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If you live in Rural America and struggle to create content, this is for you!
The other day I got a DM on Instagram about who takes all my content photos, and how I am able to record so much content all the time. Truthfully, it may look like I have my life together but I promise you I do not.
If I had to put a number on it, it’s about 50/50. Well maybe 80/20 these days. Most of the photos you are going to see on my profile have either been taken by Tyler or myself. Before that, a lot of them were taken by my mom.
Yes, I know what you are thinking “isn’t that awkward having your husband take photos of you?” Of course it was. For a while at least. But I will say a few things about that. Tyler is a great sport and understands why I need content photos taken in the first place. If you are with someone who rolls their eyes at the thought of taking another photo of you, maybe you have not been clear enough on why you need it and how much of a help they are being for you.
Now let’s say you are in a similar situation to me where you live out in a rural area. Town is at least 30+ minutes away and your husband, boyfriend, mom, sister, whoever, works in town all day.
It’s probably going to be pretty challenging to get them to take photos of you all the time. Especially in the winter months when the days are shorter and it gets dark earlier. Often times, Tyler leaves the house before the sun is up and doesn’t come home until after it’s already dark. In the summer time I would just wait until he got off work, it would be golden hour and we could snap a few pics a week.
But when it’s getting dark around 4pm, that isn’t possible. So I either have to be super strategic on weekends. OR figure out how to do it myself. And that is what we are going to be talking about today in this episode. How to create content solo when you live in a rural area.
Get A Tripod For Your Phone / Camera
The number one way you are going to be able to create content alone in a rural place is by getting a tripod. No matter if you are using your phone to take the content or a DSLR, I would highly recommend a tripod. There are a million of them out there, so I would check reviews before actually purchasing one.
I will link the ones I have and recommend HERE!
Currently I have a smaller phone tripod that is really easy to carry around and you can wrap the legs around just about anything. I also have a taller ring light tripod for my phone that isn’t anything super special but it does the job that I need.
If you are someone who is using a DSLR camera, I highly recommend looking to see if there is an app that will connect your camera to your phone. This way you can actually see your camera screen on your phone and take photos with it. Most newer models of DSLR cameras have this capability. If it doesn’t for some reason, another great feature is getting a camera that has autofocus. Some cameras actually will track movement when recording and will automatically continue to focus over and over.
Let this serve as a reminder that your content can be top notch quality even when you are just using a phone. Don’t hold yourself back by thinking you cannot start creating until you get a fancy camera.
Even as a professional photographer and someone who has a fancy camera, I still use my phone for a lot of content creation because it’s a lot more simple and easy and I am more likely to get things done.
Use Good Lighting
This might seem obvious to some people, but I swear this is so huge when it comes to creating any kind of quality content. Do yourself a favor and take your photos and videos near a window if you are indoors, or just some place that has a lot of natural light. Sometimes I even open up my front door and stand in the doorway to make some reels. Or better yet, go outside to take your content.
Hear me out, I know it’s cold right now so this might not always be possible, but if you can, go outside. Not only will you have better lighting but also statistics show that people are more likely to watch a piece of content that was taken outside vs. inside.
And from a professional photographer’s stand point here are a few of my best lighting tips:
- If you are using a DSLR camera, utilize backlighting for the best effect. This means putting the sun behind you in the photo and your camera pointing towards the sun.
- The opposite rule applies in iPhone photos. Since capabilities are different between cameras and phones, usually you want to face toward the sun when using an iPhone.
- Golden hour is usually known to be the best time of day to take photos but don’t let that limit you. In fact, I actually tend to prefer blue hour over golden hour. Blue hour is that last bit of daylight after the sun has gone down. I think it creates the prettiest effect in both DSLR cameras and cellphones.
- If you are not able to do any of these things, the next thing I would recommend is a ring light or getting a lamp with a natural light lightbulb in it. Then you can really film anywhere you want, even if it’s dark.
Have A Plan
Something I noticed in my years of creating content and taking my own content photos, is that if I just randomly go out with no real plan on what I want to do, it not only takes forever, but I will get really overwhelmed and frustrated. It’s so much better to take the time to write out exactly what you need to do and then batch work it all into one day.
Plan everything from your outfits, to the audios you are using, the key points you will talk about, and locations. If you live rural then you likely have a lot of open space around you. Get creative! I promise you, this is going to give you such a sense of accomplishment when you can check off the boxes as you go.
Document More, Create Less
If you ever find yourself in a creative rut and are thinking, there is nothing for me to post today, or I have no idea what to talk about – listen to this. I want you to adopt the mindset of document more, create less.
I’m pretty sure one of the first people I heard talk about this was Gary Vee and I really believe this to be so true.
So often we think we need to be coming up with NEW content, and NEW ideas. And that can very quickly lead us to burn out. Instead of always being in the headspace of creating new things, try documenting what is already happening.
This can look like filming your morning routine. It can be a time lapse of you sitting at your desk. Or it could even be you telling a funny story that happened to you today (or last week).
Remember, part of building a brand is letting people into who you are as a person and business owner. Some of my best content that has outperformed the rest has been simple, behind the scenes videos. Never take for granted what is right in front of you.
Also keep in mind that you don’t even have to do it Vlog style. Meaning you do not have to film your day and talk to the camera explaining what you do.
If it’s obvious, I say leave it as is. If you do want to add some audio or commentary, you can do a voiceover which I think is great if you are filming yourself in Target or something and don’t want to be awkwardly talking to your phone.
The last but probably most important tip I can offer when it comes to creating content by yourself is to get humble. It’s going to feel totally awkward at first and you are going to think it’s so cringe. But I promise the more you do, the more comfortable you get and the less you care what you actually look like.
Keep in mind too, that no one is thinking about you as much as you are thinking about you. You might be judging the way you talk in a video, but no one else watching even gave it a second thought.
Swallow that pride of yours and get comfortable getting uncomfortable.
- Photo tips
- practice posing in the mirror
- practice facial expressions
- muscle memory is a real thing when it comes to posing and modeling
- Video tips
- practice the audio you are lip syncing several times
- The last thing you want to be is the person who is totally off on timing all the time
- DOn’t do things you arent natural at
- If you are not a dancer, don’t dance in a video because you will hate the way you look
At the end of the day what you have to keep in mind is that we live in a world where authenticity is winning. People are less focused on pretty feeds and are more in tune with consistent, and casual content.
Post daily, show up right where you are. Share your messy middle and be willing to learn and grow as you go.
You are going to be great!
And if you want to join a community with other rural brands and creatives then please join the BCP facebook group! The link will be in the show notes!
Well, I think that is all I have for now. I really hope this was helpful for you and that even though you may live way out yonder, you don’t let that keep you from creating. Until next time, see ya!
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I'm Sarah Elrod
I'm a Cowgirl turned serial entrepreneur.
I'm a horse trainer, western wedding photographer, business coach and ranch wife.
I help women in the western industry grow thriving businesses from rural America.
When I am not strategizing new marketing tactics, you will find me riding my horses, cuddling my cattle dog, or kissing my hot husband.
There is also a good chance I am buying way too many outfits from western boutiques.
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