Thinking about getting in on the trend of video and live streaming for your business and not quite sure how and where to begin?

If you've got questions like what you need to start and what video content you should put out swirling around your head, then you've come to the right place.

In this episode of Start Yours, we welcome back our very own video guru, Neal Chauhan, the brains and face of Oberlo's TikTok channel. 

Together, we dive into the potential of video content for your business, production values, what platform you should be on, the gear you need, and some tricks and hacks to get you started with producing videos to grow your business.

If you enjoy our podcast, we hope you'll consider subscribing. Our Oberlo blog is also full of valuable insights and information you need to start and supercharge your business so hop on over and check it out.

Short on time and prefer a TL;DR summary? Here's a condensed, seven-point version of our chat with Neal:

  1. You don't need much to begin live streaming and creating your own video content.
  2. Live streams are a great opportunity to find content that you can easily repurpose for other platforms and even other content formats.
  3. Your video content does not necessarily have to be directly related to your product.
  4. The most important things to transmit when producing videos are the human-centered connection and authenticity.
  5. Two pieces of affordable recording gear to get you started: a light source (if not the natural light from your window) and a mini tripod.
  6. If you're producing video content for TikTok, stumbling over words is totally okay.
  7. It's not supposed to be easy when you're starting out. It's supposed to push you a little bit more outside that comfort zone and it's supposed to be scary.

Start Yours is a podcast about ecommerce, dropshipping, and all things launching a business.

Join us as we meet entrepreneurs who have gone through the triumphs and headaches of running an online store, and learn how they managed to survive and thrive.

Building Trust With Live Videos

Aleisha: Welcome to Start Yours, a podcast by Oberlo about what it's like to start your own thing. And when we say start your own thing, it could be a side hustle, you could be looking to leave your day job, but you have no idea what you wanna do. Or perhaps you have clear business goals and you are on your way. Whatever stage you are at, we've got you covered. 

I'm Aleisha McCormack, and in this episode, we're looking at the power of video and live streaming to connect with your audience, customers, or to build a personal brand. 

Now, I know it's against every entrepreneurship, business guru, podcast book advice giving people that are out there who say every morning we should get up and meditate and we shouldn't look at our phones and we should be Zen and peaceful with the world. 

But to be honest, I get up and I look at Instagram and I watch Instagram stories, and then sometimes I'll be in bed and I'll move on to looking at Facebook and watch all the Facebook stories and videos that have just gone up. Some of these are my friends, some of these are business accounts that I follow, and I will sit there and absorb all of this information while I'm still in my pajamas.

I love watching videos and I love it because I feel like I'm getting to know the people behind the brands, the people that are running businesses, the people that are creating the things that I like. 

I'm following the accounts because I wanna know more about what they do. 

Later in this episode, I am welcoming back Neal Chauhan, who is the boss of TikTok for all of Oberlo. And he is going to share a little bit more about how to feel more comfortable in front of the camera, and also, he gives some great tips about the sort of gear that you may need. But here's the little spoiler alert: You don't really need much to start live streaming and creating your own video content. 

Now for a lot of people who are listening, they might be thinking, “Aleisha, I have no desire to video myself and put it out there to the whole wide world.” You might be thinking, “I've got nothing to say. I make a product or I run a service-based business, or I don't even have a business. Why would anyone want to listen to me?” 

But the power of video, being able to talk to people, being able to connect and share a message, or behind-the-scenes moments in your life or your business can be really powerful when it comes to marketing and building trust, which is what it's all about. 

If you have trust, if you are presenting yourself and your business as authentic, it really moves you up the chain when it comes to someone deciding to invest in what you do or purchase what you make.

Now, I mentioned Instagram and Facebook. Of course, we have TikTok and YouTube. There are so many different platforms, and I think that's where it becomes quite overwhelming for people who are wanting to enter into the world of live streaming and creating video content, but then they look at all of these various platforms and different dimensions of the way that you need to present the video.

Some, like Instagram, if you're in the regular feed, you can only do a minute of video, but then you can go on Instagram stories. There's also Instagram TV, of course. Pinterest has also launched a video option for their feed. 

So even saying this, I feel a little overwhelmed because there are so many options. However, the big thing to do is to think about the purpose behind creating video and what value that video content might bring to your audience, your potential customers, even if they're future customers or future clients.

So before you start to worry about where you are going to be posting this content, you need to think about what you want to do. 

And also, as you hear Neal say later in the episode, sometimes it's just easier to pick one platform and maybe it's a platform... Well, it should be the platform that you think your customers, clients, or potential people that are going to engage in your business are hanging out, and then work backward as to what you can share with them that might provide value.

And that could be hacks, it could be behind-the-scenes moments, perhaps you are producing a product, maybe you make a crafty product, and you have an Etsy store or you're selling things that you personally make... Show them how you do it. 

I must admit, I'm particularly nosy and I love all the behind-the-scenes moments of businesses and brands and peoples, reality TV stars without their make-up, that stuff floats my boat and especially makes me stick around and want to learn more.

When it comes to creating video content, you need to consider whether you want to pre-make video content. As you'll hear Neal talk about, he shoots and edits all of his content within the TikTok app, but perhaps you want to see it and pre-record with your phone and produce a little presentation or chat to the camera, and then edit it up on iMovie. Or you can do it within your phone, it's so easy to do. Or perhaps you wanna go live, all of the major platforms, Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok provide you with the opportunity to do a live stream.

Now, this is really exciting, and for me, if I see something pop up, a little notification saying, my favorite person that I'm following on Instagram is going live, if I am not driving a car or working... That's actually not true sometimes when I work, I do watch this stuff, it's research, I will jump on and watch them... 

Live broadcasting is a really good way to connect with audiences. Immediately, you can talk to people all over the world. 

And what I think is really valuable about it is you offer people an opportunity to engage with you in a conversation, they can ask questions, they can thumbs up, they can really connect with who you are and what you do, and that could just be a brand representative, it could be you sitting in your lounge room or kitchen having a conversation, having a chat with them.

And you don't need millions and millions of followers for this to be successful. I think some of the best live streamers or people that I connect with and then have made a purchase or have followed what they do further on, are people that really just take the time to listen to their viewers, people who are participating in the live stream.

Another really good thing about doing a live stream is it exists in the moment, and yes, on Facebook, you can re-publish it to the page or your group that you are broadcasting in, the same with Instagram TV. But you can also remove it if you feel strongly about it not existing in the ether anymore, it's something you can take down. 

Producing Video Content

But I actually think live streams are a great opportunity to find content that you can repurpose. So perhaps you are doing a product demonstration or you are connecting with the audience to get some feedback on a brand new product, which is a fantastic way and a free way to do some market research to figure out what product may sell, what product may not be as popular, and get direct feedback from potential customers, which is really invaluable when you think about it. 

But the other thing about live streaming is that you can repurpose content, which just means that you can download the original piece of content, the video, and then you can edit it to fit other formats. 

I mentioned earlier about not becoming overwhelmed when it comes to having to create content from multiple formats, multiple platforms. 

And the best way to do that is to create one piece of content and then edit and produce multiple versions of the same content for the different platforms.

The one thing you need to remember is if you were doing stories, if you were doing Instagram TV, TikTok, if you are looking at Facebook stories, you need to remember that the phone and the video should be shot in vertical... This is not a deal-breaker, it just is something if you are planning to shoot content for those various platforms, it just looks better. 

Spontaneity is fantastic. But when you are planning to do a live broadcast, it can be nice to let your audience know that you are about to go live and you're looking forward to catching up with them or you're looking forward to their feedback, or perhaps you can pose a question that they can prepare for prior to you going live that you have content, you've got something ready to say. 

And when it comes to pre-preparing, and Neal is going to talk about this later in the podcast, but thinking a little bit about what you want to say, and this is where it can be a little bit petrifying if you haven't done this before. 

For many people, the instinct is to write a script and stick to the script, but then you lose the authenticity.

So for me, it's about making dot points, sometimes I stick a little sticky note next to the camera on my desktop or my phone, you can do it just on the side of the phone, and if you need to go and look at the dot points, it just keeps you on track, but it doesn't mean you're reading directly off the screen because people know it, they can feel it. 

When it comes to content, it doesn't necessarily have to directly correlate with the thing that you are selling or the thing that you were trying to get them to buy or participate in. Content doesn't always have to be about directly your brand or product. It could be a funny story from your day, it could be tips for running a business, people love that sort of stuff. 

Hacks, for example, if you are selling pot plant holders, you could talk about plant care, you might be able to say, “Here is what you need to do to keep this pot plant alive,” and it might not necessarily be directly about your pot plant holders, but they are in the shot. 

Also, you could introduce them to some part of your life and business that they might not have seen before, a little peek behind the curtain, which is what really interests me and what gets me involved and sort of feeling committed to learning more about people that I follow online, I wanna see behind the scenes. It's like a little reality TV show.

Before we head to my interview with Neal, who is the king of all TikToks when it comes to Oberlo, I wanted to remind you that we have a fantastic re-branded, very sexy new website, oberlo.com where you can head to read literally thousands of blogs and watch YouTube videos, and of course, subscribe to Start Yours. 

It's a great resource if you are looking to start a business or maybe you are in deep, you've already started your business and you would just like a little bit more guidance or inspiration. I highly recommend oberlo.com. And also, if you would like to ask a question, you've got something that you want us to cover or perhaps you'd like to be featured on the show, please get in touch, podcast@oberlo.com, that email will come directly to me and it'll be great to connect. 

Okay, let's head to my interview with Neal, where we talk a little bit more about being comfortable in front of the camera and learning how to be consistent when it comes to producing content and shaking off any insecurities or awkwardness that we all can feel when it comes to speaking directly to a camera. Neal has some great tips for overcoming all of those vibes and just getting it done. Okay, let's head to my interview with Neal.

Being Genuine and Authentic With the Camera

Neal, you are the leader of the TikTok Oberlo pack. Each time I talk to you, I think of a new way to introduce you on this show. You run the Oberlo TikTok channel and it's been going very well for you. 

And you spend a lot of time talking to the camera, talking to us, the people, and this episode of Start Yours, I wanted to really focus on how we can get past any hesitations when it comes to speaking to the camera 'cause it can feel weird if you're not used to it, and be authentic and present your true self to your audience without feeling scared or ashamed or awkward. So can you talk me through... Firstly, welcome. And secondly, how do you do it? 

Neal: Thank you. Yeah, no, it is such an interesting topic. I am... When I started this, I've been running TikTok for Oberlo for about six months now. For some context, I never started this comfortable in front of the camera. Prior to this, I had a personal YouTube channel that I never really got out in front of. 

I was always behind the lens filming other stuff, so this was a totally different thing for me. 

And I think compared to a lot of other small business owners, it's nerve-racking first getting on the camera. It's been a really interesting journey both from the company standpoint and personally, you're learning to get comfortable with appearing on there, going live, reading the comments, and everything that goes along with it. 

But what I can tell you right off the bat is six months into it, I am so glad I made that decision and the community we've built around this has been phenomenal, and I think in part was due to the human element and the authenticity of actually facing my fears and hopping on there.

Aleisha: It's so interesting 'cause you do seem so naturalistic, and I notice… We were talking about you, Neal, not in a weird way, but the team, the podcast team at Oberlo and the content team was saying, "Oh we love Neal's voice," you seem so calm and it's quite relaxing listening to your presentations, and I don't want you to take... 

That sounds weird when I say it now, but you have a really good way of conveying information that it's not hyped up and the... The energy isn't, sort of, full-on 'cause sometimes I scroll through and you know when you were scrolling through Instagram or TikTok and the sound comes on and you're like, "Oh, okay, turn it down, it's too much, too much," or you're lying in bed and you're like, "I don't… This is not the vibe I want.” 

But I think you have found a really good balance of creating content that is something I can watch at any stage of the day and absorb, but not feel panicked by.

Neal: Oh, that's so kind of you. I think a lot of that comes from me being someone who spends more time on TikTok than I will admit on the air, just seeing all these other creators and the tone that they approach things. 

One of the most important lessons that we've learned is that human-centered connection and that authenticity. 

So coming on this camera, I didn't wanna be the guy who hopped out of a Tesla and held a lot of cash up to the camera.

Aleisha: Yes.

Neal: I wanted to focus on the, “This is the real experience behind starting a business, it's not all glitz and glamour, it's real and it's difficult.” And I think that's what really spoke to people, just the genuine element of it all.

Tips To Create Video Content From Home

Aleisha: Tell me a little bit more about when you start the day 'cause you produce one to two videos per day, and not all of them contain your head. Some of them are just voice-overs. That sounded weird, they do... Not all of them are you speaking to the camera, but a lot of them are. 

Tell me a little bit more about your setup in your home 'cause we're all working from home. Our team, we are all remote. And you sort of utilize the backgrounds and you're very clever with the way you present your content. You're not going out there doing really big flashy shoots or anything, you're not spending a lot of time on location. But it really is dynamic, the content. When I look at it, it's like, “Oh, I can't tell Neal's in the same place all the time.” 

Can you explain a little bit about how we would set that up in our own home or workplace to make it sort of feel like we're in multiple places so people don't get bored? 

Neal: Yeah. Absolutely. So one of the most important things with TikTok is the sheer power of the effects that they give you for free on the platform itself. 

So one of the effects that we use on a daily basis is the green screen effect. 

And while I know that might sound corny, right on the surface, it is such an incredible way to change everything about the tone of the video. 

What I started doing, rather than have them see one of the boring grey walls in my bedroom, is just use that green screen to show different parts of our Toronto office or different... Really cool spaces. They definitely weren't the star of the video, but it just gave me a little more professionalism and personally not having wanting many people to see my bedroom or home office at the start...

Aleisha: Sure.

Neal: It gave me a level of comfortability as well, which I think really helped when I was first starting out.

Aleisha: It's nice. I always think, and this is where my brain goes, but The Real Housewives, whenever they're doing, they're talking head interviews, they're behind, that looks like they're sitting in their homes, but often it's a green screen of just a lounge room that they're doing it. 

And it's so strange that COVID obviously has advanced Zoom and these sort of situations with, as you said, TikTok providing us with the green screen option, and I know a lot of the other platforms are doing, but we can really sit anywhere we want in the whole wide world as long as we've got an image of it, we can check up behind us. It's amazing.

Neal: It's amazing. Yeah, and I think coupling that with the ability of everyone on TikTok just using their smartphone, there really isn't this huge surge of… We've shot videos on my DSLR and imported them and edited them on our computers and then put them into TikTok, whereas something that we just filmed on our phone often gets way more views and way more interaction. 

So it's one of those cool things about the platform that it really doesn't matter what gear you have or what set up you have, or if your lights are perfect or any of that... 

It's really just about what value you can provide people within that 15-second gap.

Lighting Tricks and Hacks

Aleisha: And you just mentioned lighting and sound, and I think a lot of people feel like they have to go out when they decide they're gonna make the big commitment, they're gonna go and do some video for their brand, or they go to communicate and connect with possible customers or followers, they either just go, “I'm just gonna set it up and lean my iPhone against a coffee cup in my lounge room,” or, “I'm gonna go out there and buy a bunch of different gear.” 

Is there a middle ground? Is there anything you would suggest if you're just starting out that might be helpful, and let's just say we've got a budget of $100... I'm putting you on the spot here Neal, but what would you spend that $100 on if you were planning to be talking to the camera quite a lot, especially if you're promoting a brand or a business?

Neal: Good question. So, if I had a $100 budget, the one thing that comes to mind, first and foremost, is lighting. I think anyone has your standard ceiling light, but what I invested in was a single bulb that I just have on a little tripod stand, and that's really all I need. You can also invest in a ring light for quite a bit cheaper as well. 

The next thing I suggest getting is a mini tripod for your phone. Now, we don't wanna be shooting with DSLRs or anything crazy. Your phone is often perfect, so set that phone up, hop on that green screen background, and personally, what I do, and I think you might be the first person I've told, instead of investing in a fancy lighting set-up, I just stand in front of my window.

Aleisha: That's great.

Neal: And the natural light is plenty to make things look good coupled with a bright, sunny background, using that green screen filter and TikTok's algorithm does a really good job at making those lines look crisp and professional to the point where I still use them every day.

Aleisha: Yeah 'cause your videos, and people should definitely go and check out your videos, it's @oberlo, if you're looking on TikTok, you will see Neal's videos there. There are a lot of them now. But yeah, your lighting, and to me it was... It looks studio, it's really clear. You're not over-blown or overexposed. But it does look naturalistic, so that's a really good point. 

Natural light, and it's also the most flattering light, I just wanna say to anyone cause fluoro lights can look pretty rough when you're recording.

Neal: It's definitely the way to go. And I think that's one of the things that makes TikTok especially interesting and full of potential for small businesses is, if you're starting a YouTube channel, you might need a little more gear or at least something a little more professional, whereas here, we don't, and I don't think you guys do either.

You Don’t Need Expensive Gear

Aleisha: Yeah, I think it's really... The best thing to do is just to build up to it, I suppose, if you are doing a lot of TikTok and/or Instagram, Facebook Lives, and then you're like, "Okay, I wanna really move into creating a YouTube channel," then I suppose that's when you potentially up the game a little bit with gear. 

To jump in, It's like people that start podcasts that are like, "You need to buy a thousand-dollar microphone and you need an amplifier... " And you're like, "No, what you need is good content," and we are both speaking on Yeti mics, and they're what, a couple of hundred bucks, which is not...

Neal: I got mine used for like 75 bucks.

Aleisha: There you go. Yeah, this... And probably for someone who thought it would be easy to start a podcast and they're like, "Forget it, it's actually a lot harder, so we’ll sell it to Neal for 70 bucks.” It's a really good deal. 

But also the sound quality is just as good as if we're sitting at a sound booth. So I think it's a good example of not necessarily needing to fork out a bunch of money, 'cause that's not gonna make the content any better beyond...

Neal: Exactly.

Aleisha: Being able... People able to see and hear you.

Neal: And for what it's worth, I think anyone watching, if you head to TikTok and look at the most popular creators, they're doing the same things we are, which is the most reassuring thing. They don't have the crazy setups, they are just using their iPhone propped up against a wall, and that's, I think, what makes TikTok so special.

Aleisha: And do you think when people do get big, and this is not just TikTok, this is other platforms, and you start to think, “These things are getting pretty schmick, things are looking pretty professional and maybe they're bringing in crews and they're having a lot more attention to production value.” 

Sometimes I think, "Oh, they've let it slip a bit 'cause they're not a man of or a lady of the people anymore because they're upping their game."

Neal: Exactly, it almost feels alienating to watch that production change over time. But thankfully, at least here, it does seem like most people, even the most successful people here, maybe they have the newest iPhone versus last-gen. 

But it is, at the end of the day, just somebody in a room producing some sort of content, no crazy lights, no proper green screen in the background, just value.

Aleisha: And I think if we're gonna look at the upside, if we can, of the pandemic and what it's done to change perhaps our social media absorption, that is, a lot of us have been in lockdown or we've had to be doing remote work where you can't get out and about as much as we probably would have six to 12 months ago, especially when you're looking at social media with influencers and people doing exotic things, we've become a lot more used to someone sitting in a room talking. It seems quite normal now.

Neal: Yeah. It's almost comforting to know that they're going through the same things you are.

Aleisha: Yeah.

Neal: I think definitely for Instagram and other platforms, sure it can pay off to have this higher level of production quality. But the fact that we are, like you said, all in our homes right now playing it safe, there's something to be said about that and the fact that that translates so well to TikTok is really meaningful.

Making Notes and Shooting Takes

Aleisha: Yeah. Do you make notes when you're doing the sort of presentation on camera, on air, and this episode's all about how we can be a bit more comfortable speaking to a camera, do you make notes? Do you know what you're gonna say? How do you process the information before you do the takes and how many takes on average does it get you to the final thing that we would see on TikTok? 

Neal: When I started, I took so many takes. I probably spent, sometimes over an hour working on a single video, just to have that...

Aleisha: Interesting.

Neal: Come out and have it be 15 seconds. I think the 80-20 rule is something that you can really think about where you don't need to spend 100 percent of your time to get 100 percent of these results. Focusing on just if this checks all the boxes. 

I don't think it'll ever be perfect. But with that said, yeah, it definitely took quite a while. I try to have a few notes. I use Google Keep just to keep everything in check. 

But I try not to follow a script. I feel like that may come off as forced, and I think on TikTok that's the last thing we're going for. Even if you do stumble across a couple of words or it takes a bit longer, so does everyone else and that is totally okay.

Aleisha: And the good thing I think about TikTok, and this is not to be too technical, but you can jump cut it, which means, I suppose, that you don't have to do the one take the whole time. You can take a little bit from one take and a bit from another and put it all together and no one's going to know the difference. 

If you, maybe, put a little bit of a vision of... If you're talking about a blog post, you often cut the shot of you talking over the video of you looking at the blog post on your laptop, so there are ways to get around it, isn't there? 

Neal: And it is so easy to use that set-up, you don't have to be technically savvy, really, whatsoever. Most of the videos that I've put out, I've recorded a little longer before and after I started speaking, and then I just trim it up before I post the video, so it's totally doable for anyone with any level of expertise and it just cleans it up that extra little mile.

Video Editing Tools

Aleisha: And what are you using to edit these videos? Are you in pro editing stuff or are you using basic, basic tools?

Neal: So for about 95 percent of the videos that I've ever posted on the channel, I just use TikTok's in-house editing feature. It comes with the app, totally free, and you don't need any specific skill set to do it. It is entirely drag-and-drop.

There have been a few higher production value videos that I've used Adobe Premiere for. But like I said, we've seen just as amazing results with me and a camera in my bedroom than something I spent all day working and editing on. 

So it really goes to show that this platform is not about that polish, it's just about making that connection.

Aleisha: So all of the graphics and everything you're using, headlines, they're all in-house TikTok...

Neal: All within TikTok. Yeah.

Aleisha: Wow.

Neal: So even the text, even the closed captioning, the stickers, the GIFs, everything, TikTok provides that to you and it's as simple as two or three clicks, and you've got the exact same production value that we have here on our channel.

Aleisha: That's fantastic. And if you wanted to import images or video from another take or you're doing something, maybe you're pulling content from your YouTube channel, can you do that in the app as well? 

Neal: That's what I've been doing, yeah. So I grab the video, I have it saved on my phone, and then I throw it up as an image with just an effect that uses an image as a background. It is the easiest UI that I've dealt with in a really long time, which is also one of the reasons that all these 13- and 14-year-olds on the platform can do it so well, it is really open to everyone.

Aleisha: That's true. And I suppose marketing to them as well, you're marketing back to the people that are making the content, so it's a really good cyclic thing, and you've fooled me, I thought you were using multiple editing tools to make that happen, so that's really impressive.

Neal: Yeah, it's amazing how easy they make it for you.

Aleisha: Any final thoughts on being a little bit more comfortable in front of the camera and also producing authentic content? Just to sum up the whole topic up there, Neal.

Neal: Yeah. I think as interesting as is to say, I don't think it's supposed to be easy when you're starting out, I think it is supposed to push you a little bit more outside that comfort zone, and it's supposed to be a little scary. 

But once you make those first couple of videos and you see how positive and reassuring the people watching are, and you gotta remember, they're not strangers, they are people who are already interested in similar niches, you can build the most incredible community full of people who actually support you. 

And once you've got that confidence, you can start hopping live, you can start branching out to other channels, there's a world of possibility, and all it takes is that first 15-second video.

Aleisha: Yeah, take the leap. Just do it. And also, as you've said to me off-air and I will say it again, that it's not about the numbers all the time. You can't chase the numbers, some videos will work and some videos will be just fine, and then something might go absolutely nuts and that could kick you off, so you just gotta keep producing the content.

Neal: Absolutely, we're all at the mercy of that algorithm, but as long as you're consistently putting out good content, you're gonna get there eventually.

Aleisha: Hallelujah. If we wanna see what you're doing, get in touch, comment, like, love, all of those things, where do we do that? 

Neal: So you can head to TikTok's app itself, just search Oberlo, we’ll be the first thing that pops up. Or you can go to tiktok.com/@oberlo and that does the exact same thing.

Aleisha: Fantastic Neal. Thank you so much for sharing this little expert tip with us.

Neal: It's been a pleasure.

Aleisha: I hope to invite you back, you've got lots to say and lots to share, so please come back again, soon.

Neal: Absolutely, take care.

Aleisha: Thank you.

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