Editing Tips for Online Video

As I’ve mentioned previously, the difference between a confusing visual mash-up and an online video that can help you sell often boils down to what happens after you shoot the video. Post-production — what you do with your video editing software — is where you assemble the whole project and get it ready to go in front of your potential customers.

You don’t need to develop professional-grade editing skills to produce a solid sales video. The basics of editing a sales video are straightforward — you just need to apply them consistently. Here are three important areas to focus on when you take your online sales video into post-production:

Timeline and trim

Before you do anything else, you need to import all of the video for your magnum opus into your video editing software and organize the scenes into a sensible sequence, or timeline. If all of your video is one, long “take,” you probably need to re-read  some basic video tips and start over. Otherwise, build your timeline to deliver the most sales information in the least amount of time.

“Time” is the critical resource to keep in mind when you’re organizing the video’s timeline. You don’t have a lot of it. Figure maybe 10 seconds to engage your potential customer, and not much more than a minute to finish the whole thing. After a minute — unless you’re very clever — your audience starts dropping off rapidly. If you shoot your video with a plan and with the editing process in mind, you shouldn’t have any problems. Otherwise, you’ll need to ruthlessly trim out every second that doesn’t contribute to selling.


In written communications, you use punctuation to tell readers what’s going on. When you edit a video, transitions perform the same function. Instead of using commas, periods and new paragraphs to get your point across, you’ll be using cuts, fades and digital video effects (or “DVE”).

Transitions are such an important part of the video vocabulary that they deserve in-depth treatment, but that’s best left for another time. For now, you just need to remember a few elementary guidelines. Straight cuts should be used to transition between “views” in a single scene or continuous action. Use dissolves (or “cross-fades”) of short duration (2 seconds at most) to change between scenes or locations.

Longer dissolves, or DVEs like a wipe, are typically used to cue the viewer to the passage of time, so they’re more of a story-telling tool than something you’re likely to use in a sales video. Fades — fade-ins and fade-outs — are also story-telling tools, although short fades can lend some elegance to your videos when used properly.


Once you have your video organized, and all the pieces connected with transitions, it’s time to consider adding titles. I’m not talking about an extended “Phineas and Ferb” style title sequence here — after all, it’s a sales video — but rather a few pieces of key written information that help viewers quickly engage with and understand the video.

A bumper, or identity, is a short piece of animation (not more than a few seconds) that identifies your business. It’s an important branding element, and I highly recommend investing in the creation of a bumper if you want to emphasize video as a sales tool. Use a bumper to introduce every video you produce.

Other titles will depend on your video’s content. A brief opening graphic describing the video’s contents, “Spacely Sprockets’ Spring Sprocket Sale” for example, can generate viewer engagement. Super-imposed text (“lower thirds”) can be used to identify locations or important speakers/subjects in the video. Titles should be used sparingly, but can play an important role in giving your video a polished appearance.

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