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July 1, 2009 at 6:51 AM #43073AnonymousGuest
The web is going video in a big way now.There’s no denying that there is massive demand for video content, and that it will continue to soar. Especially when Google and others figure out how to convert video to text on the fly and rank videos just like regular text pages.It’s not as far off as you might think!
July 1, 2009 at 7:20 AM #180517
July 1, 2009 at 4:45 PM #180518AnonymousInactive
The problem with web video is that there are precisely 83,958,234 “web video producers” out there, and most of them, never having sold a “real” video in their life are willing to work for peanuts.
To compete against these folks, you need to do more than just offer a service, you need to demonstrate that you’re better than they are, and that you’re justified in charging a few grand for a quality production. Even then, I have scary visions that this new wave of video producers might, if not put us pros out of business, at least force us out of some of the markets we’ve comfortably lived in for years.
My dad used to be a printer. Ran his own business, and complete with a couple million-dollar Heidelberg presses. You know what drove him out of business? Desktop publishing. In the late 90’s when color injet printers were becoming commonplace, people were looking at putting together a 20 page report, and thy realized that for the same price my dad charged they could buy an inkjet printer and do it themselves. Sure, the quality stank in comparison, and they didn’t have the years of layout expertise to make them the same as he would, but at the end of the day, loyalty to their printer gave way to saving money. And you can’t make payments on a couple million dollar Heidelbergs when your customers ditch you to do it themselves.
In some ways, I worry that with the mass production of cheap camcorders and YouTube&Friends, the perceived value of video production is taking a hit. Sure, we have better equipment, and we’ve got experience. But then, the same was true for my dad, who left his dream job of printing to build kitchen cabinets. Camcorders are in 2009 what the color inkjet was in 1999. They’re getting better and cheaper, and if we’re not careful, we may find ourselves in the custom cabinets business ourselves.
Okay, that was a little bleak. Trying to be a hair less macabre, I will say that our fate doesn’t have to line up to that of the pressmen of the late 20th century. There are still printing companies in business, albeit many less than there used to be. The ones that are still around survived by offering services at competitive rates, and trough lots of perseverance. They also heavily promote services you just can’t do well at home, like bindery, carbonless forms, etc… In an analogue to that, I would say that video producers need to look for that edge that average Joe with a handycam can’t duplicate readily. For example, I bought a live switch for my business, and it’s already paid for itself.
There are ways to make money in video, but it’s not an easy road. We have to be better, stronger, and faster than the competition, and competition includes your client buying a camcorder and doing it himself. We need to work work work, and only that will ensure our continued viability as a trade.
July 1, 2009 at 11:36 PM #180519AnonymousInactive
We haven’t even begun to see International videographers on websites that are willing to do whole productions for a pittance. Just like the website coders a few years ago, Internationals will instantly outbid locals and make complete productions for a mere $60US which is very good money in their economy.
While not spelling the absolute end, I certainly wouldn’t be buying any equipment…
July 2, 2009 at 1:52 AM #180520
Video business is “out there” and there will always be people who can’t, don’t want to, or otherwise prefer capable, if not professional, independent video services providers who have found the magic margin between affordable & profitable, and cheap underpriced loss leader…
…and the few who are overpriced either based on the quality of their productions, or their market demographics, or some other basis for perception of value by their client base and market area.
It has been said that people with high discretionary funds (becoming a rarity in many areas) buy services while middle income people buy things. That is a generality and often the two cross paths – depends on the services desired/needed or the things wanted/affordable.
The whole truth to the matter of making money in video is marketing. Consistent marketing (not specifically paid advertising) WILL generate business. It will sustain business, and will result in renewable clients and business so long as you deliver as promised. Delivering as promised, on time and providing a resonably priced quality product are also guaranteed ways to sustain business in ANY economic climate. Fail to deliver, or fail to maintain your marketing efforts and work will fade to black while income turns to vapor.
April 14, 2010 at 4:46 PM #180521ChrisParticipant
Do you all still feel this way? Has video gone the way of photography with the glut of “good enough” far out weighing the real pros? Heck, little Billy down the street can borrow Daddy’s HD cam and do a decent (if not professional) video job.
April 14, 2010 at 5:17 PM #180522AnonymousInactive
Heck, little Billy down the street can borrow Daddy’s HD cam and do a
decent (if not professional) video job.
You nailed it ! I have for years told people you need to look like you own NBC when shooting a project. People want to pay for a product that Billy can’t give them. Mom and Pop shops who need a local TV spot may be very happy with a cam-corder kid and a $500. spot. I can shoot a $500 TV or web spot that Billy would never know was a $5000. production and will sell more for Mom and Pop.
April 14, 2010 at 6:40 PM #180523
On the other hand, if you create a needless deer in headlights vibe due to over crewing and over-gearing, you simply won’t have a product to get paid for.
Companies know the diference between little Billy and a reputable vendor. If they have a budget, they not only want to spend it, they have to spend it to be approved for the same next quarter or year. None of them care what tools are used to make their product. Compensating for lack of talent with needlessequipment will only bring more overhead to those who should be honing skills.
April 15, 2010 at 3:58 PM #180524
To add to Grinner’s point,
You need to know when you need a crew and when you don’t. This stuff happened decades ago when kodak put out consumer grade cameras so ‘mom and pop could take happy snaps’. Just because M&P could do it didn’t put pro photographers out of business. The YouTube yahoo’s will not put pro video and film producers out of business either. Just like getting your friend’s brother who works on plumbing to work on your pipes instead of a trained licensed plumber is asking for trouble.
As others have said, it’s up to you to show potential clients why it’s better to pay a few $k to get something that looks and sounds like what you see on tv and in the movies. Little billy, johnny and Uncle Bob can’t possibly get that same kind of look and production values with just a happy cam and enthusiasm. Just because you can play basketball doesn’t mean you’d have a prayer on an NBA court! You still have to know what you are doing and how best to get it done. That said, it’s still going to cost some money.
April 15, 2010 at 7:02 PM #180525
… but a fraction of what it use to, and with faaaar superior quality.
April 15, 2010 at 7:34 PM #180526CraftersOfLightParticipant
Not to divert the post but Grinner, was noticing your new avatar is a little Escher-esk.
April 15, 2010 at 9:40 PM #180527
thanks man. Was lookin’ in an old hand-held mirror.
April 15, 2010 at 10:59 PM #180528
“… but a fraction of what it use to, and with faaaar superior quality.”
Agreed. But it ain’t gonna’ be $300 bucks and that’s for damn sure!
April 15, 2010 at 11:55 PM #180529
While we use to have folks standing in line to get cuts, wipes a disolves in our limited linear suites for more than 400 bucks an hour, it’s challenging in many markets to get more than 200 an hour for anything the client can dream up. This aint moola out of our pockets. We use to spend millions on those linear suites and can spend 5 figures on a top notch edit suite today. Same with production. ONe job can pay for a more than suitable camera that will last years. This is no reflection on talent but an example of how obtainable the technology is by all. Consumers have always gotten what they pay for. This is why veeeery few companies want the cheapest production. They’d rather have the best they can afford. Thats where you and I come in. We ask em what they have to go toward the budget then explain what we can do for that. The flat bid for a one man band turn-key product is rapidly becoming the norm. This is a great thing. Because we are quick at what we do, it’s how we can get our rates back up.
April 16, 2010 at 2:34 AM #180530
“We use to spend millions on those linear suites and can spend 5 figures
on a top notch edit suite today. Same with production.”
I did a still/video aerial shoot of a carrier group once. Not including flight planning, prep time and flight briefing the gig took about two hours. One of the dignitaries that went on the flight asked me about how much it cost to do that and without blinking I said, “$20 million.” Now my end didn’t cost anywhere near that (I wish!), but when you calculate everything it took to get all those ships and aircraft all working in concert for two hours, plus what it took to get the film crew out there, that’s actually a low-ball estimate.
The point of that is; Ammy’s think that all it takes is a camera to make ‘videos’. They are dead wrong. When a client pays for a production be it a one or multi-person crew ‘all that money’ goes to pay for everything that makes it possible for that crew to shoot and finish their project. Like you said, ‘one job can pay for a camera’. Year before last, one job paid for my company’s complete upgrade to HD. My client still paid only a ‘fraction’ of what it would have cost from a bigger outfit (though now I’m getting ‘lowballed’ by $10mil a year outfits.)
What the client pays for is the pro’s expertise and time. You want your production to be ‘high quality’? Be prepared to pay for it. You’re also right in that with today’s gear, in the hands of an expert a quality production shouldn’t cost anywhere near what it used to. But you are not getting ‘quality’ for $300 -$500! That is unless the producer’s a friend of yours and he/she cuts you a quid pro quo deal.
One thing I love but would never let a client see is the feeling of satisfaction when someone comes to me and desperately wants me to ‘polish’ their $300 turd into a ‘quality production’.
May 1, 2010 at 4:26 PM #180531AnonymousInactive
In my experience, there are still companies/brides out there willing to pay for high quality video productions, but they’re getting few and far between. In this economy, it’s all about budget shopping, and simply getting something produced that’s “acceptable”. Kind of a “Wal-Mart” syndrome. Quality doesn’t factor into the equation; if somebody out there is willing to shoota video for a few hundred bucks, then that’s what it should cost in their mind.
May 1, 2010 at 5:22 PM #180532
Composite, we’ve gotten paid well to polish turds. When the local brewery brings me betas shot in a different market by some local news photog, I know right then they are paying my mortgage that day. It’s their decision to increase their budget by trying to save some. I’d be a fool to have a problem with that. When they send me across the nation it’s on a flat bid for the whole thing. When they have others hoot it, I make much more by fixing it by the hour and I don’t have to sit in any airports.
May 1, 2010 at 8:37 PM #180533
What is interesting is the string of folks in the business who are really quite good, if not perfect, who are willing to dilute the industry payload with superior production work for scum sucking bottom feeder prices.
May 2, 2010 at 4:43 PM #180534
Panic can cause some to act in despiration rather than take an offensive approch. Of sound mine, you and I know raising prices will actually aquire more clientele but I tell ya, go weeks without a gig and a brother can start to think wacky things like “well, maybe if I do it for half price I’ll get twice the work.” That comes from retail and lower prices does move more product there. When buying expertise, man advertising as the cheapest is the biggest handicap I can think of.
May 2, 2010 at 5:56 PM #180535
50% a loaf of bread is more filling than 100% of no loaf of bread.
having said that, the trouble is beyond a certain price point, there has got to be a point where inability to keep current with equipment and software will eventually push some of these guys under…..
If consumers want the service and the quality, they’ll maybe have to get burned a time or two with the bottom feeders before they’ll pay for somebody that plans to be in business for more than a couple years.
Important when you wake up one day and realize you need a replacement copy of your wedding/production, and the guy you hired cheap is long gone…. and the guy you should have hired is still there.
May 3, 2010 at 3:16 AM #180536
My “point” was not that quality is difficult to find in cheap production, or that people will more often than not get “burned” going with blue light specials, but that there ARE folks in this industry who actually do EXCELLENT production work for unbelievably low prices, doing themselves and the industry a disservice.
It’s not like the guy offering and doing a re-roofing job for 25-cents-on-a-dollar, it’s the one who does MORE than what is normal for a normal rate – offering copper, or some other exotic shingle and a 20-year warranty for a loss. That’s the kind of difference to which I referred.
May 3, 2010 at 1:20 PM #180537
I understood that Earl, and I do agree. I believe they are cheating thier clients long term. By not having a sustainable marketing plan (which would include paying themselves a fair wage), and making enough profit to upgrade, retrain and promote thier business, long term, clients needing copies of product in the future are going to be let down.
Let’s face it, it will require enough consumers getting burned, to demand the government to regulate our industry to get checks put in to protect the consumer from fraudsters that will shift the industry to remove bottom feeders and therefore protect people that are talented from having to work for bottom feeder pricing…
Those who know me since I arrived on the forum, know that I was a Wedding Photographer that foresaw the convergence of video and still cameras and bought a couple video cameras to up the value of our wedding services. By blending the two we saved our clients money. But the video was good solid work.
But I already knew lighting and composition… as well as the Wedding industry. it wasn’t a giant leap to learn basic video editing and sound.
Now I find myself being swamped with prospective clients that think they should get whole wedding packages for $500.00 and they can’t get past the $500.00 mindset long enough to look at the work and realize, What we do is worth what we charge. So now we’re offering a service where we provide the equipment and tech support to help budget shoppers to “Do It Yourself” for $500.00 we get them video and d-slr cameras with instructions, and a dj sound system to play thier music, and our tech sets up the equipment, transfers photos and videos to disc for them and assists them with playing thier own music, as well as projecting thier images at thier events.
That means a Wedding couple can skip the photographer, skip the videographer, skip the dj, by getting a friend or two to man the cameras and dj booth, and our guy makes sure everything is hooked up and working. At the end of the day, they got photos, video and music for thier event for a fraction of the price of hiring even the bottom feeders.
Then We’re still free to offer our regular Wedding service at our regular pricing to those that aren’t interested in compromising.
In other words the consumer wins Because I can service BOTH the high end client and do to the bottom feeders what they’re doing to us, driving down the percieved value of thier product.
Instead of me hearing clients saying “Why should I pay xxx amount of dollars for you when I can get this guy for $500.00? I can get that $500.00 from them, and it’s the bottom feeders who get to hear clients saying “Why should I pay you $500.00, and joe photo guy $500.00 and Joe Dj $500.00, when I can rent the gear and have my cousin take the photos, my brother in-law do the video, and play my own music off my ipod on a killer dj sound system?” for $500.00?
May 3, 2010 at 1:31 PM #180538
if the consumers are saying they want a $500.00 package, then you must come up with a $500.00 package, or someone else will. and $500.00 is better than nothing.
That is why you’re seeing copper roofing at regular pricing.
It is the Mid-range priced guys that are on the endangered species list…..
May 3, 2010 at 5:12 PM #180539
I disagree with that, while I do understand the mentality… it is a panic mentality.
Working for 500 bucks pulls you from being avilable to work for 5,000. Yes, if you are sitting doing nothing, 500 bucks is better than nothing. The key is to not sit doing nothing. Pick up the phone and stir up the gigs that acrually pay the bills. Take the time to enhance the ole reel so your marketability is oncreased. Spreading the word that you can be haggled to nada is not good business.
May 3, 2010 at 5:18 PM #180540
Training a tech to set up and take down my older equipment, doesn’t interfere with me doing a wedding at my regular pricing at all. It just takes a sale away from a bottom feeding competitor.
It opens up a market for me that won’t buy my regular product at my regular pricing, anyways.
It’s a no lose proposition for keeping my older gear from collecting dust.
I don’t even market it under my established company name, it is a seperate corporation.
when the market picks up, and some of these fly by night guys have put themselves out of business, we’ll still be standing.
May 3, 2010 at 6:13 PM #180541
Don, I am NOT seeking an argument here, nor am I in any way attacking your service/prices. However, considering the hours involved and the costs of equipment and workers at any rate, I’m having a LOT of trouble wrapping my head around provision of equipment, technical support and ANY end-product derived – even if it is a DIY setup.
$500 seems like a tough bottom line to meet the actual expenses and time involved/invested in providing this DIY business model. What COULD you possibly be clearing after expenses with a videographer/photographer/DJ package at $500?
When I have to rent a second or third projector and screen sometimes due to multiple bookings, it costs me $200 to $250 just to do that. I haven’t priced rentals for quality DJ rigs, and/or obtaining DSLRs for photos, but in Southern California, just having a general idea of what it likely costs, I’m looking at $500 in rental fees alone.
I cannot wrap my head around what you’re doing at $500, and professionally, and doing yourself any good. Seems like you are doing copper roofing at below-par prices. Please share with me, if you’re willing, your bottom line after expenses on a gig like this. How many of them have you done, signed up? How long have you been providing this triple service DIY package?
May 3, 2010 at 7:08 PM #180542
This is our first year. Most sales works out to $600.00 (extended time)
We’re taking average of one per weekend. (Usually don’t attend the full wedding, just the reception).
They set up and man the booth and take it down. The equipment is all gear that has already paid for itself and has been replaced with upgraded equipment.
Everything from the dslrs and video cameras have already been paid in full, also the projector. the sound system is an older Bose system (sounds awesome) we bought outright and upgraded with wifi connectivity, a laptop, and touchscreen remote.
Clients plug thier own ipods in and mix and dj thier own music, we just show them how to use the equipment.
we provide a simple video tutorial for when they book, to train them to set up the cameras and music playlists…
as photos get brought to the booth they are dumped to the laptop and appear on the projector.
after the first dance/cake/flowers etc the raw video goes to a dvdburner unedited. same with the photos.
We keep copies of the raw footage and photos of the cameras for sixty days and if they want editing/photoshop work they can get that separately, we charge extra for editing and photoshopping.
We only have to clear paying the tech (if we’re busy doing a wedding for example) insurance, gas…
We’re putting the service out there to meet a demand that otherwise is going to competitors.
This product is for people on a budget.
People that want artistic creative skillfully done productions, will still take our regular business offerings. Some people want quality and service, not DYI.
like the guys this service is meant to compete against, this service requires one person, one full day and is in the same price range, the set up is designed to prevent bottom feeders from pulling mid range clients away from our regular wedding service…. it is the mid range wedding client that can afford us, but might be tempted(by ridiculously low prices) to scrimp we don’t want to see our competitors profiting off of (or worse, ripping these people off).
May 3, 2010 at 7:15 PM #180543
remember some guys out there offering a $400-500 dollar wedding are hoping to “Make a name” for themselves and charge more later. others are the “I got a $500.00 camera and it can take nice photos so I’m now a pro” scam artists looking to make a fast buck.
I don’t see anything wrong with “nipping them in the bud”, so to speak, any more than they see cutting my throat and slashing the perceived value of Traditional Wedding Services as being wrong.
Since there is a market (no point crying over spilled milk) for $500.00 weddings, I want a piece of it.
It takes a lot less skill to collect memory cards and burn discs and set up speakers than it does to do what I do, so I pay a fair wage for that, and if it flies, I’ll expand it.
I don’t believe it will hurt high end Wedding imaging services for us, anywhere nearly as bad as it would hurt the bottom feeders.
May 3, 2010 at 7:48 PM #180544
Nobody that looks at Earls or Grinners or even my own High quality work is gonna buy this over a proper Wedding package… unless of course they can’t afford it…. and if they can’t afford it, they are either gonna wind up helping next years competitor to take a chunk of my business or they’re likely to get burned and wind with pictures/video they could’ve shot themselves or worse, no pictures/video… and out $500.00.
I’m supplying the equipment. I’m supplying some how-to advice. And a body to set things up and take things down, and supervise the equipment to make sure it’s used properly. I’m making life a little harder for these other guys in the process. It is a small market here, with a lot of bottom feeder popping up over the last few years. Who in turn are probably the result of the economy tanking and people feeling pressured to save money, especially when they are setting off on a new life and future. Also the influx of cheap powerful cameras and computers.
Adapt or die.
May 3, 2010 at 8:45 PM #180545
In another area of professional video services, it is widely known that I do an abundance of funeral and memorial montage and projection work. What you said in your last response, Don, second paragraph:
“I’m supplying the equipment. I’m supplying some how-to advice. And a body to set things up and take things down, and supervise the equipment to make sure it’s used properly.”
For THAT ALONE, I charge, and family clients very willingly pay, $350. I get kicked and abused by others in the industry, and yes, called a “scum-sucking bottom feeder” for THAT price! Yet I am essentially providing what you describe in the quote above, and only about a third of what your package provides for a couple hundred more.
Much of my equipment, also, is paid for but there are still costs derived – maintenance, repairs, upkeep, etc.
I KNOW you are doing something that works for you and I applaud your positive outlook on the possibilities. I also know, however, that VERY FEW of us take into consideration every REAL actuality when it comes to factoring in costs for doing service. If we did, literally, we’d all probably become suicidal and wonder how we’ve been deluding ourselves for so long 😉
Thanks for your response, though. I did notice, however, that you chose not to disclose what you actually MAKE from a gig of this nature, based on your perceived actual costs. I only hope it is worth the six-to-eight hours or so involved, along with the help and equipment use. Sadly, you’re still not going to hurt your “scam artists” as much as you might be hurting yourself by even trying. It’d be better to start a special unit that conducts raids to take away their cameras 😉
May 3, 2010 at 8:49 PM #180546
There are more than sixteen times as many competitors now as there were a few years ago.
This is where our market is at.
I like doing weddings. But it is an unregulated industry. And if sales trends continue the way they’re currently headed, 2013 will be my last year.
My new business plan is at least expandable, if it proves profitable. Marketing myself makes me self employed and limits the amount of work I can put out… this new project is turnkey and if profitable, I can expand it across the country as a franchise. By 2013
That doesn’t mean I’m quitting video, just weddings. Not as a core business…
May 30, 2010 at 1:17 PM #180547AnonymousInactive
Just my 2 cents. That is amazing to see this guy, giving away his services for free! In this day and age, with camera prices coming down and unemployed people, looking to do something to make end meets, it’s no wonder, videographers and experiencing major income crashes.
I agree with previous poster, that said, you have to diversify into other markets. It’s all part of being flexible with the changing market. You can go with the “If you can’t beat them, join them”, and just get by, or shift your strategy, to offer something more unique.
You can PM me for other things you can do with your video skills.
May 30, 2010 at 3:27 PM #180548
“Why pay for the cow when you can get the milk and meat for free….”
Fortunately, like Earl all my outfit’s gear is ‘paid fuh!’ But it still has to earn back the money invested in it. Now I do recognize that this economy ‘sucks on ice’, but I also recognize the danger of doing ‘bargain bin’ priced gigs. You bust your ass for $500 bucks when it was worth 4 or 5x more, you’ll never be able to convince your clients that they should ever pay more. Why do people buy Mercedes, BMW’s and other vehicles that are obviously overpriced? They do it for the ‘perceived value’ of it.
I tell all my clients during our initial meeting that video production is expensive as the main thing they are paying for is Time. Time to plan it, Time to produce it, Time to complete the final product. The DVD(s) they get at the end of all that time are the result of what it took to make them. The better they want it to look and sound, the longer they want it to run will take more time and cost more money. The way to reduce the overall cost of their potential project is to reduce the amount of time. They might be better served by reducing that 3-hour epic they had in mind down to 3 minutes (and it will probably be better!)
I remind them that they came to my firm because they want something that looks, sounds and gives their potential audience the ‘perceived value’ that comes from a professionally done piece. Now, I’ll work with them to put together a budget they can live with, but it’s going to cost more than $500! If they can’t manage the cost of a full video production, then I offer them a photographic/graphic solution that despite not being a fully motion production can still meet their needs visually and audibly. Yet, they are still going to have to pay for that because it still has to be shot and edited professionally to get pro quality.
Some balk and some don’t. I roll with the one’s that don’t.
May 30, 2010 at 4:09 PM #180549
If someone can’t afford my services, that’s my que to wish em well finding someone they can afford, not to lose more money on wasted time.
May 30, 2010 at 6:59 PM #180550
Why would I want to PM anybody for “other things” I can do with my video skills when the whole concept of this forum is sharing the wealth of knowledge and concepts, opinions and ideas available? I think, as has been said in other responses, not only from members and moderators, but staff as well, that PMs of and for information kind of take away from the whole concept of the forums.
Share the information openly and freely, or not at all, I say.
June 26, 2010 at 8:25 PM #180551AnonymousInactive
In the first post it was said why exectly it is very dificult to earn decent money out of making videos:
” -Especially when Google and others figure out how to convert video to text on the fly and rank videos just like regular text pages.”
Otherwise lots of webmasters would be happy to pay for the videos to content there sites (with the keywords for the big G in the videos)
July 2, 2010 at 1:00 PM #180552JaimieParticipant
This is a fascinating discussion and I now see that others are facing the same dilemmas as I am. I have a couple of comments and questions related to the above posts.
Earl, you mentioned that you do a lot of funeral/memorial montages. I have done a few and people tell me I should do more (I guess they liked them), do you have any suggestions as how best to market this service? Do you somehow hook up with the funeral homes and give them a cut or what? If you are in the Kansas City area, it would be in your best interest to not respond to this question LOL.
Wedding videos – I have gotten nearly all my clients by word of mouth. While it is true a low priced camcorder can take good video, the kid operating it probably can’t. I think it’s a mistake to bemoan the existence of cheap equipment as though the equipment were the competitor. Personally, I have found that sound sells. That cheap camcorder may get a good picture, but it will sound awful and probably miss the wedding vows completely.
OK, I’m almost done. The fact that a piece of equipment is paid for should not cause us to regard it as somehow expendable. When we buy equipment it is investing in an asset which is expected to yield a return on that investment. The fact that the equipment is paid for simply means that we have made the investment, now we are ready to receive the return on that investment. The return is the profit made from that jobs that the asset allowed us to get. Our hope, when we made the investment (i.e. bought the equipment) was that it would provide more gain (money) than any other investment we could make with that same money. We should expect that investment to keep paying us for as long as we own it. If it doesn’t earn any money, we whould sell it.
For example, we buy a camera for $4,000 and pay cash so it is paid for. Does the fact that it is paid for make it less valuable? No, it doesn’t. Suppose we get jobs that earn us $2200 a year for two years. The camera has earned its own price back, but does that mean we are no longer interested in its ability to earn $2200 per year? It does not. The value of a piece of equipment is determined by its ability to earn money. Of course, at some point the equipment will become obsolete and its earnings will drop. At this point we can sell it and buy something new.
My point is, the value of a piece of equipment is based on its ability to earn money, not whether it’s paid for.
July 9, 2010 at 12:53 AM #180553AnonymousInactive
I hate to ask this, but on the subject of pricing, do you guys think this guy is out of line with his pricing on this offer? http://onlinevideobranding.com/pro-motion/
I do, but in the HIGH sense…I think $497 is way too high for a 10- to 30-second promo in this style. Or is it just me? Maybe a “retail” price of $997 is actually in line, and $497 is a really good price…but I think it’s just ridiculous for what seems to me like about a half-hour’s work. (As a newb, I am just guesstimating at that, but I’m sure it’s an easy patch-together job in modern NLE software.)
Jennifer in Minneapolis
July 9, 2010 at 2:07 AM #180554
I got into the business through a combination of marketing strategies that included a direct-mail postcard, direct-mail letter with attached price list and support information, also a one-page instruction sheet on putting together a memorial montage. I also put together a nice folder using those folders with sleeves and business card insert slots. I placed a sample DVD, sample brochure (half-fold 8 1/2×11 to make a 4-page brochure) the info sheet on memorial montage preparation, and a cover letter.
I will usually promise to call and follow up in five working days from the date I mail any of the above. I DO make that call and ask for the name of the vice president in charge of family counselors, and for that person, and I almost ALWAYS get an appointment – with all but the most harried of them anyway. Some simply think they are way too important to take the time – fine with me.
Another thing I’ve done is have friends call funeral homes, mortuaries and cemeteries, even churches asking for names of the “family counselors” etc. This way I am able to take those resources and send info packs, direct-mail pieces, etc. to the actual SOURCE.
I’ve set up show-and-tells where I come and bring breakfast (usually rolls, croissants and/or fruit with coffee, juice and hot tea) presentation packets with sample DVD, and usually set up to project an actual memorial montage production. I show a snippet of a funeral and also a military honors event.
Many places do have owners (large corporations) and that can take a bit of extra selling. Some have these “push-button” software packages they are often given by some company or another. Many and most of them cannot touch the quality of work you and I can do, the packaging we can create or even the turnaround we promise.
I guarantee my funeral home clients that I WILL turn around any memorial montage within 24 hours of receipt of all materials. I tell them I prefer more time, and usually always get more time, but when tested I’ve been there for them in a big way. This goes a long way. Once you get the trust of the family counselors they will do ALL the selling and all you have to do is deliver, produce, show up, etc.
I provide basic services for outstanding prices, low enough that most establishments are able to tag on a percentage, keep some for themselves and still give a few dollars to the family counselors to reward them for their time and efforts.
(more information regarding the actual business of funeral/memorial/projection video can be found at my blog)
July 9, 2010 at 2:09 AM #180555
It’s actually whatever the market will bear. If this producer is finding a market and need and is filling that need, then the price is reasonable for his clients. If they aren’t particularly impressed with the cookie-cutter concept involved then he will discontinue this particular marketing strategy sooner or later.
As you well know, I advocate LOTS of ways to make money producing video – most of them based on reasonable quality productions for reasonably priced fees. Hope to hear from you soon.
July 14, 2010 at 4:05 PM #180556AnonymousInactive
Congratulations this is a great topic and certainly valid. What i have learned as veteran coming up, was that my initial fear of the revolution of “affordable” quality resolution video gear and desktop editing, would do to production, what the Linn Drum machine, did to music. Yes, there are now MILLIONS of “would-be” video producers. On the other hand in a discussion I recently participated heavily in (International Film & Video Professionals), This scenario to a great extent merely floods the marketplace with poor content. There seems to a trend among those who jump into video and or filmmaking, that learning the equipment or taking a course on say FCP, makes one a “Filmmaker” and or “editor”. As any of us who have had any professional success whatsoever know is that learning how to operate the equipment DOES NOT make you CREATIVELY or ARTISTICALLY talented!
Much the way singing lessons won’t make you a ROCK STAR, those who have talent MUST concentrate as much an employing their own unique talent to exploit creative methods to deliver RESULTS for clients!
To EARN in this market, the producers and directors respectively who will rise above, will deliver RESULTS for their clients. That said, compelling entertaining content properly marketed will get “VIEWS”. Those “VIEWS” = RESULTS. Thus providing quantifiable ROI for clients and producers.
I spend a great deal of time and effort supporting and consulting filmmakers even at the broadcast level in combining creative methods of developing and producing compelling PROFITABLE content by exploiting the technology available with focus on creativity and PRODUCTION VALUE.
You can see more at my Blog or contact me for more information, tips and ideas…
The Production Doctor!
July 20, 2010 at 12:04 PM #180557KiumyParticipant
Thank you guys for sharing; there is a lot good information.
August 11, 2010 at 1:27 AM #180558michaelParticipant
My thoughts, as follow. This economy has caused EVERY industry, to get in a pissing match, and circle jerk, with every competitor in the neighborhood. It’s a race to the bottom, and all players, play a part. I’m befuddled in my day job, as I watch this play out. NO ONE, is selling value now, EVERYTHING is price. So I’m watching my employer wither and fade, as our margins drop.
Find your market. Find your demographic. Sell value. If you allow yourself to be sucked into a pissing match with any/all lowballers in your neighborhood, you’re business will suffer.
August 11, 2010 at 7:14 AM #180559
Interesting terminology applied to marketing competition – makes the point, I suppose, in a rather vulgar way. Believe me I’m no prude and use some of the heavy four-letter-words with enthusiasm under certain circumstances. But when I want to APPEAR to be professional and desire that others perceive me as such, I tend to avoid such crude commentary and try to make my point on a more intellectual level. Sermon over.
The current economy has caused many desperate businesspeople to focus on PRICE ONLY in an effort to get the bigger numbers, or larger percentage of the available business pie (demographics) and PRICE alone is not going to sustain them, No profit, no cash flow, not sustainable business operations.
VALUE is a major component of successful business and true, without that, it is only a matter of time that any business will take the same route downward as price-based competition dictates. Sadly, you seem to imply that your “day job” employer fails to perceive “value” as being a component of his/her business, as well as attempting to compete in his/her market based on price cutting alone. This, it would seem, is eventually going to put YOU out on the street, or more actively pursuing your “video based?” non-day job?
Finding the market is not a problem. Identifying the desired demographic is not a problem. Also, price-based competition along with some established value, or at least a perception of value among that group, and you don’t necessarily need to remark, “there goes the neighborhood.”
Those who discover, develop and pursue ways to minimize their expenses, maximize their efficiencies of operation, mitigate their losses and create product that is valued, business that is renewable and services that are desirable will prevail over all others with whom they compete.
While profits are desired, cash flow is king. Without it most businesses will cease to exist. There are multi-million-dollar corporations that do not have the luxury of cash flow, who are faced almost monthly with the difficult task of talking a lending institution (the ones taxpayers bailed out to save the nation) into loaning them what is needed for payroll, among other things. So their costs of doing business are exacerbated by having to pay fees and interest on short-term loans…IF they can get them. Not as easy as it once might have been.
Then we have the small businesses, where we all fall to a greater or lesser degree. No hope of getting loans for payroll, or that we even should; no hope of most any kind of loan and a fairly insane approach for a small business in the first place. So, we’re convincing a few through our marketing efforts of having “value” but we’re also trying to keep on top of the food chain by staying close in price to what the market will, or CAN, bear and what the general market and competition is trending.
With cash flow, doing jobs daily that result in money coming in on a daily basis, even a company that focuses only on price over value to compete in its market arena can stay afloat until the economy recovers – if it indeed ever really does. Many savvy business operators understand that operating on a “PRICE” competition basis, while a gamble of sorts, isn’t always a bad thing. Because so long as cash flow can keep the economic wolves at bay until better times, those who have managed to stay afloat and continue to develop or sustain their market base will not only survive, but they will revive.
August 12, 2010 at 5:26 PM #180560
“… Cash flow can keep the economic wolves at bay until better times….”
Well said sir! In a post long ago I said that going into business for yourself was like “jumping into the Shark Tank.” Well, now there’s way more folks ‘thrashing’ about next to you and a lot more sharks! I have to admit that when times were good, though I was frugal I still managed to take a great deal for granted. Hustling for the elusive but worth it corporate gigs is a lot harder these days, but I’ve been doing my best to keep my ‘flotation device’, ‘knife’ and ‘speargun’ in working order.
Disbarring complete worldwide calamity, things will improve but unfortunately it’s going to take time. The biggest issue for those of us ‘Micro-businesses’ (seeing how the government doesn’t qualify us as ‘small’) is as you mentioned that the major lending institutions are holding onto the cash ‘we lent them’ like it’s their money in order to keep their accounts in the black. I could kind of see that back in ’09 when they were all paying back the loan given them. But now, most have cleared their debt to us and are making record profits (must be nice!) Now is the time to free up that money and get the ball rolling again.
Until that happens, we’re all going to have to deal with the whole ‘I can do that video for you really cheap’ attitude from the ammy’s flooding in who don’t understand that in order to justify the expenses of gear and man-hours used in the process of making videos must be taken into account and paid for. All they see is ‘$500 per-video’ and not understand or care that same video may well be worth 3x or more at a reasonable rate. Of course many of them realize it when they’re dog-tired from cranking out vids for little money and they don’t have enough cash to get gear fixed, repaired or upgraded in order to keep working.
One thing is sure, if customers see nothing but crap for cheap they’ll accept it until they see quality work for just a little bit more. Our jobs as professionals is to keep customers informed as to why they should pay more for our services and let our work reinforce it. One good thing about the ‘Tube is I love finding comparable (and God-awful) vids and compare them to what I do. The lights come on real quick! I have every intention of still being afloat in ‘the tank’ after the sharks have stuffed themselves with a few scars and a few sets of boiled shark jaws to hang on my wall!
August 12, 2010 at 6:46 PM #180561
When I find myself not making money, I console myself by making art.
That way if anybody asks, I don’t have to lie when I say “I’ve been very busy”.
August 15, 2010 at 6:26 PM #180562JaimieParticipant
Thanks for the detailed marketing info! It is exactly what I was looking for since my product differentiator, like yours, will be quick turn around and high quality. I was hung up on the problem of selling the slideshow to the family of the deceased. Clearly, marketing to counselors is an excellent idea as there is the possibility of repeat business. Also, I noticed that you refer to slideshows as montages. A much better choice of words.
About a year ago a young lady who I met in a Chamber of Commerce series of seminars contacted me and at least one other videographer seeking someone to make a short promotional piece for her employer, a major assisted living establishment in this area.. The problem was she had a zero budget. She seemed desperate (and cute – ok, I’m old, but I still like cute) the job was not very difficult. The video and she were both big hits with her boss. A couple of days ago, she called again, this time with money. As an added benefit, I mentioned that I was interested in “cracking” the memorial montage business. She said she has lots of contacts and would be glad to help me.
I guess a little charity goes a long way.
Thanks again for your insights,
August 15, 2010 at 11:30 PM #180563
Hey Jim, thanks for the nod. Did you get my e-mail sent you earlier today?
September 17, 2010 at 4:24 PM #180564comatoadMember
The same issue arose once DTP become accessible to the masses. Now everyone is an editor/publisher, regardless of their experience level or ability. It practically wrecked layout and editing for the learned professional.
September 17, 2010 at 7:42 PM #180565
Technology is a double edged sword…
I would be losing money with the downward spiral the market is goin in…..
but, I’m gaining traction with interactive multimedia displays…
I have displays that react to movement and gestures to connect people to multimedia content (read advertising)….
so an advertiser can have me shoot the content and set up a display…
September 17, 2010 at 11:43 PM #180566
For my business it’s Video StoryTellers!? funerals/memorials/montages and Celebrations of Life! plus youth events. We’re working on something that helps small business owners utilize the Internet for visibility and linkage, making it simple and affordable for them to represent their operations on the place where most people now go to find what they’re looking for.
Video StoryTellers! is global and growing and I continue to need associates representing states in the U.S.A. as well as other countries.
Good for you, Don, on what you’re doing!
September 18, 2010 at 12:13 AM #180567
here is an example of a display I’m setting up for a Halloween haunt… the concept relies on the basic premis of interactivity, but my advertising displays read gestures in the same way as mouse clicks in a web browser…
you walk past the display and it reacts and if you point at an area of the display, it plays the content you are pointing at.
September 18, 2010 at 1:08 AM #180568
Interesting. Investment? Implementation? Cost to client? Care to share?
September 18, 2010 at 1:22 AM #180569
can’t divulge too much at present….
the goal is to assist advertisers in getting the right ad content to people by giving people the ability to interact and choose what info is displayed.
let’s just say I envision a world where everywhere you need a hand carrying something, like shopping, golfing or airports, when you pay with your cell phone or coins, a machine carries your stuff and interacts with you to provide information or adverts that interest you.
whenever you are stuck someplace like a bus stop or on a subway the video displays you see are intelligent enough to interact with you…. and even help you find what you’re looking for.
a shopping cart that carries your shopping, and suggests where you might find more deals based on what Items you’re looking at…
October 15, 2010 at 3:51 AM #180570MarcelParticipant
I am not sure if this is applicable to this discussion, but here goes anyways. I live in Green Bay, WI. We have a few big video/media/flash/grahics house’s here. Most actually contract the work out … the gear comes from Milwaukee, Chicago, or even farther. It cost big bucks. All the corporate prospects go that way. I always get the “feeling” that if corporate isn’t dealing with another “corporate”, they suffer from Brain Freeze. There are two other small operators (and maybe more) here that are far better than I … and local. They charge about twice what I charge. There are so many “Filmmakers” and artist that will talk your ears off for hours … that don’t have any films or much less a decent video that isn’t more than a 30 second shaky static shot, I won’t mention them here any more. I had to out-price a guy once … only to learn later that he doesn’t own a computer or any editing gear and had never done it before, but spent like 8 grand on a camcorder (SD).
I lost the real estate client I had … doing it in house now I think. I know the kid had an HD Camcorder, fallowed me around a bit, and even had a two year degree in video from somewhere. He couldn’t grasp that AVCHD is h.264 (a version, or container). He liked WMV … exclusively. He sternly informed me that he wasn’t a “videographer”, or video producer, but a “FILMMAKER”. They now do badly shot, badly lit, etc videos in 4/3 SD. I don’t see any “sold” tags on the new videos, as most of mine. And I don’t consider myself that good … I am not that good, but trying and getting a little better all the time. I gave them a great deal for continued work. Didn’t fly. I know they wanted an “intern” to do it. I wish them all the best. I know the housing market is still bad.
That is the only “online” promo I have ever done professionally. I am a blogger, so I do all kinds of silly, Youtube stuff. I like to fancy myself a citizen “video-journalist”. It is fun, and I keep my workflow in order that way as well. But it is all for me and for free. It’s also for me to use my music constructively as well.
I charged half my fee ($1700 is my usual flat fee, plus any expenses like travel, vehicles, models, etc) for my last TV ad than I did for my first one … my client told me what he could afford, and I added two hundred on top of that as my last offer.
What sucks is that of the 5 regular TV stations here in Green Bay, only one will broadcast externally produced spots in full HD. The one the client picked told him they would shoot, edit and produce his ad in a few weeks time for $60. That’s right, the TV Station (FOX affiliate) was driving my price down by telling them they could do it for $60! Luckily my client had used me before and was happy with my work … and didn’t want to wait 3-4 weeks. I deliver a finished product (online) the next day for review, and then allow up to 4 revisions before I start to bill by the hour ($50hr, as that is what I average when I work).
Now the first ad had much more preparation … and the “talent” were local professionals. Here is the 15sec spot below as I produced … then below that the one I had to render for the Tv Station (letterboxed, 480 resolution, bandwith under 1500).
Now for the last one, again at less than half the price, with informally recruited talent (Models that they use for the Magazine). 15 sec and a 30 spot … I didn’t even save the SD versions for broadcast this time.
I am not sure, but there is a difference in quality.
Now when If I would use these for samples, I usually send them to the HD online versions. They look much better that what one sees on TV …. and that sucks!!!. The cost of getting some spots on the one station will will put them on the air in full hd … is … well … prohibitive.
Since the economy failing, most of the new prospective clients and or business’s that now inquire want me to do the whole thing as a proud and lucky “intern”. It seems the new corporate speak for “We need all that money … and you don’t …. because … well … that is the way it just is”. I should be proud to be “tabbed” for such an honor, and if I am really luck, maybe I’ll get to carry his golf clubs for him someday … maybe … If I am lucky … someday. What get’s me is I thought it was corporate who were the only ones doing good these days … and since if they don’t get rich, we don’t get paid, all should be good … right?
So … that is the way that is … and it ain’t nothing but a thing.
I am actively pursuing trying to get sponsored to go over seas to cover some of the trouble there. Tell the story … if I could only learn how to speak!
If that goes south, the one thing I may be doing diffently in the future is … moving to a larger market area. But … ????
PS … again thanks for having me here … I always learn something, from EVERY contributor, or at least it gets my brain locked and loaded.
RLTW … RK out.
October 15, 2010 at 7:41 AM #180571
I really, REALLY want to understand the point you’re trying to make here. After reading your entire post I almost perceived it as a rant against the big houses, the low-balling cable companies or station affiliates, or cheap or expensive people in video in general, but then I became totally washed out on where you’re going with the post, other than showing us some of your “stuff”. I’ll come back later and take a look at the clips, but for now reading all that simply exhausted me. 😉
October 15, 2010 at 8:14 AM #180572MarcelParticipant
Yea, I know. I lost the point there.
October 16, 2010 at 7:40 PM #180573
Early in this post PeachyDingo said: “Do you all still feel this way? Has video gone the way of photography with the glut of “good enough” far out weighing the real pros? Heck, little Billy down the street can borrow Daddy’s HD cam and do a decent (if not professional) video job?”
There will ALWAYS be a demand (NEED) for both: “good enough” and “professional” quality productions. A new or established, even long-time professional constantly has to redirect, change and adapt.
For example: (which I will explain further in my upcoming commercial funeral and memorial marketing guide) In 1999-2000 I invested in projection equipment and almost immediately got a R.O.I. paying off the investment in 90 days because the several funeral homes I marketed to did not have that capability. Soon, providing this service as well as production of professional quality photo/music memorial montages and funeral videotaping, became better than 50 percent of my annual business and income.
Flash forward to 2010. At this point my projection services, and as a result my montage production, business levels have dropped 90 percent from the GREAT levels I experienced only last year. It dropped so drastically because in the funeral industry the facilities were all installing projection services and giving it away, trying to compete for the business. One did it, then another, and another, until virtually ALL of them have free projection in at least their primary or major chapel or facility.
What do you do when this happens? Give up? Go away? No! You see where the faults and oversights are and address those issues to your business advantage. There are MANY issues that develop as families begin doing their own photo/music montages that may or may not work in the facility system. This is happening quite frequently, with members and friends in our funeral business calling, writing, e-mailing and lamenting the ongoing problems and issues and, most importantly, family client backlash … “YOU SAID IT WOULD WORK! and I don’t care if it’s free, if it doesn’t play MY DVD…”
I’ve totally reworked my approach and business is once again gaining ground, increasing and actually will exceed what I was making with the projection services, but it will not include projection. How? Well, that will be in the resource product I will soon be offering at an affordable investment. 😉
October 17, 2010 at 3:28 AM #180574
Sometimes just getting your work out there helps.
Never hurts to help others. You can’t go wrong volunteering for causes you believe in.
If I got down time… I find projects to work on.
Making money for charity is still making money, just not for yourself.
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