5 ways to deal with low-ball video production clients

When you’re first venturing out into the world of selling your video services, it can feel like the most challenging part isn't even creating the video — it's getting paid what you're worth.

There is this idea that, because most people now have cameras in their pockets, making a video is easy. Hiring a professional, therefore, shouldn’t cost that much. As a pro videographer, what can you do to make sure you get paid what you deserve? We’re going to give you five ways to deal with low-ball clients so you can go forward and get paid like the professional you are.

1. Say no (to train them to pay a fair rate)

The biggest thing to know when you get a low-ball offer from a client is that you do not have to take their offer. In the world of freelance video, a lot of clients you interact with have no experience with making videos. That’s why they’re looking to work with a professional in the first place. Oftentimes, clients don’t know how much time goes into making a video, or what your time is worth. Sometimes, they just don’t value the work that you do.

Saying no to low-ball offers trains your potential client to pay a fair rate. It also helps them understand the service you’re providing. Plus, if you do accept a lower offer, the client will perceive the value of your video services to be lower, as well.


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2. Be willing to take less work for fair pay

Saying no to work is a difficult thing to do, especially at the start of your business. However, saying no in service of being paid fairly, helps to establish you as an experienced professional.

When a low-ball client comes in and says, “I want you to make me a video just like this for $,” let your client know what your rate is and negotiate what work you can offer them.  Come back to the client and say, “Thank you for your interest, I actually charge $$$-$$$$ for this type of video. For $, I can offer…” This shows that you have standards but are willing to forge a relationship with the client, which can lead to more work in the future.

3. Provide great service

When you provide great service, it acts as a calling card for future clients. The quality of work will speak for itself. Word of mouth is your most valuable form of marketing when you’re first starting out. When people are wowed by your services — especially your customer service — word of your quality of work will get around, not how much you charged.

Great service also acts as a proof of concept for the pricing of future work. If they want the great service you provide badly enough, they will find the money to make it happen. As comedian Steve Martin once said, “Be so good they can’t ignore you.”

Video shoot in a large room with lots of gear surrounding an actor.
Video production is a time-intensive process, often requiring the efforts of multiple collaborators. As a video producer, you deserve fair compensation.

4. Seriously, just say no

As much as clients will tell you about the experience, exposure or notoriety working for cheap will provide you, you have to be willing to say no to client work. Saying yes to low-ball clients only leads to exhaustion and resentment toward the client for not valuing you more. You cannot cheap your way into a successful business. You offer a valuable service and clients should pay a fair rate for it.

5. Be okay with low-ball clients trying someone else

Not every client you meet will end up hiring you. That’s okay. If a client goes for a low-ball competitor, they likely won’t receive the same level of service that you provide. In the end, it’s their loss. And they may even learn a lesson from the experience, leading them to seek out your more expensive but more professional services in the future.

You also have to ask yourself if that’s the kind of client you want to rely on long-term. It’s much better to have a client who respects your work and time the same way they respect their own work and time. The right clients are out there, but you cannot find them if you’re taking every low-ball offer that comes your way.

Time to get paid

When it comes down to it, clients are looking to hire someone for video services because it’s something that they cannot do themselves. Think of the videos you make for clients not just as a singular end-product, but as a tool that will be used to spread a message. The investment they make in you will pay off for both of you.

Ricky Anderson II is a Texas-based video producer and entertainer. He has over 10 years of experience in online video production, with an expertise in creating engaging and entertaining videos.


  1. This is some of the best advice you’ll ever get. Saying “NO” is a most essential tool for the professional. If it’s too cheap, or just doesn’t feel right, turn it down.

  2. You mean relatives you do a wedding for and they won’t allow you to turn on the lights or use on camera lights at the reception and bitch about the quality. Or Catholic priests that dictate where you stand and the Fat lady gets in the way of the ring exchange.

  3. I say no…a lot these days! Seems like everyone walking around is a “wannabe” cinematographer with a $15K RED Dragon and NO skill to use it. The bottom feeders are everywhere and I just won’t compete with them. That said, I get plenty of work…at a fair and reasonable rate!

  4. On any decent-sized project, I always do partial payments, with a chunk down to start the job, up to 50% of the quote for the delivered job. I know this is not standard industry practise, but it’s what I do, and I have never been stiffed on the final payment.
    I always tell clients that they are paying me to tell their story. When you have enough runs on the board, no one quibbles. Some jobs have not gone ahead, of course, because the client genuinely can’t afford to pay my rates, and I help them to find someone else. There’s always someone else.

  5. A few years ago, a client asked for a quote for five 10-minute videos for X $$$. I tell him that with his budget I offer him 5 videos of 5 minutes with a small increase of the original budjet. Win-win situation. Customers have no idea of the cost of TV production. I think we need to educate them.

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