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Training Video Cost vs Script?

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Samantha Harris
Training Video Cost vs Script?
on Dec 23, 2016 at 7:49:23 pm

Hey guys!

I'm new here and having a bit of a tricky time estimating what to charge for an employee training video. Essentially there are three, five-minute videos. I'd only need to film the owner for a brief introduction segment, hire talent for the narration, do split screen with titling, purchase stock footage and images, then edit it all together. They're a national company but not very large...they spent about $7,500 on their script with another company... What would you charge?

Online I see an average of $1,500-$3,500 per finished minute...locally they're charging $250-$,1500...thoughts?

Talent is ranging from $500-1,000. Stock footage $150-300 per clip. $229 for 29 images...but what is our time worth? We have great equipment and experience but have never done training videos before.

Thank you!

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Mark Suszko
Re: Training Video Cost vs Script?
on Dec 27, 2016 at 4:37:44 pm

Lots to cover, lots of questions... first, my personal axe grinder is the "grand per finished minute" figure. That was the figure back in the eighties, with eighties-level technology and expenses. It has no relation to today except as a coincidence. You can't say a grand per finished minute unless you know what went into that figure, or you'll be either too high or leaving money on the table.

I'll say it for the 845th time; calculate YOUR hourly and day rate, then figure costs of the job by specific costs like rentals and hires, then add days times the rate, plus a markup for the unexpected and for profit.

There are many, MANY threads in this section on how you calculate your personal day rate, the number below which you dare not take a job, because to do so will actually cost more money than it brings in. The very short version goes like:

365 days in a year.
How many of those days do you want off for weekends, holidays, vacations, flex time? Leave off weekends and 10 holidays, and you're down to 251 working days in a year.
How much profit, free and clear beyond expenses, do you want to make in a year?
Total a year's worth of ALL living and working expenses, from cat food to transportation, Mortgage, utils, meals, insurance, medical, dental, social security, and various taxes, etc.

Add those last two lines, profit and expenses.
Divide that figure by the number of working days you wanted, tells you how much per day you have to make, minimum, to reach your nut.

Stop cursing. Control your breathing. Realize that this is why freelancers charge more than someone working on a salaried job for the same work. You are picking up the rest of the tab you never consider because that was your boss' job, and now that boss be you. You will be tempted to cut some expenses, like health care, because you're young, and because you're young you'll be tempted to risk things like not getting insurance because, really, how often does some expensive disaster come along on any one particular shoot? I advise you to resist the urge to gamble.

That's the bare bones day rate, not counting any job-specific expenses. You will want to try and get the local rate cards of other people at and above your level, to compare how your rate fits in compared to theirs. But don't just copy their rate: the math they went thru to get their number is going to be different than yours, maybe severely so. They could also be deliberately low-balling rates due to a subsidy from a fat client, or they may not realize they are low-balling, and they could soon be out of business. Ideally your day rate should be somewhere in the upper half of the local range, not the highest or lowest, but a little above average. But never below your set minimum. Ever.

This is where you apply the gut-check: are you committed to getting this figure thru very very hard work, or is this maybe not what you expected? If you don't think you can make this figure, every day, better to bail now and do something else, for someone else, and there's no shame in it. At all. Not everyone can be an entrepreneur as well as a creative talent. That's two full time jobs.

Now figure the time you're going to spend on these three videos, and be conservative about it. Assume at least one surprise re-edit or extra time taken to massage a narration track due to a last-minute client whim. Assume they will tell you three times, "do it again, but make the logo bigger." Multiply the time spent by your day/hourly rate, rounding-up, and add the expenses for the stock footage and narration and any rentals you need. Add a small markup for a reserve against the unexpected. That's the number you want to eventually give the client. It's the minimum number you keep in your head when you go in to negotiate, the floor number, below which, you smile, get up, and leave the table. Not the number you open with, if at all possible.

Negotiation is a whole topic unto itself.

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Greg Ball
Re: Training Video Cost vs Script?
on Dec 27, 2016 at 10:55:32 pm

Hi Samantha,
As usual Mark has given you tremendous advice. I've shot and edited more corporate training videos than I could ever possibly count. For your pricing, it really depends on what the end video is supposed to be. It depends on the audience, and what level of knowledge they have. This really determines how you approach creating a training video.

It may be challenging to just shoot the owner's brief introduction, without shooting b-roll footage of their company, or products. Stock footage can only accomplish so much, especially when it comes to training. How specific is the training supposed to be?

Remember that video usually can not training people by itself. There may be other materials that the video will support.

For stock footage, we normally charge a fee per shot that includes the footage purchase and our rate for the amount of time and research it takes us to find the most appropriate shots. Remember you're selling your time. See Mark's post for what your time is worth.

I hope this helps. Feel free to reach out with other questions.

Do you know what your client's budget is? Is it realistic? If they've already spent $7,500 on the script, they are probably prepared to spend a reasonable amount on the project.

Greg Ball, President
Ball Media Innovations, Inc.

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