Article Published in Stylist Magazine, May 2014

What good is an app if it’s difficult to learn, and there’s no time or incentive to use it? The learning curve with any new technology can be steep. Even older technology can be frustrating when it’s new to you and not likely to be part of a regular routine. Like most people, I’m more competent with my favorite and most frequently used apps: STX for salon management, Quicken for accounting, Pages for word processing, etc. I cannot imagine functioning without them. Granted, I don’t know all their features, but that doesn’t diminish their usefulness for my purposes.

What’s missing in my repertoire is the capability to produce quality videos. Capability may not be the right word; I think I’m capable, I just haven’t been willing apparently. Despite the time and effort I invest in researching articles and presenting classes, the question often arises: “Do you have a video for that?” No, but thanks for asking. If producing videos were a priority, they’d exist already. Writing this article about technology gives me a reason to do something that I’ve successfully avoided for years. I’m not obligated nor should others feel entitled, but I am willing to share.

Capturing video will be relatively easy in my new salon location; there’s better lighting, more space and time to experiment. The challenge lies in creating a professional and educational presentation, something worth viewing. The most efficient way would be to adapt familiar technology to this new project. Thus, anything I learn in the process can be easily assimilated into my existing knowledge. (Otherwise, I wouldn’t be likely to accomplish this.) The most conducive would be Keynote, my favorite presentation software. The structure and text already exist for the many different classes I present. These presentations can be adapted by adding video, customizing the slide timing and exporting to Quicktime. Sharing to YouTube, Facebook and Twitter would generate interest among viewers.

Which topic(s) would interest potential viewers? The obvious choice would be my most popular service and class: waterless spa pedicures. I say that without any hesitation, but just to be sure, I posted that question to Facebook. As expected, the consensus supported my choice. So waterless spa pedicures it is!

Having chosen a topic, I need balance between breadth and depth in exploring it. When writing articles, I like the constraints of space; word limits force me to be more concise. For example, the monthly topics for the Stylist newspapers have been determined by the editor, and it’s up to me to craft a corresponding 800-word article. Weeks before the deadline, I draft my thoughts in Pages. Neglecting every writing class I’ve taken, I never use outlining. Instead, I force myself to write complete sentences, even if they’re not perfect. Ideally, I generate approximately 1000 words to be edited at a later time. Some sentences require revision, while others may be deleted entirely. The process gains momentum when random sentences coalesce into coherent paragraphs. Reading paragraphs aloud assures that my writing conveys my intent.

Likewise, when producing video, time limits affect the content. That’s just as well because viewers, like readers, have limited time and/or short attention spans. For Youtube, the default length is 15 minutes. In practical terms, that means I cannot demonstrate an hour-long service from start to finish in real time; it needs to be broken down into component parts, or edited to significantly shorten the time. Depending on the topic, it may not be reasonable to focus on only one nail, skip steps and/or provide extensive background information.

Another limitation to consider is video quality. Let’s be realistic; I’m not a professional videographer, nor do I plan to hire one to provide free content online. My new camera equipment and limited skills will suffice; how hard can it be to push a button? If I can’t figure it out, the manual’s available online.

My biggest concern in producing a video is satisfying myself. There’s a reason why I haven’t posted the video, or written the book, that everyone wants: once released, I can’t take it back. Is perfection too much to expect? Probably, knowing that it’s not likely. At some point, I need to be confident that whatever I’ve created is ready to share. Until then, I can procrastinate in pursuit of perfection.

Deadlines can be very motivating; for this project, the deadline will have to be self-imposed. With that said, my first video will be available by May 31 on the PrecisionNails YouTube channel. This date coincides with Premiere Orlando where I’ll be teaching five different classes (topics for future videos). If I happen to post earlier, it would demonstrate that the process went faster/better than expected. As always, I welcome viewer and reader comments; we’re all entitled to our opinions, humble or not.

By Jaime Schrabeck, Ph.D.