The Air-Filled Life
By Jackie Ochitwa, Contributing Writer
When I decided that I was going to hang up my microphone thirteen years ago, I never would have dreamed that I would one day be using my training to make video tutorials using balloons.
Growing up in a small town in Western Canada, I thought I was going to be a news reporter. I studied journalism and broadcast news, and I trained to be an on-air radio and television personality and journalist.
My first job when I graduated broadcasting school was for Country Music Television Canada. I was the roving reporter sent to cover the bustling summer festival season across the country. When I had my children a few years later, I decided that I would stay home to raise them and I thought the radio and television life was in my past. It would be a few years before I realized the training I had received would come into play in a strange profession.
I started twisting balloons for my children when they were very young. I learned to make simple things from a book we had picked up in one of our trips to the library one day. As with most balloon artists, it wasn’t something I was looking at as a career; it just happened. I started playing with the balloons more and more, and I found I had gotten quite good at making the designs from the book. I started designing my own balloon creations and eventually my friends asked if I would entertain at their children’s birthday parties. I of course said, no. I wasn’t a children’s entertainer; I was a radio personality on a break.
I eventually gave in and started working children’s parties as well as corporate events. I started my company, With a Twist Balloon Creations, in 2010. I would attend my first balloon convention six years later and start teaching other balloon artists around the world the following year.
I shot my first video tutorial at the Pioneer Head Office in Wichita, Kansas, in November of 2017. I have a number of full length video tutorials available on the Qualatex YouTube page as well as on their website. Some videos, such as my fairy tutorial, I made as a bonus especially for Qualatex Balloon Network (QBN) members, but most are available to everybody. Non-members can purchase the tutorial through my online store, With a Twist. I also have my own line of printed faces on Qualatex Quick Links available including a girl face, snowman and baby that are sold exclusively in my store.
This year I have focused a lot of my energy on growing my Instagram account. I have gone from 7,000 followers to almost 40,000 in under four months. This is mostly due to the short instructional videos I have been producing. The videos are all under a minute long and are close-up demonstrations of basic twisting techniques. I’ve used these videos as aids in my classes and resources that my students can refer to after their training day is over.
I set up a home studio with lighting and backdrops that make it really easy to produce professional-looking videos easily. Everything is shot and edited directly on my iPhone. It is truly amazing how far technology has come.
Advice to Retailers
I have friends with balloon shops who have said that they show my videos to their staff members to get everyone on the same page. I’ve made a few videos that how the various twists that are essential to every balloon artist. It breaks them down one by one and is a wonderful tool to teach new twisters and decorators who are looking to add another skill. Sometimes these technique videos are even more important than individual design videos because it gives the viewer the ability to potentially start designing on their own instead of mimicking other people's work.
If you’re interested in making your own video tutorial to promote and grow your business, there are a couple simple things you need to get started:
A good phone for recording. It doesn’t have to be the top-of-the-line model, but I look at my iPhone as an investment. It’s as essential to my business as my balloon inflators. I see my social media pages as my resume and something I can refer my clients to when I want to show them what can be done with balloons and what they can do for their event.
Studio lighting and a photo backdrop. There are many reasonably priced lighting kits on Amazon. If you’re planning on being on video you might want to invest in a ring light as they are wonderful for lighting people.
A video editing app. There are a number of these available for free or for a small fee in the App Store. I like using Kirakira for my tutorials as you have the ability to shoot in a square which is perfect when you upload to Instagram. It also adds a little bit of sparkle to your balloons, which is especially nice if you’re shooting Qualatex chromes. There are a number of editing apps available as well, I use one called Splice which also allows me to watermark my videos.