Anyone who can master the essentials of video production may have what it takes to benefit from a money-making videomaking opportunity of a lifetime.
Starting a new business is a highly desirable goal for many people; fulfillment lies ahead for those who succeed.
The videomaking business is developing like the video software rental industry. Years ago, the early enthusiasts who had a good collection of tapes slowly but surely expanded into the video rental business.
Similarly, devoted videomakers could find themselves on the ground floor of great business opportunities-if they start now.
The key to succeeding in the business of videomaking is to create enough volume and profit. Profits from only a few high-quality, time-intensive projects a year rarely can support anyone who’s self-employed.
Unless you are wealthy and don’t need to earn a living, you must stimulate volume by increasing the number of projects your business undertakes. This may seem impossible, and it’s discouraging to invest your time and money without a competitive edge.
Even if you’re new to the videomaking business, you probably know there are more wedding videomakers than any other category of employed video camera operators; broadcast and cable camerapersons are greatly outnumbered.
But as long as you have imagination, brainstorming for new video business opportunities is easy.
All of this camcorder/VCR stuff is really new. We, the videomakers, are just learning how to bring these high-tech communication tools into people’s lives.
Chances are, you’ll be the only video camera operator in your area who specializes in one of the innovative video business opportunities inspired by this article.
The Business of Business
Before committing to a video business opportunity, it’s important to assess your abilities.
Critical to your chances of success are three basic requirements: video skills, business skills, and anticipation of a customer’s expectations.
Business skills-especially financial and legal considerations-have little to do with videomaking skills; but you’ll need both to succeed, even in a small venture. Acknowledge your limits or shortcomings. If your skills in either area are inadequate, seek additional training or a partner whose skills complement your own.
Customer expectations cover a wide range, from those of large companies that demand technical excellence in their corporate videos (and whose pay reflects this) to those of an adult softball team requiring less business savvy and less refined videomaking skills.
Videomaking skills, business acumen, and customer service all are essential.
Good Image: The Big Picture
Your image as a professional is of utmost importance; a first impression is critical in the competitive business environment.
A videotaped sample of your work is a valuable-and necessary-selling tool. Be sure that it, as well as all other elements of your business, effectively conveys your style and level of quality.
When prospecting or meeting new clients, dress professionally yet suitably for the situation. For both men and women, a business suit is appropriate for a meeting with a large corporation.
However, if you’re at the beach taping surfers, casual dress is fine. The most important thing is to gain respect and credibility; so dress the part.
Your equipment should impress, too-something to bear in mind when you’re shopping for gear. Without compromising performance for appearance, be aware of the external qualities as well as the internal.
Spend some money on your image when it comes to promotional materials. Invest in two-color business cards and consider designing a brochure or flyers with testimonials; include your rates if it seems appropriate. Advertise in the Yellow Pages if you can afford it.
Soliciting or Peddling
In many instances, video opportunities will knock on your door (especially if you have a storefront). But you may need to pound the pavernent to drum up business.
Telephone solicitation and direct-mail (known more commonly as “junk mail”) campaigns are both valuable marketing tools. Once again, the better the quality of printed materials, the more confident a prospective customer will be. The same holds true for flyers, posters, or handouts.
Sometimes, you actually can solicit your services in person, on the spot. Few videomakers would even consider peddling their services like a shoeshine boy, but this method of generating business is largely untapped.
The ski slopes this winter will see many a videomaker offering skiers a tape of themselves gliing down the slopes.
Hundreds of videomakers across the country are soliciting adult softball teams. After the game, videomakers join the team at a local bar or pizza parlor to review the hits and misses via a large-screen TV. The golf course is another potential market.
Still photographers have been profiting from this approach for years at dog shows, Frisbee tournaments, parades, water skiing competitions, and motorcycle races.
If offering your services on the spot is beneath you, humble yourself or change your attitude so you can start making money!
Many potential customers wouldn’t think twice about spending $25 to $90 to buy a videotape of themselves, friends, or family members participating in a favorite sport, hobby, or vacation activity.
If you do solicit on the spot, be sure to follow all local rules or laws. If at a private establishment, get the owner’s permission. Secure the necessary licenses or permits to conduct business in a city park, state beach, or wherever you happen to be. Further, be fully aware of any insurance liabilities.
Many businesses are now incorporating video with their promotion and advertising campaigns. You must isolate which businesses maybe in need of your services.
The best sources from which to generate leads are local business directories, telephone books, or Chamber of Commerce guides, which list virtually all of the businesses in your area.
A good category to check first is manufacturing. Most goods are sold by a salesperson; chances are these people could use a video presentation to illustrate the uniqueness of a product or how it works, in addition to its manufacturing process. Video presentations are especially valuable when the process recorded is visually impressive.
The list is endless, but here are a few ideas: boats, tools, bowling balls, tractors, clothing, toys, and chemicals.
One of the most successful uses of audiovisual presentation techniques occurred in the 1970s with the marketing of the “Weed Eater,” a home tool for eliminating weeds.
Unless you’ve seen one work, it’s difficult to understand. Brochures, testimonials, diagrams, photographs-you name it-no medium was better suited to promote this product than moving images and sound.
At the time, the only affordable option was Super-8 film. The presentation device consisted of a projector and popup screen in a self-contained attache case. Of course, the medium proved enormously successful for product sales.
Cataloging is another good video opportunity; real estate is one of the hottest areas.
By videotaping house tours, real estate agents are saving time and money by disqualifying undesirable homes to potential buyers. Compiling a tape for a local clothing store, showcasing the latest fashion accessories, is another possibility.
Smaller TV stations across the country are running amateur-quality TV commercials for local advertisers. Experienced videomakers are making headway in this area by upgrading.
Video movie rental stores, mean while, are lending locally produced promotional tapes-serving as commercials for their ad clients-free of charge to customers.
Videos At Your Service
Service-oriented businesses can employ video for sales presentations and on-the-job communication.
A beautician might use video to show his or her customers the procedures for manicures and facials, relieving anxiety that prevents them from trying the treatment. Patients can see how anesthetic will put them to sleep during root-canal work.
A termite inspector could show an entire inspection and execute the extermination process while homeowners watch on live TV from their living rooms.
Insurance companies are accepting video inventories as proof for insurance claims. Local TV stations are recruiting video “stringers” to gather news clips from surrounding towns. Lawyers incorporating video technology for depositions and re-enactments also are in need of qualified videomakers.
Building contractors, landscapers, and rest homes all can use video to attract new clients.
Cash Back for Feedback
Training tapes may prove to be the single most lucrative area for video production. Any company, not only large corporations like IBM or AT&T, can afford to incorporate videotape with their training procedures.
Opportunities abound for video entrepreneurs looking for such projects. Once again, manufacturing and service businesses are key targets. Most of these firms need to train employees to accomplish highly specific tasks unique to their industries.
Although there are an increasing number of specialized videotapes available on a variety of topics like “Safety in the Workplace” or “The Basics of Bank Tellering,” there is a need for more specific training programs, such as “Quality Control In Golf Ball Manufacturing,””Operation and Maintenance of Walnut Harvesting Equipment,” or any other highly specific topics that an employer might need to communicate to its staff.
Although even these titles may be mass duplicated and distributed someday, there’s one extremely specific application of video training not intended for mass duplication: videotaping the very person being trained for video feedback.
When people see videotapes of themselves performing a task, they can assess their abilities and-more important-learn how to improve. Sports is a tremendous area for video feedback. Many of the competitors in past Olympics have used video extensively in their training.
The list of businesses and people that would benefit from video training is endless: pizza makers, parts inspectors, cake bakers, auto mechanics, boat builders, weLders, haircutters, rug weavers, and dog trainers-for starters.
People are proud of the projects and hobbies they work hard on. Often, however, for various reasons, friends and relatives aren’t exposed to these activities-this “other” life. Few skydivers have the opportunity to perform in front of their grandmothers.
All towns have local bands that dream of the day they’ll make it big. Besides being used as a valuable promotional or demo tape, music videos can serve as background for gigs in local night spots.
Many people could make good use of a “day in the life” videotape of themselves-on the job, at home, or in between. Suggest that your customers keep a copy and give others as gifts.
Junior’s first haircut, Mom and Dad’s anniversary party, a school play, canoe trip, the birth of a new baby, and a graduation ceremony all are examples of special occasions and slices of everyday life that people will want to capture for posterity on a top-notch tape.
Wedding videomakers really only have scratched the surface of the video- making market.
You can follow the lead of others or you can be a ground breaker in video business opportunities, producing such videos as “The Ins and Outs of Septic Tanks” or “Pigeon Control in Urban Areas.”
You can be sure the first people to pursue the concept of videotaping weddings for a fee had some hard selling to do. Today, many of those same people have successful businesses because they acted upon an idea before its time-and stayed with it.
Matt York has been working with, researching developments in, and contemplating the future of personal video since the early 70s. He is the founder and publisher of Videomaker magazine.