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How to Use AI to Create Videos with Pictory (with Pete Bennett)

Pictory uses artificial intelligence to create videos. It can create videos based on podcasts, blogs, and other content. It simplifies the video editing process and offers potential for creators, marketers, and others. In this podcast, John McDougall talks with Pete Bennett from Pictory about the advantages and applications of Pictory.

John McDougall: Hey, it’s John McDougall with Talk Marketing Academy, and I’m here today with Pete Bennett from Pictory.ai. Welcome, Pete.

Pete Bennett: Well, thank you very much for having me on the show, John, and pleasure to be here.

Pictory Fills a Gap in the Video Making Space

John: How did you get started with Pictory?

Pete: Well, I’ve been in the video making space for many years, a creator or YouTuber. Well, I started a Facebook group all about making videos with a product known as Content Samurais Vidnami. I’m sure some people are in the video space who have heard of that.

That product was sold to GoDaddy and there was a huge gap in the market. And I was going to develop my own product to respond to that opportunity. But then Pictory reached out to me, I reached out to Pictory and we thought, well, rather than compete, why don’t we use our combined forces to build something that’s even better than Vidnami between us? And I’ve been with them now for about a year or so.

John: Yeah.

Pete: It’s great. The software’s getting better and better every day. Amazing community of nearly 5000 people now, feeding into the design and the roadmap. So yeah, it’s really cool. I’m having a ball.

Using AI to Augment Creativity

John: Yeah, it’s a great space to be in. AI is a big part of the future.

Pete: Yeah, there’s a lot of stuff on YouTube, Twitter, et cetera. Obviously Elon Musk is the biggest name in the sort of AI space, and it’s going to go one of two ways. It’s either going to go very well or very badly. I’m an optimist and I think it’s going to go very well, because what the AI is doing is allowing people who are creative to concentrate on being creative and let the AI take care of the details.

In the same way, I guess that Elon’s having the AI do the grunt work of driving the car. You can concentrate on the destination rather than the actual mechanics of getting there. So within Pictory, what we’re doing is using AI to not replace creators, but to augment their creativity and allow them to produce results, as opposed to just thinking about producing results.

Because, I don’t know if you’ve ever done a lot of video editing, but how can I say it politely? It’s a bit of a pain in the posterior.

How Can Creators Use Pictory to Improve Their YouTube Channels?

John: Yeah, a lot of minutia. And now with YouTube videos, people are putting effort in like filmmakers. Even if it’s just a gardening channel or whatever, there’s all these B-roll and jump cuts and everything. So how could people make use of Pictory to grow their YouTube channel?

Pete: Well, there’s two main functions of Pictory. There is the text to video function, which is what Vidnami majorly focused on, where you take a script or you take a blog post that you already have in written form and put it through Pictory. And Pictory will produce a video at the end of that using its AI by doing the voiceover for you, using the built in AI voices. So that’s text to speech.

But it also has lots of stock footage from Storyblocks and other sources where we can match the video clips to the narration that’s in the script. So if you wanted to do a YouTube video, I don’t know about, let’s use the classic example of dog training, then you’d write your script about how to train the dog and our AI would pick out clips of dogs being trained and add those into the video automatically. And put a music backtrack over that. And if you want to, you can even have the AI read the script for you so you don’t need to read the script. So that’s one use case.

The other use case is for people such as yourself, like we’re doing now. We’re doing a video podcast. Traditionally, what you’d have to do is download this, possibly outsource the production of subtitles or captions as they’re called, to a third party, or sit there and do it yourself, which is going to take a long time. Then you’d have to use something like Premier Pro or Final Cut, any other desktop video editor to do an hour’s worth of video editing using that route.

I’m reckoning, it’s probably going to be four to five hours at least. If you’ve ever done that, it takes a long time.

John: Yeah.

How Pictory Streamlines Video Editing

Pete: But with Pictory, all you do is you upload it to Pictory and it transcribes what we are saying into text. And then you edit the text in the same way that you’d edit a Word document and it automatically edits the video for you. So it removes silences, it’ll remove ums and ers. It’ll add captions, it’ll add background music if you want. You can put B-roll in there. You can put titles and things in.

So it’s making something that would’ve taken the best part of a day into something that’s going to take you an hour or so.

Who Can Benefit From Pictory?

John: Yeah, I’ve tried it, but I’m new to it, so I don’t know all the ins and outs. But what you said makes a lot of sense, especially I would say for two groups of people: for advanced people to save time, but also I think for people like me. I’m an owner of an agency, but that doesn’t make me someone that does video editing all the time or even wants to.

Pete: Yeah.

John: But I really loved that. I watched some of the reviews and demos of how to use it and editing the text in a document and it’s chopping the video. As long as you’re paying attention to how it’s chopping and adjusting, that seems like just a cool feature for a big chunk of people that would much prefer to do it that way.

Pete: It certainly helps people who do a lot of, or make a lot of content, through recording of Zoom calls, Teams calls, Go To Webinar, whatever else, rather than you having a massive job after you finish recording the content to edit it.

The editing is, I wouldn’t say it’s trivial because you still have to do it, but it’s the equivalent of editing a Word document as opposed to getting involved in Premier Pro and Final Cut. And in some ways it’s a difficult sell to people because unless they’ve been through the pain of trying to do it without Pictory, they won’t realize just how much time it saves when they do.

Making Clickbait Viral Videos With Pictory

John: Yeah. One thing that’s just off the cuff is I thought, what about also just almost viral videos or linkbait. I want to make a video in Pictory where I make a really fun conglomeration of fun facts about marketing, for example.

Pete: Yep.

John: And then let the AI pick all these crazy funny things and really play to the strength of that, that it’s just finding things I wouldn’t have thought of. Have you tried that for a linkbait or a…

Pete: Yeah, what a lot of people are doing is producing micro video sales letters effectively.

John: Okay.

Pete: The fun facts things is really good. Let’s use dog training. Three fun facts you didn’t know about your Labrador. Boom, boom, boom.

John: Right.

Pete: Spit it out all over social media, because it’ll produce it in various formats compatible with the different social medias. And then you’ve got a piece of content that’s out there in minutes that will then be intriguing to bring people into your main site or into your main YouTube channel.

Using Pictory to Make Teaser Videos for Social Media

John: Yeah, and that was going to be leading into my next question, was all about social media and how it can help, so especially if you’re thoughtful about the types of content you’re creating for social, Pictory is going to then take it to the next level where it’s going to chop it in ways that are great to share in different formats. Is that part of it?

Pete: Yeah, if we use the webinar or podcast as an example, we can feed this into Pictory and Pictory’s AI will produce a high level summary of this. So we could call it a trailer. So if we do an hour’s webinar, Pictory will make it into a trailer of a minute or two, which you can then post on social media with a link back to watch the full episode.

John: Right.

Pete: If we come out with some words of wisdom, we can just snip out individual sentences.

John: Quotes. Yeah.

Pete: Exactly. And then throw those out with this video.

Making Short YouTube Videos and TikTok’s With Pictory

John: Specifically YouTube shorts, I imagine, too? Or like this? That’s what I was thinking of making out of this, is add a short from this conversation or several.

Pete: Yeah. YouTube shorts, TikTok, obviously same thing. Reels. It’s all the same principle really. And what Pictory does is it makes it easy to find those parts within the text. Because you can do a text search.

If I was to say donuts for instance, you could do a search all the way through the video and just pick out the bit where I’m talking about donuts, because you better search for donuts and then just spit out those words. I think the only way to really appreciate it is to give it a go. I mean, it’s free to try it. Just sign up, give it a go.

Spice Up Old Content With Pictory Videos

John: Yeah, no. I took one of my blog posts and put it in there and it gave me a script. And the first thought I had is, I like the summary script. It’s not perfect, but immediately I want to make a lot of videos. After meeting you in London and some of your great YouTube tips, adding YouTube videos, not just obviously to YouTube, we always add them to our site and put transcripts and that’s good for SEO and all that, but really the idea that not a lot of people spend a lot of effort in SEO.

Going back to old content, Neil Patel talks about this all the time. Go back to old blog posts and spice them up with a video. But if I have to shoot a video for dozens of blog posts, that’s going to be a lot of work. But if I can make something reasonable to add some summary of the post and add schema and let Google re-look at that blog post and say hey, this is a five year old blog post that’s getting some views, but all of a sudden they care about it. They just updated it.

Pete: It’ll get reindexed, won’t it? And that’s one thing that we… We’re moving more and more into helping people with their video marketing, not just making videos. And one of the things that we say is literally go back through your blog, use Pictory, produce a summary video for the blog post, which it will do pretty much automatically. And then embed that within your blog post, wrap it in schema, and suddenly this is, as far as Google’s concerned, this is fresh content. And you’ll get extra brownie points because you’ve marked it with rich media.

John: Yeah.

Outsourcing Pictory Video Production Projects

Pete: And you could outsource this to somebody in a cheaper part of the world if you didn’t want to do it yourself and just say, “Right. Start at the beginning of my blog, go through it. Check out the videos.”

John: Yeah, absolutely.

Pete: I can see you thinking there. That’s what you’re going to do, isn’t it? I can see it.

John: Yeah. Well we have some people overseas and we make great use of them in the most appropriate ways. I’ve had some writers in the Philippines that were amazing writers and I’ve had some that aren’t. And I just hired a video editor in the Philippines and he’s doing okay, but it might be interesting to give him Pictory and see what he can do with that.

We have a graphic designer, been with us over 10 years in the Philippines. He’s amazing, and his level of attention to detail is incredible. But he would be someone I could give this tool, because he’s not really a video editor. Whereas the video editor I hired, maybe he’s more focused on Premier or whatever his tools. But our graphic designer, the full-time guy for years and years, is very reliable and consistent.

But man, that’s a good one to give to him because he is not really a video editor, but he’s got great design sense and can really think ahead of us even, where sometimes you’re outsourcing things and you have to explain every last thing and 50 rounds of edits.

But our guy, Leo, he just really thinks for us, which is cool. So yeah, I should give him Pictory.

Pictory Is Designed to Be Easy to Use

Pete: We’ve designed Pictory… I hope my father never watches this, but we design everything, design everything at Pictory to go through, what I call, the ‘my dad’s test.’ My dad, by definition, is older than me. He’s not stupid by any means, but nor is he techy.

Now, if I gave my dad a Pictory account, and said, “Dad, by lunchtime I want you to have edited this video or made me a video about your dog or your cat,” he’d have some chance of doing it. If I gave him Premier Pro or Final Cut Pro, he’d still be trying to unwrap the packet at lunchtime.

John: Yep. Yeah, my dad’s 85. He owned an advertising agency and adding an attachment to an email took quite a bit of time. But he ran a 60 person ad agency with a hundred million dollar a year accounts, some of them. But tech-wise, things have changed. A certain level of older generation.

Pete: We should maybe have that as our strapline. Designed with Dad in mind.

John: Designed for dad. Designed for grandpa.

Pete: Yeah.

Pictory’s Affiliate Program

John: So what about the affiliate program for Pictory?

Pete: Well yeah, the affiliate program, I spent a long time thinking about the best way to design this. I can give you the link to it if you like, but…

John: Yeah.

Pete: I’ve done it in tiers, so when people first start, then we give them a discount code so that they can give their prospects 20% off any package. And we start by paying a 20% commission to them.

As they refer more and more paying customers, they go up the levels. And the top level commission is 50%. And we even give a thousand pounds cash bonus when they get to the top level, and they get a free lifetime account of Pictory and all that kind of stuff.

John: That’s quite a robust award schedule.

Pete: It took me a while to design it, but there’s a couple of key principles here. One is, I hate it when you go to affiliate programs and you only get commission for say, three months. To me that seems cheap.

John: Yeah.

Pete: We pay out as long as people are still paying us, so it’s lifetime.

John: Yeah. Wow.

Pete: Lifetime of their subscription.

John: Not everyone does that for sure. Yeah.

Pete: Yeah. And we do special promos and competitions if you’re a VIP affiliate. Once you’ve referred, I think from memory, 50 people to us, you become a VIP affiliate. So if we do a promotion, you’ll get extra discount codes that you can give out, which give a deeper discount.

And we also have fun prizes where we give away cash bonuses and good years when people do well for us, because I really like the affiliate model because it means that we pay when they bring us business. And I can either pay Google or Facebook for pay-per-click ads and I think they’re rich enough. Or I can pay people who are genuinely advocates, enthusiasts, fans. I can pay them to spread the love.

So why would I want to pay Google when I can pay real people that need the cash? You know what I mean?

John: Yeah. And if you cheap out on it, then are they really going to just push and push? But if you’re giving them a lifetime thing.

Pete: Yeah.

John: I’m an affiliate for Kinsta and it’s like, oh, you got 80 bucks from Kinsta or something, that’s cool. But that’s a one time… They give you a nice one time thing, I think it is. But the way you’re doing it, that’s really… That’s going to make people want to keep pushing and keep the people they’re turning on to it interested.

Pete: Yeah, we pay a lot of money out every month to affiliates and it’s a real pleasure to do. I’m happy to do it.

John: Yeah.

Pete: And I’ve designed it as well, so that it’s not one of those ones where you’ve got to have separate login IDs for your affiliate account. Basically when you sign up to Pictory, even if it’s a free account, you automatically get the option to become an affiliate just by putting your PayPal address in. And then it all happens automatically.

It took quite a while to get it in place, but it’s working really well. I think about 50% of our revenue at the moment. I think it’s around that level.

John: Wow.

Pete: It’s coming in for affiliates. And we’ve done nothing. We’ve done no paid advertising to promote it. It’s just people spreading love.

Sales and Deals on Pictory

John: Wow. Good for you. That’s fantastic. And what about deals for the program itself right now? Do you have some offers for people?

Peter: Well, we’re running a Black Friday at the moment, but I’m guessing by the time this goes out that may have passed.

John: Yeah.

Pete: So what I’m going to do is set up a promo code and we’re going to call it TMA40, so that’s Top Marketing Academy four zero. And that’ll give the first 20 people that use that code at checkout to upgrade their account, 40% off for the lifetime of the subscription.

John: That’s very generous. Yeah, that’s great.

Pete: Yeah.

John: That is very cool.

Pete: I can only do 20, otherwise my colleagues will be upset with me. But 20 at 40% off is not too bad, is it?

AI Is the Way of the Future

John: Yeah. Well this is the way of the future. I think to circle back to our first part of our chat, I think AI is going to go well, long term. It just might not be as fast as people expect, so you’ve got to stick with these tools.

When I first started in ’95 doing website design and selling it at my father’s ad agency, we had a children’s educational startup and they asked me to do the research. “Well, how soon is it going to be that people will just be able to search from their TV and click on our children’s education?”

We had a TV show for kids. Can they click on the alligator and go buy it from the web and how long until high speed internet is ubiquitous? And in ’95 I did the research and I said yeah, it’s going to be 10 or 20 years. And they’re like, what? I forget what I said.

But I looked at Forrester and different sets of research and it was projected way out and they were kind of pissed at me. Don’t shoot the messenger. This is not going to be five minutes. The Internet’s so exciting, but just have some patience.

And that’s what happened to the whole space, is it imploded because people got ahead of their skis. But then where are we now? The whole world is driven by the internet almost.

Pete: Yeah. Wasn’t it boo.com or something? There’s a few famous failures. It wouldn’t have worked today because there was the bandwidth.

John: And the sock puppet thing. I forget that one.

Pete: Yeah, yeah. Going back a while now, but…

John: Pets.com or something.

Pete: Yeah, I remember first getting internet. Half a meg download was like outrageously fast.

John: Right.

Pete: And now if you’re not on multiples of that, then people think you’re living in poverty.

Why You Should Embrace AI Tools Now

John: Yeah, so with AI tools, check them out. There are cool things happening now, but I’d bet quite a bit on the idea that two years from now, five years from now, they’re going to be a whole nother level. So get used to using them and you’ll get a lot out of it.

Pete: I don’t know if you learned about the Luddites in history. The Luddites were people that smashed up weaving machines when the Industrial Revolution took place, because they thought that the weaving machines were going to make them unemployed.

Now, I think AI is very similar to that, in that you can either fight against it and try and smash it up, or you can embrace it and work with it. So don’t be a Luddite. This is not going to put you out of a job. This is going to help you do a more interesting job.

Using AI as Your Assistant

John: Yeah. I would say with Jasper as an example of that. I’ve used Jasper to write a few pages here and there when I needed to get something going quick. But I use it in a way where, and I’ll get this 300 word blog post and it’s amazing, the structure. And then you can add a thousand words to that quickly in a way, because the AI really thought for you some structure to what the web might like to see out there.

But you just have to make them your assistant and they can make you go further. They’re not going to take your job.

Pete: Definitely.

Where to Find Pictory

John: Yep. All right. Well Pete, it was great talking to you about Pictory.ai and that’s where people can go to find it, right? Pictory.ai?

Pete: Yeah, just go to Pictory.ai and if you use that code… First of all, you’ve got to sign up for a free account and then if you want to upgrade, then say that TMA40 gives you 20… Sorry, 40% off.

If it’s for you, great. If not, that’s also cool.

John: Yeah. Yeah. That sounds good. Yeah, I’ll definitely be using it and try a bunch of different things. Well, good talking to you, Pete. This has been John with Pete from Pictory.ai for Talk Marketing Academy. Talk to you soon.

Pete: Brilliant. Thanks very much for having me.

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