Cash Strapped Videographers

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    • #44291

      I’ve been reading several posts on how so many professional videographers have been crushed by, not only the economy, but newcomers entering the market everyday. Ex. Shooting a full day wedding, including editing, used to be able to get up to $1,500-$2,000, now has gone down to $350! That’s crazy!

      How are you guys surviving, especially when you got people, like cousin Richie, that has a camcorder and can do the shoot for nothing? Anyway, I’ve been getting a lot of questions from other videographers, on how to break into other markets. My answer to them was to diversify and add a more unique service, than the competition down the street.

      Some ideas included, reaching local bands, who want more exposure in their area. Or contacting small business owners, who want to promote their business using video. Creating educational videos for small niches.

      Anyway, sometimes it’s hard to see “outside the box”, when we’re so used to focusing on only one specific market. This is the day to restructure, regroup, and repackage your services, if you find yourself trending water.


    • #185510
      Grinner Hester

      In the olden daze, folks had no problem paying a producer thousands, shooters thousands, gaffers thousands and audio guys hundreds for a shoot. They’d then stand in line yo upward of 450 an hour for cuts wipes and disolves in a linear bay for a week or so. Now, people just want a freakin’ video and they want to know how much it will cost before hand so they can decide weather they want to do it or not. One man banders are the norm now for this very reason. While it use to be more profitable to be a specialist, man if your specialty now isn’t turn-key productions you need to get a staff job to pay the bills.

    • #185511

      Yeah, YouTube has definitely made our jobs harder as people see so many videos made for next to nothing and think it’s like that across the board. “Well we were looking for something about $300….” Well, look somewhere else. If that’s the case, take that money and go buy a Flip and shoot the thing yourself.

      We’ve discussed this in a number of posts and the answers are the same. Yeah you can shoot for infinitely cheap now and that’s wonderful. But if you want professional-grade work done, unless ‘Uncle Ritche’ knows his ass from a tripod you’re going to have to go to a pro and pay them. We had a guy on one of the posts asking why one vid on the ‘Tube was “crystal clear” vs another. The one he thought was wonderful looked like monkey’s butt too! Between the ‘Tube and AFV, people are so used to seeing other people’s crap video they don’t understand that it’s crap.

      As Grinner mentioned, way back when you were justified with the high-cost because the gear cost so much money. Now, unless you’re doing really high-end work there’s not much justification for high prices. But, potential client’s still have to pay for your skill and the use of your equipment! If I or one of my editor’s has to spend a week or more in an editing bay building original motion graphics and animations for your project, you’re going to have to pay for that. Uncle Ritche can’t do that stuff. People have no problems paying an accountant, lawyer, doctor or plumber without trying to ‘haggle them down’ because that’s not how they operate. But they’ll do it with us in a heartbeat.

      So since shooting weddings (hate it) is no longer a lucrative biz, now many shooters are turning to internet programming. Grinner’s a good example and my company is developing our own channel and content. Even in the straight production biz, damn near everything is shot on spec now with no-lo budgets in the hope the work gets picked up. That stuff was fine about 4 years ago. I don’t do spec work now, because though it’s nice to work on side projects that stuff doesn’t pay the bills. Shoot most of the people producing spec work don’t even know or attempt to compensate by hooking up the amenities. When we did our latest spec gig, though nobody got paid all lodging and meals were fully taken care of. All the crew and actors had to do was be ready to go to work. One old Hollywood guy that worked with us said he’d never been treated that well even on high paying jobs!

      So now we’re stuck with ‘Uncle’s Bob and Ritche’ and the ‘neighbor kid with the camera’ having everyone think that’s all you need to do this kind of work. Bottom line is; when you’re trying to sell your capabilities to potential clients, you’re going to have to a) show them why they would much rather have your work than their Uncle’s and b) show them why they’re going to have to pay to get them. If they don’t want to meet your price, move on.

    • #185512

      This is exactly where I was a decade ago when automation became affordable for radio stations.

      Talk show and dj work never paid a fortune in small markets but it paid the bills. Then came BE with “Audio Vault” and it seemed like any station that could afford a $3000 386 based computer system (laugh if you will but they came with blistering 16mhz procs and huge 500mb hard drives, and 4 megs of memory! ) could suddenly replace everyone on the air.

      I hung on longer than most since the stations where I worked didn’t always want to do away with the morning drive shows, but then networked shows eliminated a lot of that too.

      I moved on to do radio sales and vo work, and eventually ended up selling windows and siding. Not as creative but very lucrative.

      When I discovered the moving pictures thing I had a lot of audio experience which has gone a long way towards making my productions sound better than most of the local competition. Of course the video part is an ongoing learning experience for me.

      I’m glad to see everyone puttingpositive thought into adapting to changing markets, it’s the only way to survive.

    • #185513

      Diversity of services, and product – work once, sell many. Been a proponent for thinking “outside the wedding” for years on E.C. Come, E.C. Go and have earned uncountable wrath in earlier years from folks who perceive themselves to be wedding video artists.

      Funny, I’m noticing more claims by many of these previously WEDDINGS ONLY folks that they offer “other services” as well, but very, VERY few of them actually have sample production clips, much less pricing information on their websites, representing anything other than weddings. Sure, if you can do weddings you can do anything. Right πŸ˜‰

      Also, those “raise your prices” proponents are down from $5K and more, to $3K and less for twice as much production as they were a few years ago – well before the economic downturn. Thousand dollar same day edits are now in the $500, usually less, range, and some claim to “specialize” in that. Must be weekend wedding warriors.

      The business is “out there” but as others here have said, you need to be able to perform quality work as a one-person band and work hard for your money. Not only that, but consumer expectations are higher in addition to their perceptions of value being lower.

      The climate is ideal for new video production business people to carve a niche for themselves and usually pricing is the first step toward competitiveness until they develop higher professional creds. True, ANYBODY can do video, but not just ANY video will do the job.

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