Freelance vs owning a Video Production Business

daxalain5's picture
Last seen: 6 years 7 months ago
Joined: 09/20/2011 - 7:24pm

Hello there! I've always wondered what are the pros and cons of freelancing vs owning your own production company? I know that if you have your own production business you need to take care of lots of paperworks and even a great deal of money. But with freelance, you don't need to worry about this sort of stuff. Am I wrong here? Can somebody please explain to me how these works?

Much appreciated!

H. Wolfgang Porter's picture
Last seen: 2 years 2 weeks ago
Joined: 12/11/2008 - 7:54pm
Plus Member Moderator


There's not much difference between the two concerning responsibilities and as you say 'paperwork'. Both are businesses just one is sanctioned the other usually isn't. Though having a business does bring more hassles, it also brings more protections depending on what type of tax structure you go with. As a freelancer, you've got more 'freedom' so to speak but far more liabilities which will come out of your hide if anything goes wrong. Also, freelancing often limits the scale of projects you can perform.

If you're just wanting to just 'wing' it, you really aren't ready to be a freelancer or a pro with a sanctioned business. It sounds like you're still in 'Hobby' mode which is not a bad thing if you recognize it and deal from that standpoint.

H.Wolfgang Porter, Composite Media Producer Dreaded Enterprises Unlimited, Inc.

daxalain5's picture
Last seen: 6 years 7 months ago
Joined: 09/20/2011 - 7:24pm

Hi there! Thanks for the comment! I actually did two weddings and one interview shoot (w/c I give the client an invoice) and I have 2 potential clients lined up for this month. The reason why I asked is that I think that I am not ready to have my own production business because I don't have a regular supply of clients. Is it safe to say that I should just stick with freelancing for now then switch when business is good? I am on my first year and I still need to learn more about the legalities of the video production business.

EarlC's picture
Last seen: 4 years 1 day ago
Joined: 10/15/2008 - 1:15am

It does require some ongoing marketing efforts for any person to generate, build or sustain a business. Business is "good" more or less due to successful marketing, word-of-mouth and other referral. Freelancing for another firm or business, considering that you're a work-for-hire with them and thus representing their company (unless you can get some release to use work you've generated for them as samples and demos for your own business promotion/marketing) you really don't have the opportunity for "switching when business is good" because it won't be YOUR business, it'll be the group you freelance for.

As I say often and loudly, you can have a business, established services and products, a website, experience and samples or demo material, but none of it will matter, freelance or independent businessperson, if you don't market consistently and persistently.

billmecca's picture
Last seen: 4 years 3 months ago
Joined: 08/27/2010 - 3:31pm

Freelancing usually involves working for a production company owned by someone else on a job to job basis. If you shot two weddings on your own and what you termed a "interview shoot" and invoiced that client directly you are for all intents and purposes acting as a production company, albiet one with only one employee.

I work a day job in video and take on side projects under my company name. Obviously it's a part-time situation where I do work in my "off-hours", weekends, etc. but I do it under the banner of Mecca Video Productions. My documentaries are produced under that banner as well as my voice-over work. Just makes it easier. Business cards, car magnets, checking account, all carry the same banner.

As a sole proprietor there really isn't much in the way of paperwork other than letters of agreement with clients and invoices. I keep track of expenditures, mileage, income and at the end of the year turn it all over to my accountant who takes care of my personal and business taxes.

and Earl's last paragraph is GOLDEN.

daxalain5's picture
Last seen: 6 years 7 months ago
Joined: 09/20/2011 - 7:24pm

Thanks for the comment guys! I am actually working for a company (video production full time) and use my free time/off hours to do side jobs. I also keep track of my expenditures like what Bill is saying and I have somebody that takes care of it on tax season. I am planning on having my own business card with my name on it (not with the company that I am working for) and I have already a couple of people outside of work that is giving me clients every month. Now, I am just not sure what is the best way to do this because I want to own my video production business in the future if I can get a normal supply of clients (with the right marketing).

All of your comments are helping me a lot! I appreciate it!

Rick Crampton's picture
Last seen: 1 year 7 months ago
Joined: 08/20/2009 - 1:08pm

 Your employer might make the freelance/employee decision for you if they begin to feel that your extracurricular activities are interfering with your position within their company.


Rick Crampton

daxalain5's picture
Last seen: 6 years 7 months ago
Joined: 09/20/2011 - 7:24pm

I will say that the clients that I am getting right now is not enough to pay the bills every month so having a regular full time job is best way to go at the moment. I still need to buy my equipment so I can take bigger projects in the future. I've been networking here in my area so people will get to know me about what I do and hopefully that will help me get some business. I am no expert at marketing but I am trying my best to get my name out there and I know it will get better as the time goes by. I am just a one man team right now and it's kind of hard doing everything by myself but I know I will get through this. :)

Anyways, I appreciate your comments and I wish everyone good luck with your video production business!

paulears's picture
Last seen: 3 days 16 hours ago
Joined: 11/05/2006 - 8:36am

Not sure how it works in the US, but here in the UK - freelance, is an oft bandied about term, but from the Government's viewpoint, we are simply self-employed, status wise - so we can be self-employed, AND the owner of a video (or any other) business. So I can't see much of a difference really. When I work for myself, what I do is up to me - I can go and do things for other people, or other people can come to me to have things done - I can use other freelance people, rather than officially employing them - it's my choice. We have rules that determine employment status. Some people are NOT freelance/self-employed at all, they're really employees of somebody using the system to save them having to pay taxes, or providing sickness benefits, holidays and that stuff. In fact, here there are three types of legitimate business categories. Self-employed as a sole trader or in a partnership, or an employee of a Limited Liability Company. That is it. No other possibilities. I like the freedom having a sole-trader status provides. I choose when and where I wish to work, and I invoice my clients, who eventually pay. I do video production as one bit of the 'whole' business. I charge for the end product. On the other hand, I'm often doing camerawork for other people - turning up to events,being allocated a camera and position, and working to the director's instructions. Again, I invoice for the whole thing. Hence why I'm confused about the topic title - freelance or owning a business? To me - I'm both? Is it different in the US?

JackMiller's picture
Last seen: 1 month 17 hours ago
Joined: 03/07/2018 - 4:14pm

Owning your own company is alway superior in the end if you learn how to market and build a business within a local community, Where you can simply gain clients by building cold calling lists by googling companies in your area able to use your services

rayvenharvey's picture
Last seen: 3 weeks 2 days ago
Joined: 03/29/2018 - 3:01am

Everyone is always wanting to have a business under their name and that they can call it their own. Owning a production video, I guess a dream of people like me that taing chances of freelancing work.