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Old June 30th, 2010, 01:08 PM   #1
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Novato, CA
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Advise on how to make the leap to full time production work

Hello everyone,

I'm very interested in hearing and learning about how all of you who started out in a different profession made the leap to doing production work full time.

Here's my situation. I currently am employed full time as an engineer and have been doing video production on the side for a number of years. It started out as a hobby to make some money on the side to help pay for the cost of equipment. For the last few years I've kept doing work work for a few steady clients mostly shooting events for them and doing some editing. Up until this February I also had a martial arts studio so I didn't really have any extra time to devote to video production as a business. In February I made the decision to close my martial arts school for some personal reasons and became "legitimate" in starting a production company (meaning I actually got a business license). I also began to do a little palm pressing and marketing for some new clients.

I am trying to make doing production work my primary source of income so that I can have a job that I actually like doing. I do have a family so I cannot up and quit my current full time job. So my question is how have others in my situation made the transition? Were you able to get one project large enough to allow you to make a leap or were you able to build up enough clients that could give you a steady income? For most of the projects I have now I bill out anywhere from $600 for a quick edit that takes a couple of days to complete to $3000 for longer term projects where I'll shoot and edit the video. At present pace I should be looking at between $30K to $40K in revenue this year. Due to time constraints and demands from my full time job I haven't had much time to do any real marketing. All of my "free time" is spent completing projects. Unfortunately my current income from doing this work is not sufficient for me to quit my job and since I have family responsibilities I am somewhat limited in the amount of risk I can take.

So, any advise on how to make a the transition into full time production work and how to most efficiently market would be greatly appreciated. I have not done any wedding videos and though I am not totally against doing them they have not been my interest so far.

Garrett Low is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 30th, 2010, 03:05 PM   #2
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Garrett, I would say keep on doing what you are doing for a while longer. There is no moment when you become pro like being drafted. Once you cut ties with exisiting job, you just have more time on your hands which does not always equate to more work.

I would not make any big moves unless you have found a niche you are generating work with and see growth. Or you are a freelancer by nature and the cubicle is driving you crazy. With the rise of affordable cameras, this industry is or will be going forward oversaturated with photo & now video providers.

The providers are not your problem, it is the ever rising do it yourselfers who are emboldened by the equipment and do not want to pay for services. Imho this is trend that will continue.

So I would say keep on doing both until you can not stand it. Then when you make the move you know it is the right time because you need to do it. Finding clients is easy. Finding clients with budgets is difficult unless you have a niche. Don't just hang a shingle, know what some markets you want to pursue are doing and where you might fit in.

I am a freelancer by nature, and will do whatever it takes to stay this way. Make sure you are as well if you are going to run your own business.

Good luck.
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Old July 1st, 2010, 07:27 AM   #3
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Location: Willmar, MN
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You need to be very diverse, at least to start. When I quit my "real job" 4.5 years ago, my goal was to do production work full-time. But I was really doing more web design and software development because that was the kind of work I could get. During the past years I've been doing less and less web/programming and more and more production. Finally, after 4 years I can say I do more video production than anything.

That's what worked for me.
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Old July 1st, 2010, 11:34 AM   #4
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I'd say when your production work starts to bring in more than your full time job, that might be the time to rethink things.
David W. Jones
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Old July 1st, 2010, 01:26 PM   #5
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Location: Novato, CA
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Thanks for the replies.

David, unfortunately working full time while trying to develop the business, that will most likely never happen. My current job does pay well and in order for me to make as much would require me to put more time in that I have available. That is really the hard thing I am trying to get a handle on. At some point getting more video work will require me to find more time in my day. I am currently a Project Manager for an engineering company so I generally put in anywhere from 40 to 60 hours a week. I need to find a way to clone me or make a day longer.

Tim, thanks for your insight. By nature I am actually somewhat of a nomadic type. I like change and really don't like the confines of an office. I did create a business strategy and plan at the start of the year and am probably about 1 month behind of where I'd like to be. I'm not sure if it's because of the economy or if I am just not able to find the time to focus on it. I do have to admit I haven't found my niche yet but so far I've been focusing on smaller businesses that need promo/demonstration videos as well as doing some editing for internal videos of large companies. I am flexible however and am willing to take work wherever I can get it at this point.

Thanks again,
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Old July 4th, 2010, 07:38 PM   #6
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You might want to read this thread as your question seems to come up fairly often.

I've done some good work -- now what?
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Old July 4th, 2010, 10:10 PM   #7
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Why not hire a business manager (also an aspiring young filmmaker without the resources you have - synergy) and let him find the jobs. When you land the jobs, hire a crew and manage this. You can still do this without leaving your full time job. When your business grows to a critical mass, you can leave with a smile!
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Old July 18th, 2010, 01:23 AM   #8
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I would recommend that you look at attending the upcoming WEVA event in Orlando this August, There will be gobs of people there who have done it, and with whom you can speak with and compare notes with. I am planning on being there. You don't necessarilly have to be a wedding guy to get a lot out of it.

Aside from that, you may want to look at hiring a business coach, someone who could help you set real goals and help you achieve them.

my 2 cents worth....
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Old August 3rd, 2010, 07:18 AM   #9
Join Date: Aug 2010
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This is how I'm going to take it

Hi Garrett,

I'm going to take things pretty much like Chris there mentioned. I've been a software dev for more years than I like to remember (but not too many that it will have made up the majority of my working life - yet) and I've decided to start putting my money where my ambition is. I'll start off by taking time out from my newly restarted software contracting career to hone some skills that I yes never get any time to spend doing - also as far as editing and general research goes, spending all day on the computer at work, I just don't want to do it when I get home in the little time I have when I'm not attending to day-to-day life & work admin!
I'll then work & "play at" video production off & on for 3-6 months at a time, with a view to getting in some paying work (probably weddings to start) and then when I spend more time (even if I make less) on vp instead of software dev then I've switched career!
My first "money where my ambition is" step happens at the end of Sept when my current contract ends and I step into 3-4 months of VP peripheral preparation activity. Will I resist the lure of 300+/day work whilst I'm doing it? I dunno, I hope so or else this ain't gonna happen!

Good luck with things Garett,

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