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Turning a hobby into a career

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Adam McDermott
Turning a hobby into a career
on Aug 16, 2011 at 5:04:51 pm

Hello All,

My name is Adam and I'm a fledgling videographer.

I am not a professional videographer by any means and have no professional training, but I have taught myself the basics of videography and have a strong interest in developing some sort of career out of the video arts.

I myself am a cook/chef at a restaurant in Baltimore with a background in Journalism.

I'm basically just reaching out to anyone with a good eye for editing/creating professional videos. I have aspirations of elbowing my way into the video field. I have a lot of experience with cooking, so I think I can produce some pretty cool instructional cooking videos. But I also have a background in journalism and would like at some point to do some short documentary type videos, possibly I can pitch my services as a supplement to newsprint journalists in the style of TimesCast by the New York Times.

Like I said, I don't have any training. I was wondering if anyone has any advice on how to turn my hobby into more of a career?

Also, if you've got a minute, maybe you could watch my short video and give me some feedback? It's located on my website: (the one on the egg sandwich is my most recent). I know the lighting is off as I don't have a light kit, and I'm also short a tripod, but overall once those things are corrected, I'm happy with the format and potential of this type of video. I'm hoping to complete a slew of these in the upcoming weeks. That's the plan anyhow.

Many thanks for any tips you might have!

Have a good day,


Adam McD.

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Mark Suszko
Re: Turning a hobby into a career
on Aug 17, 2011 at 2:25:45 pm

Alton Brown started as a video producer who wanted to become a chef so he could do good cooking videos.

One caution about the general concept of "monetizing your hobby".

One of my hobbies is radio control model airplanes. In the club I used to belong to, member after member bought the local hobby shop, thinking that this would be agreat way to make money while pursuing their hobby, even self-funding their hobby. In every case, it was a disaster, not only did the shop take up all their hobby time so they couldn't fly any more, it took time away from family obligations, damaged friendships with all their OFB's (Old Flying Buddies) and became nothing but a huge drain on their personal wealth. I saw three guys each take a turn at it, until the shop folded for good. There were many contributing factrors, the internet vs. bricks and mortar store beign one significant one, but that wasn't all of it.

Sometimes, you keep your hobbies sepatate from your work for very good reasons.

With that said up front, we can now proceed without further warnings.

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Nick Griffin
Re: Turning a hobby into a career
on Aug 17, 2011 at 10:12:43 pm

[Mark Suszko] "In every case, it was a disaster... nothing but a huge drain on their personal wealth."

This is pretty common, but often instead of disaster it results in extended periods of earning less income than one otherwise would have in a "job" job.

I first identified this in others, in this case operators of SCUBA shops and dive operations. They, in the overwhelming majority of cases (and back several years ago when I was analyzing this as part of a marketing program), weren't businessmen. They were dive enthusiasts who thought it would be a fun way to earn a living. Some did. At the time I only knew of one who figured out how to get rich.

Then again who here in the COW thought, "Gee, I could get an MBA and go to work for Goldman Sachs -or- I could go into film, video, audio production and make even more money." I'm as guilty of making this questionable choice as anyone and am reminded of it by seeing former classmates who went to Wall Street or into high priced law firms for their "job" jobs.

Some of us earn a really good living in production. Most earn just a living. Some go broke. Such is the nature of following one's interests (and talents) rather than following one's greed.

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Craig Seeman
Re: Turning a hobby into a career
on Aug 17, 2011 at 3:04:15 pm

You'd need to think of your target market.
I think the shooting and lighting is fine but the pacing may be too slow.
Granted this is just an exercise for you but think of a specific audience.
This could be a lighter news piece. Keep it under 2 minutes.
If it's a training video it would need voice over and music.
If it's a marketing video, figure out what the "product" is you're selling (a restaurant that makes a good homemade breakfast?)
Hit any one of those targets and you have a demo piece to get work in that targeted area.
Each might lead to a different kind of job, ENG work, marketing video/cable spots, etc.

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Jonathan Ziegler
Re: Turning a hobby into a career
on Aug 17, 2011 at 4:55:05 pm

Having done much the same thing, I always say jump on in, the water's fine! Read: The e-Myth Revisited by Gerber. He talks about how to successfully take a former job or hobby and turn it into a business. Basic business principles will still be applicable - plan, get some start-up capital before you quit your day job, plan some more, talk to a lawyer, talk to an accountant, did I mention research? How about more planning? If you're in no rush now, start getting practice by volunteering to help others with their projects. Get a feel for the biz. I prefer trial by fire so I didn't take any of my own advice, but I realize I should have!

Jonathan Ziegler

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Mark Suszko
Re: Turning a hobby into a career
on Aug 17, 2011 at 7:43:48 pm

I watched the sandwich video.

I think you have a good sense of shot composition. The shredded cheese shot was out of focus though. You also needed a second camera angle on the onion slicing becase your hands obscured almost all of it. That was the most outstanding error IMO.

You need more and better lighting and to make it more consistent.

I liked the edit in general but it could be sped up a little. Try some parallel action in a few spots by putting two or three different sized PIP boxes in the same frame to show either additional angles of the main action, something specific aboutt he current ingredient, or other steps going on concurrently, or both. It also just adds more visual interest. For example, crop a burner ring shot, low in the frame. In a narrow, long box, then put the overhead pan shot in another frame above that, all within the same frame.

Your title super needs to be white instead of black, or if you keep it black, you need something to help cut it from the background, some lighting or edge effects, or a soft focus blured panel behind it would help.

Play up the natural audio effects more; try adding some compression and EQ boost, make the sound as much of a character as the ingredients. The payoff shot for the finished product needs something more, it wasn't memorable: I've already forgotten what the shot looked like and I just saw it fifteen seconds ago. You worked so hard to get me to that final point, and where is it?

You have some good stuff going there, despite these minor quibbles, keep working at it.

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Tracy wu
Re: Turning a hobby into a career
on Aug 18, 2011 at 1:12:46 am

Then, what about attending some training firstly? A professinal teacher can give u the correct advice.

:)No dress rehearsal in our life,every day was a field pickup.

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Mike Cohen
Re: Turning a hobby into a career
on Aug 19, 2011 at 8:57:09 pm


First, stop telling the world you don't have any training or experience. I think you are on the right track, you just need some refining. To put it into cooking terms, you can make a nice egg sandwich, but would you serve it to the CEO of a big company? Maybe, maybe not, but think about refining your craft. There are a million sources for learning as well as simply going and making stuff. Your egg sandwich video visually tells you how to make an egg sandwich, but it is so similar to 100,000 other videos on YouTube. Look at a cooking show you like and try to emulate that, or simply find things you like and make them your own. Cooking shows are either "dump and stir" or something more refined. Find your own hook, otherwise you are just showing how to chop an onion.

I'd suggest re-doing this egg video. Add some narrative, perhaps some music, even out the sound and the lighting. You don't have to spend a lot on gear. You have to spend adequate time refining your craft however.

Good luck.

Mike Cohen

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Faran Saberi
Re: Turning a hobby into a career
on Sep 4, 2011 at 8:23:05 am

My experience:

I focused too much on making good videos and not enough on making money/marketing etc.

As a result I have postponed my progressed in the field and haven't made much money.

People don't necessarily appreciate good production. a confident tone, professional LOOKING equipment, good service and great marketing are all more important that actually making good videos, in my opinion - at least initially anyways.

good luck

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