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Everything You Need to Make Better TikTok Videos

Your smartphone is a good starting point, but you may need more if you want to make better-quality videos on TikTok.

Nelson Aguilar
Nelson Aguilar is an LA-based tech how-to writer and graduate of UCLA. With more than a decade of experience, he covers Apple and Google and writes on iPhone and Android features, privacy and security settings and more.
Nelson Aguilar
8 min read
Different accessories to help make TikTok videos

What goes into making a TikTok video?

Nelson Aguilar/CNET

Making a viral TikTok almost seems like chance. Almost.

Luck does have some say in whether a video on TikTok gets millions of views. A random low-quality video from a creator with a hundred followers might go viral because it's funny, entertaining or even tragic, but for the TikTokers who make videos every day, it's what goes on behind the scenes that can be the recipe for success.

And the behind the scenes involves everything surrounding the camera.

Maybe it's a ring light perfectly illuminating a person's face in a makeup tutorial, or maybe it's the hidden wireless microphone capturing high-quality audio in a comedy skit. You'd be surprised at all the accessories that go into making some of these high-quality TikTok videos. And while buying them is not a guarantee that your videos will go viral, you can definitely improve your videos tenfold.

Watch this: We Talked to Two TikTok Musicians. Here's What They Say About Making a Viral Song

In this story, we'll take a look at over 30 accessories, includes LED lights, carbon-fiber tripods, directional microphones and so much more so that you can start producing higher-quality videos on TikTok. Here's what you need to know.

While you're here, check 11 privacy settings you should probably change on TikTok and what you need to know about TikTok.

Before we start: Why should you trust me?

I live in Los Angeles, and besides being a writer at CNET, I work on film sets, mostly as a production sound mixer. That doesn't mean everything I say is golden, but I have a good understanding of what goes into producing high-quality features, short films, music videos -- and, yes, even TikTok videos.

Start with better lighting

Sensyne Ring Light

The Sensyne Ring Light also holds your phone while you record video.

Amazon

Proper lighting is the first step to making a high-quality video, and not just on TikTok but really any time you're on camera. It's what sets the mood and guides your eye, and so you want the correct lighting for your video.

The first and easiest way to light yourself is the natural way -- with the sun. Unfortunately, it's not just any sunlight that works. You typically want sunlight on an overcast day, so you have softer light that doesn't give you an unflattering look. You can also shoot during the "golden hour," which is the hour before sunset and the hour after sunrise, to get a cinematic look. If you're shooting indoors, you may not have any natural light.

And that's why you may need to invest in your own lighting equipment.

An easy way to improve lighting in your TikTok videos is with a ring light, especially if your face is the centerpiece of your video, such as with makeup or hair-related videos. Ring lights are great because they provide evenly distributed light to reduce harsh shadows, glares and other unflattering effects.

The 10-inch Sensyne ring light is a great beginner option. The ring light offers color modes and brightness levels to fine-tune your lighting, and a handy and customizable tripod that can hold your phone as you shoot your TikTok videos. There are tons of ring lights to choose from on Amazon.

There's also a $5 coupon at checkout.

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Ring lights aren't your only options, though. If you already have a tripod or stand for your phone or camera, you can buy standalone LED lights, like this mobile LED light with a clip and two-pack LED light video kit, to give you more options for lighting placement. A backlight, which is a light shining from behind you, can be key to separate you from the background in a video.

If you're trying for something more colorful, there is this Rgbic floor lamp and these Govee smart LED light bars. Different color lighting can give your video a more exciting energy. Red lighting can scream danger while blue lighting can be more peaceful.

 And if you've got some money to spend, there's this Neewer two-pack dimmable lighting kit to give you more powerful and customizable lighting for bigger and more complicated setups.

Get something to hold your phone

A phone on a flexible tripod

The Ubeesize tripod is flexible so that you can attach it to other objects, like a tree branch or the handlebars of a bicycle.

Nelson Aguilar/CNET

A ring light may come with a tripod to hold your phone, but these lights aren't always portable. So if you're shooting a TikTok video outdoors, you need somewhere to place your phone. You could always prop your phone against something, but that's difficult to adjust and your phone could fall and get damaged.

Instead, if you plan to shoot something like those day-in-the-life TikTok videos, and you're going from place to place on your own, you definitely need a tripod that can hold your phone or camera.

A popular phone tripod on Amazon is the 62-inch Sensyne tripod. Not only does it hold your recording device but doubles as a selfie stick, comes with a wireless remote so you can begin recording from afar and the tripod compatible with DSLRs and other cameras.

There's also a 5% coupon that can be applied at checkout.

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If the Sensyne tripod isn't what you're looking for, you have alternatives. The 10-inch Ubeesize phone tripod has flexible legs you can wrap around pretty much anything, like a branch or a pole, if you want more daring or adventurous angles. If you want to shoot with a DSLR or GoPro, Amazon has its own 50-inch lightweight tripod, which will work with pretty much any camera you got. There's also the tiny carbon-fiber Pocket Tripod, which holds your phone and any angle and collapses into the shape and size of a credit card. You can just toss it into your wallet and go.

And if you want to splurge, Sandmarc's carbon-edition tripod for your iPhone is a lightweight, compact but heavy-duty tripod built for more harsher conditions, especially if you're shooting TikTok videos out in the wild.

You also need better audio

Wireless microphones and handheld adapter

The Wireless ME and the Interview Go handheld adapter are perfect for TikTok interviews.

Rode

Now that your video is looking pretty, you'll want to work on your audio quality.

Much of the time, the microphone on your phone can record perfectly fine audio for your TikTok videos, especially if the phone is right in front of your face. But if you're not close to your phone when you're recording or you're recording multiple people at once, your sound quality will suffer, so you want an external microphone to capture high-quality audio for your TikToks.

To record clean audio at a distance, you can't go wrong with a directional shotgun microphone, which picks up sound from whatever direction it's pointed.

Rode's $99 VideoMic GO II is a compact and lightweight directional microphone that you can easily attach to the top of your phone or camera and connect to your device via USB or 3.5mm connector. No batteries are required and the microphone comes with a windscreen to help dampen loud environmental sounds and a shock-mount to attach the microphone to a tripod or other rig.

Compatible with your phone camera, tablet and computer.

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Under $100

If you're doing an interview for TikTok, like a man on the street video, you're better off with a wireless microphone, like the Rode Wireless ME. With this two-piece setup, you connect the receiver box to your phone and then use the transmitter box to capture audio from up close. You can clip the transmitter on a T-shirt, add a lavalier microphone to it to hide it or place the transmitter at the end of a handheld adapter to get a more professional look. And if you need more than one transmitter, there's the Wireless Go II.

Rode is not your only choice though. You can find solid directional microphones and wireless microphones from trusted brands like SennheiserDeity, DJI and Hollyland.

You may need a case for your phone… but not for the reason you think

Yellow phone case

Stick the Octobuddy case to any mirror or window to prop up your phone.

Amazon

You most likely picked your phone case to protect your device and prevent something like screen damage, but cases out there can also help you out when you're shooting TikTok videos.

Sandmarc's Pro Magsafe cases for the iPhone, for example, serve not only as protection for your phone but also as an attachment case for Sandmarc's various lenses and filters. If you want a more cinematic look, with lens flares and bokeh, you can add an anamorphic lens. Shooting a skate video for TikTok? Throw on a fisheye lens. Add motion blur to your videos with the motion variable filter. Tons of options to up your TikTok video game.

Sandmarc has cases for the iPhone XR all the way up to the iPhone 15 Pro Max.

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You can also find a phone case to hold your phone while you shoot a video, in lieu of a traditional tripod. The Casekoo MagicStand has a magnetic ring stand, so you can position your phone in landscape or portrait orientation, and adjust it from there. The Bellroy Mod phone case also has a stand, which doubles as a wallet for your cards and cash.

If you're somewhere without a place to easily set up phone the Octobuddy Max phone case has suction cups on the back so that you can stick your phone to any mirror, window or other smooth surface to capture your videos. If you're shooting a video in the car, on the train or in your bathroom, this case is a must.

The Octobuddy Max phone case comes in various colors and is compatible with Phone and Android.

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And if you're looking for an all-in-one setup, LuMee has a collection of cases with built-in lights.

What about other accessories?

Phone on a gimbal

Stabilize your more shakier shots with the DJI Osmo gimbal stabilizer.

Amazon

You don't need to stop at lights, mics and cases. Tons of other accessories can help you in your TikTok creator journey, and while they may not be a necessity, they sure make the process of capturing video a bit easier.

Worried about battery life? If you're always on the go, you should think about taking a good portable charger with you. A power bank, like this one from Anker, is a good choice if you won't be around any wall outlets all day and need to keep your phone juiced. If you've got an iPhone, a MagSafe battery pack also works.

There's also a 15% coupon you can apply at checkout.

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Shooting more cinematic videos for TikTok? If you want stabilization, DJI has the Osmo Mobile 6, an easy-to-hold gimbal stabilizer to help you capture super steady shots on your phone. And it has built-in tools so that you can easily control focus and zoom.

Use with any phone you got, whether it's an iPhone 15, a Galaxy S24 or a Pixel 8.

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Running out of hands to hold all your gear? If you're mobile and need somewhere to attach your microphone, light and lens, you might need a film rig, like this one from Sandmarc. It's a mounting system for your phone and all your third-party accessories, which also helps stabilize your video. They've got a bunch on Amazon too.

And what about toting it all around? You need something to carry all of your accessories, or even your laptop if that's where you do your editing. Although it's a bit pricey, the Dux 30L backpack is a high-quality backpack built for all the tech accessories in your life, with various compartments and bags for anything you can think of. If you're looking for something more affordable, the Shrradoo 52L travel laptop bag is airline approved and easily fits your laptop, charger, small tripod and other accessories.

The 15L BagPack is a minimal version of the 30L model, and is available for $80.

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Comes in black, blue, grey and camo.

For more, check out the best MagSafe accessories for the iPhone and the best Android phones in 2024.