Reels. TikToks. Stories. Live Webinars.

Social media is 70% video content nowadays, and that percentage will only increase as platforms enable users to overlay animations, music, or graphics on their static photos or carousels as well.

In a video-first world, marketers must learn the art of producing, editing, and publishing quality bite-sized videos that fulfill these basic expectations:

  • Catchy hooks in the first 5 mins.
  • A story that’s relevant to the audience
  • Quick pointers laid out in 1, 2, 3-step format
  • Fast frequent angle or cuts to retain audience attention
  • Clean background & HD visuals
  • Clearly audible narration
  • Subtitles
  • Synchronized music & audio effects
  • Singular CTA at the end

We’ll delve into why each of the pointers is important, along with some other considerations you can take when you’re working.

It can all seem too daunting at first, especially for those of us who’ve mostly dealt with static graphics or photography-based assignments.

But time & again, creators have proven that you can achieve great results with just an iPhone or any other decent mobile camera, a smart background setup, and bloody good content – all from the comfort your bedroom.

So its just a matter of experimenting & allowing yourself to suck for the first 100 videos or so. As time passes by, you will automatically become better by looking at your own work & learning from the mistakes or gaps.

A helpful way is to follow other content creators in your niche, slow down their videos, and dissect each beat or frame to see what exactly they’re doing to keep you hooked from start to end.

Before we go into some of the must-know information about video creation, let’s have a look at some of the online tools that one can use to enhance the quality of their piece.

InShot Mobile App

You no longer need a huge laptop with Adobe Premier Pro installed.

InShot’s lean mobile app is pretty hand it when it comes to editing Reels – you can trim, scale, and add transitions to your clips.

Layering & animation options are also available. GIFs from GIPHY can help you add a friendly touch.

So far I’ve found their free version good enough for my purposes, but you can upgrade to Pro if you want to access their pre-made templates & heavier transitions.


Veed.io Recorder

This is a versatile free online tool that gets a lot of cool things done.

Some of my favorite features (that work for free) are:

  • Record your screen with you speaking/explaining on the side for a YouTube explainer video or webinar
  • Compress heavy video files into smaller size versions (without damaging quality) so you can upload on socials faster
  • Choose from pre-made templates to create animated graphics in minutes

It also works as a basic video editor but you have to make do with the watermark which is a big no-no on platforms like Instagram – the algorithm doesn’t like videos with watermarks from TikTok or any other platform.

Not to mention, there are file size & time limitations on the subtitle use, etc. so I wouldn’t rely on it for end-to-end editing unless I had the budget to subscribe for its paid plan (~ ₹300 per month).


Mixkit Adobe Assets

If you’re a pro who grapples with Premiere Pro (see what I did there?) and After Effects, the Mixkit library has tonnes of templates for you.

Download presets or MOGRT files for:

  • Lower Thirds
  • Credits text
  • Titles & subtitles
  • Transitions
  • Entire scenes & slideshows
  • Callouts
  • Instagram Stories
  • YouTube Openers/Closers
  • Logo Reveals
  • Sound Effects & Music

The only drawback is that most of the files require the latest version of Adobe products, so if you’re using an old cracked version, you may have trouble importing them into your project.


Stock Video Libraries

If you need live action clips to tell your story but can’t afford a video shoot, stock videos are the next best option.

These websites have stunning HD or 4K clips for all sorts of situations & industries, and the best part is that they’re all built for public submissions, so you can use them without worrying about copyright strikes or violations.

Just make sure you credit the artist properly if the website is asking you to.

You’ll find clips on nature, people, abstract, business, office settings, space, kids, etc:

YouTube also has an endless supply of stock clips. Just type “your search query + stock footage royalty-free commercial use” and you might find just the clip you’re looking for.


BgRem

If you’re shooting explainer Reels, and don’t want to stick to a plain white wall background, you can “green screen” it out with this free background remover.

Then replace it with a beach, forest, classroom, office, or any other setting of your choice.

There’s also a popular alternative called “Unscreen” but it has worse time limit restrictions for the paid version, so BgRem is still my go-to choice (which offers good resolution & output if you log in).


Canva

This might come as a surprise, since we’re all so used to knowing Canva as a pure graphic design school.

But they have been releasing exciting updates for video creation, too, and you can now do basic timeline editing (with select transitions) inside Canva itself.

Their template library also gives you a headstart on the storyboarding process as you just have to replace the assets in the given template flow with your actual images, clips, and text.

Although we can’t call this use case “video,” I regularly use their template for creating animated PowerPoint presentations to show to my clients.

I think these novel features are certainly worth a try.


123Apps Video Convertor

Having trouble with the file format or resolution?

This video convertor can help you in such technical situations. Its hosted on the 123Apps site, which, by the way, is a goldmine of video, audio, PDF, and other single-purpose utility functions.

So which of these micro-tools do you think will you use the most?

Let me know in the comments…


Parting Advice

Now that I’ve given you the resources to work with video regardless of which stage you’re at in the learning process, its time to look at some of the basic data you should know before beginning your journey.

Know the Upload Sizes

Without a channel to host & promote your video, it won’t reach the right people.

Each social platform has its own requirement when it comes to video content.

Knowing them can help you avoid last-minute upload failures, pixelation (blurring), inconsistencies in the quality as some sites may downgrade the quality if you go too overboard with the exports.

Check out this table to understand each site’s recommended specifications that work best for standard uploads (updated for 2022).

Sr.PlatformRequirements
1Instagram1920*1080px for vertical Reels [9:16]
800*418px [1.91:1] for horizontal
90 secs. for Reels | 60 mins. for video (file size: 3.6GB)
30 FPS (frames per second)
2YouTube1920 x 1080 (1080p), 2560 x 1440 (2K)
Aspect Ratio 16:9
12 hours max. (128GB)
Video codec: H.264, MP4 file
AAC audio output
29.97 FPS
3TikTok1080×1920px
Aspect ratio: 9:16
10 mins. max duration (file size: 287.6MB)
MP4 file format

Work on your Hook

If people don’t find something juicy in the first 5 secs. of your video, they’ll swipe/skip ahead to the next piece of content on their never-ending social feed.

Nobody’s waiting for reveals that come a bit later. So before you move into post-production, simply re-watch the first 2 secs. of your video, and ask yourself, “Where is the hook in this intro? Why would people continue watching this video or read my post?”

If you can’t find an answer, rework it while you’re still shooting itself. This hook can be in the form of:

  • A how-to headline (e.g. Here’s how you can x5 your writing speed)
  • Asking a question (e.g. Do you often lose motivation to exercise?)
  • Shocking update (e.g. This celebrity has just passed away!!)
  • A weird expression
  • Quirky sound

In other words, have something that opens a mental loop inside the audience’s brain, forcing them to find out the resolution or details about the newly introduced information.

Cut fast & often

Simply having a hook isn’t enough. With the attention span dwindling, retaining the audience till the last frame is harder than ever. People get bored quickly nowadays.

So when you’re making videos, don’t shoot the same angle at length. Make fast cuts every 3-4 seconds, and by cuts I mean, change the angle, or if you’ve shot from one angle, cut the clip & enlarge/reduce sizes of each part (zoom in/zoom out) to give a sense of change in perspective.

You could also add real clips, photo slideshows, or vector animations to actually show what you’re talking about.

Whatever you do, don’t drag the same frame or angle for more than 10-15 secs.

Here’s an example of how I used quick cuts to keep my audience invested in this Reel.

Make the whole piece snackable – no bulky long takes unless you’re done a long-form webinar where the audience intention to learn is clear & you’d rather go slow so that beginners don’t loose track of what you’re saying.

Assume you’re making a tweet thread. Every 5 secs. or 5 lines, have a checkpoint. Ask yourself, “Why would people keep going?”

I’ve got one more useful tip on this front.

If you go to your YouTube or Facebook analytics, you can actually see the drop-off points where your audience thought it’d be OK to abandon the video. I recommend going to these points & seeing what you could’ve done to keep them incentivized for moving ahead.

Add Subtitles

Most people use their mobiles heavily during commute hours, but because of crowded trains/buses in India, many of these users don’t like to use earphones while traveling, so they have no or little audio input when viewing the content on their phone.

This means that if you have anyone speaking or narrating in your videos, PLEASE include embedded subtitles. If you don’t, they’re not going to understand your hook & scroll right past your content no matter how good it is.

I used to visit Kapwing for generating the subs on my videos but they started pasting their watermark all over it so they lost my vote. Now I use Instagram’s native captioning feature while editing my Reels inside the app ad-hoc.

I’ve found that to be faster, more reliable in terms of transcription from the audio, and better suited for the IG vertical format.

End with a Singular CTA

After watching this clip, what is the most important action you want the user to take? This is your “Call-To-Action.”

Most videos end with thousands of CTAs, asking people to like, subscribe, share, and comment on the post – which feels lazy & overdone (YouTubers are often mocked for it).

So pick your highest priority & drill it down. It can be:

  • Head over to my website to sign up for the full course
  • Subscribe to my channel to get the next part of this series
  • Leave a comment to let me know which chips flavor you prefer
  • Share this with colleagues who could really use some writing advice

YouTube also has an option to add end cards to your video, which recommends similar pieces from your channel that viewers can keep watching ahead. So do make use of that feature to keep your audience coming back for more for as long as they can.

Invest in equipment & BG setup

Yes, your audience is primarily here for your content, but it doesn’t hurt to have good quality equipment as well as a nicely decorated background that suits your niche.

Here’s a checklist of items that you can aim to grab over time.

Sr.EquipmentPrice
1Phone with strong camera (I use Vivo V23 Pro, but iPhone is the gold standard)₹35,000
2Adjustable Tripod Holder₹500
3Earbuds with Mic (bOAT products are quite reliable)₹3000
4Ring Light ₹1500
5Background Wall Decos (plants, bookshelves, movie posters, etc.) ₹5000

If you’re considering a serious upgrade, you can also explore sound absorption boards (especially for podcast creators), greenscreen backgrounds, and other high-quality camera equipment.


Conclusion

So those were some of my tips & favorite tools for video content creators, both the seasoned ones & the humble beginners.

Do you do video content for your brands or clients? Any new developments or trending formats I should be aware of?

Let me know how’s it going in the comments section below!

And if you found this post informative, please share it with your friends.

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