Small Business Owners: The Ultimate Guide To Shooting Your Own Videos In 2018

You're a small business owner? Fantastic! You have zero employees or nobody on staff that does the marketing (other than you)? You're in the right place. In this post, you're going to learn painless, easy-to-follow, simple instructions for shooting your own videos to promote your products/services and making 'em look halfway decent. 

Don't have a camera? Lies! You have one in your pocket!

You have no experience? Well neither did you when you first launched a business, but that didn't stop you!

You have no idea what to say? I'll help you, and chances are, you have that dynamic person on your team who can bring it

You're full of lip service? Bury it. We're leaders in our communities, and we have NO TIME for poor attitudes or poor responsibility

Bonus: need additional help bootstrapping your own business videos? I've got three bonuses that will save you at least 5 hours, and lotta pain and frustration below.

Still want more? You got it - this is but a part of the guide. Get the entire ebook in the store!


1. What camera do I use in 2018?

I answer this extensively here. Next.

2. How do I shoot on my phone?

Also available here.

3. Should I use Facebook Live or YouTube live? 

If you have no time to edit or no desire to edit, then do LIVE videos. They're free and you can do them with your phone. 

If you have zero presence on both channels, then here's a (dated) primer on getting started with uploading videos to YouTube or Facebook.

a. Facebook

Pros -

  • You can capture your live videos in 720p from your phone, even if you use the front-facing camera (newer phones only... for example, an iPhone 5s will not shoot HD from the front-facing camera if memory serves).


  • You can only download a tiny SD file (e.g. 400x224 - über bad resolution) from Facebook directly by clicking the three dots in the upper righthand corner
  • Insights (viewing statistics, etc.) feel clunky and disorganized
  • Takes a smidge longer to go live than YouTube

b. YouTube


  • Insights feel more intuitive and organized, more detailed too so you can better understand what material viewers are jiving with
  • YouTube links can be shared anywhere and don't require a person to be a YouTuber to watch them 
  • Especially if you're on your phone, there are less steps to going live

Cons -

  • YouTube live - from your phone anyhow - is limited to an SD picture. HD is so common these days, anything less feels like 1995. 
  • YouTube has two capital letters (I'm grasping at straws here)

4. What do I say in front of the camera?

Easy - think of the top 10 questions you get asked in your industry/niche. Each question is a video by itself because you can explain the answer to the camera (and hence your viewer and possible buyer). 

As you get more comfortable, you can expand that list to 40 and 100 video ideas. Yes, you want frequency here before quality. Quality comes later. A lack of frequency tells your buyer you don't give a poop about video, when that's how they want to engage with you before buying.

Don't conclude every video with "Call Now For The Best Service!" but do use it every now and again. Mix it up in the meantime:

Click the like button if you enjoyed this video!

Who do you know that needs to hear this? Hit the share button!

What's bugging you? Leave a comment below and I'll answer it!

If you're a business owner, you're used to problem-solving, so be creative. 

Bonus: in the content upgrade/bonus section at the end of the post, I'll hook you up with some ideas for titles and topics for your videos. Get to it lads and lasses!

5. Presentation basics for appearing on video

Look into the camera - this is not a documentary. Dress for success. Don't mumble. These are easy tips. 

Smile. Be enthusiastic. Study dynamic personalities and emulate successful presenters. Do you remember Tony Horton? Be that guy for your industry on the camera.

Yep, he's ridiculous and over-the-top, but it's a part of who he is, it works for his branding, and most everyone who takes fitness seriously in America knows who he is - be that kind of dynamic onscreen personality.

Speaking of, be yourself. Unless you're a bore (then you need to work on your skills). Unload your wit, your crazy accents - share your personality. 

Color is important - more on that in a second. Keep in mind every color scheme can use black, gray, and/or white. The colors you wear and the colors in your background.

Do your videos regularly. Once in a blue moon is ineffective at best. Try weekly or more frequently - and stick with it. Like marriage or your business - every day, you have to commit.

Finally, end every video with a CTA. It can be as simple as "like this video" or "subscribe to this channel." Train your viewers to take steps to become buyers with simple actions they can take.

If you're providing great information/entertainment, there's nothing wrong with asking for help.

6. Why your colors matter

Colors communicate meaning. Do you know what pink communicates vs. black? 

Do you even have a color scheme for your brand? You probably do. 

Have no idea where to start with your color scheme? I recommend Adobe's free tool. Find a good monochromatic (one color) or complementary color scheme (two opposing colors, like green and red... Christmas!). 


Or take the natural world for instance. The sky and the sun are complementary colors between their blue and yellow and blue and orange schemes. 

Or be bold and do a three-color scheme (I use a red, yellow, and blue scheme).

You can even take a photo you like and upload it to the color wheel site to dissect the color pattern. Adobe will - again, freely - determine what colors are predominant in your image and spit out hex values you can then copy and repurpose elsewhere.

Don't wait any long - head on over to their color wheel and move the handles around to find a scheme that works for you.

7. Where do you shoot your videos?

a. Outdoors - don't stand with the sun directly in your face. Make sure the sunlight is behind you (or your onscreen talent). You don't want them squinting (just because Uncle Bob wants the family photo with everyone facing the sun, it doesn't mean it's a sound photography or video practice). With the sun behind the talent, you avoid squinty eyes, and you put a nice "rim light" on the subject's hair line. 

One possible exception: you can have the sun lighting the subject from the side.

b. By a window - it acts as a natural source of diffusion. So plant your left or right side facing the window, and then you'll have a natural contrast on your face. Sit or stand near the window and hit record.

c. In a large room like a garage - or anything with a big exit to the outside world. Like the window example, you'll get some natural contrast on your subject's face if they're far enough away from the (open) door and their side is to the door. Here, you're using distance to diffuse the light rather than a window.

d. Anywhere you can wrangle soft lighting - think lamp shades. Your desk lamp probably doesn't cast soft light. Neon lights can be soft (a la Las Vegas). A china ball, if you have one laying around, and even better, a soft box will do the trick - so will a shower curtain between your light source and your subject. 

e. B-roll - we'll take more about this later, but anything you shoot can be used as B-roll. So, this may not be a "where," but rather a "why." Regardless of whether it's pretty or not, wherever you are, hit the record button Zapruder!

8. How to record audio that doesn't blow chunks

First, don't record bad audio. People will watch bad video if the audio is fine. But when it's crackling or peaking super bad from wind or people yelling, it's a major turn-off. For proof, consider movies like The Blair Witch Project or Cloverfield.

Alright, how do you do that? Simple. 

a. Outdoors

If you have zero gear, make sure it's not windy outside. If it is, you're hosed.

If planes are flying overhead, don't record.

If the dog is barking, shut the dog up with a ham sammich or just wait. Or move your shoot.

b. Indoors

This one's ideal. You can control most noises inside. Things to check:

  • mechanical noises are powered down/off - fans, HVAC, fridge, etc. 
  • digital noises won't interrupt - phones, alarms, etc.

Any kind of electrical contraption that could kick on and ruin your shoot? Unplug it. 


Pro-tip: if unplugging the fridge or other appliance that MUST be reconnected to power, leave your keys by the plug to help you to remember to plug the darn thing back in when you're done shooting

c. Mic direction - point the mic toward you. You want it facing your sternum more or less. Don't talk off mic. Just like you're supposed to keep eye contact with your audience when you're speaking (live), you want to give your mic your undivided voice.

d. Speak loudly and clearly - if you're a mumbler, work on it. Push with your diaphragm. Use your full voice. Don't be shy, timid, and reserved. It'll make it hard for people to hear you.

You're a business owner; you provide a service for people. Act confident in front of the camera just as you do when selling your big vision to an investor or you're pitching your product to a customer.

e. Content matters - if your content is boring or uninteresting, or if you're a bore, all the crisp, clean sound in the world won't save you. Make sure your material's informational, entertaining, or both! People should be busting a gut every 60 seconds! 

9. Should you shoot video at night or during the day?

For the vast majority of the business world, you should be shooting during the day, especially if you're shooting on a phone. Our current phones don't have big sensors, and they can't handle dark or dimly lit areas. You've seen it yourself I'm sure - when shooting a dark area with your phone, the quality of the footage goes down the pooper.

Plus, if you're not selling a product or service that isn't deathly or ideal at night (e.g. a mortuary, or a headlamp), you want bright lights. Think cheery. Use warm lights where possible. 

If you must shoot at night, still, find ways to include daytime shots. You want people to have a warm impression about your solution. 

If you're shooting on your phone sure enough, use practical lights from around your office to avoid these "fuzzies" you might otherwise pick up with poor lighting. 

If you happen to have a DSLR or a camera that shoots RAW, well, you're probably doing a little better than the average bear - or at least you're in a position to do a little better than the average bear. So YouTube how to light your scene on the cheap and then go do it. Or hire the broke-as-a-joke college kid down the street to do it for you. Think Jimmy McGill here.

10. Make sure you have enough space!

Check your camera's memory card if it's a DSLR. If it's your phone, check to make sure you have enough space to record. Videos can be HUUUUUGGGEEE and before you know it, you get the fabled "recording stopped" message because you didn't do your due diligence before launching the Saturn V. Way to go NASA!

If you are in fact on an iPhone, check your settings to see how much space you have. If you're clogged like an artery after "In & Out", hook up your charging cable to your computer and use your default/stock "IMAGE CAPTURE" app to sift through all your videos and clear them in bulk off your phone. Don't worry - you can move all the files (videos/photo) to your desktop and delete them off your phone. Once on your computer, back up your footage in the Cloud. Pick two cloud platforms - they're not 100% safe. Do this for your prized footage, but if you want to go nuts, you can back up all footage. While you're at it, check out the tools page for recommend cloud hosting solutions. Shoot, back up your footage on two solid-state drives. You never know when a fireball is going to hit Bluffdale, Utah, so I use and recommend the 1 TB drive from SanDisk

If you're on an Android, Google how to clear space off your device. I'd be a charlatan trying to explain how to clear space on an Android. I haven't owned an Android since... 2013. Egad. Move along.

11. What to do with your videos when you're done

Step 1:

Put your video on YouTube.

When you share a YouTube link on Facebook, Facebook will cruuuuusssshhh the organic reach of your YouTube link. They don't get along lads and lasses.

Share the YouTube link on Google Plus ( You get to do this for free by virtue of having a gmail/YouTube account.

Step 2:

Share the video on LinkedIn with your YouTube link.

Step 3:

Upload the video to Facebook. Why not?!

Step 4:

Other platforms as needed: Instagram, Twitter, reddit - you know your industry better than I do.

Start with the two Juggernauts though - upload the video to Facebook and YouTube. Heck, focus on just one of those platforms or both of them.

Step 5:

Embed that video in all of your outbound emails. Why not?! It's extra eyeballs you're jonesing for, and how many emails do you send a day? Exactly. With YouTube, you'll get a thumbnail that *should* populate at the bottom of your emails, especially if you're using GSuite to handle your inbox. 

Step 6:

Use a URL mask to send people to your video. Instead of something crazy looking like, dig into the URL mappings of your website and generate a mask, like That's easier to remember. It's easier to share. It's less scary. Etc. If it's your champion video, put it on your business cards: "Watch the video here at"

12. Additional places to share your videos

First place:

Your email list. If you have any kind of online presence in this day and age, I suspect you have a newsletter. 

Send your newsletter an email and say you have a video for them in the subject. People will be all over it like a hobo on a ham sammich. We're talking as much as 3x or 4x your normal CTR or even more. People love video!

Second place:

Share your newest video on your Facebook groups. Give them a great hook in your copy, then in your call to action, tell them they can "learn more" in the video. 

Be tactful. You can't just spam your groups here. I personally share content once a week in my groups, and three days later, I ask a question in the groups. Rinse and repeat. Never been banned this way.

Third place:

Ditto LinkedIn groups

Fourth place:

reddit - if you're already a user here, you probably already know how it goes. Don't spam your subreddits (more on them below). Find appropriate places to share your video and brace yourself. redditors hid behind anonymity, so if you think Facebook comments are brutal, better head to reddit with a thick skin.

Fifth place:

Use a link (and URL mask) or a QR code to your ace video on your business card. Again, you don't want on your business card. No one is going to type all that nonsense out! But Someone might be inclined to type that address in - in lieu of a QR code to your ace video. Does anybody still use the ole QR code?


13. How to get the most bang for your buck out of your YouTube videos

AKA optimize your videos. 

Step 1:

Have a keyword-rich title. E.g. "How to change a flux capacitor in a 1985 DeLorean."

You can even consider using Google, Quora, reddit, YouTube itself, or a plethora of other places to find keyword ideas. Adwords - great place as well. Google Trends - another solid place.

Step 2:

Have a 500-word description in the body of your video. Don't do a hack copy and paste job. I learned this from Miles Beckler - you want to connect video to text (which Google understands), and you can do that with your 500-word body of text in the video's description. I'm lazy about it, but that doesn't mean you should be a coach potato.

Step 3:

Link back to your post or website or landing page in your video's description, just as you probably embedding your video on your blog, website, or landing page. It's the perfect marriage of SEO and it doesn't even need prenup agreements. 

Step 4:

Also from Miles Beckler, in the thumbnail image of your video, have a keyword-rich title in the name of the file itself. When your custom thumbnail (don't use the default ones from YouTube - they seem to always find the most unflattering stills like when your nostrils are flared, your mouth is gaping, and your eyes are shut) is ready for upload, go to its file and rename it. E.g. what-to-charge-for-your-corporate-video-production-services.

If you're still on Windows 95, a) what are you still doing reading this post, and b) why aren't you on YouTube for your business? Okay, '95 may be a stretch, but I bet there are businesses still running Windows XP. Hyuk hyuk hyuk.

14. 6-second bumper ads and why you need them

Imagine going to three meetups/networking events in a month. Between coffee (or other beverage/snack) and gas, you'd spend about $30 just to meet a handful of business owners. With a 33% to 50% appointment rate, that means you'd get at least one appointment. Not bad for $30 - especially if you're able to add them to your sales pipeline and close them. If you aren't already, add meetups/networking events to your marketing strategy; here's what I recommend

Or you can go to Adwords and spend $25 there and probably get $50 or $100 of additional ad money if you're a first time user. 

Then spend that $75 - $125 on video views. With simple targeting of people who would benefit from your ad, you can easily get a view for $.01. I.e. you could turn $25 into 2,500 views and more, and as a bonus, the first 6-seconds are unskippable. That's a lotta eyeballs for $25. If you have a crown jewel video on your YouTube, those first 6 seconds will be hard to forget. 

2500 people vs. 75 or so (between 3 meetups) - both are essential in your marketing because one's online and the other is offline. We were created to be social - yes, even introverts, so you can't ignore the offline component, but in this day and age, you can't afford to ignore the online component either!

If you want a walkthrough on setting up a 6-second bumper ad, you can do so here.

15. Facebook ads - should you use them? 

Whether you're in a B2B or B2C business, the fact of the matter is, you're in the people business, and people use Facebook. The problem with Facebook is, they crushed the organic reach of your page posts (business page) a long time ago.

There will be a time when you need to use Facebook ads, and since videos are expected to make up 80% of web traffic this year or next year or 2020 (depends on who you ask), you might as well get on the wagon. 

Fact: my generation and the next generation don't read much. We love videos though. 

Idea: push as much "free" organic traffic as you can to your video AND do a paid video campaign. Like YouTube, you can generate views as cheap as a penny a view. Just go to your page, navigate to your ads manager, and start a video views campaign. 

Of course, you need to have a goal in mind: are you sending them to a sales page? Probably not - you're probably sending them to some gated content (a lead magnet, like "Join the newsletter below and download Uncle Bob's ultimate guide to selling swordfish in 2018"). That's what I would do:


This way you have a virtual handshake in place - a warm lead possibly. Unless you've already got Walter Cronkite-levels-of-fame, people gotta like and trust you before they'll do business with you. 

I won't go into more details on "how" here, but you can study this topic more extensively on YouTube. I like and listen to Miles Beckler almost every working day, and he has a wealth of information on setting up Facebook ads.

16. Use a URL mask for your crowning video

The what, the what, and the what?

It's simply really. Instead of sending people to your ace video (or blog post or sales page...) which likely has a clinical, unfeeling URl (e.g., create a URL mask for your ace video.

For example, I send people to when I want to encourage them to shoot their own videos with their phone (and how to do it without being a complete noob). It's much easier than Both links send people to the same page, but the first one is easier on the eyes.

Check with your CMS (Squarespace, Wordpress, etc.) and then hit up YouTube university to learn how to create one for your ace video. 

  • It's easier for you to remember the link
  • It's less scary for your viewer/prospect/buyer
  • It makes it easier on them to remember as well should they have to manually type it out

17. Where to find video ideas? Google.

Just type in any phrase into the google search bar. Look at what starts to autopopulate:


This will give you some clues as to what people are looking for.

You can also go to your Adwords account (if you have a gmail already, you can log into Adwords no problem: and use the keyword planner tool.

To find it, go to the "Tools" menu (I'm walking you through this on a desktop) and select "Keyword Planner."


The first drop-down menu might be in green, and that's the one you want to start typing phrases into to see what happens when you pull the level and watch if the 7's line up.


Wade through the searches. For example, if you're a Thai Restaurant Owner, you might want to attract local diners to your restaurant. Let's take the above query and see what happens in Clark County, NV.


Boom. Come up with a video on why you're the best, and then do another video on your delivery service. 

18. Where to find ideas? YouTube.

Similar to its partner-in-crime Google, YouTube will autocomplete entries for you. You can punch in a few words and watch the magic happen.

Additionally, you can use for a free search or two every day for either YouTube or Google. Like adwords, it'll show you what people are searching for. 


Like Moz, it'll show you page authority and domain authority (the closer to 100 these two numbers are, the more better - it means you're the cat's pajamas). 


Also, look at what YouTube suggests after watching a video or even in the playlist if not above the playlist (desktop). Sometimes, it'll recommend something pretty darn random, but every year, it gets a little more sophisticated. 


As with any of these ideas, emulate success, and Bob's your uncle.

19. Where to find ideas? Quora.

Quora is a repository for questions. It's a lesser known social-media platform than the big guys, but it's still a thriving community, and it's geared towards questions and answers on just about anything. Unlike Google, it is geared towards threads. Multiple people can answer a question, and you yourself can plug in your expertise and answer questions too (or ask them).

Try googling "bicycle quora" to see what pops up (suppose you own a bike shop). 


First results has some ideas and subthreads. Let's check the first one.


There you go champ. And like the next platform, you don't need to be logged in to Quora to view the questions. 

Go mining for ideas!

20. Where to find ideas? reddit

That's right. reddit is lower-cased, and it's a darn good place to get some eyeballs on your video (possibly even hundreds or more with a great tagline).

You don't even need to be logged in. The social media platform has millions of users and looks janky like Craigslist, but it is brimming with questions. 

Say you're in the landscaping business. Try a basic google search:


Boom! The very first subreddit (meaning, a subpage) Google pulled up has great ideas for videos. In particular, look for any question - copy it verbatim if you wish in the title and topic of your next business video. The old saying as a teacher applies here: if you (are brave enough to) ask a question, then someone else is thinking the same thing too.


So, if you've exhausted YouTube, Google, Quora, Uncle Bob for ideas, try reddit.

21. Where to find ideas? emails

I need to do this more often as well: email our people. Both in a literal sense and in an ESP sense of the word - figure out the FAQ's you see cropping up in your emails, both in your inbox, and those you address in your past email newsletters. 

If you aren't already building a newsletter, try a freemium service like MailChimp to get started. You can, last I checked, send 12,000 free emails a month to 2,000 people. I've had zero problems with Mail Chimp in the years I've been using them. 

Don't hesitate to ask your newsletter for ideas, especially if you're already regularly emailing them with valuable content (and not just sales copy every week). 

But also look at past data (open rates, click-thru rates, etc.) to see which subjects were smash hits. 

An email with a 5% CTR (click-thru rate) is beefy, and that tells you it's prime material for a video. If your open rate is abominable and your CTR is laughable (e.g. less than 15% open rate and less than 1% CTR), then you have a stinker. 

When is it time to hire a video producer?

There are several times when it's a good idea to hire one. 

First, you're just out of time. 

Second, you're not doing the work yourself.

Third, you're in a position where you must delegate.

And last but not least, technical reasons - e.g. you want stop-motion animation, underwater footage, aerial footage, crazy 3d-animation, you know, the usual stuff you do every day, right?!

Don't want to do any of this yourself? No worries, whether my team or another video production team, you need to be prepared for your project. And you want to make darn certain your production team is up to snuff. I've got a packed checklist for you to make sure whoever it is you work with, they're going to take care of your vision from start to finish. Check it out below!


Bonus time

I've got short vignettes for each of these sections - that's right short videos with this information if you'd rather watch/listen than read. You can gain instant access to every video once you join the newsletter (your information's safe - no reselling, no spam). You'll also get a list of 20 ideas to shoot your videos on if you're still scratching your head and wondering what the heck to say in front of the camera. I've also got the essential checklist you need to comb through before hiring any video production team to do a project for you.

Get instant access now:

Have you started creating videos to promote your product or service? If you've hit the mighty 40th milestone, comment your biggest learn below!

Jake the film guy

I want to encourage others and bring honor to the Almighty in everything that I do with film and video. My goal is to take the first 11 minutes of my tv pilot and seek out decision-makers who can further the conversation about developing it into a show. If my team and I can do that, then we can teach 100,000 other microbudget filmmakers how to do the same thing so that we might tell stories of hope to millions. In the meantime, I'm a son of the King, a family man, a lifelong student of film, and the author of two microbudget filmmaking books.