How to Create Engaging Video Content On a Budget

4 ways to lower your production costs

4 ways to lower your production costs

By Tanisha A. Sykes

For small businesses that want to connect with their customers, a video can be worth a thousand words. If you’re wondering how much it will cost you, there’s good news! High-quality video doesn’t have to break the bank.

“Video can convey a message and create a deep emotional connection with your audience,” says Eric Leslie, president of OnScene Productions in Columbus, Ohio. Plus, video is the hot ticket. In fact, video generates 1,200 percent more shares than text and images combined, reports Boston-based online video company Brightcove.

If you’re ready to produce engaging video while staying on budget, follow these tips to come up with quality content at a low cost.

Know your content before you shoot. Before shooting the first scene, decide what you want to say and how you’re going to tell the story. Leslie suggests constructing a basic outline (wire frame) instead of a full script. “List key points you want to hit on but avoid trying to have folks memorize a speech, especially if you’re working with novices in front of the camera,” he says. This will keep your message on point and costs low in the long run.

Keep the video short. A good video connects in the first 10-15 seconds. “Lay out what to expect, present a challenge that will elicit a sympathetic response, and then identify a solution,” Leslie says. Shorter is always better and certainly less expensive so keep a Web-based promo or a corporate video between one and two minutes. “An executive rehearsing for a TV segment should time it for 30 seconds, and a promo on YouTube should be 15 seconds,” says Leslie. The goal is to put your brand on top of mind without overselling. “Always motivate and inspire to action, then give them a way to share or explore more,” he says.

Look for quality contractors. It’s easy to find inexpensive talent. But that doesn’t always equal value. Instead, reach out to companies whose services you admire. “Don’t be afraid to contact a company with great video content and say, ‘Here’s my concept, this is the budget, can you work with us?’” To save on costs, negotiate doing more than one shoot on the same day, using the same locations with different setups, and using your employees as ‘actors.’ Leslie says yes, you can shoot a video for $200 or even hundreds of thousands of dollars, but the trick is to create value-based content. Also, you can offer to take advantage of a slow period in order to avoid extra costs associated with overtime and hiring freelancers. Even if the answer is “no,” ask for a referral to someone who can deliver the same cinematic and visual quality for less.

Invest in equipment. While you can do it yourself, a smartphone may not give you the quality you desire. “If you’re willing to learn the technology and focus on good storytelling with pacing, arc, sound design, and color, then buy a DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) camera, and get a 24mm and a 50 mm lens,” says Leslie. A high-end version of the camera retails for about $3,000 and will deliver nice looking video in HD quality. While the upfront costs might sound steep, DSLR cameras have a long lifespan and the investment prevents you from having to rent professional equipment in the future.

“It’s important not to think of video content as a magic bullet,” says Leslie. Your plan to build your audience has to be as strong as the content, which will then keep customers coming back for more.

Tanisha A. Sykes is a personal finance and career development expert with 20 years’ experience as a journalist. Follow her on Twitter: @tanishastips.

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