I came across with Q&A with Henry Finn of Blueprint World Media, a top San Fransisco based video production company. In this Q&A, Henry responds to questions about how to get more money for videos, and specifically how to get $10,000+ for every video that you make.
Note: I’ve edited the original Q&A for readability reasons. The answers are still Henry’s, but I’ve added punctuation, paragraph breaks and other grammar edits for readability. I’ve also included relevant additional links to help readers, as well as images and video throughout.
Without further ado, let’s get started!
14. How do you convince a client that you’re worth more?
A. That’s a really good question.
So selling a client is dependent not just on your portfolio but your “vision.”
Usually they don’t know anything about what to do with a video after making it, so I like to do research not just on videos, but their place within a marketing campaign.
If you help paint a bigger picture then just the video it helps to justify in their mind the cost of the video.
For instance, if they want a “viral” video (which makes me barf), I would still share with them not one but 3-5 examples of viral videos that are similar to what they are looking for.
So I might show them the Dollar Shave Club, Old Spice, Axe ads, etc, and that gives the perception that I understand the market as a whole.
Then you want to have data to back it up:
For example: “The Dollar Shave Club video cost $5,000, but brought in so many viewers it crashed their website, helped raise $10 million in funding for the company, and generated hundreds of news articles linking to them (free PR).”
The idea is to help them picture the return on investment after the video is released to, again, justify the cost in their mind.
Most videographers will only talk to them about the cost of the project and what the video will look like in the end without demonstrating a larger value that comes with a deeper knowledge of the industry.
Obviously, I recommend actually following trends because I don’t endorse bullshitting them.
One good resource I used to follow is Adweek.
Here’s the aforementioned Dollar Shave Club video in all its glory, if you’re not familiar with it:
15. When first starting, how do you get clients?
I’m not even talking about high paying ones and I know a lot of people run off referrals but how you get the first clients in the first place? I have a website with a wedding highlight on it.
A. Do you have any work to show yet?
I’m just curious, because the approach is a little different depending on if you have a little work versus zero work.
When I first started out with no work at all to speak of, I had to give my work away and I did it primarily through Craigslist and friends.
It’s laborious, but also important because you’re going to make a ton of mistakes in the beginning and it’s not right to charge people (except for basic costs) when you have zero work to speak of.
Even having one video is better than zero.
The difficulty if you’re trying to do more corporate work instead of weddings is getting your first corporate job.
I answered this in one of the previous answers, but definitely you can pitch small businesses that stock products you’d ideally like to work with and propose that you do a free trade. The benefit to this is that you get to have creative freedom and share costs.
So instead of the Nike example I made, you can pick another product. Let’s say food. You go to a local restaurant, pitch them on a short commercial. They make the food, you bring in the gear and shoot it according to your concept.
Voila! A commercial for pasta!
The reason why you want to do this instead of just buying pasta and shooting it yourself, is that clients don’t care about “spec” commercials. You want to be able to say that you have actual “client” work, which means it needs to be tied to a real business.
It seems like the number one question is how to get the clients in, which is a big question that a lot of parts go into.
There’s definitely simple ways to get your first clients. However, to make the leap into the $10K+ range, you not only have to have the technical chops and patience to invest your time, but also a peripheral knowledge in sales, writing, marketing, PR, and social.
Not that you have to be an expert, but if you don’t understand those it’ll be hard to sell yourself to companies with that budget.
When first starting out there’s three places I used:
1. Craigslist. Lots of pitfalls, but you’d be surprised the companies that post there because they simply don’t know where else to post. Literally, post that you’re offering free work and you will get responses.
3. Word of mouth. Email (or Facebook message) all your friends and tell them you are willing to work for free (or cheap) if they know anyone that has a business or company that would like some exposure. You can set up deals that offer low risk and a win-win situation.
There are techniques and approach styles for each network.
Craigslist is a crap shoot, to be honest. There are mostly shitty clients there, but when you don’t have a portfolio, unfortunately, that’s what you have to deal with.
Again, I’ve been surprised before. Sometimes, big companies will post there without identifying themselves. I’ve gotten work for giants like Genentech, The Washington Post, and more through Craigslist. So it’s worth at least trying.
The best I would recommend is to craft a template response that you respond to every post daily, and then sort through the responses from the companies afterwards.
If they are someone it turns out you don’t want to work with, you can politely reject them by saying:
“After reviewing your project it probably isn’t the best fit for us, and we’d happily recommend you to someone else if you’d like, etc”
I would put out listings and respond.
I got a low return rate on the listings I put out. The best return on investment is to check Craigslist daily (in the morning before other people respond), and just copy and paste a response to every listing you see.
16. Can I ask why you got out of the wedding videography game?
A. I got out the wedding game because videographers get paid nothing compared to photographers and you spend 10x more time editing.
Wedding video usually tops out around 3,500-5K, and that’s what good photographers usually start at.
That sounds like good money and it’s not bad, but consider that you could do a corporate video, charge 10K, spend 1/5th the time and have much less stress.
Basically, I realized that I wanted to work less and make more and wedding videos just don’t cut it compared to corporate.
Also, because I put a lot of effort into everything I do regardless of budget, once I counted my time on a $1,500 wedding I did and realized that I had literally made $4/hour by the time I was done. Bleh.
Offer a trade with a small business for your first corporate work and you’d be surprised how that turns into paying work.
Invest your time in the corporate game now while you do weddings, and it will pay off in the future 🙂
17. I have several projects, small in scale with others that are larger outlined as a wish list. However, my minimal professional experience seems to be a sticking point in getting genuine openings on opportunities.
How can I remedy this when I am trying to start new projects unrelated to previous once is subject matter, scale, purpose…did you have any troubles or were you tending to take projects presented to you?
A. So this is a really good question.
The truth is that you have to sacrifice a bit and do some spec work. You want to do it in a strategic way.
Ideally, what you want to do is identify a product, company, or niche that you would like to work with and then find a small business or company to reach out to.
So, for instance, if I was interested in doing a commercial for Nike some day, I’d reach out to a local business that sells athletic clothing and propose a trade.
Tell them that in exchange for lending you clothing (and possibly covering basic production costs), you will in return give them a free 30 second- 1 minute commercial for their business.
It’s a no lose situation and something I did early on to build a portfolio without spending my own money.
That’s just one idea. I have a lot more, as well. Hope that helps though.
18. I’m located in the Seattle area, and would like to be covering live events, specifically related to mountain recreation and culture whenever possible. Ideas?
There doesn’t seem to be a lot of money in it thus far, but it is an industry that has been and will continue to change a lot over the next several years. I’d like to be involved throughout he transition. Ideas?
I have reached out to ski resorts with limited response on a project so far, but have been able to develop some good, responsive contacts.
A. I think if you have a passion for the niche, and it will grow, then definitely invest time into it. But also perhaps do other work.
One of the best things I did was diversify my work early because one thing I learned is clients don’t have imagination.
If you have all outdoors stuff, then a food client (for example) just can’t imagine you doing that. So it helps to have multiple samples. That’s a personal preference.
I diversified simply because I get bored easily. I also found there’s niches I don’t care for, so I just never did that type of work.
That being said, if you don’t care for that, I have seen people really benefit from deep diving into a niche. It can really pay off, because you can dominate a niche and also diversifying has downsides too.
If you want to get more traction pitching someone, then one thing that has always worked for me is a really good deck. My pitch decks have almost always worked because I put a lot of effort into them.
You’d be surprised how far a well designed deck goes because it indicates quality and attention to detail. And when I say well designed deck, I mean I don’t just type something into Word. I actually make a great cover in Photoshop and then design the inside, as well, more like a brochure or flyer then just a vomit of text.
If you told me what your goal is more specifically and what companies you would like to reach out to, I could help more. I had a friend who loved snowboarding, so he pitched different resorts and ended up getting free season passes and gear traded for work.
19. How to get more and higher paying contacts would be very helpful. At the moment I’ve got a wedding or something here and there, but I’m not sure how to increase the frequency of jobs. Also how to begin working for corporations or medium to large businesses.
A. So Step 1 is building a really kick ass portfolio. Which means even if you’re shooting a 1000 weddings, strive to provide a production value of $3,000, because that’s what you’re going to want to tell the next clients they’re worth.
It’s a lot of sacrifice, but once you’ve built the portfolio, then you make the leap of saying “no” to those low paying clients (or farm it out).
What I learned the hard way is that you spend the same time on a $1,000 client that you do for a $3,000 client. So instead of losing time working on the $1,000 client, you want to use that same time to prospect for the $3,000 client.
Again, this is only after you’ve built the portfolio to justify it.
The key is being strategic in every step you make. You have to have an ultimate goal and attach a timeline to it.
Ie. I want to charge 10K per video in a year. Then every decision you make has to reflect that goal.
An important step in achieving this is finding ways to get clients with at least a “perceived” value, even if you don’t get paid well for it right off the bat.
For instance, when I started out, I reached out to people that worked for high end companies (Google, Firefox), and offered to shoot smaller projects for free (or cheap). That turned into referrals and higher paying gigs.
LinkedIn is a good resource, as well, as are the company websites themselves. You can find the PR/Marketing departments and send a friendly email introducing yourself and saying something like:
“Hey, you probably already have someone in your Rolodex for video production services, but I wanted to let you know I like your company. I’m available if you ever need a backup option. If you have a project that doesn’t fit the profile for your current vendor, please consider me.”
You’d be surprised how much that works.
Also, you have to build a pipeline which is prospecting clients that leads to future work and builds like a snowball.
I hope you’re found this third part of the Q&A on how to get more money for videos helpful. Don’t forget that Part I and Part II are both essential reading and well worth catching up on if you have read this third part of the Q&A without first reading the first two parts.