“How do I make more money as a filmmaker, freelance videographer or in my video editing business?” is the number one, most frequently asked question we hear – and it is an important question!
The careers of professional videographers and freelance entrepreneurial filmmakers most often begin with the love of a casual hobby. Videos meant to preserve the precious moments spent with family and friends become the catalyst for improving techniques and upgrading equipment. From this is born the desire to make a little extra money with their hobby.
Whether videographers specialize in documenting special events or creating how-to and explainer videos, they all agree that there are several basic principles to follow in order to make more money as a filmmaker and help your video business become a thriving success.
Here are 5 ways to make more money as a filmmaker or in your freelance video-related business:
1. A BUSINESS PLAN IS A MUST
Every successful business has a business plan. In order to grow your business, you must have a realistic understanding of your strengths and weaknesses. It is imperative that you have a very clear and accurate picture of what your expenses are going to be; this includes the rare and unexpected emergency costs and the other challenges of freelancing that will always occur. Additionally, a realistic understanding of your expected income is necessary in order to measure the profitability of your business. A thorough business plan will also include a detailed marketing plan that answers the questions:
- How will you find potential clients?
- How will you inform your clients about the variety of services you offer?
Do not forget to research your competition to see how your prices and services compare. By researching and providing this information, you will know exactly what you will need to achieve (number of clients, income, specific equipment) before you are able to quit your regular job and pursue your dream 100%.
2. ADVERTISE, OR ELSE
As mentioned above, a successful business must market itself to its clients. Word-of-mouth advertising is the best form of advertising, of course. You always want to do what you can to encourage people to tell their friends about how great you are. However, relying solely on word-of-mouth advertising is not good enough for a professional. You need to identify where your potential clients are and seek them out. For example, if you are a wedding videographer, be sure to attend as many bridal expos as you possibly can while placing ads in your local newspaper’s wedding supplements. If shooting company training videos is more your thing, then attend business expos and place ads in various trade publications.
Remember, advertising may cost, but it always pays!
If you are a seller on a micro job website or marketplace, the platform should give you many ways to promote your freelance video services as well as your seller’s profile. While we are working hard to promote your services through the marketplace so you are making more money, you absolutely must take control of marketing your services here, too, if you want to maximize the amount of money you are making. Stay tuned for the launch of our VTO Business Academy, where we teach you how to get the most out of your freelance filmmaking, editing, and marketing services; it’s in development and coming soon.
3. PRICES: THEY CAN BE TOO LOW
Especially in the early stages of growing a business, it can be quite tempting to set your prices low in the hope of generating up a lot of business. It can also be easy to get intimidated, second-guess your business plan and then set your prices too low as a consequence. Regardless of the reason, establishing prices that are too low is always a mistake. Creating the perfect video takes a great deal of time, effort and patience. If you do not establish a pricing structure that makes the effort worth your time, you will end up frustrated and unhappy. Remember, you can always lower your rates later when you’ve created a system or easily replicated process, or you can offer a special seasonal sale if you want to. Think how happy your clients will be if they receive an unexpected discount! This is always a better choice than having to raise your prices!
One sure-fire way to make more money as a filmmaker or in a freelance video service business is to simply charge more money for your services. If you provide an excellent product with tremendous value, raising your rates is rarely an issue.
4. DON’T SPEND ALL OF YOUR EARNINGS ON NEW EQUIPMENT
It is new. It is shiny. It is another piece of video equipment. But do you really need it? Oftentimes the answer should be no. There are many other ways to create a professional-looking video product that doesn’t involve buying more gear. While it is tempting to continue to increase your equipment inventory with the latest hot gadget, you really need to ask yourself, “How much will my net profit increase by owning this piece of equipment?” Unless the answer is an exponential increase, you should generally postpone your purchase. After all, the reason you started your videography business is to generate income
5. REMEMBER THE PAPER TRAIL
If you are going to make more money as a filmmaker you must remember that you are no longer just a hobbyist; you are now working on a viable business. In order to maintain a successful business, you must take the time and have the discipline to keep track of your profits. A complete record must be maintained reflecting your income, your business expenditures, and any outstanding invoices that may be owed by clients. The more detailed your paper trail is, the easier it will be for you and your tax professional to take advantage of all of the deductions available. All serious businesses maintain a detailed profit and loss (P&L) statement so that they can track their monthly successes and setbacks. The P&L statement will show you where you are making money, losing money and where you can make smarter decisions in order to increase your video-related business’ bottom line aka “money you can spend!”
Whether you are thinking about creating your very first video to sell in a video services marketplace, or you are already shooting and editing videos 40 hours per week, there is no greater reward than growing a hobby into a successful business. Start with a solid plan and actively seek out your clients. Make sure your pricing is fair and in line with the market while resisting the urge to upgrade your equipment. If you follow these tips from the professionals, you can make more money as a filmmaker, videographer or freelance video professional.