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Old March 27th, 2014, 12:36 PM   #1
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How Much to Charge..?

After my most recent video, I have been asked to do similar videos for different people. They asked me how much I charge and I have no idea what to say. I'm new to this so I don't want to give a huge number as I'm not that great yet, but I don't want to do it for nothing. Below is the most recent video I did. Any ideas on what to charge for something like this?


Last edited by Brock Burwell; March 27th, 2014 at 01:16 PM.
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Old March 27th, 2014, 12:47 PM   #2
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Re: How Much to Charge..?

Hi Brock.

I think you will find that rates are completely subject to the clientele and level of production value, and vary wildly by region.

Your region is probably pretty similar to mine in terms of market saturation (relatively low) and demand (relatively low). The combination makes for rates that are livable but not opulent.

Up here in northern Vermont, I'm doing work that is similar to yours. I charge what is here a pretty standard day-rate of $500, plus a rental surcharge for whatever equipment I'm using. My editing weekly is based off of that shooting day-rate. That's it.

I have found, however, that the more interesting local clients, non-corporate, balk at even those fairly low rates. That's OK, because I have the power to either walk away or negotiate a deal if the end-result will carry an intangible benefit for me.

Production studios up here get a lot more (more like $100/hour). But we're not production studios, are we?
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Old March 27th, 2014, 01:16 PM   #3
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Re: How Much to Charge..?

Thanks for the response

I guess it just depends on the client.

I live in Charleston, WV and the city has a population about 50,000 with the surrounding area bumping it up to a little over 300,000. If you add in Huntington (an hour away) and Parkersburg (an hour away) it comes up to about 740,000. It's a decent base to work with, but not nearly what some of these big cities have (our state only has 1.8 million).

So what would you have charged for that video I posted? I drove an hour to Parkersburg to film it, used a tripod, 3 softboxes, recorder, lav mic, slider and camera.
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Old March 27th, 2014, 02:25 PM   #4
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Re: How Much to Charge..?

Here's a link that keeps popping up in these sorts of conversations:

How to succeed as a creative long term: know your C.O.D.B. Vincent Laforet's Blog

Until you know how much it costs you to do the work, then you won't really know how much you stand to earn in profit on any given job, or where you need to (for lack of a better term) "cut corners" and reduce expenses. It is exceptionally easy for a beginning contract worker to quote themselves into less-than-minimum-wage (or even less-than-profitable) work repeatedly without this knowledge.

My usual quote strategy is to figure out (from the above) an "ideal" pay rate (ie, one that affords me such luxuries as yearly camera and computer purchase budgets) and a "minimum" pay rate (ie, one that keeps the lights on and mortgage paid) and negotiate within those numbers.
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Old March 27th, 2014, 03:40 PM   #5
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Re: How Much to Charge..?

Great link. Thanks for posting it.

Man, it just seems like if you want to make it comfortably in this business, you need to be able to be good enough to charge a decent amount and have people willing to pay that for your service. Actually kinda depressing reading thatů

That said, that article is more so for fulltime videographers. I'm just doing it on the side so it's difficult for me to get prices out of that. Great link, it just doesn't apply to me right now
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Old March 27th, 2014, 04:51 PM   #6
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Re: How Much to Charge..?

Find out how much your local mechanic charges per hour. Set your hourly rate 40% below that. Well, I don't know if that's how you do it, but that's how it works out for me.
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Old March 27th, 2014, 05:05 PM   #7
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Re: How Much to Charge..?

So Rainer, are you saying that we should sell our cameras and buy a lift and wrenches? :)

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Old March 27th, 2014, 06:47 PM   #8
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Re: How Much to Charge..?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brock Burwell View Post
That said, that article is more so for fulltime videographers. I'm just doing it on the side so it's difficult for me to get prices out of that. Great link, it just doesn't apply to me right now
Nope, it still applies, because it's still your time and your life. You could figure the costs from the perspective of your day job meeting all your various living and utility expenses, and instead work from the costs of your equipment plus whatever other charges specific to that work you incur, portioned out over a rough guesstimation of days you plan to work at this side job.

rough example: I get a $2500 camera gear package and $300 editing package and expect to drive an average ~150mi per day on these jobs using ~7.5gal @ ~$4/gal (I know WV can be high), or ~$30/d in gas. I only have inclination to work three days per month except in December and July when I won't work at this side job because of vacations & such, so that's 30 work days. I want to set aside $500/yr to upgrade equipment and deal with increased auto maintenance.

So total expenses = 2500+300+500+(30*30) = 4200
To break even over 30 jobs, I then need to charge 4200/30=$140/d .

That's to BREAK EVEN ON EXPENSES, not even make an hourly wage off the endeavor.

So let's say I want to target an exceptionally modest $25/hr for my time, then I'd need to tack on an extra ~$250 since I'll probably work that much per day with driving included... that takes me up to ~$390/day. Oh, and $10 for a meal... $400/day. May as well hike it up to $500 so I can pay the IRS, because, believe me, they'll ask for it.

So yes, I didn't have all those mortgage, insurance, and office expenses to figure in, but I also didn't have the extra time over which to spread the meager costs my side business needs to operate... so my rate is still fairly in line with what a full-time guy might charge.

And if I didn't wind up incurring all those expenses? Well, there's nothing wrong with making a little extra profit. Why do you think I've been heating homemade burritos on my engine manifold this year?
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Old March 27th, 2014, 07:31 PM   #9
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Re: How Much to Charge..?

See? I told you it comes out to a $500 day-rate.
; )
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Old March 27th, 2014, 07:39 PM   #10
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Re: How Much to Charge..?

Haha Thanks!

That makes sense seeing it spelled out that way. Thanks for explaining it a bit further.

Yea you were right Finn lol. So how much do you charge for equipment fees and how do you do that? They tell you what they want and if you think it requires a certain piece of equipment, you add that fee in?
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Old March 27th, 2014, 08:17 PM   #11
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Re: How Much to Charge..?

Exactly. I ran the numbers once and it seems like the rule of thumb for rental houses is to charge about 1/30 of the cost-basis per day for whatever it is. So, since I'm handling my own equipment and not worried about it breaking quite so often, I charge about 1/60. For example, I sometimes shoot with an F-3, which has an MSRP of roughly $10k. So daily rental would be $167. But I paid a lot less than that to buy it used, so I knock that down to $150 and throw in my basic peripherals (3-point tungsten, lenses, etc) for free (not that they are free for me to repair and maintain, that is).

Compared to a rental house it's a screaming deal, and you have to look at it that way, because your clients aren't offering to let you bash their equipment around, are they? Plus, it gets you in the habit of considering these things and forwarding the costs, so that you don't get stuck out of pocket when you do have to straight-up rent something that you don't own for a particular job.
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Old March 28th, 2014, 02:32 AM   #12
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Re: How Much to Charge..?

Brock, first off I want to say you did a fantastic job on your first video. Your client should be real happy.

As far as pricing yourself that's something you have to figure out on your own. But just because you're not full-time doesn't mean you have to charge less. I've been doing video as my only income for 20 years.

I used the time when I still had a job to establish myself. That's when it's easy to price your self accordingly and ease your way into the business while you still have another income. It becomes harder after you no longer have another income. So this is the time to establish yourself with your regular clients. It's hard to low ball today and then go back to the same clients and say I want "Big Boy" money all of a sudden.

As far as the $500 per day that may or may not be right for you. My rate is $750 a day as a shooter with my camera, basic light kit 1 lav and 1 hand held. everything else is line item.

There are times I get creative to get my $750. Sometimes I will charge $750 and throw in 2 hours of editing. I get my day rate and it adds value for the client. And usually on these corporate gigs I will get another 4 to 10 hours of edit hours. My edit rate is $125 per hour.

Once you figure out what your rate is your biggest job is maintaining relationships. I have clients that I shoot for repeatedly several times a year. If your relationship is solid with your client you don't have to worry about losing the job to someone who may be better. You become the go to guy.
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Old March 28th, 2014, 07:35 AM   #13
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Re: How Much to Charge..?

OK so just for reference, how do you predict how long it's gonna take to do a job? Say someone wants to come have you make a short 3 minute video of their business or organization. They want to be interviewed and you plan on driving there in the morning and starting. Do you just predict how many hours you'll be there and then quote them on it? If you go over those hours, is it on you? What about editing time? I feel like that is so unpredictable. Then you add on top of that the equipment fees? So do you charge for just the "extra" equipment and not the essentials?
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Old March 28th, 2014, 09:05 AM   #14
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Re: How Much to Charge..?

Al,
It sounds like you and I went to the same school. Pretty much the same rates with the same idea of throw in some edit to keep the rate...in this business it's a dance and of course knowing the market and how to make $10,000.00 sound like $100.00. ;-)
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Old March 28th, 2014, 05:19 PM   #15
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Re: How Much to Charge..?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brock Burwell View Post
OK so just for reference, how do you predict how long it's gonna take to do a job?
Experience. Seriously, it's the only way. Keep a time-log of your editing projects as though you were accountable to your boss for your hours, and you'll find out pretty quick. But on your first few jobs, you just have to guess.
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