Getting Started in Freelance Videography

Written by
Rebecca Smith

Published
May 13, 2021

May 13, 2021 • by Rebecca Smith

With video technology transforming every cell phone user into a potential Do-It-Yourself videographer, professionals are tweaking their business model to ride the tsunami of video use blowing up the Internet.

Around the world, billions of videos are shared online every hour. From quick Instagram stories to humorous commercials and hours of educational instruction, anyone with a message to share is using the art of moving picture to make it real and relatable.

Successful videographers know how to create a video that is properly lit, audio-corrected and edited with clean graphic elements. They know their equipment inside and out but not everyone knows how to turn a profit as a freelancer. Cracking the code to profitable freelance videography boils down to three basic elements including understanding the potential of video monetization, effective marketing and organized business management.

Monetization

Professional videographers have opportunities now that didn’t exist a mere decade ago. Now, you can offer services beyond the traditional bread-and-butter event documentation (think weddings, football games, and school plays) and local business commercials made for TV, all still very valid and much needed. With so many more businesses operating from home after a year of pandemic lockdown, entrepreneurs in the fitness, health and educational industries are streaming instruction like never before. Some can balance both mastering their expertise and setting up a video camera but it doesn’t take long to figure out who could use the help of a professional. Use their contact information to introduce yourself! 

Founder of Uscreen TV, PJ Taei states that, “Video is the #1 way that people want to consume content today. The most profitable way to meet that demand is by charging people for access to your video content, part of a process called video monetization.”

So now, you can not only charge to film the video, edit it, and create a trailer for their social media, you can charge to help businesses set up their own video-on-demand (VOD) website. You might even have your own content you want to provide through a subscription pricing model, similar to having a Netflix subscription, where you generate your own recurring revenue. As Taei reminds his users, “Having your own subscription video-on-demand website where people can access your content on any device gives you control over your income and the ability to develop a strong community around your videos.” 

Again, you can also use this model to leverage your services to others who have a great message but who need your help making their dreams come true. 

Marketing

Like all entrepreneurs, professional videographers need to be able to market themselves. To begin, you need a business name, a cell phone number and email that can be shared with the world.

Online, you need a portfolio of clips of your best work on display and contact information. Social media pages are not the same as having your own personal online presence. Certainly, use the power of social media to promote your work but don’t rely on it alone. Other items a videography website should have include: package pricing (unless you only offer customized prices); any other services including graphic design, photography, drone videography for real estate listings; and, if available, positive references. 

Grow your email list and use it for regular updates. Share your business in local community forums and in digital classifieds like Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. 

Don’t negate the power of print either. Have business cards ready with your contact information and website on them. Business cards easily fit in your wallet and can be posted on bulletin boards around your area and handed out at events. Word-of-mouth is powerful and referrals often happen when on the job. Having something you can leave behind or give to others to share helps spread the word that you are ready for business.

Management

If you want to be treated like a professional, show your clients that you are one. Have a contract ready to customize. Know what deposit you might require and whether the job is by package price or hourly. Institute a proper invoicing system so you can get paid within a reasonable timeframe. Make sure to include the number of edits in a job before additional fees kick in.

Know what taxes you need to submit as an entrepreneur. Know where to rent additional equipment in case you don’t have what you need or something breaks last minute. Sometimes rental fees are cheaper than owning certain pieces. Know who you can hire for things you don’t have time to do, like graphics or editing, to allow you to focus on the creative areas you love the most.

Don’t disappear after a job. If customers are happy with your work, they will hire you again and even refer you to friends. Use your email list to keep in touch!