How to start your videography business, a guide to help you get started on the path to working for yourself

There is a lot of information available for starting your own business. It can be overwhelming, so let’s focus on the basics to get you off on the right foot. We have broken those fundamentals down into three categories to cover starting, running, and growing your business. Taking these first steps will help set you up for ultimate success to make money with video.

Starting your videography business

Stephen Covey, author of the book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” says, “Begin with the end in mind.” Build your company to last. Starting things off right and having good habits when you start will only benefit you down the road.

Building from the ground up

Now that you’ve decided to start your videography business, make it official. Before you run out and begin doing work, you need to create a legal entity. There are multiple options to choose from including a sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, or corporation. If you are unsure which will work best for you, learn more from the Small Business Administration or the IRS. If you need further assistance, we recommend looking into an online service such as Legal Zoom or contacting an attorney in your area.

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Setting up your financials

Another important part to get right from the beginning is your accounting. Failing to keep track of your expenses, put money aside for taxes, or file your taxes on time will end your entrepreneurial journey really fast.

Take the time to plan out your expenses on a spreadsheet in advance. Look at what costs you have, what you will need to buy in the future, and how much you want to pay yourself. This will help you determine how much you should charge and how many projects you need to get in order to reach your goals. Do some research to determine the average rate in your area and industry.

Once you determine your market rate, keep track of all of your expenses using accounting software. We recommend checking out Wave Accounting for a free, easy solution when you are just getting started. Wave will allow you to manage transactions, run accounting reports, create invoices, and accept payments from clients. If you want to step up to a paid software with some more features, check out Quickbooks

Educate yourself as much as possible about your financials. Your cash flow and finances are the blood of your videography business and what will help you survive and grow as you move forward. If you still feel lost when it comes to financials and taxes, find a good accountant and bookkeeper in your area. These professionals can help you make good financial decisions and file your taxes correctly at the end of the year.  

Running your videography business

Now that your videography business is legal and you have a system in place for tracking your finances, it’s time to start running the day-to-day operations. Motivational author and speaker Zig Ziglar said it best when he stated, “Success occurs when opportunity meets preparation.” In order to succeed, you will need to be ready for your first job.

Assembling a team

As you start to bring in jobs, you will quickly realize that even though you are a team of one, it will take an army to achieve your goals. How do you get great talent if you can barely afford to support yourself? The answer is freelancers.

Visit websites like Production Hub, LinkedIn, and Instagram to start finding local talent in your area. Reach out to the people you want to work with and set up a short Zoom meeting, phone call, or go grab coffee. Tell them about your videography business and let them know you are looking for freelancers you can reach out to when you start to bring in more work.

Create a list of questions to help you get a feel for who they are and what they do. Ask them about their rate, specialty, where you can view their demo reel, and how far in advance you need to book their service. Use what you find out to build your own freelance directory. The next time you have a job that requires a team you’ll know who to contact first, second, or third.  

Creating an online experience

Your website is like your online storefront, so make sure you have a great experience ready for your visitors. Create your website’s messaging around your ideal customer. Make sure to address things in your text that speak to them and let them know that you are here to help. Think about their pain points and how you can help solve their problem.

Create a demo reel of your best work and put it on your main page so your visitors know what you’re capable of. If you have past clients, ask them if you can interview them about your services in a testimonial video or if they will provide a written quote for your homepage. This will demonstrate to potential customers how you have helped clients just like them. For more help on your messaging, check out books like Building a Story Brand or Brand Bewitchery

Growing your videography business

Getting your first few projects is exciting, but it’s critical to stay focused on how you can continue to grow and generate more revenue. Make time for marketing and sales. If you sit around waiting for work to come to you, you will lose opportunities to someone else who is putting in the effort.

Marketing mindset

Pick one to two social media platforms that you like using and create a posting schedule. Post behind-the-scenes photos and helpful articles and videos. Don’t be afraid to put yourself on camera. Being helpful, giving people a peek into your day-to-day, and demonstrating your expertise as a professional will allow prospects the opportunity to discover and get to know you. We recommend trying to post at least once a week and staying consistent.

Time to sell

Marketing will help you with brand presence, but sometimes you just need to ask for the job. Get involved with some local networking groups and your chamber of commerce. For more help with networking check out some articles online. Another way to try to get business is with a cold reach out. Try sending emails, making calls, sending direct mail, or visiting in-person. Don’t ask for a sale right away. Lead with value and help educate your prospect on how you can help them achieve their goals. Learn more about your prospect and position yourself as a resource. The sale will come naturally as the relationship progresses.

Go get started

These were just a few tips to get you started. There are plenty of other great resources. Search Videomaker for some more articles before you jump in and continue to educate yourself as you go along. Stay up to date with industry trends, changes in taxes and bookkeeping, sales techniques, etc. You are now the business owner and that means you have to wear many hats, but don’t be afraid to ask for help. It’s a lot of work but, when done right, starting your own videography business can be extremely rewarding. Good luck!

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Bill Baraona
I am a video production and marketing professional living in Cleveland, Ohio. I have been working in the video industry since 2004. I'm married to a beautiful graphic designer living our best creative lives. When I'm not working and running the day to day operations of Flex Media you can find me on the shores of Lake Erie, enjoying local restaurants, and searching for the perfect cup of coffee.