What To Do When Your Video SUCKS!

Remember the first video you ever made? It was probably awful! As creators, we all start at the bottom and have to constantly work and grind to get better. Go to any popular YouTuber’s channel and look at their most recent video, then compare it with their very first video – you’ll be amazed at the improvement!

In this video, I share my first attempt at a “travel” video (which was completely awful) – it sucked! But it was an amazing learning experience. Never get rid of your work! You never know when it could be useful to you or someone else. And it’s great being able to look back and reflect on how much you’ve improved.

Vlogging With The Canon T3i in 2019?

The Canon T3i/600D came out way back in 2011. Can it still be used to make videos in 2018 and beyond? The short answer is yes. But it really depends on how you’re using it. If you want super crispy video or photos, it takes a lot of work to do that on the T3i compared to a newer camera. Even with the best lighting conditions, external microphone and a great lens, the technology just can’t compete to a camera released in the last couple of years.

Specific to video, the T3i maxes out at 24 or 30 frames per second at 1080p. That’s still high enough quality for YouTube videos, but without the option to shoot at 60 FPS or 120 FPS, the T3i really lacks in terms of slow motion potential (crucial for beautiful b-roll). Nowadays, the comparable entry-level Rebel-series camera today is a T7i, with advanced auto-focus, more megapixels, and a DIGIC 7 processor.

If you already have a T3i and are just getting into YouTube, the camera should hold up in the short term. But as soon as you can afford to upgrade, look at options like the T7i or even the SL2, both of which offer superior video performance over the T3i. If you’ve got more money to spend, look at the 6D Mark II or a 5D Mark IV. Both options shoot excellent still photos and have solid video, too. However, if you aren’t in the Canon camp, competitors like Sony and Panasonic are turning out great mirror-less video cameras that support 4K, 120 FPS, and advanced stabilization.

Check out the video below, then let me know what you think about the T3i or other entry-level DSLRs and video cameras.

How Peter McKinnon Fixes Video Noise

If you take a lot of videos, your footage has probably suffered from video noise (sometimes called grain). Video noise is usually the result of poor lighting. When the camera has to compensate for low-lighting by raising the ISO, the problem gets worse.

The best way to solve for video noise is to fix the lighting, but in the worst case, you may have to rely on tools in post-production. Fortunately, there’s one amazing tool that can help solve your video noise problems – meet Neat Video.

Neat Video is a noise-reduction plugin that’s compatible with Adobe Premiere, After Effects, Final Cut Pro, and many other video editing platforms. With Neat Video, you can instantly remove noise in your video footage thanks to their incredible tool. It works amazingly well, is easy to install, and doesn’t require extensive know-how to use.

Top YouTubers including Peter McKinnon and Matti Haapoja (both of whom have made careers out of their photography and videography skills) rely on Neat Video.

Watch a brief overview of Neat Video below, and subscribe to see more videos like these!

Start Your YouTube Channel This Year

I’ve wanted to start a YouTube channel for years. But I kept putting it off, and always told myself so many excuses as to why I hadn’t started. So I finally did it. In February of 2018 I started my own YouTube channel. You might feel like it’s too late to start, but now’s honestly the best time to do it.

YouTube is the world’s best platform for sharing video content, and the community within YouTube is incredible. You won’t find anything similar on Vimeo or any other video hosting website – YouTube is hands-down the best. Even with their recent PR nightmares like that of Logan Paul.

So, if you’ve got a message you want to share with others, or if you’re trying to build a brand for yourself, your company, or you want to eventually make a living off of the platform – now’s the time to start. Marques Brownlee, the world’s most popular tech influencer on YouTube, had created over 100 videos before he even broke 100 subscribers, and now years later he’s at the very top.

No matter what it is you want to do (or get better at), it takes time and patience to perfect your craft and become someone worth listening to. I’m not there yet – far from it – but I’ve finally put away the excuses and have started creating content. And, it’s something I’m passionate about – photography, videography and marketing. I’m not a professional, but I’m taking the first steps towards getting there.

Watch my first YouTube video below, then subscribe if you’d like to see where things go from here!

Big box retailers made awful Black Friday decisions

If you’ve gone shopping on Black Friday over the past few years, you know what to expect. Long lines and aggressive crowds, but great sales. Traditional retailers have been dominating Black Friday for a long time – but the times are changing. Amazon broke records with its Black Friday sales, and another brick and mortar retailer seems to go out of business every day. To stay alive in today’s marketplace, you’ve got to stay competitive. Unfortunately for Toys R US and many others, they’re just barely hanging in there.Continue reading “Big box retailers made awful Black Friday decisions”

Ask Better Questions, Get Better Answers

Personal finance is downright boring once you grasp the basics. There are no quick fixes to rectifying your financial situation…it takes time, patience and persistence. There are millions of articles and sales pages around the web that try to explain new ways to get out of debt fast or build wealth overnight, but such things are usually (1) high risk, (2) scams, or (3) require an intense amount of work and luck.

All that being said, a better way to solve your financial problems is to ask better questions. Instead of asking “How can I get out of debt fast,” ask a question like “What skills am I missing that are limiting my income?” If you ask better questions, you’ll get better answers. Simple as that.

I have a sort of non-formal mentor who I look up to and has amassed a multi-million-dollar net worth. He’s extremely wise and always looking at situations from more than one side. His storytelling is one-of-a-kind, he finds humor in everything, and his analysis of any topic is always eye-opening. But one thing he always does during a conversation is he asks great questions. He will rarely come to a conclusion on his own. It’s an impressive leadership style, and one that has surely helped him build wealth.

An important component of better questions is relevance to your own situation. “How can I make more money” is useless out of context. What are your skills? What’s your level of education? How old are you? Where do you live? How do you make money right now? With a million variables, a vague question is rarely useful.

In a 2014 article in Inc. Magazine, writer Warren Berger explains that a “beautiful” question is one that reframes an issue and forces you to look at it in a different way, challenging assumptions. If we want to make a bigger impact on the world around us, change habits, and do things differently, we need to ask better questions.

So, how are you at asking questions? Does it come easy, or are you too busy doing the talking?



Please don’t be a multi-level marketer

If you’ve ever tried to make money from home or online, I guarantee you’ve run across pyramid schemes. Some high profile companies who run pyramid schemes include Mary Kay, Advocare, LuLaRoe, Avon and Amway. And there are countless other small-time operations out there, too. You’ll never hear these companies use the term “pyramid scheme” though. The legally-appropriate term for these companies are “multi level marketing” (MLM) companies. And you won’t find that term on their websites or social networks, either.

MLMs? Pyramid schemes? What’s the difference?

If we’re all being honest, MLMs are pyramid schemes in disguise. Typically structured like a pyramid (shocker!), MLMs are organized in a way where the people at the top of the organization receive an income stream from people beneath them. Think of Mary Kay. You join as a distributor, are strongly encouraged to get other distributors to join beneath you, and you earn commission off of them and everyone else they recruit (your “down line” distributors).2a1243e227869d61721b36fe2bf152d0--triangles.jpg

Funny enough, pyramid schemes are illegal in the US and dozens of other countries, but companies big and small find loopholes around the laws. MLMs, on the other hand, can be legally legitimate, but I argue there’s no such thing as a legitimate MLM. The Federal Trade Commission differentiates MLMs from pyramid schemes if the MLM “has a real product to sell” and most of a member’s money is made off of sales to the public versus money made through recruiting new people into the group. It’s an extremely fine line between the two.

How to spot MLMs and pyramid schemes

My wife gets Facebook messages every now and then from a distant friend or stranger trying to pitch their amazing “not multi-level-marketing” opportunity, but every time those people eventually wind up saying the same thing. “Just join my introductory meeting to learn more” or “pay the one-time startup fee” or “I have an unbelievable opportunity for you” are a few examples.

Typical signs of MLMs and pyramid schemes include:

  1. High-pressure sales tactics
  2. Lack of company transparency
  3. Deceptive advertising practices
  4. It’s a low-quality product or service
  5. Outrageous product claims
  6. Pressure to stock up on inventory or “buy-in”
  7. Joining fees, monthly dues, or other on-going expenses
  8. Poor business reviews and ratings
  9. Lots of results when you type “company name” + “scam” into Google

These are just a few things to watch out for. The easiest way to avoid MLMs and pyramid schemes is to trust your gut instinct. As the saying goes, if it looks like a scam and smells like a scam, it’s probably a scam.

Please, please don’t fall for it!

Whatever you do, PLEASE DON’T GET INTO MULTI-LEVEL MARKETING. You’ll waste your money. You’ll lose friends and strain relationships with your family. Need a stat for proof? According to a report published by Pyramid Scheme Alert, over 99% of participants who try MLMs LOSE MONEY! In the same report, which looked at data across 11 different MLMs, about 60-90% of all participants eventually quit.

Sadly, courts often rule in favor of MLMs like Mary Kay and Avon when their distributors try to sue over lost money or lifetime savings. And just like in many industries, if you pour enough money into politics and fighting legislation, you can control the success or failure of your industry. The MLMs of the world still have a stronghold and aren’t going anywhere. Worst of all, an estimated $10 BILLION per year is lost by US consumers due to MLMs (and internationally that figure is much higher).

My main philosophy is this: If your product or service is so great, why should you spend all your time trying to get other people to join your team? Why not just sell me your product? If Mary Kay or Avon or Advocare is so amazing, why can’t I buy the product at its lowest price on their company websites? Unfortunately there are tons of people out there who live and breathe the MLM life. If you’re one of those people, you’re never going to convince me it’s a worthwhile business opportunity. I just hope you can sleep well at night knowing what you’re up to and how you make a living.

As a final thought, if you need a deeper dive on the shady, seedy world of multi-level marketing, watch John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight episode on MLMs. Its highly informative (and funny, too).

Six real ways to make money online

How many dozens of articles have you read about ways to make money online? A lot, I’m guessing. And they all let you down, because they’re all filled with dumb ideas like “Take surveys” and “Get cash back” and “Download these apps” and ON AND ON. It’s all dreadfully bad advice. Because the truth is, if you want to really make some money online, you’ve got to do the hard work that comes with it.

All that said, here are six real no-BS ways to make money online. They’re not for everyone, but there’s got to be at least one idea in this list that you can see yourself doing. And if you put in the time and effort, and continue to improve your craft, you can make some serious income.

1. Start a YouTube channel

YouTube is the new golden child of making money online. So many people, from Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg (PewDiePie) to Casey Neistat to Marques Brownless (MKBHD) to Lewis Hilsenteger (Unbox Therapy) and hundreds of others have made a living off of posting regular content to YouTube. They each have a few million subscribers (or more than 50 million in Pewdiepie’s case), which translates to massive views on everything they upload. What each of these YouTubers do well is that they post consistently, their content is top quality, and they have very unique personalities and lifestyles that appeal to lots and lots of people. At their core, they’re all extremely entertaining, which brings fans coming back to watch every single video. And these YouTubers can bring in insane amounts of income from YouTube itself (via video monetization), or through paid sponsors. YouTube can be a tough nut to crack, but if you’re determined and you are a good storyteller, you could certainly be the next YouTuber to get a gold play button sent to your door.

2. Build a blog

This one might be the easiest of them all to start, but requires an insane amount of effort to turn into a revenue-generating opportunity. Generally, blogs become financially beneficial once you have a large following of readers. Niche blogs do well by narrowing in on one topic or area and create a consistent following, and news-style or generic blogs can do well by attracting consistently high volumes of random traffic. I used to run a blog where I published all of my college papers and writing assignments, and also the news articles I created for my college newspaper, and that site received about 80,000 views per month during its peak. I eventually stopped posting new content on it, and the existing content became dated and irrelevant, so that idea never took off into something larger, but there’s certainly opportunity there. But keep in mind, even with an audience of some 80,000 per month, the income from basic ad revenue only amounts to $100-200 per month. To really create sustainable income from a blog, you need to bring in massive traffic, or at least offer some products for sale, or smartly integrate affiliate links into your blog without them becoming obtrusive, as a few examples.

3. Create a podcast

Are you seeing a trend, yet? Starting YouTube channel, blog and podcast are all about creating a community and following. If you don’t like the way you look or talk, you can start by blogging. If you don’t like being on camera, but you like your voice, maybe podcasting is for you. If you don’t mind being on-camera, then turn to YouTube. But what’s nice about podcasting is that you get to be expressive and creative, but you only have to focus on the audio side, not the writing side or the video side. Most of us can talk at length about something we’re interested in, and thanks to technology, it’s easy to even podcast with someone across the globe or have guests on the podcast via telephone or Skype call. Podcasts, like a blog, won’t make you rich overnight. In fact, none of these money-making ideas promise to do that. But if you’re passionate about what you’re talking about, your content has value, and your listeners are engaged, you’ll start to grow an audience. Once that audience is large enough, you’ll be able to pick up paid sponsors to feature on your podcast, in return for some cash. Grow your audience large enough, and you can make a great side income from podcasting, just as you can with blogging or creating a YouTube channel. In fact, if you’ve got what it takes, why not do all three?

4. Run your own services business

This is where I make most of my money online. Professionally, I’m a marketer, so I understand email marketing, social media marketing, web design, graphic design, copy writing and everything that goes into marketing a business. While I have a full time job, on the side I’m helping a few small businesses with their marketing. It’s my favorite thing I do to earn money. What types of services could you sell that you can do from a computer? Are you good at graphic design? If so, help companies with their brand, logo design, marketing brochure creation, designing menus and signage, and so on. Are you a photographer? Great tutor? Web developer? Audio engineer or producer? Coder? Social media guru? There are all kinds of things you can create online, and sell to a worldwide audience.

5. Sell stuff online

This one’s similar to the last, but more about selling goods out of your home versus selling a service or digital product. Are you good at making something? Can you build something by hand? If so, sell it on Etsy, or on your own website. Have junk to get rid of, or things around the house you wouldn’t miss if they were gone? Post them to Facebook or Craigslist, sell them quickly and easily, and avoid having to pay any service fees to facilitate the transaction (Etsy and Ebay both charge fees).

6. Create a drop-ship business

The drop-ship world is interesting, and one area of making money online that I’ve never fully gotten into. It’s extremely time consuming in the beginning stages, but once set up, drop-shipping can be a lucrative revenue stream. One of my friends and I considered starting a men’s grooming and accessory brand, but we got distracted and never followed through. We had everything nearly ready to go, though. We contacted a wholesaler of beard supplies (bear oil, beard balm, razors, combs, etc.) and inquired about drop-shipping. They were fully on-board, shared us a price list, and we planned to sell the products for double what we paid for them. Best of all, the customer pays for the shipping, and the goods are sent directly from the wholesaler to the customer without any involvement from us. Our logo and packaging even goes on the products, so the customer has no idea that someone else is completely handling fulfillment. As you can see, as long as you have a great brand identity, market your products well, and have solid relationships with wholesalers, there’s lots of money to be made in drop-shipping.

And that’s it! Sorry this list isn’t exhaustive, but each one is a genuine way you can start making money online. No gimmicks and no BS. Just give one a shot and stick to it!