How to make better videos {no fancy equipment required}

Would you like to start making videos to promote your small business, but you just don’t know where to start? Here are some simple tips and ideas to make engaging, quality videos to share on social media and promote your business.

Marketing Video Tips

Most small business owners, or startup entrepreneurs, don’t have a lot of $ to throw into marketing, but in this day and age, videos promoting your business are an imperative tool to grow your business. My goal is to help you learn a few tips and tricks to make better quality videos. There are too many poorly filmed, terribly edited videos out there! Don’t let your videos fall in to that category.

What are my qualifications?

You might be wondering what my qualifications are? Have I been to film school? Nope. Have I taken an editing course? I have not. Do I have fancy, expensive film equipment? Read on. I do not. Basically my qualifications are my passion for film, and the hours and hours of time and research I have spent on making good, quality videos. When I look back on the very first videos I made, I shudder! They were terrible. I am determined to not take them off my YouTube channels though, because I want everyone to know that we all have to start somewhere. And, it takes practice to get better. So read through this post, and get started. Hopefully I will help your beginning videos be leaps and bounds better than mine were.

How to Shoot Video that Doesn’t Suck

I have mentioned this book before, because I absolutely LOVE it. A lot of what I will be talking about are similar concepts to those taught in How to Shoot Video that Doesn’t Suck. I honestly can’t recommend it highly enough. If you are intrigued by the info below, but would like to delve deeper into each topic, this is my personal pick, however feel free to look around for other great resources and books.

how to shoot video that doesn't suck

I have 2 different business I shoot videos for. One is for my Thrive Life Business (food) and the other is my brand new (as in, I have only done one video) business EMvision Videos (short documentaries). Even though these are 2 completely different businesses, the principles below apply to both. It doesn’t matter what type of business you are making a video for, heck, even if you want a good quality family home video, just follow these principles.

What kind of equipment do I need?

You do NOT need to go out and buy a $10,000 camera to make decent videos. Your iPhone, or a basic video camera will work just fine. Remember, it’s not about the type of equipment you have, it’s about how you make your video. I alternate between my iPhone and my video camera depending on the project I am doing. If I am making a food video from top down, I use my iPhone and this handy dandy contraption.  It clips to my counter, it’s super inexpensive, and I use it. All. The. Time.

For my EMvision video business I have a Canon Vixia. Not overly expensive, or top of the line by any means, but it gets the job done.

Canon Vixia

Sound Quality

I also have this mic that I use whenever I am videoing someone and they are talking. Sound quality is crucial to making a good quality video. Have you ever watched a video where you can barely hear the person speaking because there is so much background noise? It is really distracting. Most low-end camera’s have terrible built-in mic’s so this inexpensive clip-on mic will ensure good quality sound from the person talking.

Audio Technica Earphones

I opted for some decent, comfortable earphones as well and I wear them during the editing process. It allows me to be hypersensitive to background sound on the video. Or I just wear them when my children are driving me crazy and I don’t want to hear anything. Just kidding….or maybe not :). Any earphones will work though. These are definitely not mandatory for good video.

Tip: There is not much you can do to change the sound quality in the editing process, so make sure your original footage has good quality sound and save yourself the headache of having to film again.

Who is your target audience?

OK. Now let’s get to the part you have all been waiting for! Making great video. Before you ever even start filming you need to have a plan. If you have no direction or plan when you go in to the video, that is how your film will come across at the end, jumbled and chaotic.

So grab a pen and some paper and decide who you are trying to target in this video? Are you trying to promote quick meals for a busy mom? Then you probably don’t want to make a 15-minute video. She is too busy for that! Are you trying to target teenagers on social media? You better keep it short, sweet and NOT boring. So first, target your audience. Then start coming up with scenes. Your video should be broken down into short, simple scenes. More about that in just a minute.

Light, glorious light!

Light is so important in creating good videos. The more light, the better the video will be. If you are shooting in a dingy, dark room. Your video is going to look, well, dingy and dark. Unless that fits the theme of your video, try to have as much natural light as possible when you film. Always try to keep the light behind you if you are filming. You want your back to the windows, or if you are outside, your back to the sun.

For food videos I frequently borrow lights from my sister who does a lot of food photography. They make a huge difference in the quality of the video. These lights are definitely on the pricier end, so they are on my wish list for now, but they really do make the difference between good and great video.

Look at the difference between these 2 videos. In the first one I used only the light in my house, and it looked so dark that I tried adding a filter. Filters usually just make it look worse. In the second one, I placed lights on each side of the food I was filming. It makes a big difference.



Keep it short!

If you only implement one thing on this page in your videos, please, please, please let it be this one. Good videos are short, concise, and interesting. Your scenes should be between 5-10 seconds long, and sometimes even as short as 3 seconds.

DO NOT shoot long, boring scenes. Your audience will phase out and shut your video off as soon as it gets too long. Every single time you shoot a scene, think to yourself, was that interesting? Would I continue watching that? Is there anything I can cut out?

Tip: The shorter the scenes, the less junk you will have to cut out during the editing process! And don’t even THINK about slapping your video on FB without editing it first. I just might have to take your camera away if you do that.

Sometimes we think, oh no, if I don’t include that 30-second description, the audience won’t understand. Not true! Think how powerful a commercial can be and how much information they get across in 30-seconds or less. Our minds are amazing things. We are able to fill in details. You don’t need to spell our every single thing.

I am by NO means perfect at this. I like you, am still a work in progress, but I tried really hard to make my scenes short and effective in this video, while still getting a marketing message across to the audience. My message: Buy her music. She has talent.

I cut out about 99% of the footage we took and kept to the bare, basic minimum. And even now, watching it again. I realize there is even MORE that could have been cut out with the same effect. So keep it short. Keep it interesting.

Is it boring? Take this test.

It’s unfortunate, but we are a society that gets distracted and bored very easily. If your video is longer than 3 minutes, it is probably too long. If you need to tape a scene that is longer that 10-15 seconds of talking, try shooting from different angles throughout the monologue. You might have to have the person (or yourself) whoever is talking, repeat the same thing a few times and shoot from different angles each time.

I want you to take this test. Go on YouTube and just start watching videos. Note the time during the video when you got bored, distracted, or shut it off. Was it 1 minute? 5 minutes? 10 seconds? I was shocked when I took this test how often I shut off videos before they were done. Too long of a dead pause. Bored. Too much unneeded material. Bored. Try it. This will help you realize what you do and don’t want to include in your own videos.

If you start looking like this guy during one of your movies…. cut some stuff out!

Let’s talk editing….

Editing your video is as important as getting good quality scenes in the first place. Editing should probably be a post all it’s own, but for the sake of getting you completely through your first video, let’s discuss a few details.

When I use my iPhone to shoot videos I frequently use free apps to edit them. I have used Splice and iMovie. There are a LOT of free editing apps out there, so read some reviews, find one that you like the best, and use it. Just make sure to cut out any unneeded, boring material. Sorry I am using that word boring again, but this is for your own sake. I promise. I WANT you to get business from your videos. So edit, edit, edit, and only leave the totally awesome and imperative material.

I do have to put an expensive plug in. A few months ago I bought my sister’s Mac from her which just so happened to have Final Cut Pro on it. I would be lying if I said it wasn’t amazing. It is amazing and I love it. However, I don’t think you need to run out and buy a Mac and slap Final Cut Pro on it to make awesome videos. If you have it already, great. Use it to edit some stellar videos.

No offense FB live, but I kind of hate you.

I know FB live is all the rage right now, but honestly 99% of the FB live videos I have seen are terrible. I just don’t like them. They aren’t planned out. They are wobbly and chaotic. Maybe it’s just my OCD personality, but there is something magical about a well laid out, edited movie. If you love FB live continue on using it, but please put some other videos on your FB page as well, ok? Thanks.

Next time. How to post videos to social media.

Well, are you still with me? Whew. This has been long, but hopefully helpful for you.  There are so many other things we could have covered, but I think that was a really good base. If there is something else you still have questions about, please feel free to contact me at

I will see how well this post goes over, but if there seems to be a lot of interest I will cover how to take those amazing videos you just created and post them to social media. Think quality titles, what time of day to post, where to post, Instagram video tips, etc. Let me know if this is something you would like to see happen.

And, just because you made it all of the way through this lengthy post, I am going to reward you with one of my favorite commercials of all time. Humor goes a long way in videos and makes a lasting impression. Something to consider.

{Disclaimer: this post contains unsponsored, affiliate links for video equipment I’ve bought on Amazon; feel free to shop around for the best deal!}

5 thoughts on “How to make better videos {no fancy equipment required}

  1. That is a funny commercial! lol thanks for your help! I’d love information on all aspects of the process, so keep the tutorials coming 🙂

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