7 Videos You Can Make in 7 Minutes (or Less) Using Only your iPhone

7 Videos You Can Make in 7 Minutes (or Less) Using Only your iPhone

Is it just me, or is Twitter brimming with videos these days? They’re all over the place and I love it! After playing with easy video apps for years at this point (Years! That’s scary), I can easily tell if a video was created using these apps or not.

But I’m always just a bit surprised when I can tell videos from big brands are made with free and cheap video apps. I mean, these are brands that have tons of money to spend on videos and easy access to pro videographers, but they’re using the same tools every solopreneur or one-man marketing machine could (should) be using.

This, more than perhaps anything else, should illustrate that you don’t have to sacrifice quality to produce your own videos on a smartphone. That good videos don’t cost a lot of money. And that you can still make compelling content on the fly.

To illustrate this point, I’ve shared seven videos you can make on an iPhone in 7 minutes or less over the past week or so on Twitter. Now, I’m aggregating them into a blog post for a quick reference/repository of ideas.

1) A Blog Graphic Video

Time: 1 minute

This is about as simple as video gets! Unlike most videos, these types of videos aren’t meant to tell a story. Instead, they convey a small amount of information quickly and attractively. The motion of the test also adds some extra oomph to your social feed.

Another benefit of a blog graphic video is that it benefits from higher organic reach on Facebook (up to three times higher than text or photos!). That’s a whole lot to gain from such a small amount of work!

All you need to do is use one of a handful of apps, like Adobe Spark Post or Legend, to add and animate text on top of an image or video. And, you don’t even need to film or take your own photos. You can also use stock photos or video. A personal favorite of mine is Pexels, which offers both stock photos and stock video and doesn’t require attribution.

Another pro tip? Have your brand style guide handy so you can make sure to match colors and fonts with your existing brand identity!

2) Animated Quotes & Tips

Time: 1 minute

Similar to the blog graphic videos, you can use these same simple apps to create short videos with tips or inspiring quotes. The benefits are the same: it stands out on a timeline, it has improved reach, and it also helps ease you into the process of making videos.

A pro tip for these types of videos (blog graphics and tips/quotes): use Buffer to schedule your videos across social platforms easily and quickly. They’ll post as native videos on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+ and Instagram. And, unlike Twitter on a computer, Buffer can schedule mov files (as well as mp4 or avi), which is Apple’s standard video type.

If for any reason an app saves the video as another file type (like m4v), you can use iConv to convert your video and audio files to other formats quickly and easily. This is a great resource if you need to send your videos to a coworker to post on social media—then, you can share them in whatever format they’ll need!

3) Custom Calls to Action and Branded Intros

Time: 4 minutes

You know from my style guide suggestion earlier that it’s just as important to remain true to your brand identity in your videos as you do in your photography and design. You want to use the same colors, the same fonts, the same overall vibe as you do everywhere else.

An added bonus for using video, in general, is that it’s super shareable. In fact, some statistics I’ve seen say that video is shared up to 1200 percent more often than other types of content. That’s a lot of sharing! Which is great…

But I’m sure you’ve seen videos shared before that don’t offer any context. They don’t credit the source, they don’t provide a link for more information. One way to make sure every person your video reaches knows where to look for more info (your website, your social profile, whatever) is to add custom intros and/or calls to action.

The good news is you don’t have to hire someone on ZenDesk to make one of these for you. There are quite a few apps that allow you to make your own from basic graphics and logos.

Adobe SparkPost is a great option for calls to action (the slide at the end of the video that tells users what to do: go here, read this, buy that, etc.). There are quite a few video effects apps that can be used to help create awesome branded intros. If you’d like a tutorial on my favorite app to make custom intros, you can sign up for my free 7-day e-course (it’s lesson 5, I believe). I’ll walk you through the process step by step!

A pro tip here is having a handful of transparent PNG versions of your logo on your phone. I usually have one dark and one light version. Then, you can quickly overlay in on various colored backgrounds in SparkPost and import that video or photo file into the video effects apps to add light leaks (like mine), background textures, and motion.

Even for quick video that you share directly from your phone to social media, there are branding options. For example, the app Pre-Edits allows you to quickly add a website and/or other text on top of your videos as you film them, so you can share them quickly without losing out on adding a call to action.

4) Step-By-Step Tutorial

Time: 5 minutes

What makes this particular type of video so great is that collage apps, like PicPlayPost, make it easy to put a handful of short video clips together into one video that tells a story from start to finish.

It’s also great for beginners who don’t want to have to connect multiple clips together on a single timeline just yet. All you need to do is choose the layout of your video collage and select your clips. You can choose whether to play them all at once, or in sequence, and you can even loop them a few times. The app also allows you to add music from your library (just make sure you’re using royalty free music you are actually allowed to use!).

Incompetech is great for free royalty-free music, but requires attribution. You can also buy a few soundtracks from AudioJungle or Pond5 to keep on your phone at all times and use as needed.

You’ll notice that my collage video also includes a custom intro and a call to action. You can use a separate app, like iMovie, to string your collage and custom intros/CTAs into one cohesive video.

5) Tiny Testimonials

Time: 6 minutes

I love tiny testimonials. For social sharing, I prefer them so much more than long testimonials. All you need to do is take out some of the best parts of that long testimonial and turn it into a tiny testimonial.

The style I like to use is putting one great quote first, then my custom intro, then the rest of the quote and then my call to action. Otherwise, at least for social media, having that custom intro first might encourage people to scroll past your post before they invest in watching it.

An important note: did you know that 85 percent of Facebook videos are watched without sound? Since most social platforms auto-play your videos (without audio) using captions at the bottom allows them to experience your video, follow your story, understand what you’re saying, without having to turn on the audio. One pro tip is to use the app Gravie to add text on top of your videos, like you see in my example here.

6) Timelapse E-Vite

Time: 7 minutes

It’s amazing how a timelapse can turn a simple video clip into something special. I use timelapse videos all the time for invitations—to webinars, to new courses I’ve launched, etc.—because you just need some props and an iPhone to make one.

I prefer Lapseit to capture my timelapses, since it lets you re-time them to specific durations. For example, if I shoot a timelapse within the iPhone camera app, I’m stuck with what I get. But, if I shoot it in LapseIt, I can reformat it to be however long I need it to be—10 seconds, 30 seconds, a minute, whatever!

Lapseit also allows you to add music from your library to make this type of video even easier.

7) Animated Explanation Videos

Time: 7 minutes

Not every business has an abundance of things to “show” their audience. Some of us work in more cerebral environments, and watching people think or type doesn’t make for a compelling video. Fear not!

Animated explainer videos are great for companies that want to share concepts and ideas, rather than visuals and experiences. They also work well for numbers or even videos accompanying blog posts, like my example here.

There are quite a few apps that allow you to create animated videos. Some use cartoons, some rely on icons, some use your own photos and visuals. Finding the right one depends on your brand identity.

I actually have a whole module on this in my latest course, LittleBig Video, to show you exactly how to make animated videos (as well as all the other videos I talk about—and a bunch more) on your phone really quickly and easily. You can learn more about the course here.

There are a ton more types of videos you can make in only a few minutes using just your iPhone, but that’s the end of my 7-minute video blog series. To learn more types of videos, or to follow step-by-step tutorials, check out LittleBig Video. I hope to see you there!

About the Author

Sarah Redohl is a new media journalist, focusing on mobile storytelling, 360 video and storytelling for good.

Her work has been featured in The Washington Post, the Travel Channel and National Public Radio, among others, and she has presented on TedX stages, MoJoCon, the What If... Conference series and more. Redohl has won regional and national awards for her visual storytelling, and is recognized as one of Folio: Magazine's 15 Under 30 young professionals driving media's next-gen innovation.

She's passionate about bringing storytelling tools to small businesses and nonprofits, and is part of a journalism collaborative that aims to bring the power of storytelling to nonprofit agencies in developing countries where stories might otherwise go untold. 

Connect with Sarah on TwitterInstagramPinterest and LinkedIn.

7 Awesome New Gadgets to Shoot Better Smartphone Photos + Videos

Here are seven super cool new gadgets on display at Photokina 2016 that will help you shoot better photos and videos on your smartphone. Do you need them? No. But you'll probably want one or two of them...

Lenses, lights and mics, oh my!

Last week, I had the opportunity to go to Photokina, just down the road from my office, in Cologne. Photokina is the world’s largest tradeshow for the photography and imaging industry. Although I was there to report on virtual reality for Newsshooter.com, the mobile journo in me just had to stop and see some of the coolest mobile photography tech.

Here’s the list of my favorites:

Ztylus LED Ring Light

 Ztylus LED Ring Light ($54.95)

Ztylus LED Ring Light ($54.95)

There’s a reason I put this as number one. It was seriously cool! This LED ring light ($54.95) attaches to your smartphone to add a boost of soft, appealing light to any photo or video. It comes in three different diffusers—cool, warm and nature—each with a “best use” case. For example, one setting is made for portraiture (i.e. selfies!), while another is perfect for taking food photos.

Although you’re supposed to use this ring light with Ztylus’s iPhone case, for those of us (i.e. ME) who really like our existing smartphone case, you can either connect it with tape, Velcro, or (my favorite) superglueing a tiny and super-powerful neodymium magnet to the ring light to magnetically snap it on and off your smartphone. In my case, a neodymium magnet was strong enough to stick to my phone through my leather Shieldon phone case. #DoubleWin

When in use, simply slide the ring light into position—with your camera lens in the middle of the ring—and turn it on (it’s powered by 3 AAA batteries).

Ztylus also makes some pretty interesting lens kits, too. I got to see and test out the 4-in-1 lens attachment ($99.95), with a macro lens, wide-angle lens, fisheye lens and circular polarizing filter lens. Unfortunately, you do actually need the Ztylus case to effectively use their lenses. The lens has to be perfectly placed—not approximately placed, like we can do with the ring light. Their best-seller, though, is the Z-Prime lens system ($129.99), which comes with glass lenses (rather than the plastic ones from the 4-in-1 kit). The super wide-angle lens and 2X telephoto lens really do improve your photo quality, with minimal vignettes.

Pilotfly SP1 Smartphone Gimbal

 Pilotfly SP1 Smartphone Gimbal ($314)

Pilotfly SP1 Smartphone Gimbal ($314)

No matter how much I moved, danced, shook, ran, whatever, my footage consistently came out insanely shake-free with the Pilotfly SP1 ($314). This gimbal comes with four settings to allow you the movement types you want, like panning, without any sort of unwanted movement.

Even though it’s pricy for a smartphone accessory—especially coming from someone like me who talks about getting started with NOTHING—this particular accessory is so worth it in so many different scenarios. For quick interviews, there’s nothing better. Rather than having to set up a tripod, you can just hold the gimbal by hand, and your video will still be really watchable. For shooting b-roll, gorgeous pans, or even shots where you need to follow someone or out the car window ;)

I’m also going to be demonstrating and reviewing the Pilotfly on Newsshooter.com, so keep an eye out for that!

Rode VideoMic Me

 Rode VideoMic Me (Price TBD)

Rode VideoMic Me (Price TBD)

Rode Microphones showcased a pretty impressive lightweight directional mic for smartphones at Photokina, the VideoMic Me. It plugs into the audio jack and still provides you with a headphone jack so you can listen to your audio as you record. You can mount it to use with either the front or back camera recording, and it comes with a windscreen (AKA “Dead Cat”).

Although the mic isn’t actually available for purchase yet, you can at least dream about it when you listen to this clip after 4:10.

Rode VideoMic Me sample audio comparison after 4:10 (via Documentally.com)

Sandisk Connect Wireless Stick

 SanDisk Connect Wireless Stick ($25-$87)

SanDisk Connect Wireless Stick ($25-$87)

Most of the chatter surrounding Sandisk from Photokina was about their 1 Terabyte memory card, but I want to talk about the Connect Wireless Stick. Now, this one isn’t new, but it’s still awesome. I actually picked up one of these back in May at Mojocon and I use it all the time!

Basically, it allows me to store extra media files on my flash drive and access them wirelessly from my phone, my computer and my tablet. This is immensely helpful when, say, I’m shooting an interview with two cameras—my iPhone and my tablet—and I plan to edit on my computer. Not only that, I can I set it to automatically backup my photos and videos, when connected, so I have them stored in two places, just in case.

It comes in lots of sizes, from 16GB ($25) to 200GB ($87).

Shoulderpod R1 Pro Rig

 Shoulderpod R1 Pro Rig ($100)

Shoulderpod R1 Pro Rig ($100)

If you actually end up buying half of the things on this list, your phone is going to get…overencumbered? I mean, there are only so many plug-ins and places to attach things to your phone. Enter Shoulderpod’s R1 Pro Rig ($100). It can hold your smartphone and a couple additional accessories, like lights and mics. Plus, the adapter to hold your phone is much more reliable than those spring-loaded ones. Shake and run all you want, your phone isn’t falling out.

Full disclosure, Shoulderpod did give me an R1 Go Rig, which is super handy if you need to shoot with one hand and want to add an extra accessory. But, I’ve seen a lot of gadgets like this and I really do think they have among the best in quality and, IMO, the cutest.

BrightCast Variable 15

 BrightCast Variable 15 ($199 or $299)

BrightCast Variable 15 ($199 or $299)

This one isn’t as much “new” as it is “new to me.” The entire Newsshooter crew was using BrightCast Variable 15 to light their review videos, and plenty of camera lovers passing by were so intrigued by the light they had to touch and play with it (invited or not)! The product was actually announced at NAB earlier this year.

They’re flexible, waterproof, and you can attach the battery pack with Velcro to the back of the light. They come in both a daylight version ($199) and a bi-color version ($299).

Not to mention, the quality is really, really good for how light-weight and durable it is!

Kula’s Bebe 3D smartphone lens

 Kula Bebe 3D Smartphone Lens ($79)

Kula Bebe 3D Smartphone Lens ($79)

This was the perfect blend of VR and mojo for me! The Kula Bebe 3D smartphone lens uses a series of mirrors to capture stereoscopic (i.e. 3D) images. It can clip onto any smartphone, and is basically the baby (get it, bebe?) version of Kula’s Deeper 3D lens for DSLR cameras. Once you’ve taken the photo, you can convert it using Kula’s free app to watch on any VR headset, View-Master, cheap-o 3D paper movie glasses or 3D TV.

The Kula Bebe is available for presale now at $79 and ships in November.

About the Author

Sarah Redohl is a new media journalist, focusing on mobile storytelling, 360 video and storytelling for good.

Her work has been featured in The Washington Post, the Travel Channel and National Public Radio, among others, and she has presented on TedX stages, MoJoCon, the What If... Conference series and more. Redohl has won regional and national awards for her visual storytelling, and is recognized as one of Folio: Magazine's 15 Under 30 young professionals driving media's next-gen innovation.

She's passionate about bringing storytelling tools to small businesses and nonprofits, and is part of a journalism collaborative that aims to bring the power of storytelling to nonprofit agencies in developing countries where stories might otherwise go untold. 

Connect with Sarah on TwitterInstagramPinterest andLinkedIn.

The Ultimate Guide to GIFs

Choosy marketers choose GIFs

It’s funny that a few years ago, people thought GIFs were a thing of the past. Today, you can’t scroll through any social feed without seeing one. Twitter is dripping with them, and Facebook is starting to let brands test 'em out.

Hell, even the House Judiciary Committee is using them in this listicle on immigration policies.

GIF repositories, like Giphy, make it easy for everyone to tweet them, attach them to emails and embed in presentations. It’s like the GIF never went out of style.

Essentially a GIF is just a short video that loops over and over and over. That said, I have a lot of people ask me why they shouldn’t just use videos instead. But, there are some benefits to using GIFs.

5 Reasons To Use GIFs in your Marketing Strategy

WHY you should be using GIFs in your social media marketing

 Source: Inside Amy Schumer (Giphy)

Source: Inside Amy Schumer (Giphy)

Easy to Consume

First of all, GIFS can be consumed really, really quickly. They get the job done in seconds. Or, as Mike Isaac of the New York Times said, “GIFs have become a mainstream form of digital expression, a way to relay complex feelings and thoughts in ways beyond words and even photographs...” Well said.

They’re also great for social platforms that offer autoplay without sound (like, everyone), because GIFs don’t need (or even have) audio. They don’t need it to make a point.

Plus, unlike a photo, the motion within the GIF offers a natural way to focus viewers’ attention on your product or point.

 Source: Reddit (Giphy)

Source: Reddit (Giphy)

Personality Packed

GIFs make it insanely easy to show off your sense of humor.

For example, anyone who sees the GIFs I use on Twitter will know that I’m a big fan of HIMYM, Harry Potter and classic teen movies.

For people who might have a harder time being authentic on social media, GIFs are a great way to show off your fun side.

 Source: CultureNLifestyle.com (Giphy)

Source: CultureNLifestyle.com (Giphy)


Maybe it’s just me, but there are some GIFs I could watch for hours.

There's just something about the flow of the format that makes it possible to watch forever...Like this one of Vincent Van Gogh!

See what I mean?

 Source: Reddit (Giphy)

Source: Reddit (Giphy)

Image File Format

Although I described GIFs earlier as a short looping video, technically speaking they’re just a series of still image frames coded into one single image file. That means they can be posted places where videos can’t. For example, before Pinterest allowed videos, you could still add GIFs.

One place GIF files still offer substantial benefits is via email, like in your newsletters and e-blasts. Adding videos to your emails makes it more likely they’ll get filtered out as spam for their size. In fact, most mail services, like Mailchimp, recommend just posting a thumbnail linking to your video.

Here’s a compelling argument from Wistia about why you should just link to the video.

But, maybe you want to capture attention with some motion in your newsletter? A thumbnail of a video isn’t going to do that. But a GIF can.

 Source: Reddit (Giphy)

Source: Reddit (Giphy)

Easy to Use/Make

GIFs are also really, really easy to make. You can search GIF repositories, like Giphy Buffer Mood Board, Tumblr or Imgur, to use GIFs made by others. Though, I would recommend reading this post on Forbes on the legal use of animated GIFs.

Although there haven’t been any U.S. cases definitely stating whether creating a GIF from copyrighted material is or isn’t copyright infringement, it’s super easy to make your own GIFs.

Now that you know why GIFs are so amazing, let’s talk about making your own GIFs!

How do you say GIF?

There has been sofreakingmuch debate about how to say the word “GIF.” As someone who has to say it in front of large audiences over and over again, I’m sort of tired of seeing half my audience snicker because they think I’m saying it wrong. So, let’s put this to bed once and for all.

According to Steve Wilhite (the inventor of the GIF format), he named his new file type GIF with the JIF peanut butter brand slogan in mind. That is, with a soft G. His coworkers at CompuServe in the 1980s would often say, “Choosy developers choose GIFs.”

GIF. Say it with me…GIF.

6 Ways To Use GIFs in your Marketing Strategy

WHEN you should be using GIFs in your social media marketing strategy

Okay, so now you know why you should be using GIFs. Now you’re probably asking yourself when you should be using them. As Ash Read wrote in this post on the Buffer blog, “Anywhere there’s a message, there’s a chance for a GIF.”

Here are a few ideas to get you started…

1) Repurpose existing content into GIFs.

This option is insanely easy. There are tons of tools that can turn the videos you’ve posted to Instagram, Vine and YouTube, as well as raw video files, into GIFs. Gifs.com is one example, and Giphy offers an entire GIF-making suite of tools.

You can use Giphy’s GIF Maker tool to paste the URL of your YouTube videos and select the part of the clip to turn into a GIF. Then, your GIF is hosted on Giphy and can be easily shared to all your social platforms.

You can also use Giphy Slideshow to turn a series of still images into a GIF, and Giphy’s GIF Editor tool allows you to add stickers, filters and captions.

2) Use as a website background.

Because GIFs can be really subtle and are smaller files than videos, they can be used as a slight motion background to your website to add visual interest.

3) Amplify your customer responses.

Have you ever read a text and assumed the sender’s tone? I am so, so guilty of this nasty habit. Okay can simply mean “Okay, sounds good,” or it can mean, “Okay, asshole.” It’s all in the tone. And we miss that via text, email and on social media.

Adding a GIF to replies to customer questions and comments are a great way to show they’re heard and provide a bit of emotional context to your response, as well as show your personality and sense of humor.

4) Use GIFs in text tutorials.

You know the old adage, “Tell me, I’ll forget. Show me, I’ll remember. Involve me, I’ll understand”? It is so true! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve found detailed text tutorials that I had to supplement with less awesome tutorials on YouTube. Wouldn’t it be great if I could find both in one place? On your website, maybe?

I understand that not all brands have approached video yet. Even though I disagree with the idea that video is hard, time consuming, expensive, etc., it’s an unfortunate reality.

Even if you are really, super duper against video (why?), you can at least improve the text-based tutorials on your blog with GIFs.

CloudApp and RecordIt both allow you to easily record a portion of your screen and save the file as a GIF to later post to your blog. This is great for adding value to your blog’s tutorials, like we talked about earlier.

Since I record my own video tutorials, I’m no expert at this, but I really recommend you read the section of this blog post outlining tools to turn screencast videos into GIFs.

5) Illustrate a point.

One of my favorite ways people use GIFs is sort of like a visual, “Amen, sister” on blog posts. It’s like a quick visual that helps people understand where you’re coming from.

 How to make a tabletop tripod out of cardboard

How to make a tabletop tripod out of cardboard

6) Show how to do something.

GIFs can also be a great way to show your audience how to do simple tasks. Here’s an example showing how to build a makeshift cardboard tripod for your iPhone.

7 TOOLS To Create GIFs for Social Media

HOW to make your own GIFs for your marketing strategy

In addition to Giphy, CloudApp and RecordIt, here are four more tools to create your own GIFs.

1) GifX

GifX is a versatile app that allows you to add motion overlays to any photo or video on your camera roll. If you buy the pro pack for $4, you’ll be able to export photos and videos as high-res GIFs without a watermark, and it unlocks all the designs available in the app.

2) Burstio

Burstio is an app that allows you to turn burst photos into GIFs. It also allows you to reverse them, retime them, and add a boomerang effect.

3) LiveGif or Lively

Both apps turn your live photos into gifs. LiveGif is $1.99, and Lively is free, but $2.99 to remove the watermark. I usually shoot either video or photo, but if you DO shoot a lot of live photos, this is a great tool for you.

4) GifBoom

GifBoom allows you to add text to videos, photos and gifs already on your phone, and save them as gifs. You can also add multiple photos into one gif using this app. However, you can’t change the font or color of the text.

By now you know exactly why you should be using more GIFs, when you can use them and how to create your own. If you’d like to see a tutorial of the apps I mention, as well as a bonus app (my personal favorite!!!), sign up to get the free video tutorial below.

Face it. GIFs are here to stay. And they are awesome


Hey, I'm Sarah!

I love teaching small businesses and solopreneurs to create better content and incorporate cool tech and tools into their content marketing machine so they can get better results in less time. After all, isn't that what content marketing is for?

Connect with me on TwitterInstagramPinterest andLinkedIn.

11 Tips To Look Good In Live Videos

More than 10 billion videos are viewed daily on Snapchat, more than 200 million videos have been broadcasted on Periscope and more than 100 million hours of video are watched daily on Facebook. Here’s how to look a little better on camera.

I hate being on camera. I am a very expressive speaker, so I make weird faces. I get self-conscious about my off-kilter nose (broken twice). I let my nerves get to me.

I mean, my claim to fame until 2014 was that I had never taken a selfie! Those days may be long gone (even this post is #selfiecity), but I still don’t enjoy being on camera.

But last week, I had the opportunity to be interviewed live for Mojocon’s YouTube channel. I said yes, took a deep breath and tried to smile. Here’s the video:

But, I forced myself to watch the video, and (surprisingly) it didn’t send me into a self-loathing shame spiral like I’d expected. Dare I say at moments that I was actually proud?!? Of course, there are things I would do differently if I had the chance, but we live and we learn.

Whether you’re being interviewed in a big way or just hopping on Periscope, here are some tips to look a bit better on camera.

Position Yourself For The Best Light

The brightest light available should be in front of you during your on-camera appearance. No one likes to look tired. No one likes to look old. No one likes to look like an Oompa Loompa. No one likes to look like a Smurf. Enter, good lighting. Not only does it make you look more awake and brighten your skin, but positioning yourself so the brightest light (preferably natural light) falls on your face also reduces unflattering shadows and strange colors.

You should also limit any distracting bright lights behind you—especially windows that will reduce you to a silhouette.

Pay Attention To Your Background

Although the goal is to be so engaging that your audience only pays attention to you, that isn’t the reality. People are going to look at your surroundings. Make sure they aren’t seeing anything unseemly. Can they see the bathroom through your hallway? Are your coworkers goofing off behind you? Does your office look like a tornado just ripped through? Is there sensitive or private information visible anywhere? Or, in my case, is my pig calendar or Twain Buddha artwork going to be a distraction?

Although it might be tempting to find a blank wall to film against, the best broadcasts have something mildly interesting—but not distracting—in the background.

For the Mojocon video, we were fortunate to have the beautiful and interesting Aviva Stadium. Although it might look we should be talking soccer stats, it was a subtle background that still provided a strong sense of place—the event was, after all, at Aviva Stadium!

Resolve Latency Issues

Every Sunday, I video chat with my four sisters and my mother. Every week we take screenshots of each other frozen in strange poses and send them in our group chat after the fact.

Although I would trust my sisters with even the most unflattering pictures, I’d rather limit the possibility of that happening when broadcasting to total strangers. Your best bet against this is to resolve latency issues before you start.

Use an Ethernet connection instead of WiFi if you can. Turn off any programs—even auto backup things like DropBox—that may be running in the background.

Watch Your Angles

Very few people look good from a low angle. Our faces look wider. Even the thinnest of us look like we have slight double chins. Not to mention, it can look intimidating to your audience.

Instead, position the camera/webcam/phone at eye level, or slightly above eye level. I know my best angle is from slightly above eye level with my face angled slightly to the left.

To find your best angle, look back at your profile photos. These are likely the photos of yourself that you’ve most liked. What do they all have in common? Chances are, this will lead you straight to your best angle.

Make Eye Contact

One of my personal pet peeves is video chatting with someone who is multitasking. I may not be able to see (or even hear) you type, but I can tell by your eyes. I can also tell when someone is reading notes they have slightly off-camera. Or, when someone is watching themselves on their own screen.

I’m not suggesting intimidating or even continuous eye contact, but establishing consistent and comfortable eye contact early on is helpful.

Sit (Or Stand) Up Straight

Bad posture will make you look self-conscious, so do as Mom always told you: sit up straight and roll those shoulders back. Some people recommend standing while on camera to keep you energetic. Do whatever works best for you.

Wear It Right

Although I’d recommend wearing whatever you feel confident it, and, for live broadcasts, just running with what you have, there are some things that tend not to look great on camera. For example, stripes can make you look wider and bold patterns can be distracting and look messy. I’d suggest keeping it simple with subtle solid colors.

Do Your Hair & Makeup

We often look washed out on camera, so amplify your blush and lipstick. I usually go one or two steps beyond what I’d be comfortable wearing out in public. If you have naturally oily skin (or men who are bald), consider blotting before and applying translucent powder.

Your hair can also make a difference. I usually go for all down, or half down. Although I love a good ponytail, even the best messy pony either looks like a total mess or way too tidy. Leave that slicked back hair look to the 2014 runways, where it belongs! And, of course, minimize frizz.

Rest Your Face

If you watched the video above, you probably notice that after the first question I inexplicably acquire the most unflattering duck face of all time. Damn! I wish I would have remembered this one.

Even in calm conversations, I’m a very expressive person, talking with my hands and showing you exactly how I feel about something with a furrow, a frown, a raised brow or a smile. Keeping my face—and body—calm is a challenge, but one that I really want to overcome so the duck face dies with that broadcast. #Weird.

Speak With Confidence

Whenever I get nervous or embarrassed, my neck and chest tend to turn red. It’s a super obvious tick—that’s why I usually wear crew neck shirts on camera! Although your nervous tick may not be as visible as mine, even things like speaking faster or in a higher pitch, or having a shaky voice are dead giveaways.

I promised myself I wasn’t going to focus on video or audio quality in and of itself, but I wanted to mention this one because it also is a matter of “appearance.” These nervous ticks can hurt your credibility and cause distraction.

As simple as it may seem, take a deep breath and stay calm. If you find this to be difficult, read on.

Realize Nothing Is As Bad As It Seems

When the anchors asked me that question about how my class has changed over the past year, I went blank. I sat there for what seemed like 30 seconds trying to formulate an answer, until I finally came up with the brilliantly generic answer I shared in the clip above. It was this moment that made me most nervous to watch the video afterwards. But when I made myself watch it, I realized what felt like an eternity was actually only a couple of seconds. Whew! Redemption for duck face, I thought. I had blown it way out of proportion.

After day two of the conference, I was at dinner with a couple photographers and I mentioned my crooked nose and how I hate being on camera. But even with their trained eyes, they said they couldn’t tell (or they were lying, but I choose to believe them).

Our own flaws seem so obvious to us, but others probably don’t even notice them. In a weird way, it’s almost as narcissistic as it is self-conscious. To think others pay SO MUCH attention to us that they would notice such minor flaws?

So, just let it go. You mess up? Lose your train of thought? You make a duck face? Acknowledge it and move forward. Life goes on, my friend!

About The Author

Hey, I'm Sarah!

I love teaching small businesses and solopreneurs to create better content and incorporate cool tech and tools into their content marketing machine so they can get better results in less time. After all, isn't that what content marketing is for?

Connect with me on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn.

20+ Mobile Storytelling Apps, Tools + Tips From Top Experts

We're constantly sharing our own top apps, tips and tools, but with the international mobile journalism conference (MoJoCon) just around the corner, we’re sharing top apps, tools and tips from 11 of our favorite mobile journalists. Here are the best!


Andy Butler


Favorite App

"Snapseed is my go-to photo editing app,” Andy said. His favorite features include tune image, tonal contrast for improved clarity and the vintage filter.

Top Tip

“Editing is to enhance a photo, not hide flaws in a bad one.”

Bernhard Lill


Favorite Apps

JamSnap for iOS and Foundbite for Android. Both JamSnap and Foundbite allow you to add sounds to still photos to capture and share a moment.

Björn Staschen


Favorite Apps

Björn recommends either FilmicPro or CinemaFV5 for shooting videos, and either Pinnacle, PowerDirector or KineMaster for editing. He also likes Hyperlapse for timelapse videos.

Judd Slivka


Favorite App

ChartMakerPro allows you to input data to generate pie charts, line graphs, scatter plots and more to print, save to camera roll and share.

Top Tips

Be sure to hold your phone horizontally when you’re shooting videos—and put your phone in airplane mode to avoid interruptions.

Marc Blank-Settle


Favorite Apps

FilmicPro to shoot video, Ferrite to collect and edit audio, and ProCamera8 to take photos.

Top Tools

Marc recommends buying an external mic. “iRig and Røde make decent mics,” he said, but “it all depends what sound you want to capture and how much you want to spend!” He also recommends buying something to stabilize your device, like a tripod or monopod.

Top Tip


Neal Augenstein


Favorite Apps

For audio editing, Neal recommends Ferrite, a multitrack recorder that displays tracks very similarly to Adobe Audition. He also suggests Clips for video editing.

Top Tools

Neal’s most important accessory is a $3 windscreen for your microphone.

Nick Garnett


Favorite Apps

Ferrite for recording and editing audio, and either Pinnacle or iMovie for video editing.

Top Tips

“Sort out your sound,” Nick said. “Get a cheap personal mic and use a second (old) iPhone to record it on,” so your source can put the second phone in their pocket during the interview. Then, sync the high-quality audio with the video. That’s the $40 solution, Nick said, but another option is to get the Røde VideoMic Me, a mini shotgun mic.

Philip Bromwell


Favorite Apps

FilmicPro for filming video, Camera+ for taking photos, iMovie for editing videos and Adobe Voice for social video. Adobe Voice allows you to make simple animated videos with narration and music.

He also likes PicPlayPost for combining videos and stills into a collage, Diptic for adding text to photo collages, Gravie for adding text and graphics to video and Replay for unique video filters and effects.

Although Philip recommends a lot of apps, he said all apps should be used to polish your work—doing simple things (like taking good photos and videos from the start) is also key.

Top Tips

Having a good smartphone and a good eye are key. Philip also recommends taking a lot of photos, getting plenty of video close ups and a variety of shots, and be willing to practice. “[Another newbie mistake is] forgetting that social video has to work on social,” Philip said.

Sandra Sperber


Favorite Apps

FilmicPro for shooting video, iMovie for editing video, Video Compressor to save space on your device and WeTransfer to share up to 10 GB of photos and videos to friends’ emails (no sign-up required). “iMovie is a good tool for basic editing,” Sandra said. “It lacks a few functions, like audio transmissions but it’s great for a quick rough cut.”

Top Tips

Sandra’s top tip is to keep it simple. “For beginners, the variety of apps and gadgets can be confusing. Don’t spend too much time on picking your tools,” Sandra said. She suggests experimenting with your phone’s basic camera app, and then add a selfie stick or tripod and a mic, even if it’s just your iPhone headset. “You’ll be surprised what’s possible with a simple set up, and then dig deeper into the App Store.”



Favorite Apps

FilmicPro for filming videos, but if your Android device won’t run Filmic, try Cinema FV-5. He also recommends iMovie for iPad, because of the ability to “expand audio” to help with audio transitions. For video editing, he recommends KineMaster (for Android). “It’s even more powerful than iMovie, but just as easy to use.” He also uses FeemWifi for file transfers and Storymaker as a learning tool.

Top Tip

“Don’t let anybody tell you that you need an iPhone. Android and Windows phones work as well.”

Wytse Vellinga


Favorite Apps

Wytse uses Ferrite for audio recording and editing. He’s also a fan of Storehouse for video and photo collages, albums and stories.  In addition to FilmicPro, Wytse also uses MoviePro for filming videos and Proshot for taking photos. “Proshot has everything a professional photographer could ask for in the controls department.” Wytse also likes VideoScribe, a whiteboard video animation app, for explaining complicated procedures and numbers.

Top Tips

“Analyze Hollywood movies and fiction TV shows,” Wytse said. “The editing techniques are basically the same as in a good TV report.” He also recommends shooting a lot of material, and thinking in sequences. “And make a storyboard in your head. It makes editing a lot more fun.”


About The Author

Hey, I'm Sarah!

I love teaching small businesses and solopreneurs to create better content and incorporate cool tech and tools into their content marketing machine so they can get better results (more traffic, more customers, more money) in less time. After all, isn't that what content marketing is for?

Connect with me on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn.