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Old September 10th, 2013, 11:23 AM   #1
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Help and critique my wedding videography business plan, please?

Hello, I have found wedding videography to be a solid way for me to gain income. Some background... I am the owner of Caridiography Video (Caridiography: Personal, professional video production for your personal and professional needs - Personal, professional video production for your personal and professional needs), and I do all of my shoots alone. I've done 8 or 9 weddings alone with a Canon 5DmII and some portable equipment... sound is all done from a Rode VideoMic attached to the camera, which has worked just well for my purposes. Most of my wedding/event gigs were found by people responding to my Craigslist ads (Sample: Professional Videographer/DP/Editor offering services).

Now, first of all, I would welcome any critique of my website and ad. I think I am very genuine and honest about myself and my work process, but do not really target any specific niche.

I charge $500 for a half-day shoot (5 or less hours of shooting, a 30-40 minute edit, DVD creation) and $800 for a full day shoot (same thing, but for more than 5 hours, of coruse). I was recently told that since my prices are low, I may actually get less business. A photographer I worked with at my last wedding said that she was a part of, hm, the Wedding Photojournalist Association, paid a yearly fee, and her $1700 charge was the cheapest in her area on the site! Which sounded absurd to me! I don't have the money to go on The Knot, or be a part of WEVA, etc.

So, what are ways I can shift (part of) my "image" to get wedding video clients, and what are ways to do that outside of Craigslist? Should I make a separate website solely for weddings, and charge extra and have detailed packages on that one?

Thanks so much for any advice!! I have been doing freelance videography for 3 years now professionally, and these days, if I DO get work, it's commercial. I put much of my mental energy towards both my films and personal life while trudging financially, and I really need to do something to step up. I network a lot... but yes, I am straying from the question, I am asking about wedding video business tips!

Thanks again,
Jason Caridi
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Old September 10th, 2013, 04:02 PM   #2
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Re: Help and critique my wedding videography business plan, please?

Hi Jason, first of all welcome to this wonderful forum. I don't mean to scare you off but since you ask for critique I'm going to be honest and pls take my opinion for what it is, it's just an opinion from 1 person from the other side of the planet so no big deal :)

I have been checking out your website and see that you place full edits from your weddings, that can be a good thing but also bad, no-one is going to sit through a 2 hours online video unless you put it there for the couple, make short compelling videos that showcase only the highlights of the day and of what you do best, just like movietrailer, you need to give them a glimps of the real thing, make them interested to see more.

Now I know you asked fro critique about your businessplan but I think it starts how you market yourself, I browsed quickly through your videos and if I am brutally honest I found them quite amateuristic, take the Alexa and Mike video with the constant re-appearing of those churchbells which drove me nuts resulting me to quickly browse ahead which I"m sure your potential clients will do as well. I"m sure I could cut that back to 3-4 minutes and get your clients attention because there are certainly usable shots in there to make a nice short demo.

You market yourself as a filmmaker saying most other videographers don't understand the art of cinematography but I"m sorry to say that what I see is not "cinematic" at all, far from it, in most cases I can hardly understand what is being said and sound is an important part of filmmaking. in the alexa video the first 10 minutes nothing happens, then the bride enters and I hear over modulated sound, underexposed images, a weird composition of the people entering and I"m looking minutes at a door constantly seeing people entering, often seeing nobody, just the door and I could go on. It's no editing involved at all, we just get to see a continuous recording.

My opinion is that you should either improve your video and editing to match what you market yourself as and then you can raise your prizes or leave your prizes as is but change the description about what you deliver, it does not match what you present.

Sorry to sound so harsh.
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Old September 10th, 2013, 04:41 PM   #3
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Re: Help and critique my wedding videography business plan, please?

Jason,
First welcome to the best forum around as well as the wacky world of weddings.
As for the material you are displaying, well, I have to agree with Noa and his comments. Showing a full 1 or 2 hour wedding is not going to bring you any business. No one is interested in watching since it doesn't pertain to them. IOW, it's not their wedding so they don't care. Carefully pick some well composed, properly exposed scenes and make a "demo" that maybe run 3 or 4 minutes. Make 2 or 3...different weddings, different aspects. Something that moves along since you've only got a few seconds to get someone's attention and keep them engaged enough to watch which hopefully will bring an inquiry.
If you hope of getting any work in the industry you must improve your audio. A shotgun mic that is more than about 2 feet from the subject simply isn't going to cut it. You need either wireless at least on the groom or a digital recorder like one of the Tascams or Yamahas or other decent brand on the groom. After 30+ years and almost 2500 weddings I've discovered that THE most important thing the B&G want from their wedding ceremony is to HEAR their vows and NOT thru a PA system that might or might not be decent.
As for the style, well, it looked to me like you're doing doc style which is fine, I've been doing it as well for many years...you tell the story of the day as it unfolds but you still need to produce what the B&G want. Solid, well exposed, properly composed footage. Solid as a rock. Especially for the ceremony. Pre ceremony, post ceremony and yeah even the reception, you have a bit more latitude but again, compose and expose.
Some of the shots in the beginning of Alexa and Mike left me ready to turn it off right away, first because it ran to long, second some of them made no sense and didn't seem to mean anything in the telling of the story and third, ran way to long. One example I can point out of the top of my head is the shot of the sidewalk leading up to the front of the church. No need to show the sidewalk. Another is the shot of the wall of the church where you had a shot of a window(?) and then panned over to the right to get a second window(?). The shot to use is just after the pan to show the 2 and hold that instead if doing a pan that wss a bit jerky if you used it at all.
I'm not trying to be a jerk, I think overall you have the talent to produce some good quality work but I think you need more practice and the more you do the more you'll realize what's important and what isn't as far as documenting the day and telling the story.
As for pricing, well, I don't know the pricing in your area but I thing your prices could use some adjustment upward.
Again, I can see the potential...you just need to work on it some.
Good luck and keep the samples coming!
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Old September 10th, 2013, 08:13 PM   #4
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Re: Help and critique my wedding videography business plan, please?

Thank you so much you two, I obviously welcome to honestly.

Yes, Alexa & Mike (which I shot over a year ago) turned out strange... I learned a lot since then, and my more recent edits are now 30-40 minutes. A 3-minute sample highlight for promotions purpose, drawing from 3 or so weddings, also sounds like a good idea. What to do once I get my latest weddings on my site, that's where I am drawing blanks. How can I get my demographic to see this and to choose me?
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Old September 10th, 2013, 10:19 PM   #5
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Re: Help and critique my wedding videography business plan, please?

Whatever the demographic you're after put up something that represents the style and quality of work you do. I still wouldn't put up anything close to a full wedding even at 30 minutes. Hell I started doing 30 minute or short form back in the early 90s to save my sanity and while I don't delve much into it anymore the 30 minute edit must still tell the story in a logical manner and is still a documentary form BUT not as a sample on the web. Again do a 3 or 4 minute sample. If they want to see more then they'll make an appointment to which they come to you or you go to them or you meet in the middle but that MIGHT be when you would show them a full wedding. I know a guy here that has a 13 minute demo that works like a champ. Gives the client a nice overview of the style and quality of his work.
When you say your demographic, I'm not sure what demographic you're going after but it would appear from your pricing you're looking at the budget brides and that's fine but be careful with that particular demographic. Many of them have champagne taste and beer budget and I have found over the years that I had more "challenges" with them both before and after the wedding than any high end bride I ever worked with.
Not that I'm making a damning statement because I've done weddings where I'm a full 20 to 25% of the total budget and I've done them where the brides dress could get me a nice late model luxury car and I've had both ends go off on me and others that have wanted to kiss me.
Just saying be aware of who your target group is.
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Old September 11th, 2013, 03:52 PM   #6
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Re: Help and critique my wedding videography business plan, please?

Might want to ask the mods to move this to the "wedding/event" specific forum area - you'll get more specific advice/critique, AND you'll find that area will address the specifics of the "wedding market".

I didn't take the time to look at your site for the moment, but I think you're "too cheap" for the time you have to spend to create ANY decent video product ($100/hr just for the shoot if I read your figures correctly). By the time you factor in expenses and post time, I think you're close to "greeter at Wal-mart wage"). SO, as you'll probably be advised, you need to evaluate what you're really working for (are your living expenses so low that you just are making some extra cash and it's "nice"? That's what's commonly referred to as a "hobby", not a BUSINESS).

You asked about "business plan", so I presume you are running this as a BUSINESS, or hope to - that introduces a lot of factors beyond quality of your product and how you promote it (both important, but not really "business"... potentially anyone with a camera can shoot and produce decent video, that doesn't make it a business) - you still have to make money or you'll eventually be one of those "greeters". You'll need to get your costs/revenues/profits in line with what successful businesses must charge to survive, otherwise you'll just be one of those "cheap Craigslist video guys" that will burn out or fade away...
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Old September 11th, 2013, 05:14 PM   #7
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Re: Help and critique my wedding videography business plan, please?

And I thought we were cheap at $895 for 6 hours...

Your price needs to be determined by a few things: Right now, without any changes, are you good enough to charge more based on your market? Will you need a 2nd 5d Mark ii and associated gear? What else do you need to get better? (good audio gear is a must).

Only you can decide what kind of films you want to make and offer. To do so, to make a good (enough) film, do you feel you need to be there for bridal prep... or the reception/speeches/1st dance? These are the things that will determine your minimum package. For instance, we went back and forth, but settled on six hours of coverage, from bridal prep to end of ceremony, feeling that with that we can tell a decent story without having to be there for the reception.

A good website will have to be specialized. Whether its its own domain or not... well, I find it easier to steer traffic and get good SEO with an individual domain. You can then still do a redirect page on your main website.

As for Don's warning of cheap brides... the issue is that often cheap brides don't see value, only price. If you start getting enough inquiries to be any kind of picky, bring them in, and talk. See if they're excited and interested, and if they genuinely like your previous work, as opposed to just trying to find the cheapest person for the job.

For us, there are few things worse than trying to create a wedding film for someone who doesn't give a hoot ( "she's not smiling again... I guess I'll use the view from the back... again") Whereas those who are invested in the video, often are a joy to work with and you're excited to get back and edit for.
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Old September 13th, 2013, 02:37 AM   #8
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Re: Help and critique my wedding videography business plan, please?

Shooting traditional documentary style with a single DSLR is crazy. I have been shooting video with DSLRs for nearly 5 years & I wouldn't contemplate doing that. It's difficult enough to produce a quality entertaining wedding video with a proper camcorder with a DSLR it's impossible. Do yourself a favour & get at least one other camera preferably two then you have anther camera angle to cut away to & cover up any fluffs on focus or framing plus it's just a bit if variety rather than a single viewpoint. If you are on a budget you can get a little consumer camcorder rather than a DSLR. As already mentioned get a digital audio recorder & a lav mic for the groom.

BTW It's galling for all of us who do wedding videography to discover that more often than not that the photographer is being paid more than s especially as we know that their work in post will be a fraction of what we do.
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Old September 13th, 2013, 02:53 AM   #9
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Re: Help and critique my wedding videography business plan, please?

Quote:
BTW It's galling for all of us who do wedding videography to discover that more often than not that the photographer is being paid more than s especially as we know that their work in post will be a fraction of what we do.
In my case I can change 'more then often' to 'always', generally they charge double my prize and sometimes get to leave at the end of the reception. If you set your prizes you should see what you market supports, in my country it's very difficult to charge appropriately for video, it's just not a so videominded country here.
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Old September 14th, 2013, 11:08 PM   #10
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Re: Help and critique my wedding videography business plan, please?

Hi Jason

First things first ..don't undersell your services ..also don't over charge!! You are running a business so treat it as a business and cost out weddings correctly and accurately before you "thumb suck" a price.

Decide what you are worth an hour to start with .... I work on a rate of $75.00 an hour so based on that you can now work out what a wedding should cost the bride. Bear in mind that a 5 hour wedding isn't a 5 hour wedding ...you have to go and book the bride if you offer that service so that's at least an hour extra. You have to edit the 5 hours of work you shot at the wedding too plus you need to factor in your travel time and media costs too.

Based on the above you already have 10 hours for shooting and editing and another couple of hours for travel/seeing the bride etc etc ... 12 hours of your time at $75 = $900.00 so based on those hours at $500 you are making only $40.00 an hour ... You might be perfectly happy with that rate BUT still do the math and cost out a wedding gig so you are not making peanuts!!

With samples, I limit mine to under 10 minutes ...it is said that most viewers will make an initial impression in the first 30 seconds so make that bit impressive ...Even at 10 minutes very few brides will watch the whole thing.
Brides want to see how to handle a wedding so show them. Take a few previous weddings and make a bunch of short clips of each event so they can see how to film the prep, the ceremony, the speeches and so on. That way they can watch a short section of each event in a typical wedding and make sure they are happy with your filming. Also try to have each clip as part of a different wedding if you can (or make them seem dis-similar anyway) that makes you appear to have vast experience with many different weddings. Also keep your samples as current as possible ...You might have a brilliant ceremony you did back in 2007 BUT the bride needs to know what you are doing currently and that you are also in demand (and therefore worth approaching cos you are busy) so make sure your clips are less than 3 months old and add a date in the title ..that makes you more credible!!

Chris
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Old September 15th, 2013, 11:40 PM   #11
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Re: Help and critique my wedding videography business plan, please?

Jason, about all I can add, is as a long time WEVA member I must say my membership has been a great investment. I learned A LOT from other members, and really would recommend that you re-consider joining.
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