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When I go to my doctor, I pay him $what works out to about $125 an hour to listen to me whine and write me a script on a notepad.
When I go to the quickie oil change place, I spend $35 on an oil change that takes 10 minutes. Subtract the $15 for the cost of materials, and the oil change place is charging about $60 an hour for labor, and in turn giving me service from some inexperienced high school kid who probably can’t do more to an engine that change the oil. If I go to my real mechanic, I get to pay $80 an hour for him to fix whatever ails my van. $50 an hour for an experienced video producer with 12 years of experience is a pretty dang good price, if you ask me. It’s probably also not what we actually get.
Subtracting all other contracts, let’s assume I get three wedding contracts a month, and it averages to about $1800 a week in wedding income. After materials, insurance, the cost of ads, TAXES, etc, I’m actually getting to keep about half of that, maybe less, so let’s say I keep $900 a week, free and clear.
$900 a week sounds like a lot at first, but let’s look at the work that goes into it. Every week, I’m working on at least one wedding, possibly two or more. I spend maybe 50-60 hours a week in my editing bay, and probably another 15-20 hours or so doing business stuff such as meeting with new clients, scheduling and attending trade shows, meeting people and networking, etc, etc… So let’s round that out to 70 hours of business-related work every week. Divide that by the $900 I’m still holding onto, and I’m making just under $13 an hour. My wife makes more than that!
Of course, this is only for example, and of course I do more than just weddings. On top of that, I sometimes hire an assistant, which makes like even more complicated. If I want to keep putting food on the table, I find myself doing more than just weddings. It sounds like a lot of money, but really, it’s not that much.
Interestingly, what I see here are two inexperienced people, saying that videographers make cash hand-over fist, and several pros with years of experience saying no, not really. Who would you trust to know their stuff in this discussion if you had to pick a side?
Don’t get me wrong, video is awesome fun. I love the work, and I’m happy to spend most of my waking hours on my business, but it’s not making me rich, not by any means. And the big thing to remember is that in any business, the government wants their due, especially if you actually put yourself or someone else on your payroll. A $2500 wedding video might leave you with around $1500-1700 after the feds get their cut, and that’s before you even start subtracting costs for material expenses. And don’t think you can fudge numbers. You have to pay the piper.
Again, when I got into the business on my own, I thought the same thing you fresh faces are thinking, and I thought I’d get rich by doing economy wedding videos for a few hundred. It took me a while, but I realized how utterly, blatheringly stupid I actually was. It’s a costly business. For people who love doing it it’s worth it, but it’s costly none the less.