This is a guest post by Logan Marshall.

“Do I really have to film this? It’s so stupid!”

I’m 12 years old and perched on the top of my parent’s minivan like James Bond. My best friend Willie stands below me. Holding a video camera. His head cocked to one side in a look of amused bewilderment.

“What?” I reply, “YES you have to film this! Watch me, it’s gonna be SICK!

Determined to showoff my newfound parkour ability, I spring from the hood like a FELINE TIGER NINJA. Soaring through the air, I complete a triple backflip, drink a gallon of pure maple syrup, grow a full beard and construct a complete architectural model of Manhattan, all before landing oh-so gently on my feet.

Yeah, that didn’t happen.

What actually happened probably looked more like this.

Anyhoo, as you can probably guess from the story above, (in addition to having a delusional sense of my own coolness) I’ve always wanted to create an epic video. Something that would blow people away. Make them take notice.

I made valiant attempts with Insane Flip, Insane Juggling and Tomato Head Shot… but never really hit the cinematic nail on the head.

Until now.

Click here to experience the Forge Your Freedom launch trailer.

Yeah, so maybe my trailer doesn’t deserve an Oscar, or an Emmy, or a Webby, or even a duct-taped wooden trophy, but I think it’s pretty sweet.

Best part?

It cost me a grand total of $0.00 to create.

Not bad. Not bad at all.

In this post, I’m going to show you exactly how I did it. And how you can make your own. From choosing the right music, to getting killer footage, to editing your trailer without driving yourself insane, it’s all here. Everything I know, at least.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m no video expert.

No, I haven’t worked at Pixar.

However, over the past few years I HAVE discovered a few secrets that have worked incredibly well for me.

Secrets that few people know about.

Except you. Starting today.

Why Should You Create A Video Trailer?

First, let’s get clear on WHY you should create a trailer in the first place. What will it do for you and your blog?

In addition to their entertainment factor, trailers are killer marketing tools. Absolutely BEASTLY. They can skyrocket your conversion rate, build massive anticipation and spread like viral wildfire.

As Jon Morrow wrote it after releasing his trailer:

“Seven days into the launch for my new blog, I already had 1,740 email subscribers. I’d picked up over 1,000 new Twitter followers, hundreds of whom were enthusiastically gabbing about me to all their friends. I also had 673 likes and dozens of comments on a new Facebook fan page.”

Now of course I can’t guarantee that you’ll see similar (or any) results, but the essence of what I’m saying here remains:

Trailers kick ass.

Big time.

Here’s how to make one.

Note: From here on out, things get pretty “technical.” A tad hardcore. So prepare yourself. We’re about to go all in

First Things First

Okay. So before you perform any business activity, there’s usually some work to be done. Some internal, high leverage details to sort out.

Before you bust-ass driving traffic or launching a product or creating a trailer, you must first determine:

  1. What is the purpose of this activity? What am I trying to achieve?
  2. Who is it for? What target audience am I trying to reach?
  3. What pain/problem does my offering solve?
  4. How can I speak to my audience’s “hot buttons” in a way that motivates them to take action?

I’ve already written an extensive guide on this topic.

You can check it out here.

Seriously, go there now and read that post.

I think you’ll find it pretty “eye opening.”

Once you’ve read it, come back here and we’ll continue.

Okay welcome back.

You now understand that before you drive traffic you must:

  1. Discover an UNMET need.
  2. Define a narrow target audience.
  3. Craft a USP that speaks directly to your audience’s “pain points.”
  4. Design a killer conversion system.

Well, the same is true for creating a trailer.

Before you shoot and edit something phenomenal, figure this stuff out.

If you do, your trailer will ignite a “feeding frenzy” of ferocious excitement. People will literally be bouncing around like Sifaka lemurs come launch day BEGGING you to disclose your secrets.

The 3 Key Components Of An Effective Trailer

In essence, a trailer is a conversion machine.

A tool created for the purpose of list building.

With this in mind, your trailer must achieve three things:

1. It must clearly convey your USP in an intriguing way.

It must demonstrate that you are not just like everyone else and that you have UNIQUE VALUE to offer.

Just because trailers are so uncommon online, creating one will often be enough to make you stand out, but don’t count on it. Show your visitors that you have created something original. Something creative. Something so INSANELY EPIC that they can’t help but want to learn more.

2. It must “emotionally motivate” your audience.

This is the MOST IMPORTANT factor.

If you’re a marketer, you know that people don’t make decisions based on logic. People make decisions based on EMOTION.

With this in mind, it’s your job to create an emotional response in your visitors. To get them to FEEL why your site matters and why they should pay attention. (I’ll talk more about how to do this in a second).

3. It must get people to take action.

And finally, your trailer should be designed to achieve one thing: to get people to take a desired action. This is its purpose.

So be sure to tell people SPECIFICALLY what you want them to do. Otherwise all your cinematic genius will go to waste.

How To Create An Epic Video Trailer

With all that theoretical jibber-jabber out of the way, let’s get practical. Let’s dive into the step-by-step “trailer creation formula,” starting with…

Step 1: Refine Your Marketing Message

We’ve already been over this, but I think it deserves repeating.

Before you edit a single frame, you must nail-down an original offer that solves an unmet need, speaks to tangibles and “emotionally motivates” your audience.

Don’t neglect this.

Step 2: Select Your Music

The next step is to select the right music. That perfect track. That legendary ballad.

This can make or break your trailer.

While the visuals you choose are important, your music will determine the overall feel of your trailer.

The vibe.

The level of inspiration and emotion.

Personally, I prefer epic instrumental tracks.

Tracks like this.

Tracks that start soft and build to a climax of auditory awesomeness.

Where do you find such tracks?

Well, as long as you get permission from the artist, you can (potentially) use any song you find.

But this is often hard to do.

So, for finding permission free music, I recommend Audio Jungle. For about 10 bucks you can find a soundtrack so epic that it will put the Lord of the Rings trilogy to shame.

Step 3: Write The Script (If There Is One)

You’ve got your message. You’ve got your music.

Now it’s time to write the script and create a “storyboard” for your trailer.

While I can’t write a script for you, here are a few tips:

Be short and to the point.

People do NOT want to read paragraphs of text or listen to you recall the story of your life. They’re too busy, and to be honest, they simply don’t care.

Unless your trailer is immediately relevant and captivating, people will leave as fast as they came, running for the back button and never looking back.

So be concise, be straightforward and get to the point right away. Tim Ferriss’s trailer is 59 seconds. Learn from the master.

“Model” your trailer after other videos.

The first trailer I ever made was in the health and fitness niche. It was for the launch of my first product called the Wild Movement Guide.

As you can see, I CLEARLY modeled it after Tim’s 4 Hour Body Trailer. (Don’t tell anyone.)

When you are creating a trailer to promote your next big project, I highly recommend you model it off a video you like. A video that has already proven to be effective. This makes things so much easier.

Want a few good examples?

Here are seven trailers that rock:

4 Hour Body
4 Hour Chef
Dollar Shave Club
Boost Blog Traffic
Toms Shoes
Charity Water September Campaign

Visuals work better than words.

At the risk of sounding like an absolute cheese ball of fluff, I’m gonna throw in the obvious cliché:

“A picture is worth thousand words.”

But it’s true.

Remember: you are trying to emotionally motivate your audience to take action. To stimulate a visceral reaction. This is your #1 goal.

And you tell me…

What gives you a warm fuzzy feeling:

1. The word dog, or…
2. The Puppy Track and Field Championships?

Yeah, don’t ask me where I find these videos.

Step 4: Get Your Footage

Okay, here’s where things get very cool.

If you haven’t seen my trailer already, go ahead and watch it now.

As you can see, I’ve got some pretty epic shots in there. Flying over mountains, backflip on a snowboard, crazy time lapse awesomeness…

Where did I get em?

And how the HELL did I get them for free??

Well my friends, let me introduce you to a beautiful little thing called Video Blocks and their 7 days of free downloads.

As their website declares,

“Download from 50,000+ clips of video, motion backgrounds, sound effects and production music FREE for 7 days!”

And lemme tell you, it’s legit. No hidden catches. No backdoor sneak attack scams. Just 7 days of downloading as many awesome clips as you want!

Typically, the kind of footage I got for my trailer would cost between $30-$100 PER CLIP. But with Video Blocks, you can get everything you need to blow people away for a big fat total of nothing.

Very cool stuff.

In addition to free stock footage, I also recommend adding high quality video of YOU if you have it. This adds a “personal” dimension to your trailer that people will (hopefully) resonate with.

Step 5: Edit Like You Know What You’re Doing

When it comes to editing, I don’t know what I’m doing.

That’s for sure.

But, with my trusty pal iMovie and a few hours of trying to HEAR the beat changes, I was able to create something pretty decent.

When editing your video, you have a few choices:

  1. If you have a Mac, you can learn the ropes of iMovie and start editing immediately. It’s easy. Literally drag and drop.
  2. If you have another editing program like After Effects or Adobe Premiere,you can use that to put together your video.
  3. If you’ve got some extra dough lying around (or if you’re lazy), you can outsource it. Go to eLance or oDesk, post a job and let someone else take care of business. Yes, this will cost a hundred bucks or so, but when you consider that Tim spent $12,000 and many movies spend over $50,000, I’d say you’re doing alright.

However you choose to complete the job, spend some time making your trailer just the way you want it. Don’t obsess, but also don’t slap together something crappy.

Once your trailer is online it will work for you for a long time.

Make an impression. Make it count.

Step 6: Publish And Build The “Buzz”

You’re almost there. Sweet.

Now that you’ve designed, created and edited your trailer, it’s time to put it to work.

Here’s how:

1. First, create a “launch page” that you will send people to. All you need on this page is your trailer and an opt-in form. Social media buttons are optional.

Check out examples here and here.

2. Next, syndicate your video across all the online video channels. Upload it manually to Youtube to increase your chances of ranking. Use One Load to distribute it everywhere else.

Step 7: Spread The Word

And finally, the last step is to spread the word. To flood your launch page with traffic and give your trailer the best chance of going “viral.”

How do you accomplish this?

Here are my top four ways:

1. Guest post or host a Webinar

Do what I’m dong right now and land guest posts on popular blogs linking back to your site. But wait. It’s not quite that easy. In order to maximize the effectiveness of your guest posting, there are a few key things you should focus on:

  • Write for BIG blogs. One guest post on a huge blog is better than 100 posts on small blogs.
  • Spend the time to create truly epic posts. Posts that people naturally want to share. I’m talking 2,000+ words, clever examples, links to other blogs, images – the whole shebang. In addition, I recommend linking to your landing page WITHIN your content as well as in your “byline.” This way, everyone who reads the post will be aware of your trailer.
  • Optimize your landing page. Test and track your conversion rate in order to grow the biggest list with the least amount of effort.

In addition to guest posting, you can also host a webinar where you present killer content to another blogger’s audience and in return get to promote your trailer and upcoming project.

2. Social Media

As soon as you can, even before you create your video and launch page, start building a social media presence. At least create a Twitter account and a Facebook Fan Page.

Personally, I don’t focus too much on social media (email marketing is where it’s at), but it’s important to start creating awareness of your project as soon as possible.

If you already have a following, use social media to notify your “tribe” and get the ball rolling.

3. Email Marketing

Not too much to say for this one. If you have a list, send over an “anticipation building” email or two linking to your trailer and getting people excited about your upcoming project.

If you don’t have a list, start building one immediately.

4. Existing Connections

If you already have online connections, ask them to spread the word for you. If they believe in your message, they’ll likely be happy to help.

Bottom Line

Above all, there’s one key message I want you to take away from this post.

And that’s this:

You don’t need a huge budget, years of experience or powerful connections to “run with the big dogs.” The monetary barrier between the “experts” and the average Joe has never been lower. And it’s continuing to shrink every day.

No, you probably won’t create an award-winning trailer on your first try, but you can get close. Real close.

So don’t think that just because you’re a beginner or have a small budget you can’t make unthinkable progress.

With the right knowledge, hustle and dedication, anything is possible.