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Ask John Branch: What’s the Best Lighting for Video?

YouTuber John Branch shares which light is best for video, the questions you should ask before hiring help & how to create a strategy with free & paid content.

This month, YouTuber, photographer and HoneyBook member John Branch is answering your most pressing video marketing questions in our new Ask An Expert series.

Your Video Marketing Questions Answered

What’s up. This is John from John Branch IV Photography. We’re just about at the end of Video Marketing Month. I hope you had a great time, and learned a little bit hanging out here with me on HoneyBook’s IGTV. If you haven’t had a chance to check out the last videos, make sure to check them out as there’re some really awesome answers to your questions. But let’s go ahead and get into our last set of questions.

“I’m a bridal hair stylist working towards teaching others how to do better updos. I make video tutorials in my studio with my iPhone currently, which are okay, but I’d like to up my game so they look better. I’d also like to hire someone to do professional video tutorials for me to sell. What kind of price range will I be looking at, and what questions should I be asking? I feel so clueless.”

So a question like this is basically about the same as hiring any other professional to help you do a service. For instance, if you need a logo made, or you need a website made. Let me give you a couple of tips on what I usually do when I need to hire someone to do work for me. To start out, you need to get an idea of what type of videos you’re going to be making and what type of format those videos are going to be.

One way to help yourself figure that out is to actually find other content that you really like. Maybe there was some content you saw on Skillshare that you really liked, and you liked how it was laid out. Use these as examples for whomever you’re hiring to help them understand what it is that you want. Once you have those examples, then also have examples of what type of content you want to make (or the subjects you’re going to be talking about).

This way, not only can they help you brainstorm, but they’ll have an idea of how they’re going to shoot it, and what you really want—is it going to be mainly talking head, is it going to be a bunch of b-roll, do we need to get extra people for the shots, or do they need extra gear and multiple cameras?

As far as price range, it really can range a lot. It’s going to deal mainly with how long they’re going to be shooting, if they’re going to be editing, if they’re going to have to color grade and stuff, just really how much work they’re going to have to put into the video. It can range from $400 to $500, up to a couple thousands dollars, depending on how much work you’re really putting in.

So unfortunately, I can’t give you a direct answer to how much it’ll cost, but I will say try and find someone with a great reputation, and someone who really will work with you and your brand rather than just making you a video. Someone who really cares about you, and what you’re trying to do with your video. This way it won’t feel like someone randomly just making videos for you.

“How do I map out how to leverage free content with paid video content?”

Figuring out your range between your free and your paid content, in my opinion, really comes down to giving value to your customers.

Remember, the main thing you want to be doing for your clients is giving them value. Not making sales. By doing this, your free content should still give them enough value that even if they don’t want to buy whatever other product you’re doing, they’ll still feel like they got something out of the video. This way you can plan longer videos that have a section cut out of it that shows them something that they really want to learn. This gives them a nice chunk of information that they can still use, but also leaves the rest on the table for them to come back and buy, which is your paid content.

Think of it as, “Here’s some value, and then here’s the whole 100% value that you can get if you want to purchase the rest of my videos.” This way you won’t really feel like a sleazy salesperson. Everyone’s getting value, and you’re also getting paid for the paid content you create.

“What is the best lighting and hands-free equipment to have for recording video on my iPhone? Also, how to get views on YouTube? Is there an upload process that’s more effective to get more views?”

Lighting is a fun subject that we could talk about for 50 years. There’s a lot of different ways you can go about it. So first, let’s start off with how I do lighting, which is natural light. So luckily, in my office, I have three nice large windows basically in front of me, so I like to usually use natural light.

Now, with natural light you do deal with a lot more that you have to deal with with your camera in setting it up. Basically, if I have a heavy cloudy day, I don’t have as much light, and there’s nothing I can do about it. I also have to shoot my videos during the day time, which is hard, because I have two kids, and one on the way. So keeping them quiet during the day is an ordeal.

Also, if you’re familiar with white balance, if you have one of those days where they just have like little splotches of clouds, not just overcast, what will happen is if a cloud passes over the sun, the color of the light changes, which will change your white balance if you have your camera set to auto white balance. Or even if you don’t. Just the color of the light changes regardless. So you’ll have a video where it’s kind of light, there’s a little dark, and it’s kind of warm, and then it’s a little cool. It’s just a lot. So natural light is my favorite, but it’s also the most annoying to work with.

Your second option is going to be going with LED lights. You can find a bunch of these on B&H, Amazon, just get yourself a nice big LED light, and then also make sure to get yourself a nice, big softbox.

Basically, the biggest thing you want to do with your lighting is light yourself from probably two different direction, and also make it nice and soft. So you’ll get the same kind of natural light look rather than very hard shadows.

Something else you can do if you’re using LED lights is you can light behind you and stuff, because you can sit in a darker room, light yourself, light behind you, and you can get really cool moody views on your lighting. You see a lot of this on YouTube, it’s kind of the trend right now.

As far as iPhone gear, I recommend the Moment lens for making your footage look way better than it normally does in an iPhone. Then any of the Manfrotto stuff, they have a nice little holding thing you can use and a little brace for your phone that you can put it in there. Just a tripod, just sit it on your tripod and you’ll be good to go. It’s basically almost the same setup I have now with my camera. Where I have a screen so I can see myself, and my camera on a tripod, it’s basically very straightforward. (Check out this video/blog post for more equipment recommendations.)

best light for video

As far as getting views on YouTube, that is probably the hardest subject that you could talk about forever. But one of the biggest things I suggest is making content towards trends. Yet again, don’t jump on the bandwagon, be yourself, but make sure things that are trending flow within the type of stuff you would normally talk about. Like the same example I’ve been giving, my best performing video was about using Lightroom on the iPad, and at the time it was about the newest iPad that just came out. (Learn more about that and how to make unique video content here.)

That was me jumping on a trend, but it was also something that I already talk about on my channel. That way I could still be true to myself, but I can also jump on what’s popular. To get more views basically you just want to be talking about things that people want to know about. Is there a new camera coming out that people are interested in? Is there a new photography trend out like trash the dress, or something like that that people are talking about? Is there a new technique in your field that people are interested in? Basically anything that a lot of people have on the top of their mind is going to get you more views.

Other than that, it’s just marketing yourself, posting it on Facebook, posting on Twitter, posting it everywhere and telling your friends to share it. Between trending and that, that’s how you’re going to get most of your views.

So thanks again for hanging out with me for video marketing month. I hope you all learn some stuff, and don’t forget to make videos. You are enough for your videos. You don’t need anything fancy, and you don’t need to be the best in your field. You have information you can share, and people want to hear it from you. Keep on making videos, and I’ll be with you all the next time.

Additional Video Marketing Resources

For more answers to your most pressing video marketing questions, check out other posts from our Ask John Branch series.

Want to learn more about getting started with video marketing and transforming your business leads? Get our Ultimate Guide to Video Marketing here.

Thanks, John!

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