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Tips for becoming a full time videographer?

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Edward CalabigTips for becoming a full time videographer?
by on May 9, 2014 at 3:40:05 am

I've been shooting wedding videos for the past 3 years and I am currently looking into free lancing full time for business and wedding videos.

I have been working a day job as my main source of income financially but wedding videos are now to a point where they are becoming a majority of my income.

I was wondering if anyone has any tips for picking up work aside from wedding videos to become a videographer full time? I have done occasional work for businesses and organizations in the past but the work is sporadic.

I would love to be able to do videography full time and if I could pick up at least 1 video job aside from a wedding once a month, I could definitely make that happen! Lately, I have been offering businesses a free 30 second to 1 minute video by going in person to stores so I can have 4-5 solid business videos before I would like to start charging.

Thanks,
Edward
Lead Videographer/Editor at TSP Video (http://www.tspvideo.com)


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Mark SuszkoRe: Tips for becoming a full time videographer?
by on May 9, 2014 at 1:02:26 pm

One consideration if you want to do this is that you'll have to create a separate identity as a corporate/business shooter. No matter how skilled a wedding videographer you are, business people looking to hire someone for a project look down on wedding photography as irrelevant and frivolous. If they do a search for a shooter, they will not look under wedding/events people, but under corporate/marketing/training type keywords.

If you advertise on a web site with wedding and business video side by side, you will be perceived as unprofessional. Wedding customers will think you only dabble in weddings part-time, and business people will think you're an amateur.

So step one in your "re-branding" is to create a separate web site/portfolio apart from the wedding work. This could go as far as having different phone numbers and voice mailboxes you answer in different ways.

Your web page might be a "portal" page to various "divisions" where you showcase specific kinds of services, or you could just create a completely stand-alone business video services web site.


Next you'll have to create a new online portfolio of demo material. That's an out-of-pocket expense, unless you have friends who will let you shoot at their offices on the weekends or make a training video for them for free, just for the portfolio.

Even before all of this prep work, though, you'll want to think through what kinds of services you want to provide, what niche market you can serve well. Internal communications to employees or share-holders? Public Relations? Advertising? Each of those areas are specific niches, and if you say you can serve them all, equally well, you are either an elderly pro of many years, or a fibbing youngster. Much better to pick one main area of concentration. There's a difference between shooting the CEO in a piece directed at potential investors, versus a trade-show extravaganza, versus making video product catalogs or "how to fill out customer order forms" training aids for the boiler room. Pick a focus, a core competency. Then work to be effective and very cost-efficient at that kind of project.


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Edward CalabigRe: Tips for becoming a full time videographer?
by on May 10, 2014 at 3:51:35 pm

Wow thanks so much for such a detailed response! I will definitely start rebranding a different site geared specifically towards business/corporate work. I'm currently offering free 30 second promotional videos as a way to build local connections and my business video portfolio.

One more question. Do you have any suggestions on resources for finding freelancing work? I'm currently using Craigslist, Thumbtack, and going to businesses in person. I was wondering if there are any other websites to utilize.


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Mark SuszkoRe: Tips for becoming a full time videographer?
by on May 10, 2014 at 4:38:31 pm

You may think this a dumb little distinction, but don't say you are offering free promotional videos. To anyone. Make the video, submit an actual invoice, for what you'd normally charge (you DO know your day rate, right?), then mark the amount as "comp"or "pro-rated".

"But Mark," you say: "I don't see what the difference is."

What you're doing here is important psychologically to the eventual deals you make. If you just give stuff away, people value it less than if they think they got a "bargain". The word of mouth is very different between the two situations. In the first case, everybody automatically wants you to give the product away, always, and up-selling to higher rates becomes super-tough, you'll never make any money.

If you start out with a product properly valued, and ESTABLISH that value, people don't question that value as much.

An example of this exact thing that I learned from a restaurant marketing and management consultant:

This particular restaurant had a problem: nobody was coming in on Monday nights, and they were losing money staying open, with only four or five customers a night. The trick they used was this: The waiter would go to one of those tables, picked at random, on a Monday night, and instead of the bill, gave the patrons a note saying:

"We hope you enjoyed tonight's dinner. It's on us. Every monday, to show our appreciation, we randomly cancel the bill for one of our loyal guests. If you enjoyed tonight's meal, please let your friends know. And do come back, any time. "

This was totally word-of-mouth, no advertising.

Mondays soon became as busy as their peak nights. Even though most people coming knew they would end up paying, the word of mouth brought in many more diners and more than offset the cost of the comped table. But it WORKED because it was structured to demonstrate a VALUE. Had they just put up a sign for "free meals for everybody on Mondays, 6-9", it would not have made them any money, and people would think the food was so poor you were giving it away.


When you make a business promo clip, your client would rather tell their boss:: "I got this hundred-dollar job done for free", versus, "I brought you this give-away package."


One makes them seem a like a hard negotiator, the other makes them look like any slob that got a handout. When they brag to others, their perceived valuation of your service will be that it costs a hundred dollars. The next customer may ask you for "the same deal you gave XYZ company". At that point you can tell them you can't since this is the new client's first contract, but that you can pro-rate the next job for them... and now you have their business.



As for where to find clients, well, Craigs is not where you try to find business clients. One thing I recommend is to haunt the monthly local Rotary and Chamber Of Commerce Meetings, get to know the business leaders there. Find out what charities they support, pick those that you also like, then make some spec PSA spots for those charities, and offer those to the business people as your "calling card".


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Edward CalabigRe: Tips for becoming a full time videographer?
by on May 13, 2014 at 8:48:29 pm

Ah great that makes sense.

If you don't mind me asking, do you have any advice for the initial proposition if the service is not to be offered free? Do you just mean that I should give them a complimentary rate or discounted rate when the video is actually done or prior to that?

Many thanks in regards to the rotary and chamber of commerce information! I will be attending the local rotary club next week :)


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Mark SuszkoRe: Tips for becoming a full time videographer?
by on May 14, 2014 at 1:10:18 am

Handing a company a free piece of work (unless it's that spec PSA I talked about) isn't the way to show your value. The point of what you do is it is bespoke one of a kind, custom-made to specific needs and specifications.

To make that, first requires you visit for a consultation. You have to learn the customer's needs, their constraints, their budget. The PSA for the owner's favorite charity is a "calling card"; a sample to show your technical and creative skill, right up front, with no strings attached to it. It gets you in the door and starts a conversation. The rest is up to your listening and marketing skills, and your salesmanship.

If you make it thru that first meeting and pivot the subject to what you can do for his or her company, directly, then you can talk about the cost of making them a training or marketing piece or whatever. But first, this is a business that's all about building a personal relationship. You can't stampede to a sale; you have to build up to it in a natural sequence.


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Collin SumpterRe: Tips for becoming a full time videographer?
by on Jul 25, 2015 at 4:54:56 am

Lots of good resources online. Heres a guy who makes youtube videos specifically for videographers.





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Ned MillerRe: Tips for becoming a full time videographer?
by on Jul 25, 2015 at 2:00:32 pm

A Bucket of Cold Water from a Wise Uncle Here:

Some Real World Advice from someone who has worked as a freelance videographer for 36 years: You're Nuts to Think It Is a Possibility (now). Why? Because there's a tidal wave of fairly qualified people (like you) who will work for free thus bringing everyone's prices down. I have witnessed this with my own eyes. The equipment has now gotten so cheap and easy to use that anybody with a modicum of technical skills (the geeks) and are somewhat creative can at least enter the biz. 99% can't make it after a few years due to non-sustainable revenue, but they are in the biz compteing against us, lowering prices.

The gigs that come in through the crowd sourcing sites like CL, Thumbtack, Gig Salad, Gig Masters, E Lance, Staff Me Up, etc. are paying peanuts. I've gotten their alerts and bid on them so I know. Why? Because it's a competitive bidding situation and the video buying public now sees production as a commodity so they won't pay much.

Recently for a client I had to find DPs in Buffalo, Indianapolis, Garden Grove & Cleveland so I posted on Production Hub which draws the professional class compared to the above mentioned low pay crowd sourcing sites. My conclusion: Guys working 100% as videographers are starving. Their rates are lower than anytime since the 70's. Many of the responses I got were from young guys begging to do it for super cheap or free to build their reels, there's no money in just being a videographer. Naturally I was afraid to hire them.

Just a few years ago when a local retail owner or service like a chiropractor wanted a 3-4 minute website video, you could get $900-$1400. Now they call me and expect to pay no more than $300-$500. There's guys at my local chamber of commerce who will do it for FREE for the experience or as a side biz. Do you realize how many of these types of videos you'd have to do in a week to survive? Do you want to compete against guys doing it for free? Guys like you who are so hungry to start they will give away what rightfully should be a decent paying gig?

I assume you went to college and had some biz courses? Sit down with someone 10 years older and figure out a realistic personal budget for middle class survival (rent/mortgage, utilities, phone, car payment, health insurance, groceries, etc. etc.). This is your PERSONAL budget, not your biz budget. Do you think you will have enough profit left over after your biz expenses to survive if you go into Videography? No way. I know this because I have two kids in their late twenties and have been through these realistic budget exercises. Life is expensive and gets more so every year that goes by. And you're considering a career path where people will compete against you for free to a target base that sees no difference in the services rendered? Eeeesh...

So in sum, going into shooting full time you will not be able to achieve a decent lifestyle in terms of financial security. You are considering entering into a career plan that pays no money. The only way you could possibly survive is if you produce the whole thing and be servicing large clients. There is absolutely no way to make it as a 100% videographer now. It's chump change. You won't be able to afford the 20% down payment for a house, buy a nice car, engagement ring, foreign vacations, afford good health insurance, start a retirement fund, etc. etc. Every cent left over you'd have to put into equipment to keep up with the Joneses and the first time you get stiffed on a big job you'd have to leave the biz.

Unfortunately, you were born 30 years too late. Go into producing and only for large clients who respect quality and won't stiff you and they are as hard to find as hen's teeth. I know. Forget Videography...

The above advice is from a Freelance perspective. If you can find and put up with a staff gig, ignore the above advice.

Ned Miller
Chicago Videographer
http://www.nedmiller.com
www,bizvideo.com


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walter biscardiRe: Tips for becoming a full time videographer?
by on Jul 25, 2015 at 2:29:49 pm

[Ned Miller] "The gigs that come in through the crowd sourcing sites like CL, Thumbtack, Gig Salad, Gig Masters, E Lance, Staff Me Up, etc. are paying peanuts. I've gotten their alerts and bid on them so I know. Why? Because it's a competitive bidding situation and the video buying public now sees production as a commodity so they won't pay much. "

Just recently bid on a project on Thumbtack. Two 30 minute videos, shot and fully edited with graphics for $300 each.

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author, Chef.
HD Post and Production
Biscardi Creative Media

Craft and Career Advice & Training from real Working Creative Professionals

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Ned MillerRe: Tips for becoming a full time videographer?
by on Jul 25, 2015 at 3:50:23 pm

Walt, you're joking right? I can't even get a good grip for $300. I just have to make it two more years!!!

Ned Miller
Chicago Videographer
http://www.nedmiller.com
www,bizvideo.com


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walter biscardiRe: Tips for becoming a full time videographer?
by on Jul 25, 2015 at 4:07:59 pm

[Ned Miller] "Walt, you're joking right? I can't even get a good grip for $300. I just have to make it two more years!!!"

100% serious. Said the previous project was shot by someone with three GoPros.

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author, Chef.
HD Post and Production
Biscardi Creative Media

Craft and Career Advice & Training from real Working Creative Professionals

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Ned MillerRe: Tips for becoming a full time videographer?
by on Jul 25, 2015 at 4:12:14 pm

Please elaborate. How can you shoot and edit, something that lasts 30 minutes, and includes graphics for $300? Especially you, Walt B., who has massive overhead. Dying to know. Also, why would you want to?

Thanks.

Ned Miller
Chicago Videographer
http://www.nedmiller.com
www,bizvideo.com


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walter biscardiRe: Tips for becoming a full time videographer?
by on Jul 25, 2015 at 4:23:32 pm

[Ned Miller] "Please elaborate. How can you shoot and edit, something that lasts 30 minutes, and includes graphics for $300? Especially you, Walt B., who has massive overhead. Dying to know. Also, why would you want to?"

In my case, we don't have massive overhead, we run a very lean operation, always have. That's always a big misconception folks have about my operation. Our overhead is quite minimal.

In this case, I reached out to her before I knew what her budget was. We came to an agreement that was still below our rate but higher than what she originally said. By shooting enough videos at once, made it cost effective for us and we can edit all of her videos in just two days.

The upshot of all of this is we may have opened the door to larger work through her connections.

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author, Chef.
HD Post and Production
Biscardi Creative Media

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Ned MillerRe: Tips for becoming a full time videographer?
by on Jul 25, 2015 at 4:58:33 pm

Thanks for the elaboration Walt. I have a home office, all gear is now paid for so I only have minimal expenses like insurance, advertising, repairs, etc. yet I can't accept making $300 a day. I'd soon go broke. Plus from my experience with the kind of prospects who use Thumbtack I wouldn't assume they represent future biz, after all, why did they use Thumbtack? My track record of doing a great job cheaply as an entre for better future work has been very eye opening, it hasn't worked well.

Every now and then when biz is dead I will peruse those sites and I find the posters to be incredibly cheap. Mark S. doesn't think video has become a commodity but I see otherwise, every day. Think of what you'd have charged ten years ago. Twenty years ago.

Well, I don't want to get the blues on such a great weekend. My fault for visiting CC lately, usually when I get my tires rotated or waiting for a plane. If the OP is offering to shoot for free, and you are editing for $300 a day, and people are asking me to shoot for about half of what I charged in 1993, what kind of business is this? How can the OP make a real living as a full time videographer?

I have a gaggle of clients who pay very well but they don't have the demand I need. I just have to find more of them because 70% of the market has plummeted, based on what they want to pay or expect a video to cost, to cheapskates or freebies. Thumbtack is for finding plumbers. How did we end up on it? We used to be a highly respected occupation that people were envious of and now everyone's nephew is doing videos for free or slave wages. Go figure...

One of my few super well paying clients, a giant consulting firm, has been flying me around the country interviewing CEOs about how "disruptive economies" are effecting their industry. Airbnb vs. Hyatt, Uber vs the cab companies, etc. BTW, the only reason I am flying around is for the videos to look the same. We were totally disrupted by the DSLR movement and prices have never been the same, also with iMovie. A client called the other day and asked me about changing duration in FCP Express, as a favor.

We are in a biz where prices have actually declined. How did we get into a position where we even need to look at the postings from these crowd sourcing sites? Circumstances largely out of our control but they are there. And that's why I told the OP to forget full time shooting, unless he's from a wealthy family?

Enjoy the weekend!

Ned Miller
Chicago Videographer
http://www.nedmiller.com
www,bizvideo.com


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walter biscardiRe: Tips for becoming a full time videographer?
by on Jul 25, 2015 at 5:48:03 pm

[Ned Miller] "Mark S. doesn't think video has become a commodity but I see otherwise, every day."

100% a commodity today. Projects are driven by cost first and foremost. As long as it's "good enough" the client is happy. I've been working on an educational campaign with potential clients on why you pay me vs. paying other folks. And quite honestly we're figuring out how to make things work at lower budgets. Just cutting into other areas where we used to hire out, now we bring it all internal.

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author, Chef.
HD Post and Production
Biscardi Creative Media

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Ned MillerRe: Tips for becoming a full time videographer?
by on Jul 25, 2015 at 5:56:43 pm

I come from a long line on my father's side of small business owners in a service sector. In fact, no one on my father's side has had a "job", they always had a small service business. So I have absorbed through osmosis this axiom of cost charging:

All clients may be divided into one of two categories: Those who are using their own money and those who are using the company's money. You ALWAYS want to work for the latter.

And I always follow that rule.

Ned Miller
Chicago Videographer
http://www.nedmiller.com
www,bizvideo.com


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walter biscardiRe: Tips for becoming a full time videographer?
by on Jul 25, 2015 at 7:04:46 pm

Company money or personal money, everyone is spending a lot less and looking at video production as simply a commodity.

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author, Chef.
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Biscardi Creative Media

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Ned MillerRe: Tips for becoming a full time videographer?
by on Jul 25, 2015 at 7:45:00 pm

Yeah I know. About ten years ago I started to refine how I describe what “I do” to strangers. Often I would BS and say I did something else so I wouldn’t get the same 10 questions, so at a party or bar, etc. I’d say I was “in construction” or something. That would end that chit chat thread. However, at a social function with the wife, etc. I would say I “produce video”, or something similar, but in the last ten years I’d get a response similar to: “My kid (or nephew, neighbor, cousin…) does that.” Meaning, every mother’s son is now in video and it's seen as "nothing unique" anymore, meaning a commodity.

So…when I want to differentiate myself in a social situation, because I am now too embarrassed to just say I “do video” or something similar to that, I say, “I’m a Cameraman on TV shows such as National Geographic, Discovery, History Channel, etc.” because if I say I produce corporate videos that is viewed as nothing special anymore. Even documentaries, which used to have a cache, are considered DIY. Half the time if I am talking to anyone under 30 they will tell me about the documentaries they were involved in even if they are now in healthcare, finance, engineering…something sensible where they will have a realistic financial future and chance for a middle class existence.

That’s why my dander gets up when a young person thinks they can make a “real” living doing this now. Mark S. seems to me to have this glass half full outlook but I do not know what end of the biz he is in and if he has to fight for his next project like we do? This is definitely a commodity business now.

Every now and then when I run out of my A, B and C list of crew members I have to post anonymously on Craigslist and I get this flood of desperation in response. Sometimes I get a great new crew member addition but if you want to see what the real price structure in your area is, post a CL ad for the typical project you do, especially your specialty, and you will see the competition, some rookies, inepts, but also quality providers who are temporarily desperate, and you will get an idea of what the prices are in your zone. Add to that the video virgins who are needing a video but yet have no idea as to what one costs, and they see "halfway decent" samples, wow, us old pros are now screwed, no?

So in sum I am targeting industries I know which are flush with dough, last week I did healthcare and mutual fund clients. They aren't looking for the best guy in town or the cheapest kid (our OP), rather, no one wants to be the guy who hires the guy "who "f'd" up" and that's my specialty. I am targeting the ones with money who have a LOT to lose if the guy they hire F's it up. I now have this technique down, I just need to find more clients like this so I am not competing on Thumbtack or feeling the need to sneak a peek at CL, which gets me depressed.

Hey, don’t ruin my birthday weekend!

Ned Miller
Chicago Videographer
http://www.nedmiller.com
www,bizvideo.com


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Mark SuszkoRe: Tips for becoming a full time videographer?
by on Jul 25, 2015 at 10:37:03 pm

Hai Guyz, what's goin ' on in this thread? :-)


You know I'm like Betelgeuse, the poltergeist, right? Drop my name often enough and I magically appear.

I'd say it's not so much I'm a glass half full guy, but rather that the glass was twice as big as it needs to be. But something Walter said about taking a low-paying gig because it got him one on one time with the client he could use to build trust and then upsell to the organization for bigger, more lucrative work: that's singing out of the same hymnal I've been screeching from all this time. If you only wait for the scraps they advertise to the lowballers, that's all you can get. If you play up your role as media and communications consultant, you find the work they didn't know they needed, and that stuff pays well. or better, anyway.


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Ned MillerRe: Tips for becoming a full time videographer?
by on Jul 25, 2015 at 11:06:53 pm
Last Edited By Ned Miller on Jul 25, 2015 at 11:08:33 pm

Well, I've been the victim DOZENS of times, seems I never learn, of clients taking advantage of me, usually one offs, who say please help us with our low/no budget project this time and we'll pay you back with bigger jobs next time. One of the first instances occurred when I was right out of film school working as a film AC:

Do the names Piven and Cusack mean anything to you? Dads of Jeremy and Joan? In the late 70's those two Chicago area producers wanted to do a fund raising documentary for their new arts center. Got me to work for two days free with the promise of getting on a "real" job soon. So after I did that I would call Dick Cusack and he would say in a befuddled manner, "Ned who?" I swear to God. Did I learn? Not for many years because I was, and I say was, a trustworthy sap. 2015? No way. That's one of the oldest tricks in the book in terms of getting a vendor (hate that word) down in price. It's a cliche. "Work with us on this one please and we'll pass your name around", etc.

Getting back to the OP, since I am a freelance cameraman, and I see what happens to young freelance cameramen, I think I am highly qualified, especially as a dad to two millennials who can't seem to make good, steady money, to say that you'd have to have a HOLE IN YOUR HEAD to embark on a career as a freelance videographer. Perhaps as a producer/shooter/editor type but to rely solely on shooting, no way. There's No Money In It, especially Steady Money. Hey, I should know right? I hire them all the time. I send my scraps their way that I can't afford to shoot as a favor to some clients. I compete against them on the crowd sourcing sites and....lose.

There comes a time, usually in the late twenties, where they will be tired of eating ramen noodles and having just a bike for transport. They need a profession, an occupation or trade they can ply. They can't follow their dreams or passion, they can't make a hobby into a living. That's only for kids from families with money.

There's a new economic term I'm learning from the project I'm on about Sharing Economies and that's called the Gig Economy. It's not pretty. It means that these young people have to cobble together a bunch of low paying things to do, almost as if they had 4 or 5 part time jobs, just to "make it". So they'll do a little Uber driving, work at Starbucks a couple of days, do some tutoring, various manual labors or piece work, and hey! A little shooting here and there. Bummer. Is that any way to live? Can't save up for an engagement ring. Can't get a place without roommates. And that is what has happened to the young peeps entering the video biz the last few years: They can't make much money. Some exceptions, like people who know how to hustle or have "connections".

This si the same mantra as the thread the other week about commencement addresses at film school graduation but those implied working in various areas. This OP said full time videographer. Would you want your daughter to marry one?

Oh well, that's it! Tomorrow is suppose to be beautiful weather and the kayak is on top of my new 2015 Pilot.

Ned Miller
Chicago Videographer
http://www.nedmiller.com
www,bizvideo.com


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Mark SuszkoRe: Tips for becoming a full time videographer?
by on Jul 26, 2015 at 12:56:55 am

Well, if there's ever a quote on this site you can attribute to me, it is to never fall for that dumb "Give us a break on the first one" line. There are two proper retorts to that: one is to counter offer: "I'll give you the price break on the SECOND one; but the rate today is the rate, take it or leave it." The second alternative is to smile, silently get up and leave the meeting and go to the nearest bar or place that serves good cherry pie. Because nothing will get better from that point if you stay in the meeting. Or they might be testing if you're a rube, to see if you'll accept that proposal or walk. If you say you've fallen for that line a dozen times, you might want to get tested for head trauma; it usually only takes me once to get burned:-)

I have three proto-millennials, all paying their own way thru college with part-time jobs right now, so I dig where you're coming from. Their lives are not nearly as easy as our generation had it, in terms of job prospects, expenses and relative wage levels. They all still live with me (though I charge modest rent) and I put about 150 miles on the car every weekend, just shuttling them each to and from school and/or their far-flung workplaces (my town has no bus service after six or on weekends). The eldest is now a security guard, which pays double what he made as a salesman for Kmart, and he gets benefits and etc. but he works graveyard shifts from midnight to eight AM six days a week. He walks home 3.4 miles some nights after those overnight shifts, along a highway with no sidewalks, or thru a tough part of downtown. He's young, eager, tough, he'll survive, meanwhile he's saving up for a beater car to enhance his after-hours mobility and let him take on a more lucrative security gig out by the airport, guarding G-6's. All my kids work pretty hard for their meager wages. They have all had the speech from me that people like them will go thru several entire careers in a lifetime, that there is no long-term stability to be had, that they have to hit the ground running and adapt constantly. This generation will be a generation of Jack-of-all-trades people. Able to envision and act on new opportunities when they see them. A nation of young Bob Zelins, maybe.

Why would you expect them to make it in video the way we did? The world and market conditions that made that possible in our younger days is long gone, disrupted, as you point out. I'd never try to sell my kids on taking up dad's line of work. IN TERMS OF BEING A FREELANCE VIDEOGRAPHER, that is. The career of being a professional communications specialist, on the other hand, is going to remain lucrative for the right people for a long time yet to come.

The other quote I've laid down for years here goes along the lines of: we're not here to make videos, specifically. We're here to SOLVE the client's COMMUNICATION PROBLEM in some way, and often but not always, that is done WITH a video of some sort, but there is so much more to it than just that.

If you can no longer make a living as a printer because desktop printing and the internet killed your business model, you could still be doing something that puts printed words in front of reader's eyes if that's your passion. You call it something different today, and use different disciplines and tech to do it. Walter figured this out long ago and saw he had to branch out what he was doing, do it a different way, reconfigure the business model but beyond that, he went from purely working FOR clients, to becoming a producer and distributor of his own original content and thus, HIRING HIMSELF, working AS his own client. Doing so, he owns and is invested, not just financially, but emotionally, in much more of what he does than many of us can hope for. For pure job satisfaction, even though I'm positive he'll tell you it's a lot more work, you can't beat that. It's the same rush sailors enjoy, when sailing a boat they've also built themselves, to it's limits, or private pilots with homebuilt aircraft, who feel the thrill of flight on an even deeper level because they tightened every nut and bolt themselves.

I'm sorry to sound so much like a Don Draper ad pitch here. But I'm by nature a generally positive person, ever hopeful and interested in what's new, where things are going, and how to be a part of that. Hell, I'm a Cubs fan; that will show you the extent of the optimism. (Hey, with a Wild Card spot, the way they're playing lately, *It* Could Happen!) Every day's a new chance to learn something new, try a new way, test an old boundary. Overcome the past to shape your destiny. Don't let the past be the only thing that defines you. You are alive TODAY. Today, you could do something amazing. What might it be? I can't wait to find out.







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jim brodieRe: Tips for becoming a full time videographer?
by on Aug 9, 2015 at 11:12:22 am
Last Edited By jim brodie on Aug 9, 2015 at 8:32:44 pm

Ned, that is wise advice that every young filmmaker should listen too.

The other ridiculous term I've heard is "sweat equity"...you lower your standard rates with the promise you'll be called again.
Well, for this particular client he called again, but each time it was to do the same for less.

A project that started out 10 years ago for $50K is now "what can you do for $10K?" And so I go from doing five or six humorous sketches with scores of actors and a decent crew to myself and an assistant rigging GoPros in a car to simulate that Jerry Seinfeld thing. "Project creep" is another irritation where you're asked to just add another one or two minutes or scenarios for the flat project rate you agreed upon eventhough you spend an extra 30% of your time in post. Your grievance falls on deaf ears: "Oh, but think of it as sweat equity."

I agree that for a young person to survive or better still thrive you need to research the best people out there, mentor or apprentice with them for nominal rates to build your skill.

The worst thing is to work alone. You'll end up doing everything yourself and at one point loathing the whole enterprise. Find a core group of people where you can compliment one another's strengths and grow from there. It's also a lot more fun.

Ned mentioned that the best opportunity to earn a livable income is to produce. I highly agree. Find a niche and become the best in that niche. If it dries up you'll need to reinvent or tweak or develop another niche.

I have a friend who has made a good living producing humorous tribute videos for wealthy clients... a very narrow niche. He has evolved from personal tribute videos that involved shooting on three continents to corporate biographies and vision videos. His base work has remained the same but he has continued to branch out into other areas. No one would have thought there was a living to be made in this area, but he did.

His key strength was a background in journalism, an excellent sense of humour and a gregarious nature that attracted clients. He hired crew, editors and other production personnel. He was loyal to his freelancers.

I like the the term: "big ideas and big execution." Think big, its your life that you are building, make sure the foundation is strong and durable and not built on sand. Specialize in your area of passion but keep the vision of your life big.

All the Best,

Jim




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Ned MillerRe: Tips for becoming a full time videographer?
by on Aug 9, 2015 at 6:03:52 pm

Hey Jim,

Your friend who did the tribute videos, I think a lot of his success is the credibility of having been in journalism. He must have great shmoozing skills like this ex-Chicago news anchor who gets $80K for a video:

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2008-05-18/features/0805140416_1_family-...

A very experienced producer/editor friend of mine, in his late 60's, landed one of these tribute videos for a billionaire patriarch lately and the cheap bastard wouldn't pick up lunch or parking! So I don't know what the factors of success are. If I did I suppose I would be rich but I think it comes down to innate sales skills, charisma. Either you have it or you don't. I know I don't. I'm good at what I do but can't catch a break in terms of selling up at that level.

And Mark's advice shows he's a real optimist! As for advice to young people to make their own way, to sell execs on the use of video: Not in the end of the pool I'm in. If I can't get decision makers to respond to emails, direct mail or voice mails, how can a kid right out of college? And the idea of networking at Chamber of Commerce meetings? I've been doing that on and off for 30 years, you just run into insurance agents, chiropractors, financial planners and such. Small service types.

Last week I went to a networking meeting at a former client, the subject was to show how they now have two interns to do their videos internally. They demonstrated to the audience of comm execs of non-profits how to use the 60D, iPhone and Go Pro plus do the editing on iMovie and online edit platforms. This is a major corporation! So I lost a client and the two 22 year olds are making no money. Who wins?

I wouldn't want my kids to be in the biz now. It's a fun thing to do but now you can't make a real living at it. You just jerk from check to check. There's plenty of demand for video but for the young folks it's cheap budgets and the buyers for video services expect the quotes to be low. I'm fortunate in that I am well known in various niches so I get work from staring at the phone, but the young people now entering the biz, especially ones delusional enough to just want to do camera work, they won't make real money. I work with a lot of them and they are busy but there's a great gulf between being busy and being profitable.

Ned Miller
Chicago Videographer
http://www.nedmiller.com
www,bizvideo.com


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Andy jacksonRe: Tips for becoming a full time videographer?
by on Oct 23, 2015 at 11:25:04 am

Hi Ned.

I feel your pain.

This is the reason I got out of the business.
Reading the following threads will be an eye opener.

https://forums.creativecow.net/thread/17/876369

http://forums.creativecow.net/thread/12/857674#858248

Also mentions in the threads that Mark Suszko does video part time with a full time paying job.

Hope this info helps. Looks like you have also answered in one of these threads previously too.

The business in my opinion is doomed!!


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Mark SuszkoRe: Tips for becoming a full time videographer?
by on Oct 23, 2015 at 5:57:09 pm
Last Edited By Mark Suszko on Oct 23, 2015 at 6:37:33 pm

Um, Andy, minor correction to your post: I work full-time in video production, celebrating about 33 years of making money at this game, and my thirtieth year at the same place, in 2016, and while eligible for a decent retirement package at that point, I continue to tell everyone in the shop I'm only leaving one of two ways: in handcuffs, or on a gurney. I write, produce, direct, shoot, edit, and change the cakes in the men's room once a month. I do it all. before I landed this cushy gig, I was the prototypical scrappy young college grad full of attitude and book-learning, and I did a bunch of freelance work, then started a production company, which failed, and I freelanced some more, and I got my current gig, but I still opened a prompter rental company on the side and did weddings on the weekends to build up a nest egg for my growing family. Thanks to my freelance work and the great variety of assignments my "day job" gives me, I have a very wide range of experience across the many disciplines in our business. While I can't claim to be expert in all of them, I know enough to be dangerous (or at least sometimes useful) in many of them. And every day I read up about what others know here, to learn more.

You might have confused my full-time video production job with the additional work I do freelance on the side these days, mostly as a writer. Need a good script, fast? Need an "explainer"? Need good ad or PSA copy that's producible on a budget? I'm your guy.

Andy, I'm beginning to think you're just happier being unhappy. People give you advice ...good advice, from respected people... and you continually swat it away. There's always an excuse why it doesn't apply to you. You've been threatening to quit the business for years now. And yet, here we are. Again.







On behalf of the video industry, I formally accept your resignation. There, now; don't you feel better? Now you're free to try something new and different, maybe something that's a better fit for you.








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Ned MillerRe: Tips for becoming a full time videographer?
by on Oct 23, 2015 at 9:14:44 pm

Andy,

I would say there is a point in one's late twenties/early thirties that if you aren't "making it" financially in your chosen field you need to reassess. I know, I have two kids in that age range. I can only speak from my perspective of being a freelance DP (also produce), Chicago based, specializing in Corporate, Documentaries and Nonfiction TV Shows, so I can not give advice for LA or NYC, features, doing post skills, doing weddings, union crewing, etc. those perspectives would be different. From my place in the video food chain you'd have to have a hole in your head to try to start a career as freelance video DP now, unless you come from or married into a wealthy family. Freelancing is incredibly Darwinian and the best and strongest do not necessarily survive.

We have addressed ad nauseam as to why the rates are now so low and freelancer survival rates into one's early thirties are minimal unless you have an esoteric, highly paid niche skill. The recession before the latest one I saw many people in the biz get flushed out but they resurrected themselves like phoenixes in the mortgage business and had a few great years making $100K+ a year before the next crash. You have to find a way to make decent money and it may not be in the video biz. I run ads several times a year on Craigslist for PAs, Lite Grips, DPs when I run out of my usual crew members. I have noticed in the last couple of years that the responses I get when I call or email the respondents are more often "got out of the industry" rather then as in the past: "went to LA", "took a staff job at a production company". So you are not alone and I can understand you feeling bitter.

This week I was on a 5 cameramen crew and I was the roving, handheld, "go find cool angles" shooter. I'm 62 (but in great shape) and the others were in the 25-30 range. When we discussed their rates I knew that they couldn't make it in the near long run, especially now that we're entering a new phase where gear and glass (4K and beyond) is about to get much more expensive. If they must rent they'll make even less. And with their lower rates they will have to average more days per week, but that won't happen with today's glut of shooters.

So don't be glum. Figure out what today's version of a 2006 mortgage salesman is. Read the biz trade like Forbes, Smart Money, etc. to figure out what the next best growing biz is that PAYS WELL. What industry is really happening. Yes there's a lot of video camera work out there but trying to make a sustainable revenue stream at it I think is impossible for young entrants into the field today.

Good luck!

Ned Miller
Chicago Videographer
http://www.nedmiller.com
www,bizvideo.com


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