When you start off on a journey, you need to know where you’re going. If you’ve never been there before, you need a map to get you to your location.
It used to be that we’d have physical book based maps. Nowadays, apps are in the rage and we have Google Maps and SatNavs instead.
If you don’t have a map, how do you know where you’re going?
Today, I wanted to go into detail on forming your video production business roadmap.
What is this?
It’s a kind of business plan for your video business and will make getting started much more easier when you have answers to these questions. We’re going to tackle 11 Key Takeaways that you need to know to form your video production business roadmap.
How Much Will it Cost to Run Your Video Production Business
It is almost impossible to know what strategy to pursue until you fully understand what it takes for you to break-even each and every day.
Here’s a basic formula.
Working With Your Numbers
Start with your expenses. Or what you plan to spend.
1. List all fixed (including your salary) and variable expenses that you plan to incur on average each month.
Leave out what you pay freelancers or other project related costs such as voiceovers, music licenses, etc.
What is that number?
Let’s say that your cost per month is $5000.
2. Divide this number by the average number of workdays per month.
Let’s assume you have 20 workdays that would cost you $250 per day to run your video business. This is your break- even point.
Of course, when you’re just starting out (especially if you’re a one-man band), this number will be much smaller. This is just a rough hypothetical.
Knowing this information allows you to focus your efforts on a daily basis.
What video production services can you offer that will help you meet or exceed the $250 per day cost? Can you think of something that would give you consistent work each week that will contribute heavily to covering your costs?
Here’s what I used to do back then to help guarantee that I would meet or beat my daily cost.
1. Look for freelance opportunities
I looked and secured freelance camera operator gigs with sports networks.
I worked for several companies in this fashion, but what ended up really helping was a contract to film approximately 90 sporting events for $350 per day.
On average, I worked 3-4 days a week on this gig, which gave me 3 days to capitalize on other opportunities.
2. Find editor gigs
I searched and found a weekly television show that needed an editor. The show was a local access show produced in near my home city and I called a “help wanted” ad posted on an industry forum. This deal ended up bringing me between $500 to $800 each week.
3. Edit weddings across the country
Lastly, I was able to fill the rest of my open time by editing weddings for several videographers across the country.
Needless to say, I worked my tail off to keep all of this going but I hardly ever had problems meeting or beating my costs. The key was in diversifying the types of projects and to hunt for something that would last longer than just one project.
I searched for and found residual project opportunities. I would now argue that I wasn’t paid nearly enough for any of the work I did back then but at least I had the volume of work needed to cover my expenses and to make a nice profit.
The thing that you need to focus on is finding opportunity. Opportunity is out there. There’s an awful lot of people saying they struggle to find work. A lot of the time, they’re simply looking for opportunity in the wrong places.
These are the questions you need to ask yourself on a weekly basis when you monitor your progress:
- What does it cost you per day to run your video production business?
- Are you selling enough to cover this expense?
- Are you charging enough per hour?
- Do you need to look for residual opportunities that will bring in money on a regular basis?
Make a list of all the possible opportunities you’d like to pursue and go for it.
If you aren’t charging enough, adjust your rates accordingly. I’d warn against lowering your rates because you think you’re pricing yourself out of work. With the right marketing, and the right samples in your portfolio, you should be able to charge the big bucks.
But it certainly takes a while to get there.
If your projects are typically one offs, seek out jobs that you can contribute to for a long period of time, even if the per hour rate is a bit less than your normal projects.
Promote Your Video Production Business For Free
It goes without saying that in order to make money you need clients.
And clients need need your production services. It’s a win-win situation.
But if your potential clients aren’t even aware that you exist, or they can’t find you…you’re certainly not going to have a roaring success on your hands. People won’t benefit from your services, and you’re not going to be collecting any money from them.
No doubt about it: great marketing is an absolute necessity to keep your name on the tip of their tongues, and at the top of their minds.
Still, don’t worry if you’re on a very limited budget, even if it’s a minuscule budget. There are still quite a few ways for you to promote yourself and your services.
Here’s a few ideas you can use to get started:
1. Take the time to redo your marketing materials
This includes your logo, business cards and anything else that carries your logo.
Make certain that your use of colors and words and images represent the style/tone that you want to convey.
If you’re a lousy print designer, resist the temptation to do it yourself. There are several low-cost logo design services online that will do a reasonable job for next to nothing.
Regardless of the price, you should never skimp on the materials that convey your image. After all, your business card or letterhead is often the first impression a prospect will get from you, and it has to reflect your quality and professionalism.
So also resist the urge to go buy microperf business card stock from your office supply outlet and print them yourself on that cheap inkjet printer.
2. Contact your previous clients
Make sure you contact previous clients and thank them for their business, as well as ask them for an honest evaluation of your services.
Be honest: tell them you’re in a slump (call it a ‘lull,’ if you wish), let them know they’re a key part of your business.
Then, listen to what they have to say.
If they have suggestions for improvement, thank them for the input, and act on the input. This is quality, honest feedback. And great feedback is what will push your business forward.
A side benefit: I’ve found that if you’re brutally honest with your good clients and tell them you’re really struggling, occasionally someone will come forward with a paying gig to help tide you over.
And why not? If you’re a good supplier, it’s beneficial for their business to help keep you in business.
3. Form alliances and informal partnerships
You can do this with suppliers, colleagues or (even) your competitors in order to offer a combo package that neither of you could offer alone. In this way, you share the marketing expenses.
For instance, get together with a graphic designer to offer some great must-have packages, including website design with streaming video.
Who do you know that would make a great partner?
4. Take a critical look at everything a prospect sees or hears when they do business with you
Ask yourself these questions:
- How do you answer your phone?
- Does your van or car need washing?
- Does your shirt need pressing?
- If you have an office or a client meeting area, is it attractive, tidy and comfortable?
- Is your desk a mess?
It’s all in the details, particularly when you’re meeting a prospective client for the first time.
5. Write up a press release and use the power of the free press
You can use this to announce a new program, a new product or service you offer. As well as things like your new hours or new policies.
As long as it is real and improves the quality and level of your service, this is news that your customers, prospects and the media will want to hear.
What You Need To Know To Start Your Own Business
There are two reasons why people go into business for themselves: to have more time, and to have more money.
They want the ability to live life on their terms and have the financial security and independence of a lucrative business that can even run without them.
To be successful in business, a growth mindset is the key ingredient. There are two types of mindset: growth and fixed.
The difference is that one will propel you forward faster than you imagined and the other will hold you back to a point that you quit and return to your 9-5 work life.
People with a fixed mindset:
- think they know it all and are always right.
- don’t take risks.
- remain in their comfort zone.
- blame others.
- have many reasons and excuses as to why they aren’t successful.
- disregard education to grow and learn new skills.
- surround themselves with others like them.
- will quit when the going gets tough.
On the other hand, people with a growth mindset:
- learn from others ahead of them in business.
- know the importance in investing in education and mentors.
- learn from their mistakes and change their actions next time.
- take 100% responsibility for themselves and their results.
- look for solutions to their challenges.
- keep going well after others have quit.
- understand the importance of marketing in business and invest in it to create sales and leads.
- keep up to date with the latest business tips.
The Dreaded Business Plan
Before starting out in business you must put together the all important business plan. This is not something most people like doing, but going through this exercise will save you lots of time, money, disappointment or nasty surprises later on.
Within a business plan there are some key factors that must be addressed. Those include:
- Vision Statement.
- Mission Statement.
- Business Values.
- Your ideal client (aka; target market).
- Economic assessment.
- Technology items and planning.
- Marketing Plan.
- Location of the business.
- Insurance cover.
- Website development.
- How much money will you need.
- Licenses and permits you might need to get.
What’s in a Name?
Even if you’re a sole trader, you might like to consider trading under a business name that will form part of your brand and it may also describe what you do.
Business names are also something you must register for a fee and they must be unique within your country or state.
Have a business account. This will enable you to be paid and also pay for any expenses incurred within the business.
Once you have set this up, you may want to look into getting merchant facilities, so that your clients can easily pay with their credit card or even via Ezypay if you end up having the option of direct debit and regular instalments that come out at the same time each month.
Recurring payment clients are good clients!
Once you have those key areas organised, the next step would be to find the place where you will run your business from and purchase all the essentials you will need to get started.
Budgeting Your Way towards Success
A business budget is essential to your success. You must invest money to make money!
Some key elements that a business budget should contain include:
- Initial set up costs (which may be a one off) and recurring ones.
- Rent or loan repayments.
- Marketing costs and budget.
- Printing and stationary.
- Utilities costs.
- Wages paid out.
- Education expenses.
- Internet marketing and design.
- Travel and catering.
You will be able to expand on the above list, depending on what kind of business you are creating.
Marketing Yourself Is Key to Starting (and Finishing) Strong
In the beginning, you will need to allocate a big proportion of the budget to marketing. This one key area will make or break your business.
If you learn to be a great marketer, you will have a very successful business in no time at all.
You can have the best product or service, but if you don’t market it effectively, then it will remain sitting on the shelf.
People buy emotions and benefits, not products and features. Remember that.
The ways you can market yourself and your business are countless. There are hundreds upon thousands of books with marketing ideas. The trick is to find the ones most relevant to your industry and start testing and measuring them.
On average, 9 out of 10 marketing initiatives won’t work. When you find the ones that do work for you and your business, replicate them time and time again to get consistent results.
The key is to keep trying out different forms of marketing so that you gather enough information and feedback on what works for your business.
There’s a key to success called fail fast. This is an method that came from the world of startup companies. The method is that you keep iterating and testing new ideas quickly, so that you eventually find what works.
If you’re going to fail, you may as well fail fast! From there, you get to the victories that much quicker.
Branding Yourself For Maximum Effectiveness
Once you have come up with your business name, it is important to design your logo and create the brand for your business.
Your brand will be around as long as you are in business. This is why it’s important to spend some time and money researching ideas and hiring a professional designer to create it for you.
You should never share your brand with anyone because it may reflect badly upon you if their reputation is not up to scratch.
Treat it with respect and display it consistently across all of your stationary, documentation, website and any other marketing materials.
“The riches are in the niches,” I’m sure you’ve heard this one before. The secret to any successful business is the development of a niche within a broader general category.
A great niche is one that is an inch wide but a mile deep. What this means is that there is a huge market out there that is after the product or service you are looking to provide, but not much competition from other businesses that are doing the same as you.
Sounds like an ideal world, doesn’t it? But I’ve gone into a few strategies in the past about how you can dig down an inch wide but a mile deep. This is important for your video business roadmap.
Select your niche carefully and become the expert in it. Do your research and see what others are doing in the same field as you. Then learn how they market to their customers over a period of time.
Figure out what kind of services your dream client would want, and then present an offer to offers that. Spend time learning who your target market would be and what keeps them up at night. And offer a solution to that as a service using your video production company.
Thinking outside the box
The face of marketing has completely changed and expanded since the internet. The website has become the first port of call for most people.
For most businesses their website is the shop front window to their business. Nowadays, you don’t even need to leave the comfort of your home to have a successful business.
Knowing how to market on the internet is different to traditional marketing and a special niche in itself.
Make sure you consult with professionals when it comes to your image on the internet. Your website look and feel will need to reflect who you are and exactly who your ideal client wants to do business with.
Give something away for free on your site that represents huge value in return to your target audience. You then ask for people’s details (name, email, etc) in return. You can see an example of this right here on the Filmmaking Lifestyle website.
When they see what you give away for free, they will wonder what it is you have that can further help them solve their problem. This will help you build your client list and create relationships with the leads generated over a long period of time.
You can actually talk to people. And talking to people is good!
Your website is everything to your business roadmap
One of the last key points I would like to share with you is the importance of having a strong web presence.
The internet is a huge place where you can get lost if you don’t know what you are doing. Here is a list of the top 7 things you can do to increase your web footprint and grow your business exponentially:
1. Have your website Search Engine Optimised (SEO-ed) by an expert.
2. Submit articles to free article submission websites that will generate traffic back to your website and create backlinks that increase your profile. You can do this with social media platforms, too.
3. Create videos and post them on YouTube or Vimeo for traffic redirection to your business website. Videos are a powerful form of marketing today and it is helpful to embed them onto your website, so that your customers can see you and get a feel for you.
4. Social Media. Make sure you are a part of this phenomenon where you can also advertise and build relationships and followers for your business. It makes everything more casual but still lets your people know what you do. For starters, make sure you get accounts for your business on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and Instagram.
5. Have a blog and write an entry each week.
6. Work on generating incoming links from other sites. This could work like a joint venture where you link to someone’s website and in return they link to yours.
The beginning of every business will pose lots of challenges and unanswered questions. You will play the role of expert, bookkeeper, marketing manager, copywriter, secretary, sales executive and many more other roles that big companies have assigned to specialists in those individual fields.
Being in business is a journey and not a destination. Each step and action that you take will bring you closer to hiring your first employee, each system designed will replace you needing to be there in the long run and each product you create will remove the need for you to sell your time for money.
Thank you for taking the time to read this article on your business roadmap to video production business success. As you know, we feature articles on everything to do with filmmaking, video production and business building here on Filmmaking Lifestyle.
If you have questions, comments or feedback, drop me a line using the comments section just below this post. And please help us get the message out there by sharing this article using the share buttons just below.