Want to Learn How to Tie a Tie in 86 Seconds?

26.10.06

Not Sure How to Tie A Tie? Peel an Apple? Fold Your Clothes?

How-to videos hit the WSJ

The new service, devoted to instructional videos, offers a five-minute, 21-second exposition, "How to Use the Shower," that delivers tips on curtain placement (tuck it inside the tub to prevent splashing) and toweling (dry between the toes). The clip has been viewed thousands of times, as have similar ones on onion chopping, beer pouring and how to tie a half-Windsor knot.

A clip posted on Videojug.com shows how to fold a T-shirt in two seconds.
It's the next iteration of the burgeoning self-help industry: teaching people the obvious. After the success of do-it-yourself books and TV shows that offer expert advice on everything from baking your own wedding cake to remodeling a four-story home, a number of new Web sites are hoping to make money sticking with the basics. On eHow.com, one of the most popular topics is "How to Boil an Egg" -- broken down into six steps of written instructions. Videos at ViewDo.com, launched this summer, address such matters as how to peel and slice an apple. WikiHow.com provides a written tutorial on playing "Hide and Go Seek." (Step Three: "Determine who will be 'It.'... Use 'One Potato, Two Potato' or similar method.")

In many cases, the obvious is proving popular. On VideoJug, a lesson in "How to Brush Your Teeth" ranks well above "How to Make Chicken Jalfrezi" on the site's "Most Viewed" list. The site's video on "How to Fold a T-Shirt in Two Seconds" has been viewed nearly 40,000 times.

Much of this guidance is provided free by ordinary people with a yen to share their expertise. The sites vary in format -- some are primarily text while others have videos -- but they all aim to capitalize on the current craze for "user-generated content" online. Amateur video-sharing sites such as YouTube have been wildly successful at drawing heavy traffic and creating buzz for music videos and movie spoofs. Now, entrepreneurs are hoping for a similar gold mine in the advice business. The sites rely primarily on advertising for revenue and offer their tutorials free.

"Thirty years ago, you'd go ask your neighbor, or you'd call your mom" for help with these matters, says wikiHow founder Jack Herrick. "We're offering another avenue."

In the case of VideoJug, inspiration came from a flat tire. David Tabizel, a 41-year-old veteran of previous Web ventures, says he hit on the idea for a video advice site after a frustrating online search for visual instructions on changing the tire on his car -- something he hadn't done since he was 17.

The videos themselves, he decided, would be a mix of homemade clips submitted by visitors to the site, along with videos made by hired professional producers. The site screens amateur submissions and gets revenue from ads. Today, VideoJug, which officially launched last month, hosts about 2,000 videos, with professionally made clips outnumbering homemade videos thus far. More...

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