The most important aspect of shooting video is delivering good content. Nothing else can possibly replace that. But once you have valuable information to deliver, the way you deliver it makes a huge difference in the way you are perceived. The professional quality of your content reflects the professional quality of service you provide.
When it comes to equipment, the number of options out there can be overwhelming. That’s why I’m going to attempt to make it as simple and as affordable as possible. Video doesn’t need to be expensive; it just needs to be deliberate.
Keep in mind that everything I mention here (and I mean everything) is optional. If you don’t want to spend the money, you can use whatever you have in your pocket to make it happen – a lot of super successful agents do. But if you’re needing a little help getting started or want to up your production game, this is for you.
Before we move forward, it’s worth thinking about some different types of videos you may want to work into your rotation. Check out this article if you need inspiration.
Preproduction is everything you need to have set up before you ever show up with a camera. It’s the creation and handling of that valuable information you have to deliver.
Quick Answers are probably the quickest and easiest type of video to make, but they require that you know the questions people are asking in your area. This website gives you exactly that. The price ranges between $79 and $199 a month, but the basic plan should give you enough to create a full lineup of content in that time.
Writing isn’t a skill for everyone. Even coming up with a short script, episode title, thumbnail copy, or video description can be a challenge for some. Jasper is an artificial intelligence program which actually does the writing for you. Just select what you’d like it to write, what tone, and how many words, and Jasper will quickly generate whatever you need. Although it’s not exactly as effective as hiring a professional copywriter, Jasper is a great start and costs upwards of $30 a month.
If you’re not going to memorize your scripts, speak in the moment, or simply use bullet points, you’ll want to have your text uploaded and ready to read before you arrive on location.
You could choose to go with a physical, full-sized teleprompter, a mini, or an app. Obviously the most versatile and least cumbersome would be a simple app which will cost you around $9 a month. As you get more comfortable on camera, you may not even need a teleprompter at all.
Choosing a camera really comes down to you, your preferences, if you’ll have people assisting you, and what platform your content is being released on.
Most agents prefer one of three options:
- Their personal smartphone camera
- A GoPro
- A DSLR
Of course, an expensive DSLR will give you the most beautiful HD, 4K content, and the wide-angle lens will allow you to zoom in or crop your shots. For example, my podcast is shot with three Panasonic Lumix GH6’s, which our film team loves, but for most agents, it’s probably not worth shilling out over $2K on a camera.
For our purposes, the modern smartphone footage looks just as well as more advanced, more complicated, and vastly more expensive cameras. It’s well worth upgrading to the latest iPhone or Android. Just make sure you get something with over 100GB storage capacity. It’s probably not a bad idea to get as much storage as they offer.
If you get nothing else on this list, I’d recommend a gimbal (and you should probably get a camera, too, just to be safe). This device is like a high-tech selfie stick which uses a balance corrector to stabilize your moving shots. Gimbals come in all shapes, sizes, and prices, but even a simple one under $300 will drastically improve the dynamic quality of your walkthroughs. You can get them to fit your smartphone, DSLR, or GoPro.
Obvious to own, but easy to forget. A tripod is a big leg up (pun intended) when shooting talking-head content (you talking to the camera) by yourself. I do know a lot of great agents who just pull their phone out and hold it to their faces, but if you’re going for a more professional look or shooting longer video, make sure you have a tripod on standby.
Filmmakers always say that lighting is everything. You’ve probably seen these doughnut or “ring” shaped lights. They’re big with online influencers and DIY YouTubers. Ring lights are one of the easiest ways to get full coverage lighting when filming by yourself. The light they produce isn’t exactly the most natural – some describe it as “alien” – but it is popular, and what people have come to expect from quality content producers.
A good ring light kit should cost you less than $150. And if your style is more on-the-go, they even have mini versions which fit around your phone’s camera.
If you’ve been following my content for a while, you may have heard me mention a time I shot a video on my phone in Chicago and nobody could hear a word I said. We’ve come a long way since those flip-phones of the time, but the experience taught me to always carry an external mic.
When it comes to microphones, you have SO MANY OPTIONS to choose from, so I’ll make this as easy as possible. There are two things I recommend:
- A podcast mic
- A portable mic
Having both will make your audio more professional and your life a lot easier. Look into getting something like a USB/XLR which will record directly onto your computer if you’re filming from your webcam.
When I’m filming on the go, I use the Rode Wireless GO, which is truly 100% wireless and lets me move around freely while picking up crystal clear audio. A cheaper, yet still effective option would be a lavalier mic which will clip on to your shirt but does have a running wire.
Austin luxury agent Jeremy Knight found his video niche by becoming his area’s real estate “content DJ.” Basically, he discusses news articles on camera with the article itself as the background. It looks great, piques curiosity, and has people completely focused on what he’s talking about instead of the room behind him.
If you’re looking to do news, a green screen is an awesome and affordable tool, which shouldn’t set you back more than $100.
Just like the camera, the best editor for you is the one you feel most comfortable using and has all the features you need. Adobe Premiere Pro might be the most advanced, but for a real estate agent trying to do simple edits for social media, this probably isn’t necessary.
Camtasia is an excellent beginner’s editor which offers a surprising amount of features, including green screen animation ability.
Speaking of simple, if all you need is the very basic ability to cut up clips and do some minor edits, the iMovie that comes preinstalled on every Mac is a severely underrated software.
Vocal Video is technically an editing system and a recording system. I could’ve even included it in the production category.
Where Vocal really shines is in its ability to easily capture testimonials. All you need to do is send a link to your past clients and they’ll be prompted to record a testimonial on their own device. From there, Vocal will automatically add subtitles, your brand logo, and give you the ability to add animations and thumbnails. You can even upload the fully edited clips to all your social media channels directly from the app.
It’s the simplest, most impressive, and most convenient way to collect testimonials, and an annual subscription is only $99.
Ask anyone… on YouTube, your thumbnail is everything. Agents that we work with claim that once they started adding professional, attention-grabbing thumbnails to their videos, their view rates and the business they directly generated from them skyrocketed.
If you’re not an artist, don’t worry. There are a ton of great applications which will make it easy for you, including Fotor, Adobe Spark, and the most popular on the market right now, Canva.
To Wrap It Up
I want to really stress the point again that all these things are optional and not necessary. Not having a ring light is not an excuse to not be shooting video today, and tomorrow, and every day after this. All you need is your camera phone and something to say.
Do you have something to say? I’m willing to bet you do.
When Wayne Gretzky said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take,” I don’t know if he was talking to the camera crew, but it nonetheless applied to them. So, pull your phone out of your pocket, turn it around, and press record. Everyone’s waiting.