You don’t have to spend a million bucks to be creative and deliver wins for your brand

We hear it all the time: “We’d love to produce something visual, but we just don’t know if we have the budget.”

It’s time to stop thinking that way. Visual content can be crucial to your content marketing efforts and achieve the results your brand wants — without breaking the bank.

Before beginning any project, make sure you fully understand the goals — and what it will take to get there. Be honest with yourself about whether you have the technical skills and team capable to execute the project. If you don’t, no sweat — sometimes you need to pull in professionals to produce your content. But if you are going to handle the project on your own, there are steps you can take to ensure your content is of the highest quality.

Here are a few simple, but impactful things to focus on to immediately take your production to the next level:

Can you hear me now?

Using a lavalier microphone that clips on your speaker is one of the easiest things you can do to make your video sound great. Since most cameras have a mic already, many people overlook this crucial component. Don’t confuse some sound with good sound. A lav mic brings the microphone closer to the speaker and effectively cuts down the chance for interfering room noise and distracting echos. You can find lav mics compatible with your video camera, DSLR or even your phone. They come in both wired and wireless versions and in a wide range of prices— starting as low as $20.

Let there be light.

Lighting is another critical element to making your video look like a million bucks. Poor lighting or visible shadows are an easy way to spot poor production, but there’s a pretty simple way to prevent that and still come in under budget. These days, LEDs have made lighting easier and more affordable than ever—forget about burning your hands on hot fixtures or dropping big money. A simple light kit can run you between $80 and $500 and make all the difference. See for yourself below:

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Steady now!

Have you ever gotten dizzy watching old videos on a handheld, shaky camcorder?  Nothing screams like a camera that just won’t stay still. A tripod is the easiest way to take your video from backyard cookout quality to professional-grade. There are tall tripods and little tabletop models and everything in between. You can get tripods for all types of cameras and phones for $15 - $80. And if you don’t feel the need to make the investment, improvise by putting your phone on a flat surface like a file cabinet or desk to steady your shot.

These three key components of production will have your videos looking—and sounding— great without breaking the bank. But another important part of keeping costs low is to budget, and to budget, you need to know exactly what you’re getting into before using your fancy new toys.

Having a buttoned-up plan going into a shoot prevents your production from straying too far off budget with last-minute, unplanned purchases. At MediaSource, we advise creative teams to stay organized and avoid unnecessary costs going into video shoots by remembering these simple T-R-I-C-K-S:

Think Ahead - Make a shot list, keeping in mind key sound bites you hope to get

Reserve Space - call ahead to inquire about the space and ask about any associated costs. Be sure to see the space in person before your planned shoot, and as always, have a backup plan!

Insist on Perfection - You only get one chance to do it right! Study the frame and make adjustments where needed.

Create a Look - Think like a producer to create an interesting shot composition. What props will you need—and do you have them, or need to buy beforehand?

Know What to Bring - Do you have the right camera? Are your batteries charged?

Sound Like a Pro - Find a quiet space to shoot, and listen to your surroundings. If you hear noise, the camera can too.
 

Employing these strategies and planning frameworks will help you produce quality videos at a fraction of the price. But don’t forget, when your budget permits it, hire a pro for your video production needs—especially for challenging jobs. Just like you would hire a plumber or carpenter for complicated home repairs, some video projects call for a professional to get a high-quality job done on time, and the investment is worth it.