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How to Make a TikTok: The Absolute Beginner's Guide

How to Make a TikTok: The Absolute Beginner's Guide

TikTok is one of the best platforms for building a social media following in 2023. The potential for growth is significant, which is why so many businesses are investing in TikTok as an integral part of their digital marketing strategies.

If you’re new to the platform or if you’re new to social media content creation in general, the process of making your first TikTok can feel overwhelming. In this post, I’ll walk you through the steps to create your first video and leave you will a few tips to maximize your chances of success.

Keep reading to learn how to create a successful TikTok video. 

Start With a Plan

Before you hit record, establish a plan. TikTok is a short-form video app which means every second counts. Here’s a quick checklist to run through:

  1. Consult your content strategy: Make sure your video idea falls under the umbrella of one of your pillars.
  2. Talk to your audience: Ask yourself if this idea will appeal to one of your audience segments.
  3. Draft talking points: Staying concise is extremely important on TikTok. Whether you’re filming an ad, a vlog, a skit, or a review, be sure to write down all the points you want to cover.
  4. Jot down a shot list: If your video involves more than just talking to the camera, create a shot list that describes all the footage you want to include in the video.

In some situations, it might be necessary to plan a filming location or to organize a day to batch-create content. 

My point isn’t that everything needs to be planned—TikTok audiences tend to favor spontaneity or the illusion of it—but that you should be prepared to deliver your message in the most concise, engaging, and interesting way possible.

Follow TikTok Best Practices

Best practices on TikTok dictate that you should always film in HD, in good lighting, and in a location where your message won’t get lost in visual or auditory distractions. 

With some exceptions, this doesn’t mean a formal studio is the way to go. Audiences on TikTok tend to prefer casual, intimate conversations over high-production value. There’s a reason so many creators film videos from the front seat of their car: it’s a well-lit area with minimal noise distractions where creators can leave a casual impression.

Check out this article to read more about TikTok best practices. 

How to Start Filming Your TikTok

To make a TikTok video, open the app on your mobile device. TikTok has a browser version, but to make content, you’ll need to work on the app. Click the + sign in the bottom center navigation menu to begin.

This will take you to the video editor, at which point you’ll be presented with a variety of options. 

This is where your plan will come in handy. Are you planning a lip-sync meme video? If so, begin by selecting your sound.

Once you choose a sound, you can film over it. Film clips by selecting the Camera setting, then the length limit. 

When you’re ready to record, tap or hold the red button for as long as you want each clip. When you’re finished with a clip, it will automatically save. 

The clips are represented visually in a circle around the record button, so you can gauge how much time you have left before you reach the video length limit.

You can record clips in chronological order and delete each one in the camera setting only if it is the most recent video. Don’t worry, you can edit all your clips individually in the video editor.

You might have noticed there are a number of features to the right of the screen. Here’s what each of them does, in descending order:

  • Switch between front and back facing camera
  • Toggle flash settings
  • Self-timer: This allows you to delay the start of the recording
  • Retouch: This option provides a blur effect to minimize facial imperfections
  • Filters: TikTok has video filters, but it’s not generally recommended to use this feature as TikTok community members prefer unfiltered videos
  • Speed: This option allows you to film in slow motion or sped up
  • Q&A: This option allows you to answer a question or reply to a previous comment

Once you’ve finished filming your video, click the red checkmark in the bottom right corner to move to the video editor.

Using the TikTok Video Editor

In the TikTok video editor, you’ll be able to polish your video before hitting publish. First, take a minute to watch the video you’ve just filmed from start to finish. Take mental notes of adjustments you want to make.

Here are the editing options you have in the video editor:

  • Text: On-screen text is a powerful tool to increase engagement. Try titling your video with a few words that let the audience know what they’re about to watch.
  • Stickers: TikTok stickers allow you to add visual elements to the screen. In general, these are not as popular on TikTok as they are on Instagram stories.
  • Effects and filters: As mentioned earlier, the TikTok community doesn’t tend to prefer effects and filters. With the exception of trending effects, avoid these if possible.
  • Enhanced editor: This allows you to edit each clip. It’s recommended that you head into your video to delete unnecessary pauses at the beginning or end of your video.
  • Captions: Without exception, you should always add captions to videos with speaking. Not only will this make the video more accessible, but it can also increase engagement.
  • Noice reducer: This is a great option for those filming in busy locations.
  • Audio editing: Audio effects have been trending more frequently. Typically, these are used in funny videos. Avoid them if you’re being serious.
  • Enhance: This applies some basic visual enhancements to the video. While it's less obvious than a filter, it’s not typically recommended.
  • Trim: Trim allows you to select which part of the sound you want over your video.
  • Volume: With this feature, you can adjust the volume of the sound and the native video volume.
  • Privacy settings: This feature allows you to select which audience you want to view your video. Be sure your video will go to the public and that comments are allowed.

Finishing Touches

In the final stage, you can add a caption, hashtags, tags, and location. This is where a basic understanding of TikTok SEO comes in handy. Check out this blog post on TikTok SEO strategy or follow these basic guidelines:

  • Include keywords in your caption
  • Include 3-5 relevant, popular hashtags
  • Select a location only if you want to target a location-specific demographic

Measure Social Media Success With Hire a Writer

Once you’re done adding in these details, it’s time to hit post! You can save to your drafts if you’re batch creating, but remember that your drafts only stay in the app if you don’t delete the app from your phone.

If you’re still feeling a bit overwhelmed, that’s okay. Social media is constantly evolving and it’s difficult to know what the best practices are. Reach out to us at Hire a Writer to learn more about how we can help.

At Hire a Writer, we specialize in all things digital marketing. To read more on content marketing, subscribe to the Hire a Writer blog.


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