How to Create Videos on a Budget

By Emma Fitzpatrick  

Here’s to the New Year! January is ripe with possibility—all you need to do is reach out and seize it. As you’re penning your professional resolutions, there is one item that needs to be on your list: Create more videos.

Videos dominate on social media. Over the last year alone, users watched four times more Facebook Live videos, while Instagram users viewed 80% more video. According to Facebook research, 45% of those surveyed said they’re expecting to watch even more video in the future.

Other data backs this up. By 2021, video is expected to represent 82% of all IP traffic. The most recent data, from Q4 2015, shows that Facebook users watched over 100 million hours of videos every day. That’s partly why videos on Facebook now have, on average, double the engagement rate of other content types.

Videos are what the people want. Now, it’s up to us to meet their demand. Yes, videos do take more time and planning, but the payoff is in sight. Views, reach, and engagement rates of traditional written social content simply won’t keep pace with video.

And contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a camera that costs more than your car to create video. Keep reading to learn how to capture high-quality videos that your followers will love for less.

Invest a little to get a lot.                                       

With a few reasonably priced items, you can create much more professional-looking videos. Knowing a few secrets about what most affects video quality makes all the difference.


  1. Camera. If you’re a rank beginner, start by using your smartphone. iPhones and Androids have fantastic cameras and will allow you to experiment without a thousand-dollar investment. While you’re being thrifty, you still want to elevate your final product. A few gadgets under $20 will make your videos much more watchable. A cellphone tripod (~$10) will help you avoid shaky footage while a cellphone lens (~$20) will help you capture wide-angle shots.
  2. Lights. You want to get the lighting right because it’s tricky and time-consuming to fix when editing. Plus, the right light makes your video look luxe. Plan to shoot your videos in natural light–either outside or near a window. Sunlight can quickly change, so plan to bolster the natural light with a studio light kit (~$50-60). They’re relatively easy to set up, and the extra light can transform your video. If you need to DIY something quickly, grab a white poster board and place it at face level, just out of the frame to create significantly better light.
  3. Sound. If the audio quality is poor, people won’t watch. So, have an external clip-on microphone (~$15) for everyone who will be talking on the video.
  4. You will need to do some basic editing of the footage you capture. If you have a Mac, you have iMovie, which is perfect. If you’re looking for a low-budget option on Windows, you will need to download a program. Here are some free alternative options to Windows Movie Maker, which was discontinued last January. While editing, add captions to your videos because as many as 85% of videos on Facebook are viewed with the sound off.

Ready to roll?

Once you’ve gathered your materials, pause. First, you should plan what you’ll talk about, write down approximately how long you want to spend on each topic and create talking points. You want to put your personality first, so avoid scripts if possible. Speaking off the cuff works best. For this to succeed, practice a few times before the shoot. The more you practice beforehand, the better your takes will be. It can be helpful to have a co-host or partner on camera with you for your first video so that you can banter and have someone to play off.


When you’re ready, set up your shot. Remember to shoot horizontally on your phone, and wipe the lens before recording. Do a couple of test runs to see how everything looks and sounds. Watch the video back to see what technological tweaks you can make.

As you dive in, remember to have fun and keep it real! People love authenticity, so be less concerned about getting every word right and focus on creating an entertaining, educational video.

From there, just keep at it. Plan to make at least one video a month. With each video, you’ll feel more confident and comfortable—especially once you see your successful analytics. Before long, you’ll be a pro. Practice really does make perfect.

Emma Fitzpatrick is a Philly-based freelance writer and marketer, whose specialties include content marketing, social media marketing and short, snappy writing. Pick her brain at [email protected].