Video Production Business Tips – Why Wedding Videographers Should Move to Corporate Video

My main focus in the video production business is to figure out how I can use my talents as a video producer to make the most money with the least amount of effort… all while building a business asset that will someday allow me to retire and travel the world while I’m still young enough to actually enjoy it!

My personal income has increased by about 750% since I started my video production business back in 2000 and the gross sales revenue for the company has grown by over 1200% in the same period of time.

I’m not anywhere close to my definition of wealthy but I’m a heck of a lot closer now than I was 9 years ago when i started this journey as a video business owner. The point I’m trying to make in this article is that the turning point for my wealth and the success of my video business was when I decided to stop pursuing wedding video business and to focus 100% of my efforts on selling, producing and delivering corporate video presentations.

The fact of the matter is that when you sell a wedding video, you are asking a family to give you money out of their personal checking account. When you sell a corporate video, you are asking someone to write you a check out of their business checking account.

The difference is that businesses typically have thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions or even billions of dollars they can tap into in order to purchase your services whereas a family (wedding client) usually has to go into debt to purchase your services.

Which group of people do you think provides the most opportunity for your video business?

Based on my experience, I’d vote corporate every time. Assuming you agree or at least that you are interested in exploring it further, here’s some insight on making the transition from wedding videography to corporate video production.

Please keep in mind that I have nothing against wedding videography and I know that many of you choose to produce wedding videos because you do not enjoy corporate video production. This article isn’t for you.

My uncle Grayson, also an entrepreneur, told me when I first started my video production business that I should always try to sell services that would enable me to make the most money possible with the equipment/software I had invested in.

He added that to sell services that were any less than the most your equipment could produce was not good business and would someday lead to trouble. I must admit that at the time I didn’t really understand what he meant. However, after all the lessons I’ve learned by having my feet in the fire, I know without a shadow of doubt that he was and is absolutely right!

Your $5,000 video camera can be used to produce a $2,000 wedding video. It can also be used to produce a $20,000 training video. The same goes for your editing system, software, etc. Assuming you are a fairly competent editor, you can probably edit the wedding video in about 40-60 hours which means if you work a normal work week of say 50 hours, you’ll be able to produce about $10,000 per month in revenue for your business.

And that’s humping it… not leaving you much time to do anything else to build or run your video production business.

You can plan, shoot and edit the training video in the same one month period of time and due to the nature of the training video market segment, you can command anywhere from $4,000 to $20,000 in fees per video. See where I’m going?

Producing corporate videos will generate you anywhere from twice to five times the income in one month than wedding videos will produce and you can do all or most of it with the same production equipment and software you have now.

So, you can dispel the myth that you have to have more gear to produce corporate videos. It simply isn’t true. You can rent what you don’t own and pass the costs through to the client.

Assuming that you are on the same page with what I’ve mentioned above, doesn’t it make sense to start to gradually shift your thinking to figure out how to get any or a lot of the corporate video business in your area? Yes it does!

Even a small share of the corporate market will dramatically increase your revenue and therefore result in a fatter wallet.

I could write a book on moving from weddings to corporate (and some day I probably will!) but for the sake of my time and yours, I’ll limit this article to a small handful of tips.

1. Pay attention to what the families of the bride and groom do for a living.

Expensive weddings usually mean there is someone on either the bride or groom’s side that has money. Many of these people are either executives for major companies or entrepreneurs of some sort. Target the fathers of the bride and groom to chat with when you are standing in line at the buffet and simply ask them what they do.

(The mother of the bride and groom will still be crazy over the details of the wedding/reception so approach them after the dust has settled on the event.)

If they work for a business or own a business, briefly pitch your corporate services and ask if they mind if you contact them after you have delivered the wedding video to further discuss potential opportunities with their business. Don’t think for a second that they will be offended by talking business at their son or daughter’s wedding.

Trust me, they will be dying for a conversation that doesn’t involve decisions related to the wedding. Plus, if they are affluent, odds are good that many of their clients or executive co-workers are at the wedding anyway and you know that they have already been talking shop because that’s what like minded people do… even at their own son or daughter’s wedding!

CAUTION: I don’t suggest this tactic if the target in this case is the groom. As you know, his mind is scrambled and he won’t remember any conversation he has at the wedding. Call him after you deliver the wedding video and set up the meeting to discuss your corporate services then.

2. When the wedding season is over, look for opportunities to cover important civic events in the community that are sponsored by major businesses.

You simply call the organization and offer to produce a short highlight video of the event or gavel-to-gavel coverage (whatever makes sense for the event) in exchange for a high-level sponsorship package. This will put your logo and exposure on the same level as other major businesses. I’ve done this at about 50 events which has resulted in my video production business being exposed to thousands of corporate prospects.

Not every person in the room or who will watch the video are legitimate prospects for you, but the mass exposure will dramatically increase your corporate video production opportunities and it won’t cost you anything other than your time and the cost of distribution (blank media, hosting, etc). I set up a website that has since been taken down that I used to post the community videos we produced. You can always use a free service like YouTube, Facebook or Vimeo if you don’t want to pay anything to host the videos.

This was a great way to keep our brand top of mind. Be careful though, it will be tempting to think you can make more money by monetizing this event coverage service you are providing. Although you can make a little money charging for this service, keep your eye on the prize.

You want to use this free community service to open the door for larger, high paying projects.

3. Promote yourself as a freelance camera operator or production assistant to local/regional corporate video production companies.

This will help you make extra money in the off-season and will also help you learn the dynamics of corporate video production. Be willing to do anything no matter what the pay is to get your foot in the door. Then, as you build your reputation, you’ll be able to steadily increase your rates over time.

Do your best to present yourself as an ally and not as a person trying to compete with them. You don’t want other producers or videographers to think that you will contact their clients once you’ve left the set of their project.

And, no matter how tempting it will be for you to do so. DON’T! It’s unethical and will damage your reputation. It’s not worth it.

There’s plenty of business for you to get without sharking someone else’s waters. What you’ll find by doing great work and by being an ethical freelance videographer, they’ll start throwing scraps your way – the projects that aren’t worth their time but they still want to handle in order to maintain a positive client relationship.

You’ll get the call to produce it under their umbrella. This not only is an outstanding source of revenue, but also a great way to slowly and profitably break your way into the corporate video production business.

When ran properly and when focused on the right target market, wedding videography can be profitable. However, my experience has shown that much more money can be made with less effort in corporate video production.

I hope you’ll consider making the transition in your own video business or at least that you’ll find ways to expand your service offering to represent business video services. Your success rides on it!

Video Production Business Tip – Plan to Lose Money When Starting Your Own Video Business

Starting out your own video production business can be tough especially if you need to manage your personal finances too. The challenge comes when you know you have to handle the cash needs for both your new business and personal obligations. You have to figure out how you’re supposed to pay all the business and personal bills until your company can support both. Here are some options you can take.

1. Work full-time for someone else and build the video business at night and on weekends.

This means that if your business will primarily be weddings, there are other special events that you can edit after normal business hours. This makes for long days and sleepless nights but it’s a popular approach for people who have a lot of personal financial obligations.

2. Work part-time for someone else to supplement your income and spend the rest of the time building your business.

This will help you build your video production business faster but you won’t make as much money in the meantime. A good friend of mine and fellow video business owner worked for a few years as a waiter at a restaurant before his video business generated enough money for him to quit. He wasn’t thrilled to be working there but it helped him make just enough money to get by. 10 years later, he has a very successful and growing business.

3. Approach a bank about loaning you enough money to start/run the video business and pay your salary for 6 months to a year.

At first, this method sounds crazy. What if you fail? Then you’ll owe all the money back to the bank and won’t really have a way to pay it. But, what if you succeed? Then you’ll easily pay the bank back over time and be on your way to a very successful life as a video business entrepreneur.

I guess you are really the only one who can decide if this is the correct method for you. I can tell you that if you can totally focus on building your business without worrying how you will pay your bills for one year, you’ll have a much better shot of succeeding. Starting and running a new business takes 100% of your time and eliminating distractions (like working another job) will make things a lot easier.

4. Approach an investor and ask them if they’d be interested in financing your start-up.

This is similar to approaching a bank except that an investor will invest their own money into your company in exchange for a percentage of ownership. The amount of ownership depends on how much they invest and what you agree to give them. The upside to this method is that you don’t have to go into debt to start your business and you’ll have the cash needed to operate the business and to pay your salary.

The possible downside to this is that you will not own 100% of your business which means that you’ll have to answer to your investor on a regular basis regarding the business decisions you make. The right partner can help you achieve a level of success you never dreamed of. However, the wrong partner can cause you a lot of headaches and potentially cost you a lot in legal fees.

All this is a lot to process, but the one thing that will be the same regardless of what method you choose is that your video production business will lose money before it makes money. Also, your personal financial obligations won’t go away just because you decide to start a new business. Choose which of the above methods will work best for you and start planning to make it happen.

Video Production Business Tips – Be An Expert in Your Niche

Even though I’m highly motivated to be successful in my video production business and pretty passionate about my craft, I’ve noticed a lot lately that I don’t seem to have the same zest for what I’m doing as I did back before the economic meltdown in 2008 and 2009.

On the passion scale of 1 to 100, I’m at about a 78 right now. Before 2008, I registered in at about 999 on the same scale. I loved what I was doing and was very excited about my progress in business at that point in time.

After wondering for months where my passion had gone and what it would take to get it back… it hit me after seeing several likes from clients, prospects and referral partners on one of the self-promotional videos I posted on my company’s social media account earlier this week.

For that split moment, I felt the passion start to rush back into my soul and I stopped what I was doing with the determination to understand what made me feel that way.

In one word… vanity.

Before 2008, I was an absolute rock star in my business community. I was winning awards for entrepreneurship and video production left and right and was being interviewed for newspapers, radio shows, etc. I was even featured in the main cover story of Inc. Magazine on how raising my rates enabled me to quadruple the size of my company in less than two years.

I was definitely partying like a rock star and loved every second of it!

Most of you probably know that I’m not a vain person (at least I hope you feel that way about me.) However, I do believe that in order to be successful in business and in life, you do have to have a level of moxie that most others simply don’t have, a confidence level that’s a few notches above everyone else… that special pep in your step or passion in your voice.

In order to become and stay successful in the video production industry, I believe you have to build that rock star status not only for yourself, but for your customers.

Who’s the Rock Star in Your Niche?

I’m not talking about who you and I think are rock stars in our industry. I’m referring to who your community, customers and referral partners think is the rock star corporate or wedding video producer. What do they do differently than you? How do they get all the attention? How do they dress? How do they market themselves, etc.? If you’ve had the opportunity to see them in action, how do they work on-site? How do they treat customers in tough situations, etc.?

Why You MUST Become a Rock Star

Think about it. We as people love rock stars! We practically worship the ground they walk on and a lot of people are willing to pay insane prices just for the privilege of saying they were at a particular concert.

Rock stars get all the attention and with the attention comes money.

Corporate or wedding clients want to do business with the rock star. If they are going to invest thousands of dollars in something, they want to do it with someone who has already won the respect and love of dozens, hundreds or thousands of other similar customers. They want do business with a star!

The other reason (just as important) to become a rock star in your niche is to keep the fire burning in your soul. When you get attention and recognition for what you are doing day in and day out, it’s easy to keep going until you achieve your goals and dreams.

When people pay attention to you and recognize your brilliance, it feels really good and that feeling carries over into your work, your customer service and your overall brand.

How to Become a Rock Star

In all my years of marketing experience, I’ve learned that three things will make you a rock star faster than anything else.

1. Writing

When you take the time to write blog posts about certain aspects of your niche and share that information with your clients, prospects and referral partners, it immediately positions you as the expert… aka ROCK STAR. It can take a while for your posts to gain momentum but while your content is improving your search engine rankings on major sites like Google, your rock star status is growing steadily at the same time.

Some of you are thinking right now, “But Kris, I’m a terrible writer and I’d never be good at that.” All I can say to that is, I used to be scared to death to write anything someone else might read but I decided one day to become a good writer and 10 years later I’ve developed a skill that helps me generate a lot of money.

You don’t have to write but I highly suggest you start practicing. It’s a skill set that every successful entrepreneur needs to have in my opinion.

2. Recording

Even though I listed this as number 2, I think it’s actually the number 1 way to generate a rock star status in your niche. The same way you can write about particular things in your realm of expertise, you can and should also record videos of yourself giving similar tips. When you produce and distribute videos to your target market via email or social media, people start to recognize you in public places and they start to talk to others about you. I’ve only recently started experimenting with video marketing and the results have been fantastic.

3. Presenting

This is my least favorite strategy for building a rock star status but mainly because I just don’t like to present the same material over and over to different audiences. However, if you build a presentation about something specific in your niche and you present it to several groups over the course of a year, you will definitely become a rock star in record time. I’ve done this before and it worked very well. I choose not to do it now mainly because I’m lazy and I can execute numbers 1 and 2 above from the comfort of my laptop or studio.

The Video Production Business – A Formula For Operational Success

It’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the responsibilities we have as video production business entrepreneurs. In order to have projects to work on, you have to spend time selling your services.

To have prospects to sell to, you have to spend time marketing your video business. To have the money to make sure you, your employees and all your business bills get paid, you have to spend time in collections making sure that your clients are paying on time.

To have profit to share with yourself and business partners, you have to make sure that everything above is working together in a harmonious fashion and if they aren’t, you must adjust accordingly.

Here’s my business list of priorities:

1. SALES – In order to keep the doors open, I must generate sales. This is why sales is the first part of the business that gets my attention in the morning and is the last thing I think about at the end of the day.

Without sales, we have no projects to work on, which mean we have no money. So, on the days or in the weeks where I have a lot of sales activity, nothing else gets a lot of attention. If I have a project that is due the same week as heavy sales activity, I know it’s going to be a week of extremely long days without a lot of sleep because I’ll have to handle project responsibilities after hours.

The down side is that I’m exhausted at the end of several weeks/months of pulling double shifts. The upside is that if I’m extremely busy in sales and equally busy in production, it means that my business is making a lot of money.

2. PRODUCTION – After the sales activities are taken care of, I focus 100% of my energy on the next priority – Production. My focus is only on clearing the shelf as fast as I can so that there’s room for the next round of sales activity. I have found that an empty shelf will replenish itself faster and with higher paying work than a shelf that is always half full.

Plus, a video production project that has had 100% of your attention for a week will ALWAYS be higher quality than a video project that you have given 25% of your attention for 4 weeks. (Better quality = Happier clients = More sales!)

3. MARKETING – If there aren’t any sales opportunities and zero projects to work on, it’s time to allocate time and energy to marketing. This is my least favorite activity because it usually means that business is slow and I have to spend time rubbing elbows with people I have nothing in common with at meetings I don’t want to attend.

Marketing is absolutely necessary to have a growing, successful video production business. The best marketing you can do is to give each client the best product and experience you can so put all your energy and effort into the production process and the client relationship when it’s “go” time.

Think of your sales as an ocean’s tide. It comes and it goes except that your business doesn’t have the universal forces of gravity and the moon to push and pull your tide (sales)

4. ACCOUNTING – This is the easiest category for me because I don’t do it. My wife Christy (who is also our CFO) handles all of this for us and does a fantastic job. My specialty is to make the money (sales, production, marketing). Her specialty is to keep the money (accounting, financial projections, cash flow management, etc.)

Christy provides me with accurate financial data for all areas of our business once per week and we discuss them over a glass of wine in our kitchen at home. By the time the wine bottle is put back in the fridge, this very important aspect of running our business is taken care of.

5. EVERYTHING ELSE – In my opinion, the “everything else” category gets smaller and smaller the longer you run a video production business. This is mainly because you eventually figure out the formula of success that works for your business and you stick to it.

This category includes taking time to think about expansion into new markets or researching the latest camera configuration for the hood of your car that you might use in a video production 2 years from now.

Simply put, the “everything else” category of tasks, for me, has turned into the “what I’m going to hire someone else to do” category. I’m happier because I eliminate time wasting tasks that don’t directly impact the revenue generating activities for the business and I get to spend more time with my wife and children.