Don't let a lack of fancy equipment stop you from creating YouTube videos - you have everything you need right on your smartphone! Find out how on this week's TubeTalk.
Can you be successful on YouTube without spending thousands of dollars on equipment like cameras, lights, and a great microphone? In other words, can you REALLY be a mobile content creator and do EVERYTHING on your phone? If you’re on a tight budget and have those concerns then this episode of TubeTalk is for you.
I’ve spoken with thousands of creators, and a common statement I hear is "I don't have the right gear, therefore I'm not going to be successful. All I have is a cell phone, therefore I cannot be a content creator, I cannot be a YouTuber." Well, that is not correct, you don't NEED to spend thousands on equipment to be successful on YouTube!
I wanted to understand what it would take to be a creator who only has access to a mobile phone, so I called upon one of the top experts in the field to help me. Dee Nimmin runs an entire YouTube channel just on mobile, so he’s the ideal person to teach us the tips and tricks of how to be successful on YouTube using only a mobile phone. In this podcast you will learn:
Why a smartphone is all you need to create video content
Why creating video is more important than waiting for the right gear
Why investing in a microphone should be your first step
Why learning the manual controls on your smartphone is a must
The best apps for editing video on a mobile
The best apps for creating custom thumbnails on a mobile device
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Everything You Need to Know About Being a Mobile Content Creator: Full Transcript
Liron Segev: Dee, welcome to TubeTalk.
Dee Nimmin: Thanks. Thank you. I'm stoked to be here. I'm honored that you would have me on to talk.
*Liron Segev: So for those who don't know who you are, who is Dee Nimmin in a tweet?
Dee Nimmin: Dee Nimmin helps mobile content creators and mobile YouTubers. Mic drop.
Liron Segev: Boom. Do not drop my mic. A lot of creators that we will speak to, they always say kind of the same thing; I just don't have the gear, I cannot afford a thousand-dollar camera. I cannot afford a $300 mic. So I'm just not going to start."
You must have seen this many times in your whole consulting career and with people that you speak to. Let's start there. What do you say to people?
Dee Nimmin: When someone comes to me and they get caught up with the mindset of, they need gear, they need the stuff, they need the thing. There's always something that's stopping them from getting started, from taking that first step, and it's usually (if it's not something in their head), gear. What I always try to encourage people to do is look in their pocket, because all the gear they need to get started, look in your pocket because everything you need to get started is in your smartphone. Everything.
Liron Segev: So here's the question, though. I mean, realistically, between me, you and probably a couple of thousand listeners who are listening to this, can you really be successful being a content creator, shooting video, and doing absolutely everything on your phone, or, realistically, is there a little bit of a loophole where you shoot on your phone and then you have to upload it to a PC to start?
Dee Nimmin: Well, there are two types of mobile content creators. The first type of person does everything on their phone. They shoot the video on their phone, they edit the video on their phone, they make their YouTube thumbnails on their phone, they upload on their phone, and they add their description and titles.
The second type, they use their phone as a camera, and once they shoot the footage, they import that into their computer and they do the editing there, upload from there. So there are two types of people. But to answer your question about can you really be successful, Mr. Beast, who now has 20 million subscribers, got his first 200,000 subscribers shooting on an iPhone.
Liron Segev: I want everyone to let that sink in. So is it possible? The answer is yes.
Dee Nimmin: Yeah, the answer is absolutely yes, and of course you don't always have to be a mobile creator. Depending on the type of content that you make, you might find, okay, I got started with my phone and it served me well. The phone was great. However, I'm doing something now where I need a DSLR, or maybe I'm doing more graphic intensive editing and I need a computer. So it's perfectly okay to upgrade. If you need to upgrade, upgrade, but if you need to get started, start with your phone.
Liron Segev: Phones evolve yearly. There's always a bigger sensor, more megapixels. They just get better, better, better, better. So because of that reason, you're upgrading your phone anyway, it's in your pocket anyway, the best camera is the one that you have with you.
Dee Nimmin: Always.
Liron Segev: So you're shooting all your content on your device now?
Dee Nimmin: Well, no. To be clear, if I'm shooting in the studio, because we do have the live streaming studio, I have access to all the cameras. So if I'm shooting something in the studio, I use one of the cameras that we have. If I go outside to shoot, I'm grabbing my phone. I don't need to grab a DSLR because I can make it look like whatever I want with my phone.
Liron Segev: So even though you technically have access to the gear, it's right there on your tripod, there's no reason why you cannot unclip it from the tripod, take it with you in your bag if you wanted to, but you don't want to.
Dee Nimmin: Right. Now, here's something. So, I drive a scooter in Thailand. You know I live in Thailand, right?
Liron Segev: Yes, of course.
Dee Nimmin: I drive a scooter and I always have a little backpack. In my backpack, I always have a microphone, because I never know ... and I always have some sort of a handle, a Joby grip or something to hold my phone with, because I never know when I'm going to be in the mood to record something. So when I pull out my phone, if I'm like, "I want to record something, I've got this idea," yeah, I've got a microphone, I've got my little grip, I put it together, and you don't even need that, technically. Your phone has a microphone built into it, but I want my audio to sound a little bit better, a little more clear. So I spent $20 and got an inexpensive microphone.
Liron Segev: 20 bucks? Okay, so let's unpack that a little bit. So now you decide you're going home, you're on your scooter, you've got a helmet, or not, I'm not sure how Thailand ... Yeah, anyway, and then you shoot ... You're heading out and you want to shoot something. One of the things that's important to you is having good audio. How critical is good audio for a good shoot?
Dee Nimmin: Audio is 50% of the experience.
Liron Segev: Okay. So if I'm going to spend my initial money buying any gear, it shouldn't be saving up for a bigger, better DSLR.
Dee Nimmin: Correct.
Liron Segev: My first expenditure should be a microphone.
Dee Nimmin: A microphone, yes. And you don't have to spend a lot of money. Like I said, the BOYA, $17.
Liron Segev: And all you're trying to do is just get clearer audio.
Dee Nimmin: You want to get clear audio, yes.
Liron Segev: Okay, because I suppose it makes sense if you think about, a phone does have a mic, but it's made for close up communication because you're talking into your phone. When you're shooting, you're shooting at arm’s length or you're on a tripod. You're at a little bit of a distance so your voice will be muffled.
Dee Nimmin: Especially with the newer iPhones. The newer iPhones record in stereo, so you're going to get a left channel, you're going to get a right channel, especially if you're vlogging and you're outside. The important thing is you get started, because at the end of the day, people don't think about your gear. People don't think, "I wonder what he shot this on." They care about the message, and they care about your story, so if you focus on that, it doesn't matter what you're shooting on.
Liron Segev: You're so right, because if I think about when we watch other people's stuff, other people's content, we don't look for those details, but we're so critical of ourselves, that we go, "Oh, I wasn't standing right, I can't use this footage," or, "The light wasn't the best, I can't use that footage." But you've just watched 20 additional videos, you didn't even notice that kind of stuff, because you cared about the content first.
Dee Nimmin: Just yesterday, I had someone from Instagram come up to me, somebody who's an Instagram influencer with a large channel, "Dee, I watch your channel, here's my Instagram account, and I'm making this content on my phone, but I want to upgrade," and they were trying to show me this camera on Amazon. I looked at their Instagram photos and the videos, and it looked amazing. They were shooting with their phone, but they were using a ring light and it looked amazing, and they had an insane amount of followers, and I said, "Look, you don't need it. What you are doing is OK, It got you all of these followers, your stuff looks amazing. You don't need to upgrade. It's working. Don't get caught up in the idea that you have to spend the money, that you have to get something better, if it's working."
Liron Segev: So, okay, that's a great message, because we're so busy looking at everybody's kits, and we think for us to get that kind of quality or that kind of subscriber base, even worse, the subscriber base, I'll get that subscriber base once I buy this gear. Big mistake.
Dee Nimmin: It's always about this stuff, and I love to use the example of Peter McKinnon, hands down my favorite creator. If you gave Peter McKinnon your phone, whoever's listening right now thinking, I can't get started because my phone isn't good enough, if you handed Peter McKinnon your phone, he would create a masterpiece. On the flip side of that, if you took all of Peter McKinnon's gear in his entire studio, and you handed it to the person who's struggling to get started with a phone, they still wouldn't be able to get started.
It's important that not only do you use your phone or whatever gear you have, you have to learn how to use it. You have to learn how to get in there, use manual focus, manual exposure, how to frame the shot, right, and you can do that with your phone.
Liron Segev: So the equipment is the how-to, but you need to learn the what, like what do you need to do to get better, what do you need to do to tell a better story, what do you need to do give your message?
Dee Nimmin: Focus, yeah. Focus on sharing your story. Just focus on being a better storyteller. Focus on the message. When their video's over, not one person is going to say, "You know what? If they would've shot that on a $30,000 camera, I'd subscribe." What's going to happen is, when it's over, they're going to go, "Wow, that was either a good video or that was a bad video," and it's not going to be based on the gear.
Liron Segev: And it's not the gear that's going to make the differentiation.
Dee Nimmin: It's not the gear. Now, a bad audio might turn them off. Some people don't care, but I do. Sometimes I go watch a video and the audio is just ... especially if you're listening with headphones on.
Liron Segev: Okay, so I do second that. I think if we're going to spend money on anything at the beginning, audio is important.
Dee Nimmin: Audio, I would get a microphone, and I would get some sort of a tripod. Especially if you're doing talking head style content where it's you in front of the camera speaking, you want to put your phone on something. The Joby grips are fine, wrap it around a chair or a doorknob, whatever you've got to do. Just make it happen. I've done that. You make do with what you have. You start with what you have.
Liron Segev: So stop using that as an excuse for not getting going, because it's in your pocket, literally right now, or it's probably in your hand right now as you're listening to this. Okay. So now I'm thinking okay, I'm going to give this a shot. What do I need to know to start doing ... Do I need to start downloading some random apps?
Dee Nimmin: To get started, the first thing you need to know is that if you have manual controls on your camera, you're going to get a better result. Most modern phones will have some sort of manual control where you can set the exposure. You can lock the focus in so it focuses maybe on your face. Everybody knows if you tap and you hold on your screen, you'll probably get a little square, a little circle that's locking that in once you tap it and hold it in there, right? It's going to lock the light in, lock the focus in.
So once you learn how to do that, and if your phone has that option, you're good to go. But if it doesn't, you need to go look for a camera app. I'm going to give you recommendations for both Android and iOS. If your phone does not have manual controls where you can lock in your exposure, lock in your focus, for Android, I would look at an app called Open Camera, and for iOS users I would look at an app called the Moment Pro Camera app.
Liron Segev: Are these free or are these paid-for apps
Dee Nimmin: Open Camera, I believe, is free up until 4K, if you record in 4K, and Moment, I believe, costs around two or $3. Very inexpensive. Also, the only way to learn how to use them is to practice.
Liron Segev: Yeah, absolutely. Use YouTube to learn how to do it.
Dee Nimmin: Right, that's what I do on my channel. Shameless plug.
Liron Segev So now I am out there, I'm shooting a whole bunch of stuff, I'm understanding about lights. I'm kind of trying to get a better shot. Is it okay if I leave it on auto for a little while whilst I'm kind of getting used to the camera?
Dee Nimmin: If you're comfortable with auto, then shoot with auto. Again, keep in mind, don't use anything as a roadblock or a hurdle that says, "You know what? I'm not ready for this app yet, so I'm not going to start." No excuses. So if auto is all you have, by all means start with auto. Start with what you have.
Liron Segev: Okay. I've now, listening to your advice, but we spoke about audio a little bit, I feel like I need to spend a little bit of money and get better audio. What do I get?
Dee Nimmin: If you're on a budget?
Liron Segev: Yes, let's do that. Let's do budget, and let's say I want to upgrade my audio. I don't mind spending a little bit of money on my audio
Dee Nimmin: For budget, I would look at the BOYA BY-M1 lavalier microphone. That does come with a cable. It clips onto your shirt. I'm sure everybody's seen this little clip-on microphone. That's probably the best budget option that I've tested. Again, around $17 US.
Liron Segev: And iOS and Android?
Dee Nimmin: iOS and Android. Now, keep in mind, for iOS users, you're going to need the dongle.
Liron Segev: Of course, because it's iOS.
Dee Nimmin: Go, Apple. Right? If you want to move up from there, Rode makes a great small shotgun microphone. For Android, it's called the Rode VideoMic Me, and on iOS it's called the Rode VideoMic Me-L, and the L stands for the lightning port. Plugs into your phone. Those are between, I think, 50 and $70.
Liron Segev: So more expensive but, again, you're not talking about hundreds yet.
Dee Nimmin: Right. This is the mid-range option. The BOYA is what I recommend for absolute budget. If we go on the higher end, you have the Shure MV88+, an amazing little microphone, and it's also great for audio recordings if you're doing a podcast or something like that. Fantastic app. It comes with a little miniature tripod and a mount to put your phone in, put the mic on top. To go one step further, and that's the microphone you're looking at here on my rig, and I have the Rode Video Pro+. This runs about $270 right now, but it's one of the microphones you'll see with Peter McKinnon, right? This is more on the professional end, but you get what you pay for.
Liron Segev: And just to be clear, if I do decide to upgrade my phone later on, could I reuse these mics elsewhere?
Dee Nimmin: For the BOYA, yes. For the two Rode microphones, no. For the Shure MV88+, no. However, if you're going to spend the money on the Rode Video Pro+, you can use that with a DSLR, you can use that with your smartphone. But keep in mind if you get that with your smartphone, and I want to say that you don't need this, you also are going to need what's called a TRS cable.
Liron Segev: I'll always be confused that said. So there's TRS, T RRRRS, three rings, four ... Okay, let's talk those.
Dee Nimmin: Right, so you have the little rings at the end of your microphone. Same with your headphones, right, you have the little rings on the end of them. So the Rode microphone, it's a TRS connection. And you need a connector, a TRS to TRRS, which gives you three black rings. And then that will connect to your dongle and then into your iPhone.
Liron Segev: If I do a good old search on Amazon for all these cables, they'll just come up?
Dee Nimmin: Yes, or I have a video specifically on how to connect almost any microphone to your phone:
Liron Segev: And this is why Mr. D is the expert. It's important because even if you're spending $1, or whether you're spending $50, you want to get the right stuff, because you don't want to be frustrated.
Dee Nimmin: I've had some clients that I've sent out to buy this microphone, and I say, "Pick up the adapter," and they forget. They're like, "I just spent almost $300 on this microphone and it's not working." "Did you get the adaptor?" "No."
Liron Segev: It's my checklist. Okay. All right, so now, going back to this, I've got my camera, I'm spending some money on audio, what about the lights? Do I need some lights?
Dee Nimmin: It depends on what you're shooting. The best light is the free light that's outside. But like with any sort of video shooting, don't shoot in direct sunlight. If you're going to shoot outside, shoot in the shade or shoot with overcast. You don't want to shoot in the harsh sunlight. Shoot, they call it the twilight hours, as the sun's coming up or the sun's coming down. The golden hour. Now, if you're shooting inside, you can shoot near a window.Let the light come in that way.
You can also go to Home Depot and pick up inexpensive work lights and inexpensive daylight balanced bulbs. I think those sell for around $8 for the clip on work lights and another few dollars for the lights. You can bounce those off of a wall or something, bounce them off of the ceiling, you've got light. Again, this is a budget option, but it will get you started.
Liron Segev: I need to edit. What do I do?
Dee Nimmin: You need to edit. On the Android side, I recommend either PowerDirector or KineMaster. Now, both of those do cost money, but, again, you get what you pay for. There are some apps that are free, but sometimes people have problems with the audio slipping sync, so if you're really serious about this, pay for the app to edit on. However, if you're on iOS, you've got iMovie. It comes with your device, it's free, and it's a fantastic editor. If you want to take it up to a more pro-level, you can get KineMaster or you can get LumaFusion, all of those are professional-grade editing apps.
Liron Segev: Without having to know exact numbers, are we looking at a couple of hundred dollars for the apps?
Dee Nimmin: No. For example, LumaFusion is a one-time fee of $20, and that gives you lifetime access. KineMaster, I believe, is around three or $4 per month. So is PowerDirector. iMovie is free.
Liron Segev: So, I have now edited. I'm getting my feel, I'm kind of seeing now what I'm doing. Of course, I need a good thumbnail. What do I do for that?
Dee Nimmin: To make a good thumbnail, the best photo apps are free. Snapseed, made by Google - one of the most amazing apps out there and totally free. Also, there is PicsArt which is free. And, PixelLab for Android, totally free.
Liron Segev: So I've got my file, I have edited, I have my thumbnail on standby, I know my description and my tags and my title, I'm ready to do those. The final step is uploading them. How do I do that?
Dee Nimmin: You use the YouTube app. The same app that you actually watch the videos on, you upload your video through the YouTube app, and once it uploads, it's going to process your video and it's going to allow you to add a title and a description. After it processes, then you get to go back and you can add tags to the video.
Liron Segev: So I actually do not need a PC, a tablet, a Mac, nothing for this entire process?
Dee Nimmin: No. So far, we're 100% mobile. So after the video uploads, there's one more step and that's adding your thumbnail. To upload your video, you use the YouTube app, to upload your thumbnail, you use an app called YT Studio. This app is created by YouTube, and it not only allows you to add your thumbnails, but it gives you basic analytics for your channel and for your videos so you can see what your subscriber count is, you can see what your view count is, audience retention, and other analytics like that.
Liron Segev: So you use that to not only keep an eye on your channel and what's going on, but you use that to upload a custom thumbnail?
Dee Nimmin: Yes.
Liron Segev: I don't need anything else. I'm pretty done.
Dee Nimmin: We just went from A to Z completely on your phone with a few apps, most of them free.
Liron Segev: And even the ones that were paid for were inexpensive.
Dee Nimmin: Yes. What's your excuse now?*
Liron Segev: Okay, so this is, Dee is going to make a new channel, and you have a budget of $100, what would you spend it on?*
Dee Nimmin: Do I already have a phone?
Liron Segev: You have a phone.
Dee Nimmin: If I already have a phone and I have $100, I'm going to buy a microphone, the BOYA BY-M1 lavalier microphone, I'm going to buy some sort of a tripod, some sort of inexpensive tripod, and then I'm going to dig into YouTube and I'm going to watch every tutorial that I can watch on all of the apps that I'm going to use.
If I was on iOS, well, iMovies is free so I wouldn't spend any of the $100. If I'm on Android, I would probably pay for KineMaster. I like that one the best, so that's three or $4 a month. We've spent 25 or $30 so far, right.? And I would focus all of my energy watching every tutorial that I could find to learn how to use these apps.
Liron Segev: We're going to tell our story. We have a story and a message we want to share, and we're just going to do it. The question to you is, if you could put one message on Times Square in a big billboard, or a tweet that the entire world will see, what would that message be?
Dee Nimmin: Get started today.
Liron Segev: Didn't even hesitate. Did you notice that? No hesitation. Tell me why?
Dee Nimmin: Because one year from now, and I know you've seen this quoted all over the place, one year from now you're going to wish that you started today because you're going to be wondering, why didn't I start? Just get started.
Liron Segev: All right, well, now that we have gotten started and we have binge-watched every single one of your videos on your channel, this is my plug myself moment. What have you got going on? Let us know.
Dee Nimmin: Okay. Over on my channel, I am 100% mobile creator and mobile YouTuber focused. Every video I have is focused on succeeding as a mobile creator on YouTube or succeeding at making mobile content. I don't even stop at YouTube. I give you other tips, too, like how to turn on dark mode on YouTube or how to do something on Instagram, how to do something on Twitter. I'll give you little tips and tricks here about apps, yeah.
Liron Segev: And if we want to stalk you around social media, how do we find you?
Dee Nimmin: My name, Dee Nimmin, I'm everywhere.
Liron Segev: Dee, thank you for spending time with us and really sharing that insightful information.
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Liron Segev, aka TheTechieGuy, is the Director of Customer Success at vidIQ, an internationally celebrated Digital YouTube Strategist working with some of the largest brands and YouTube influencers in the world. Over the past 20+ years, his work has taken him to South Africa, the UK and the US where he frequently speaks at conferences and provides expert tech commentary for various print publications, radio, and TV while actively running his Tech Blog.