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How to Create Professional Video on a Budget

Embarking on a video marketing adventure may seem pricey for a lot of small businesses, but you can get stuck in for a surprisingly minimal outlay...Creating video can seem like a daunting task. Putting the stresses of physically getting on camera aside, there’s a whole world of recording equipment and techniques out there. Many small businesses get hung up on the high price tags associated with posh cameras and fall at the first hurdle.

However if you want to get started with business video, the answer may be in your pocket, in your handbag, or beside you on your desk. You might even be using it to read this article! I am, of course, talking about your smartphone.

Now, we’re not going to be shooting flashy or overly complex videos – if you want a highly polished promo video, you’re probably better saving the pennies and going to a professional videographer (such as Yell’s video production service). But for simple, regularly-produced ‘talking head’ videos and vlogs to post on video sharing and social media platforms, a phone is more than fine – and there’s no time like the present to get started!

Let’s Begin

Most smartphones nowadays feature high quality cameras capable of recording video footage, so filming on your phone may provide surprisingly crisp results. Recording short, informative videos on your phone and posting them to social media – or indeed using social livestreaming – are great ways to start dipping your toe into video and building your confidence on camera.

Before you start, look at the different video platforms out there and familiarise yourself with the pros, cons, and general foibles of each platform. For example, videos featuring in an Instagram feed need to be in a square format and under 1 minute in length, but YouTube videos are best filmed in landscape mode and can be up to 12 hours in length (or 128GB whichever is less). Do your homework into the platforms you want to use before taking the plunge.

Always aim for quality over quantity with any content you produce. If making a video every week would mean you’d have to scrimp on quality, then it’s better to reduce the frequency and funnel more quality into each video.

Think long and hard about what you want to achieve from your video adventure. What themes do you want to cover? Who is your target audience? What practical benefits would you like to see (e.g., an increase in sales or enquiries)? If you aren’t sure, it might be worth your while carrying out some market research to establish what your audience want from you.

Your Equipment

This might seem like a totally obvious thing to consider, but you’ll really kick yourself if you forget it; consider your device’s memory and battery life before filming. Keep additional spare memory cards and external power banks to hand; if your phone doesn’t allow for external memory cards, prepare beforehand by copying data you want to keep over to a separate device and removing any apps or media that you no longer need.

Nobody likes to watch video that’s been held by a shaky hand, so wherever possible use a small phone tripod (available fairly cheaply online) to keep your shots steady.

If you prefer someone holding the phone by hand when filming, you could consider investing in a phone rig. A phone rig is an inexpensive frame that attaches to your mobile phone especially for video recording, and can help you stabilise your shot. You can also attach microphones and lighting to a rig, so if you film out and about a lot, they’re well worth a look.

Getting Ready to Film

Before you start rolling, it’s essential to get an idea for what kinds of video content you like. Observe other professional creators that you follow and make a note of any particular styles and techniques that you like about their filming and presentation. Obviously never copy styles outright, but more experienced creators can provide some great inspiration.

Always prepare thoroughly for each video. Create notes about what you want to discuss, how you want to discuss it and what specific points you want to cover.

Perform keyword research for the subjects you want to create video about. Look at Google Trends and keyword tools like Google Keyword Planner to see if there’s suitable demand for each subject. Remember that the best content solves problems for your audience and answers any common questions they may have.

Lights, Camera, Action!

Never just set your camera rolling and start recording, you need to be aware of your background and surroundings first. Take stock of where the light is coming through the windows, where shadows are being cast in the foreground and on the people you’re filming. Take a selection of small videos to test where is best to place your phone, where’s best to place the people in the video, to make sure the sound is ok, and to generally ensure you’re happy to continue.

Try to avoid harsh lighting or shadows where possible, and make sure there are no unwanted reflections showing in any shiny surfaces on camera (for example you may be using a lamp that reflects brightly off your spectacles when you sit in front of the camera). Aim for light sources to be in front of people on camera, not behind them.

Many video creators swear by the “rule of thirds” when composing a shot, and many smartphone cameras show rule of thirds grid lines within their camera apps by default. It’s all explained in more detail here:

And lastly on the point of actual filming, as you get into the swing of creating video, try out different methods to see what suits you best. Do you prefer reeling off a whole video in one take? Or do you prefer lots of short snippets edited together? Do you like to create a script that you read verbatim? Or would you rather keep some basic notes and freeform the words in between? What time of the day do you prefer to film? What editing software do you get on with the most? [Sidenote: by the way, HitFilm 4 Express is a good free editing tool.] These are all important preferences that you’ll form as you get into your own video creating groove.

Promoting Your Content

If you are looking to host your videos on platforms like YouTube or Vimeo, always remember to give each video its own keyword-rich title and description that accurately portrays the topics and solutions that you present within that video. This will make your video easy to find and give some text for search engines to index.

If you have a blog function on your website (and you really should have), you can present each video as a blog post, embedding the video in the post and providing supplementary information on the same page.

Think about how frequently you want to post your videos, and how long you want them to be – aim for a certain level of uniformity in this decision. Start by creating short, regular posts, published in a predictable pattern (such as one 3 minute video published every Thursday). You can always change production frequencies and video length as your journey develops.

And last, but certainly not least, keep sharing your videos (and indeed any content) on social media and elsewhere for maximum exposure for as long as the information is still relevant and useful.

#videomarketing needn’t be pricey! Here’s our guide to creating meaningful smartphone video. Click To Tweet

Have you taken the plunge into video creation yet? If not, what do you feel is holding you back? Do you have any business (or non-business!) video creator that you look up to? Let’s have a chinwag in the comments below!