How to Make the Most Out of a Small Video Budget

By Sean Whitmore

Let’s get straight to it. For the vast majority of marketing professionals, a video budget is an expendable expense. This means that video is one of the first things to go when the purse-strings get tight. Now, I have plenty of great arguments against that philosophy. This is because of the value that video provides as far as brand building and long term ROI. BUT, instead of arguing for a bigger budget, today I want to share tips on how to make the most out of your videos on a smaller budget.

We absorb videos so much throughout the day, that they seem to all run together. But even to the most casual viewer, it’s easy to see that not all video is created equal.

Video runs on three core technicalities, which when used properly will bless your audience with a pleasant viewing experience. When they’re not used properly, that’s when you get an experience that’s about as cringe-worthy as a low-budget Sci-Fi film. (No offense, cult classic Sci-fi peeps!) Here are those three areas…

1. Audio

Audio is by far the biggest aspect outside of quality video. We are so used to hearing great audio through well-produced TV shows and movies that when we hear ambient audio of someone talking in a large room with a ton of background noise, we automatically shut it off. Below are some aspects to think about when recording audio solo or when you have a videographer on staff.


“The truth is you need quality audio and a good quality video.”

Having the right equipment is crucial. Notice how I said the right equipment. I get told by a lot of people that they either cheaped out on a shotgun microphone or they blew a ton of money on a new camera with no audio solution. The truth is you need quality audio and a good quality video. Different audio solutions are used for different things. Audio works in layers, in the first layer you want the microphone as close as possible to the point of audio you are recording, the second layer can be a recorder, recording the audio coming out of a soundboard or speaker. Finally, you can count on a shotgun mic to capture the leftover ambient noise. While this isn’t the best, it will save you as a fall back in case something happens to the recorder.

Here’s my audio Everyday Carry:

Placement of Subject

Where you place your subject when trying to record great audio is the most important part. You can’t expect to get quality audio if the background is super noisy or if you are in a large gymnasium. Consider your surroundings. Place your subject in a dense area where space is confined and there is lots of material around to keep sound locked in. All situations aren’t created equal, however, and you will have to adapt. This is where having a handy lapel mic will save you as your source audio is as close as possible to the speaker. For example, in our daily recaps for Lean Start-Up Conference, there were people around but having a lapel and a shotgun placed just above the subject allowed us to capture quality audio.

2. Lighting

Lighting is subjective to each video and each crew, as there are different points to consider for each shoot. For instance, what mood are you trying to achieve? But, for the basis of this blog, we will keep it simple and digestible. Here are a couple of general ways to get the most out of your lighting.


“Hard light, soft light, and low light…can each be utilized to create mood and tone, and support a story arc.”

Back when I filmed weddings, there were a lot of times when I literally would have no lighting with me due to unforeseen circumstances outside of my control. For example, the wedding might happen in a dark reception area. The best way to counteract this? NATURAL LIGHT! Use that universe-given magic to your advantage. But be careful, because there are different types of natural light. In general, having your subject close to natural light takes you from zero to hero. Can I get an amen?!

Light usually comes in three different ways: Hard light, soft light, and low light. Each can be used advantageously to create mood and tone, and support a story arc. Utilizing these lights can add texture to your videos and help set you apart from the rest when done correctly.

3. Video

Now comes the easy part. Recording video. Well at least in theory it is easy. Below are three things to keep in mind when preparing to shoot a video.

Keep it Steady – Keep your camera steady, no one likes shaky video and it will ruin your edit.

Content is King – What you are recording and the context behind it is the most important part. Keep your goals in mind while shooting. It does no good to shoot a summer clothing line in a dark room with no natural light.

What’s Your Style? – Know your audience and light it to showcase that style. For example, a corporate video should be well-lit, while shooting a concert will be darker and moodier.

Keep it Concise

“Knowing your audience will allow you to find purpose in the content that you produce.”

Keeping your videos short and full of context will allow your viewer to fully engage in the video that you are showing them.

Keep it Short – Content creation is meant to be engaging. Get the point across and provide some sort of value. Keeping your videos to the point and allowing your audience to get something out of it will make the difference between a scroller and a subscriber.

Fill it with Context – Fill your video with value. Creating a game plan before you start shooting will help greatly. This will keep you focused and organized on the shoot and allow you to hit every aspect you are wanting to share with your end viewer.

Shoot with Purpose – Knowing your audience will allow you to find purpose in the content that you produce. Knowing your business goals and initiatives is a great way to fuel this so you can identify what aspects of content you need to capture to provide legs for your overall goals moving forward. For example, when I go out to shoot an event I shoot to showcase the people (keeping it visually appealing and creating FOMO). I also focus on the context of what the event was about usually by some sort of narration. Finally, I like to incorporate a testimonial, depending on the event, to get attendee feedback. This also aids in FOMO and is a key source of brand building.

Hit Record

We hope these tips helped you learn how to optimize your videos. We’re always on hand as a great resource to help you in your personal video journey. What are some tips that you’ve picked up along the way?

If you enjoyed these video tips, you’re sure to also appreciate 10 Signs Your Website Is Super Outdated in 2020. You already know one of the tips, which is that you need awesome video!

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