This guest post is by Jon Morrow of Smart Blogger (formerly Boost Blog Traffic).
Ever look at those snazzy movie trailers Hollywood puts out for their latest blockbusters and wonder how you could make one of your own?
Maybe you’re starting a new blog, and you want to launch with a bang. Or maybe you’re coming out with a new book, and you want to create some prelaunch buzz. Or maybe you’re even launching a new online course, and you want to build anticipation up to a fevered pitch in preparation for launch day.
Whatever the case, creating a trailer seems like a good way to do it. There’s only one problem:
You can’t possibly afford it, right?
Hollywood routinely spends $50,000 or more putting together their movie trailers. They assemble crackerjack teams of animators, story borders, musicians, video editors, and directors, all of whom work for weeks on the trailer alone.
These aren’t folks aren’t exactly begging for work, either. If you want a great trailer, you have to hire the best, and the best comes at a premium price.
So, you’re screwed, right? I mean, maybe you could scrounge around in the couch cushions to find a few bucks, but that’s not going to get you very far, now is it?
Actually … you might be surprised.
How I created a jaw-dropping movie trailer for under $50
Yep, it’s true. The movie trailer I created for my blog launch only cost me a grand total of … wait for it…
Granted, I already had a copy of Adobe After Effects, which saved a few thousand bucks. I’m also an exceptionally geeky dude, so I figured out how to do all the necessary work on my own.
But it’s easier than you might think.
You see, I bought this template from VideoHive for $20. It’s basically a ready-made movie trailer, where all you have to do is fill in the text.
From there, I bought this music for $14, which was actually recommended by the designer who created the After Effects template. So I bought a license, added it to the trailer, and then exported the whole thing to a movie file.
Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.
Don’t believe me?
Well then, let’s take a step-by-step walk-through of how to do it for yourself.
Step one: choose your Adobe After Effects template
Before you do anything else, head on over to VideoHive and browse through the trailers. There are several ways to do it:
- Just type “trailer” in the search box, and then look through everything that comes up.
- Browse category by category, starting with “After Effects Project Files,” and then drilling down to exactly what you want.
- Click “After Effects Project Files,” and then sort by “Sales,” showing you all the most popular templates on the site.
The third option is my personal preference, because it allows you to familiarize yourself with all the different types of templates and start thinking about what might work for you. When I first started working on my trailer, I spent hours and hours looking through them, dreaming about what I could do, and it took me weeks to finally settle on one.
The reason I finally chose Ivory is because it has an epic feel, but it’s not an overly complicated trailer, so it was really easy to modify. All I had to do was change the text, slip in my own videos, and it was ready to go.
That’s important, because if you’re doing it yourself, you should know Adobe After Affects is one of the most complicated pieces of consumer software in existence. I’m a technical dude, and it still took me hours to figure out how to change the text. If I’d used anything more complicated, I probably would have been tinkering with it for weeks.
That’s not to say you can’t use a more complicated template, of course. If you do, you probably just want to hire a professional to edit it for you, which we’ll get to in a minute.
But if you do want to do it yourself, stick to the ones with quotes. You can find them by searching for “quotes” or “text.”
Whatever you decide though, you’ll soon discover that none of the templates come with music. They often provide recommendations, but you have to license and integrate it on your own.
Let’s talk about that next…
Step two: license the music for your trailer
There are lots of different places you can license music online, but most or all of the templates on VideoHive use music from another site in the Envato network, AudioJungle. You can use any music you want, of course, but the selection at AudioJungle really is quite awesome, and the licenses allow for trailers (I’m not a lawyer, so consult one, if there’s any doubt).
You can search it the same ways you searched VideoHive, and if you’re looking for a few hours to kill, it’s a good way to do it, but you could also argue it’s a waste of time. Here’s why:
Changing the music will skyrocket the cost.
The majority of the templates are created with a certain piece of music in mind. The animation changes with music, and key ideas pop up at just the right time to create a dramatic effect. If you change the music, everything will be out of sync, and so you will have to redo the timing of the animation.
Unless you’re an Adobe After Effects guru, that means hiring a pro to do it for you, and I would guess the change of music, along with the necessary changes to the animation, would cost you anywhere between $500-$1,000. If you’re working on a big product launch, it might be worth it, but for a blog or book or any other project where you’re not making lots of money, you probably want to keep it cheap.
It’s up to you, but my advice: stick with the music the template creator recommends.
From there, all you have to do is…
Step three: assemble and render your movie trailer
Here, you have to make a decision, and it will dramatically affect the cost of your trailer, as well as the time it takes you to create. You can either:
- Assemble and render your movie trailer all by yourself.
- Pay a professional to render and assemble it for you.
As I mentioned earlier, I decided to do myself, but … well … I’m a weirdo. I actually enjoy learning new software and tinkering with it days on end, and so the 20+ hours it took me was, in a word, fun, where most normal people would’ve already turned their computer into a flying projectile.
Maybe you’re a weirdo too, though. If you are, you can absolutely do it. Buy or borrow a copy of Adobe After Affects, pray your computer is powerful enough to run it (hint: 4 GB of RAM, bare minimum), Google up some After Effects tutorials, and start working.
On the other hand, maybe you would rather be water boarded than try to do it yourself. If that’s the case, cough up a few more bucks, and hire a pro.
It’s not as expensive as you might think.
Most of the uber-talented designers on VideoHive will put everything together for you for $250-$500. You don’t get any changes to the template, and they are probably not going to do multiple revisions, but if you hand over your text, music, and any photos or videos, they’ll put them in and send you a completed trailer.
If that’s too much money, you can also go the cheapskate route and post the job on a freelance site like oDesk. You can probably get it done by somebody in India, China, or Eastern Europe for $100 or less.
And if you think about it, that’s still pretty cheap. Sure, it’s a lot more at than the skimpy $34 I shelled out, but it’s also a lot cheaper than the $50,000 or more Hollywood movie studios spend.
It also makes you look like a rockstar. So if that’s all that’s standing in your way, don’t cheap out, here. Save up a few hundred bucks, and get yourself a nice trailer for your launch.
It’s totally worth it
No, you probably won’t pick up 1740 subscribers in a week like I did, because that takes some killer connections, but what if you get a couple hundred? Or what if it convinces a major TV or radio show to interview you? Or what if it sells just one more copy of your $500 course?
You don’t have to blow the doors off for your trailer to pay for itself. Truth be told, you can probably screw about 90% of it up, and it will still beat any other type of launch lead in you could do.
Next week, I’ll have another post here on ProBlogger giving you some strategies on how to get the most out of your trailer. In the meantime, start digging through VideoHive, get some different ideas rattling around in your head, and let your subconscious do its work.
All the technical tomfoolery in the world is no substitute for creativity. And really, that’s what we’re doing here. We’re packaging up our ideas into a 30-180 second trailer, but the strength of that trailer isn’t the animation or the music or even the video itself. It’s the ideas.
So get thinking.
And more than anything, believe in yourself. Yes, you might be an upstart blogger, scrounging around the couch cushions to pay for your trailer, but you can do this.
And you know what I think?
It’s gonna be huge.
Jon Morrow is also on a mission to help good writers get traffic they deserve. If you’re one of them, check out his upcoming blog about (surprise!) blogging.