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Old May 25th, 2011, 07:35 AM   #1
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My first posting, and general questions to DVinfomembers

Hi everyone:

I'm a new Dvinfo member and excited to speak to everyone and writing my first new thread. :).

About 2 to 3 months ago, I decided to enter the field of video production on my own, (here's a link to explain a little bit more about me. Sha La La La Productions - About Us)

A friend of mine thought it would be a good idea to speak to professionals like yourself for advice on how you got started so I may learn from others and guide me through the process as I'm starting out. So I put together a list of questions down below and appreciate any feed back you have time to offer.

Thanks for reading my thread and look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely

Robert

1) What is your profession.
2) How long have you been in business,
3) How did you get started,
4) What was the most difficult part of starting your business and how did you deal with it,
5) What did you do that was critical in getting your business off the ground,
6) What would you do differently if you started the business today.
7) What words of advice do they have for someone like you starting the type of business you wish to develop.
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Old May 25th, 2011, 11:16 PM   #2
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Re: My first posting, and general questions to DVinfomembers

Welcome.

1) What is your profession.
I make corporate video. I also write articles about that. Give seminars about that. And consult with businesses and individuals about that.

2) How long have you been in business,
More than 20 years.

3) How did you get started,
Was in Radio first as a broadcaster and production director. Did a good bit of voiceover work and eventually found myself writing and narrating a local real-estate TV show. Took a tax refund and bought my first personal video camera. Rented my first video editing equipment (Sony EVO-9700) to do a job for an early client and fell in love with editing.

4) What was the most difficult part of starting your business and how did you deal with it,
Being so poor for so long. Ate crap, owned crap, and am astonishingly lucky my wife hung in with me through all the very lean years.

5) What did you do that was critical in getting your business off the ground,
Learned that it's not video skills, or audio skills that drive business success in this industry. It's PEOPLE skills. If you can't sit down and talk to people and listen closely to what they need and match that to how you can help them do better - you'll never be good at business. Business, and especially SALES is communicating with people. People hire or buy from people who they feel comfortable with. Simple as that.

6) What would you do differently if you started the business today.
Nothing. Learning is arduous and tough and a general pain in the butt. But you've GOT to put in the time to learn your craft in order to get better. Shortcuts seem smart, but they rob you of the experience of all the little failures that you bounce back from stronger. Embrace the struggle and you're halfway home.

7) What words of advice do they have for someone like you starting the type of business you wish to develop.

Smart guy and very good writer Malcolm Gladwell has generally defined "talent" as a personal desire to stick to the difficult work of repetition and learning that leads to building mastery in anything. If you don't love making video - every day will be a chore. If you DO love it, every day will STILL be a chore - but those days and hours will be punctuated by moments of deep satisfaction — and as you go along, the chores will lesson, the mistakes will fade away, and you'll be left the expertise you need to excel.

That's it in a nutshell.
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Old May 29th, 2011, 10:49 AM   #3
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Re: My first posting, and general questions to DVinfomembers

Bill thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, and I'm starting to see what you mean, from
the quote you offered from Malcolm Gladwell.

Sincerely

Robert
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Old June 3rd, 2011, 01:56 PM   #4
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Re: My first posting, and general questions to DVinfomembers

1) What is your profession.
Producer and run a boutique rental business. Used to be a coporate DOP and videographer

2) How long have you been in business,
In the industry for about 12 years

3) How did you get started,
Studied it in school, then got a job as a shooter.

4) What was the most difficult part of starting your business and how did you deal with it,
Getting clients, networking. Worked for free and produced a lot of my own projects a lot. Kept my day job for years.

5) What did you do that was critical in getting your business off the ground,
Studied marketing. Made friends with everyone I could.

6) What would you do differently if you started the business today.
Video production? I would NEVER get into video production at this point.

7) What words of advice do they have for someone like you starting the type of business you wish to develop.
Your camera and gear doesn't matter, your reel doesn't matter, your rates don't matter. All that matters is your ability to market yourself. Study business, study marketing, read everything you can. It's a different world than 15 years ago when all you needed to get work was a $20,000 camera.
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Old June 9th, 2011, 07:18 AM   #5
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Re: My first posting, and general questions to DVinfomembers

Thanks so much for your feedback Dylan.

Glad to see I'll be able to put my marketing education/skills to the test. :)

~Robert
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Old June 10th, 2011, 08:45 AM   #6
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Re: My first posting, and general questions to DVinfomembers

Robert,

After over 20 years of self employment, the best advice I could give is to become a salesman that just happens to shoot video.

Don’t sign up for any more marketing classes, or spend one more minute trying to figure out how you can make money from Facebook or Twitter. Do something productive and take a part time job at a used car lot. Learn about the really important things, people and what it takes to make them want to give you their hard earned money versus somebody else. This business, like any other is really a people business.

Show me a person who makes the concession that “even though I don’t make a lot of money, I love what I do” and I’ll show you a bad salesperson. Salespeople eat well and drive a nice car. Ever hear the words starving and artist used in the same sentence?

When I first started in the video business I did weddings. I called around and found out what others in the industry were charging and based my prices towards the high end. First spring/summer in the business I did 29 weddings and I earned the glorious title of “lowest price in the tri county area”. I rode that horse for almost two years before I was found out.

The biggest mistake I see over and over is failing to ask for the sale. No really, you need to ask. I can not tell you how many jobs I “stole” or “low balled” from other video and photography people because they failed to just ask.

Others had seen my work. I would be the first to admit at the time I was as middle of the road as far as talent and equipment as the next guy. So the only way I could possibly be getting these jobs was to offer my services for cheap, right?

Thanks for the quotes. I am still amazed at they way people will email/fax quotes after a short conversation with someone on the phone. And you are SURPRISED they went with someone else, even with that friend of a friend’s recommendation?

If the client is looking for my “quote” he can ask me questions in person. That way together we can go over any other quotes he may have, giving me ample opportunity to iron out the particulars. This is the time when you will put the true value on you and your product that ultimately determines the price you can charge.

And sure, it may cost a little more doing business with me but in the scheme of a wedding, the difference in price is nothing, don’t you agree? (Here’s a good time to ask for the sale)

To be truthful, I don’t do quotes for first time customers and you will NEVER show up at a potential client and see one of mine. I write contracts and almost 70% of people I talk to will sign one before I leave. The other 30 percent are conceded to those in the industry who are willing to work for “exposure” or to “add to their reel”. Nothing made me smile more than listening to the griping from those in the industry from my area complaining that everyone they talked to all they ever seemed to care about is price.

Trying to base a business on those customers will drive you both nuts and fast track you into the line at the local soup kitchen.

Most people dread a real salesperson. Customers feel they will pay more than they have to and others in your industry fear that you will take money from them. They are right on both counts.
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Old June 10th, 2011, 12:36 PM   #7
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Re: My first posting, and general questions to DVinfomembers

David is right about the close. Actually asking for the money is one of the hardest parts of business, as it is the moment of possible rejection, and people like to avoid rejection at all costs.

The people I know in the wedding video industry (and I know A LOT) who are the most successful, are the ones who are the best salesmen. No question. Having said that, you want to be a good salesman without coming off as a hustler.
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Old June 16th, 2011, 12:18 PM   #8
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Re: My first posting, and general questions to DVinfomembers

Thanks for your feed back David and Dylan.
I appreciate it. :)
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