things was, although I struggled with spelling and grammar, I excelled at story telling, Sadly no one was interested in that.

Being told I couldn't write as a child didn't hold me back because throughout my television career I have written hundreds of TV programmes and still get the odd check when a programme I wrote many years ago is shown in some far flung country.

So what do you do to not upset the Grammer and SPelling police, because mistakes do happen 😉

Well the lovely Sarah Sarke, who writes awesome blogs, makes some suggestions of proofreading apps that can support you.

But she left out a couple of methods that I use:

You can read how I use YouTube to write my content in one of my other blogs, What is the easiest way to create content for your blog


If you have a conversational style

this is the best way to create content


How to use the Notes App to write your blogs

This is what to do:


It's that easy.


p.s. I just used one of the proof reading apps that Sarah suggested and it said "No mistakes found"... Interesting, because I definitely left some in!


What's the best camera to film with?

I often get calls from people who want videos made and the first question they ask is "what camera do you use?"

If you want to work with me that is not a question you need to ask, because if you are worried about the technical stuff; what camera I'm using, what microphones I'm using, what lights I'm going to set up, then you're not interested in the content. It is just about how good your video is going to look.

What I am interested in is:

So if you pick up the phone to me and say "Neil, I know my stuff and I want to touch more people with what I know, with my message"... My ears will prick up, my eyes will brighten and I will say "you're the kind of person that I want to work with".

If you have an expertise that makes a difference, maybe you've worked with a dozen people, maybe a few hundred people and you've made a difference in their lives, then you can make a difference in thousands of people's lives, tens of thousands, even millions, if you get it right.

It has nothing to do with what camera I use to film you with

Get the content right and let me worry about the technology

And do you know what? The above video was shot on my iPhone, using a little cable mic, an LED light, all sat on to of a £40 tripod. The whole kit cost me about a third of what the phone cost. Does it matter that I wasn't using a £20,000 camera? No, because what I was saying in the video was more important then the technology I was using.... I hope!

You let me know what you think.

Without using your brain

Today is Sunday, last night was Super Saturday of the Rio Olympics, I was up until 3.30 in the morning to see if Jessica Ennis-Hill could win the gold medal in the Heptathlon.

She got the silver, great. Moe got the gold in the 10,000m which was awesome. The thing is I've only had about 4 hours sleep and I'm out today, and I've got a blog to do.

So what's the quickest way for me to get content out there, with the least stress?

For me the quickest way is to stick my phone on a tripod, put a microphone on me, stick a light up and talk! And I can share my ideas and my expertise through video, because it is so much easier for me to talk to camera and share and interact and present then for me to sit at the computer and type.

What did I do with the video in this post? I stuck it on YouTube and once it was up YouTube had a caption generator. So it essentially transcribed what I was saying. I then went through the closed captions and copied and pasted the words that I was saying into my blog. I didn't even have to write, it just converted what I was saying. I then edited the text, tidied it up a bit and formatted it.

I'm sure there are some online options to get your video transcribed, I think I've seen one for as little as $1 a minute. $1 a minute to get a video transcribed... Not bad at all.
The transcribed words formed the basis for the content of this video blog and how long was the video? About 2 - 2 1/2 minutes, at 3 words a second, that's 180 words a minute times two and a half, that's 540 words. Perfect amount of words for a blog.

And a two and a half minute video is perfect too for YouTube and people's short attention span.

It was that easy, I didn't even have to use my brain 'cause all I was doing was talking. For me that is the easiest way to create content for a blog.

Without trying too hard

You know I keep going on about how easy it is to make your own videos, and that by having video as part of your marketing strategy will have a significant effect on your business.


Don't take my word for it, let me tell you about one of my clients, the amazing hypnotherapist Sharon Waxkirsh.


Sharon has been on one of my workshops, learning how to shoot her own videos on her smartphone. She now uses her mini iPad regularly to film with, and when she's finished working with a client she always asks them if they are willing to give a quick video testimonial.

Not every client says yes, but over the last 18 months she managed to gather over 30 great testimonials with titles like Hypnosis for the fear of flying and Hypnosis for pain relief.

Why does she do this...?

Because when you say how good your business is it can come across as boastful, arrogant or big headed, but when your customers and clients say how good you are, it's proof.


Video testimonials are the most power video to have on your website

And they are the easiest video to shoot yourself.

If you look at Sharon's video count she's only getting 100s - 1000s views on her videos, so I guess you're wanting to know how 1.7 million people got to see her story, as that's a long way short of 1.7million right?

First of all Sharon doesn't make these videos to get lots and lots of views, she makes these videos to raise her profile and credibility, so when a potential client is interested in working with her they can see straight away that Sharon is the real deal, as she's helped so many other people. They see people like them being helped by Sharon which gives them confidence that Sharon can help them too.


Video testimonials have had a positive effect on her business

But it's more than that.

About a year ago Sharon had one of her wisdom teeth extracted. Nothing too special about that other than she practices what she preaches and had the tooth extracted using just self hypnosis. Yes, without any anesthetic at all!

It wasn't possible for Sharon to film the procedure herself when she was the one sitting in the chair, so I filmed it for her and you can see the video above.

Within three days of posting this video The Daily Mail showed interest and when they saw the body of videos on her YouTube channel they knew Sharon was legit. Without those video testimonials they would have never published the story on the online site which 1.7 million people saw.

Wisdom tooth extraction - Daily Mail story

That is how you get 1.7 million people to see your story.

If you want to start using video testimonials to grow your business, check out my testimonial page, where I give advice on how to do it.


If you want to grow you business quickly

Many of the small business owners I know say there’s just not enough hours in the day to do everything. So why are they wasting their time networking when there are better ways to draw in new clients which take much less time?


First thing to ask is why do people go networking? 


My answer: To make connections, meet new people, support other members of the group and ultimately create more business. The thing is, people are unlikely to open their wallets to you until they know, like and trust you and it takes 7 touch points to get there.

If you want people to know, like and trust you through networking, that could mean going to 5 meetings and having a couple of one-to-one’s. When you add in time for planning and preparation, oh and the travel, that’s practically week of work, just to get one person to trust you enough to buy from you.

Using just a tenth of the time to get one person on your side networking, you could do some video marketing to get hundreds, if not thousands of people knowing you, liking you and trusting you.


How to you get people to know, like and trust you before they've even met you?...

By sharing your expertise through video


Instead of spending 4 hours going networking it is possible to:


And the benefit of all this?

It's simple. Once you have videos out there, those videos keep working for you. Videos I made 3 or 4 years ago are still being watched, and the people viewing them are still getting to know, like and trust me. And when they are looking to buy, even though they've never met me, the sale is so much easier because they already know me through my videos.


My videos have also set me up as an expert in my field

Now, instead of going to network meetings as a "member", I get invited as a guest speaker because people want to learn from me.

Instead of having one minute to present myself, I get 30 minutes to talk about what I do and really engage the audience. I only need to go to 2 or 3 network events a year to get the same exposure as I used to get going twice a week - and I can't begin to tell you how much time that has saved me (and the business it has created).

So are network meetings a waste of time? Well no, not really. Especially if I'm the guy speaking at the event that you've gone to listen to!

Don't miss out on any of my awesome videos

I can't believe it, today is day nine of a thirty day business blogging challenge that I'm doing. And you know me, I don't like to make things easy. So I decided to make each of my blogs a video blog, that means not only researching and then writing several hundred words, it means complimenting that content with a video.

If you've missed out, here's a summery of the best blogs from the past week or so.

Top five video blogs from

5) Coming up with new ideas for your videos

Screen Shot 2016-08-05 at 08.53.26If you are creating new content day after day it can be quite tough to come up with new ideas every day. So how do you do it?

The big question I asked in this vlog was "Is it ok to steal other people's ideas?"

4) What is a videographer

Training video shootA lot of people think I'm a videographer, well I'm not. This post was about why you should stand up for your expert status and demand to be called by your expert title.

"Stand up for your position, your job title and your skills, because people will trust you and elevate you and think “yes” that is the guy I want to work with."

3) How to make your videos less boring

Don't get me wrong, video is great and the sooner you start using it's amazing power to grow your business the better, and even the simplest video will make a massive difference.

But once you start building your confidence in front of and behind camera the camera you need to start mixing it up and creating videos different from the normal.

2) The Easy-Pro Video Masterclass

The reason this is number 2 is because this is going to be an amazing event in an amazing venue, and what better way to promote a Masterclass that people will not want to miss, is through my vlog.

"You know you need video on your website and social media. You know video can help raise your profile, attract new customers, and transform your business. But you also know that professional video can be expensive.

On this one-day masterclass, you will learn how to harness the power of video without breaking the bank – by using your own smartphone and tablet."

theatre royalThe Theatre Royal, Drury Lane on the 22nd Sept

1) How to turn your phone into a professional video kit

Screen Shot 2016-08-08 at 12.33.52

Out of all my posts this week, this one got the most engagement, the most comments, the most shares and the most video views... So what does that tell me? It tells me people want to use video and if they can find an easy and cost effect way to do it they will.

Check out this vlog to see what everyone has been talking about.

Over the coming weeks I'm going to create more posts on making videos with your smartphone or tablet, so do keep an eye out for them.

I'll also be sending out regular updates, not only on my video blogs, but all things video. So click on the image below and you won't miss a thing.

Click the image to Register for the blog and receive your FREE guide


DOS facebook 2And as a thank you I'll send you a FREE pdf of the The Do's and Don'ts of filming with your smartphone or tablet.

This document also includes a kit list to turn your phone into an HD-Video camera and a checklist to take you from initial idea to finished video.


If you want to make your videos less boring you need to stop telling people what you know and start showing them who you are

There is this pattern I see in a lot of videos.

It goes a bit like this:

Now there's nothing wrong with that type of video, they can be very informative... It's just that they're a bit boring. They come across as preachy, like you're be told what to do and the speaker "knows better". These videos can come across as patronising and yes, people might learn from them, but what they won't do is connect with you.

If you want to connect with your tribe you have to do something completely different. You have to stop telling people what they need to do. Instead you need to show them how your knowledge and your wisdom, the philosophy that you live by, works in your life.


So how do you make videos that connect with your tribe?

I recently worked with this effortless living coach and she practices effortless living which means "how to live a life that is easy".


One of the days I was with her she was having a difficult day, so that was the perfect moment to film her, to catch her when things were going wrong so that everyone could see how she managed to turn that difficulty around.

We where with her on that journey and she was being real and authentic. She wasn't telling anybody what they should or should not do, she was just living her message and we were witnessing it.

If you truly want to connect rather than preach:

Otherwise people could think everything your saying is made up, it is not, true is not real, and they will not get that heart connection with you.

Now I've been guilt making those boring kind of videos, the ones with bumpers and stings and "these are my top tips on"... and now I'm trying something different and I'll let you know in a few months time which ones work the best which ones draw in more people.

D'you know what? I think I already know which ones will work better.


If you've found this post useful please subscribe to my YouTube channel, share it using the social media buttons or leave a comment below.


For less than the cost of your phone

The video camera on your phone shoots better quality video than the cameras I used when I was at the BBC.

Let me say that again, so you get it.

When I was at the BBC we shot on the best cameras in the world, and now, that phone you carry around in your pocket, the one you check FaceBook on and send emails with, can shoot at a higher definition than the cameras I used when I was at the BBC.

To get the most out of the camera on your phone (or tablet), you need the right kit to go with it.

With the right accessories there's no need to spend a fortune on a professional video kit. In fact, I often leave my pro camera, tripod and mics at home and just take my smart phone filming kit with me when I go filming.

So when I went out to Morocco last year to film modules for my Easy Pro Video ONLINE course, and was flying Ryan Air, I traveled light.

Check out the video above to see what kit I took
And it all fitted in a small rucksack

phone holderThe most important thing to get is a phone holder, which attaches the phone to the tripod. That way you can frame up correctly and keep your shots stable.

After that you need to get a decent microphone, but remember, not every microphone works when plugged directly into the phone so you may need to get an adapter.

In a future blog I will look at sound and lighting, but for now, if you want to boost the light a little, consider getting a small, battery powered LED light like I had in the film.

That's it really. And the kit I took with me in the video, well that cost me less than half the cost of my phone... So not much at all.

Happy shooting.


If you've found this post useful please subscribe to my YouTube channel, share it using the social media buttons or leave a comment below.


After all, isn't it a lot of work to make a video?

Well no... The truth is, it takes me less time to shoot, edit and upload a video to YouTube then it takes me to write and publish a blog.

Let me break down the steps in creating a blog or making a YouTube video, and the associated time:

Writing a blog

  1. Come up with an idea - 10 mins
  2. Plan out the content - 15 mins
  3. Write the blog - 30 mins
  4. Format the blog for my website - 10 mins
  5. Find a suitable image for the blog - 10 mins
  6. Final spell check and publish - 10 mins
  7. SEO, tagging, sharing - 15 mins

Total time - 1 hour 40 minutes

Shooting a video

  1. Come up with an idea - 10 mins
  2. Get my smartphone filming kit ready - 5 mins
  3. Shoot my video - 5 mins
  4. Edit the video - 10 mins
  5. Upload to YouTube - 5 mins
  6. Create and upload a custom thumbnail - 10 mins
  7. Describe, tag and share - 15 mins

Total time - 1 hour

And the truth is, if I am shooting several videos at a time I can reduce that even more.


Saving time is only one reason why I prefer to make videos

But it's not the only reason. Engagement is what I am after, and I find I get considerably more engagement from my videos then from my blogs.

People are lazy and would rather watch a video than read a blog, especially if they are viewing on a mobile device. So make it easy for them.

And how's this for engagement? One of my YouTube subscribers created this video by taking clips from many of the videos I have on my channel.


How lovely is that?

But what about SEO and Key Words?

Isn't it harder to for Google to suggest a relevant video than a relevant blog based on someone's key word search terms?

Well no... YouTube's algorithms are so much easier to manipulate that Google's. If I describe and tag my videos well, I can get them on the first page of YouTube (and potentially Google) for my chosen key words within hours.

That's the power of video.

But the real power is when you combine the two.

Create a video on YouTube, tag and describe it well with a link to the URL of the video blog you have created to sit around the video. Write your video blog to compliment the video and use the YouTube URL within the blog so your video plays. Now your video and blog are connected and Google LOVES that and you have two chances of being found, via your blog or via your YouTube channel... Sorted!

So if you're a blogger, great. But why not start making videos and inserting them in your blogs, because when you put them together, then you're really cooking on gas.


If you've found this post useful please subscribe to my YouTube channel, share it using the social media buttons or leave a comment below.

Learn how to create high-quality business videos using your own smartphone or tablet

"The average internet user spends 88% more time on a website with video." Mist Media

You know you need video on your website and social media. You know video can help raise your profile, attract new customers, and transform your business. But you also know that professional video can be expensive.

On this one-day masterclass, you will learn how to harness the power of video without breaking the bank – by using your own smartphone and tablet.

You will gain confidence in filming and being filmed, shoot a video blog or 'how to' video, discover the best way to capture customer testimonials, and loads more.

Oh, and you'll have lots of fun. That's a promise.


[callout type="{{style}}" title="Register Now" description="For the Easy-Pro Video Masterclass" button_color="" button="true" button_icon="" button_text="Book now" button_link=""]


Who the masterclass is for?

You - If you want to use video to promote your business.

You - If you are an entrepreneur, speaker, trainer, coach or consultant who wants to promote yourself as an expert.

You - If you want to learn from an expert how to use video to share your message with the world

Massive value

As well as coming away with a brand-new video you can use immediately, you will learn such a lot!

Here are just a few of the learnings you'll be able to apply forever afterwards:

And, with a small class size, you'll get the chance for all your video questions to be answered. (If you have questions that are not about video, I'll do my best to answer those as well.)

When and where (and how much)

I'm glad you asked.

The masterclass is being held in the inspiring surroundings of the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London WC2B 5JF.

(Do not be confused with London's other Theatre Royal in Haymarket – we are definitely meeting at the one in Drury Lane.)

Find the venue on Google Maps

The masterclass runs from 10:30 to 16:30 on Thursday 22 September 2016.

I realise that travelling into London can sometimes be a challenge, but PLEASE get there early, so we can start on time. Afterwards, allow time to stay for drinks in the Terrace Bar. Networking with the other attendees is a valuable part of the event. You'll love it.

Of course you want to know how much it costs – your investment is just £395+VAT. When you consider that professional video can cost thousands, I'm sure you'll agree it's worthwhile.

theatre royal


[callout type="{{style}}" title="Register Now" description="For the Easy-Pro Video Masterclass" button_color="" button="true" button_icon="" button_text="Book now" button_link=""]


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And why I get upset when I'm called one

What is a videographer? A videographer is a person who works in the field of videography and video production. They record moving images and sound on video tape, disk, other electro-mechanical device.

Should I get upset when I get called one? "Hell Yes"

And you should get upset too if people call you by the wrong job title.

This is not intended to sound like bragging, but I am a multi award-winning television and video director, I've got a BAFTA nomination, a Royal Television Society award, two Japan prizes for education. I've worked for the BBC and have an FSB award for Business Innovation... So I kind of know what I'm doing.

So when someone calls me a videographer it dilutes by brand.


Calling me a videographer is like calling a Savile Row tailor a machinist.

As a producer director I do a lot of things I can:

  1. help you tell your story
  2. help you generate ideas
  3. find you a great cast
  4. write your scripts
  5. direct you, actors, presenters and crew
  6. edit your videos
  7. operate a camera (videography)
  8. help you with your video marketing
  9. help with your YouTube Channel
  10. coach you to be confident in front of camera.

And that's me just getting started, and videographer is just one of those things.

If you are an expert in what you do, do not allow people to dilute your experience by calling you something that you are not. Stand up for your position, your job title and your skills, because people will trust you and elevate you and think "yes" that is the guy I want to work with.

I don't want to work with a machinist or a videographer because maybe they will able to cut my jacket or shoot me some video some footage, because they only offer part of the service I require.

So if you offer a quality service, your job title needs reflect your quality. Do not stand for anything other that what you want to be called.


If you've found this post useful please subscribe to my YouTube channel, share it using the social media buttons or leave a comment below.


And is it ok to "steal" other people's ideas

I was scrolling through FaceBook this morning and stumbled across a video made by CookieCat999, a young video blogger from Essex called

"How to make a Free Thumbnail using Canva"

It's a great little video.

While watching it I thought "a video like that would be good for my audience", after all, I encourage my tribe to make YouTube videos and uploading a custom thumbnail is something they can do for their videos to help them stand out.

So, if I make a similar video am I stealing CookieCat999's idea? Well I am, but then, I'm going to give it my spin, which means it's not her video so I'm not stealing... I've just used her video to inspire me to make my version.

Above is my version of
"How to make a thumbnail for your YouTube video using Canva"

Very different from CookieCat999's me thinks!

To create a custom YouTube thumbnail using - take a screen shot of your video of a frame that has a lot of action - go to - select YouTube thumbnail - upload the screen shot - add the text - export as an image for web - upload the thumbnail to YouTube. It's that easy

So why don't you have a look at CookieCat999's video below and tell me...


Did I steal her idea, or did I make my own version?

The title of this blog was "Coming up with new ideas for your videos".
So how do you do that?

You never know where you're going to get inspiration for your videos, just keep your eyes and mind open and if an idea pops in your head think about it, relate it to your tribe or audience and go for it.

If you've found this post useful please subscribe to my YouTube channel, share it using the social media buttons or leave a comment below.


To promote the work that you do

You run a business, you've been told video is the best medium to get your message out there, to create lots of that lovely google juice and to connect with your tribe. So you've decided to start making videos. You want to share you expertise, connect with your tribe and share you message, so surely a script is the perfect place to start.

How do you write a video script?

We'll I've been writing scripts for over 25 years, so let me share my expertise with you right now.

Scripts are great when you're working with actors and performers because that's how they work. A script is their manuscript to help them create characters and deliver their lines.

But I hate scripts when it comes to helping people who are not actors share their message, because they're not trained in the art of delivering a script.

My advice to you is don't write a script!


Just talk like you talk with your clients, share your your wisdom and your expertise as naturally and comfortably as if you were talking to a prospect or someone you're already working with.You know your stuff, you can talk to people about what you do at network meetings, when you're on the phone, to friends and family right?... And you don't need a script to do that, so why would you need a script to make a video?

If I don't have a script, what do I do?

You come up with three points you want to cover. One main point, broken down into three steps. The beginning, the middle and the end.

Or you could just have one idea and start talking!

I had an idea for the video is this blog, it was about "actors needing scripts, but people who are not actors are better without scripts", and then I just started talking.

I've been in the business 25 years so I have learned a few things, so I just connected with my wisdom and my experience and the right words came out of my mouth when they were meant to come out. It was that simple.

Try having one idea, switch the camera on and starting with that idea and see where it goes. I think you will be pleasantly surprised because you will come across naturally and authentically, rather than staged and scripted.


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Well that depends

It is hard to breakdown all the costs involved in making a video because every client and every requirement is different, but below is an example of what it takes to create a short promotional video (2-5 minutes) for your business and approximately how much things are going to cost.


This is the most important part of the production process, get the planning right and everything else will fall into place. During pre-production planning everything is decided, for example who's appearing in the film, is there to be a script, what about locations, are there shots that absolutely must be got? At a minimum a video running order and schedule will be created, the content of which could be sorted in a short meeting or telephone call. But if more detailed planning is required, for example scripting, storyboards, casting, location scouting and facilities, that will cost.

The average pre-production costs are around £250 - £450.

Production FIlming


For most business promos we'll be filming your staff rather than using actors and a script, so will only require camera, sound and a little bit of lighting. Of course like any technology there is a whole range of cameras to choose from all with very different price tags. If you want your video to be shot in 4K and look like something you see in the cinema we are going to have to hire specialist kit and a lot of lights. But for the majority of video requirements you won’t need that. We have camera and sound kit that is broadcast ready and is perfect for online videos which is hired out at £200 per day.


Again depending on the type of video, the crew list could be huge, from make up to lighting operators, grips to boom swingers. It will all depend on the idea. Most jobs will only require a single director / camera operator with sound, and we add additional cameras and sound as required.


Usually charge 45p per mile.



The editing process can be more complicated than most people think and usually takes 3 to 4 times as long as it takes to film. So for a one-day shoot there is likely to be three or four days of editing. If we have planned well, then the editing will be easier and take less time.

We charge £450 per day for editing a business promo video. This includes everything from the editing to sound mixing, colour grading to simple graphics and delivery in any format you require. It also includes any changes you may want to make after seeing the first cut.

Final Costs

To sum up, a typical 2-5 minute business promo video, producing by the multi-award winning director Neil Ben, and shot to broadcast standards, is going to cost you between £1,750 and £4,000 + vat


Of course, if you want something as flashy as the Lewmax story above, with specially produced graphics AND animations, then it's going to cost you a little bit more.

Because you're worth it

You're an expert in your field, you really know your stuff and you are making a difference but, you want to draw in more high-paying VIP clients.

So how'd you do that?

If you really know your stuff there's no reason why you cannot bring in high-paying VIP clients because there are always people our there looking for what you do. The problem is how do they find you?

That's the tricky bit, that’s the bit you've got to get right because if you get that bit right you will have no problem attracting those VIP clients.

So how do people get to know what you do?



You have to put yourself out there - you could be doing speaker tours, you could be going to network events, that's great and maybe you'll be seen by a handful of people or maybe maybe a few hundred if you have a big speaking engagement, and yes you will find clients from that. But the numbers are small and there could be people all around the world who will love what you do. So how do you get somebody in America and Australia, Sweden, in fact anywhere, without spending your whole life traveling the world networking?

You need to be sharing your expertise in bite size pieces through video and every so often you create a video blog (like this). Then, when someone who is sitting at their computer in Germany say, types in "I need an expert in video training", they've found me!

I've had people find me from all around the world... Spain, Germany, Thailand, Japan, America, New Zealand, oh and the UK (to name just a few).

It's a numbers game, the more videos you have out there, the more chance that perfect VIP client will find you.

I suggest you start harnessing the power of video to grow your business and you can do that using a smartphone or tablet the film your videos, or hire a professional to coach you.

And you know who can help you do that?
Because I'm an expert in what I do!

Videos raise your profile and get you seen as an expert in your field


What's better?

Being perfect in front of camera or being passionate in front of camera?

My belief is that being perfect is not achievable, so it's simple for me, it's much better to be passionate.

If you're perfect, well, where can you go from there? And, if you make a mistake what's going to happen? Is your whole world going to collapse?

On the other hand, if you are passionate about what you do and you make a mistake, there's great opportunity to learn, to grow and to get better. It also makes you more authentic and believable.

In this video I give a real life example of when being passionate was much better than being perfect. It landed the passionate individual a lead role in a musical.




So if you want to make videos don't expect to make them perfect first time and don't worry about it either. With passion, energy and enthusiasm you will grow into being a great presenter in front of camera. Yes, you'll make mistakes, but your personality will shine through and over time your technique will improve, and you will be awesome.


'Cause I'm really good at what I do'

Being great at what you do doesn't necessarily mean you're going to have a lot of clients

It's a sad fact that not everyone who is great at what they do gets as much work, as many clients, or gets paid as much as people who, to be blunt, are nowhere near as good as they are.

And it can be very frustrating, I know, I've been there. That was until I realised two things:

  1. People buy from people and
  2. No one's going to work with you until they
    • Know
    • Like and
    • Trust you

So how do you get more clients? Did you watch the video above?

You need to be visible

You may be the best therapist in the world, get amazing results as a business coach, save people hundreds of pounds on their insurance, but if you don't put yourself out there, let people know what you do and demonstrate your expertise, how is anyone going to find you.

Yes, but I've got a website

So what... If you have a website full of text and pictures, people may get to know what you do, but they're not going to get to know YOU. People only get to know you when they see you, so that's either face to face or through online video. That's all there is to it...

Videos raise your profile and get you seen as an expert in your field

You can choose to hire a video production company to produce your videos for you, or you can learn to make your own videos with the Easy-Pro Video Coaching Programmes

The choice is yours. Just whatever you do, start making those videos as it will help draw in more client, position yourself as the expert you are AND earn you more money.

Nor do I need a Lovely partner

Having spent 12 days in Thailand, sometimes working, sometimes relaxing, I learnt lots of things.

For a start, I realised that I crave connection, I don't like being on my own. I love working with my clients, making sure they get the best support from me to enable them to get their message out there.

I also enjoy connecting on a personal level.

But I saw quite clearly that NEEDING these connections does not work, all it does in push away the possibility of connection.

Watch my insights below on why needing doesn't work.

And it's worth watching to the end, as I kind of lose it, which is quite funny!!!



And why networking is a waste of time

In 2010 I was a successful (mulit-award winning) television producer / director, making TV programmes for the BBC, Sky, Discovery and Nickelodeon.

Then everything changed. I became a single dad and it was no longer possible to work the hours that television demanded, while at the same time look after my two beautiful children. So I had to come up with a new plan.

I decided to use my skills as a director to help business owners make videos to promote their businesses. That way I could schedule the filming around school hours and do most of the editing from an office I had at my home.

This worked great, but I still needed people to know what I did so they could hire me!

To get my message out there I started doing network meetings, and through my 1-minute pitches and 1-2-1 meetings people got to know me, what I did and business started growing.

Problem was, I was spending as much time networking, meeting people and following up leads as I was doing the work I was getting paid for, and as time was something that was in short supply, I needed to find another way that didn't eat up so many hours.

So I asked myself "why do I go to network meetings?"

The answer was "Obliviously, to get me work, but people weren't going to hire me until they got to know me, liked what I did and trusted me".

There had to be a better way to get people to know, like and trust me.

And that's when I started making videos to share my expertise.

The videos I made raised my profile and I'm now seen as an expert in my field.

And now, instead of going to network meetings as a "member", I get invited as a guest speaker because people want to learn from me.

Imagine that. Instead of having one minute to present myself, I get 30 minutes to talk about what I do and really engage the audience. Now, instead of going to 2 network events a week I only need to go to 2 or 3 network events a year to get the same exposure - and I can't begin to tell you how much time that has saved me (and the business it has created).

Another thing that my regular videos have done, is to draw in more people who are easier to work with. You see I have a unique style and way of doing things... I like to have fun and use humour to engage... That's what comes across in my videos.

Some people are drawn to my style and others are not.

The ones that do not find my humour, character and approach suitable tend to go to someone else for their video production. The ones who like the way I communicate, well they really appreciate what I have to offer and are much easier to work with.

So if you want to save time AND draw in more of those clients who are a real joy to work with, then sharing your expertise though video is a great way to do that.

You can choose to hire a video production company to produce those videos for you, or you can work your way though The Easy-Pro Video Coaching Programme.

The choice is yours. Just whatever you do, start making those videos as it will free up more of your time AND earn you more money.


It's got to be good enough for us !

If you've known me a while you've probably picked up that I think filming on your smartphone is a great idea... I've even gone as far to say that the camera on my iPhone gets better quality video then the cameras I used to use when I was at the BBC.

Don't believe me...? Then don't take my word for it... Just check out what Bentley have been doing.

They've only gone and shot an ad using an iPhone.

Yes, I know what you're thinking... If Bentley where going to make an ad, they'd pull out all the stops to make their product look absolutely perfect by using a camera that mirrored the opulence of its subject.

But no, the ad was shot on an iPhone 5s and edited in the back of the car on an iPad...

Just watch the video as the result are absolutely gorgeous!


There you go... It is possible to shoot amazing videos with just your smartphone, it is also possible to edit those videos on your iPhone or iPad...

How do you get people to watch your YouTube video all the way to the end?

There are a few things you can do in your video to keep your audience engaged and watch all the way to the final frame.

Watch the video... All the way to the end... To see what you can do to keep people watching.


Tip #1: Headline your video

Right at the start of your video, tell your viewers what the video is about, not who you are. If someone has stumbled across your video it's because they are looking for an answer to a question not to see you. Yes, it is important that they know who you are and why you are qualified to share your ideas eventually, but first you have to share what your video is all about.

Tip #2: Stay focused on your content

Going off on tangents is fine for a personal vlog, but if you're planning to raise your profile by sharing your knowledge and experience, staying on track is a must.

For example, if your video is all about how to tie your shoe laces, don't start talking about where you bought your last pair of trainers from, it's not relevant. And... if someone is interested in where you got your trainers, they will ask in the comments.

Staying on topic will also help to keep your videos short, and this will make it less likely that your viewers get distracted before your video has finished. There's nothing worse than a long, rambling, unfocussed video to send people surfing off to other people's YouTube Channels.

Tip #3: Entertain as well as inform

Ok, people have come to your video because they want to learn from you. Sadly expertise is not enough, you need to entertain, or at least, engage your views too. So add some humorous stories, some quick asides, or silly hats to keep people interested.

Tip #4: Outtakes

People love seeing experts make mistakes, it shows we are human. So if you make the odd mistake, get your lines wrong, or have to fight off a fly during filming, save those shots for the end and cut a little compilation of outtakes together. As people get to know you put your mistakes at the end, they will stay around more often to see them...


So did you watch my video all the end to see my outtakes? No? Click Here to watch it again.


Please leave a comment below, I'd love to hear what you think of these vlogs.

It's a tough market out there, so how do you stay one step ahead of the competition?

This was the problem faced by Spanish plumber José, business was booming until another Spanish plumber rode into town.


The 5 BIGGEST mistakes people make when filming their own business video

I was sitting in my office the other day, editing a children’s animation, when I heard the familiar ping of an incoming email. Normally when I’m in the flow of editing I ignore the emails, but I glanced across to check the subject line How to cut your insurance costs by 30% and was just about to hit delete when I noticed there was a video embedded in the text, so I paused…

Ok, video is my thing so of course I’m going to check it out, but…

In my experience I get considerably more opens from my

video emails (35-40% open rate) compared to my text emails (1-2%)

Video emails work better than text emails

So I thought, if this guy knows about video, maybe he knows something about saving me money on my insurance too. I opened the email and clicked to play the video

Well done Mr Insurance Salesman, you succeeded in

getting me to open your email and engage with you

Sadly, that was as good as it got

Now I’m not going to say who the insurance salesman was, that wouldn't be fair, so lets call him Mr Jones. Inserting a video in the email was the only good thing Mr Jones did, and to be honest, he would have been better sending a text only email as the video was so bad it really put me off him and his business.

So what did Mr Jones do wrong?

Mistake #1: The BIGGEST mistake Mr Jones made

I see people making this mistake all the time. Mr Jones did it and I wouldn’t be surprised if you’ve done it yourself recently. When people shoot themselves this way it is a real turn off to serious clients. Change this one thing and your videos will be so much better than the majority of videos you see on YouTube.

Tip #1: Watch this video to see what the BIGGEST mistake is


Mistake #2: The video was shot with the front camera

Unless you happen to have a top end iPhone or Android, the video you shoot with the back camera will be far better than what you get with the front camera.

Sadly Mr Jones didn’t have a very good phone and he shot his video with the front camera, which meant his video looked grainy and soft, not High Definition quality, as it would have been if he’d used the back camera.

Tip #2: Always use your phone’s back camera to shoot your videos

Mistake #3: The video was wobbly

I can picture it now… Mr Jones, sitting in his office, holding his phone, shooting himself as if he was taking a selfie. Of course the video is going to be a bit shaky, wobbly video is a real distraction and shows a lack of professionalism.

Tip#3: Mount your phone to keep is stable while you film

Mistake #4: The sound was horrible

Mr Jones didn’t use a microphone, he didn’t tell his kids to be quiet in the room next door and he forgot to turn his radio off. With all that background noise combined with the lack of a decent microphone meant I could hardly hear a word Mr Jones was saying.

People are more likely to click away from a video if the sound is poor than if the picture is dodgy so…

Tip#4: Make sure you get the best sound you can

Mistake #5: The video was too long

Running at a cool twelve and a half minutes, Mr Jones’s video was far too long. Worse than that, Mr Jones started his video talking about himself, his contacts, all the different companies he had worked for; he was having an ego trip. Thing was, I wanted to know how I could save 30% on my insurance, not about Mr Jones, so got bored long before he got to the point of his video.

I made it to about 45 seconds because, like I said before, video is my thing and I’m interested in how people use it. Most people would have given up a lot sooner. Sadly, I never found out how I could save money.

Tip#5: Make sure you get to the point quickly and keep your video short, 90 – 150 seconds

Videos are meant to be engaging, to help build rapport and make it easy for the audience to decide if they want to work with you or not.

Sadly, by shooting himself, Mr Jones killed any chance of me wanting to do business with him


Is vlogging better than blogging? What are video blogging’s benefits?

Why bother with video blogging? After all, isn’t it a little bit of a hassle getting your camera out every couple of weeks and shooting yourself talking about something interesting? Surely it’s going to take considerably longer to produce a video than write a blog?

Well no…

Talking to camera can be incredibly easy and very fast.  I can write quickly, but I edit heavily; I chop out words, rearrange sentences, delete and move paragraphs around and of course I need to spell check because I know spelling is a weakness of mine.  All that takes time.

Vlogging can be much more spontaneous.  I have an idea, plot out a few points that I want to talk about, turn the camera on and see what comes out my mouth.

Average time for me to write, edit and spell check a blog – 3 hours
Average time for me to shoot, edit and upload a vlog – 1 hour

That means I can produce 3 video blogs for every written blog. OK, I’m a professional so do it faster than most people. But even so, you could benefit from faster vlog production of your own – especially if you finding blog writing a difficult chore.

The key benefits of vlogging

#1: The NUMBER ONE reason why you should vlog

It’s such a strong reason I’m going use my video blog to tell you!

So watch the video below to find out what is it.


#2: Vlogging helps you stand out from your competitors

70% of internet traffic last year was video but only a fraction of businesses used it as part of their marketing strategy.

It’s simple: use video now, before your competitors do

Suppose I was searching the internet for a particular service – let’s say a landscape gardener - and I found 3 suitable companies in my area. All three blog with gardening tips, advice about keeping your lawn looking nice and how the changing seasons can affect your garden, but only one has video in their blog.

I’m going to look at that company first. I’m going to check out their video and if I get a good feel about the gardener, their knowledge and expertise, I’m going to give them a call before I check out the other companies.

#3: Video blogs give you so much lovely Google juice

When you create a video blog, you are creating content that can be linked all over the web. You can tweet about it, embed it in emails, share it on FaceBook or Google+. Other people can then ‘like’, retweet, share or ‘+1’ your video which will give you a higher ranking on search engines.

Also, because Google owns YouTube, it ranks WebPages that have a YouTube video embedded in them higher than ones that don’t. So upload a written blog or article and embed a video in it and Google will love you.

Creating blogs that contain a video is also a great way to appeal to two different audiences; the ones who read blogs and the ones who watch videos. As any communication expert will tell you, this works for two different types of audiences: the ‘visual’ and ‘auditory’ ones.

You now have two things to share: your blog, and the video that sits in the blog. That’s two different ways for your expertise to be found.

#4: Vlogging is cost effective advertising

If you were John Lewis and it was Christmas, you’d spend £1m creating an animated commercial and a further £6m getting it played at peak times, in front of your target audience, on their televisions.

Vlogging doesn’t have to cost you a penny. You can shoot it on your smart phone or tablet and upload it straight to YouTube.

Getting the video in front of potential clients doesn’t have to cost anything either. A carefully written description and a title with suitable keywords will attract an audience who is interested in what you are saying.

Better still, if your content is good, your family, friends and business contacts will do the marketing for you by sharing your video. You very rarely hear of a viral blog, but get the content of your video right and millions could see it.

#5: Vlogging makes it easy for people to decide if they want to work with you or not

Blogs are great for getting deep into a subject or idea. They can demonstrate your expertise, knowledge and experience, but it can take a long time for readers to decide if they want to work with you or not.

Nothing works better than seeing a person in person!

I’m sure you’ve seen these stats before:

Communication is:

  1. 7% - words
  2. 38% - tonality
  3. 55% - body language

While a great writer can weave words, use punctuation and formatting that creates a tone (7% + 38%), there’s still 55% of potential communication missing as you can’t get body language across in a blog.

When people see you on video, they get an immediate sense of you. They get to know you and quickly decide if they like you or not. Then, after watching several of your vlogs, they start to trust you.

When someone knows, likes and trusts you they are more likely to buy from you, and that is why shooting yourself is good for business

Please leave a comment below, I'd love to hear what you think of these vlogs.


What makes a great profile video?

If you want people to get to know what you do, the easiest and quickest way is to create a profile video. You can put the video on the home or about page of your website; you can embed it in your LinkedIn profile; you can even put a link to it in your email footer.

But what makes a great profile video, how long should it be and what should you talk about?

Below is a simple structure that I use with my clients. It gets across what they do, communicates what makes them special and helps get across their personality.

My structure for a great profile video

#1: Take no more than 10 seconds to introduce yourself and what you do

People want to know who you are and what you do right off the bat, so start your profile video with your name and what you do. See if you can keep this sentence short and put a number in it.

For example:

“My name’s Neil Ben, a Video Coach, with nearly 25 years, experience working in broadcast and video production”

Why a number?

25 gives me credibility: it quickly says “he has been working in production for quite a while so he must know what he’s doing.”

#2: Say what makes you special in the next 10 seconds

Suppose you’ve been working as a business coach for the last 8 years. What makes you different from other business coaches? Maybe you work with top executives who are looking for a new direction, or maybe your clientele are mothers who are looking to create a business they can run from home so they can create some income while the children are at school.

Tell people now your area of specialism.

For example:

“I help very small and micro businesses use simplified book-keeping to keep their finances in good order – yet cut their admin time down by up to 50 percent.”

#3: Tell a transformational story for 30 to 60 seconds

This is the meaty part of your profile video, where you talk about something that’s going to make people think, “yes, this sounds interesting, maybe they can help me.”

We also get to see a little more of your personality which helps potential clients decide if they like you or not, or could work with you.

For example, I might say something like this:

“One of my clients Sharon, is an amazing hypnotherapist. I’ve been working with her for a few months now, teaching her how to shoot client testimonials on her phone, filming some of her treatments for her, and building her YouTube channel with a library of videos. Recently Sharon had a wisdom tooth extracted and used self-hypnosis instead of chemical analgesia to handle the pain. Within a week of posting her video on YouTube an evening standard journalist saw it and her story was featured in the paper, with the video included in the online version.

From that single video, 1.7 million people have seen Sharon’s story.

 That is what that video can do for you"

#4: End with a call to action

It’s always good to end your profile video with a call to action, to encourage the viewer to do something. It could be as simple getting them to check out your website, or signing up for your blog, um, I mean vlog! Or you could go further and invite the viewer to drop you an email or give you a call.

Mine looks a bit like this:

“If you want to stand out from your competitors, but are not sure how video can do this for you, book yourself a FREE 30 minute consolation with me by clicking the how can I help? tab below and we can chat about whatever you want. I look forward to speaking with you”

Always remember to add links, email addresses or phone numbers to the video, and if you type a URL in the description make it a live link by using the http:// format e.g.

Oh, and how long should it be?

If you add up all the different sections above, your video is going to be around 45 to 90 seconds. Shorter that 45 seconds doesn’t really give the viewer a chance to really assess you, and if your video is longer that 1½ minutes, people may not watch it all the way though, clicking off before they see your call to action.

Please leave a comment below, I'd love to hear what you think of these vlogs.

Setting focus when you're trying to film yourself?

If you are going to shoot yourself and want it to look great, I suggest you get some of the technicalities right. Especially setting focus.

Yes, it's so much easier to keep all the settings of the video camera on your smartphone to auto, but that's not going to give you the sharpest image.

If your phone has the ability to lock the focus them make sure you set the focus

But how can you stand in front of the camera in the position where your are going to present from, and at the same time be behind your phone so you can set the focus?

Watch the video below and find out how...



Please leave a comment below, I'd love to hear what you think of these vlogs.


Imagine you’re a plumber and you’ve just finished fixing the heating system in a client’s home and they say to you...

“Thank you so much for coming today to fix my heating. I haven’t been able to bath the kids for two days and now we are all looking forward to a lovely warm bubble bath. I really appreciate you coming over the weekend and not charging me extra. You’ve done a great job and I’m certainly going to be recommending you to my family and friends.”


Feedback like that is lovely to receive, but other than that warm fuzzy feeling you get from the pride of being appreciated for a job well done, how valuable is that to you?

Now image that you had captured that comment on video and loaded it on YouTube, embed it in your website, shared it on your company FaceBook profile and posted it on Twitter or LinkedIn. How valuable would that be to your business now?

Studies have shown that only 14% of people believe advertising, but an amazing 90% believe peer recommendation. So having your customers saying wonderful things about the work you do through video, is one of the most powerful ways to persuade others to become your customers too.

But having a film crew on standby on the off chance that a customer is going to say something nice about you is not a cost effective solution to gathering your video testimonials, so what are you going to do?

Well, what you’re going to do is whip out your smart phone and film the testimonial yourself.

If all this seems a bit too daunting to do on your own, check out my smart phone video training courses, where I teach you everything you need to know in order to shoot great quality films on your phone.

Here’s one of my recent students, Mike Dilke from talking about his experience on the course.


Please leave a comment below, I'd love to hear what you think of these vlogs.



9, Kestrel Close, 
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07956 376239

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