If you produce video purely for your own enjoyment, the amount of time it takes to complete a project and whether anyone else likes the end product or not are somewhat irrelevant. When you produce for fun, you are free to fully enjoy the creative process without concern for anything but the process itself. As soon as you hang up your shingle and begin doing production work for hire, everything changes. When you are being paid for a job, time becomes the enemy of profit. The longer it takes to make something, the less money you make per hour of effort. Time not only impacts your profitability, it places demands on your work pace.
Clients typically need videos produced by a certain date so they can be released to their intended audience on a schedule that rarely has flexibility. If the video is needed for an event, or for broadcast or web distribution for an ad campaign on the 15th, you have a hard deadline for delivery in advance of that release date. There is rarely a casual pace on client jobs. More often than not, editors end up working all hours of the night to meet aggressive deadlines.
In an environment where time is money and deadlines drive your production pace, it can be easy to operate from a perspective where profitability becomes your primary motivation.
In an environment where time is money and deadlines drive your production pace, it can be easy to operate from a perspective where profitability becomes your primary motivation. This can cause producers to cut corners or make compromises that may make an individual production more profitable, while simultaneously undermining their businesses. Sometimes, the bottom line is the bottom line. You do need to get paid a fair rate for the work you do for your clients. But, if you want to succeed in the video production business you need to be aware that there’s more to success than profit alone.
Business people know that the best new customer is a satisfied former customer. When you go the extra mile to satisfy a client you may leave some money on the table initially, but over the course of time that satisfied customer may return to you for many more paying projects. Satisfied clients do another valuable thing: they recommend businesses to their friends. Gaining the trust of each client will ultimately make you more money in the long run. While you can always buy more ads and acquire new first-time clients, you cannot buy a good reputation. Reputation is earned by delivering a product that not only meets, but exceeds a client’s expectations.
Another important measure of success is your personal sense of satisfaction. We all want to feel proud of the work we do. If I am going to put my name on something, I want to know that the project is one I feel good about endorsing. Your personal pride in a project is something that you should not sacrifice to make more profit. If you have a production team, this sense of personal satisfaction is a highly important motivating factor for them as well. If you do not feel good about the work you do,and the team who works with you does not feel good about the work they are contributing to, chances are none of you will stick with it very long. The client jobs you take on are opportunities to hone and showcase your skills, and they become your demo reel for attracting new business. Do work that you would not be ashamed to brand with your name.
Yes, you do need to make a profit. You cannot sustain a business that costs more to run than it generates in revenue, but take this as a challenge to keep the bottom line in its proper place. Do work that is profitable, but also satisfying to you, your team and your clients.
Matthew York is Videomaker's Publisher/Editor.