Now that you have what you need to get started, it’s time to start thinking about how you’re going to get yourself work. Therefore, it’s time to start think about putting yourself “out there.”
That’s what this part of the guide is all about.
STEP 2: GETTING YOURSELF OUT THERE
You’ve probably heard about concepts like “marketing,” “sales,” “scalability,” etc etc, and wondered what on Earth they’re all about. I’m going to turn the business language down a notch for this Quick Start Guide and just tell you what you need to know.
Don’t worry, I’ll cover all the in-depth stuff later on in the rest of the guides.
Here are some key principles to bear in mind. These will give you the right focus on your video business journey:
- Simplicity is your greatest asset.
- Spend as little as possible until you need to.
- Ensure you keep your hands (and your money) in your pockets.
- Do what you need to for free.
- You are your business.
- Embrace your business and it will embrace you back.
GET CLEAR ON WHAT YOU OFFER
There are many different ways to make money with a video business, and many different ways to sell your services. Here are just a few of the types of video business you could have:
- Sell your services to local business owners. Make promotional/sales videos for them.
- Sell your services as a wedding videography. Aim yourself at brides who are to be married.
- Create music videos for local bands. There’s not that much money involved in this until you start working with bands signed to a record label. However, it’s an interesting and exciting way to diversify your portfolio.
- Offer a motion graphics service. Do you have skills with software like Adobe’s After Effects? You could offer a motion graphics service or even a “motion graphics only” service.
- Videos for live events like training and seminars. There’s a big market for the recording of live events – everything from parties and live music to sporting events and training/seminars.
These are just a few of the ways that you can monetize a video business. The scope for videos services really is huge and it’s growing all the time.
1. Research all the different types of ways to monetize a video business.
2. Make sure you look at what’s popular and already selling in your local area (use Google).
3. What are you good at or have an interest in already?
4. Make a decision to provide a certain service(s) as your main offering.
A GROOVY NAME
It’s time to have a bit of fun. Your business name is important because most of the time it’s the first impression people will have about you and what you do.
You should choose something fun and memorable. Don’t just settle on “John’s Video Production Services” or something equally generic. Choosing your name is your very first opportunity to Stand Out From The Crowd (more on that later).
1. Choose a cool business name.
2. Find something that hasn’t been used before (check with your best friend Google).
3. Make it unique and memorable.
4. Have some fun with this!
THE PEOPLE YOU KNOW
“How do I start finding projects to work on as a video freelancer?” is a question that is probably going through your head.
To start with, you don’t need to go out there and pay for expensive adverts in magazines and newspapers.
The truth is, your first client (someone you work for) will most likely come from your network of people you already know. You’ll know someone who knows someone who needs video work.
In a lot of cases, your first client might even actually be a friend or family member.
Important Point: You might need to work for free to start off with. Yes, it might not sound like much fun, but it will pay off dividends later on.
If you’re a brand new business-person with no track-record, it might be hard for you to get paying clients. If you work for free, you can gain experience and build your portfolio.
Initially working for free is a great time to leverage friends and family. You can do work and make mistakes, so that you learn the ropes before doing paid video projects.
1. Your first task is to put yourself out there to your friends and family. Make a list of everyone you know and then tell them what you plan to do.
2. Don’t be afraid of telling people what you’re trying to accomplish and the kind of work you want. How else will they know if you don’t tell them?
GET YOURSELF A PORTFOLIO OF WORK
I can’t stress the importance of this enough. I’ve seen so many would-be video business owners who ask for advice, but when I ask to see their portfolio, they look at me with a blank look on their faces.
This is not good.
A portfolio is samples of video work that you have already done for clients. As mentioned, a great way to quickly build up a portfolio is by doing work for free.
When people are considering hiring you, they’ll most likely want to see what you are capable of doing. This is where your portfolio comes in.
Needless to say, your portfolio should feature your very best work, and it will evolve and be updated as your skills and expertize grow.
1. Create your portfolio. This can be in the form of an edited DVD of your work, or something online (we’ll cover that later).
2. Make sure your portfolio is easy to show potential clients.
3. Feature your best work.
4. Use Vimeo.com to make a video channel to display your work
BUSINESS CARDS, FLYERS AND LEAFLETS
Putting your presence onto printed material is a great way to get yourself and your services out there. This isn’t absolutely necessary, but it’s a solid way of putting yourself out there to Your Right Audience and can be done fairly affordably nowadays.
By getting your service offerings onto printed material, you increase the odds of potential clients becoming aware of what you do.
1. Look into getting some business cards made. Vista Print offer a great and affordable service.
2. You can use similar services to make leaflets, flyers and other paraphernalia.
3. Consult the services of a professional graphic designer here if you’re unsure. Although it will cost money, having something professionally designed will attract more positive attention and will pay off down the road.
GET YOURSELF A WEBSITE
Nowadays, businesses without a website are going extinct. Either they get themselves a website ASAP or they actually…vanish.
You don’t need crazy website skills to create a website these days. I’ll cover my recommendations for creating a website in more detail. But, right now, know that your website is a great place to display your Portfolio.
As well as a website, like I mentioned earlier, you should get yourself a video channel. You can use YouTube or Vimeo. Both are easy to get started with and will be places where you can upload samples of your work.
A great looking website and video channel will be a great way to present your portfolio to potential clients, as well as letting people know exactly what you provide.
Know that you don’t necessarily need to do the website stuff yourself. You can always hire a web developer to setup your web presence for you. Although I know from personal experience that filmmaking skills often translate well into web development skills.
I recommend Elance to find great web developers if you want to go down the outsourcing route.
I should probably mention a quick note about outsourcing here, now that we’ve touched on it. As you get deeper and more involved in your business, you’ll realize that you might struggle trying to do everything. We call this ‘wearing too many hats.’
Outsourcing is a way of paying other people to do certain tasks in your business.
1. Get a domain name. I Recommend Namecheap Domains.
2. Get yourself Hosting (this is where you store your domain name so that others can see it). I recommend Hostgator.
3. Create your website. I recommend the awesome and totally free WordPress.
4. If you’re ensure what to do, or don’t have the time to learn how to do this yourself, find a freelance web developer using a service like Elance. Just let them know exactly what you need.
STANDING OUT FROM THE CROWD AND CRUSHING THE COMPETITION
I know you might not have a clue right now about marketing and how to separate yourself from the crowd.
It’s not something esoteric that only a select few people know, or something elusive that you’ll never understand.
We’re going to go into this in hardcore detail later on in the guide, but for the purposes of this Quick Start section, here are the Filmmaking Lifestyle 6 Questions To Market Yourself:
1. Who are your target clients?
You need to have a direction, a specific target group of clients that you will be aiming your services at. You don’t want to go around trying to aim yourself at everyone, because then you won’t appeal to anyone!
Get clear on the types of people who would best need your video service. Also, make sure you consider who you want to work with.
Some examples of very specific clients you can target your services at:
- Owners of businesses selling outdoor equipment.
- Brides who want a bohemian/alternative wedding.
- Musicians who have punk bands.
- Jewelry shop owners.
- Real estate business owners who are looking to rent out overseas apartments/houses (this is a really profitable one.)
The choices really are endless. But that should get your creative juices flowing!
2. What are they looking for?
You need to get very clear on what your potential clients are looking for. What problems do they have? What keeps them up all night?
What solutions can you offer?
An obvious example of a problem and a solution is this:
A bride is planning her wedding and is stressed out hoping that the day will go perfectly.
Trust me, this is a pretty common occurrence!
She’s also concerned that the day will go by super fast and she won’t remember everything on her special day.
Here’s where you come in:
You can solve a problem that the bride has. Present your videography services as a way to capture her day in perfect and vibrant detail. What better way to chronicle the special moments than with a video that will last a lifetime!? She can look back at the video for years to come and re-live all those special moments over and over.
Now that’s marketing.
Great marketing solves needs and presents solutions in emotive terms. That is to say: speak to your potential client’s biggest problems and what keeps them up at night. More on that later in the guide.
3. Where would they be looking for you?
Knowing where your potential clients are looking is a big part of the puzzle. If you find out where they’re looking, then you can position yourself there and get right in-front of them.
Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- So where might your clients be looking?
- Is there a certain website where they congregate?
- Do they talk about it on a certain social media group or area?
- What about a particular newspaper or magazine?
- How about people they might speak to in order to find video services?
- What kinds of people in their network are they asking? Who are those people?
When you start getting your first clients, you should ask them, “How did you find me?”
This will allow you to start understanding exactly where you audience is coming from. It also tells you which of your marketing methods are working, or not working, as the case might be.
If you don’t have clients yet, start asking other video professionals how their clients find them. They might not always be 100% candid about it, but it’s worth asking.
What about me – how do my clients find me?
At this point, my business runs mostly on referrals – that is, previous clients recommending my services to other people.
I have a lot of referrals from print and graphic design people. They work with clients who are often interested in video services, too.
That’s a great place to start!
4. When are they looking for you?
At what point in your potential client’s lives do they look for your services?
At what point in their business are they looking for you?
What needs to happen for a potential client to look for your services?
All of these are great questions.
Here are some more:
What situations would drive a potential client to seek out your services?
What needs to change in their personal or business lives for them to look for a videographer?
I don’t want this to sound too esoteric. Let’s put this in perspective with some simple examples:
- They’re a business looking to improve their sales. Their sales figures have been down for the last few months, so they’re looking for something to rejuvenate their business. This is where video comes in.
- A bride-to-be who’s planning her wedding. She’s considering what she needs and wants for her big day and wants to have a way of capturing the moments for posterity. This is where video comes in.
5. Why should they choose you?
This is a huge question. And, by learning how to answer it well, you can absolutely blow the competition out of the water!
- What makes you different?
- What makes you someone who can walk your client through the process with minimal fuss and issues?
- Are you are expert or an authority?
- What makes you unique?
The last one is a big one.
You want to start thinking about what separates your video business from the competitors out there.
You don’t have to go crazy with this and decide you’re going to wear bizarre outfits on all your shoots so that you’re really memorable.
We don’t have to go overboard here – just think about unique aspects of your character, personality and skills that you can offer where others can’t.
Important point: When we say “unique” here, we don’t literally mean you’re the only person in the entire world who’s doing it this way.
We don’t need to reinvent the wheel. There may be someone somewhere in the world who’s doing something in your ‘unique’ way and that’s fine. This is all about marketing yourself in your area and in-front of your audience as being unique.
Put it this way: If you were looking to hire a plumber, consider these options.
There are two plumbers who both perform a fantastic service and they both charge exactly the same price.
However, Plumber A has a chirpy and easy-going personality, whilst Plumber B is pretty boring and hardly says a word.
Who would you go for?
You’d go for Plumber A, of course!
Be unique and stand out from the crowd.
6. How do you want to engage with them?
What do you want your potential clients to do once they’ve become aware of you?
Do you want them to email you? Call you? Come into your office/studio?
It’s important to get clear on what the first steps are for getting in touch with you.
Your first step should always be to get an in-person meeting with your potential client as soon as possible. We call this an Initial Meeting. From there, you can introduce yourself and your services more personally to your client.
In-person meetings are always better than chatting over the phone. When you meet in-person, you can gauge reactions to what you say and you can see the gestures and body language of your client. It’s just a much better experience for everyone.
Establishing a line of communication is your first step in forming a business relationship with your clients.
Lots of questions, I know. But we’re forming the foundations of your business here.
Asking questions is good, and the answers they reveal set us on a path to market our services at the people who actually want to hear from us.
1. Ask yourself who your target clients are?
2. Ask yourself what are your target clients looking for?
3. Ask yourself where your target clients would be looking for your services?
4. Ask yourself when your target clients would be looking for your services?
5. Ask yourself why your target clients should choose you?
6. Ask yourself how you want your target clients to engage with you?
Still thinking about what to name your business and how to brand yourself? This video should help:
PRICING, PRICING, OH WHAT TO DO ABOUT PRICING!?
There’s a lot of fuss made about Pricing. Whole books have been written on this subject alone. People have made a fortune talking just about pricing and how to price services.
It can be a huge subject, but it doesn’t have to be.
Now that you’re clear on what you provide, you are in a position to be able to price your services effectively.
Here are some methods that most people use to price their services:
- Look at what the competition is doing and then pick a random price around those prices. Go with the herd!
- Pick a totally arbitrary number because it “feels right.”
- Ask their mother what she thinks they’re worth and go with that number!
Needless to say, all three of the above are ridiculous ways to price your services.
I’m going to do what no other business educator will tell you and it’s this…
When you’re starting out in a video business you:
1. Work out your hourly rate.
2. Factor in the costs associated with the project (any equipment hiring fees, traveling costs, etc).
3. You then work out a price for the project based on how many hours it’ll take to achieve multiplied by your hourly rate…plus any associated costs.
So: Hourly rate x Number of project hours + costs = project price
But how do you work out your hourly rate?
Do you currently work a 9 to 5 job? What is your hourly rate for that job?
As an example: say your hourly rate was $30 per hour.
Now you have to ask yourself a big question. Do you want to do this video business thing on the side, or do you want to grow it to a point where you can quit your 9 to 5 job?
This is a really important question.
If you just want to do this as a hobby on the side, then charging an hourly rate that’s equal to your 9 to 5 rate is fine.
However, if you want to have your video business income compete with and eventually overtake your 9 to 5 income so that you can quit your job, then you’re going to want to eventually price your freelance hourly rate higher than your 9 to 5 hourly rate.
Now, there are a lot of considerations here that are outside the scope of this book:
- I’m not here to tell you how much your worth, or whether or not you should quit your job. Pro-tip: if you do quit your job, always ensure that you have a minimum of six months living expenses saved.
- If you’re a successful freelancer who’s doing good work, then you should be pricing your services higher than the hourly rate of your 9 to 5 job.
- As you get more experience and you work with more people, you can raise your prices.
1. Work out your hourly rate based on what you’re currently doing, your experience and what you plan to do with your video business.
2. Factor in the costs associated with the project.
3. Now use the formula: Hourly rate x Number of project hours + costs = project price.
4. Raise your prices as you gain more clients and experience.
DO I NEED TO BE A REGISTERED BUSINESS?
A lot of people run into this issue when they’re just getting started.
Some people will run this over in their heads and do tonnes of research when it’s really not something that’s going to make them money when they’re just getting started.
I’ll do your research for you: You don’t need to be a registered business when you’re starting out.
I recommend just doing business as a Sole Proprietor when you first start your video business.
The great thing about being a Sole Proprietor is you don’t really need to do anything initially. There are no crazy, confusing forms to fill-in like there are with some of the other business types.
As a Sole Proprietorship, the business is owned and run by one individual and there is no legal distinction between the owner and the business.
The owner receives all profits (subject to taxation specific to the business) and has unlimited responsibility for all losses and debts.
Later on you might want to consider becoming an LLC (Limited Liability Company).
The main advantage in doing that is to separate your business from your personal assets. This is only really something that you should consider when your business grows and you are working with lots of clients.
An LLC can protect your personal business in the, hopefully unlikely, incidence that you’re sued.
1. You can now start referring to yourself in everyday conversation as a Sole Proprietor!
2. But, hold up – you do need to do stuff. Research the legal and tax issues in your country where you’re going to do business. Legal and taxation advice is really out of the scope of this guide.
3. If you do want to go the LLC route, you can officially register your business name at a site like LegalZoom.