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An Expert’s Guide to Producing Low-Cost Professional Videos

Brock Murray
An Expert’s Guide to Producing Low-Cost Professional Videos

YouTube has more than one billion users, who watch hundreds of millions of hours each and every day. An hour of video is uploaded to YouTube servers every single second.

That’s YouTube alone, not to mention Vimeo, DailyMotion, or short-form video services like Vine or Instagram. It’s no exaggeration to suggest that video is the future of online marketing.

While large enterprises produce high-quality video content at a staggering rate, it is a mistake to assume that you need a massive budget, dedicated video production team or hyper-specific technical knowledge to produce valuable video content that gets results.

Thanks to ever-improving technology and cutting-edge production strategies, small- and medium-sized businesses can create high-quality advertisements, instructional videos, filmed interviews, social media videos, home page videos and more.

Consider the following tips and tricks to create quality compelling content on a timeline and budget that makes sense for the busy small business owner.

In this guide we will cover the following topics:

  1. Video Equipment Basics
    • Video Camera
    • Tripod
    • Microphone
    • Lighting
    • Accessories
  2. Getting Ready to Shoot
    • Location
    • Equipment Set-up
    • Rule of Thirds
    • Time to Film
  3. Performing on Camera
    • Posture & Body Position
    • Talking to the Camera
    • Material
  4. Post-Production

Video Equipment Basics

Video Equipment Basics

You don’t need to spend tens of thousands of dollars on state-of-the-art video equipment to create high-quality video content. Investing in a camera kit may not fall under some people’s definition of “cheap,” but it’s well worth it in the end. Consider splitting the costs with a partner to make the investment more affordable. Video Camera

Mid-range hand-held camcorders from trusted brands like Canon, Sony and Panasonic will do the trick. These devices are basically “dummy-proof.” They have autofocus, auto-exposure and allow you to set up your desired shot even if you’re working solo. The camcorder should shoot in full HD (at least 720p) with high-quality glass for the zoom (not a digital zoom), a good chip, an SD slot and sufficient external connections.

Visit your local specialty camera retailer and explain what you’re trying to achieve. The sales representative will guide you to the right purchase. There is certainly no harm in investing in a professional video camera, but most SMBs only need a consumer camcorder to produce great content without breaking the bank.


If you’re creating video content on your own, you’ll certainly need a tripod to house the video camera. Nothing looks worse than a shaky video. A tripod not only helps to steady the shot, it means you can compose the shot before hitting record. An entry-level tripod will be sturdy and get the job done, or you can invest in a higher-end tripod with a fluid head to facilitate pan and tilt moves, though it’s not necessary.


An often overlooked element of amateur video production is audio, but it’s extremely important. Do not use the built-in microphone on your video camera. Instead, invest in a mid-range battery-powered external microphone. A clip-on (lavalier) microphone can be discreetly attached to the shirt of the speaker and provide much better quality audio compared to a camera located many feet away. You can connect the microphone directly to the video camera, or you can connect it to a digital audio record and then sync the two files in post-production.


It never hurts to add supplemental light when filming video. Good lighting sets the mood of the video, saves you time in the editing room and separates top quality video from looking cheap. For an affordable price you can purchase something as single as an individual external LED light on an adjustable flash stand, or you can invest in a three-point lighting kit for a professional look. You can also use the existing light in your room to your advantage.


A headset helps to monitor the audio for buzzing and popping, and a remote makes it easy to hit record on the camera, which is very helpful if you’re shooting video on your own.

You should test out of all of this equipment beforehand and get a feel for it before you advance to shooting video for publication. Get comfortable with the features and uses of all your equipment, so you have no surprises when it’s time for action.

Getting Ready to Shoot

Getting Ready to Shoot

Now that you’ve got your equipment in order, it comes time to film the video.


You need to scout a suitable location. This may be outdoors, it may be on-site, or it may be in your office or store. You can control the conditions indoors, but be aware if you are shooting outside that you know what to expect. You don’t want the sound of rumbling trucks or screaming children to interrupt your video. Choose a location with predictable sound and good lighting.

Equipment Set-Up

Next, you can start setting up your equipment. Mount the camera on the tripod, set up your lighting, clip on your microphone and make sure the shot is framed correctly. Test the settings and make sure the focus, exposure, audio levels etc. are all good to go.

Rule of Thirds

Framing the shot correctly isn’t always intuitive, but if you follow a few simple rules it is foolproof. The rule of thirds is a time-tested visual composition principle. The frame should be divided into nine parts, and the subject should be aligned with the lines or intersections. This composition creates more energy, tension and dynamism than placing the subject at the center.

Time to Film

With the shot properly framed and all your equipment in order, now you can get down to business. Make sure the camera is rolling. If your audio and video are separate, clap your hands or do another kind of sound marker to sync the two files later. Then do a quick countdown and it’s ready … set … action!

Performing on Camera

Performing on Camera

One of the biggest hurdles of SMBs is not the equipment or knowledge; it’s having the confidence to perform on camera. After all, it doesn’t matter how much you spend on your camera or how much time you spend in the editing room — if you’re nervous or underprepared, it will show.

Posture & Body Position

If you are standing up and your body is visual, stand with your back straight and your stomach muscles tightened. You want to appear strong and confident. Angle your body to the camera so you aren’t standing square. You can avoid swaying side to side by pointing one foot toward the camera and placing the other foot a few inches ahead and angled outward. Hold your head high, but do not lead with your chin. Avoid rapid movement, and keep hand gestures to a minimum.

Talking to the Camera

Nobody is a natural at speaking smoothly and eloquently on camera. It’s an acquired skill, even for people who are charismatic and composed in person. Clear your mind of what you think you know about public speaking. What matters above all else is your ability to connect with your audience. You need to be confident about yourself, not just your material. Look through the lens as if it were a single person, and speak to it. Speak at a comfortable pace, enunciate well and use good diction. Maintain eye contact and look happy!


You may need to strike a balance between sticking to a script or speaking extemporaneously. Stilted reading of a script or “umming” and “uhhing” while trying to remember lines won’t come across well on camera, but neither will ad-libbing a bunch of fluff. Rehearse and try a few different approaches, but remember deviating from the script with confidence is better than getting every word right but having an awkward and cold delivery.

You won’t get it perfect, but all the little fumbles can be easily taken care of in editing. Always remember — you can edit out errors, but you can’t edit in confidence and charisma.



Once the video is filmed, you can take the material and edit it in post-production. Edit out flubs, weave in different shots to create a storyline, overlay music and make it look professional. You may opt to outsource this phase of the process to a video production company that can offer an expert eye and add a nice polish to your video.

This guide should help small and medium-sized businesses create affordable video content that looks anything but cheap. Video is a modern way to connect with your audience and communicate your business vision in an engaging format, and you’d be remiss if you let this opportunity pass you by.

Have any questions or suggestions? Let me know in the comments!

Header image credit: Canva & Pixabay

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Brock Murray is a digital marketing specialist for seoplus+. His unique ideas and passion for all things SEO-related have helped hundreds of SMBs establish and maintain their online presence. Brock's last article for SEMrush was "My 5 Favorite Things About Being an SEO."
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great post - is there an inexpensive video editing software you recommend?
Brock Murray
Bob Caston
Thanks Bob. I personally use Adobe After Effects for any video editing, however you can find some inexpensive alternatives in VideoPad or Filmora.

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