Whether you’re posting to Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, or Facebook, video content is king. If you want your videos to stand out, you need to make the best quality videos you can. No matter how much experience you have recording content, there are a few simple things you can do to make your videos better without having to invest in new equipment.

Let’s take a closer look.

Planning Ahead

As basic as it sounds, simply having a plan can make a huge difference in the quality of your videos. Planning your video before you start filming helps you make a better video in less time. You get to arrange how the video should go, what you’ll include in it, and what you must do to prepare for it.

Your actual content is unique to you, but most videos have a similar structure. You’ll introduce the topic of the video, get into the meat of it, then conclude, usually with a call-to-action (CTA) for your viewers.

Ask these questions when you’re planning your next video:

  • What is the goal of the video?
  • What is the video about?
  • Who is the video intended for?
  • What are you trying to get your audience to do?

With this information, you can plan your next video to align with your goals and reach your intended audience more effectively.

Framing, Framing, Framing!

When recording a video, you have full control over what your audience will see on the screen. From your viewers’ perspective, your video is either a vertical or horizontal rectangle with an image inside, just like a picture on the wall. This is known as the framing of your video. By paying attention to the framing of your video, you can present your message more clearly and with a greater impact.

Before you start recording the actual video, record a short clip with all your gear set up to see how it looks.

What’s Visible in the Background?

Make sure everything visible in your video has a reason to be there. Look specifically at the walls behind you, bookshelves, artwork, and anything sitting on visible surfaces around or in front of you. Remove anything you don’t want to be seen by either taking away an item or turning your camera to change what’s in the background.

If your video looks too sanitized and impersonal, it might help to add a few video-safe items in the frame. You’re on the right track as long as you know what you’re putting in the frame and why it’s there!

How Much of Your Face and Body Are Visible (Cropping)?

You can help the visuals emphasize the message by cropping the video differently. The closer you are to the camera, the more intimate the framing is, with extreme close-ups being the most intimate framing and full-body framing being the most impersonal.

You can arrange your framing to match it depending on what you’re trying to do. The simplest way to start is by doing a medium-close framing where you’re visible from your head to around your waist. This is a good middle ground that feels familiar without being too invasive.

If you want to experiment with it, try different framing for different parts of your video to match what you’re doing or talking about.

Where Are You on the Screen?

If you’re making a video where you’re talking to the camera at any point, consider where you want to place yourself in the frame. While sitting or standing in the center of the frame is common, it’s usually more visually interesting and engaging if you’re slightly off-center.

This is called the rule of thirds. It’s a common technique photographers and filmmakers use to get better footage that’s more appealing to the viewer.

Imagine that your camera is the audience. What would you want them to see? Where should they be looking? Set up your framing to reflect what you want to show.

Get Your Lighting Right

There’s a reason professional videographers and filmmakers hire dedicated lighting specialists. Lighting is one of the most noticeable parts of a video when it’s done wrong! Luckily, you don’t need a whole team of specialists to make some simple improvements to the lighting in your videos.

Here’s what you need to pay attention to:

Multi-directional lighting

The ideal for most videos will be 3-point lighting with three individual lights in 3 different places. If you don’t have specialty lights, you can use existing light sources around your home, office, or studio to get a similar effect.

You want a strong light source pointing at your face from a 45-degree angle for this lighting effect. Then, you need a second, softer light pointing toward your face from the opposite side. The third light is used to point at your back from below.

This setup removes shadows from your face and provides some depth to set you apart from the background. For the main light, you can use natural light coming through a window or a cheap stand light, which you can buy for under $20. You can use a lamp without a lampshade for the other lights to get a good result.

Tip: Ring lights can mimic some of the effects of the two front light sources, so a basic ring light can also help you get started with better lighting.

Strong, diffused light sources

Any strong light you’re using for your videos should be diffused. Diffusion means you’re passing the light through something semi-transparent to spread it out more evenly. A good example is using a thin curtain over a window with bright sunshine coming in.

Curtains diffusing natural light

What this does is help you avoid harsh contrast between your shadows and highlights, giving you a more natural look that’s not distracting. It’s easy to focus on softer, diffused light and helps you make your message the main thing people notice instead of the crazy lighting!

Consistent lighting

It’s better if your lighting doesn’t change too much while you’re recording your video unless you’re changing camera angles or jumping between takes that are obviously different. Record everything you can under the same lighting conditions, so your video is more cohesive.

Don’t let lighting intimidate you! Setting up some basic lighting for your recording session is simpler than it sounds. The main thing is getting a good light source shining on you from the right angle. As long you do that, you’ll see a major difference in your video quality.

What’s your secret to upgrading your video content? Share in the comments below!