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Taking Care of Business
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Old September 7th, 2010, 02:10 PM   #1
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Dealing with craigslist ads

So, I often get the question how much would so so cost to put this together... It's really hard to answer because mostly the client is looking to save money... I feel like saying well it all depends on how good and professional you want to look.

It's almost like there should be categories to base a quote off of

Half Ass
Quality (something I'm proud of)

These people want FULL 5 min productions for like $75 dollars

Some guys wrote back to me today "i can take video on my picture camera to keep the cost down"

I mean this is what the guy writes me...

"what I want is a advertisment video for my website. Acompilation of all the martial arts we offer with all the fancy moves in it. It would need to have our offer spoken through or typed across the screen. Also I would like to make a video to give away to anyone that joins my email list. All these videos would be short. I can shoot it with my picture camera to keep the cost down."

Can you guys give me a typical response to something like this?

Thanks for reading

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Old September 7th, 2010, 03:01 PM   #2
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Pat, in my opinion, I would just walk away from clients like this. I once had a client a CEO of a company who told me, I want models to man my booth can you secure them for me? Of course. Then what killed me was his " Basically I want Miss Universe to man my booth and pay her minimum wage". I respectfully told him that we can't do it and told him I will forward all my modelling agency contacts and he can ask his secretary to try.

In short you can't get champagne on a beer budget.

My 2 cents
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Old September 7th, 2010, 03:32 PM   #3
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Feel free to try one of these responses.

Good luck with that.

Bye Bye

Since you can shoot it then you can edit it also


As Noel said, you really are better off with out these folks. They want Hollywood for less than home movie budget, and the good stuff always costs more.
What do I know? I'm just a video-O-grafer.
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Old September 7th, 2010, 08:19 PM   #4
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Trade a year's worth of martial arts training for each 5-minute piece.

After all, martial arts training can't cost all that much because they're just telling you how to punch and kick, while you're doing all the hard work of actually punching and kicking.

If they balk, then explain the true cost and the value of quality production work.
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Old September 8th, 2010, 11:05 AM   #5
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I'm always a little bit puzzled by questions like this. You're a professional so you're expected to behave like one. You tell the client what any professional would when confronted by someone who has wildly unreasonable expectations about what the price should be for the services offered.

In this you say, fine, no problem, if you want to shoot the video yourself. Our editing rate is $50 per hour (or whatever yours is) and we anticipate that a project like this will take about 100 hours to edit. It always takes longer when the client shoots the video because we can't be sure it will be up to our technical standards, will be in the correct format, or that we will have all the necessary coverage. So if we shoot we'd anticipate probably closer to 25 hours of editing time, but if you wish to provide the video that's no problem. We're happy to do it for you under that basis.

What would your doctor say if you wanted an appendectomy for $25 and do the anesthesia and/or incision yourself?

Once you show them this is false economy they either accept your prices or go away. In either case, problem solved.
"It can only be attributable to human error... This sort of thing has cropped up before, and it has always been due to human error."

Last edited by Adam Gold; September 8th, 2010 at 05:55 PM.
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Old September 8th, 2010, 04:54 PM   #6
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Taking a job like this is never a good idea. In immediacy, it is a disservice to yourself- potentially setting a precedent for the type of clientele you are likely to attract. At worst, it is a disservice to the industry, undercutting services to a mere fraction of a living wage.

A lot of folks will ask for professional-grade services at such ridiculously low wages because they really are trying to get something for nothing, and screw anyone over to that end. These are likely the folks who will ask you to do the job for free, in exchange for a credit, or the benefit of having something on your showreel.

But I suspect that a great many of folks who propose such a limited budget are simply uneducated about what it is they are asking for. Some folks may do a little bit of research (very little) and view demo clips from vendors, camera makers, or video software manufacturers - who promote their wares with an unending litany of how easy it is to use for the creation of beautiful masterpieces in seconds with little to no effort. Anyone who has ever actually tried to shoot, edit, and deliver a decent quality, polished customized video product will know that such claims are never, ever true. But to the cursory observer, their own ignorance is a detriment in pursuit of such production, and offering such expertise and a next-to-nothing rate does nothing to correct that ignorance.

To do such a job well and right, you can expect to spend over 30 hours in planning, shooting, sorting, and editing to end up with a really nice video product. (Could be less, but is often even more) - and to do so for $75 would eventually result in the realization that there just aren't enough hours in a given week to be able to earn a living wage, let alone pay off the gear you work with. While it is true that some projects just feel like they come together almost magically - with an extremely easy shoot with very articulate on-camera talent who do everything in one take with perfect precision, and editing is a breeze with about 20 minutes of actual work - I have yet to see it happen.

In the end, you are left with 4 choices:

1.) Pursue the job, but attempt to re-negotiate the budget with the potential client, perhaps by educating them to a more realistic understanding of what it entails. (Efforts to this end will depend upon how much patience you have, as well as your ability to convey potentially complex information to someone who may be very reluctant to hearing it.)

2.) Take the job for the proposed $75. If you are otherwise making $0, $75 is still money. But understand that you are not only setting a precedent, you are also helping instill in the client the understanding that your skills and expertise have little-to-no value. Combined with a lack of understanding of what the job requires, such efforts are often followed up with unrealistic expectations for the project - and/or an unending stream of superfluous revision demands. Even if they promise that such a job will turn into promised future work either with that same client, or with other businesses with whom they network, such "future work" will almost assuredly come with the same expectations of extremely low-ball budgeting. Nearing the end of this project, you will also come to the realization that each hour spent on it would have been more effectively spent hunting up better clients and more profitable endeavors.

3.) Since the client has a camera that they hope to use for the job, offer (in exchange for that $75) to provide a 90 minute 1-on-1 tutoring session with them, showing them the basics of importing and editing their own content using freely available software, such as iMovie on a Mac, or Windows Movie Maker on a PC. (Very importantly: Don't promise them that after these 90 minutes, they will have gained all the skills, knowledge, and technical expertise that you have acquired after years of work.) Spend the first 60 minutes showing them the basics of the interface and the application's functionality. Spend the last 30 minutes pointing them to a list of resources such as reference books, online help sites, and tutorial Youtube videos that they can use to learn more about what they are trying to do. In this way, you've made your $75 for 90 minutes of sitting with the client. In the end, you've empowered the client to spend the next 4 months making their own P.O.S. video on their own time. They will either be proud of their efforts regardless of its quality, or they will be better educated about what they are asking for (hopefully), give up on doing it themselves, and perhaps even come back to you offering a more realistic budget to complete the project for them at a decent wage.

4.) Gracefully decline the job and walk away.

"Are we to go on record, sir, with our assertion that the 'pink hearts, yellow moons, orange stars, and green clovers' are, in point of fact', magically delicious?"
- Walter Hollarhan before the House Subcommittee on Integrity in Advertising - May, 1974
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Old September 9th, 2010, 08:20 AM   #7
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As usual, great responses here.

I think the moral to the story is stay away from Craig's list.
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Old September 24th, 2010, 09:42 AM   #8
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Great posts. Adam and Jonathon, thank you for not just giving an answer, but describing the logic behind the answer. This is how EVERY post should be answered. That's customer service.
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Old September 24th, 2010, 11:38 AM   #9
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For what it's worth - the week I stopped "wasting" my time responding to CL ads "fishing" for quotes with ZERO usable information and invested that time into building relationships locally, I signed THREE new clients.

It's simple return on investment - 99.9% of all CL ads will be for CUSTOMERS, not CLIENTS. Do you want to invest a TON of time getting a one time, low cost customer or build your network of return clients?

I chose to invest my time in ME. It's working so far. Your mileage may vary.
Shaun C. Roemich Road Dog Media - Vancouver, BC - Videographer - Webcaster Blog:
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