How to Build a Low-Cost YouTube Studio: 7 Things You’ll Need

You’ve been making some YouTube videos, and they’re gaining popularity. Now you want to make a step to the next level and build a dedicated YouTube studio.

Your YouTube videos are gaining popularity. You want to step up to the next level and build a dedicated YouTube studio, but there's a problem...

Money. Or at least a lack of it.

Should a lack of cash hold you back? Do you genuinely need a YouTube studio? And if you do, does it really need to cost as much as you think?

We're big fans of helping you save some cash here at MakeUseOf. So, let's find out how you can set up a YouTube studio for very little money.

Do You Really Need a YouTube Studio?

Before carrying on, however, it's time to take a good, hard look at the situation. Do you really need a YouTube studio?

We've already considered that lack of funds might scupper this plan. But what about a lack of space? After all, to build a YouTube studio, you need somewhere to put it. Without a spare room, nook, or space elsewhere, buying equipment for a YouTube studio seems somewhat pointless.

Meanwhile, if your YouTube channel is all about video game streaming, or relies on the slideshow format, with a simple voiceover or captions your YouTube studio already exists.

It's in your PC or tablet, in the form of a video editing app.

If you're certain you need a studio, take time to some thought to it. Is it for vlogging, or one of the other popular YouTube video types? Are you planning to record a lot of videos? Would it be easier to film in a studio or to use other rooms in your house?

The type of video you're creating will impact your YouTube studio choices. Are you creating how-tos, DIY, or cookery videos? All these video types typically require some specific location, such as a shed or kitchen. As such, is it practical to convert these areas into a studio?

The answer to this is probably "No". Therefore, if you really need a YouTube studio, you'll need to consider hardware that is easy to set up. Additionally, give a thought to portability and storage.

The Basic YouTube Studio Setup

If you're still certain that you want to build a YouTube studio, you'll need:

  • Camera
  • Tripod
  • Microphone
  • Lighting
  • Audio software
  • Video editing software
  • A usable background

Along with all of this, you'll need a computer, but you probably know that already. While it's possible to produce videos with a top-end iPad or Android tablet, a PC or Mac is more efficient.

Let's take a look at each element of the basic YouTube setup in turn.

1. Choose Your Camera

You have three camera choices for your YouTube setup and can even use two at the same time.

If you have a smartphone, then this is the option to use. Simply launch the camera app and start recording.

Almost any smartphone available since 2015 should be suitable, regardless of the manufacturer. Cameras are a key selling point for most manufacturers, so quality and clarity is almost a given.

The second option is to employ a DSLR in video mode. If you already own a DSLR, then this is the best choice. You get the option to switch lenses and delivers better quality than a smartphone, although the difference is ever narrowing.

Best of all, you can record footage on multiple cameras. Expecting your viewer to become a little distracted by a single, static shot of you opining? Simply record on your smartphone camera, positioned to the side (or perhaps above, like a security cam) for the "B-roll." You'll have a nice choice of shots when you come to edit.

Finally, if you're streaming games, a webcam should be all you need. Use an external device, rather than built in, however, as these are easier to position. Make sure you know how to live stream on YouTube.

2. Tripod

Most DSLR tripods available under $100 should suffice. Somewhere in the $25-$55 area on Amazon will give you a good, sturdy tripod ideal for home use.

Planning to use a smartphone? Various tripods are available for phones. Some DSLR tripods ship with smartphone adaptors. We've even shown you how to make a DIY smartphone stand. For this sort of scenario, however, one of the "mount anywhere" tripods will do the trick. These feature bendy legs, enabling you to attach your smartphone to walls, doors, pipes, etc.

For a secondary camera, this is a great option.

3. Add a Microphone to Your YouTube Setup

Built-in microphones are usually unsuitable for anything other than Skype calls. We would recommend a third-party mic for podcasting, and the same goes for making YouTube videos.

Your chosen mic should be used in conjunction with an audio recording tool on your PC. The audio can then be added to the video at the editing stage.

Different types of mic are available. You might use a USB desktop mic designed for podcasting or opt for a Lavalier-type mic with a tie clip. What you're looking for, ultimately, is a microphone with good sound quality.

Related: How to Choose the best Podcast Microphone

4. Lighting Your YouTube Video

If your video is well-lit, it will look great. But you don't necessarily need additional lighting. Large, naturally lit spaces will do just as well. Find out if you need lighting by recording a test video and judging the outcome.

If you determine that it looks a bit dark, then it is time to find a lighting solution.

This is not cheap, and will potentially be the most expensive item on your YouTube studio shopping list. Photography softboxes---complete with stands---will set you back anything from $40-$100 apiece.

One way to save money here is to fit daylight bulbs in your ceiling, but this is not as effective. A better alternative is a ring light, which can give an instant boost to the look of your video. Try one of these great ring light solutions.

5. Audio Software

In most situations, you're going to need audio software in your YouTube studio. You're running this project for as little money as possible, so the smart option would be Audacity, an open source audio editor (alternatives to Audacity are available) for Windows, macOS, and Linux.

We've looked at this application in depth over the years, and it is an excellent tool for so many different audio tasks.

6. Video Editing Software for YouTubers

So many different video editing tools are available at many different price points. Some are even free.

See our list of the best video editing apps for YouTube if you need some ideas.

Whichever option you choose, make sure it will export to a format that can be uploaded to YouTube. Better still, find a video editor that will upload directly!

7. Consider Some YouTube Studio Background Ideas

Many YouTubers get the background wrong. It doesn't need to be big, or ornate. You're not building a TV news studio.

But at the same time, the background---anything that can be seen behind you---needs to be tidy. If you live in a home with modern interior design, this can work well. If you don't, then you might want to cheat somewhat. Two options are available here:

  1. A screen or wall with a relevant poster.
  2. A green screen. You can then find a suitable image to drop in as a background during the edit.

Stunning backgrounds are a great option for shooting your videos outdoors, incidentally. The viewer doesn't even need to see the landscape in focus---they'll just be aware that it is there.

Setting Up Your Cheap YouTube Studio

With your equipment gathered, and perhaps a small amount of money spent, you'll be ready to put your studio together. This is a key stage.

Building a studio implies a certain amount of permanence, which means you'll want to get the recording equipment lined up perfectly. Here's a great YouTube video that shows much of what we've discussed here put into practice.

To do this, take the time to test your lighting and camera positions, making sure that everything is recorded. On film and TV, these things are done using tape on the floor. If this works for you, try it. Otherwise, find other ways to keep a record equipment placement and optimum settings for volume, brightness, etc.

Start YouTubing Before You Build a Studio

For the vast majority of YouTubers, a studio is not needed. After all, with nothing more than a smartphone and an internet connection, you can upload your videos to YouTube from anywhere, any time.

Perhaps you'll need a studio one day. But don't let the lack of a dedicated space for YouTubing stop you---start today! By the time you start thinking about needing a studio, you'll know what you're doing.