Video Production Business Tip – Setting Your Priorities

I often feel overwhelmed with all the responsibilities that go hand in hand with running a successful video production company. In fact, I think many videographers fail to find any true level of financial success because they struggle with how to prioritize tasks on a daily basis so they can move the business forward by that “critical inch.”

Several years ago, I was having major issues with keeping it all straight so I developed what I call THE PRIORITY PROCESS which in its simplest form, helps me refocus my efforts with a simple glance any time I feel like the train has derailed and the cars are flying off the track.

If you have followed me for a while or participate in our weekly live group coaching calls, you may recognize this process because I refer to it often.

When I arrive at the studio each day, I follow this priority process to determine where I need to focus my efforts.

1. SALES – Is there anything I need to do in order to move a potential sale forward? (Send an email, make a call, write a proposal or submit an invoice for the deposit payment.) Many people wonder why I put sales in front of production and the reason is because the people I sell to only work during normal business hours. For the most part, we can do project work at any time of the day so it’s important to handle the sales activities first.

-if all Sales tasks are completed, I switch focus to-

2. PROJECTS – Is there anything I need to do to move a project (or projects) forward today? (Write a script, book a shoot date, hire a narrator, edit, etc.)

-if all Project tasks are completed, I switch focus to-

3. MARKETING – What can I do to market my company? (Email newsletter, blog post, video marketing, networking, etc.) As you have probably experienced, our industry is very cyclical in that you’ll be slammed one month and have nothing to do the next month. There’s no reason to get overly stressed about this reality so that’s why I just choose to focus on marketing when there aren’t isn’t any project work going on. It all seems to work out in the end.

-if all Marketing tasks are completed, I switch focus to –

4. ADMINISTRATIVE – What needs to be dealt with regarding everything else required to run my business? (Accounts receivable, payroll, accounts payable, errands, etc.) Keep in mind that even though I have listed this category as the last priority, you can’t wait weeks to pay your bills or collect money from clients. I mainly have it listed after sales, projects and marketing because I handle a lot of my administrative work on my laptop while watching TV at night.

I have found that by sticking to this process, I get the most accomplished in my video production business each day and I leave with a sense of fulfillment which makes it easier for me to turn off the work engine in my head and spend quality time with my family after hours and on weekends.

Video Production Business Tip – Developing and Launching New Strategies

Michael and I get so excited about developing and launching new strategies. In fact, we get so fired up that we often want to change the direction of the new strategy within 24 hours of putting it in motion. What the hell is wrong with us?

Obviously, we won’t know if the new strategy will benefit us or our members until we’ve given it a chance to work. The big joke in a recent conversation was that we weren’t even allowing enough time for the paint to dry on a new strategy before we were trying to change directions.

The same holds true for many of us in the daily efforts of running our video production companies. A lot of us have so many ideas that we want to implement the next thing as soon as we’re done with one of them.

When’s the last time you printed 500 business cards just to immediately want to change the design before handing out the first one? What about the last time you put together that kick butt sales letter but before you sealed the first envelope, decided to scrap the entire effort?

The truth is you have no way of knowing whether or not a marketing effort will work until you try it. Then, once you try it, you have to do it long enough so you can get a good sampling on whether or not it actually worked to generate new business.

One of the old advertising greats (can’t remember his name) said that we get tired of our marketing messages long before our prospects and customers do. I have found this to be true in running my video production company.

In fact, I’ve learned that the real results don’t start to come until you’ve been pushing one type of marketing effort for at least 6 months to a year. That can seem like a long time when you are staring at the same demo, business card, website, etc. but you MUST give it a chance to work. It’s tempting to change strategies whenever you think of another way that you believe might do the trick.

That doesn’t mean you can’t make subtle improvements over time, just that you don’t want to do a complete 180 turn every time you worry that perhaps your marketing isn’t doing what it’s supposed to. The key is to give your marketing strategy a timeline to let it prove its effectiveness. You just have to be patient enough to wait so you can make a good assessment in your video production business.

Video Production Business Tips – Questions Every Videographer Should Ask in a Sales Meeting

If you want to get more contracts for your video production business, it all starts with the questions you ask in the sales meeting. The right questions will give you everything you need to know. See below for a list of some of the questions you need to know in order to win more video production contracts.

PURPOSE OF THE PROJECT

Describe the purpose of this project. Why does the client want/need to produce this video?

TARGET AUDIENCE

Who is the client trying to reach with this video/media project? Be as specific as possible.

COMMUNICATION OBJECTIVE

What does the client hope to communicate to the target audience in this video/media project? What does the video/media project need to include in order to influence the target audience?

DISTRIBUTION STRATEGY

How does the client plan to distribute the finished video/media project to their target audience? What are the presentation settings in which the project will be displayed? (one-on-one meetings, lobby/waiting areas, direct mail, trade show displays, trade show giveaways, RFP packages, website, email, etc.)

CONTENT PROVIDED BY CLIENT

What specific content does the client have that needs to be incorporated into the finished presentation? (Footage, Pictures, Graphics, Written Testimonials, etc.) This is content that will not be created by our team either on the shoot date(s) or in the editing process.

PROJECT ELEMENTS PRODUCED BY US

What will we need to create in order to complete the project? Include interviewee types and locations, shot descriptions/locations of b-roll, motion graphic needs, narration needs, music, etc.

PROJECT MASTER(S) AND SPECIAL INSTRUCTIONS

How will the finished project be delivered to the target audience? (DVD, Loop DVD, Web Video, etc.) Describe special needs regarding creation of media delivery format.

PROJECT MEDIA DUPLICATION NEEDS (QTY & INSTRUCTIONS)

What type of media will be duplicated for this project? How many copies? What type of packaging? Will we design the artwork for the disc face and packaging or will the client provide it?

RETURN ON INVESTMENT ANALYSIS

Based on the client’s want/need to develop this project, at what point will they “break even” in terms of what we are asking them to pay? (i.e. If a client is producing a marketing video and the total production/duplication budget is $7500, how many products/services will they need to sell in order to pay for their project? If we are producing a training video for a client, how much money will they save by using the video to train employees in multiple locations versus them having to travel, etc.? When applicable, include this information in the proposal for the client to review.)

Once you have answers to these questions, you’ll need to use this information when writing your video proposal. Your video proposal will show how you present your video production business to your client. So make sure that you show the details well and explain things clearly to avoid any misunderstandings.

Video Production Business Tip – How Much to Charge As a Freelance Videographer

When setting up your video production business for the first time, you may need to do some freelance work to make up for the times when you don’t have any major projects to do. As a freelance videographer, how much should you charge for your services?

I’ve always believed that you should never leave money on the table when negotiating a deal with a customer. In other words, if a customer expects to pay $1,000 for you to shoot for a day, you shouldn’t offer to do it for $700. On the other hand, if a customer only wants to pay $700 for your services, you shouldn’t turn it down just because you ordinarily like to make $1,000 for a day’s worth of work.

Regarding my pricing strategy, I try to charge somewhere close to industry standard rates so that I make as much money as possible while remaining competitive when compared to other videographers in my market.

For a one-person camera crew, my day rate is $1,200. This includes my camcorder, tripod, wireless microphone, light kit and up to 10 hours of time working on the shoot.

My half day rate for a one-person crew is $800 and includes the same equipment package and up to 5 hours in the field.

For most customers, this rate is acceptable. For others, it’s more than they have in their budget for the project. When a customer indicates that my rates are higher than they want to pay, I simply ask them what they have in their budget for these services. Then, if what they are comfortable paying is within range of what I’m willing to accept, I’ll book the gig.

I typically won’t accept anything less than $700 for a full day of shooting and $500 for a half day but I rarely have to go that low. Most customers who have experience hiring freelance videographers are familiar with industry standard rates and fully expect to pay them. Then, when they call you again in the future, they’ll pay the same rates again and again.

The best strategy is to set your rates according to industry standards so you have something to go by when people ask what you charge. Then, be willing to negotiate from there so you can book the gig.

In my mind, a guaranteed $700 for a day’s worth of work is far better than getting nothing because you refused to accept less than what is on your rate sheet.

A bird in the hand is better than two in the bush. $700 in your checking account is better than $700 in your competitor’s account. Plus, when that customer needs to hire a videographer for another shoot, who do you think will get the call? The other guy will… every time. Think hard about the lifetime value of a new customer before you turn down a freelance gig because they didn’t want to pay you full rate.

Another thing to keep in mind is that if your rates are too low, a customer might perceive you as not qualified compared to other videographers in your area. If their rates average $800 to $1200 for a full day of shooting and your rate is $500, odds are good they’ll hire one of them instead of you.

Having rates that are too low can make you look like an amateur regardless of how long you’ve been working as a professional videographer.

There will also be opportunities when you are asked to work using someone else’s equipment instead of your own. For these cases, you’ll need rates for just your time that doesn’t include the use of your gear.

I prefer not to work without my own equipment because I like to make the extra money but freelance beggars can’t always be choosers. Again, guaranteed money is better than no money.

My full day rate without equipment is $500 and my half-day rate is $350. These are pretty standard in the industry for experienced videographers so your rates may vary. If you are in a position where you are still trying to make a name for yourself, you may want to charge closer to $300 for a full day and $150 for a half day.

The same rules apply here as they did above when it came to negotiating rates. When asked if what your rate is for shooting with someone else’s equipment, tell them but be open to charging less if their budget requires it.

Always remember that guaranteed money is better than no money. If someone is willing to book you today for $300 but you have a deal that has a 50% chance of going through that will pay you $500 to shoot on the same day, take the guaranteed money. You can always try to convince the other customer to shoot on a different day by offering them a discount.

Or, if they can’t shoot on a different day, you can book the gig anyway at the higher amount and call one of your trusted videographer friends to cover the shoot for you. The customer pays you $500. You pay the other videographer $300.

The net result is that you made $300 on your shoot and $200 from the other shoot all in the same day. Then, when you get paid for the other shoot, you cut the videographer a check and off you go. Plus, you have two satisfied customers who will call you for future work.

If your goal is to make more than six-figures with your freelance videography business, you’ll have to book multiple gigs at the same time on a regular basis. It’s possible to do this if done correctly. The more trusted partners you have in your network, the more money you can make on a given day, week or month.

One final thought about setting your freelance videography rates. Even though there are industry standard rates for these services, it’s up to you to manage your finances so that your rates will cover business expenses and your personal salary each month.

When you are first getting started, it’s vitally important that you run your household and business as lean as possible. Get rid of all unnecessary expenses and restructure your debt if possible so you can reduce monthly payments.

In this business, there will be great months followed by terrible months regarding sales. Keeping your monthly expenses as low as possible will put you in the best position to achieve success. It is possible to support your family and to even provide a luxurious lifestyle with your freelance income but many families find that having a second income from a spouse’s job makes things a lot easier.

If you have two incomes in your household, you have the option to charge less than your competitors for your services. Just keep in mind that you’ll run the risk of customers not taking you as serious as your competitors because your rates aren’t in line with theirs. Tread carefully.

I suggest you quote industry standard rates but that be willing to negotiate down as far as you are comfortable doing so in order to get the gig. Then, when it comes time to invoice the customer, put the industry standard rate first followed by the amount you chose to discount the rate in order to help the customer meet their budgetary requirements. This way, they’ll understand the true value of your service and you did them a favor by discounting the rate to meet their needs. This will go a long way in building good will with that customer and will greatly increase the odds they will only want to work with you should they have the need for any freelance work in the future.