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How To Make a Short Video: Your Comprehensive Guide

In this video, Jess from the WebFX Marketing team explains how to make a short video that grabs attention.


You don’t need a bunch of complicated equipment to make short-form videos. If you have a phone and an idea, you can make short videos that accomplish your goals.

Seriously, just scroll through any social media platform and you’ll see plenty of DIY footage — whether it’s a quick tutorial or a video educating people on a certain topic.

Regardless of your preferred production budget, the video you’re watching right now will explain the basics of creating bite-size content, so keep watching.

What is short-form video?

When you hear “short-form video,” what comes to mind? Videos under one minute in length? Five-minute videos?

The generally accepted definition of short-form video is any video that’s under ten minutes in length. Videos longer than that are called — and you may have guessed this — long-form videos.

Both short-form and long-form videos have their places in marketing, but short-form video tends to have the best engagement rates.

When Wistia looked at the data from more than 560,000 videos on their hosting platform, they found that people stuck around most for videos under two minutes.

Under that two-minute mark, the data shows people sticking around for about 70% of a video. As the duration climbs to three, four, or even five minutes, the engagement rate decreases.   So, the shortest of short-form videos keep attention the best.

How to make a short video plan

Before you even touch a camera, know what you want from your video. This includes:

Your goal

First, ask yourself why you want to make this video. Are you trying to get your audience to sign up for your emails, make a purchase, or contact you? Do you just want to raise awareness about a topic?

Your tone

Once you have a goal, you can figure out your video’s tone. Two major things influence your tone — the subject your video covers, and the manner in which you typically communicate with your audience.

Your channels

After you have your goal and tone nailed down, you’ll choose where you’ll share your short-form video. Different platforms have different requirements — and different audiences.

For example, a video about your services may not perform well on Twitter, but may benefit your website greatly. In another example, if a video is going on your website, you’ll probably want to record it horizontally. If the video is going on Instagram, you may want to record in a vertical format.

Lastly, you can use all of the decisions you’ve made so far to determine what your video will say and how you’ll present the information.

Your script

You don’t necessarily need a word-for-word script, although that can be crucial to your success, especially when recording someone speaking on camera.

If you aren’t using a full script, it helps to have an outline of what you want in your video. For the more experienced videographers, you can create a storyboard from your script that outlines the shots you want for each part of the script.

You will want to have your logo appear or mention your business in the first few seconds of your video. That way, even if someone only sees a few seconds of your content, they still see your brand.

You’ll also want to hook your audience in the beginning of your video. Tell a compelling story, ask a question, share an attention-grabbing statistic. Just make sure you include a hook in your video so people are drawn to your business.

Your format

Think about the elements you’ll use to present your concept.

If you want to create a tutorial video, will you have someone doing each step on camera while talking to the audience, or will you have someone record a voiceover that goes over b-roll? Maybe you won’t have a voiceover at all…just music.

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Coordinating your video

Your script will also help you determine the equipment you need, the people that will get involved, and how long it will take to complete each video in your strategy.

You may want to create a spreadsheet so you can track all the details associated with your short business videos. You’d be surprised what goes into just a few minutes of footage.

In your spreadsheet, you can outline your timeline, link to important resources (i.e. the script and storyboard), list the graphics you need, write down who needs to be involved, identify ideal locations to shoot, and more.

Now, you’re ready for the best part of this tutorial on how to make short videos.

How to produce your short-form video

If you’ve done all of the coordination beforehand, shooting your video should be a piece of cake.

Bring your script and the list of shots you want to your video shoot. This ensures you get everything you need from one shoot — and you don’t have to go back another day to get something you should’ve had the first time around.

Make sure you have a list of equipment (and props or decor you’ll need) so you bring the right stuff with you. If your list is just an iPhone and something to prop up your phone, that’s totally fine.

Equipment for short-form videos

Here’s a list of equipment you may want to purchase if you decide to invest more in short-form video:

  • A camera with video capabilities. Sometimes cameras and lenses come separately, so make sure you know what you’re buying.
  • A tripod, either for a camera or your phone if you’re not ready to get a camera.
  • A microphone, which you can find in different formats, like a clip-on lavalier mic, a shotgun mic, or a handheld mic. You may also be able to find a mic that connects to your phone.
  • An audio recorder to plug the mic into, which gives you more control than if you plug directly into the camera.
  • An XLR cable to con nect your mic to your audio recorder.
  • Headphones to listen to your audio.
  • Memory cards for your camera and audio recorder.
  • A three-point lighting kit to illuminate your subject, whether it’s a person or a product.
  • A teleprompter tripod attachment to make reading a script look more natural. You’ll take a lot of stress away from your talent if they have the words they say right in front of them.

In terms of props, you may need a lot to decorate your set, or you may not need any. It depends on the script and your vision for the content.

Speaking of sets, how do you know where to record your video?

Ideally, you’ll choose a quiet location with little echo and plenty of natural light. Shooting outside means you’ll have to deal with the elements and any other sounds that happen naturally, so be prepared to adapt quickly if you are shooting outdoors.

If you record in your office, make sure you let your coworkers know you’re recording so they can keep the noise down.

How to set up your equipment

If you record your video with a phone and no external microphone, keep in mind that the further away you are from your subject, the more background noise you’ll pick up from the room.

So, if you’re recording a video ten feet away from your subject, you’ll pick up some of what your subject says, but it may be distorted by the sound of the room itself, cars passing by, your coworker coughing in the next room, and you having a spontaneous case of the sniffles.

Keep the camera only a few feet away from your subject until you decide to invest in a microphone. Whether it’s you, a coworker, or an inanimate object on the screen, you’ll need a tripod or something sturdy to support your camera.

If you shoot with a person, even if that person is you, keep the camera at or slightly above eye level. There are instances where a low angle shot works, but that’s typically an artistic choice; it’s not always flattering. You’ll also want to ensure that you’re not cutting off the top of someone’s head, or leaving too much space.

Your subject doesn’t have to be perfectly centered, so position the camera where you think it looks best.

If you have a lighting kit, you’ll want a key light to illuminate your subject from the front, a fill light to minimize the shadows the key light doesn’t hit, and a backlight to separate your subject from the background.

Don’t have a lighting kit? Let natural light brighten up your subject by positioning it or them by a window with the light shining on them, not behind them. You can also move some lamps around to create the right atmosphere if you have some available to you.

We’ve gone over the importance of keeping a mic-less camera near your subject. If you do have a mic, either clip it to the subject, mount it on the camera or put it on a stand.

Plug the mic into an audio recorder, or directly into your camera, and test it with your subject to make sure the audio levels don’t go too high. That can lead to an unpleasant crunchy sound when your audio peaks, called clipping.

If your shot looks good and your audio sounds great, you’re ready to record. Try to get at least two takes of every shot, so you have options to choose from when you edit. Speaking of which…

How to edit short-form video

You’ll likely end up with more than enough footage to pull together. That’s okay! It’s better to have extra clips than to run out of options.

If your video was one continuous take, you may be able to trim the beginning and ends on your phone or computer, then publish. The platform you upload to may also have editing features, like TikTok or YouTube.

Canva, Kapwing, and iMovie are great for simple video edits. For more advanced editing capabilities, use a software like Premiere or Final Cut Pro.

No matter which option you choose for video editing, the concept stays the same:

  • Upload your best clips
  • Rearrange them in a way that tells your story
  • Color correct your footage as necessary
  • Add any graphical or musical elements that enhance your message
  • Review and export your video
  • Publish your video

Measuring the metrics that affect your bottom line.

Are you interested in custom reporting that is specific to your unique business needs? Powered by MarketingCloudFX, WebFX creates custom reports based on the metrics that matter most to your company.

  • Leads
  • Transactions
  • Calls
  • Revenue
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How to promote your short business videos

Your short videos don’t have to live on just one platform. You can edit different versions of your videos and publish them across multiple channels.

Maybe you make a vertical video for Instagram, then convert it to a square for LinkedIn. Or you have a five-minute video on your website that you want to cut in half for social media. You can share your new video with your email subscribers, too. It doesn’t have to collect dust in one location.

All the work you did for one video can turn into results for years to come.

And that’s a wrap on how to make a short video

To watch short-form videos from our team, subscribe to our YouTube channel. We upload new videos covering a wide range of digital marketing topics every week.

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See you soon, filmmakers!

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