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REEL easy short-form content - without dancing or lip-synching!  with Nika Stewart

content creation made easy
Like it or not, it’s not going away: short-form content!
Reels, TikTok, YouTube Shorts are here to stay. Get used to it.
But what if you hate dancing? Lip-synching? Think you're too old for the nonsense?
Can you still use this extremely popular content delivery method - which people spend HOURS consuming?
YES. Let's talk about HOW & if it's RIGHT for you.
Meet Short Form Video Content Expert, Nika Stewart! She & Jen dive into what to do if you’ve been avoiding this stuff forever…
And how to use strategies that work for YOU:
NO, you don’t have to point and sing and dance and lip-sync if you don’t want to.
YES, you can still connect with your audience.
NO, you don’t have to wear costumed & do elaborate editing.
YES, you can find something to say in a 15 - 30 second video!
Seriously, Nika makes short-form content FUN, simple, and easy. Listen in to find out how to use this very VERY popular form of marketing and put it to work in YOUR business!
Links Mentioned in Episode:
Viral Video Intensive


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Full Transcript

Jen Liddy

Well, I am so glad that you are here for this week's Content Creation Made Easy because maybe you're like me, and you're either obsessed with going down the rabbit hole on Reels or TikTok. 

Or maybe you're somebody who loves to consume short-form content on YouTube, or maybe you've heard about all of these things, but you don't know what they are. You have no interest in it, or you've told yourself you can't do short-form content. 

I am here to tell you that stuff is here to stay, and that's why I brought on my friend Nika Stewart, who is an expert in short-form content. She has created a program that helped me personally, and I'm going to talk about that later, but I really wanted her to talk to you today about why short-form content is important in your content planning, how you can do it more easily without feeling like you have to dance and lip-sync and point at things if you don't want to, and also how to be successful doing it so that it becomes part of the content landscape in your business. 

So Nika, thank you for taking time out today - you're so generous.

Nika Stewart

My absolute pleasure!

Thank you for being generous and inviting me on.

Jen Liddy

I'm really glad that we're talking about this because it's a part of content creation, that it's not going away. Like, short-form content is here!

Nika Stewart

It is!

What you said is one of the biggest things I hear from adults, whatever that might mean to you - meaning you're not one of the kids on TikTok doing the dances. And I looked at it, and I'm like, it's fun to watch, but obviously I'm never going to do that. I'm not a dancer. I will look like a fool. 

However, that's what I keep hearing, it's a few years later, and people are still saying, I can't do it because I'm not silly, I don't know how to do it, I don't want to be that person, I'm not as in your face. 

And isn't it awesome that you don't have to be? Those are not the rules of succeeding with short-form content, so get that out of your mind and know that you actually can do it, and let's talk about how we could do that.

Jen Liddy

Well, I want to make a little disclaimer because I am one of those people. 

And, you know, because I would be on your calls getting coached by you. I'd be like, I don't want a lip-sync. I don't want to dance. I don't want to point. I'm not polished. I'm not a maker. 

Like all of those videos where people are making things, I would watch those for hours. I'm just so boring, and I'm just a talking head, and you just kept telling me over and over - you're not boring. Like, you get to be yourself, and my mantra in content creation is we get to do it in a way that feels good to us.

Nika Stewart

Good to know. 

And that's true in life, and that's why we're running our own businesses. We get to do this the way we want to do it.

Jen Liddy

So I'm really glad that we're talking about this today because let's talk about short-form content. What the hell does short-form content even mean? 

Let's start there.

Nika Stewart

Oh, good. 

This is so good because I think we all started talking about it, and I realized this is what it means, short-form content. It's funny because I remember looking on Twitter, and they would say put on short-form content, and it has to be under two minutes and 20 seconds. 

And perhaps people might refer to things like that as short-form videos but what we're talking about and what you're thinking of, like Tik Tok and Reels, are vertical videos. So they have to be the shape of a phone, a portrait proportion, and under 60 seconds. 

Now, that part has changed depending on the platform and their guidelines and what they come out with but basically, what we mean is under 60 seconds, vertical format videos. 

That is a short-form video.

Jen Liddy

I'm going to say I started on TikTok in the summer of 2020, laying in my hammock for hours when we're in quarantine consuming TikTok, and that was 60 seconds. 

60 seconds is too long for people now.

Nika Stewart


And this goes to what's interesting is Tik Tok now allows for most accounts up to three minutes. However, most of the videos that are getting the most reach and the most watch time are the much shorter videos. 

And that has also changed over a few years, but it kind of goes to the fact that our attention span is getting smaller and smaller. It used to be in marketing - I've been in marketing for many decades, and we used to say you have 13 seconds to capture someone's attention. That's laughable now. 

You have a lot less than 13 seconds, and with video, it is the first split second that you have to catch someone's attention that's to catch their attention to watch. Now, the videos that are doing the best are really certainly under 30 seconds. That's kind of the go-to, many of them are under 20 seconds, some of them are under 10 seconds. 

If you're very compelling, you can keep people on longer, but this is our which way is it?

Jen Liddy

Yeah, the scrolling. We're just scrolling.

Nika Stewart

And that's why they're popular. 

It's because we want to consume something very quickly.

I love that phrase or that way of saying its snackable content. It's when you're sitting in your hammock, and you are not looking for a 1-hour talk to teach you something. 

You were just looking for entertainment, for something to destress you, for something to make you laugh or inspire you, motivate you. That's what we're looking for, and it has to come quick.

Jen Liddy


So I want to just go back to talking about your expertise because I kind of glossed over that because I know you so well. You do have years and years of expertise in marketing and what I want to talk about is there's this part of me kind of as an old lady who's like Mrs. Fussy Pants English teacher.

I'm like, but what about the beautiful sentences, and what about the construction? And what about going deep under it? And that's been kind of something I've had to let go of when I've learned how to write for marketing. Given your expertise for decades in this stuff, how did you have to change your mindset when it came to, like, this is something new, and it's not going away?

Nika Stewart

It's such a good question. 

And I think it will probably speak to everyone listening and watching - as a marketer when I work for companies, and I write for them, my whole team, we need to write well. So if someone is hiring us, we need to write with perfect grammar, it has to be proofread. However, that is not what always works in marketing because it depends on your brand. 

It depends on your brand - I mean, if your audience is English teachers and they want to learn something about English to teach their students, perhaps it has to perfectly follow those guidelines. But we need to think of our audience first and foremost when we're putting out content. If we want to attract people, we need to speak their language, and yes, just like you, it absolutely kills me when I look at text messages and Facebook posts and people are not only incorrect grammar, but it's almost like on purpose using abbreviations that we were never like, I know how you feel, Jen. 

It's not correct, but it's the way the world is going, and it still goes back to us just meeting it quicker. So if you use the number two instead of the word to, that's how it started with Twitter needing to shrink down our messages.

And that's been like that for years; we've had to kind of shrink, make things more concise text. I need to do it with my two thumbs really quick. 

So I'm not going to be perfect - I'm not even going to use punctuation. It's the way the culture is going. It doesn't mean that you don't follow who you are. So you don't start, Jen, you wouldn't go out and start being imperfect grammar and start speaking in a different way. 

What it is is that you don't have to take the time to be as buttoned up and perfect, and that's the good news. I think that's where we can really remove a lot of the stress is that we can still be ourselves if we like to wear makeup, and we like to prepare ahead of time and use correct grammar. We should do that otherwise, it's not us but we don't have to have the best equipment and the best lighting and be in a studio because this kind of content is meant to be off the cuff and imperfect. 

That's what is doing best.

Jen Liddy

It's almost like we can give ourselves a break. 

So for those perfectionists out there and the people pleasers out there who are listening and the people who make things harder than it has to be, this is actually a big challenge because the more perfect you try to make it, the more frustrated you're going to get. The outcome, on the other side, there's almost no reward for having it be perfect.

Nika Stewart


And if you look at your own or some other people's accounts out there, you will probably notice that the videos that you're doing that are less perfect are the ones that are getting more engagement. 

People can relate to us when we're real. 

No one can relate to perfection.

Jen Liddy

That's right. 

So as much as it drives us crazy, for example, my son will text me back, I'll say something to him like, we're going to go to the movie at 6:00. 

He will text back, A-I-G-H-T, I'm like, how much longer would it have taken you to do the A-L-R-I-G-H-T? This is just where we are, right? And I always say we have to meet people where they are.

Nika Stewart

If you were speaking to your audience, you probably would not be using that language. 

But you were speaking to him - he can relate to that.

Jen Liddy


Nika Stewart

So sometimes you're right, it's not about saving time. 

Because my thought is, how about just the letter K? That's what I'll use. Like, okay. But he actually types out A-I-G-H-T. Yeah, that's very funny - I love it.

Jen Liddy

So this is the mindset that we kind of have to go into this with is that it's here, how can you use it while staying in your personality, while being authentic to who you want to be?

Nika Stewart


And I wanted to say, you were saying kind of, why is this here to stay? We were saying that number one, really, I want to talk about why it's actually working right now. 

We were saying that it's our attention span, and we want snackable content. We want to be able to consume things quickly. That's why people are watching, but why it is such an amazing opportunity for all of us right now is that we've never had this opportunity with social media before where when you post something, the platform shows it to loads of strangers, not just people who are already connected with you. 

If you post an Instagram picture on your feed, for the most part, the only people who have the opportunity to see it in their newsfeed are people who are already following you. If you post short-form content, a reel as Instagram calls it, Instagram is going to put it in the news feed of lots of people who they think might be interested in it. 

And then, if they are interested in it based on watch time and engagement, Instagram will show it to even more people, and we've never had that before.

And TikTok does that too, they put it in the for you page, not just in your followers, but just for your page for strangers. Youtube shorts are now doing this as well, and this is an amazing way to get your content in front of new people and grow your following, grow your visibility, and things may change soon. 

That part may change, the algorithm may change, so that's why I think you should get involved immediately. And the fact that short-form content is consumable and liked, that is going to stay, but get involved in the algorithm now while you have a bigger chance of growing quickly.

Jen Liddy

Love that.

I love how you explain it like that because you're not doing it because it's a trend. You're not doing it because it's hot or that you're trying to be an influencer. You're doing it because it's actually like the wind is at your back right now.

Nika Stewart

That's such a beautiful way to say it, Jen. 

I love that. 

So, yeah, the wind is at your back, and of course, if you don't want to be getting yourself out there, you wouldn't be here listening. We do want to get ourselves out there, and we want our potential audience, more of them, to see us. And while the wind is at our back, let's jump right into this form of content.

Jen Liddy

So now we understand the why, we understand what it is, we know why we're doing it - let's talk a little bit about the how's. 

I don't want to go too deep into the how's because it can get people into the weeds, but what are some of the takeaways that people need to consider as they're deciding I'm going to step on to this path and do this work. 

What are some really basic things? Because when I think about doing short-form videos at the very beginning, I was like, what the hell can I possibly say in 16 seconds? How can I be effective in 16 seconds? So do you have any insight for us on these kinds of questions?

Nika Stewart

Yeah, and I feel like there were a whole bunch of questions in there. 

So let's try to get to all of them - I think one of the first things is if you're new at it or if you're brand new or fairly new, my suggestion is to start with one of the platforms. Choose YouTube Shorts, Instagram, Reels, or TikTok. You definitely can go on all three, and you can even use repurposing tools to help you choose one but have it posted on all of them. 

But if you choose one to do your recording or your creation, it will be a lot simpler, especially if you're not a techie person. I have never considered myself a techie person, but I happen to be interested in modern technology. So I look at this - almost every one of my students are adults and people who aren't techy people, so I do love to teach the easy way to let's start with that. 

It's actually a lot easier than you think, and I know you say this all the time, Jen, we're overcomplicating this. If you decide, I am going to start by recording on TikTok, and you just go on and click the plus button to start recording.

Within a short period of time, you're going to figure out how to record videos on TikTok, and you don't have to learn anything else. You can record a few scenes, add some pop-up text if you want, and you are done. Plus the music you can choose in the background, but it's fairly simple, there are lots of tutorials out there that can show you make it simpler for you. 

If you don't think you can figure it out on your own, someone figured it out already. So just follow a tutorial and then just use that as your creation tool, and because you'll be using that exclusively, you're going to get very comfortable with it, and you'll be able to create quicker as you go. 

I know you were saying that too, Jen, that it's becoming quicker as you go.

Jen Liddy

The really big takeaway I want people to get from you right now is don't expect to be on every platform, go into one and figure it out. 

And you have to be kind to yourself as you're learning this new thing.

Nika Stewart

Yeah, that's so hard to remember. 

And it's new. 

So it's supposed to be confusing - that's what new things are, so don't be mad at yourself for not being able to figure it out. You're not supposed to know it yet, you're just learning it, and you will learn it if you have decided you want to do it. 

And then you were saying about content, like, where do we come up with topics? It's a different form of putting out content, but it is not very different than any other content; where years ago, when I started on social media, people would say to me, how do you come up with so much content? Like, how can I figure out how to come up with content today? 

And I would say that to them, well, do you work with clients? Yes. Do you ever run out of ideas? Is it ever a day where I can't work with a new client? I have no ideas for anybody - no! 

You know what you're doing, and you have so many ideas, you just forgot that these are actually good ideas to put out content about. 

That's kind of the first thing.

And then, Jen, you had mentioned with me earlier about your value, so we have so much value to share in our business. When we say value, we think of teaching, educating people, giving them tips or tutorials or how-to's. 

That is not the only form of value that we have - that is a how-to value and showing them your expertise and those are good once in a while. But for short-form content, we were saying you were sitting on your hammock scrolling. 

You were not saying, I need to learn how to, I don't know, whatever it is you want to learn. You weren't specifically saying, I'm looking for something to learn. You were saying, I just need to destress. I just need to laugh. I want some inspiration, motivation, humor, and connection. 

So that is where you get content! You be yourself almost every minute of the day - there's something going on that could be a great content for a short-form video. And the more you do it, the more you realize I love to carry around a little notebook and have an idea, and I just write it down.

Because then when it comes time for me, okay, I have some time to create content today. That's usually when your mind goes blank. All right, now it's time to create content, but I have nothing to create, so I'm not going to create a video.

Jen Liddy

That's so true.

Nika Stewart

You open up your book, and there's going to be dozens of ideas. 

If you take this notebook or your phone notes or whatever it is that you like to take notes on, an idea pops up, write it down. Falling asleep at night, you're going to have a ton of ideas, right? And when you're scrolling through Reels or TikTok, or YouTube, you're going to get a ton of ideas. 

The great thing about this short-form content is it is meant to be stolen.

Jen Liddy


As an English teacher who, like, I would teach all the time, citations! Don't plagiarize! I would give kids like zeros for plagiarizing, but that's kind of what this is all based on.

Nika Stewart


So the great news is because it is digital, it fights the source for you, so when I say stealing, I'll put that in quotes. So stealing meaning getting inspired by with credit to the originator, so for example, on Instagram and on TikTok, you use someone's sound, and you put your spin on it, but it always links back to their sound, so you don't have to worry. 

They want you to take their sound and use it - that gives them more visibility. So as you're scrolling and you think, that's so funny, if I did it in this way or the sound makes me want to do this thing or talk about this thing different than they talked about. 

You change the words, but you use the background sound or whatever it is you're inspired by them. Again, scrolling through gives you a ton of great ideas for your own content.

Jen Liddy

The thing that I hope people are understanding as they listen to you is the expectation of yourself has to be very low as you enter into this thing. 

And the ideas, they don't have to be complicated, like, actually, the simpler you can make it is what I'm hearing you say about these ideas about what to talk about. The simpler you can make it, the simpler you can convey it. You've only got like between 16 and 29 seconds to do it, right?

Nika Stewart


Jen Liddy

It has to be simple, so it's like keep it simple.

Nika Stewart

Mark Twain said, "If I had more time, I would have written a shorter note" because sometimes it takes longer to make something more concise, but you do get better at it the more you practice. And one thing that I always say that I wish wasn't true, but when we feel not prepared or not ready, often the only thing that gets us more ready and more prepared is doing it not ready and not prepared. 

So I will only feel more ready if I do it not feeling ready, so we have to just jump in and do it. Yes, we should have some support, and we should watch tutorials so that I don't know how to do it, so learn how to do it and then just do it badly and unprepared, and that's how you get better at it. 

And I just said how to, and that's something that we were talking about earlier, how to seems to be the go-to for us as business owners. And Jen, you've told me that you talk to your clients about how we shouldn't always just be putting out how-to. Number one, it's sharing a lot of the things that people should be investing in our services for. It teaches people that they should be able to do it on their own, and that's a disservice to them, and it's also a disservice to us because they don't think they need us. 

Here is something else that I learned, when we teach how-to, we are not attracting the best clients for us - when we teach something more high level or not even teach when we discuss when we share higher-level things like mindset, which is not a how-to, it's more of a discussion or a story or something we've learned that attracts the type of people who would want to invest in your services. 

If you teach someone a how-to or a step by step - I've done some of these, and there are some of my most engaged with videos where people say thank you so much for teaching me this - none of them have ever hired me. 

So it feels like, I'm so good, people love that video, but the ones where I have less, and sometimes it's like we have to change our mindset. It's not about all the numbers and the views, sometimes lower reach leads to higher money because you have the right people watching and engaging.

Jen Liddy

Well, I think that happens because people have to shift their identity to believe that they can do the thing. So you could give somebody a step-by-step thing, and then they'll look at it, and they'll say, good, that's there - I'll save that, I'll go back to that later. 

But they never go back to it because they don't ultimately believe that they can do it or have the time to do it or will be successful if they did do it right. Sometimes those higher-level shifts asked them to look at their identity and say, are you ready for this? Are you really at the point where you're ready to change X, Y, and Z in order to have this thing that you want to have? 

So that makes a lot of sense to me.

Nika Stewart


Along with not always just sharing how-to and your expertise in that way, the only way people want to work with us is if they like us and they trust us, and they feel a connection. Teaching all the time doesn't make that connection in the fastest way. 

Sharing yourself, sharing your flaws, being imperfect, telling funny stories, talking about things in your personal life. When I say that, I always want to preface that or say, I don't mean private. Not talking about sharing anything that's private to you, but being personal, sharing your personality, sharing your likes and dislikes - that's what gets people to connect with us, and sharing the real you is what people need. 

So, yes, you have to show people your expertise in order for them to trust you to do what you do. But without that personal connection, there is no way they will work with you. And these short-form content videos are just some of the best ways that I see today to really make that beautiful connection and have people fall in love with you and want to work with you.

Jen Liddy

It's like a cortisone shot to connection because if you're on Reels or you're on TikTok now, there are people that you see all the time. There are people who let you into their farmhouse or what their new sink looks like. 

Nika actually has some wonderful ones - I highly recommend following Nika, we'll talk about that in a minute on Tik, Tok, and Instagram but it's like a cortisone shot into getting connected with somebody because the veil is a little bit thinner with these short-form videos.

Nika Stewart

Yes, it used to be when social media started, it was all text, then pictures became part of it, and that increased our connection, and then video came out, and we're like, video is even better to connect with people. And then live streaming came out, which is so good because one of the things that's great about live streaming, which we need to connect with this short-form content, is that we make mistakes because everyone makes mistakes, and you cannot edit it out because it already went live. 

And that's what you want to do in your short-form content - you want to show yourself being myself, I'm not perfect. So you're saying someone is showing you through their farmhouse. If it was like an HGTV type of thing, it wouldn't connect. But if it was someone going, "Hey, this is – oops, my kid folks forgot to put his toy away."

That's how we connect!

Jen Liddy

The thing about Nika is if you are looking to do short-form video content - Nika is your person!

She can help you. She can guide you. She gives you so much to like if you say, hey, I want to learn this thing and I just figured out this thing in Canva, by that night, she would have a tutorial up.

Her program is called Viral Video Intensive VVI, and it is a gem. If you are looking to work with somebody and have your handheld and have feedback, Nika is your person. We're going to talk about I'm going to drop the link for VVI in a few minutes, but I just want to encourage people to because I'm here, not standing at the pulpit. 

I'm really in the pews saying, I'm raging against short-form videos. It's still not my favorite. I know that it's important. I know that it's happening. And I just wanted to bring you on so that people could see why it's important and that it doesn't have to be complicated or bullshitty, and you don't have to bleed all over the Internet to be real in Reels.

Nika Stewart

Isn't it funny that to be real, to be authentic, to be ourselves is difficult? Couldn't that be the easiest thing in the world? But as I'm looking at your videos, Jen, you're becoming more and more you, and it's so beautiful. And I admire you so much for jumping into this because, you know, you have the expertise - this is just a new format which wasn't comfortable in the beginning. 

Let me remind you, it's not supposed to be when it's new - so good for you. 

And you went in anyway and just looking at a few in a row like you could tell you're coming into yourself, which doesn't mean that this is your thing but yet the real you is coming through. And it's because you went out even when you didn't feel like the victory was coming through.

Jen Liddy

That's right. 

I can tell people who are listening, I have been looking at Nika, and I have been having this conversation for two. I mean, Nika, how long have I been saying, but Nika, you're so much fun but, Nika, you can act, and you can do these fun things. 

I've literally been saying this to you for two or three years at this point, and so when I jumped in, I want everybody to know it was not because I thought I would be good at it. It was because I knew it could help get me more visible, and that's why we're in freaking business. 

That's why we're marketing ourselves. 

Like, let's not bullshit ourselves - we want to grow our businesses. That's why we do this in the first place, so you're a person who can help people.

Nika Stewart


And I love that. 

And I agree with you, my dream is to convince everyone that they want to do this and love it, like 100%. But since that is not going to happen for everyone, my second goal is to make it easy enough where, you know you can do it, and then you realize, I actually can do this, and I'm getting better at it.

Jen Liddy

It's not like an ice cream sundae, but it's like frozen yogurt. 

I'll take that.

Nika Stewart

Okay - there you go!

Jen Liddy

Thank you. 

Hey, Nika, you made it so easy in VVI - is viral video-intensive something that people can join at any time?

Nika Stewart

They can. 

I started it with a beta group, and we've added so much content, and I continued to add content. 

And once you join, you have access to the course for life, you also get six weeks of Q and A open with me, and yes, you can join at any time.

Jen Liddy


So we'll drop the link in the show notes to how people can join that, but I would love to know how people can just get into your world and follow you and maybe get on your email list? You give away so many gems.

Nika Stewart

Oh, well, thank you. 

Someone recently, a few months ago, said, can you put together your top viral videos so that we could be inspired? Someone told me to give that to their group, and it has been the most exciting thing that I put together - people are loving it because it's sharing!

At first, I thought, well, it's just like bragging, like, here's, look at me, but I realized so instead of just putting that in, I put in the insight of why I think this went viral, why I think this reached the most amount of people so to teach you. 

It's for you to have some entertainment for you, too, to watch some videos and then to see why these go viral and reach a lot of people so that you can do that for yourself. 

Jen Liddy

If you want to join Nika's Viral Video Intensive, which I'm telling you that is like a gem. 

If you are looking to learn short term content, please get your butt in there. You can grab that at - that's a special link that she created for my audience. 

Thank you, Nika.

Nika Stewart

Thank you.

Jen Liddy

Is there anything else you want to leave us with that we haven't kind of uncovered?

Nika Stewart

One thing I'd love to say is that oftentimes the thing that you are most afraid to share, whether it has to do with your business or personal life and even if you're a business person wanting to get yourself out there, when you share on video, it doesn't have to be about your business. 

If you can think of something that you are most afraid to share, that is likely the video that people need that will help the most people and that people will absolutely love on the most.

It could be scary, but it's wildly freeing and exciting, and I would encourage you to think about doing that.

Jen Liddy

Yeah, that is often the thing.

You're just like nobody's going to get this. I'm such a weirdo or whatever it is, and that's often the lightning rod for people to be like - I like her.

Nika Stewart

Oh, yes. 

So please be a weirdo - go out there!

Jen Liddy

Go ahead and be a weirdo, that's the take-home message. 

Nika, thank you so much. 

You gave so many great nourishing ideas for us to consider if we have been raging against short-form video. I want to leave people with one last thing from my perspective, which is I don't love this stuff yet. I'm a content creation specialist who does not love short-form content, and I still know how important it is, and I'm still not good at it, and it's very humbling, and I want to say, if I can do it, literally anybody can do it.

Nika Stewart

I will disagree with you - you are good at it, you just haven't decided that yet. 

But we're going to convince you.

Jen Liddy

Yeah, okay, we're working on it. 

Nika, thank you so much, I so appreciate your time. Thanks to everybody who showed up, we will be back next week with another Content Creation Made Easy podcast, and I look forward to seeing you then.

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