How Startups Can Make Great Video Content with Little to No Budget
The role of today’s entrepreneur has become increasingly more complex. With so many channels to continually create for (website, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, email etc.), content creation has become a significant part of their jobs. And since today’s consumer, prefers video content over the written word, marketers need to be on top of their video content game. The average business spends at least $20,000 annually creating video content, according to a 2018 report.
It can be expensive to hire a professional video production company, especially for startups that are bootstrapping or have little to no budget. But great content can be made on a budget - you just need to know how.
This is a video content creator’s dream team:
Key team member #1: The person behind the camera
When it comes to video content creation, one of the most important people on your team is going to be the person behind the camera. If you have any budget whatsoever, I would strongly recommend spending it on a professional cinematographer or videographer. You may be surprised at how inexpensive they can be.
“There are a lot of cinematographers in any city hungry for work, so if you post an ad on Craigslist, Mandy or ProductionHub looking for bids, you should be able to get a great videographer for $300 to $500 for a full day. Up and coming ones straight out of college may even do it for $150 to get experience,” Indie Film and Reality TV Producer, Robert Palmer, says.
A cinematographer is measured by the quality of their demo reel rather than a paper resume. They each have different styles, and you want to find one who has proven experience nailing the kind of look you want to achieve.
Also they most likely went to film school; they have worked on other film projects, they have done other corporate videos. Having an experienced film maker by your side makes your life a lot easier when you are shooting content.
If you are working with zero budget, determine the person within your company with the strongest camera game. In today’s social media-obsessed generation, you don’t need to look too far to find someone who's pretty good behind the camera. They also may have some great ideas of how to tell the company’s story.
Key Team Member #2 - The Writer
Before you start filming, the most important thing to do is start planning what you want to say and how you are going to say it. Do you feel good enough to craft the messages yourself, or do you need to bring in an outside marketing writing guru to help you craft how to say it best? Like cinematographers, professional writers' prices can vary dramatically, but there are also lots of writers out there who will help out on lower budget projects.
When it comes to planning what you are going to say in your videos you need to pre-determine:
- What are the key messages you want to get across?
- How are you going to communicate them, e.g. an interview with the CEO on camera talking about the key points? Interview with your customers? A voice over product shots? Another creative angle?
- Is there a call to action for the video? If so - How will you include it?
- How long is it going to be? (The shorter the better!)
- What additional extra footage will you need to capture to visually tell your story, e.g. shots of people working in the office, shots of the product being made, close ups of the product. All of these will come in very useful during the edit.
Another thing to consider when creating video content is how you will express your brand voice in it? Do you want to create really polished professional looking footage to appeal to investors and C-level execs? Or do you need a fun hip image to appeal to Generation Y? Scour YouTube to see how other people are making videos similar to what you are trying to make, and earmark them to share with your team.
Also don’t forget to think ahead. You may be just focused on creating one video right now but If you are going to bring in a camera person for a full day is there anything else you could film while they are there that would be useful? Interviews with the founders? Interviews with current employees for a potential recruitment video? Footage of the office? Slick footage of your products? These all are all handy pieces for any start-up or marketer to have in their content arsenal.
Key Person #3 - The Sound Person
Most amateur film makers don’t even think about sound, but professional film makers obsess over it. There’s a reason studios have sound stages - to keep outside noise out! It’s only when you are looking at footage in the edit that you will hear there was a dog barking faintly in the background that you didn’t even notice but is really obvious when you are watching the interview you did with the CEO. This footage then becomes totally unusable.
If you have the budget you can hire a dedicated sound person, but if you are on a microbudget this is something you can potentially plan with your cinematographer. They may have a microphone you can use. Palmer added, “If you can’t afford a professional sound person then strategically place an iphone (with all its settings on silent) to capture additional audio so if there’s a wind sound on the main microphone then it may not be on the iPhone’s recording. This is an Indie film-making hack at its finest.”
Then when you have what you want to say, and the film figured out, you can start planning your shoot day. Let everyone who’s involved know in advance and plan the best use of the day.
Don’t forget - If anyone is interviewed on camera you will need to get them to sign a 'model release form', which is a legal document giving you permission to film them and use their footage publicly. There are lots of free samples on Google you can use.
Key Person #4 - The Editor
“The film is made in the editing room," said Philip Seymore Hoffman.
The final part of the challenge is the edit. If you have the budget you can hire an external editor but if you are on a microbudget you can do the editing in house. Editing software has become so inexpensive and user friendly these days that many companies are beginning to edit their content in-house themselves.
The basic steps of editing:
- Upload the camera footage onto your editing platform.
- If you recorded sound separately, sync it up to the footage.
- Cut out all the bad footage, e.g. setting up shots, bloopers, noise in the background etc.
- Arrange any usable footage in a way that makes the most sense, and tells the story in the most compelling way.
- Consider if there are opportunities to cut away to stock footage to make it more engaging. For example, if someone is talking about how property prices in San Francisco are skyrocketing, perhaps cut to a stock footage scene of the San Francisco skyline or Golden Gate Bridge. Create, an online website, has stock footage and music integrated into its platform, so you can easily source matching stock footage and drag and drop it into whatever you are editing. But if you are using another editing tool you can also buy stock footage from sites like Shutterstock and iStockphoto
- Add intro and outro music or music softly in the background throughout.
- And then the final phase is to add graphics. Should you add your company logo? Do you need to add lower thirds to interviews i.e. the smaller graphics that appear on screen when someone is talking to say who they are and what they do for the company!
- What about at the end? Don’t forget to add website details and social media details. If there is a call to action make it clear throughout.
Another thing to consider is do you need to make alternative versions of the same video for different channels? While a two minute explainer video is good for the website or YouTube, on social media, people like things shorter!
With the right team and tools in place, today it is possible for start-ups and marketers to quickly master the film making game on a microbudget. And most importantly, filming and editing content can be fun! If you have fun while you do it, it will show in your work - so my final tip is to just enjoy it!