Online video gives you a way to establish instant rapport with your prospective customers. Something about seeing and hearing you talk to them shortens the time it takes for them to know, like, and trust you. (And that, as you well know, is a big part of turning them into buyers.)

And it’s easier than you might think to create video content for your website. You don’t need expensive, specialized equipment. And even if you’ve never been in so much as a home movie, you can be your own on camera “talent.”

At our last Info-Marketing Bootcamp, Web TV guru Andrew Lock (www.helpmybusiness.com) showed attendees how incredibly simple it can be to use online video to put their businesses on the map.

He talked about the kind of camera to use (you can start out with something as low-tech as a “flip” camera), shared some lighting tips (what you have at home is fine), and gave a basic template or format for “storyboarding” your online presentations.

For Andrew, it’s all about preparation. So here are 10 simple steps — directly from Andrew — for creating your own effective Web videos.

STEP 1: Decide on the primary purpose and objective of the video. What do you want to accomplish? Is it to sell a product or service? Is it to educate the audience about a commonly misunderstood topic? Is it a product demonstration? Is it to showcase results? The video must have a single overriding purpose, otherwise the audience gets confused. Try and state your objective clearly in one sentence. For example, “The video will overcome any negative perceptions towards hiring new staff from an online employment agency.”

STEP 2: Who is your target audience? For example, based on previous buyers, how much do they know about the subject already? What is their background, language, and ability to comprehend? Are they naturally interested in the topic? You would make a very different video for children under the age of ten than you would for lawyers who specialize in divorce cases.

STEP 3: Decide on how you’ll present the topic. Will you use a documentary style? Dramatic? Humorous? Sensitive and factual, or lighthearted and lively? There are other considerations too. Should there be a presenter on screen, or an unseen narrator? Also, try and achieve a balance between information and persuasion. Do you want to appeal mainly to intellect or emotion? At one end of the spectrum you could present the information like an instruction manual — purely factual. At the other extreme you could persuade the viewer more by feelings, emotion, and entertainment. A balance between the two is usually best.

STEP 4: Plan the structure of the video. It’s helpful to think of it as a story — it must have a beginning, middle, and end. The introduction must grab the viewer’s attention, the middle should balance emotion and facts, and the end should contain a powerful call to action that can’t be ignored.

STEP 5: Work out the best duration for the video by boiling down the essence of the message and conveying that in the shortest possible timeframe.

STEP 6: Decide who’s going to “own” this project and follow it through to completion. It’s no use assigning it to a staff member who’s already over-stretched with other work.

STEP 7: Set a deadline. It might be a few hours or days for a simple video, or several weeks for a complex production.

STEP 8: Research and acquire information and elements to include in the video. Do you own any existing footage that could be used? Other elements might include artwork, logos, graphics, music, etc.

STEP 9: Write the script. A script is the blueprint for your video. It includes not only the words that are spoken but a detailed description of the visuals that accompany the words and music. Don’t expect to sit down and write the finished script in one session. It will evolve.

STEP 10: It’s time to record.

Thanks to Andrew for sharing these tips. To sign up for more of his great advice, go to his website: www.helpmybusiness.com. And check out his presentation in the home study version of our Info-Marketing Bootcamp. Andrew was a featured speaker, along with Rich Schefren, MaryEllen Tribby, Drayton Bird, and, of course, Michael Masterson.