Marketing, Uncategorized

How to Make A Video for Free and Why You Need to Do It Now

Organic reach. Isn’t that the unicorn of the marketing world? Not only is it free — it’s validation that our audience is engaged with our brand message. It’s what we all want, and it’s what the social networks make harder and harder to obtain. In fact, Facebook is making yet another round of changes (can we just go ahead and acronym that to YAROC?) to cripple organic reach even further… that is, unless you’ve mastered the art of the compelling 30-90 second video.

Yesterday, I tested the current algorithm with two posts. The message of each was similar – how to maximize your launch-day success. The difference in organic reach over 24 hours, however, was startlingly different. See for yourself…

The post on the left – an image with a link to off-page content – had an organic reach of 10. Contrast that to the post on the right – a video with an on-page CTA to contact me via Messenger – and its organic reach of 98.

Granted, neither of those numbers are stellar. Chalk that up to a lack of marketing on my part lately (the cobbler’s children have no shoes, and all…). The important takeaway is that the video post is performing 10x better than the image.

For what it’s worth, the image/blog post took me significantly longer to create than the video. But I’m not bitter. *ahem*

For those of us who love to keep costs to a minimum while pushing for ever-greater reach, learning these little secrets is key. Now we know – video is the way to go. And it makes sense. Over 500 MILLION people watch video every day on Facebook, and 92% of those video watchers who are on mobile phones are sharing that content with friends and family. In fact, video generates 1200% more shares than text and image combined! Facebook is all about the shares, SO OF COURSE they’re going to prop up your video posts!

The Secret Video Formula

man wearing blue crew neck top
Don’t forget to carry the one.

Sadly, not every video is going to boost your organic reach. Facebook’s algorithm is inundated with video entries, and yours needs to come out on top. That means:

  • The first ten seconds of your video is a solid hook that keeps people watching
  • You receive better-than-50% views the majority of the time
  • Bonus points if your video gets shared

So that means you need to create videos that are engaging, entertaining and shareable. In other words, salesy content is still going to be slow to gather that coveted organic reach. Videos that are short, punchy and lively are going to outperform those with lengthy messages or long product descriptions. Your videos need to get in with a hook, deliver a punch, and leave them intrigued.

But How Do I Even Get a Video?

opened mouth black haired boy in gray full zip jacket standing on grass field taking selfie
You can make your own video for free!

You may be thinking that everything up to this point is great in theory, if not a touch overly academic. Video is famous for being the costly arm of the creative industry. A simple, 30-second video produced through a studio can cost thousands of dollars.

First tip: this isn’t Hollywood, and you’re not shooting for an academy award.

You just want to grow your organic reach.

So, what if I told you that with a little trial-and-error, a dose of creativity, possibly a dash of bravery, some free-to-cheap tools, and a few forays into some hidden gems of the Internet, you can make your own video for free – or close to it.

Start With a Video Editing Program

There are several options for video editing – from programs in the App Store, to Windows Movie Maker (if you have an older version of Windows or can still find a copy of it online) to Adobe Premiere Pro (which is available with your business subscription… you probably already have it!). There’s a bit of a learning curve for any of these tools, and some are vastly better than others. But for the purposes of getting a basic video put together, any will do.

If you’re going to invest in your video creation endeavor, this is where you put your money. Whether it’s $20 for an app or an up-charge to your Adobe subscription, most of these tools are extremely cost-effective when you take into account the new faces that will find your brand as a result.

I recommend that you download free trials so you can play around and create some test videos. Watch YouTube tutorials to learn about file import and placement, layering, adding sound, basic transitions, fades, and exporting to a web compatible format. Find the tool that feels natural and fits your needs, and then buy the license, if required.

Write Your Script

Chances are, you’re not going to hire a voiceover actor. If you’re lucky enough to have a VO pro as a friend who is willing to work for a pint, awesome. If you don’t have professional recording gear, or at least a sound-dampened room and a fairly decent microphone, I urge you not to attempt your own VO. Poorly produced audio just isn’t pretty, and it screams, “I made this myself.”

That said, you’ll need a script. It can be as simple as a single-line hook, a couple build-up phrases, a closing tagline and a CTA. Remember, this is only 30-90 seconds, and people need time to read what you put on screen. Avoid verbosity. And don’t use big words, either.

If you’re curious about what to write, pop over to your social feed and find some videos from your favorite business pages (they’ll appreciate a like or share, if you feel so inclined). Get inspired. Also, remember… don’t sell! Think about the value that your brand brings to a specific type of customer, and write the video in such a way that you demonstrate value without giving a sales pitch.

Find Some Free* Content

close up court courthouse hammer
Legal Mumbojumbo

* I’m starting with a caveat here. When you search online for “free” creative, it falls under one of three licenses: royalty free, creative commons or public domain. Please make sure you research and understand these license structures and that you’re following the rules. Most of these “free” sites allow you to use the content for your own purposes, including commercial use, as long as you are not reselling it directly. So while you can generate leads and increase your own business with “free” content, you cannot use it to create and sell content for clients. At that point, you have to shell out some cash.

Okay, now that we have the legal stuff out of the way (and seriously, look it up… that was the short, short version and in no way covers all the bases. I’m not a lawyer. I don’t even play one in my videos. If you use this content wrong, that’s on you.)

Now that we REALLY have ALL the legal stuff out of the way…

child holding unicorn toy
Speaking of unicorns – free creative!

There are a few amazing sites that kindly provide thousands upon thousands of images, green-screen video, b-roll, soundtrack music and sound effects. Here is a list of some of my favorites:

  • Free stock images and video. From their site:
    • Pexels provides over 40,000 high quality and completely free stock photos licensed under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license. All photos are nicely tagged, searchable and also easy to discover through our discover pages.
    • Pexels Videos offers completely free videos. All videos are licensed under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license. This means you can edit or change the videos and use them free for personal and even for commercial projects. All without asking for permission or setting a link to the source. So that attribution is not required. With our swiftly growing database of videos, you are guaranteed to find the perfect footage for your website header, product promotion, or anything else. Every video we have available is free for any purpose – including commercial. This guarantees that you will be saving the hundreds of dollars better spent promoting your brand.
    • The only caveat – You cannot depict personally identifiable people in a bad light without their written approval. Not sure how you could possibly get that.
  • Free transparent png files for your project
    • As of 5/31/2018, Up to 2,685,325 transparent png & growing!
  • Audio offered by and for the public for free under various licenses, including Creative Commons. Double-check to make sure you’re using the track appropriately! Some artists require credit; others do not. Some require artist permission for commercial projects. Read the fine print, but there are lots of sound files to be had out here!
  • : Easily identified free vs. pro video clips, including nearly 1700 free green screen clips (some repeat videos from Pexels). Pro videos can be purchased individually or on subscription.
  • Sound effects for your video, completely free. Extensive database of sounds. If it makes noise, you can probably find it here in wav format.
  • Smaller collection of wav files, but still a good resource.
  • Very nice layout with cute images that give you a visual feel for what the track will sound like. Tracks can be used on various Commons licensing (again, check each individual track for rules). Easy purchase options provided for full commercial use (you don’t have to track down the artist on your own).
  • Bonus: TextingStory: The TextingStory app can be found on the Apple and Andriod App Stores. It’s what I used to create my video in the post shown above. It’s a simple tool that allows you to simulate a text conversation between fictional characters. For $19.99, you can obtain a commercial license that allows you to use the videos you create in your ad campaigns. From download to experiment to purchase to finished video, I created the video for my post in about 10 minutes. Best. $20. Spent. Ever.

Put it All Together

The fun part has arrived! Now you get to spend a few hours arranging video, audio, effects, images and text to create your short social video. Remember, when you post this bad boy, focus on keeping the user on your Facebook or Instagram page. If you’re sharing to LinkedIn, Twitter, SnapChat or YouTube, then link to wherever you want. Those platforms are a bit more forgiving when it comes to linking and reach.

I really hope you give video a try. No, it’s not going to be a studio production. However, you could wind up having a lot of fun while learning a new skill and producing something you’re proud to publish. If anything, you’ll gain a hefty new respect for your video production professional friends.

And stay tuned… I’m going to continue this experiment next week. I have my own video cued up and ready to publish on Monday. I’ll let you all know how the engagement goes!

Have a video you want to share with my readers or know of any other great DIY sites for video content? Post it in the comments so we can see!


Photos by Startup Stock Photos, Darcy Lawrey, Pixabay and Kaboompics .com, respectively, on


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