We all know that video is king in today’s online space. That’s why marketers are all jumping on board this type of digital marketing. But if you’re an SMB, agency, or an aspiring vlogger, you might be quick to assume that making high-quality video content for your audience (or your clients’ audiences) takes a lot of money and fancy, confusing equipment.
Plot twist: It doesn’t have to be this way.
To help you, we’ve gathered six simple tricks you can apply to record stunning video content on any budget — without having to break the bank.
How to Record Amazing Videos, Regardless of Your Budget
1. Have a light source in front of you.
Lighting can make or break your video.
If you’re on a budget, you can use ring lights, softbox lights, or umbrella lighting kits that are sold online for under $60. These provide perfect natural-looking illumination and create flattering looks for the subject. Here’s one example. At the time of this blog, this ring light on Amazon is $26.
What’s so great about ring lights is that they create the perfect glow around your face.
Don’t want to drop any cash just yet? No problem. Alternatively, you can use lamps from your home that are bright enough. They’re still going to make a huge difference.
Let’s talk about using the easiest source of all: natural light. If you’re shooting indoors, find a window and record where there’s sufficient natural light. If outdoors, go for morning or early evening shoots to get softer light, or find the best time of day that suits the color scheme you’re going for.
In any case, remember to position the light source in front of you so that it casts your whole face in the light. If it’s behind you, it creates a shadow or silhouette, making you appear “washed out.”
Finally, you’re probably going to want to be sure to avoid direct sunlight – it’s pretty harsh (and bad for your skin) and can create shadows on your subject. Plus, direct sunlight makes you look blown out. This is why windows work so well. They’re kind of the perfect balance.
2. If you’re using you’re a smartphone, use the “outside” camera.
Your video quality is arguably the most crucial aspect of your content (outside of the value your provide and the quality of your content, of course). Luckily, today’s smartphones are equipped with high-end cameras that can record professional-quality videos, so you don’t need to buy new fancy new ones.
When recording with a phone, make sure to use the “outside” or “back” camera because it offers a better quality, often twice the megapixels of the front camera. You should also avoid flipping your phone so that you can see your screen or yourself because this will result in a mirror effect (or how others see you).
Similarly, place your camera slightly above eye-level and look at the lens when recording, so that your eyes will be directed at the viewers. And don’t forget to position your phone based on the platform you plan to share the content on. If it’s for YouTube or Facebook, you want to record it in landscape mode (horizontally situated). If it’s for Instagram stories specifically, you want portrait (vertical).
Bonus tip: Use a tripod to stabilize your camera when recording. Tripods can be super affordable, and they even make them for smartphones! Here’s one example.
If you don’t have a tripod, get creative with what you do have! Try using your desk, a shelf, or a stack of books. All you need is something stable, sturdy, and level. Honestly, it can be anything.
3. Consider an outside audio source, like a simple lapel mic.
Like lighting and video quality, audio makes a big difference in your content. If you’re recording using a phone, the built-in microphone will get the job done. However, it can also produce echoes or feedback sounds. Is this a total deal-breaker? No. But if you’ve got just a few bucks to spare, here’s our recommendation.
Even if you’re on a budget, it’s wise to invest in quality equipment like an external audio source. One affordable yet really high-quality option is a lavalier lapel mic that works well when you’re filming outdoors, standing away from your phone, or doing a lot of speaking or interviews. There are tons of options on Amazon. Here’s one of them, which is currently $16.
These mics can be so powerful that sometimes, you don’t even need to clip them to your clothes. You can simply set them down in front of you, and they’ll still pick up the audio.
Essentially, you’ll want to eliminate external noises and capture only the important sounds of your content. Again, your built-in phone mic might do the job. However, an external mic can make the sound extra-crisp – which is what you’d want to go for.
4. Set up a dedicated space and professional-looking background.
It’s ideal to have a dedicated space where it will be convenient for you to record stunning video content. It doesn’t have to be a big area, but just adequate enough for you to easily move around and fit any equipment you do decide to use. This will also make your shots look consistent and help you be more efficient as you wouldn’t need to set up things every time you’re recording.
Similarly, it’s essential to have a background that sets the scene and tone of your videos. This one doesn’t have to be expensive — you can use what you have and where you are. As a rule of thumb, simple and neutral backgrounds works well. After all, you want your viewers to be focused on you/the subject, not the background.
For example, if you’re recording in your home office, you can use your bookshelf, trophy case, or nice plant corner as the background. You may also consider using a green screen to project a backdrop image, although this is of course an extra investment and requires a little knowledge when it comes to the editing process. Alternatively, you can invest in video background kits that are available online for under $100.
Feel free to keep this simple. It can be as low-key as hanging a piece of fabric behind you.
Whatever space and background you choose, make sure it fits suits your branding and topic. As an added bonus, this helps your viewers get comfortable with you. When they repeatedly see a similar setting in all of your videos, it’s familiar to them and helps further cement your relationship.
5. Record With a Little Breathing Room Around Your Face
As a rule of thumb, if the focus of the video content is a person, when you’re looking at them in the video, there should be at least a hand-width area of empty space above their head. Here’s a sample screenshot.
See how there’s a little wiggle room at the top, above the head?
You do this because in the editing process, you want a little buffer. You might decide to crop certain segments of the video differently, or perhaps zoom in. If and when that happens, you’re going to need that extra space in the original video content. If you can zoom out with your camera, that’s one option. If not, simply increase the distance between you and the camera.
This will really come in handy for when you’re wrapping your video up, which brings us to our sixth and final tip.
6. Pay attention to the final touches.
Once you’re done recording, it’s time to put everything together in the editing and conversion processes.
There are a lot of video editing tools available, so carefully research and choose the one that’s right for you and your brand. If you’re on a budget or a beginner, Open Shot is a great option because it’s free and has a super-intuitive interface. You can also use the built-in video editors of your laptop – iMovie for Mac users and Windows Movie Maker for WindowsPC users.
Yes, there are other paid options out there that might be more robust. For example, Adobe Premiere. If you have the money to spend and the time to learn it, then go for it! Just bear in mind that there is indeed a learning curve with the more pro-level tools. And like we’ve said a few times in this blog, you can still do it for free, if you’d prefer.
You’ll also need a graphic design tool when finalizing your video edits, designing your thumbnail, or making an intro and outro screen. We recommend that you use Canva, which has pre-set dimensions and a ton of templates that make it quick and easy to create eye-catching channel art, icons, and thumbnails. The free plan is great — so good, in fact, that you probably won’t object to upgrading. (Plus, Canva easily integrates with e-clincher!)
Become a Pro With Video Content
Recording memorable, eye-catching videos doesn’t have to be expensive or challenging. Using these six tips, you can create videos that will gain views and loyal followers, as well as help send traffic to your site. Add in your creativity and imagination (and minimal investments), and you’re well on your way to record and produce videos that will make your brand stand out.
However, remember that this is not a one-way street, nor is it a one-size-fits-all process. What may work well for others may not produce the same results for you. Testing is important. Try one batch of videos with one style, and then test another style. Monitor your analytics and insights and look for patterns. What’s working? What isn’t? Once you’re able to come to these conclusions, adjust your approach accordingly.
What’s additionally important is that you stay true to your brand’s voice and focus on providing relevant and valuable content for your audience. No amount of preparation or expensive equipment will make up for low-quality or irrelevant videos. Quality and value matter above all else.
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Which one of these video content tips will you use first? Let us know in the comments section below.