I learned video editing long before you could cut together a feature film on an iPhone and distribute it to millions with a mere click on YouTube.  Back then, if I wanted to produce a television show with a signature look, I’d have to bring a case of NoDoz with me into the editing room.  The tools to produce awesome, captivating content have never been cheaper and more accessible.  Everyone with a smartphone now has a camera in their pocket that is, more or less, superior to the one I started out with back then.

That can be a good thing, and more likely, a bad thing.

Putting these revolutionary tools into the hands of everyone, and making them so dead-simple to use, has caused a precarious shift in the creative landscape.  Suddenly, a generation of folks are putting “video editing” on the expertise list of their LinkedIn profile without ever training in it, or having experimented in it before doing it in a professional arena.  I’m not claiming everyone who does video as part of their job needs to have been a digital media major.  I’ve picked up many of my own creative skills through nothing more than auto-didactic force of will.  But seriously, I’ve seen people in high levels of corporate marketing departments teaching others to edit videos to promote their company with PowerPoint.  Microsoft freakin’ PowerPoint!

There’s a big difference between those who learn how to swing a hammer and practice it, and those who are content to keep pulling out the bent nails.

YouTube is littered with content marketing videos — made by so-called “professional” content creators — that feature cavernous, unintelligible sound or the same burned-out iMovie editing templates everyone else uses.  Never, ever, ever let your tools dictate your style.  Never get comfortable or complacent with the quickest and easiest way to get from point “A” to point “B.”

Define your own style and discover how the tools can get you there.  Then learn new tools all the time and build upon your style.  Not only will you avoid being “cookie cutter” and looking like everyone else, your content will stand out and you can create visual consistency with the rest of your marketing efforts.  The best, most effective content always bears the hallmark of a creator who gives a damn.  That doesn’t have to be an outsourced, big-budget production team.  It just takes the will and determination to go above and beyond and go big, even with meager tools.

You’ll be amazed what you can do, and so will your audience.