Be Unique

10.01.2017 |

Episode #5 of the course How to make a viral video by Carlos P. Beltran


Easier said than done. Without hundreds of millions of dollars, being “unique”—revolutionizing the storytelling industry and filming the next great American classic—seems far away and unrealistic. But have you seen the videos that have historically gone viral? Most of them have been one-takes shot on cheap cameras.

The Sneezing Baby Panda
Evolution of Dance
Numa Numa
Star Wars Kid

The one thing all of these have in common, aside from being amateur-shot videos, is how different they are (or were, back then). They are all unique in their own way—silly, quirky, unapologetic, raw.

If you are a freelance journalist or online content producer, you won’t be making either multi-million dollar Hollywood blockbusters or one-take one-hit wonders. So how do we differentiate our work, our stories, in such a cluttered social media market? We find our style—our voice—and use it when telling the story of the subjects we put in front of the camera.

Does that sound difficult? It should. Finding one’s voice is an insightful, deep study we need to go through as storytellers. We don’t want to be just like everyone else, certainly not when it comes to telling our stories and producing our content. If we are like everyone else, why should AJ+, Discovery Digital Networks, Great Big Story, or Now This ever hire us to produce content for them instead of the next producer they see?


How to find your voice/style

I always give the same advice when someone asks me about how to find their voice. “Don’t hold back and take risks.” One of the reasons most of us feel like we’re doing the same cookie-cutter work every now and then is because we are constantly trying to conform to the conventions “proven to work” on social media.



Next time you are either conceptualizing, shooting, or editing a video, think of how you can make it stand out. Remember this is a trial and error type of thing. This exercise can very well open your eyes as you sincerely analyze your work, but if done quickly and without insight, it may lead you to produce a piece that might just be different for all the wrong reasons. And that’s when you know you’re just trying too hard.



Watch closely and see the difference in styles from these two videos from the social media powerhouse AJ+. One video was produced by Irene Herrera, a visual journalist based in Tokyo, Japan. The other video was produced by me in Miami Beach, Florida. Can you see differences in style? Keep in mind that both videos were produced for the same media network and have to comply with certain conventions and editorial rules. However, they still showcase a level of uniqueness from their authors.

Tomorrow, we move onto the fourth and final principle: Focus on Humanity.


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