Want to build a successful video production services business and make a living shooting and editing video? Ever wondered how to make money with Video? Making Money With Video explores the wide, wide, wonderful world of producing, shooting, directing and editing video, film, pictures, sound, images, music as a business. Producer/Director/Editor Robert Hanley, shares over thirty years of production experience and focuses on how to make money! Thanks for tuning in!
Thursday, June 11, 2015
What You Don't Know Can KILL Your Video Production Business!
If you were going to start a video business, what would you
do first? What would you do second? What would your priorities be? How would
you get the word out? How would you find customers? What equipment would you
use to do your video jobs? What prices would you charge for your services? Who
would build your website? Would you need brochures? How would you handle social
media? How would you learn and hone your craft? How would you learn what you don’t know?
Yes, what you don’t know is the thing that will kill or mortally
wound your new business regardless of what that business is. Every day people
with the best of intentions start video businesses. Many of them start on a
shoestring because either they don’t have the money to begin in the proper
manner or they can’t see the wisdom of outfitting their new studio and
themselves with the right equipment, training, techniques and tools that are
needed in the video business.
Often times, video producers focus on the gear – 4K cameras,
steady devices, rigs, sound gear, lighting, etc. and now drones – quad copters.
Everyone loves gear! That’s a big reason why we got into this business, right? We
love all the tech stuff and the cool things we can do with it! Besides gear, what
are some other things we pour our money and time into? Our editing suites and
software: Premiere Pro, Final Cut Pro X, Avid – you name it. Then there’s Photoshop,
After Effects, Lightroom, Motion, Pluraleyes and more. The list goes on and on.
Believe me, I know this because I did it too. My first editor was a set of Super
8mm rewinds and a clunky viewer. From there I graduated to a Moviola, then to
$300.00 per hour edit suites, then back to clunky again (groan…) the primitive non-linear
editing software of the 1990s. Then came the leap to glorious Final Cut Pro 7
(may you rest in peace), a jump to Premiere Pro and, of late, I am rediscovering
a fondness for Final Cut in Final Cut X.
"Gear. It's what we pay attention first."
Gear. It’s what we pay attention to first, second and third.
We do it because it’s familiar territory. Messing with and buying video
equipment is a rush for video junkies like us! We like the kick we get from purchasing
that new camera or that new lens and we can’t wait to see how it will perform
in the field or studio.
While concentrating on the periphery most people fail to consider
three questions (and the answers to them) which are vital to a successful video
business: What exactly is the type of video I am going to produce? Where are my
customers going to come from? And how much are they going to pay me? In other
words: What is my product and who is going to buy it and for how much?
Most video people wait too long to ask these questions. They pick a sexy business name, turn on the
lights, buy a bunch of gear, put up some kind of website (throwing a sleek picture
of an awesome camera rig up) and then… time passes. Then…more time passes, and little
or no business comes through the door. Even if it does they may be ill equipped
to handle even the most basic selling and pricing questions.
How can I presume to describe this situation with such
sureness? Because I’ve seen it happen so many times. How can you remedy this
situation? Well, if you are brand new to the video production business, I
suggest you put just as much preparation, time and effort into getting business
as you do to procuring your equipment and learning your video production and
editing techniques. Spend some time definingyour customer, what are you going to do for them, why should they come
to you and how much are you going to charge. Of course a zillion other
questions now arise… chief among them: marketing, advertising, sales and
technical training. I call this MAST training. Now that I’ve brought it up you
may agree you need this as well. Where do you get MAST training and how much
does it cost? Can you learn it all on your own? The answer is yes but it will
take a long time and a lot of effort (and heartache). Just like almost any
other subject you can figure this out on your own but you don’t have to. The
true solution is to find a proven mentor or mentors who will school you and
train you. This usually costs money but that’s okay. Doesn’t everything that is
worth doing well require an investment? Don’t be afraid to put some cold hard
cash into this part of your video studio. Money well spent now will pay
How much should you budget for your, marketing, advertising,
sales and technical training? That depends on your situation – your resources,
etc. A general rule of thumb that I suggest is this formula: for every dollar
you spend up front on hardware, software, infrastructure, etc. spend at least two
(and maybe three) times that in your upfront MAST training - Marketing,
Advertising, Sales and Technical training. Let’s add things up and see how this
might go. Is it worth it?
Equipment and hardware: video camera, tripod, grip,
lighting, sound gear, editing computer and software – that should add up to about
$18,000.00 to $28,000.00. You can easily become equipment poor and in fact you
might be inclined to spend much more than that. I say be conservative. Watch
your pennies. You can always buy more equipment later once you have money
rolling in the door. The other item we tend to forget is that things change so
quickly. Equipment becomes obsolete so rapidly these days.
With our gear budget above we should be spending a minimum
of $36,000 to a maximum of $84,000.00 on the part that will turn our video
equipment room into a video business! Unfortunately $36,000.00 is probably
about $35,000.00 more than most people spend on learning this knowledge. Quite
frankly most people wing it. They feel like they can figure it out and do all
the things that are necessary to become a successful production company “on the
fly.” What I am saying is that your backend should be just as strong ad your
frontend. Why not put some time, effort and money into learning MAST. My theory
is this: It’s better to know how to get the business than to know how to do it.
You can always figure out how to do it. Of course, let’s do both at the same
time. That is what MAST is all about.
I would wager that most people reading this are already
established at least to some degree in the business. Some of you are doing well
and some you wish you had more business. Here are five suggestions for
increasing and improving your video business. All of these are either low or
Marketing - Learn
tried and true marketing techniques and adapt them to your particular studio
business. One really fantastic place both to market your business and to learn
about marketing is BNI - Business Network International: http://www.bni.com.
Advertising - Establish
an advertising budget if you haven’t already, and stick to it. Spend some of
your MAST money on figuring out where to advertise. You don’t want to waste
your money! Where to spend your advertising bucks is the million-dollar
question. My best short and sweet advice is to establish a healthy advertising
budget – 10% of what you want your gross income to be and no lower than $2000.00
per month if you are full time. Do the math and you’ll get $24,000.00 per year -
which works out to a gross income of $240,000.00 per year. How much will you
net? That’s’ up to you but you should make a bunch!
Sales - Nothing
happens until someone makes a sale! I suggest you get really good at sales.
Read sales books, blogs and listen to podcasts. One of my favorite books is
“The Little Red Book of Selling” by Jeffrey Gitomer. Jeffery has a great blog: http://www.salesblog.com.
Technical – Did
you just pick up a camera and start shooting (not a bad idea for practice) or
is there a method to your madness? There is no substitute for on the job
training in the video business but that is really not practical for most
people. I split tech into two areas: production and post-production. Two great resources
for post-production are www.lynda.com and my
friend Larry Jordan’s website: http://www.digitalproductionbuzz.com.
You’ll learn a lot from Larry. For
production… well that is a huge subject. You can’t go wrong by starting with
and reading this book: “How to Shoot a Movie Story.” It’s a paperback by Arthur L Englander and
David A. Gaskill. Written eons ago, it was my film school textbook (or one of
them). It’s packed with good basic important information on shooting and
composition and it is only $4.95 on Amazon! If you search you can find a free
PDF on the Internet.
Operations – This
is how you run the back end of your business – your lead system, your tracking
system, your accounting, your banking, your phone system, your website, customer
service, etc. Operations are every bit as important as your final video
product.I post helpful hints on
operations, pricing and the $$$ of the business on my blog from time to time: http://makingmoneywithvideo.blogspot.com
(Your reading it now). You can also download my podcast: “How to Start and Run Your
Own Video Studio.” Just click the link!
Suggestion number six
(one more for good measure) is this. Put some serious time, effort and money
into the MAST part of your video
business. I always recommend beginning with a self-evaluation and a business
evaluation. What are your strengths - your weaknesses? Where are you now and where
do you want to be in the future? One year from now? Five Years from now? Take
some time and think about where you’ve been and where you’re going. If you need
help with this or any of the subjects above feel free to give me a call or drop
me an email. My cell is 317-358-5932. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org. My website is: http://www.myhomevideostudio.com.
Thanks for reading. Good luck with your video business. May
the Force be with You!
CEO & Founder Home Video Studio & Digital Video
Robert Hanley with his wife Denise
About the Author
Robert Hanley is an American
Producer/Director/Editor/Inventor and Entrepreneur who has turned his love for
film and video into a cottage industry of companies serving customers from all
over America. Borrowing from a spectrum of life's experiences - from selling
snow cones at the city park as a teen to owning a 50's style drive-in
restaurant to making a feature film, to starting and managing the largest video
post-production studio network in the world, Hanley has worked in every aspect
of the industry; as a technician, cameraman, writer, gaffer, sound recorder,
producer, director, cinematographer, DP and editor. A good deal of Robert’s
time is spent in helping people make a career change into the video production
and post-production world. He is the inventor of the DVA and the CEO of Digital
Video Archive. Robert is currently working on his second feature: The Great American Home Movie.
Robert lives with wife, Denise, in Indianapolis Indiana.
They have two grown children. He is a gourmet cook, a wine enthusiast and an
avid collector of antique sheet music.