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Whether I quote a fixed price or by the hour, it all averages $75 to $100 per hour.
The first thing I had to do was factor in ALL my costs for doing business, including equipment, expenses such as insurance, permits, taxes, salary, location, meals, the afore-mentioned percentage set aside for future investment/replacement, every pencil, every website and hosting and their related costs, EVERY single penny I put into doing and conducting business.
I took these amounts and totaled them for the year, divided by 50 weeks x 40 hours = 2,000 hours a year, on average, I expect to work (sure add those other two weeks and even weekends, but expect burnout sooner rather than later if you don’t take time for yourself, and other extenuating circumstances). I divide my TOTAL ACTUAL/estimated costs for doing business by that figure and THAT gives me what I need to make on an hourly basis to break even. If I WANT to make a profit I need to add some percentage to reflect that, upping the hourly rate I need to charge.
And I have to realize that there will be times when I’m NOT working every hour, making that amount every hour, downtime, other factors that weigh in on my bottom line. I have to adjust “on the run” so to speak, knowing that there will be times when I need to make/charge MORE, or when due to economy or other factors I have to cut my rates to keep business coming in.
Thus the $75-to-$100 hourly average I charge.
After a bit of experience you will become comfortable estimating how long certain production work will take, and will use that estimate to develop a flat fee, adding 10 percent for variables that inevitably will occur. This would be your charge for a project where you provide a “delivered” turnkey or flat rate. For example: you estimate it will take you 10 hours to shoot and another 20 hours to edit and deliver a wedding. Thirty hours X $100 = $3,000. If you tag on another 10 percent, you’re looking at $3,300 and the minimum you ought to be charging for wedding production. That doesn’t happen, of course, because even I have pricing that is way below that. Also, rare is the independent wedding video producer who will be able to shoot, edit and deliver a full-blown wedding event in 30 hours. Happens, but rarely.
Simply stated, when I charge LESS than $3,300 for a wedding production I AM losing money! Period! But I make that loss up in other forms of production work that take LESS time and produce MORE income on average. Why do I continue to do weddings? Because I simply cannot turn away business and the contacts made through weddings have led me to other, often more lucrative, business … from montages to funerals, to website video for small business, to youth sports groups, school event contacts and more.
At the end of the year, however, when all is said and done, I know I will have gotten close to what I needed to average, that $75 per hour, based on a 2000-hour work year. Still, some years I barely manage to break even, while other years I’ve made a profit but actually decided to plow that profit back into the business with new equipment or whatever.
I believe anyone averaging less than $45 an hour for video production work as an independent businessperson is NOT making money or covering ALL the expenses, much less making a profit. These factors can change depending on the individual: part-time, supplemental income, income for support of a video production hobby, etc. It isn’t always about the money, but to some extent, short of doing video totally for the pleasure of it and the enjoyment of a GREAT hobby, you need to be compensated and that probably isn’t happening if you charge less than $45 per hour, on average.