I’ve recently done something revolutionary for my massage business: I made a video of myself in action. My new clients increased substantially, my Facebook business page
started getting a lot more views and likes, and my advertising dollars
suddenly stretched a lot farther.
The days of describing your style and hoping people got the picture were… fine. Trying to tell people how my massage style was different from everyone else’s was always an adventure, because I had to ride that fine line between sounding exactly like everyone else and sounding like a pompous jerk. But it’s the year 2016 or so, and we’re well into the age of easy online video. Why don’t we show instead of just telling?
It’s really not so hard. There might be some equipment to buy, and the editing can be a bit of trouble, but I promise that it’s worth the effort.
Okay hotshot, what does a demo video look like?
Here’s how my first one came out:
Super fancy, right? Looks like it took a lot of time and effort? Probably had a key grip and a best boy and all that? Nope, it was just me, a volunteer, and a handycam on a tripod. The shooting took 45 minutes with set-up, and the editing took a while longer. Overall, it’s easily been the most fruitful time investment I’ve put into my business in recent memory.
If you’re thinking that you couldn’t make one that looks this good, please consider the following: My feet were sliding all over the place during the entire shoot (my gracious hostess had just mopped), I just barely managed to avoid showing my sweat stains that appeared approximately 3 minutes into filming, and I spent half the time dragging the table to new positions so that my model wasn’t in shadow the entire time. I thought it was a fiasco, and I still cringe watching this thing.
And yet… you probably thought it was just dandy. The moral here is to just make the video. Even if you feel like it comes out crummy, it will still show off your techniques, and no one else will be nearly as critical as you.
What equipment will I need?
- A camera. For this, any high-end cellphone from the last 4 years will do just fine. You can also use most pocket cameras, and you may even have a friend with a fancy-pants pro camera (only go this route if said friend is willing to help you use it, these things are tricky).
- A tripod. This one is optional. You could prop your phone somewhere and just use a single angle and it would work. You could also have someone hold the camera. That said, I think that the quality increases significantly when you use a tripod: You can get exactly the angle that you want, there won’t be camera shake, and it’s easy to change angles based on the techniques you’re demonstrating. Consider this an investment: Once you’ve done your first video, future videos are waaaay easier, and videos perform really well on Facebook. I recommend this cheap tripod from Amazon, as well as a mount for your cellphone if that’s what you plan to use.
- A computer. A laptop will work just fine. You’ll need to hook your phone or camera up to the computer and transfer the files. The procedure varies between different hardware (Mac vs. PC, etc), so be prepared to Google it if this is your first time. Don’t just email the video to yourself, as many phones will heavily compress the file (making it blocky and tiny) to make the file size more manageable.
- Editing software. I guarantee that you either have video editing software on your computer right this second, or that you can download it for free/cheap. If you’re on a PC, there’s Movie Maker. If you’re on a Mac, there’s iMovie. There are also apps to edit video right on a phone or tablet, but that’s not something I’ve ever messed with. In any case, these basic programs are meant to be very user friendly, and they can make some really nice looking video files.
If you’re not computer savvy, find a friend who likes messing with that kind of stuff. You can pay them by letting them be your massage model. Win-win!
What should I do during the shoot?
When I’m looking for a good massage, I’m looking for flow and confidence first and foremost. In other words, just do a basic routine for your demo video. I recommend a back massage, because it allows for many interesting techniques and angles, and because people love to see that kind of work. I’ve got a neck massage demo that looks better but that didn’t do half as well.
Let people see that you travel the entire length of the back, and that each technique melds seamlessly into the next. Let them see you calmly transition from effleurage to a shoulder-encompassing petrissage. If you feel like including some fancy moves, do this as part of a broader routine. In other words, don’t just take shot after shot of moves that you think will be picturesque; just do a good massage.
As you do so, move the camera every 4 or 5 minutes (or as needed to keep yourself from blocking the action). Get back into your flow, and take 5 more minutes of good work. Repeat a few times until you come to a good stopping point, slowly remove your hands from your client’s back, and cover them with the drape. Future-you will use this time to fade to black.
Don’t get too fancy with the editing, especially this first time. No need to worry about a title card, or credits at the end. In fact, get to the action within the first few seconds. Anything else risks people scrolling on past.
Try for a final length of less than 3 minutes. You want people to be able to see what you’re about, but this isn’t an instructional video. It’s just a quick taste of what your routine looks like, and then you’re done. Too much and you risk people scrolling by without interacting with the video (e.g. hitting “like,” liking your page, commenting). There’s not much danger in your video being too short, so feel free to make some big cuts.
Really, I feel like the editing part is magic. It allows you to highlight yourself when you look your best, and snip out the bits where you’re slouching or itching your nose or making a funny face. You have no idea how much embarrassing junk ends up on my cutting room floor.
Some quick rules for editing:
Use slow “fade” transitions. Sharp cuts can seem abrupt, but slow fades from one angle to another will fit with the theme of your video.
Maintain visual interest. That means only spending short amounts of time showing any one angle or technique. Unless you’re doing something really cool, try to cut to something new pretty frequently.
Be heavy-handed. Cut out big chunks of video, even if it hurts. You need to finish with just a couple of minutes of footage, so avoid the temptation to leave in that whole 5 minute sequence where you do some really neat low back work.
Consider the project as a whole. So, if you have to cut a lot, what do you leave? Leave the parts that tell a story. Show yourself making that initial contact and first long stroke down the back. Cut to yourself kneading the low back, then swooping up toward the shoulders. Cut to effleurage in the upper back, and those first big scoops of the trapezius. Cut to some groovy rotator cuff work, and some manipulation of the arm. End with some strokes that bring the back together again, the slow removal of your hands, and then fade to black.