#064: Kathy Cabrera on Scripting and Producing ‘Explainer Videos’ for Clients

This week we’re going to talk about yet another little-known opportunity for writers and copywriters—scripting and producing what are typically called “explainer videos” for clients.

Explainer videos are nothing more than 1- to 2-minute simple and engaging explanations of what a product does and how it solves a key problem. They’re not “demo” videos. Rather they’re high-level presentations, usually involving some sort of computer animation or live action.

And they’ve become incredibly popular!

To discuss this opportunity in great detail, I’ve brought in Kathy Cabrera from Red Clip Video. As you’ll hear, Kathy has a unique background that has enabled her to build a growing business around explainer videos.

She’ll explain what this type of work is all about. What it involves. The different opportunities for writers. And what you can charge, depending on what you choose to offer your clients.

The notes that follow are a very basic, unedited summary of the show. There’s a lot more detail in the audio version. You can listen to the show using the audio player below. Or you can subscribe in iTunes or on Stitcher to get this show delivered straight to the Podcasts app on your smart phone, tablet or iPod.

Tell us about yourself

Kathy has worked in marketing for 15 years. While working as an independent consultant, she also pursued her passion for filmmaking. In 2008, she completed a MFA in screenwriting and producing, where she specialized in short films.

Kathy saw that small and mid-size businesses needed help creating short videos for their audiences.

What are explainer videos?

Explainer videos are short, usually animated videos. They’ve become very popular with B2B businesses because they’re a great way to provide detailed information about products and services in an engaging way.

A good explainer video will entertain, engage and explain.

People are more likely to take the action you want if you not only tell them but show them.

The length of these videos depends on where the prospect is in the buying cycle. Generally, the further along they are, the longer their attention span.

An explainer video on a website home page is usually 60-90 seconds. A product demo video might be five minutes long—but that’s for a very select audience farther down the pipeline.

If people identify with the people or situations they see in a video, they’ll continue to watch it for the character story.

What’s involved in creating these videos?

Start by bringing in three to five customers to give you honest feedback on the characters and situations you want to present in your videos. Ask the test audience to read the script, review the storyboard and view the first cuts.

The next step is to develop a story questionnaire to guide the video content.

The questionnaire should include the following questions:

Who is your audience?
What challenges do they have?
What goals do they want to achieve?
What differentiates them from their competition?

Include a call to action at the end of your video.

What part of the creative process are you involved in?

Kathy facilitates story development. She works with different teams to develop the script based on responses to the questionnaire.

Once the script is reviewed by the test audience and revised as needed, a team of illustrators develops the storyboard.

She then works with an animation team to animate the script. They also select the music and voiceovers.

Once she’s created the first cut of the video, she sends it to stakeholders for feedback.

She then recuts the video and tweaks it further as needed.

She checks in with the client at each step. The script shouldn’t move to storyboard until everyone’s input has been addressed. The script has to be approved and locked down before advancing to the next stage, otherwise they’ll have battles in production.

If listeners are interested in writing for explainer videos, but don’t have a production team, what should they do?

If you haven’t been involved in an explainer video before, find a digital marketing partner that has. You can write the content and manage the client and let your digital marketing partner do the rest. Make sure they know how to make videos for your type of audience. Ask for samples.

Working with a digital marketing partner is a great way to learn more about the video creation process.

Do agencies look for writers for this kind of work?


If you can communicate in a targeted, direct, relatable way—then you can write explainer video scripts.

How much can you charge for this type of work?

Pricing depends on the nature of the video. Businesses pay about $3,000-$5,000 for a 90-second, word-driven video.

Something more customized, with a greater emphasis on graphics, costs in the range of $5,000-$6,000.

This pricing covers the cost of production only. If you have to spend more time managing and involving the client, then you should charge more.

Pricing can be less if you use a company’s existing resources, such as a staff writer.

About 25-30 percent of project’s budget goes to the writer.

Do you have any other tips for marketing this as a service?

Approach it from the perspective of your clients’ larger marketing goals. How will an explainer video help them achieve those goals?

Explainer videos can make websites more “sticky.” They can increase email marketing campaign leads and conversion rates.

Don’t approach clients with a plan for just one video. Bundle your explainer video writing services with other collateral. Make yourself part of their larger content plan.

Research what their competitors are doing. If their competitors are all doing video and they’re not, then that’s a compelling reason.