When it comes to making videos to promote your business—to engage your audience, to showcase your products—professional quality usually demands professional prices.
But sometimes you don’t need Hollywood production values in your videos. Sometimes you just need good videos that you can turn around fast and for free (or at least fairly cheap).
- Videos can live in several places: The same video can potentially be used on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, SnapChat, Tumblr, Reddit, embedded on your website/blog, etc.
- Videos make for eye-catching social media posts/ads: Audiences can read, watch, and listen, so video can engage them in a different way than static imagery. Plus, videos play automatically on some channels like Facebook.
- Videos can be repurposed into new videos and from other content formats: Video content can be clipped down, expanded upon, or converted into new videos or GIFs. You can also take infographics, blog posts, photos, and other types of content, and turn them into videos.
Not only that, but video's share of total bandwidth is predicated to grow to encompass more than 80 percent of all consumer internet traffic by 2020, making it the content format of the future.
The best part is that just because you don’t have the budget, doesn’t mean you can’t reap the benefits of video content.
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How to make videos (without hiring a professional)
While it definitely helps, you don’t necessarily need expensive equipment or even your own original footage to produce videos.
All you need is a concept in mind and an idea of what you want to use the video for.
From there, it's a matter of:
- Creating a rough storyboard of how you plan for it to flow and writing a script if you need one.
- Finding or creating the footage or audio you need.
- Editing it together in one of the many apps in this post, depending on your needs.
- Packaging it up and uploading it as a social media post, ad, YouTube video, etc.
Let’s walk through each step in more depth.
1. Create a storyboard
A storyboard is a page or presentation that includes a video’s planned scenes so that when production starts, your team knows exactly what to shoot.
Using a template like the one below, teams can either draw out how they’re picturing the scene, or find online stock images that help depict each part of the story.
Build out every scene along with any dialogue that needs to go with it so that you’re completely prepared to start sourcing your video footage.
2. Find or create your video footage
You can set up a day to shoot your video footage or hire a professional videographer to help, but if that’s not in the budget, you don't really need a camera to make your own videos.
You can repurpose existing photography, get what you need from stock footage sites, and even shoot your own footage with your phone if you really need to.
There’s a lot of places you can look for great free stock footage, fitting music and cool sound effects.
Depending on how the content is licensed, however, you might need to credit the creator of the footage you borrow or pay to use it for commercial purposes. For details on how and when to do this, check out the Creative Commons best practices for attribution and be sure to take a closer look at the conditions for use on each of the following sites.
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Free stock videos
- Videvo: Completely free high quality HD footage and motion graphics.
- Pexels: Free photos and videos from around the world.
- Distil: 10 new high quality videos for commercial use every 10 days, delivered to your inbox.
- Pixabay: Tons of vibrant videos, photos, and animations you can use.
Public domain (not subject to copyright)
- Pond5: Home to lots of historic footage.
- Archive.org: Footage of games, films, historic moments, etc.
- NASA: Footage and photos of space.
- Critical Past: Vintage videos.
Free music and audio
- Freesound.org: A variety of sounds you can use at no cost.
- Looperman: A capella vocals, music, and sounds you can use if you credit the creator.
- Converse Sample Library: Plenty of cool music and rhythms for you to sample.
- YouTube Audio Library: A great resource for good quality music and sound effects meant for creators.
Paid stock music and footage
While you do have to pay, Audio Jungle and Video Hive are popular places to find sounds, music, video effects and stock footage to use and sample. They also offer free music, video templates, and more every month if you subscribe.
3. Choose the best video editing app
While you can record video natively in most video hosting platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, there are plenty of good video editing apps for producing quick, polished videos for different occasions and in a short span of time.
I highly recommended giving the following tools a try, many of which are free and some of which come with their own library of stock imagery and other assets for you to use.
Vimeo Create: Turn product shots into beautiful videos in minutes
You may already be familiar with Vimeo as a video sharing platform. Recently, it also launched a suite of tools specifically designed to help businesses make and share video.
Vimeo Create is a free video editing app that you can connect directly to your Shopify store. It uses AI to automatically turn your existing product images and text into product videos and ads for your business.
Just answer a few questions about your product, choose images or videos to feature, add your logo logo, and customize styles. Vimeo Create then edits your video in minutes, even making suggestions for colors, themes, music, and fonts.
Here’s a video online skincare store Kinetic Cosmetics created for their Vitamin C creme product page.
Quik by Go Pro: Produce simple product videos
Go Pro is famous as a camera company for helping people capture awe-inspiring moments in action.
Quik is a video editing app by them that lets you easily import and rearrange images and footage, adding text and music as you like.
While it's meant for weaving together memories from your last vacation, it's also a great way to create simple product videos, especially if all you have is product photos.
With this app, you can create an engaging slideshow or a short video in no time at all.
Lumen 5: Convert articles into videos
You’ve probably seen videos on social media that are simple slides of images or short clips that explain an idea or tell a story.
Did you know you could easily make them yourself with a free tool called Lumen 5?
Simply import an existing article, pick the parts of the text you want to include, edit it down so it flows nicely, choose your music, and you've got yourself a video. You can even start from scratch.
You can even brand these videos and add a call to action at the end to direct viewers to take whatever next step you'd like them to.
Here's a video I made out of a post I wrote about the creative process (it took me roughly 10 minutes to create and 15 minutes to render):
Teleprompter Video Creator: No more memorizing your lines
I don’t know about you, but I have a pretty bad memory. That's what makes this Teleprompter app by BigVu so great.
It basically combines a teleprompter and a camera into one app. You just paste in your script, and it lets you read as you record to make your videos look natural without having to prepare too much in advance.
If you've ever wanted to start vlogging or put on a live stream, but worry about tripping on your words, this is for you.
Giphy: Turn your videos into GIFs
GIFs are (arguably) just videos without sound. And with Giphy you can either convert your existing videos into GIFs or edit/caption existing GIFs.
Giphy is also a great place to find cinemagraphs, which are essentially photos with a single isolated element in motion.
You should take advantage of the fact that GIFs loop endlessly and can be used to create engaging memes to complement your social media strategy.
Resolve: Free desktop video editing software
While you can always use iMovie or Windows Movie Maker for editing, Da Vinci Resolve by Black Magic is a free video editing software that comes with the kind of professional features that let you do color corrections, remove objects, stitch together footage, and more.
It will take some time to learn if you're new to video editing, but it's one of the best free solutions out there for editing professional looking videos.
Power Director: A robust video editor for your phone
If you'd like to shoot and edit videos all on your phone, Power Director is an app that comes with a lot of the useful features.
The advantage of a mobile video editor like this is that you can record new footage and audio straight from your phone and directly import it into your work in your progress, making it easy to do things like voiceovers.
While this is an Android app, iPhone users can use the iMovie app or Splice by Go Pro as an alternative.
4. Publish your video
Once you’ve finished creating and editing your video, it’s time to share it with your audience. You can publish your video on a video-sharing site like YouTube or Vimeo and then embed it onto your website.
Or you can also publish it on social media, like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, or Twitter. Just keep your platform’s optimal video dimensions in mind as you create. For example, Instagram Reels and TikTok require vertical videos, Instagram feeds want square, and Facebook/Twitter prefers horizontal videos in their feeds.
Measure your video’s success to see if creating your own video content resonates well with your audience. If so, repeat this process each time you plan to publish a new video online.
Tips for making engaging videos
The assets and tools above make videos easier to create, but there's a lot more to know about using these videos effectively in your marketing.
For one, videos that provoke an emotional reaction tend to perform better and have more viral potential, especially on Facebook. Since social videos are often watched with the sound off, captions also go a long way in increasing viewership.
Thumbnails also matter a lot as they are essentially the "headline" of your video that entices people to watch. Use Canva to easily create eye-catching thumbnails for your videos if you're going to upload your videos to YouTube or another platform that pits you against other videos.
Finally, since it's not just how you create the videos but how you upload them too, you should be wary of the specifications for each channel.
If you're going to embed your videos on your blog or website, make sure they're responsive on mobile. If you're struggling to make that work, you can use the Embed Responsively tool to fix the embed code for you.
Whether you’re making videos or another type of content, quality is inevitably how you compete. But it doesn’t necessarily have to cost you a lot.
Entrepreneurs and creators can always make up for what they lack in resources with resourcefulness.
So if you have a hunch that videos can take your marketing to the next level, don't let the perceived costs and amount of effort stop you. You can get started for free using these resources and work your way up from there.