Creative Cheat Sheet - 5 tips for setting up & stepping up your content
So you have your powerful story to share, live videos to shoot, or a new program poised for creation? Fabulous, let’s make em rich, gorgeous and easy!
Here are a handful* of my current fave DIY, free and inexpensive tips to enhance your storytelling and content creation. To help you make compelling, confident and beautifully aligned videos. To get your words flowing, and connect you with free tools to make the creative process easier. And to help you catalyse your ideal audiences towards your vision...
1. DIY video studio
I’ve just created this little video sharing some candid (sometimes chaotic) insights behind-the-scenes at Enabling Enterprise HQ. In essence, to help you macguyver your own great studio and to start creating videos with minimal cost, with a view to incremental upgrades as you grow. The key points are spelled out here, if you prefer to read rather than view:
FREE starting points
Ideally you will have natural or good lighting that falls on your face, within a quiet space for recording quality audio.
Filming in your workplace can be a great place to start, as you can discreetly feature your credentials and belongings to align with your business. It’s best not to have a big white wall immediately behind you as it reflects light, or to feature striped or fine patterns that may cause optical effects on screen. Avoid light sources behind you (backlighting) as these make you appear as a silhouette. Outside indeed looks beautiful, but changing light and sound interference can be troublesome unless you have specialist equipment.
#Spoileralert - as I reveal in in the video, I’ve simply created my own backdrop by taking a smartphone photo of a elegant arrangement of some of our favourite things, and having this printed and laminated as big as possible (mine is A0). This hack means I’ve always got a consistent and calm background ready for my videos, aligned with my branding, rather than having to clean up whatever mayhem exists at that moment for realz!
There are some extraordinarily beautiful customised backdrops out there when the time is ripe, (so looking forward to creating one in the near future), but I love my simple DIY backdrop to get started.
As long as your computer and smartphone are not too archaic, your video and audio quality with free programs (eg. Quicktime, Zoom, Facebook, Instagram and your inbuilt camera) will be adequate for most online video content. If your internet connectivity is aok, then this video should be just fine to publish online without fancy equipment or editing. If your internet is erratic (like mine unfortunately...sigh... any day right NBN across Australia?) I recommend you testing audio and visual quality before shooting live content, and have a plan b for your creation or publishing workflow!
Good sound if generally more important than visual glitches, and your smartphone headphones should improve your audio quality. If you wish to keep the ear buds out of sight you can paperclip them to your lapel. However, you may not be able to hear audio from your computer unless the earbuds are actually near your ears, which can be tricky if you are making interviews - in which case I suggest a cheap bluetooth earpiece as a workaround solution, as noted below.
Since starting out I've made some upgrades to my studio set up, which you may want to consider if video becomes a key part of your content strategy. I now use a softbox lighting kit and a bluetooth earpiece for audio, which can be bought for cheap over Ebay or other ecommerce sites. Slightly more expensive, I also use a quality lapel microphone and a ring light.
These are all super easy to set up and take onsite (some lights are battery and/or mains power operated) but I note they take up quite a bit of space. We are planning our new home, and aiming for a fantabulous new studio space to suit my video productions, as well as my partner’s painting and daughter’s countless creative endeavours!
2. Power up (silliness recommended)
As you can see in the video, I thoroughly recommend you let loose with a dance and singalong to your favourite power-tunes to power up for your video!
The movement will energise your body and physical presence on screen, and the vocal and facial exercise will help your voice be powerful, expressive and more interesting.
And FUN is a great thing to embrace in your work! Particularly if you get nervous on camera, with public speaking, or when discussing things very important to you.
There are countless fantastic warm up exercises out there, and if you struggle with presentation then a great coach can really help you gain confidence to shine.
Before your next viddy, I encourage you to enjoy your superbly silly side, to dance and belt out a great tune (I’m going to thank Teeth & Tongue and Iggy Pop for my latest video sessions, ridiculously pictured above). Indeed, record yourself doing it and you can enjoy the benefits of laughter too, as well as potentially creating some great blooper material for future :)
3. Tackling creative blocks - speak to write
Do you get stuck with a white screen or trying to summon the right words for your story, or fritter away your time wondering what is interesting and not too awkies to share?
Try filming yourself speaking naturally and with all your heartfelt expertise. To keep you on track, you can jot down a few key points that you know are purposeful, value-packed and relevant for a particular audience, and simply start recording yourself unpack them.
Watching this back, you can see what’s working or where you may be feeling vulnerable or unclear, or perhaps where you can expand, add anecdotes or practical examples. This is a great way to practice and refine your message, as well as your presentation skills.
You can then get your video transcribed swiftly and cheaply (check out numerous online transcription platforms and VAs offering this service). Your beautifully authentic words will arrive on the page, which you can edit into their best shape.
4. Free tools - graphics, grammar & #gtd
There are gazillions of free tools out there designed to help your creative productivity, and it’s brilliant to find the right ones that streamline and make things easy for you. I’ve tried out loads, and would love to hear of your bestest, but here are a few that I use all the time right now:
Make lovely DIY infographics and combine visual + text into images or pdf resources with super-easy Canva (free and paid options). While I enjoy my premium graphic packages for more nuanced work, Canva is just so breezy to work and collaborate with. I do recommend you regularly and manually backup your files however, as I have had a file disastrously disappear with the free version :(
Get grammar and spelling sorted, across your online platforms as you write your copy, thanks to the Grammarly plug in. Well mostly, I’m #onlyhuman and so please do forgive me for dropping the grammatic ball or spelling mishaps here and there! Free and paid versions
Getting things done with perfect workflow, project and collaboration management is the holy grail, and I’m so grateful for the Google Suite and Asana for organising my content creation, scheduling, solo and collaborative projects, and outsourcing tasks with my virtual assistant. I also rate Trello, Dropbox and Smartsheet for their free and inexpensive platforms, each with different features and strengths. What systems do you favour for optimum #productivity and #gtd?
5. Next steps
Be clear on the purpose and call to action for your content. In how many great ways can you encourage your ideal audience to act - be that to comment, share, contact you, or buy your thang?
Here are some tips to help you make the most of your story, and so catalyse your ideal audience (your hero) to join you towards your vision.
Integrate your CTA throughout your content (not just at the very end for those magical undistracticed people out there). It doesn’t have to be spammy, but make it as easy and appealing as possible for your ideal folks to take the next step with you!
What are your favourite tips or trickiest challenges right now with creating great content or sharing your story?
Want to make the most of your story to inspire ideal clients towards your vision, but not sure where to start?
Join me for this FREE webinar to connect and catalyse with your story, Wednesday 18 July!