I (sort of) want to get started with video. What do I do? How do I start?


You know you need to be doing video, but as an accountant you’re feeling a little…

  • Nervous
  • Worried
  • Confused
  • Uncertain
  • Lost
  • More terrified of this than anything else on earth

This whole video malarkey seems like a major undertaking. Do you need equipment? What kind? How do you ensure your videos are “professional” (but not boring)? Why in the world do you the accountant have to do something so far outside your comfort zone anyway??

Here are some small practical things you can do to get started with video. Please note that all of these are first steps. You do not have to leap in to hiring a professional videographer and paying thousands per video right from the start. As a matter of fact I’d recommend you not do that until you’ve done some of these initial steps – because you need to understand why and how video works before you start doing it “properly”.

1. Say to yourself: “I have to fail first”.

The biggest problem with accountants doing video is the desire to “do video properly”. So many accountants avoid video because they want it to be perfect. Top quality audio, crisp video, perfect surroundings, spot-on delivery by you and anyone else in the video, and ideally some new prospects contacting you immediately afterwards.

Well, like anything else on earth, you have to start small, learn as you go, be persistent, and fail along the way.

That’s the only way to do it with video. Especially the failing part, and I know you accountants are trying to avoid that.

If your goal with video is to avoid failure, I hate to break it to you but…you’re already failing. Because the failure is the fun part with video. (Actually that can be true for many areas of marketing, but especially with video.) Don’t we all love a good blooper reel? To have a laugh when someone else mixed up their words or dropped the phone or the tripod fell over?

It’s about being human. Being real. Being a person first and a business next.

Prepare yourself for some failure, but remember that (unlike accountancy) this kind of failure is good. It gets you more views, more engagement, better relationships, better marketing. Every time.

A great example is a Facebook live by my friend Phylip Morgan. He attended CMA Live, where I was a speaker, and on the Saturday morning after the conference he decided to shoot a live video talking about what he learned from it and helping others to know what to do with what they learned. He shot it in his kitchen, and a few minutes into the first live video, the whole thing shut down and he had to end it and start a new one. The second one starts with him laughing his head off, and if you had listened to the first one, you found that the second one he was a lot sharper, crisper, and more direct with his points about the conference.

2. Use expiring video “stories” to get comfortable with it before you use it properly.

One of the best features of Facebook and Instagram is their ‘stories’. If you’re not familiar with it, this gives you an opportunity to capture and share photos and video that will disappear after 24 hours.

You can set it up so that these photos and videos are saved automatically on your phone (in case you want to use them for anything later), but no one else will be accessing them after a day, so… you’re safe.

This is your chance to learn video, figure out how it works, play with it, try things, fail, have a laugh, give it a go.

Chances are you have about 4 followers, none of which will be watching you live, so it’s not as if you are under any pressure. I’ve got hundreds of followers and I still only get 1-2 people watching me live. But it’s great practice and I learn something new every time I do it. Often I record my live sessions on Instagram, and as long as they’re less than 10 minutes long I can upload them to IGTV (which is sort of like a portrait-style youtube).

Xerocon London is a brilliant opportunity to test this out: capture a few seconds or a few minutes of the buzz, the speakers, a conversation with one of the apps, the party.

You can follow me on insta for my live videos and stories here:

3. Share a video in the PF Lab Community.

This is the safest place for sharing a video. We only allow accountants in this group, so many of the people in that group are equally as (or more) worried about video than you are.

Join the PF Lab community group, record an intro video on your phone, and share it. No edits, no retakes, no fixing. Will take you 2-3 minutes and you’ll feel relieved and wonder what took you so long. You’ll also get a ton of comments from other accountants saying how great it is to meet you and how they want to be doing video, too.

4. Pay attention to what your kids do.

Many of you have kids (and if you don’t, I’m sure you can borrow some for a few hours – their parents will thank you).

Kids LOVE video. They’ve grown up with it. They’re used to it. They enjoy playing with it and trying things and watching themselves on video. I asked a ten year old what would be good to cover on an Instagram live and she thought for a minute and said “Well, we could talk about the Internet.” I loved it. One of the biggest topics in the world and she’s thinking, perfect for a few minutes’ live video.

If you’ve got teenagers, look at how often they grab photos and video of their daily lives. As Gary Vee says, “document, don’t create”. With video, this is your opportunity to document things like your office, meetings with clients, chats with the team, events you attend, people you meet, ideas you’ve had.

5. Pick ONE social media platform you’re unfamiliar with, and learn it inside and out.

After a content marketing conference earlier in the year, I picked Instagram for my social platform of choice. I still use all the social platforms here and there, but Insta is my personal favourite – and it was the one I was least familiar with. I wanted to challenge myself, push myself beyond what was easy and what I knew.

Another reason I chose insta was that I’m finding the accountants who follow me there tend to be the most eager, most keen, most willing to try new things and get excited about marketing. That’s a good qualifier right there for the firms we work with. Those who are using Instagram regularly are going to build a good relationship with me and with PF – even if the quantity is much lower than Twitter and LinkedIn.

Most accountants are most comfortable with LinkedIn. I can understand why: it feels more ‘professional’, it’s more text-based than image-based, and a lot of your fellow accountants are there.

I’d encourage you to pick something you’re less comfortable with and use it consistently every day for 30 days. Open it every morning, every time you have a spare few minutes during the day, and every evening when you finish. A few posts, likes, quick videos or comments, and you’ll be learning that thing inside and out in no time.

Training on social media is good – we offer it at PF in multiple different formats – but the very best training you can get is playing around with it and seeing what it does, how it works.

6. Get some basic video equipment.

Sometimes what holds you back is feeling like the quality of what you’ll produce isn’t good enough.

The thing is, it’s not about quality at first. It’s about familiarity and comfort so that you can then focus later on quality.

But if you really need a little push – something fun to get you excited about video instead of dreading it – get yourself a few things that will help you to start using video, either on your desktop or on your phone.

Here’s a list of some equipment to consider.

Oh – and PF is giving away a free mobile video kit at Xerocon…read on to point 7 for that.

7. Watch loads of videos by those who do it well.

I’m putting this as one of the last suggestions because I only want you to do this if you are ready to watch them without comparing yourself.

If you watch the ‘experts’ and think “I’m so far behind, I’ll never be as good as they are, never mind”, then you’re not learning what you could be.

The reason you watch what others are doing is to see what they are doing.

You’re not thinking about yourself: you’re noticing what they do and how they work. How often do they post? What kind of equipment do they use? What topics do they cover and how long are their videos? Do they share on one platform or multiple platforms? Portrait or landscape videos?

Ask a lot of what, when, where, why, who questions while you’re watching.

Oh – and drop them a DM on your preferred social channel and ask them some of your questions if you like. All of them are, I guarantee it, really friendly people who are happy to help.

Here are a few suggestions of people I know personally who do video consistently and well (and they’re interesting people too):

James Ashford, GoProposal

Brian Fanzo, iSocialFanz

Demian Ross, Digital Nomad

Chris Marr, CMA

Col Gray, Pixels Ink

8. Win the FREE mobile video kit courtesy of PF, at Xerocon.

This is a great opportunity for you to kick your video-recording into a higher gear. We’re giving away a mobile video kit as part of our PF social competition at Xerocon London this year, and you will win:

  • Unique phone case to help with video extras
  • Microphone
  • Clip on light
  • Mini tripod

These days phones are so powerful – you’ve got all the capacity you need with you all the time. It’s like a little traveling studio.

All you have to do is post anything, as often as you like, with the hashtag #welovePF, from now until 15 November 2018 (the second day of Xerocon). We’ll choose a winner from those who have the most posts.

Hint: posting and sharing video with that hashtag will definitely help your chances!!

9. Focus on helping your clients, not ‘getting sales from video’.

If your goal with video is to “get more business”, the stress level is incredibly high. You’ll worry about lighting and backgrounds and the impression you’re giving.

But when your goal is to learn something new and be genuinely helpful to your clients and prospects, it changes everything. You capture a quick video of something you saw whilst traveling that reminded you of a business or accounting concept that is useful for your clients. You stop worrying about a stiff, boring video on making tax digital, and instead decide to hold an MTD party so you can have fun with your clients, and you hire a videographer to shoot footage you can use for future videos. (True story you guys – one of our clients is doing this.)