In early fall, I changed my tutor website over to a self-hosted WordPress site.  When I was setting up the site, I knew that adding video could be a really interesting way to engage with new visitors to the site.  Before the site went live, my top two referrals were friends and the tutor district list.  After my site went live, my referrals changed!  Now I was getting phone calls and emails from folks that found my website.  I don't have the data to prove this for sure, but I would say having a video on my site was key to building a small bridge of trust.  You can head over to my site and cruise around if you'd like, but I'll walk you through how I made my video.

Custom Thumbnails

First off, let's look at the video itself. Notice the image in the video before you hit the play button. That is called a custom thumbnail. This is like a still preview shot. The more professional the image, the more likely someone will click on it. I used an image that I had taken by a professional photographer. I also designed my entire website around the color scheme I was wearing in the picture so everything had a cohesive feel. Not necessary, but I liked how it turned out.


I created the custom thumbnail using Following YouTube guidelines, I resized the image to their specifications for video and added text that describes what my video is about.


YouTube Custom Thumbnail Sizes:

Your custom thumbnail image should be as large as possible, as the image will also be used as the preview image in the embedded player. Follow these guidelines:

  • Have a resolution of 1280×720 (with minimum width of 640 pixels).
  • Be uploaded in image formats such as .JPG, .GIF, .BMP, or .PNG.
  • Remain under the 2MB limit.
  • Try to use a 16:9 aspect ratio as it's the most used in YouTube players and previews.

The Video

Next up is recording the video!  In my video, you can clearly see I am not in the same location as the image that I used for the thumbnail.  I was in my tutor office and I made sure to wear the same clothes I had on in the picture.  The lighting is okay, but I could've done much better.  If you don't have a camera on your computer, you can easily use your smartphone or iPhone to capture your message.  Here are few tips to taking good footage:

Quiet surroundings

While being outside would be lovely light, there also could be a lot of background noise that gets in the way of hearing you clearly.  If you opt to be outside, try to find as quiet of a location as possible.

Set Up and Lighting

If you are using a smartphone or iPhone to shoot this video, you'll need to get creative for getting the phone propped up.  There are lots of cool ideas on Pinterest.  Here is one of my favorites:


Get some good light!  If you can set your self up by a window with light coming in.  You'll look a lot better and closer to the real you!  I set up my own iPhone in the window using two blocks.  A little tape to hold the phone is good because when it vibrates with a text, it shakes right off the blocks.


DIY iPhone Tripod/Setup



Sitting in front of the window



Looks like me!


Keep your video short!  Videos longer than two to three minutes are going to get skipped over.  Sadly, we all have short attention spans for video.

Keep it Concise

Share who you are, what you have to offer, and how you can help their child!  Tell them what they can expect when they call to speak to you.

End with a Call to Action

At the end of my video, share how they can get in touch with you.

Editing the Video

Editing a video this short really doesn't take too long!  Mostly you are looking to cut out where you have dead air or are getting the camera ready while it is rolling.  If you are using your iPhone or smartphone, there are bunches of apps out there that allow you to edit the video.  On my phone, I just use iMovie.  It's simple to use and really fast for putting it together.

On a PC, you can use what comes pre-loaded to edit video which is Movie Maker.  I personally use Camtasia to edit my videos.  It's a straight forward program that doesn't take too long to learn.


I'm sure you recognized the intro music I used in this video.  Music can help set the tone of your message.  Search the internet for creative commons music like CC Mixter.  The music can play just at the beginning or during the entire video.  It's important that the music not be louder than you however.  You'll want to quiet the music if you want it playing while you talk.

Uploading the Video

I chose to use YouTube, but there are other video hosts out there such as Vimeo and Wistia.  If you are new to YouTube, you'll need to create an account and it will link to your Google +/Gmail account.  For more details on how to upload to YouTube, follow these steps here.

Once it is live in your channel, you'll need to grab the code to embed the video on your website.  You can either put it on your home page or in the sidebar like I did.  Below your video, click on share.  Then select embed.  You'll see a bit of code show up and it is highlighted blue.  Below that area are some greyed out letter that say, Show More.  Click on that and deselect the related videos box.  This means when it is done, it just goes back to your thumbnail.

Select the code and then head over to your site!

Embedding the Code

If you are using Blogger, you'll want to add an HTML widget and paste the code there.  If you are using WordPress, go to appearance, select widgets, and then add a text widget where you would like.  Paste the code there.  Refer to this detailed tutorial for WordPress sites for how to use YouTube videos on your self-hosted site.


Video is a great way for parents to see how you hold yourself and sends a message that you take this stuff seriously!  I hope you'll try out a video on your site.  That's it!  Do you have a video on your tutor website?  I'd love to see it.  Share a link to it in the comments below.

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