How to Plan and Shoot Video Content on a Budget

Creating good video content while on a budget is a challenge, and this article will help you plan and shoot quality video content while spending less on resources. Here are the things you need to consider when planning and shooting your videos.

Planning: Your Audience

Before we begin with the hard stuff, every massive action starts with a plan.

When you’re thinking about preparing video content for your audience, the first thing is to identify who your audience is.

Are they the DIY crowd, the self-help bunch, or maybe just some average joe’s looking for some insight? The point being is that you want to know who it is your speaking to.
Its best to visualize, which is something you will be doing a lot of when planning and shooting your affordable video content.
Are they young, 18-25 years old, or are they adults with kids and a home? Are they male or female? Are they from a specific ethnic background? Maybe they all fall into a specific socio-economic class.

These are just some of the questions you need to ask yourself when you are identifying your audience.

Be specific. Identify exactly who you want to speak to. Give them a name if it helps you visualize.

Pretend this is your next door neighbor and give them a backstory. Write it all down, see the words, and look at it constantly.

This will make it easier to fine-tune and craft your video content for the people you want to hear what you have to say.

Know what your audience wants

Another thing to keep in mind is what your audience wants.

When you have a problem or need some answers, you just ask Google.

Google then gives you the most relevant answers it thinks you’re looking for.

When planning for your videos, Google gives you relevant answers for your video content

This is valuable when planning your video content, being able to sit in the shoes of your audience and provide solutions to their problems will give your content an edge.

If you are having trouble identifying what your audience wants, ask them. Ever wonder why YouTube personalities ask you to leave comments and ask questions?

That’s because they want to know what you want.

Still not getting it, check out this Forbes article to get you started.

If you think you’re really good with your hands, maybe you can provide a service that’s very unique but doesn’t know where to start.

Get some outside perspectives, ask your friends, family, or even complete strangers what they want.

If you decide to just go out there and guess, you can be left with a bunch of content no one cares about.

It doesn’t hurt to ask questions, even if they aren’t the right ones. Of course, not everyone will give you valuable information, but it will give you the opportunity to remove the unnecessary information and focus on the important aspects of your video content.

Know how relevant your content is to your audience

If you think about it, the audience you make your video content for, provide the evidence on how relevant and informative your videos actually are.

Without an audience what’s the point of making content?

Do you want to help people? Maybe you want to inform people of the products or services that are commercially available. Or maybe you just want to express your creative side to the world.
People produce content for an endless amount of reasons but the point is we produce it so someone can use it.

Identify your audience's purpose

A crucial question you need to answer during the planning process of producing affordable video content is why your audience is important to you? Do you want them to buy your products, your services, or maybe you just need some feedback?
You can say this is one of those internal questions you have to ask yourself.

Focusing on the external aspects of planning and producing video content is important but at the end of it all, you have to know what your personal intent is.

Without it, you might as well be flying blind.

The point is to identify the things you want from your audience. This will not only help you develop your plan to monetize your content but also give you the important information you need to develop and enhance your content strategy.

Learn more about your audience

Now that we’ve identified who your audience is, what they want, and what you want from them, we have to think about how can we get to them.

Are they social media heavy? Do they spend hours on YouTube? Are they readers? Research plays a key role in understanding your audience.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, the devil is in the details. If you don’t have information on something like the age group of your audience how do you expect to relate to them?

Once you have a firm grasp of who your audience is, looking for them just takes time and effort. Proximity is best to start with your family, friends, and friends of friends who fit your audience profile.
Don’t have any friends then get out there and ask random people. Your local mall is a great place to start and you’d be surprised how much useful information you can get from strangers.
Questions like “ Do you spend more time on your Phone/Laptop/or Smartphone”? Questions like this can give you insight on whether Youtube would be a great place to post your new video.

“What social media platform do you spend the most time on” can help you decide whether to make a 1 minute video for Facebook or a 30 second video for Snapchat.

You will get nowhere if you think you’ve got all the answers. Ask questions and dig around. No one has ever found gold waiting around for it.

Ask questions, get answers, adjust, modify and make the changes you need and you will get farther than you were yesterday.

Still having some trouble getting the ball rolling. Here’s a great article from the team at Sharp Spring who’ve compiled some tools to help compile data on your audience.


Article from Sharp Spring on tools to help compile data for video content

Planning: Your Goals

You need to set goals. Without goals how can you measure your success?
So what do you want? More importantly, what do you want to achieve? And not just with the video content itself but everything after the video is edited and distributed to the digital channels you planned.
Is your goal to get 1000 likes, maybe your goal is to have the video shared with 1000 people.

The point is to clarify in specific realistic details what you want to happen once your video content is published.

If your goal is to boost brand awareness how can that be realized with a tangible outcome?

Let’s start with a simple personal assessment, let’s say that you know 100 people personally.

Set a minimum goal of reaching 200 people and you can track that by the number of views, likes, and subscriptions.

Included a link to your website?, tools like Google Analytics can track how many people visit your site, how long they stayed, and even how many subscribed to your email newsletter if you’ve got one.

Google Analytics to help track your site video content

You might be asking yourself “why are my goals important?”. Well not only does it reflect your efforts and capabilities but it also shows your effectiveness in conveying your message.

Now whether your message is to buy a product or generate demand for a service, the point is it will show you where you do well and where you need improvement.

Goals are the bar in which you set for yourself to achieve greatness. Of course, you will stumble and adjustments will always need to be made but the point is to learn and grow.

Create quality video content

So how do you plan to achieve your goals? Luckily when it comes to planning and shooting video content there are many ways to see if what you’ve created is worth its weight in gold.

YouTube is the leader, by far, in video sharing. With YouTube you measure Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) with the number of sharing views, likes, shares, and subscriptions.

Start small with goals that are specific and measurable. You want to make sure that your goals are also achievable and relevant to your content.

And most importantly you want to put a time frame on your goals.

For example, after you distribute your video to Youtube, from the small group of people you may know getting 500 views in 5 days is something attainable.

After every milestone, you want to increase your goals, but be sure to keep it realistic.

Don’t assume that since your goal was met in the span of 24 hours that it means you can automatically aim for 1 million views.

Keep it achievable and yes be ambitious, set goals that scare you but don’t be delusional.

The team at Think with Google put out a great article that you can download about Key Performance Indicators and what to expect with your digital media content. Check it out here.

Think with Google in KIP for video content

Planning: Your Message

When planning your video marketing strategy, you want to convey a message.

Basically, what do you want to say to your audience? Do you want to tell them about the benefits of a product? How about how a specific service helped you in your everyday life?

The point of the video is not just to tell a story or show your audience something. Under all of the words and images, there is a message.

For example, your video may show you explaining a service but the message could be something like “this program can help you save thousands of dollars a year.”

Crafting a message for your audience is important for more than just the script. This is the subliminal sometimes explicit point of the video content that you produce.

You want the core message of your video content to be precise and direct because having too many messages in your video can confuse your audience.

Need some help getting started check out INC’s article on Crafting a Compelling Message.
Check out INC to get started on video content

Relate your message to your audience

Before we craft a core message, let’s identify a few things to get you started.

Let’s before anything else determine who the message is for. At this point you’ve identified your audience, maybe give them a profile.

Now if for example, your audience is fresh out of college men and women looking for a job within their major. You would then build your content in a manner they could relate too.

Let’s say you own a service that works with employers seeking young graduates in specific fields like accountancy or medicine.

Now you have to craft a message that would appeal to your audience of “fresh college graduates.” What would you tell them, how would you tell them, and maybe, more importantly, why would they care?

Even though we have already identified who your audience will be, this process is a more narrowed and focused search.

We know from earlier that we are targeting the 18-25-year-olds but as we craft our message we are trying to identify a specific segment of those 18-25-year-olds that are college graduates in specific fields.

This allows you to speak directly to a specific group of people who can utilize your service.

This all begins with the understanding that you’re crafting a message for someone, now we have to understand what will the message include.
So, what do you want to say? When you craft your message for your specific audience you want to make sure you clarify and re-clarify what you want.

Want them to subscribe? Visit the website? Maybe you want them to follow your social media.

Let’s start with the end in mind.

When you are planning to make video content everyone wants to end the video with a request.

Like, subscribe, and share are the likely things you’ll hear at the end of a video especially with YouTube personalities.

Some even start the video off with that. It goes without saying, reminding your audience to follow what you do goes hand in hand when you distribute your video to the masses.

We know you’re going to tell your audience to follow you, but why would they want to.

This is where you want to make sure there is substance to your core message. Let your audience in on a secret, inform them about something they didn’t know, help them solve a problem.

If your core message doesn’t provide any function to your audience, they won’t stick around let alone stay up to date with what you do.

Knowing what you can do and how to do something is a great place to start when crafting your message.

Been spending a lot of time team building and organizing events, let your audience know for example “the secrets to effective team building and organizing events in just 2 minutes”.

It can even be something simple like “we can show you how to ace a job interview”.

Give insight, solve problems, provide help to those that need it. Make your core message clear and specific.

You would be surprised how many simple things people don’t know how to do.

Know the importance of your message

At this point, we’ve got an idea of what a core message is, who it’s for, and what you want to say.

In the planning process, things need to be thought out and reviewed before setting it in stone. You have to ask yourself why is your core message important?

This is one of those internal questions you need to have a firm grasp on. Losing sight on the significance of your core message will make the shooting process difficult.

Bouncing back and forth trying to figure out why your content is important to you and your audience will disrupt the flow and ultimately prolong the production process.

Iron it out, shake it up and do it again.

Is it important to you primarily from a viral point of view? Trends are trends because they come and go, is that what you want? Do you actually care? The digital landscape is filled with subjective points of view and the people in this arena can identify when you don’t care.

So why would they?

Let your core message include your personal thoughts, articulate knowledge, and open-minded insight. When your core message is handled with care, your audience will notice.

The human element makes a difference, feeling like someone can relate on a deeper level with your core message will make authentic viewers.

Here’s some insight from Celinne Da Costa at Forbes if you need some additional help on getting your message right.

Insight for video content example

Planning: Your Timeline

When you first start producing affordable video content, everything can seem very stressful and overwhelming. It doesn’t help the situation when you start adding deadlines and time limits.

Although this may seem obscure, putting your creativity on a timeline makes you better.

Let’s think about it. Without time limits and deadlines, the possibility to procrastinate or even abandon projects become more likely.

Pressure can either bust pipes or make diamonds. You are more likely to complete a task when you know there is only a finite amount of time.

Not to mention completing tasks on a time limit will speak volumes as to what you are capable of.

Put a timeline on everything. From how long you plan to brainstorm to the duration of your video.

When everything is on a schedule, your time is precious, minutes cannot be wasted.

Plus, the added bonus when a project or task is within a specific window of time priorities begin to emerge, your choices become specific and nonessential activities get moved to the side.

Implementing a timeline in every aspect of the planning and production process should be a continuous cycle.

Don’t let things pass, an “I’ll get it done tomorrow” type of attitude is a horrible habit to start and almost impossible to get rid of.

Get it done now and don’t leave till it’s complete, taking breaks is fine but that as well should be on a time limit.

The whole point of putting everything on the clock is to keep the creative juices flowing constantly. Spending too much time on one thing will just slow everything down.

Move on to the next and come back to it when you’ve been able to step away from the thought for a second.

Let’s assume your entire creative process rest within an 8-hour time period like a regular 9-5 would.

If you have a regular job and a task was given to you to complete within that time frame, the expectation is to complete it within those 8 hours.

Missing the target once may be tolerated, but eventually, you would be replaced with someone who can do what you can’t.

Setting the right expectation for yourself is not only required, it is necessary to make sure you are doing the right things at the right time without wasting resources.

And let’s be clear, time is a valuable resource.

planning video content

Planning: Your Creative Approach

At this stage of the planning process, you want a great example of what you want your video to resemble.

When you think about all the great videos you watch on YouTube, you think about the reasons why you like those videos.

Maybe it was the way the video was made, the look and feel of it, or maybe the content in it.

Sometimes the video itself was so compelling you’ve watched it more than once, maybe even saved it on a playlist to rewatch later.

The point is that you had reasons, specific ones that made you click the video and watch it till the end. This is where we want to start.

Now, this is based on the assumption that you have never received any actual training in composing a video or even any experience for that matter.

What we want is to take the elements of the videos you like or videos that are very successful and use them as inspiration for your creative approach for your video content.

Yes, I get it doing research sucks for some but it’s a necessary task that you should master.

If you want to do well you have to know who is doing well and for the most part you probably already subscribed to them.

Let’s face it YouTube is the largest video sharing website since the invention of the television and that’s how we watch and absorb content so it’s a great start to collect some inspiration.

Now whether your approach is to solve a problem, draw light on a specific situation, or provide insight on a particular topic someone has already done it.

Now just because you weren’t first to the party doesn’t mean you can’t make a grand entrance.

The point of crafting a creative approach to your video content is not always about something new, groundbreaking, and never before seen but drawing inspiration from others and providing a different perspective.

Let’s begin with the community your audience and message reside.

Targeting the stay at home mom’s that are looking to make extra cash from their laptops? Try typing stay at home mom’s in the youtube search bar, what you’ll notice is that youtube will try and finish your sentence for you.

Get to work and start going through each autocomplete result, start with 5 youtubers, watch their videos, make lists, and take notes.

It important to remember that we all derive inspiration from different aspects of our lives.

Your creative approach to your video content should come from music, art, culture, and even the current political and social landscape.

Check out Advids Video Creation Services “Incredibly Creative Video Content Ideas” in case you need a reference point.
advids for video content
So what do we do with all this inspiration and research? How do we put it into action? How do we implement our inspiration in our approach for our video content?
Let’s say you want to sell a product that teaches you to learn a new language.

Not really groundbreaking, there’s a community of language learning options online already and looks like a pretty competitive market.

A great video advertisement can really catapult your sales. How do we go about this?

There are many approaches so let’s discuss some really popular ones.
Tension, conflict, and rivalry is a great approach that has your audience debating which side of the coin they want.

Think about it, Apple and Samsung have had and still have their bitter rivalry over smartphone supremacy for the better half of a decade.

Taking jabs at each other through their advertisements is a great way to generate sales. Does it matter who’s number 1 and number 2, both companies are at the top of the food chain so in the end, they still win.

Comparisons are always a great approach when it comes to shining light on the benefits of another product or service.

Marketers and advertisers have been doing this since Print Media was the newest thing.

What better way to generate awareness and curiosity then comparing your product or service to something most people already patronize.

Even most technology YouTubers make their bank from comparing two opposing products against each other, does it matter what they personally use not one bit when your focus is on the products they’re talking about.
Making the user first is a great approach to your video content and has worked well for many companies when it comes to their products. Let’s put it into perspective.

Are you more likely to buy a product that was made for you or something that’s for the most part general?

If you haven’t heard of WIX, it’s basically a website builder that does all the heavy lifting for the user.

Its success comes from the fact that its users need a website but don’t have the know-how of making one. Do something for your user, give them what they want, and most importantly listen to what they need.

Hubspot has some great material you need to see if you’re having some trouble drawing some inspiration. Here it is.
Hubspot for inspiration for video content

Shooting: The Script

Once we’ve done the research we need to start shooting. Before a single frame can be shot you need to address some concerns first.

It all starts with the script, your dialogue that drives the story you’re telling.

The point of the script is to be human and natural. When you have a robotic feel to it the video seems bland and people will more than likely tune out.

If you consider the planning process the prequel to creating video content on a budget then developing the script would be the first step to realizing it.
Before we begin you have to be aware that writing a script is nothing like writing a blog post.

When it comes to the script you can forget about all the flashy viral worthy words. What you want is to keep your sentences short and convey a clear message.

When you write your script you want to make sure to include a brief greeting and sign-off.

You want to include these in order to maximize the average attention span of your audience and get the most out of your views.

The script plays a significant role, especially after several drafts.

When the video reaches the post-production section, the amount of time you will spend during this process will be determined largely by how well your script is written.

guide on script coverage for video content
During the actual production, you always want to follow the script and take production notes.

So let’s discuss the script at its most basic core. This will serve as the blueprint for your video along with the storyboard. They work harmoniously so don’t skip or overlook this process.

Your script is crucial, along with your storyboard, together it is an invaluable tool to efficiently visualize the shots you need before it happens.

You can make adjustments to your script as needed based on the outcome of the storyboarding process.

When you develop the content within the script be sure to be engaging and interesting with your audience.

Adding emotion, personal experience, and insight will help drive your message across.

You don’t want to take forever to get to the point. Be short and sweet, you want your audience to get it the first time not be confused and wondering what you’re trying to say.

Don’t worry if the words in the script may seem too formal than the type of video you want your audience to watch or something you originally had in mind.

The point is to get the idea across and deliver a clear message to your audience.

The script doesn’t necessarily have to be in sequence especially if the location is a studio or stationary area.

If you think about it, it’s the more efficient way to shoot your footage without straining your time and energy.

The reason being is that the script and storyboard need to be easily followed when the director and actor is not the same person, he/she will know exactly what they’re doing in the scene. Nothing is put in jeopardy.
Be careful with the words you will eventually use in your script. You want it simple and easy to understand, something your audience will have no problem following.

So stay away from huge million dollar words, save those for studies and reports.

Now you won’t get it the first time around but the more you practice and get the hang of things you will be able to get all the necessary information across to your audience.

The last thing you want to do is leave them feeling like they stepped out of a university lecture.

The point of the script is to get your core message across to your viewers and listeners.
You want to keep a close eye on the script and storyboard during production and ensure that everything is being followed closely.

Just be sure to keep in mind that an effective script is transparent with the information and authentic with your intentions.

Always make notes on the script. You want to have an accurate account of everything in the scene.

This will save you time when it comes to reshoots and voice-overs in the post-production process of your video.

The script is not only the words that you or your actor will read. It also includes information like specific locations, props, and actions.
It’s important to remember that reading out loud isn’t the only type of review you want to improve. Time yourself.

Is it taking forever to express your idea? Shave it down but don’t be cheap with the information. Condense but be clear.

Before you put anything in stone you want to make sure that it will sound coherent. Read your script out loud, read it to a friend, just make sure it flows and can be understood.
Rephrase certain sentences if it’s too long but be specific. If there are things to be emphasized in your script that’s fine but get rid of the other unnecessary words and sentences.
There are going to be times when Script rewrites are essential to ensure that the language and message are portrayed properly.

After rereading the script and making rewrites you want to be clear with your core message and that the script reinforces your message.

If you think you’ve finalized your script, share it with the other members of your team to get their input on the feel of the topic, length, and style of the video.
Don’t let this process scare you. Do the research, find the audience, and write what you want to say to them with your message in mind.

The refinement of the script will come later just get the ideas on paper.

Download one of these Script Templates and get to work.
script template for video content

Shooting: Storyboard

Now that we have dialogue for your speaker what we need is a drawn mockup of an idea.

Basically a visualization of how your video will be recorded. This is the process of a storyboard.

This serves as a clear visual guide of various elements of your video. This includes the lighting, details for the frame of a scene and even transitions.

It’s important to illustrate every shot of the video in detail, the point is to take the script and identify all the possibilities of what will work and what won’t.

You have to take those thoughts and images in your head and be able to see the video before you start shooting.

Something like a comic book strip of every moment in your video.

Remember, your storyboard is the scene-by-scene breakdown of your video.

When you’re at this point in the process, you’ll need to answer some questions like “Will I need to add some light.”

Where would it go? How will I record the audio? Boom mic or lapel?

You want to be detail oriented so information like this is what you want to highlight in you storyboard just in case you won’t be there during the production process.

Technical details of each scene in the storyboard help streamline the post-production process when it’s time for an edit.

When your shooting videos on a budget you will be doing some heavy lifting.

However if your lucky to have multiple people working with you then the details in the storyboard along with your shot list are crucial.

So just in case you’re doing this all alone, check out Canva, it’s a free tool, now I know what you’re thinking, this can’t be any good.

Canva for storyboard for video content

The goal is to get your storyboard created in a timely fashion, and Canva can do exactly that, not to mention it’s free.

Shooting: Shot List

Let’s talk about another important aspect of your video production. The Shot list.

These are all of the continuous segments of video content you will be recording.

Like your storyboard you are not just merely creating a list of all your shots, you will also need to include specific technical details.

These are normally details like camera placement and lighting direction. For example, if your storyboard includes your focus on a character explaining a service than your shot list will include information like the lighting arrangement (3 point lighting).
To make it brief if a storyboard is a scene by scene breakdown the shot list is a shot by shot breakdown.

The storyboard and shot list act as your guide during the shoot.  Actually, it’s not out of the ordinary during the planning process to create a detailed storyboard and shot list at the same time.

The success of your videos relies on details you provide during this process. You have to be aware that not everything can be fixed in post-production.

Be extra picky about every scene. Lighting, Audio, and camera setting are all elements you should include in your shot list.

You want to have a clear vision of your scene so shoot day can be as controlled as possible.

Get a firm grasp of the details in your storyboard and shot list, having this information in advance will save time and effort during production.
Checkout the team at Studio Binder and download a free shot list template to get you going. Check  it out here.
shot list template for video content

Shooting: Equipment

Now if you’ve gone ahead and made some purchases on affordable equipment, it’s time to put it to work.

Now depending on how you shoot your video, equipment like a backdrop could be utilized along with some lights and your audio recording devices.

Keep a list of your equipment, after you’ve plotted the course of your video you’ll need specific shots requiring some if not all of your equipment.

That outdoor B Roll won’t need a backdrop. Be sure to take a minute to double check what you already have and what you might need to rent or borrow.

Be sure to keep in mind that certain props like plants and furniture can compliment your shots, especially in your studio or office environments. But don’t overdo it, lots of random items can confuse your audience.
The equipment you will need will be dependent on where you shot, which should be outlined in your storyboard and shot list.

It will be filled with details which will highlight which gear is necessary. Not every occasion will require certain equipment.

For example, if the shot list indicates that your intros, greetings, or sign-offs are recorded outdoors than rigs for your lighting equipment is unnecessary.

All these elements work together so let your storyboard and shot list determining your equipment needs.

Shooting: Locations

Let’s discuss where we’re going to shoot your video. When you’re taking the affordable route, developing your own studio comes with a slew of benefits.

One of which being that once you set up your studio you can basically just leave it there.

However, having one location can sometimes leave your videos without any depth. B roll is great for those moments when the dialogue can be complex and descriptive.

These moments are generally filmed with another activity which for the most part can indicate another location.

There will be moments when your scene will need an appropriate location and you’ll need to track these down.

If you decide to shoot on location, in an office or a quiet park lots of different elements that can affect production.

Again, all these different elements of planning and shooting work together, so your storyboard and shot list should indicate the location as well in the details.

If your script dialogue is in an office setting which requires you to shoot on location, this can add an extra cost like travel and equipment transportation if you have to rent.

When you decide what location is right, make sure you secure the appropriate documents and or arrangements prior to shooting.

Location scouting and securing locations in advance will make the production process smoother.

Waiting weeks for processing and permits for various locations can interrupt a well-planned production schedule.

Be sure to visit your locations beforehand to avoid any problematic scheduling availability. Obviously, if you have a studio to work from this won’t be an issue.

Conclusion: Start shooting
Let’s do a quick recap. You know your audience which you have to remember can change from video to video.

You know exactly what you want from your audience. You’ve crafted your message that both align with your goals and relate to your audience.

You have organized and planned your timeline from inception to production. And you’ve narrowed down how you plan to accomplish your upcoming task.

The real work start when you’ve developed and finalized your words, the script.

You’ve visualized every scene, made an accurate account of the details in each scene, and put it on paper.

You know the equipment you need and where your shooting.

Now comes the easy part, shooting your footage. Yes it can seem overwhelming but when you have taken the time to plan and prep before you turn your camera on this is a breeze.

You have completed the hard part, the actual production is all about following the plan as you’ve outlined it.

Of course, taking notes adjusting and modifying are all part of the process but nothing will be left to chance.

If it’s your first time making a video don’t stress yourself out, just research, plan ahead, and most importantly detail, detail, detail.

It’s all in the details, be organized, be prepared, and have fun. The point of all this is to provide an experience and if you have a crappy one just imagine how your audience will feel.

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