3 Simple Steps - How to save money and create engaging YouTube marketing videos with your smartphone
We have all seen some pretty awful videos on YouTube - terrible lighting, awkward composition and big stinky dogs on couches. I love big stinky dogs but not on the couch, with their privates showing, in a business video. Very distracting. I only mention this because I actually saw this in a video once, from a business coach.
We’ve also seen some web-celebs with gorgeous loft studios and a professional video crew. That's on my bucket list, too!
But not today.
Like me, you likely have limited time and money to spend on marketing video production. Our system helps you optimize the most important part of your video - content and viewer engagement. In the beginning stages of shooting marketing videos for Youtube or other platforms, your focus should be on the content and not necessarily on a fancy set up.
The whole goal of our system is to get you sharing your wisdom with decent quality marketing videos as soon as possible, not futzing around with cameras and gear, or worrying about what room in your house you have to clean up first.
At the same time, you don’t want to look terrible on video. You want a video that complements the quality of your brand without breaking the budget.
The Fab Video, Finally Done is a balanced system to save you time and money on good quality DIY videos that keep your viewer focused on you and the content.
It might surprise you but the place to start creating YouTube marketing videos with your smartphone is actually to conduct some content keyword research. I cover a quick way to get started HERE.
This does not have to take more than a couple of hours, and it will save you time when you post your videos to YouTube, not to mention it will make it easier for Google to match up your videos with the people that are looking for your information or product or service. You can always go back later and do more research as your engagement with your audience increases.
If you just can't make yourself do some quick research and instead simply want to dive in, OK. Do this: Create videos that answer the top questions your clients always ask, and keep the answers under one minute. Remember, rambling is death in marketing videos. And don't forget to schedule some planning time to do your keyword research before you create a bunch of videos. If you don't use the right keywords in your titles, your script and your tagging, it is sort of like if you are giving a big speech you spent a lot of time preparing for, and the mic goes out. Only the front row will hear you, and the rest of the audience will leave.
This is how we keep it simple - check out our list of the only 4 things you need to shoot with your smartphone.
CAMERA: We recommend you shoot with your smartphone.
SOUND: Use a simple lapel mic that plugs into the headphone jack or the headphone jack adapter.
HOLD STILL: Stabilize your shot with a tripod either table top or regular.
GET CLOSER: The other way that we simplify your life is we asked you to get close to the camera. Stand about 3 feet away. The mic we recommend doesn’t let you get much further away than that, anyway. You don’t have to do a super close-up, but we want your shoulders and head to be the main focus of the frame. See the screenshot from beauty blogger Dominique Sachse below for examples.
Here is a screenshot of yours truly, obviously NOT a beauty blogger. lol.
There are practical reasons why we ask you to get closer.
The first one is that about 50% of videos are viewed on mobile phones or tablets, your viewers are watching you on a very small screen. We want them to see your face clearly.
The second reason we ask you to get close to the camera is because the closer you are, the less you have to worry about your background. You only have to have an unclutter one corner of the room, not the whole room. You don’t have to worry about that load of unfolded laundry on the chair behind you. (or am I the only one who has chairs that are really glorified laundry baskets?)
Try to find out if most of your audience is viewing videos on their mobile phone. If so, consider formatting the video with a square in the edit - talk with your editor ahead of time or contact us for advice. Its not hard but its a bit technical to get into in this post.
Bottom line is, we ask you to get close to the camera because if you are filling most of the screen, it makes it easy to reformat your video and retain decent quality.
Are you coveting the softly lit, muted uncluttered artsy background of some YouTube gurus? Just keep in mind once again that people are watching videos more often on their phone than a computer. Small details in your shot will get lost and unnecessary clutter in the background will add visual confusion. Just start with this system. It will save you at least a day of futzing around with your background and lighting.
You can always upgrade the environment of your mini studio later if you like.
Try not to write and shoot one video at a time if you can help it. Shoot for (ha!) a minimum of 3 videos at a time.
Once you have your content outlined, order your equipment for your shoot, if you need to.
While you wait, you can write your scripts.
Write at least 3 scripts all at one time. Then, set up your ministudio and practice your scripts. Shoot all three videos on the same day.
As you get more practice you can bump that number up. I have shot up to 15 videos all at one time in an afternoon.
Marketing videos in general should not be longer than 5 minutes, the optimum length is 1 to 2 minutes, so this is the perfect project for batching.
We have much more detail about all of this and more, including lighting tips, where to set up your mini-studio, how to set up your shoot, how to frame your shot, camera confidence and much more in our Ultimate Guide to Fab Videos, Finally Done, part of our complete system to help entrepreneurs transform their business with video. Looking for furrther ideas about where to get started? Check out this blog post on the 3 essential videos every business needs (including scripts!)
I am an minimalist who likes to move fast. Some people tell me I'm impatient. Not so.
I have infinite patience with my kids, waiting 4 minutes for good French press coffee or waiting on my sweet Meximan Sergio who is never on time. Never.
I can be patient, but I don't like to futz with unnecessary complexity.
I recently downloaded a “How to Shoot Video” guide from a social media marketing company. It was a fabulous guide.
It was also way too much.
The equipment list included 7 cameras, 5 mics, and all sorts of other stuff you don’t need to know about to do smartphone video recording, unless your goal is to become a videographer or video producer. I would bet you 1000 pesos the guide was written by a videographer or video producer, not a marketer. (I live in Mexico City so I like to bet in pesos, all those zeros are so impressive, no? )
I got a migraine just glancing at it, I could only imagine all the poor entrepreneurs who are wondering "How do I shoot video with my smartphone?" coming across that guide and wanting to give up before they even had a chance to download the .pdf.
Not you. You are here because we keep video production simple.
The #1 goal of the Ultimate System for Fab Videos, Finally Done is to get you sharing your wisdom and connecting with your audience quickly. No futzing around. But, no crappy video, either.
That is why we teach shooting your videos with your smartphone. It's a fabulous tool for fast, quality video.
Using a video camera introduces a level of complexity that simply isn't worth it given the modest increase in quality that you may see, if you know how to use a video camera. If you don't know what all those settings are for, and are just going to shoot on auto anyway, then you definitely should shoot video with your smartphone. I've seen some pretty bad footage shot on a $5,000 video camera because the owner didn't know how to use it. The other problem is the files can be huge, causing extra steps and headache in downloading and getting them ready for the editor.
So, to sum up, you absolutely can shoot excellent marketing videos for YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, too, using just your smartphone.
Second choice is an iPad or tablet. If you don’t have one, ask a friend who has one to help you.
If you prepare based on our system the shooting should only take a couple of hours. You could take your friend to dinner after.
The only video equipment you need is this:
So there you have it! You're all set to start shooting your marketing videos with your smartphone.
Oh, but wait. Within each of those categories above there are a zillion choices.
I know from experience how easy it is to get lost on Amazon.com or other sites looking at literally hundreds of items for even a simple video production setup. I want to keep you from falling into that time warp if I can.
Here are suggestions to simplify your life, the links will take you to Amazon.com where you can order if you choose. Full disclosure: we are an Amazon affiliate and do receive a commission. Thank you for your support! <3
You can also see a little more detail on our TOOLS page on the website.
You need some way to stabilize your shot. Tripods are the logical choice. This basic one expands up to 5 feet.
Basic 60-Inch Lightweight Tripod with Bag
If you know you are going to shoot sitting down at your desk, you may want a tripod for your desktop.
This also plays well with the Diva Ring Light (see lights, below)
Diva Ring Light Mini Desk Tripod
Bracket attach your phone to your tripod. This one is super easy to use with different size phones.
Shooting with an iPad or other tablet ?
Here is the Bracket for that.
This one seems to fit most configurations. If you have an older iPad or tablet, Please check the specs from the manufacturer to see if your device is compatible.
Lighting for shooting your marketing videos
Option one is the simplest. Option two gives you more flexibility and will cover just about any situation you would run up against for these simple shoots. They also don't cook you like some other kinds of lights do. These use fluorescent lights and both come with lightbulbs to get you started:
I like box lights because they give you a softer light. These are called Box lights for obvious reasons, no?
Softbox Video Lighting Kit
Ready for your close up? The Diva Ring is the gold standard on YouTube for close-ups - think makeup and hair tutorials.
It's called Diva for a good reason - you need to know what you are doing with makeup for this shot, because the result is very detailed and High Def - but if you want gorgeous even light every time, and you are OK with a very close shot, this is the light for you.
If you are planning to sit while filming, you'll need to buy the Desk Tripod above, too, and the Bracket for mounting your phone to the tripod. The phone goes in the center of the ring.
For your inner Super Diva - The Super Nova Diva Light - a bit higher wattage, adjustable.
Diva Ring Light Super Nova 18" Dimmable Ring Light
I hope that listing saves you several hours in getting your home mini-studio set up.
Feel free to contact us if you have questions about your specific set up.
Kala is the Founder and Executive Producer of the Ultimate System for Fab Videos, Finally Done