More newbie questions about pricing.

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    • #43357


      I have an idea about doing freelance video work, creating youtube ads for small businesses.

      My main question is pricing, and what to charge.

      My background: I have a diploma in a multimedia/communications program at a local college, supplemented by an internship at a local TV station. I live in a medium-sized Canadian city.

      My gear: Nikon DSLR, Zoom H1 mic, LED video light, Mac + iMovie.

      So again my concern is charging. My idea is in approaching small businesses so that might be a factor. I’m wondering about charging a fixed rate vs. a per-hour rate. And what would be an average rate per hour. I think my video skills are solid and my gear, although simple, can produce good results especially for youtube or a basic embedded video. But I’m not an industry vet with 20 years experience. At the same time I don’t want to make it too hard for myself with a low charge if I need to raise my rates later, or devalue my work with a low charge, or hurt the industry’s pay standards.

      So I guess this raises a few questions: If I’m targeting businesses with low budgets, is it reasonable to offer a lower rate?

      I’m thinking $25-30 an hour. But maybe it should be more.

    • #181932

      Hello Alan, I’m developing a program to pursue this market and you can view the basis of my approach at my website at Webpage Billboards. It might give you some ideas of what to charge or where to take it. While my services are MORE in one way, and MORE BASIC in another, I think it is a viable solution especially for small business owners and operators, even people who are doing business out of their homes with hobby and skills related focus. It is one of several resource books I’m developing on a wide range of video production and marketing interests ranging from weddings (of course) to funerals, to montages and video/website services for small businesses.

    • #181933

      Hi Alan

      You hit it on the head with “I don’t want to make it too hard for myself with a low charge if I need to raise my rates later, or devalue my work with a low charge, or hurt the industry’s pay standards”.

      It is fairly easy to work out that your hourly rate should be $60 – 100. The way around the problems of lower ratesthat you mentioned,is to quote a more reasonable “professional” rate, but offer a deep “New Year” discount or whatever other discount phrase you would like to use.

    • #181934

      Hi Alan

      The starting point for figuring out what to charge is figuring out what your costs are, including a salary for yourself and a profit for your business. In this regard you might take a look at, an article I published some years back. It might help you consider your actual costs.

      Obviously you have to consider things such as what others are charging and what you think the market will handle, but ultimately you have to take into account how much it costs you to go out on a shoot, edit what you’ve shot, pay yourself for your time and make a profit for your company.

      I would strongly advise against charging a fixed rate. You’ll find that what you think will take a couple of hours to accomplish will often turn out to require two or three times that amount of work. An hourly fee works for many of us. And it’s not a bad idea to break up you fee schedule into two parts: an hourly fee for shooting and an hourly fee for editing. It’s not uncommon for these fees to be different. Clients sometimes decide not to follow through with a project after it has been shot, so charge for the shoot, money to be paid at the conclusion of the shoot, and charge again when the editing is done and approved. This way, even if the project falls through, you’ve been paid for your time and talents in the shoot.

      I think your proposed fee of $25-30 per hour is very low. It may encourage some to use your services but you won’t be making any money. $75-100 would be more like it, unless you’re just doing this as a hobby and want only enough income to cover gas costs and help pay off your camera.


    • #181935

      Thanks for the information, guys! It helped to clarify a few things I was thinking about.

    • #181936

      Nice article, Jack. I generally charged what I could negotiate. But I did not really have a rhyme nor reason. I got whatever I could. I own a Panasonic AF100. Now I know how to factor in the cost to my equipment.


    • #181937

      Thanks for the kind words, Kali. Glad you found it both interesting and helpful.

      Pricing seems to be very difficult for many videographers and I wrote this article in an attempt to provide a rational approach to solving the problem.


    • #181938

      I hate to burst your bubble, do you know how many (kids) are out there with HD cams and premiere pro? But then again, experience and age may win many customers over..just a thought..

    • #181939

      Personally, at 60+ I think it’s GREAT that “kids” are out there with HD cams and Premiere Pro. I think it’s great that we have a sustainable market covering a huge range of video production (not JUST weddings πŸ˜‰ that can appeal to every level, every mindset, every interest and type.

      I’ll leave extreme sports to “the kids” and probably even the YouTube Jackass-type producers as well as a host of other productions my mind, body and mood simply no longer reach for, and enjoy the thousands of potential event, personal, small business and corporate gigs available to me in my market area. I still have camera, will travel and I’m prepared to dash out the door in a moment’s notice to cover something a last-minute caller rings my phone about.

      I have something you alluded to, WeddingM, that often does, can and will give me an edge over youth and enthusiasm, strength and athletic prowess: I have experience, maturity, knowledge of my tools, aggressiveness, a higher level of professionalism and I am a strong marketer and businessman.

      These things come with time but sadly many “kids” never get deep enough into or far enough along to make it. Nor do they always sustain a motivating interest in the business side, they’re in it for the fun and creative outlet.

      I’m glad, because with what, 311 million in the U.S., 7 billion worldwide, there’s plenty of people who have no interest in creating watchable, quality, professional video. That’s a HUGE market, my friend and there aren’t enough of us yet to serve it!

    • #181940

      It’s not clear what “bubble” you think you’re bursting. Pricing is a function of what your costs are and how much profit you want or need to make.

      It’s also a reflection how you think of yourself and how you want others to think of you and the value of your work.

      You could shoot 40-60 weddings a year for $500-700 a wedding; I know at least two videographers who do. But I also know two videographers who shoot 10 weddings a year at $3,000 to $5000. I’d rather be in the latter group.

      If you’re suggesting that there are “kids” out there who can afford, and are willing, to do high class work for $25-30 an hour, more power to them. Statistically, most won’t be in business two years from now, however. If you’re suggesting that those who charge more than $25-30 per hour are delusional — i.e., living in a bubble –there are many on this forum who support their families and their predilictions through their work as videographers, and that’s difficult to do at $25-30 per hour given the cost of production.


    • #181941

      Pricing is one of the toughest things about working on your own in video production.

      It’s almost an art unto itself.

      As yougain experience you will better be able to judge how much to charge foryour product in your market. You’ll find it’s a product of your skills, your equipment, your expensesyour competition and the economy (among other factors.)

      At some point you’ll have to pick a price and go from there. You will either find you’ve priced yourself too high and you’re not getting any work and you’ll have toadjust your price down accordingly or increase your marketing. Or you find you’re working steady but it’s just not worthyour time and effort at the end of the day and either raise your rates or quit.

      As others have pointed out, your ability to market yourself is as much a factor in making money as your skills as a video producer.

      Good luck. πŸ™‚

    • #181942

      As someone who is about to venture into the paid world of videography, I wonder day and night what to charge. I have quoted a few people lower than average just to gain the experience, and have the ability to put a reel together showing the different events I can and will do. I want to get my name out there and I think the more events I am exposed to during this self imposed “trial” period will go a long way into gaining more customers down the road and as I gain more confidence, my rates will begin to reflect that.

      I am in the process of editing so many pieces I did for ZERO money, for nothing else than adding to my reel. Plus it gives me the practice to master Final Cut and try things out that I might not have taken the time to learn otherwise.

      I want to be able to live off my earnings, but I also have to build up awareness, so I don’t want to come out of the gate and charge 3,500 for a Wedding, when I have yet to shoot one. I would rather go lower, and impress the couple, they get a deal and I have something I am proud of to show the next couple. As I do that and I experience what happens in the course of a wedding day, I can begin to make more effective quotes. The goal a year from now would be the ability to charge a minimum of $100 an hour for a local gig. And concentrate on other events than just weddings. But weddings introduce you to a lot of people that have other things going on, so I have no problem charging from the bottom and working up as skills, and economy improve.

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