Okay, it’s time to get down and dirty. You have ILC (Internal Locus of Control), and you have a partner or two that you know also have ILC. You also realize that the journey of building your own video company will be hard, but you are ready and willing to endure the negative moments to enjoy the positive ones.
Here’s a list of the first things you’ll need to tackle within the first month to get your company going. I will be covering them in broad strokes because to go into detail in each category can be a book in itself.
COMPANY VIDEO REEL
This is the number one important thing on this list. Without a company reel, you cannot have a real video company. I will go in detail on video reels at a later date, but I will just go over the main points now.
It needs to show your wide range of talents
If you can do 3D graphics, or your partner can, then show it.
If you can also do music videos, weddings, industrials, etc, then you put those on there, too.
Unless you want to dedicate yourself to only doing weddings, business videos, or music videos, then you might as well put everything you can do at the beginning of your journey. Later on you can decide if you want to just focus on one specialty like wedding videos, or drone videos, etc.
It needs to be only 1:30 minutes long
To get minute to minute analytics on your video, I highly recommend Wistia.
I uploaded my company reel to Wistia and posted it as the first thing people saw on the Anchorbolt Studios website. I looked at the analytics of my video and it showed that people dropped off or stopped the video after 1:30 minutes.
I also saw it in real life when people would just getting antsy after two minutes from watching my company reel on an iPad or laptop.
So the sweet spot for your reel is between a minute and a minute and thirty seconds.
Don’t put a year on it
Don’t do it.
I did it for the first two reels in 2011 and 2012. I then realized we went about a year without updating it and it looked outdated, even though the footage in the reel was awesome.
Because we had the year in the reel, we outdated ourselves.
Just understand that your company reel is an ever evolving creature. Even if you think you have a crappy reel now, just upload it anyway.
Just the fact that you can shoot video and edit puts you ahead of any potential clients out there.
So use whatever you have now, make a dynamic and diverse reel, and go out there to sell yourself.
COMPANY NAME AND LOGO
Once you have your reel ready to go, it’s time to pick a company name.
Choosing a company name will be either really easy or hard. It will also determine your logo. If you want to make it really easy for yourself, here is my go-to formula:
Adjective + Object/Symbol = Company Name/ Logo
Black Dog Studios
Red Dragon Productions
White Boat Pictures
A strong visual name will make it easy to create a logo. You also get bonus points if you have alliteration going on.
Purple Pluto Studios
Careful Camel Productions
United Unicorn Pictures
You will even get more points if you can make an ironic company name.
Solid Ghost Studios
Timid Lion Productions
Honest Politician Pictures
Other obvious stuff to keep in mind is the following:
- Keep the spelling simple.
- Make the pronunciation simple.
- Before you settle on a name, make sure the domain isn’t taken. Check using a service like GoDaddy.
- Try not to make it more than three words long, that’s including the ending production designation (i.e. Studios, Pictures, Films etc).
If you don’t follow my advice, you will probably make an esoteric name that doesn’t mean anything, and will be hard to design a logo for.
How do I know this?
I know from experience that Anchorbolt Studios and Ivar Studios are both really bad names, but they are real names of what I’ve chosen to name some of my companies.
Anchorbolt was bad because people weren’t able to say it, remember it, or even spell it sometimes. Ivar Studios was bad because it’s esoteric and empty. It doesn’t really conjure up any strong visuals except a street in Hollywood. Both names were also terribly hard to come up with logos for.
Getting the logo made
I’ve tried both and I highly recommend them.
At 48hourslogo, artists will submit a mockup of a logo from whatever input you provide them, and with Upwork, you can ask for pencil mockups of possible logos.
On your business cards, you just need the following:
- Company Position (if you have one)
- Phone number
- Physical Address (if you have one)
- Company Tagline
Our Anchorbolt Studios tagline was “VIDEOS. BUILT. RIGHT.” Just like movies have taglines, your company should, too.
This company tagline is a personal preference, but the following are things you should absolutely not have on your business cards:
- List of things you can do
- Picture of yourself
- An ungodly amount of text
- A Yahoo or Gmail email
You can just Google “Bad business cards” and whatever you see, don’t do that.
The reason that you don’t list the things you can do is because a) it looks tacky to have a lot of text and b) you box yourself in with certain skills.
What if you have 3D graphics listed now, but a year from now you don’t want to do it anymore?
If you want it off your list, you’ll have to reprint another set of cards. It’s better if you just don’t have your list of skills in the first place.
I know it may seem counter intuitive but the idea is that whoever you are meeting will remember you for whatever problem you are trying to solve. Director, editor, writer, cameraman, 3D Graphics, etc.
You will be that problem solver for your client.
Once you have landed on your number one specialty that you will do from now on, only then should you have your speciality listed.
In the next section I’ll explain how to get your legit company email.
These days you no longer need a .com to get a company website going. Feel free to try other top level domains like .io or .net.
Just make sure that there is no other company that operates in your state (or even country, if you’re UK based, for example) with the name you’re trying to acquire.
If you’re doing Black Dog Studios in Texas, you better make sure there’s no other video company with the Black Dog Studios name in that state.
Getting the domain and hosting
To get a domain and hosting, I recommend Namecheap. They provide great prices for both. Their domain registrar is the best I’ve experienced because it’s easy and visually appealing (most domain registrars are ugly as hell).
However, only get the hosting if you know how to build websites.
If you don’t know how to build websites, here’s the other option: Get hosting with a hosting provider that allows for quick installs of CMS (content management systems) like WordPress, Drupal, etc.
If you don’t know those names, don’t worry, just make sure the hosting provider you consider has quick CMS install, because they will save you a lot of time and headaches on installing a website.
Here’s a handy list of Top Hosting Sites.
I recommend BlueHost as I used them for a few years. However, I no longer use them anymore because I was hacked back in December of 2015 and decided I needed more backup features.
I now use MediaTemple, but at $300 a year, they may be a little steep for your uses.
I will talk about hacking and preventing your site from being hacked at a later date, because in today’s world it is very likely that your website will be attacked at a certain point.
It’s not anything to be scared of, it’s just a matter of taking the necessary precautions to protect yourself.
Building the Site
I only recommend WordPress if you know web development and are willing to suffer the learning curve it takes to customize a site, but in the end it’s worth it because it will be exactly to your liking.
Squarespace has a very drag-and-drop model of building your site, which is perfect for most people. Here’s a video on how you can build a functional site in about 2 hours:
You may still need to register your domain with a place like Namecheap. Squarespace may charge you more for registering your domain compared to namecheap.
To get legit email like firstname.lastname@example.org, you’ll have to set it up with your hosting provider but it’s very easy. You just have to create a forwarding address that emails you to your free Yahoo or Gmail account. Here are the instructions for Namecheap on how to do it.
YOUR VIDEO COMPANY — THE NEXT STEP
Next time around (in my next article in this series), we’ll go over getting clients.
Getting clients is more important than getting an accountant, a physical place, or a corporation like an S-Corp or an LLC. You must first focus on clients, because without them, everything else does not matter.
For your first month, just focus on these items and you will be well on your way to building a great company.
Hi, I’m Giordany. I’m writing a book on starting your own video business. Every week, I’ll be releasing exclusive new chapters here on Filmmaking Lifestyle. Join me in the discussion – hate it or love it, I’d like to know.