In 2012, I started a life-changing choice to quit my cushy but unfulfilling career and to become a freelance videographer. It looked like a mad idea, especially in light of the recent depression and declining economy, yet deep down inside I perceived that I was making the right choice. Also, it meant saying farewell to a lovely monthly paycheck plus a hefty extras package in favour of seeking what I love to do. Also, yet if it involved facing financial uncertainty and risk of the future that lay before.
I’m now beginning my second year as a full-time freelance videographer. My only sorrow is that I didn’t do the switch earlier. Is financial risk and ambiguity about my future still there? Definitely. Does it trouble me? Not as important as you would think.
If there is one primary concern I have learned, it is this simple truth: if you actively take steps to overcome your fear to investigate your visions and ambitions, and if you’re determined and stay true to yourself, you’ll find success plus satisfaction in that area of your career. It might take a more considerable time. Also, it won’t be easy. And, you probably will not become rich in the process. However, you will ultimately find ways to support yourself by doing what you love to do.
Here are several things I discovered after being a videographer for a couple of years. If you’re contemplating this route, I hope that some of this might be interesting.
Don’t resign your day job till you’re ready.
Leaving my job was the correct choice, and it is true. But, I didn’t do it on impulse or without planning. It was a direction that needed some time. I needed to make sure that I had sufficient savings to last for at least six months, or preferably to a year or longer if required. I understood that the change to starting working for me as a videographer would need a while, plus that money wouldn’t just start rolling in as I started my job.
Developing a customer base including sufficient work needs time. After two years, I am still working on it. So, if you are thinking of leaving your day job to try a career as a videographer in the creative business, make sure you have a financial buffer to give you a head-start as you start scanning for customers and making those networking connections. It won’t appear overnight.
A videographer is still a job
Being a videographer, merely because you are working for yourself plus no manager watching over your shoulder moreover huffing down your neck, you yet have to answer to someone. That someone is your customer. In a sense, that the customer is your boss, plus you should make every attempt (within reason) to achieve or indeed surpass their expectations. If that customer isn’t satisfied, it will mirror poorly on your business also your name. The under-promise/over-deliver example usually is a big template to follow.
In Hollywood, there is a saying (mostly about directors and actors, but it could refer to anyone) – that you’re as great as your latest film. It doesn’t matter if you delivered a dozen award-winning gems. Because, if one most recent films you worked on was a flop, your job would take a steep fall, furthermore people will be less likely to use you again. So, it’s essential to deliver your best game regularly, no matter how little or big the design is.
It is also natural for a beginning artistic videographer to believe that because you like working on a job (whether it’s video creation, editing or graphic design), that each task will be entertaining. That is not the fact. If you need to earn a living in video production, particularly in the initial several years, you will not possess much decision in taking all classes of assignments that reach your door, some of which will be uninteresting or completely monotonous. After all, you must support yourself!
Still, no project is “beneath” me; in the preceding two years I have hunted everything from marriages, bar mitzvahs, gatherings and nightlife events to company promos, corporate conventions, product demos, PSAs, Kickstarter drives, performing crafts, entertainment, sporting competitions, advertisements and TV presentations.
One of those things I have discovered is that the videos which are thought more imaginative and amusing to work on (such as music videos, short films, narrated pieces and documentaries) are those that pay the insufficient if anything at all. When, projects that can be considered tedious and dull, such as being in the rear of a convention room and recording a 6-hour corporate exhibition or a talking-head conversation, are the ones that do pay rent plus put food on the table.
Fortunately, I love shooting including editing so much, that I obtain at least some pleasure even from working on such naturally dull projects. As long as I’m behind that camera, I’m happy with shooting anything. I’ll take it every day over pretty much every other sort of work. Apparently, this is how I understand that I’m on the best track and creating what I’m supposed to do with my career.
But, I also attempt to regularly work on more artistic projects such as short films, documentaries plus music videos, even if they are voluntary (which they frequently are), merely to keep a sense of individual productive achievement and further to network with additional like-minded people in the local autonomous film scene. After all, that is why most of us spread into the video creation industry, to start with, isn’t it? To create videos!
Cultivating relationships as a videographer
Here is a crucial part of any industry. Approximately one-third of my business happens from repeat sales of customers I’ve completed work for in the past. Any of it also arrives from referrals. If a customer chooses you for the first time plus is pleased with your work plus your character, they will be further tended to hire you repeatedly for another outline in the future, as opposed to running with somebody different that they don’t know. It’s public knowledge, and that’s how expert relationships get formed. I am incredibly thankful for the relationships I have developed with several Denver-based businesses, and I’m always scanning for more.
In particular, I like running with local small companies and community organisations. They don’t undoubtedly have enormous video production funds. However you manage to have an added special, pleasant experience running with them, and it’s regularly a lot of fun.
Dealing with awkward customers
So far, I’ve been fortunate enough in that I haven’t had to deal with many awkward customers, yet I came close many times, and I’ve overheard enough terror tales to prepare me for the occasion. You recognise, the kind of customers who don’t have a definite idea of what people need; the customers who will suck you dry, demanding change following change on design, never satisfied with the result, or even worse – declining to pay.
When you’re just beginning as a videographer, it is tempting to endeavour to fit the client’s demands, no matter how absurd they are. However, at some point, you ought to say “no,” especially when the quantity of work you are doing is not proportionately rewarded. I now have a part in my video production contracts that enables the customers one set of editing changes incorporated in the suggested budget for each given project. Any further revisions, modifications to the script or movie after it’s accepted, cost more.
Becoming an organised videographer
As suggested before, videographer and video creation is a creative business, although it’s still a business. It’s essential to have full contracts, release forms, receipts plus other papers associated with any given design well organised. Now that I’m a freelancer, preparing taxes each year is a more complicated process, so I make sure to have detailed accounts, and spreadsheets of everything, from equipment purchases, design budgets, customer payment receipts also travel payments right down to gasoline mileage on my car.
Organising information is also very necessary. I use a tapeless, fully digital workflow for all of my business, so footage archival and backup is of high priority.
Equipment does not matter
Do not get me wrong; I salivate over new camera equipment as much as anyone. However when it comes down to it, what equipment you manage makes little to no difference to the customer, as long as you have a sufficient skill set when it approaches framing, illumination, audio and editing. Most prosumer camera types on the market right now, whether its DSLRs, small-sensor or ENG-style camcorders can do an excellent job in creating stunning, high-quality video ready for web and even TV broadcast. Hell, I executed material on my old Canon Vixia HFS-100 as a B-cam, and that footage viewed nearly as good as anything I performed with cameras 5-10 times its value. Not saying that I would handle it as the primary camera in a professional paid shoot, yet still… The videographer behind the camera means much more than that camera.
Approximately 90% of the videos I’m frequently hired to shoot finish up on YouTube, Vimeo or different websites. Perhaps 5% go to DVDs, and different 5% seldom on TV. For those kinds of videos, I specialise in – web advertisements, company profiles, client testimonials, instructional videos, short-form documentaries moreover so on, the viewers couldn’t worry less whether they’re shot upon a $20,000 RED Epic or a $900 DSLR. It might cause an exception for high-end corporate customers, although that is not my business.
Having a lifestyle that is equal to your business
I don’t understand any videographer “who are making a constant stream of work all year long. Seldom you can hire a ton of jobs in 1 month, except when finished, you might discover yourself in a dry spell for weeks or indeed months that follow. You never perceive when or where your following paycheck will be arriving, and it can be unnerving. Seldom it’s plain scary. Except you frequently land high-paying jobs from vital customers, it’s sensible to follow a lifestyle that is as simplistic as plausible, with low expenses. My most significant expenditures are food and rent. Next-largest costs are things like health insurance, phone, internet charges and car costs. I keep all equipment purchases and upgrades to a minimum – solely when wanted and when I’m sure that the cost can be recovered in three months.
A little enthusiasm goes a long way
Technical abilities and knowledge for a videographer are essential. However, they are worthless if you don’t possess a real passion and devotion for what you do. I didn’t choose to go into filmmaking because I believed it would make me wealthy or influential. 99% of people in this business are neither. I progressed into filmmaking and video production because it’s what I choose to do and I can’t imagine anything else that gives me satisfaction or as accomplished professionally and creatively as producing videos and films or encouraging other people to make theirs. If you’re in it for the bucks, you might as well stop now and do something different, because there is typically not any! However, as I stated previously if you love what you are doing and if you don’t give up, you will discover a way to make an existence by it.videographer
Collaboration, not opposition
There is a lot of discussion regarding how competitive this business is, and to some degree it’s true. Several people are attempting to make an existence doing the same market as you do, and winning customers is the usual toughest, limited fun and a most time-consuming portion of this job. If you can discover a niche that nobody else has yet hit, you are in a great spot.
Video production is a collaborative medium. It’s not easy being a videographer, and often you want support. I attempt to network with as numerous other local freelancers and filmmakers as I can as you never know if 1 of them might want advice on a project or vice versa. There are times when a customer contacts me regarding a project, which I’m incapable of doing, generally due to calendar conflict. In these cases, I’m more than pleased to pass on the customer to one of my peers, understanding that they would do the equivalent for me. There are also times when I want a second shooter, an audio person or merely an assistant on a project, and I’m pleased to know people who are prepared to help out. Here has no lack of creative people and skilled crew when it comes to video production.