Category Archives: Video

The White Background Look: How To Make Your Videos Look Awesome Like Apple

white background look for video

If you are looking to get the white background look {or the “Apple look” as we like to call it} here are some tips that will help you make it happen.

We currently have our background and lights set up in our unfinished basement. You don’t need a ton of space to make this work. If you have an area that is roughly 10×10 you should be good.

white background video

The Finished Apple Look

First, let’s look at the final product. Here’s our first white Apple background video:

Okay, now that we showed you what we were trying to accomplish, let’s take a look on how to do it.

What Camera To Use for White Backgroun

We shot with a Canon T3i. I would imagine that any DSL camera with video capabilities would do the trick as long as you have the option to shoot in manual mode.

Make sure and set your camera to “video”. Seems like a no-brainer, but I can’t tell you how long I looked for the video setting when I first started out.

best camera white background video

The Perfect Lens

If you haven’t heard me boast about the 50mm 1.8 lens before now I’d be surprised. Hands down it’s the best lens we own.

Are there better ones out there? Of course, but not for $107. Yes, this is an awesome and CHEAP lens. You can’t beat that {IMHO}.

Setting Your Camera to Manual Mode

Make sure you are in manual mode. Again, seems like a simple step, but I spent at least a week trying to figure out how to shoot a video in anything besides auto mode.

Go ahead and laugh, it’s ok.

Here’s where you will find the option to set your camera in auto mode or manual mode:

camera settings white background video

Manual mode means that you determine the ISO, aperture, and shutter speed. Sweet, right?!

Or wrong if you have no clue what those three photography terms mean. No worries…don’t stop reading…you do NOT need to know too much about what they mean for the white background effect to work correctly.

What Manual Settings to Put Your Camera On

We had our ISO set at 100, aperture at 1.8, and shutter speed at 40.

You may have to play with the shutter speed {increase or decrease it} to tweak it to your liking. You shouldn’t need to change the aperture or ISO from the settings I mentioned above to make this work.

camera settings white background video

Lighting Needed for White Background

Let there be light! To successfully pull of the white background you need light – A LOT of it – and a white background -duh! :) We bought two lighting kits off of Amazon from Cowboy Studio. Cowboy studio makes good and inexpensive studio equipment.

white background video Apple look

Is it the best quality? Let’s just say that my professional photographer friend would think it’s cheap and that’s okay. Because the most important thing that matters is that it works. Here’s what we bought:

If you need a more compact white {and black background}, this collapsible backdrop from Fotodiox is good deal at $55 off Amazon, too. I’ve only used it as a black background so far and it worked great.

Here’s a behind the scenes look at our setup:

As always, if you are looking for more video advice I would highly recommend checking out James Wedmore and Virtual Traffic Academy. So much of what we have learned so far is because of him and his video skills.

7 Secrets to Successful Video Blogging

If you’re ready to be serious about video blogging it’s time to say cheese, step in front of the camera and let her rip.

I’ve been video blogging for a couple years now and, along the way, I have learned a few tricks!

These tricks have allowed me to get more viewers, more subscribers, and more people to buy into by brand.  Let’s take a look at the seven secrets to successful video blogging.

1.  Keep Them Short

When I first started vlogging a lot of my videos were very long.  Seven, eight, nine, and in one case fifteen minutes.  Can you say BORING?!

You have to realize that viewers have a very short attention span.  Once they hit play and see the length of the video is greater than five minutes, or even worse ten minutes, you’re immediately going to lose a lot of people that don’t have the ability to devote all that time.

Ideally you want your videos to be two to three minutes in length.  

If it is four to five minutes the content better be good.  You also want to make sure that in the beginning of the video you get them hooked.  Start off by asking a question.  For example, in a personal finance video you may ask…

Do you struggle with paying off credit card debt?

If you are a yoga instructor you might say…

Are you looking to get in to better shape in a short amount of time?

By asking these probing questions you’re getting your audience to relate to you and making them curious to find out what you’ve got to say.

2.  Be Engaging

Going with what was stated above, by asking questions, you’re engaging your viewers.  You’re getting them to think and you’re getting them to relate to you which will make them want to watch your video.

What also helps is sharing stories.  People love to hear stories.  If you can turn that story into a life lesson that the viewer can walk away with? Winner winner chicken dinner, you’ve just found the magic formula.

3.  Decent {But Not Great} Editing

You don’t have to be a professional editor to have a great video for YouTube, but you need to have some type of editing.  If you press play on the camera and it takes fifteen seconds to get adjusted as you clear your throat, you’ve just lost the viewer.

Luckily there are tons of choices for easy and cheap editing software.  If you have a Mac then iMovie is your best bet.  That’s what we currently use and absolutely love it.  We’ve even filmed a quick tutorial on the basics of using iMovie if you are interested in learning.

We also bought Camtasia, which is a screen capturing tool but can also do good video editing.  It starts off at $99, which is still reasonable, or you could also look at Cam Studio as a free version.

On a PC you have Windows Moviemaker or don’t forget YouTube has a new and improved basic editor that you can use on your videos.  Spend some time editing your videos and it’s a surefire way to get more views.

If you’re not quite sure what that “means” to have good video editing techniques, watch some of the more popular YouTube channels.  You can see how they transition from different scenes, add text, and insert pictures. Then you can play around with it and find what works best for you.

4.  Overact

When I first started doing videos I did a lot of pure talking head videos, just giving good information.

As I have progressed in making videos and also got my wife involved, she made me quickly realize that while all of my videos had a lot of good information, they are also the equivalent of overdosing on Nyquil.  Don’t be afraid to talk loud, use your hands, or use a motion to get your point across.

Demonstrating something is another good technique. If you’re doing a video on Crossfit Principles show them how to do a push-up, sit-up, pull-up, etc. Or better yet, use props. Nothing will grab the viewers attention more than props.

If you can add humor, even better.

5.  Use Keywords

Most people don’t view YouTube as a search engine, but it is the SECOND largest search engine right behind Google.

You can have a highly-engaging, awesome edited, overacted video, but if you want more than your parents and friends sharing it, you need to understand the concept of using keywords. You also want to make sure that you are not overusing keywords during your video to where it would sound like spam.

6.  The $5 Bumper

One of the easiest things that you can do is to add an introduction bumper to your video to make it look that more professional.

An embarrassing confession is that I knew a bumper was necessary but I opted to pay, and pay I did, for a super expensive bumper.  The bumper looked good and, at $200, I thought it was a steal.  I thought this because I had no idea how to do it myself and just figured it was easier to pay someone then to buy the software and spend hours upon hours trying to figure it out.

Little did I know that a site, which happens to be one of my favorite sites now,, has tons of different things that you can buy for five dollars, one of which is video introduction bumpers.  The video bumper that you see below cost me a whopping five bucks.

Compare that to the $200 I spent on the previous bumper and you can see that I definitely overpaid.  I have gotten so many compliments on the bumper that they are amazed when I confess the actual cost.

This is just one of the many bumpers that you can find on Fiverr.  I have purchased three or four others and they are just as good.

7.  Get People To Share

One of the little tricks that many people don’t realize is something that we like to call “CALL TO ACTION”.  What does that mean?  It means at the end of the video ask them to do something.  Is it subscribe to your newsletter? Is it to like your video? Is it to share your video?

Don’t assume that people will do what YOU want if you don’t tell them.  Currently we’re working on adding a video directory at the end of each video that encourages just this.

So, are you ready to start vlogging? Use these 7 secrets and you will be on your way to successful videos.

If you have any questions please be sure to comment below.


How To Replace Your 9 To 5 Income From Blogging In Nine Months

Have you ever thought about quitting your day job so that you could blog full time? Did you have that thought for about a millisecond and then think you were crazy for thinking that you could make REAL money from blogging?

If you have ever wondered HOW people claim that they “blog” for a living then you need to listen to the story of Bob Lotich from

Bob shares his story on how after getting laid off from his full time corporate world job and focusing his effort on full time blogging he was able to make a greater income than he had been making at his day job. And it only took him nine months.

Yes, nine months.

Bob shares his tips and tricks on how you can quit your day job and follow your passion to blog full time!

You can find Bob at and at Blogging Your Passion.

If you are new and interested in starting and making money from a blog I highly encourage you to check out Bob’s course “BYPU 101: The Beginner’s Course to Starting a Blog”. Click here to view more details

If you already have a blog, but would like to learn how to take it to the next level than check out “BYPU 201: Begin Growing Your Blog”. Click here to view more details. He has great information on increasing your traffic, SEO, making money, and much more.

He also offers a 5 week webinar course where he talks about a simple blogging system for turning your passion into profit. Click here to visit Blogging Your Passion.

If you prefer to read on your personal reader, you can find Bob’s book on Amazon ‘How to Make Money with a Blog‘.

A huge thanks to Bob for taking time out of his day to talk with the Dollars and Roses team!

{iMovie Tutorial} The Basics

I quit my full time job nearly 4 months ago to work for my husband. One of the things that my hubby needed help with immediately when I started…editing videos for his websites.

I remember opening up iMovie and staring blankly at the screen thinking, “Where the heck do I even begin???”

According to the husband, iMovie was suppose to be easy to use.


Easy once you know what you are doing. Not so easy if you have to figure it out on your own.

I think I complained about video editing for a good 2 weeks before I finally convinced him to sit down and give me a quick tutorial. Can I just say that the mere 20 minutes that he spent showing me the basics…were the best 20 minutes ever?!

Why? Because I spent hours trying to figure out how to add text to a video.

Hours people.

And don’t laugh. If you are some computer techie genius and you can pick up programs like iMovie like it’s your job…then good for you.

But, me? Me, not so much.

Me needed lots of help.

So now that I have been editing his videos for a few months and actually editing my own videos from my Stop and Smell the Roses vlog link up I feel like I am becoming a iMovie genius. Ok, maybe not a genius, but I definitely feel much more comfortable and timely about editing videos.

And I am here to say…iMovie truly is very easy to use once you learn it.

Here is a tutorial on some iMovie movie editing basics.

You know, in case you don’t want to waste hours of your life trying to figure it out on your own. Instead…spend 8 minutes and you can thank me later.

In this video I show you how to:

  • Delete clips
  • Add transitions
  • Add text
  • Insert intro/exit slide
  • Insert Pictures


Delete clips:
– Left click (and do not release) on the part of the video you are trying to delete. Drag your cursor to the right to capture the snippet of clip that will be eliminated. A yellow box will appear around the section that will be deleted.
– Click ‘delete’ on your keypad.
– See the yellow box below? This is the section of video that I deleted.
Add Text:
– Click on the ‘T’ (title browser).
– Choose any of the choices listed under title browser to add text to your video.
– Click on your choice of text and drag and drop it to the part of your video you want to add it to.
– I prefer to use ‘Gradient-White’ or ‘Soft bar-White’ when I add my name and url at the beginning of my video.
Add Transitions:
– Click on the ‘Transitions Browser’ (highlighted in the red oval box below).
– Choose any of the transition choices listed. 
– Drag and drop the transition on to your video. 
– The most common transitions that I use are the top 4 (see below).
Add intro/exit slide:
– Click on the ‘T’ (title browser).
– Choose ‘Pull Focus’
– Drag and Drop to the beginning or end of your video
– Add your own text



A Movement – Roth IRA Style

It has been a busy few weeks here at Dollars and Roses. Mostly because Mr. Husband…decided that he wanted to start a movement.

A Roth IRA Movement to be exact.

After speaking to a class of soon-to-be graduating college seniors and realizing that NOT ONE SINGLE PERSON in the room had any idea what a Roth IRA was…he became motivated to spread the word on the power of saving.

I think it was on his drive home that night that it HIT him…

“I can’t just sit back and do nothing about this. I need to take action.”

And so, The Roth IRA Movement was born.

He has over 140 bloggers (and counting) all on board today to team up and write about the importance of saving!

Please stop over to Good Financial Cents and check out the posts that have been written in hopes to spread the word about saving! I even shared my personal story on how I began saving.

You may also want to check out his video…the one where he dances to LMAFO.

Yea. That one.

Most importantly, if you haven’t started saving or you’ve been slacking…let this be your motivation to step it up!


Affiliate Marketing: FlexOffers

Ok, ok Jeff and Mandy, enough about how to start a blog already. Start showing us how you are making over $3,000 a month from your websites.

If you have looked at our income reports for January and February then you know that we don’t just have ONE avenue of income. We have multiple sources.

You will also notice that we are not millionaires from blogging. But, we do make some pretty darn good money from our sites. One of the streams of income is generated by…

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate Marketing is a marketing strategy in which a business rewards it’s affiliates for each visitor or customer that is brought about by the affiliate’s website (or own marketing effort).

Confused yet?

It took me awhile to fully understand the way that affiliate marketing worked, but I promise you, it’s not near as confusing as it sounds.

Let’s break it down like this…

What if you could receive a commission from telling people about a product or service that you like? Wouldn’t that be nice?

It is nice.

I prefer to use an affiliate company called FlexOffers. FlexOffers has partnerships with hundreds of companies and it allows you to team up with numerous advertisers all in one spot.Flex Offers Affiliate Company Review

In the following tutorial I walk you through how FlexOffers works and how you can get started with affiliate marketing.

Want to Get Started With FlexOffers?

If you’re interested in getting started making money with affiliates through FlexOffers, just click HERE and fill out the form to get started.


And of course, if you have any questions: Please Ask!

Video Blogging – What’s the Best Camera to Use?

What the heck does it mean to vlog anyway?

Blogging, as you know, is expressing your thoughts via text.  If you’re a natural writer and words flow from you easily then blogging can be fun. For someone like my husband who is NOT a natural writer, blogging is a challenge.

Something that is not a challenge for him…talking. Which is why he has a new found love for this little thing they call vlogging.

For those of you who are not familiar with the term “vlog”, the only difference is that instead of expressing your thoughts via text, you express your thoughts via video.

That’s right.

Sitting in front of a camera and letting the whole world see you talk.

video blogging

It can be a little frightening at first, but once you get the hang of it it’s actually a lot of fun.  If any of you despise writing as much as my husband does, then I promise you will truly love vlogging.

One of the biggest obstacles preventing people from getting started with vlogging is they don’t know which camera to use.

How do you get started?

There are a lot of obstacles that he encountered whenever he first wanted to dabble into vlogging. The first video that he ever filmed was done using a flip camera that we borrowed from my parents. It wasn’t HD, but it did the trick.

Nowadays almost every camera that you get is going to be some form of HD so you don’t have to worry about that.  When he realized that he wanted to really get serious into video blogging, he set out on acquiring camera after camera after camera until he  found the one that he wanted.

*Insert snide comment: Wife does not always agree with the camera after camera after camera purchase. Of course unless husband is okay with the handbag after handbag after handbag purchase? Just sayin’.

The camera we use now is on the pricier side, but you can’t deny the quality.  It’s slightly amazing. And by slightly, I mean extremely. However; you don’t need an amazingly expense camera to shoot video.

The purpose of this post is to show you all of the different cameras you can use to film your vlog and let you compare the quality of each. I went through a lot of our old videos so that I could show you what it looks like when you are filming with each one.

So…let’s take a look.

1. The webcam

The first HD camera he bought was the Logitech Quick Cam Pro 9000.  We bought this one on Amazon for around $65.

 As you can see by the video below {How Do You Define Success}, it has really good video quality and it also has a built-in mic so that as long as you’re fairly close to it, the audio is really good.

He used this both on our home and work PC, but unfortunately it’s not compatible with the Mac and right now we are operating on all Apple products.  If your comfortable sitting in front of your computer and shooting a quick vlog (and you use a PC), this is a great choice.

2.  Webcams built in to your computer

If you have a laptop that has a built-in webcam or if you’re an Apple lover like us and have an iMac at home, you can always utilize the web camera there.

The video below {Thursday Latelies – Sleepy Momma Style} will show you what it looks like when you shoot with the webcam built in to the iMac. If you’re a stickler for video quality like my husband, then you’ll appreciate that the webcam is HD quality.

We also use the webcam on our MacBook Pro’s; however, his MacBook Pro webcam is not HD (mine is) and I do think you can tell a significant difference. If you have the choice, I would highly recommend sticking with the HD quality webcams.

3.  The camera in your pocket

The iPhone has become more and more popular as a video camera. It’s amazing what you can do with it. I’ve seen professional video shots using this small device.

Jeff and I both have the iPhone 4 and the video quality is very very good. I’ve heard even better things about the iPhone 4S and if you’re a video junkie like my hubby, he’s been salivating over that thing for months. I’m making him be patient and trying to make him realize that the iPhone 5 will probably have even better upgrades, so he needs to wait.

Below you can see one video {Financial Rant – Department Store Card Offers} that was shot in a mall in Chicago while the other video {Bottle Rant} was shot at our home.

The one thing I would say about shooting with your iPhone is that my husband was holding his phone horizontally, where I was holding it vertically. It looks much better when you don’t have the black space on the sides (lesson learned for me) so try and shoot with it horizontally if you can.

4.  Flip it up

The HD flip cam was a very popular camera at the time he shot this video. Unfortunately, Cisco has discontinued them, but that doesn’t mean you still can’t get one at an affordable price.

This video {How to Make Videos} is actually at our home when he was showing people how he films his videos and he used the flip cam to demonstrate. The flip cams have great video quality.

If I had to say anything negative about them, is that it does not have an external mic jack. Depending on where you’re filming, you’ll see what I mean when you don’t have the ability to have an external mic jack because the audio can be poor. Audio is everything.

The video quality can be subpar, but if they can’t hear you then the video is worthless.

5.  Easy to use & offers it all

Realizing that we needed better audio, he was able to get his hands on a Kodak zi8.  Both the Kodak and the flip cameras video quality are almost identical, but the big key difference is an external mic jack which the Kodak zi8 offers and the flip cam does not.  We bought a $9 Lavalier microphone on Amazon and it has made all the difference in our videos.

The first video {Financial Blogger Conference} below was shot at the financial blogger conference in Schaumberg, Illinois, in conjunction with the external mic jack.

As you can see the video quality is awesome and the audio quality is just as good. Keep in mind that this was in a hotel lobby that was very crowded.  I’m pretty confident if he had used the flip cam, it would have been very hard to hear the people he was interviewing.

The second video {Financial Rant – Making Pennies into Millions} is one of my financial rant videos that I shot at my house.  The one thing I love about both the flip and the Kodak is that no matter what happens, you’re always in focus.  So whether you’re three feet in front of the camera or five feet in front of the camera, you don’t have to worry about looking being blurry.

6.  Canon – the mother of all cameras

If you’re just getting started into video blogging, then all the methods I listed before will work just fine. Trust me.

If you’re a stickler for top-notch quality, which unfortunately my husband is, then you may want to dig a little deeper in your pockets because top notch quality does not come cheap.

We had a Canon T1i that took great pictures and also had video capabilities, but the only downside was it did not have an external mic jack.  As you can imagine, whenever he saw that the Canon T3i had both an external mic jack and a view screen that would flip to the side so that he could see himself when he was recording, he was sold instantly.

We were able to get an awesome deal on the Canon T3i so we decided to upgrade.

Below are three examples of shooting with the Canon all using different lenses.

Let me explain.

The first video {Mutual Fund Explained} was shot with two different lenses. The first one is the 50mm lens which I strongly recommend.  The lens itself is only about $100 and it does an awesome job of bringing the subject (in this case my husband) extremely in focus and blurring out the background. It really makes the video quality pop.

At the 1:10 mark of this video, he switched to the standard 18-55 mm lens which is still good quality so you can see the difference.

The second video {Week 6 of the 90 Day Video Blogging Challenge} he is also using the 50mm lens. Once again, you can see how he’s in focus and how the lamp and the curtains behind him are blurred.  What can we say?  We love this look.

The last video {Stop and Smell the Roses} is one that I filmed recently using the Canon, but I went with the 18-55 mm lens.  I  am still in focus and there is a slight blur in the background.

As you can see, all three qualities are phenomenal.

Quick note, when my husband first told me that he had to have the T3i, I laughed and told him he always has to have the best of the best.  After I just shot my last video, I confessed to him that I would never shoot another video using the webcam or the Kodak.

So now, of course, he loves to tease me about how he is always right. Pssst. I hate admitting that.

Just in case you’re not completely comfortable putting your yourself on the big screen, another option you have is purchasing a screen-capturing software such as Camtasia or ScreenFlow.

This gives you the ability to film what is on your screen, which is what we  have used to film some of the tutorials that you see here on this blog.  You don’t have to include your face in the bottom, but it is an option.

If you want to do a recording of just your screen, that is an option too.

Note that all our videos are currently edited in iMovie which comes standard on any Apple computer.  That’s a common question that we get.  If you don’t have iMovie and you’re running on a PC, I’ve heard decent things about Windows Movie Maker.  I don’t think it has all the bells and whistles of iMovie, but it will still get the job done.

Although I haven’t experimented with it yet, once you upload your videos to YouTube, it also has editing capabilities.  They are limited, but it does allow you to add a little bit of flare to your videos.

I think the most important thing for you to realize…you don’t have to have the BEST camera on the market. Any of these cameras will work just fine. The key is to just get behind the camera and press record.

Are you considering getting started video vlogging?  If not, what’s holding you back?  Share any comments below.

How to Move your Blog from Blogger to WordPress

If you are intimidated by moving your blog from Blogger to WordPress. Don’t be! I promise you (and yes, I will pinky promise) it is NOT that hard. For a very easy tutorial on how to move your blog from Blogger to WordPress you will want to watch our video below. My husband will make you want to slap yourself for waiting so long to do this. Yes, it is THAT easy.

Here is a quick recap of the steps on how to move your blog from Blogger to WordPress in case you want to reference them as you are going through the process!

Step #1:  Purchase your own domain and have WordPress already installed before you start this project.

If you missed our tutorial on how to do that just click here. Gosh, can we make it any easier for you? :)

Step #2:  Log in to your new WordPress site at and go to ‘Settings’.

Moving your blog from blogger to wordpress

Under ‘Settings’ click on ‘Permalinks’.  The ‘Default’ is usually checked. You will want to select ‘Post Name’ instead of ‘Default’. Click ‘Save Changes’.

Step #3:  Go to ‘Tools’.

Under ‘Tools’ select ‘Import’.

How to Move your blog from blogger to wordpress

Click on ‘Blogger’

Click ‘Install Now’

Click ‘Activate Plug in’

Click ‘Authorize’

Click ‘Grant Access’

Step #4: Find the ‘Magic Button’

Click ‘Import’

Click ‘Continue’

You can set your authors if you have not already done so. When you are finished click ‘Save Changes’.

And that my friends…is IT! For real.

Now go transfer your blog from Blogger to WordPress. Hurry along.

How to Start a Blog: 4 Easy Steps

Have you ever wondered how to start a blog? It’s really not as complicated as you think it may be; especially, if you follow the 4 easy steps that we talk about in our “How to Start a Blog” video tutorial. I have had MANY readers who say this exact thing to me:

“Mandy/Jeff, I really like your blog and would love to create my own blog, but have no idea where to begin.”

Here is a quick and easy tutorial to get you started on creating your very own WordPress blog!

Step #1:  You need a domain

Visit GoDaddy to choose your new domain.

How to Start a Blog

Step #2:  Choose your hosting company

We use Lunar Pages to host the majority of our websites.

How to Start a Blog Lunar Pages

Step #3: Change the name server on your domain on GoDaddy.

See video for this step

Step #4:  Upload WordPress

Log in to your hosting company (Lunar Pages).

Go to Control Panel

How to Start a WordPress Blog

Click on cpanel

How to Start a Blog with WordPress

Click on Softaculous

Start Your Own Blog

Click on WordPress – install

Starting a WordPress Blog

Enter your information and change the admin user id and password to one that you create.

*Make sure your user id/password are very unique.

Click Install

Steps to Starting a Blog

That’s it! To log in to your new site go to:


Enter your unique user id/password

Begin blogging!

Have questions on how to create your own blog?   Leave your comment/question below and we’ll do our best to get you started blogging today!  :)

Video Traffic Academy – The Bloopers Version

In case you think that my husband and I are professionals…this video below will reveal otherwise.


This was our FIRST video TOGETHER! The one we posted here.

Yes, I know…my husband does HUNDREDS of videos on his own…but apparently adding me in the mix…really threw him for a loop!

At times, I felt like the video veteran.


Let’s just hope it doesn’t take THIS many outtakes going forward because guessed it…I have to edit all that crap out!


*Sorry, I know that this was not an “informative” post, but I think if you take anything away from it (other than hopefully a laugh or two at our expense) just know that you don’t have to be perfect behind the camera. The idea is to just GET BEHIND THE CAMERA and press record. Sure, it may suck the first few times, but I promise you, eventually you will get better! And so we will! Ha!