Ready to up your social media game this year and join the short-form video content party? TikTok, reels, and YouTube shorts have taken the internet by storm! So as business owners marketing our products and services on social media, we need to adapt. Hiding behind photos and graphics just won’t cut it anymore.
Buuuut let’s be honest: the idea of recording yourself on camera can be scary. If you’re ready to hit that record button but still feeling overwhelmed, asking yourself questions like, “Where do I even start? What do I need? How do I record reels from my living room without a fancy office?”, you’re in the right place.
I’ve been in your shoes — my first TikToks were filmed on my living room floor. No professional setup, just me and a smartphone. Since then, I’ve recorded thousands of TikToks and reels combined!
Today, I’m here to walk through how to get started recording Reels and TikToks for your business — from mindset to equipment to prepping a space to record at home. I’m here to help you feel confident and ready to create your first reels and TikToks for your business. Let me hold your hand and let’s do this together!
Addressing mindset: confidence vs. courage
First things first, before we dive into practicalities, let’s address the elephant in the room: How do you gain the confidence to actually create short-form video content?
You know you want to do it, and you’re telling yourself you’re ready, but when you look at your calendar, you think, “Ugh, I’m not ready to start next week. I’ll just start the week after.” Trust me, we definitely don’t want that “week after” to turn into the month after.
If you’re waiting to feel 100% confident before creating short-form video, you might be waiting a while. The truth is, confidence comes from taking action, even when you’re not feeling entirely sure of yourself. So you’ll need something a little deeper than confidence to get things going.
What you really need is courage.
Showing up takes courage. Committing to put yourself out there takes courage. If you start showing up, even when you don’t feel confident, your voice is shaky, your hands are sweaty, and you cringe at the sight and sound of yourself on camera, but you keep doing it over and over — that’s when you gain confidence.
The more you do it, the better you get, and the more confident you become — just like riding a bike! Confidence takes time to build. It takes courage to start in the first place.
That’s why after you finish reading this blog, I want you to mark a date on the calendar to record your first video, even if you feel shaky about it. By the time that date rolls by, you’ll be ready because you’ll have all the tools you need to prepare for it!
Alright, now that we’ve got mindset blocks out of the way, let’s talk about what to prepare.
Things you need to prepare your recording day
An outlined plan of what to record
Scrolling for video ideas on Instagram or the For You Page can be quite distracting, right? You see, short-form videos should align with your business goals and help you attract potential customers.
So, planning the short-form videos you want to create ahead of time, before looking for inspiration on social media, will make your research more efficient. This way, instead of aimlessly scrolling, you’ll know exactly what you’re looking for.
That’s why before you record any content, you need a plan. To create a plan, make a list of content subtopics that are essential to your business. Then use reels as a format to pass along those messages to your audience.
Here’s how I do it: first, I write down my content subtopics (or content pillars) which I rotate in my content. Then under each pillar, I write down the specific message I want to share.
So for example, if my niche is party decorating, my content subtopics might include:
- Party decor inspiration
- Party decor tips,
- Before and after showcases of party decor transformations
- Behind the scenes as I work on custom projects
- Branded content sharing my business story, recent wins, etc.
I won’t dive too deep into this here because I teach an entire step-by-step process for content planning inside my Social Media Planning Masterclass and the Instagram for Business Owners Academy. But the point is, plan the type of videos you want to create first, so you can look for inspiration on social media specifically for those types of videos.
Which leads me to my second point of what to prepare to start recording reels and TikToks…
A list of 3 videos you want to record on recording day
Yup! Based on the plan you created before, I want you to decide on the first 3 videos you’re going to record on recording day. Then, go to TikTok and Instagram to find inspiration specifically for those 3 videos. Try your best to view them from a creator’s perspective, so you can get an idea of the exact clips you’ll need to record.
Will you be creating a video of you talking? If so, as you look through different videos, pay attention to their backgrounds, compositions, the frequency of their cuts, and overall length.
Are you recording behind-the-scenes content? Look at how others are doing it because you’ll probably need to take several behind-the-scenes clips for a quality short-form video. What clips are they recording? Are they using a voice-over? What text are they sharing on the screen?
The idea is not to copy others but to understand and visualize the types of clips you may need for your own videos. Taking a bit of time to plan and visualize your videos will make you feel more confident because you’ll know exactly what to record without scrambling on recording day.
That’s why having that list of posts and the 3 videos you want to record will be so helpful. It’ll allow you to plan ahead on how to bring your videos to life.
If all of this seems time-consuming, at first it might feel that way. But keep in mind recording short-videos will feel more natural as you create more content. For now, have patience with yourself. Your brain will learn to think more and more like a content creator. And soon enough, as you practice your skills, you’ll gain more confidence.
In fact, when you’re new to short-form video, your main focus should be on building momentum and gaining confidence. Don’t set high expectations for yourself in terms of achieving a certain reach, number of likes, or comments — that will come later.
Okay moving on! Now that you have a plan, it’s time to envision how you’ll bring that video to life in your own space.
How to envision and prepare your space
Set up recording station(s)
If you’ve never recorded content at home before, you’ll need to decide where to set up a small recording station on your recording day(s). This way, you won’t have to walk around looking for one and get frustrated. You’ll already know where to set up your camera so you can just focus on recording.
The goal is to find out which room and which angles in that room you’ll use for recording, and good news is, you only need to do this work one time. Once you find your recording stations, you’ll know exactly where to go the next time you plan on recording content.
Now, there are two main factors to consider when looking for a recording station:
- Lighting — Look for the best natural light source in your chosen spot. It’s ideal to have soft, bright natural light that makes you look your best on camera.
- Clutter — Most of our homes are filled with furniture and decorations. For content recording, you want to find an angle that has the fewest distracting objects in the background, so you or your product stand out
Let me share my experience finding a recording station:
When I first started recording short-form video, I was working from my husband’s office, which happened to be one of the darkest and least aesthetically pleasing rooms in the house! It was filled with electronics, cables, files, and colorful binders. Even though it was functional, it wasn’t the best backdrop for content creation.
I walked around the house, holding my phone in front of me, and explored every room to find a blank wall without clutter. Eventually, I found our dining room nook to be a great place for recording, and I recorded a ton of behind-the-scenes content there.
At the time, I was also creating a lot of product videos for my product business. The kitchen has the best lighting out of our entire house, but I needed background without our kitchen appliances in view!
So I created a portable backdrop by painting a piece of wood white to match my branding, create a clean, textured look, and make my product stand out. I bought the materials at Michaels, but you can probably find the items in any hardware store, or even purchase ready-made backdrops.
I also bought a marble tray to use for detailed shots, adding ribbon and small confetti as props to enhance the overall look. These small details make a big difference when it comes to getting creative with your recording station.
Now when it comes to content creation, there’s really no better friend than good old natural light. When you’re choosing your recording station, think about which room is the brightest.
Also, pay attention to how the sun moves through your house during the day. For me, I know if I record content in the morning, I have to do it in my office. If I record content in the afternoon, I have to do it in the kitchen or hallway because my office gets really dark in the afternoon.
Overall, be aware of the quality and direction of natural light in your home so our videos look their best.
When walking around to find your recording station, figure out the best way to position your camera and try out different angles. It’s kind of like finding your best side for a selfie, but instead, you’re doing it for your video setup.
Positioning yourself facing a window is great because it eliminates shadows and shines a bright, even light on your face.
I’ve found that the early morning and late afternoon usually offer the most flattering light. But honestly, any time when you have indirect sunlight coming in can work!
Now this is the ideal scenario, but if you don’t have much light in your house, maybe you can record on the balcony or take your recording station to the park on an overcast day. And of course, there’s always the option of using a ring light for those rainy, dark days too!
Once you’ve set up your recording station, now you need equipment to actually record with.
Equipment you’ll need to record short-form videos
The good news is, you don’t need a fancy camera to record reels, TikToks, or YouTube Shorts. A phone with a decent camera will do. As long as you don’t look all blurry, you should be good to go! However, one investment I do recommend for higher quality equipment gear is a tripod.
A tripod to hold your phone
When I started recording TikToks, I made it much more difficult for myself only because I didn’t have a proper tripod — or any tripod, really. I was constantly looking for places to prop up my phone, balancing it on something, or asking my husband to take videos of me.
Trust me on this one, if you don’t have a tripod, this is the ONE piece of equipment that will make recording videos so much easier. And if you make recording videos easier for yourself, you’re more likely to record more content!
I still use the same tripod I bought over 3 years ago, today! It’s expandable, so I can adjust the legs and use it to hold my phone whether I’m recording content while sitting down or standing up. I can also change the angle to record a table, which came in handy when I used to create content for my product business.
Now, the next piece of equipment you may want to consider, like I mentioned before, is a ring light.
A ring light for dark spaces and dark days
I’ll be honest with you, I don’t use a ring light too often because I LOVE working with natural light so much more. That’s why I usually record content during times when it’s brightest in our house. But hey, I live in Canada, and the winters are daaaark and looooong here. On those days, I’m sure glad I have a ring light so I can still record!
You only need one ring light to get started and to make your space brighter. Personally, I like a large floor ring light with a stand compared to the smaller ones you can place on a table or clip to your phone. That’s because I record a lot of behind-the-scenes content of me working in my office. I find smaller ring lights are more suitable for face-to-camera talking videos.
This final piece of equipment is optional, but I’ll mention it anyway…
A plug in microphone for recording talking videos
If you plan on recording a lot of talking videos, especially if you’re an educator or service provider (ex. A nutritionist who makes a ton of educational videos and recipe demonstrations) you can invest in a little microphone that plugs directly into your phone.
You don’t need a microphone to start recording videos, but it’s a small piece of equipment that makes a huge impact on your sound quality. And it’ll help you stand out from the very beginning!
If you’d like to know all of my exact equipment I use to record content, you can download my equipment list here!
A planned out wardrobe
This isn’t necessarily “equipment”, but I do recommend planning different outfits for your recording days. Especially if you’ll be showing up on camera and changing into several outfits, the more you can prepare your wardrobe, the easier it will be to record content.
Of course, if you’re only using your hands for product videos, you might only need to consider a favourite sweater of yours that complements your brand’s aesthetics. But if you’re recording talking videos, you may want to change up your top so all your videos don’t look exactly the same.
You’ve got what it takes to record reels and TikToks in no time
There are just a few things you’ll need to get started. Let me remind you with some actionable takeaways:
1. Don’t wait for confidence to magically appear before you hit record — Confidence comes with action. It takes courage to get started. Open your calendar, choose a date, and commit to when you’ll record your first reels or TikToks!
2. Create a simple plan of what you want to record — Search for inspiration, envision the clips you’ll need, and be well-prepared so you aren’t scrambling when recording day comes. Start by writing down the exact 3 reels you plan on recording first.
3. Prepare your recording station(s) — Find the best lighting, experiment with camera angles, and get your tripod ready so when recording day comes, you can just hit record and follow your plan.
4. Oh, and one more thing…don’t set high expectations! Recording content is a skill you will improve on with practice. Each reel or TikTok you create is a step toward becoming better and faster at creating content.
Need more guidance on how to get started recording reels and TikToks for your business? Tune in to today’s podcast episode here 🎧.