The lure of starting a video production company is especially appealing as video equipment has become more advanced and affordable. Converting a hobby into a business is as challenging as it is rewarding, and your ultimate success will be determined by the quality of your work and your ability to market it, not whether you have a degree. If you research your market and plan carefully, you can be on your way to a fun and profitable career.
Plan your video production business by conducting basic research to determine if your target market can support you. Check the yellow pages and conduct an Internet search to see if there are video businesses in the area. If there are, visit them and ask questions to determine their size and focus, such as weddings or corporate events. See what other services they offer, such as duplication or transferring old videos to DVDs. If there are no video businesses in your area, ask yourself why. That may be a great opportunity for you, or it may mean there is not enough business.
Write a Business Plan
Whether you plan to borrow money or not, you need to write a plan. It is the business blueprint and is the best way for you to work through details you need to consider in establishing your business. One of the most important parts is the financial section. You can calculate with reasonable accuracy what your start-up costs will be. The more difficult part is projecting your revenue. Plan on losing money at first and make sure you have sufficient resources to cover your cost of living during the start-up phase. Many small businesses fail because they lack sufficient capital.
What to Shoot
Video opportunities abound, and while you may wish to specialize, as a start-up, you cannot afford to pass up any business. Weddings are likely prospects, but they may be seasonal. Education and training videos are good prospects for corporate customers, who may also wish to have speeches and events recorded, too. Funerals are also opportunities to produce videos of memories of the deceased. Attorneys occasionally have a need for a deposition to be recorded, and some of their clients may wish to have their wills taped.
The biggest problem you will face with your start-up is marketing your business. You must network extensively to get exposure for your work. Have demo DVDs that you can distribute to demonstrate your ability. There is no substitute for meeting prospects face-to-face. If you wish to video weddings, visit bridal shops and go to bridal fairs, if there are any in your area. Filming houses may not sound exciting, but real estate agents might need footage of homes they have on the market. Wherever you see an opportunity, you must pursue it.
Promote your business on the Internet. You can display your footage on your website and sites such as YouTube, Metacafe, Google+ or Daily Motion. Draw people to your work by sending newsletters or including a link with your email address. With Shutterfly you can showcase your work as well as learn tips from experienced professionals. You can find gigs at sites like elance, Craigslist or the major jobs boards, but be careful. Many of these opportunities will go to the lowest bidder; you know what you are worth and bid accordingly. When business is slow, you can fill your spare time shooting stock footage to sell online at sites like iStockPhoto, pond5, or Shutterstock.
- Videomaker: Starting a Video Production Business
- NCRA: Starting a Video Production Business: Mistakes People Make
- Primeau Productions: Five Truths of Running a Successful Video Production Company
- Business Owner's Idea Cafe: Video Production Services/Multimedia Production Services
- Desktop Documentaries: Freelance Video Production: Fifteen Ways To Make Money With Your Video Camera
- Word Tracker: Seventeen Sure-Fire Ways to Promote Your Online Videos
Thomas Metcalf has worked as an economist, stockbroker and technology salesman. A writer since 1997, he has written a monthly column for "Life Association News," authored several books and contributed to national publications such as the History Channel's "HISTORY Magazine." Metcalf holds a master's degree in economics from Tufts University.