Lately I’ve been mentoring students and a few newbies to both videojournalism and video production. Frankly they’re all pretty much rank beginners with the basics and a dream of getting better. And of course, they all have a website showcasing their work.
The websites are pretty much shotgun, not sharpshooter and well-aimed and focused. They’re tossing it all out there without filtering. The good, the bad, and the ugly are all on their sites.
Please spare me. I don’t want to see it all – that is not only boring and a complete turn-off, but also not good for your odds of impressing a potential employer or client. Those last two only want to see your best – what makes you stand out above the herd. What makes you the one they want to hire.
So winnow through your work. Filter it down to your best one or two or at the most three pieces of work. Label each story (or video) clearly, with information about your role in creating it…as well as whether it was a school project, a volunteer effort, or a paid gig. Don’t be overly wordy (a sin I commit frequently). Just a simple caption for each.
And speaking of writing…please remember basic English when writing. Keep it simple, making sure your grammar and punctuation and spelling are spot-on.
Remember you are striving to work in a visual medium and everything about your site will be judged in an instant and will either attract or repel. So stuff like color schemes and font choices do matter. Photos do matter. Words. Do matter. Don’t post photos and words that are in conflict. In other words (you know who you are) don’t say you are a journo and post a duckface and photos that imply you’d rather be in Tinseltown. Do not try to create an image that is not you…be real. And please post your work – not just photos o you working. I honestly don’t care how you look. I want to see what you can do for me. Be who you are…a newbie with dreams.
Keep it simple.
A few more items. Don’t post your resume or all the world to see. If asked for your resume, DO include references. NEVER state that they are “available on request.” Really? So you want me to take extra steps to check you out before hiring you?
On that note – do this now, while you’re still in the prof’s mind. Ask for (1) a recommendation letter based on what they know about you now as a student and (b) permission to use them as a reference for future gigs or employment. If you wait two or three or more years, you’ll just be another ghostly body in their memories. Unless you really really stood out (for good or bad reasons). And choose who you ask to be a reference. I gladly told all of my students I would recommend them – but they had to carefully consider what I would say about them. Because I will not lie. A number of kiddos really did think and back off from asking…they knew exactly how they had behaved and how much work they had done (or not).
In closing. Have friends, mentors, teachers all check out your site and pick it apart. Put on your rhino skin suit and take their advice as help, not hate. While your besties might say it’s all good, they might be lying or just buying into your lies to yourself. Listen to those who’ve been out in the big bad world and use what they tell you to fine-tune your web site.
So good luck with it and all. And review and update your site as your skillset and experience improve.
Wow – and just when I thought I’d seen it all – I haven’t. A local “producer” OMB (one man band) who has a great gimmick called “A Dolla for a Holla” where he pays passers-by a buck to say something in front of the camera…something positive for a program he is working on. Gets them to sign off on a model release so he can use their comments in said program. We had a discussion and I asked for his card with the intention of checking him out via his website. Um…no. No website. In fact – no web presence at all. No facebook. Googling his name, his show name, anything and he is invisible. I gotta tell ya, that if this is the new Marketing 101, then I’m clueless. As is his potential audience. (Oh – and no phone number either…apparently the ONLY way to track this enterprising young man down is through his email.)