Complete guide on how to make a video (on a budget)

No special skills needed

Learning how to make a video is on just about everyone’s list of to-dos. Why? It is an effective way for micro and small businesses to increase reach, awareness and engagement. Plus, your consumers expect and want to see more video content.

At least 88% of all internet users in Australia watch online videos, and demand continues to grow.

Globally, three out of the top four video channels are social media platforms. YouTube is consistently the most popular.

Making video content for your business will help you:

  • Keep visitors on your website longer
  • Rank higher on search engines
  • Turn more casual browsers into buyers

Small businesses are often constrained by tight marketing budgets. Exotic locations, action shots and a professional cast are likely out of reach.

However, platforms like YouTube, Facebook and even your own website can serve up valuable video content that lead people to your business. And you already have a lot of high-quality technology for making videos on your smartphone and computer.

A low-budget but authentic video can be very effective.

Related: 10 social media trends to watch in 2021

The importance of having a content plan

A well thought-through content plan can result in a video that builds:

  • Awareness that your business exists
  • Engagement — the holy grail of marketing
  • Sales

When making a content plan, you should aim to make a video that has a clear purpose. The answers to the following questions can help focus your thoughts:

  • Are you trying to build an audience, find new customers, inform existing customers or make future sales?
  • Do your followers and customers want to be educated, informed, updated, or entertained?
  • What social platforms do your customers and followers use?
  • What kind of problems are your customers experiencing?
  • What kind of solutions can you offer?
  • What kind of questions do your customers have about your products and services that you can best answer using video?
  • How will your video help them reach a decision about buying, or buying again, from you?
  • Does your content contain funny, interesting or shareable moments?
  • Does your video help your viewers get to know and trust you?

When you understand what information serves your audience, you can create content that is:

  • Useful and relevant
  • Interesting and engaging
  • Unique and authentic
  • Memorable and shareable

Taking time to plan out your content will help you make a video that is more focused and valuable to viewers.

5 steps to creating a storyboard

Once you have some ideas about what you want your content to achieve, you can start mapping out the video scripts and sequence.

Even for a short video, a good plan will keep you focused on the outcome for your customer.

Creating a storyboard is especially useful if the aim of your video is to showcase one of your products or services.

Woman writing ideas on whiteboard

A simple storyboard outline can be summarised in five key steps.

Step 1: Engage

Make sure the opening seconds and minutes are so interesting that the viewer keeps on watching. For instance, you can open with:

  • Facts: An interesting or unusual fact about the topic you are covering
  • Humour: This can be visual or otherwise, but make sure it doesn’t distract or undermine your product or service

Think of this as a teaser for what comes next, especially if you are making a longer video.

Step 2: Pain points

Talk about the problem your customer is experiencing. Describe it in detail using examples and anecdotes, including your own if you have any. Show them you understand and empathise with their challenge.

Step 3: Solutions

Talk about possible solutions for your customer. Address how they might fix this problem and what their options are. Resist the urge to talk about your product or service just yet.

Step 4: Product offers

If you’re going to make a video with the intention of making sales, now is the time to introduce your offer. Present it as one way to help solve your customer’s problem.

Focus on the benefits to the customer, not how hard you worked to create the product.

 

Describe how it serves the customer’s needs, how it makes their life better and any unique features.

Step 5: Call-to-action

Finish with a call-to-action and any social proof, such as testimonials from happy customers, that you have. Reinforce the call-to-action with the problem the viewer wants to solve.

For example, “If you struggle with X, click here to Y.” Actions you can ask them to take might be:

  • Signing up for your course, newsletter, more information etc.
  • Purchasing your product, booking a call etc.
  • Sharing or commenting on your video

Remember to be clear about what you want the viewer to do next.

Imagine yourself in the shoes of the viewer

The most important part of making a video is to consider the content from the viewpoint of your potential customer.

  • Is it interesting?
  • Is it useful?
  • Does it address their problem?
  • Is it clear?
  • Does the offer serve the needs of your customer?
  • Do they know what to do once they’ve watched your video?

Video triumphs over other types of media — in fact, it’s the next best thing to face-to-face interactions.

Remember, people buy from people.

 

The body language and speaking style of the presenter, ideally you, will provide many non-verbal cues to the viewer. These cues should show how aligned you are with their needs.

It works best when you are authentic, transparent and most importantly, yourself.

Key considerations for video production

In the past, making a video was often time-consuming and costly. If it wasn’t, it typically risked being low quality.

Regardless of what computer or mobile device you use, there are now many free and low-cost video maker apps, tools and techniques to help you create professional-looking content.

Woman adjusting smartphone camera near ring light

Once you’ve mapped out your content and written a script or storyboard, you are ready to start filming.

If you have a tight budget, you can still create good, high-quality, well-edited videos.

Take a peek at all things outlined below to see what you need to prepare for in the production process.

1. Resources

Making the content yourself will give a real, authentic feel to your videos. You don’t need a presenter, cameraman, scriptwriter and editor these days! Try it out for yourself and see what works. You can outsource key tasks like video editing later.

2. Format

If you want to make a video and spend close to nothing, consider the following options:

Narrate a series of slides and convert this into a video

Most presentation apps have an option to record and save as a video. You don’t even have to worry about lighting or cameras. Some of the more common presentation apps include:

Editor’s note: GoDaddy Studio is a great tool if you’re wanting to create visually stunning images for your slides. Best part is, you don’t need any prior design knowledge to use it.

Make a video with animation

Like slide presentations, this is a good option if you don’t want to appear on camera. There are plenty of free animation tools like:

Consider this option if you’re looking to make a video that shows off your design or animation skills.

Consider face-to-camera or talking heads style

This method gives your viewers a chance to see you and get to know you.

Purchase footage

Some websites sell video footage in a similar way to stock photos. You’ll still need to edit it to suit your needs, but the following sites are here to help:

Keep in mind, there will be some limits to how much you can customise it. Most of these websites range from free to one-off payments and subscriptions.

Hire someone from a freelance site

You get what you pay for here, so set your expectations and be clear in your brief. The top websites to find freelancers include:

You can use these sites to outsource any writing, design or editing tasks.

3. Sound

Since the surge in online meetings, many people already use good-quality microphone and earpieces. If you haven’t already done so, a quality microphone is probably the most important piece of equipment to invest in for video content.

4. Camera

Most smartphones come with video-quality cameras. You can also use your computer’s camera or invest in a webcam. Unless you’re going for the free-flowing, on-the-go, selfie-style video, secure your camera with a tripod so it doesn’t shake or wobble during filming.

5. Lighting

In the absence of professional lighting, use natural lighting if you can. Ring lights are an inexpensive option. Support the scene with natural or other ambient lighting where necessary.

6. Editing

Depending on the type of computer or device you’re using, many free and low-cost editing and video maker apps are available. Some of the best ones to make a video with include:

You probably already have editing software installed somewhere on your computer. Check the features offered on free versions for each video maker app. Most should include:

  • Ability to add to your preferred platform
  • Adding music and text
  • Export quality/resolution

When editing, remove any footage that doesn’t add value to the viewer. If in doubt, cut it out.

7. Length

Short videos are great, especially when you are starting out.

Some platforms actively discourage or prevent videos longer than a few seconds or minutes.

In addition, short videos require fewer changes of scene or camera angles.

The ideal length of your videos will depend on:

  • The platform you publish on
  • Your skill set and budget
  • The message
  • Your access to resources and locations

As you get used to making videos, you can extend the variety and style of scenes you use.

Be thoughtful about when (and where) to publish

To get the most out of your videos, research the best time and platform on which to launch them.

You’ll also want to look into how to label them. While this may seem like a small thing, remember that Google can only “read” words. Even if you aren’t an SEO guru, you can still make sure your videos have searchable, relevant titles and relevant hashtags that Google can index.

Person typing on laptop while sitting in bed

Additionally, turning on comments will encourage engagement. Replying to comments will build relationships with potential customers and give you a chance to add even more value. Plus, it could help boost your search algorithm rankings too.

Improve by analysing video performance

To improve future videos, analyse how each video performs. Examine which videos are most:

  • Viewed
  • Liked
  • Commented on

If possible, review whether the video is watched all the way through or where any drop off points happen. This will help you understand where viewers lose interest. This will show you what to focus on in your next video.

You’ll also want to keep track of click-throughs and conversions. Watch the trends over time to see how, and if, you are improving. Then, you can make astute investment decisions. Like with all marketing: test, test, test.

Welcome to the wonderful world of video

Videos are an incredibly popular form of online content these days. They can also be a powerful, yet highly affordable, marketing tool for your business. Even on a tight budget, you can make a video that’ll get you noticed.

Be clear about the purpose of your content and make sure it provides value to your customer.

 

Focus on your customers’ needs and make it worth their while to watch. Remember to try out the available video maker apps and tools, too. This will save you the costs associated with expensive equipment and hiring camera crews or actors.

Most important of all, don’t be shy about getting in front of the camera. Make a video that gives your viewers the chance to see you, like you and trust you. People do business with people, after all.

Rananda is a freelance writer, editor, ghostwriter and copywriter, with a financial background and over 25 years in corporate life. She helps you tell your story, your way, to your audience by listening to your voice, understanding your unique expertise and experiences, and working with you to shape your most powerful story. Connect with Rananda on Twitter or find out more at The Ink Rat.