How to Effectively Use Live Video (Even If You Fear the Camera) to Reach Readers

Today’s guest post is an excerpt from The Bestselling Author by Amy Collins, Daniel Hall and John Rhodes, partners in Best Seller Builders (@NewShelvesBooks).

I’ll bet you dollars to doughnuts that you have within 6 feet of you right now either a smartphone or a tablet with the capability of broadcasting video (also known as livestreaming). Not only that, but chances are very good that also installed on your device is an app like Facebook, YouTube, or some other platform that would allow you to livestream.

And even if you don’t have a device, I’d wager that you own some sort of laptop or computer with a built-in webcam and microphone, which you can use to broadcast live video. The problem is, even though most of the world has this technology, very few use it and an even smaller percentage of people will use it to build their business— their platform.

But doing live video broadcasts are an effective way to engage with your target demographic, get them to know and like you, become your fan, and eventually buy from you. As I write this, the big players in broadcasting live video are the aforementioned Facebook and YouTube. However, by the time you read this that may well have changed. Platforms come and go. That is why I am somewhat platform agnostic because I know that there will be a platform where you can broadcast and where a large segment of your target demographic hangs out.

Before we go further, I want to address the topic of fear of appearing on camera. Actually, fear is quite natural, but here’s the thing: Like everything else, you’ll get better by doing it. And people watching are not expecting broadcast television quality. The fact is, if you’re real and not slick you are much more relatable.

Also, keep in mind that if you do a livestream and mess up royally that you can always end the broadcast and delete the video. So really there is very little risk and you are in control.

But the reason you want to livestream is to give people in your audience a chance to fall in love with you and your message. So honestly, if you approach doing live video from the standpoint of being of service to your audience, they will see it and appreciate it regardless if the presentation has a few warts.

Be that as it may, it is still a good idea to prepare for and have a plan for each of your broadcasts.

Preparing to Livestream

As we have already pointed out, you probably already have access to technology with which to “go live” with something like a smartphone, tablet, and/or laptop. And these are great to start out with but in the future, you will probably want to upgrade your microphone. For example, if you’re going live with an iPhone/iPad or Android device, I really like my iRig HD 2 microphone, which sounds great and is relatively inexpensive on Amazon.

In addition to your microphone, you will always look more pro if your broadcasts are well lit. Once again, if you are on a device, a simple rechargeable ring light would make a great addition to the tool box. These lights are cheap, stay illuminated a reasonably long time, and help make you look great.

If you don’t have a ring light or other lighting, then I suggest you set yourself up in front of a window to take advantage of natural light or, alternatively, do your broadcasts outside.

For the most part, platforms like Facebook and YouTube make it easy to go live directly from their apps. Simply tap a button and the app will ask for permission to use your device’s camera and microphone, and you are off to the races. The big difference between them is that what you broadcast live on Facebook belongs to Facebook. What you broadcast live on YouTube is still your content owned by you.

If this is important to you, then you might want to make your choices based on current agreements. Always check the agreements and rights clauses when starting to broadcast on a platform.

If you’re on a laptop or desktop computer, while you can certainly go live directly from Facebook or YouTube, you would definitely up your game with cool, paid third-party services like or Zoom. The advantages of these services are that you can schedule your broadcasts, you can use lower-thirds graphics for your name, and you can interview up to three other people with a split screen (which will be useful if you decide to interview others in your niche). The big disadvantage is there is a monthly fee of $20 to $50.

While these services will certainly make you look more pro, I would recommend not starting with them. Just launch with what’s free, and as you get more proficient and build an audience, then you can switch over if you like.

Planning to Livestream

A big criticism of livestream videos is that many broadcasts are frankly boring and meandering and there is no clear destination. You are, after all, vying for attention. And let’s face it, there is no shortage of distractions. Accordingly, to honor your viewer’s time and attention you must have a plan for your livestreams. That is, each livestream should have a goal or intention.

My friend and video trainer par excellence, Lou Bortone, solved this problem. He devised a brilliant sample calendar with ideas of what to cover on your livestreams:

Image: sample calendar of livestreaming ideas

Of course, you don’t have to do all of these topics. Pick and choose those you like or use it for inspiration to create your own. The key is to have a plan and intention for each livestream.

Additionally, your livestreams don’t have to be long, 60-minute affairs. In fact, you want to strive to be succinct on one hand while encouraging audience interaction and questions on the other. Because let’s not forget that the whole reason of doing livestreams is to build your platform and one of the key ingredients to that is including a call to action. One such call to action should be something like: “Get your questions in the chat now” or “Don’t quite understand this concept? Then hit me in the chat with your question and let’s get this cleared up for you.”

Of course, at the end, and during your broadcast, if appropriate, you should include a call to action to go download your free gift, check out a new blog post or podcast interview, etc. The point is, you must get comfortable with telling people what you want them to do. And you’ll train your growing platform to do exactly this if you’re consistent about calling them to action. The most effective platform builders I know have become masters of this.

Another hallmark of great platform builders is consistency. So pick a day and time to do your broadcast and do your level best to stick to it. I recommend starting with at least one livestream per week. Or try more frequent broadcasts if livestreaming really appeals to you. Whatever you decide, stick to it and you’ll train your audience to know that you are consistent and reliable. Further, these livestream videos can be downloaded and re-used.

Image: The Bestselling Author book coverYes, there are intricacies and nuances to livestreaming effectively but the potential rewards are significant. There is yet an additional benefit to getting in a habit of livestreaming and that is it will help you become a better communicator. You’ll get better at being more precise in your verbal communication skills. And that will result in you being understood more quickly with less effort on the part of your audience. This one factor alone will serve to build your platform.

Note from Jane: If you enjoyed this post, check out The Bestselling Author by Amy Collins, Daniel Hall and John Rhodes of Best Seller Builders.

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