Recording Videos on Your Phone

Quick and Powerful Tips to Record Quality Videos on Your Phone (Look and Sound Better on a Budget)

If you’re looking to get a better looking – and sounding – video from your phone, then read on.

You’re going to learn:

  • how to light your videos at home
  • why audio is more important than picture quality and how to dramatically improve this with a $25 microphone
  • how to record outside for better quality videos
  • and what I recommend if you want to upgrade

This is for online teachers, content creators, and for anyone who wants to improve their video output.

Watch the video below and/or read the article. I filmed this on an iPhone 7+.

Note: use my affiliate link to check out the tools that I mentioned in the video and know that the links below are affiliate links too. I recommend filming a video or two first and then getting what you need based on the results.

Quick Tips: Film Better Videos on Your Phone Inside

Sit in front of a window if you don’t have a lighting setup

My office window is south facing. It’s the perfect lighting situation for the morning and the early afternoon.

Sit in front of the window and know that the closer you are to it, the better the lighting.

But be careful of the audio quality if you place your phone on a window ledge.

If the sun beams in through the window, it can cause harsh shadows. And you can end up squinting in a way that isn’t good for you or the viewer.

If you want to control your lighting or you don’t have a good window to use, then consider getting a simple ring light or another light from my list below:

We’ll talk about outside lighting later.

How to Frame Your Video and Position Yourself Correctly

Taken from a lesson I gave recently.

The above is taken from a lesson I gave on my channel for English learners.

I positioned the camera so that it was at eye-level. I filmed the frame with my face. And I gave enough room to bring in my whiteboard.

Note: the glare from a whiteboard is tough to manage, especially with a lighting setup. Do a few tests first.

To achieve the correct framing, I used the following tripod:

This is placed on my desk and is adjusted accordingly.

Try out various angles and positions and go with what looks best.

How to Get Better Audio

Audio is arguably more important than the video quality.

The internal microphone on phones isn’t great. If you add that to an echoey room then you won’t get good results.

Here’s what you can do:

  • get an external microphone
  • improve the acoustics in the room
  • record outside

Here’s a quick test I did that highlights the difference between an internal and external microphone:

The above is the microphone I use.

You can improve the acoustics of your room by using panels or anything that will absorb sound.

Here’s something to try: record in your closet (if you can!).

If you can get a tripod and lighting setup – and your background looks good too – it’s the best place for acoustics.

If you’re just recording audio, then definitely try it out.

Filming outside gives the best audio quality but there is a caveat. More on that later.

Here is an article that talks about recording audio in closets and a pillow hack.

Avoiding Background Noise (Good Luck!)

This is what frustrates anyone who tries to record a video.

You’re in the middle of recording something and your neighbor decides to start drilling. Or your children start screaming. Or the postman knocks on the door triggering your dog.

This isn’t easy to fix but here are some quick tips:

  • Negotiate specific recording times with people you live with
  • Record somewhere that limits background noise
  • Know that you edit the video if you make a mistake or get interrupted

Here is what to do if you want to make some quick edits to your video and how to easily spot where you need to edit:

Know that you’re going to get frustrated trying to eliminate background noise.

But if you do find yourself recording during a peaceful time, batch some extra videos and take advantage of it.

Let’s Talk About Recording Outside

In the video above, I recorded in two locations outside:

  1. On the back deck (in full sun)
  2. On the front porch (in the shade)

Did you notice the audio difference? It’s much better outside. But it’s more difficult to control background noise.

The best lighting conditions are facing the sun but with cloud cover. This is like using nature’s softbox.

If it’s raining, cold, or too hot, then this will dictate if you can record outside in a comfortable way.

Other Filming Tips

  • do a test before you record all your videos
  • once you get comfortable, batch videos (do more a few at one time)
  • you’ll get used to the sound of your own voice
  • give it a little more enthusiasm than you think you need

Let me know if you have any questions. Thanks for reading!


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YouTube Pop

Here’s How to Make Your YouTube Channel Pop (Case Study)

In this video and article, I’m going to:

  • share my YouTube analytics
  • show the three times when my channel has popped
  • go through a simple strategy which you can implement to grow your YouTube channel

My YouTube Channel and the Three Times It Has Popped

I started the To Fluency channel in late 2014.

As you can see, I have seen growth year-on-year:

Year-on-year YouTube

This has been through consistent video uploading and small incremental improvements.

(note: YouTube channels can grow exponentially. At first, it’s like pushing a rock uphill. But once you gain momentum, things start to happen.)

The monthly view is interesting:

You can see three distinct periods when my channel popped. When YouTube started pushing out certain videos to new audiences.

The first time this happened was in 2016. I made a few videos at the start of the year which were focused on goals and motivation.

The second time this happened, an old video suddenly started getting lots of traction. YouTube recommended it to new audiences. Watch it here:

But it wasn’t just random. A few months earlier, I had updated various YouTube videos. For this one, I changed the thumbnail (made the text bigger) and changed the title.

We’ll come on to why this works later.

The third pop came about because I made a few videos that I knew had the potential to do well.

You see:

YouTube is all about giving people what they want and playing the algorithm game. You don’t have to do this all the time or go to extremes but know that it’s important to do if you want your channel to grow faster.

You need videos that are going to reach new audiences. Videos that are going to bring in new subscribers.

Not every video has to be like this.

But make these videos part of your overall strategy.

The video I made was this one:

It has a strong title and a strong thumbnail. It’s on a topic that I know people in my niche like.

YouTube recommends videos that:

  • people click on (high CTR rate)
  • people like (watch time)
  • are engaging (comments, likes, shares)

This video had all of the above. Here are the stats for this one:

It’s received three major pushes (I’m hoping for more!).

It has brought in over 13,000 new subscribers. It’s brough in a lot of new course sales.

I’ve recently made a part two for this. I’ll explain why in the next section.

How to Make Your Channel Pop and Grow Faster

With all that in mind, here is how to make your channel grow faster.

Be Clear on the Action You Want People to Take

This isn’t directly linked to channel growth but it makes smart business sense.

Are you going to rely on YouTube’s monetization? Or are you going to use YouTube as lead generation?

I do both.

I monetize my channel and use YouTube as my main source of leads for my programs.

Find Out What Works and Do More of That

When I made my latest batch of videos, I knew what people wanted and gave them more of that.

Some of the videos that I thought were going to do well didn’t.

But some of them did.

Take a look at your YouTube stats, see which videos have been the most popular, and do more of that.

If you don’t have a channel yet, look at what’s working for others.

Update Old Videos

This is what lead to my second pop.

I took various older videos that had performed well and updated the thumbnails, headlines, descriptions.

From there, post the video to your community tab and share it elsewhere to give it that boost.

Be Consistent and Make More Videos

Make more high-quality videos and be consistent with this.

You’ll notice that a lot of the bigger channels might post once per week.

They have reached the stage where they can do this and still grow. But first, you need to earn the right to get to this stage.

To speed this up, make more videos.

Promote Your Videos

Post your videos on Facebook. Use your email list to grow your audience. Tell people about your channel.

Additionally, use YouTube as a community and get yourself out there.

Comment on other people’s videos and collaborate with others in your niche.


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get more views youtube

3 Ways to Get More Views on YouTube and What You’re Doing Wrong

Want more views on YouTube?

Watch this video to find out what I was doing wrong (what you’re probably doing wrong too) and the three most important things you need to do to push your numbers higher.

I’ll also go through what role Facebook plays here.

Keep People on YouTube (preferably your videos)

If you rely on sponsorship money and ad revenue, this might not apply to you.

But if you’re sending people to your lead magnet (email list), your course, or your website in general, then you might be getting punished.

Watch time on your videos is one of the key factors.

If you’re telling people to get off YouTube instead of watching one of your other videos, your watch time is lower.

If your watch time is lower, YouTube won’t push your videos as much.

Suggested videos and browse features are key for YouTube growth. Without this, new people won’t find you.

But… if the reason for making videos is to find more people to sign up for your lesson and courses, then can you see the problem we have to solve?

We want to grow our channel AND use it to get people to go through our sales process.

The way I’m approaching this is to be strategic about it.

To have certain videos where people click and take action. And to have others where the logical thing to do is to watch another video of mine.

I’m not going to mention my free downloads at the end of every video moving forward.

Longer Videos

Watch time is more important than views and audience retention.

If your watch time is increasing, YouTube will start pushing more of your videos.

Therefore, I’m going to make longer videos. 50% of a 25 minute video is 12:30 minutes. 75% of a 4 minute video is 3 minutes.

I can work this to my advantage by making these longer videos full of great information and engaging.

Better Thumbnails and Titles

I’ve held back here. No longer!

I want my thumbnails to stand out so that they get people’s attention. The title should compliment this so that people want to click.

The more people that click, the more YouTube will push your videos.

But you have to give people what they want. Having a thumbnail and title that has nothing to do with the content won’t work.

I mentioned in the video that I’m going take pictures instead of choosing screenshots.

However, if I take the time to go through the video, I can find expressions that get people’s attention and look like they’re taken from the video, which helps with associating the thumbnail with the content.

The one for this video was taken from the video. I had a picture but found this one more engaging.

I do this by using FCPX and sharing the current frame.

I then edit the picture and enter it into one of my templates to add text and other effects.

Facebook Video and Promoting Content Elsewhere

In the past, you could embed YouTube videos on the Facebook feed.

This did wonders for views and finding new people to watch your videos.

However, Facebook stopped this feature once they started pushing their own video platform. I’ve found that when I post a link to YouTube from my Facebook page, my reach is much lower.

I see Facebook introducing video monetization soon. If they do that, then creators will have a good reason to start uploading their videos to Facebook too.

What to Do Now?

Before you check out my resources, I want to say this: always strive to make better videos.

This is the foundation on which you build a channel.

Check This Out…

Check out more of my videos on YouTube here.

Learn what equipment I use to make videos here.

Or if you would like to learn how to build your own teaching business, get my videos below:


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Update: Online Courses, New Sofa, Dogs, and Making Videos

The following was recorded live on my Facebook page. Enjoy!

Check out my course here.

If you don’t have it already, get my free guide here.

Thanks for watching. Let me know if you have any questions!


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Two Sigmas Review - Platform for Teaching Online

Two Sigmas: a Platform for Online Teachers

A few months back, I interviewed Teacher Diane.

It turned out to be one of the most popular interviews that I have done on this blog.

We have kept in touch since and a few weeks ago, she sent me information about a new platform she is using called Two Sigmas. Diane connected me with Alice from Two Sigmas and I tried the platform out.

The video below goes through why you might consider it for your online lessons.

A Review of Two Sigmas and How to Use It

To open a new lesson, just click this link.

You will be taken to a new room automatically. You can use this same link with your student moving forward.

You will see a chat box and your webcam. You can resize these boxes and move them around your screen.

The platform is all about pages. Click the box in the bottom left-hand corner to create a new page. From here, you can add text, images, pdfs, and use other whiteboard applications.

At the time of recording, there wasn’t an option to embed video or to share a screen. I have been told that they are working on this.

When I connected with Alice from Two Sigmas, the connection was fantastic. Very clear and no lag.

Over to You

Two Sigmas is a great alternative to other platforms available.

I particularly like it for its simplicity and because it keeps everything you have done with your student for the next lesson.

What do you think of the platform?

Try it out and let me know how it goes in the comment section below.

Here are other platforms that I have reviewed:

Google Hangouts

Leave comments below. Thanks for reading.

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3-Step Writing Process Image

My 3-Step Writing Process: Blogging for Online Teachers

According to my writing app, I write between 12 – 15,000 words per week.

This number includes words from articles, emails, social media posting, and other areas.

I have introduced something new into my writing process that helps improve my articles and reduce the amount of mistakes I make.

In the video below, I go through the different stages of publishing something and share my new trick.

Watch in HD!

My Writing Process

Step One

Get your first draft done. Write down all your ideas and don’t worry about crafting the perfect article right now.

This is all about getting your ideas onto paper (or, onto WordPress!).

I like to do this in one sitting.

Step Two

Go through your first draft and make changes. Take out things that don’t work, move paragraphs around, and add in anything that makes the article flow better.

Don’t worry too much about grammar and little mistakes right now. If you see something, change it – but don’t go looking for them.

Step Three

I then read the article out loud like I am doing a presentation. It helps me notice whether the article flows and helps me spot mistakes I make.

(Note: I noticed some mistakes in the video after publishing it – fewer mistakes not less – but you don’t have the luxury of editing your video in this way unless you re-record it.)

You could get someone to proofread your articles. However, for me at least, this will add up and I need a very quick turnaround.

Over to You

Do you have any tips about writing?

Let me know in the comment section below.


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2015 Thus Far

A Quick Review of 2015 (Thus Far)

In this video, I talk about how I am progressing with my goals for 2015.

I will have a full review at the end of the year, but I have been strategizing a lot recently and thought the time was apt for a quick update.

Below you can find the notes from the video.

Build a bigger and better audience

This means to have more English learners who subscribe to my emails, subscribe on YouTube, follow me on Facebook etc. It also means having a more engaged audience. I have changed the way I use social media and email marketing over the past few months. I am looking for conversations, engagement, and interaction in addition to numbers. I have been focusing on Periscope recently for this reason.

Content Scheduling

In 2014, I didn’t have a plan for how often I would post. I changed that in 2015 and, thus far, have kept up with it. I have published at least one video every week for English learners and, except for when I was running a promotion or having a website, I have posted weekly on this blog. Creating content (articles, videos etc.) is how I reach more people in an organic way. Having this schedule stops me from putting things off and makes sure that I post on a consistent basis.

Building and Growing My Courses

I have two courses. One for English learners and one for English teachers. I was thinking about creating a third one as a separate brand, but I decided to double down on what I already had. I’ve been busy this year with working with those inside the courses, improving my sales funnel, and adding to the courses. I’m really happy with how things have gone in this area.

Automation, Outsourcing, and Analytics

I have been using a lot of apps to automate processes and to become more productive (see apps for online teachers). I have also outsourced various tasks including lessons and transcripts. This has been a huge help as it frees up my time. I need to improve upon of the analytical side of my business. I want to have a better overview of where sales come from, for example.

Routines and Timeblocking

My days are quite limited. I only have from 9-4 to work on my business. I sometimes get an hour in the evening and the odd hour here and there at the weekend. Therefore, making my hours more productive has been a priority and I feel I’m achieving this (note: I have been focusing on my health and find this makes a huge difference). I have also become quicker at doing certain tasks. For example, I’m making videos more quickly, not procrastinating as much over small decisions, and generally being more efficient.

Over to You

How has your 2015 been so far? Let me know in the comment section below.


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