Co- Authored by Morning Brew's Jack Appleby
That camera in your pocket is a golden ticket to great content.
I’m Jack Appleby, creator of Morning Brew’s Future Social, a newsletter that navigates the current landscape of social media. After working with brands and ad agencies for 10 years, I’ve joined the Brew Crew to write about the space and teach tricks ready for the biggest of brands and the smallest of mom-and-pops.
Want to know the best kept secret to social success as a small business owner, and maybe the biggest tip of this series: that $1000 camera in your pocket is all you need to make great content. iPhones are truly incredible creative devices. Many of the ad agencies I worked at even reverted back to phone cameras for social content! And trust me, your favorite TikTokers are tossing their phones on tripods, not hiring production companies.
I’m all about making social as easy as possible, and this aspect is critical when you are trying to run and promote an SMB. Here are a handful of tips and tricks to help you become a smartphone sage, so you can take advantage of your newly found social accounts and soft skill finds detailed in our previous two articles.
Don’t shoot content using the apps
The apps are predominantly social metrics-oriented, so they don’t always prioritize camera quality. If you shoot all your photos using the built-in camera feature on Instagram, for instance, you’re gonna end up with some low-res pics that aren’t worth sharing or downloading anywhere else. Instead, use the camera on your iPhone or Galaxy (or whichever) and then upload the content to the app. Your smartphone’s camera is 100x better than any built-in app camera.
Proper lighting matters!
I know you know the difference between good and bad lighting. You can tell when you’re lining up selfies. And when you nail the lighting in the first photo, you don’t have to spend even a minute editing later (which we’ll get to).
Don’t have natural light? Your shop’s fluorescents a little harsh? All you need is a supplemental ring light. Say you run a restaurant and you’ve added a stellar new dish to the menu that you want to blast on social. Throw that bad boy under one of the ring lights, and I guarantee you those pics are gonna look delicious.
Become a rule of thirds expert
Not to go full-blown professor mode on you, but here’s a li’l lesson on photographic positioning. It’s called the rule of thirds. This is a compositional guideline that breaks down an image into thirds so you can better position your photo’s main attraction. The point is to use only one-third of the image and leave the other two-thirds more open.
Let’s return to our restaurant example to make this rule come alive. Remember that sumptuous new item on your menu? Instead of putting that burger, enchilada, or boba tea at the center of the frame, place it in one of the lower corners. Spruce up the background with pleasing designs (plants, vines, and foliage work well) that accentuate the dish. This framing technique adds a special balance that’ll suck viewers in.
Free editing apps are your friends
There’s no need to spend tons of cash on top-of-the-line photo apps when so many of the best are totally free. Consider downloading:
Be smart about accessories
Camera and photography pros love hardware. You can spend hours deliberating what gear to cop. But before you fork over your hard-earned Benjamins for cameras, tripods, lights, and mics, consider your strengths and weaknesses. Got video down but want cleaner audio? Grab a boom mic. Want steadier camerawork? Snag a tripod. Don’t be afraid of accessories—just be strategic about them based off the needs of your content.
There’s no need to spend crazy $$$ on camera gear when there’s a killer lens waiting to be used in your pocket. You just need a little know-how.
Now that you've got your platform, content, and methods down, it's time to scale your channel. Tune into our last article for a deep dive on how to keep your channel relevant and engaging.