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Wedding / Event Videography Techniques
Shooting non-repeatable events: weddings, recitals, plays, performances...


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Old January 17th, 2009, 05:39 PM   #1
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Doing more than 9 weddings a year

Hi everyone. I need your help from those of you that stay busy throughout the year. I opened business in December 2006. In 2007 I did 7 Weddings for my first year. This past year, I did 9 Weddings. (averaging $1600 per wedding)

I Need to make more money. And I really don't know how.

Most brides get back to me after they get their DVDs and tell me how great they are and that they loved them. One bride even wrote me a 2 page letter containing all the things she loved about the video. Through all of this, I have not received 1 referral. I Believe I have a great product, and I believe in myself, but I can't seem to get more business.

I have a website, with highlight demos, and info about me, and info about my packages, etc. I tried yahoo marketing, but money was going out and no one was buying.

My ONLY source for income has been at the bridal show. That's where I got my 7 two years ago, and 9 last year.

This economy is so dreary. But I believe I can still be a success at my business. Those of you that get a LOT of business throughout the year, can you help some of us that are only able to snag a few weddings per?

Also, how else can I make money with my camera equipment? I'd love to do music videos. I've posted ads in Craigslist under musicians to no avail (charging $500).

I've only done weddings. How can I make money doing other things too? I just need help getting started. As of right now, my wife is very upset with me and wants me to sell my equipment and quit! Not happening! So please help if you can. Thanks, - Craig.
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Old January 17th, 2009, 06:33 PM   #2
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Market market market, and when your done do some more marketing. I would say 75% of my business comes from other vendors, photographers, DJs, planners and hotel wedding consultants. The other 25% is from advertising (which I do very little of) and past client referrals. You have to knock on many doors especially since you are just getting started. The best part is it is generally free, maybe a few lunches. Show them your product, leave cards, do whatever you can to get your name circulating in your area. Contact other video companies and offer your services as a freelance shooter for a broll or anything. A few hundred dollars shooting for someone else is better than letting your equipment sit idle. I wish you the best, especially in this market, but if you have a good product and handle business professionally it will come.
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Old January 17th, 2009, 07:49 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Craig James View Post
Hi everyone. I need your help from those of you that stay busy throughout the year. I opened business in December 2006. In 2007 I did 7 Weddings for my first year. This past year, I did 9 Weddings. (averaging $1600 per wedding)

I Need to make more money. And I really don't know how.

Most brides get back to me after they get their DVDs and tell me how great they are and that they loved them. One bride even wrote me a 2 page letter containing all the things she loved about the video. Through all of this, I have not received 1 referral. I Believe I have a great product, and I believe in myself, but I can't seem to get more business.

I have a website, with highlight demos, and info about me, and info about my packages, etc. I tried yahoo marketing, but money was going out and no one was buying.

My ONLY source for income has been at the bridal show. That's where I got my 7 two years ago, and 9 last year.

This economy is so dreary. But I believe I can still be a success at my business. Those of you that get a LOT of business throughout the year, can you help some of us that are only able to snag a few weddings per?

Also, how else can I make money with my camera equipment? I'd love to do music videos. I've posted ads in Craigslist under musicians to no avail (charging $500).

I've only done weddings. How can I make money doing other things too? I just need help getting started. As of right now, my wife is very upset with me and wants me to sell my equipment and quit! Not happening! So please help if you can. Thanks, - Craig.
Wow - what a post and what a story! First of all, let me say that I totally feel awful for you right now. It must be a horrible feeling to be so low.

There is so much advice I could give but I think my first inclination is to say that obviously not enough people know that you exist so you need to really ramp of your marketing so you have more of a presence. What listing results were you getting through yahoo? Were you using common search phrases? Have you thought about trying Google adwords as another alternative? If I were you, I would make a list of other vendors who you would really like to work with and who appear to be working a lot in your market. I would take 2-3 of the top wedding planners and photographers out to lunch and explain to them who you are and what you can do for clients of theirs. Cut a demo and leave a DVD with each of them. I would also entertain the idea of doing a free promo for them so they can actually see you in action. It could be filming them at a wedding or doing a promo for their business. You already have the gear so the only cost to you is likely tapes on the day and your time editing something for them. They'll likely play it over and over again at their studio or on their website, which will get you more recognition if you water-mark it with your company logo or display your logo at the end of the piece.

Next, I would make sure you are priced competitively for your market. Research your competitors and try to get a sense of what others are asking to be paid in your market for a similar kind of service. Don't be sneaky or email them and pretend you're getting married though - this leads to bad karma. I would just see if you can get a sense by browsing around on their sites. $1600 is much too low when you factor in the cost of your equipment, editing time, etc. Unless you are able to achieve a high volume of work at that price then charging less is not the right approach to financial success.

The bridal shows for me are a tricky one. They are such a broad marketing approach that it's like fishing with a huge net. I realize that this is how you've got your only gigs to date, so I'm not suggesting you dump that approach, but it's clear you need to diversity to other arenas.

Back to the clients that loved you now. Did you post the very best comments that your 2-page bride said on your blog? Do you update your blog often? You should be posting SOMETHING at least every 2-3 days. Keep it professional but try to include key search phrases in what you write.

These, of course, are just starting suggestions - this topic is so huge but at this stage, you need to walk into the room and announce your presence if you want to get known - so find the room and make your entrance! Let me know how it goes - I hope this helps!
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Old January 17th, 2009, 08:15 PM   #4
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And networking...

While we only occasionally do weddings, most of our work comes from people we know. It's more than worth your time to join a local church (check out the Unitarians if you have no interest in dogma of any kind), local business groups, political groups - all of that stuff. Get active. Get to know people. You'll be astonished at what people want you to show up and shoot.

Oh, and do you have a Yellow Pages ad? My one friend who does a lot of that stuff gets almost all of his work off his Yellow Pages ad. I cannot speak for Sacramento, but they are cheap in LA - like $25 a month.

If there is a way to get your wife involved, she'd probably have fun. She could hand out really pretty, girly business cards that the ladies would love and hold on to. Plus, if she went to the weddings with you, she'd have an excuse to dress up.
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Old January 17th, 2009, 08:21 PM   #5
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all good advice...here's more.
McDonalds stores all stay about the same dollars of sales per store year in year out. How do they make more money? Open more outlets! How does that pertain to you? Simple. Having been thru bad economic times before here's what I found. In bad times you to advertise more, do more shows, advertise more, do more shows, advertise MORE MORE MORE! see the theme here? When times are slow like now, the more you advertise and get your name in front of EVERYONE (BTW advertising also means talking to everyone, letting them know what you do. If they don't know they can't hire you or refer you) Now while it may cost some money to do so in slow times there are far more people who are pulling in instead if letting out because they are afraid of the times (little cash flow) or aren't sure what's going to happen in the future (I broke my crystal ball about 30 years ago). By advertising aggressively NOW thework will slowly come in and when the economy turns around you'll be sitting in a very good place because you will have already established your reputation. Of course your workmanship has to stand up to the task which I'm sure it does.
My point is this. In 1979 and 80 while I was still working as a still photog, the economy was BAD. Mortgages were 22% IF you could get one etc etc. I talked to my exsisting clients and everyone I met heard about what I did,which was weddings, sports, news, portraits, bands whatever I could do. My income went up about 30% and when the economy turned I was in camera heaven! I had more work than I could handle and then of course I got into video. Go figure. Anyway get out there and keep talking to people, photography studios, bridal shops, bakerys, flower shops, banquet facilities etc.
If I only did 9 weddings in a year I'd better be making about 10 grand apiece or I'm in a world of hurt.
Go forth young man and advertise! :-)

Don
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Old January 18th, 2009, 09:19 AM   #6
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Hi Guys,

I agree with Don.I started out about the same as you in the photography biz.My first wedding was a small beach wedding (2hrs) 3 years ago now I book an average of 45-50 wedding a year mostly by word of mouth (the best advertising on the planet). The other 40% comes from advertising and networking. I've managed to form a relationships with all sorts of venues. It's really a matter of like don said "letting people know you are out there" They can't book you if the don't know you are there. I've done my fair share of freebies to get my name out,Not free weddings,just free portrait shoots or engagement shoots. These have always been productive for me since once they have their pictures they show EVERYONE and hence builds your word of mouth biz.The biggest thing to remember is that you are a business person first and a photographer/videographer second. Half the fun for me is reeling them in and booking the date. Give them something different and be confident.... They will be busting down your doors in no time...even in this economy.We booked 10 wedding this month and expect a bit more before it's over.I drive all over the state and beyond to meet couples. If they can't come to me I go to them. You have to go get em. Be aggressive...not pushy.Treat them as you would like to be treated and give them just a little bit more;).I hope this helped.I'm not real good at these posts.GOOD LUCK!

Ryan
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Old January 18th, 2009, 02:13 PM   #7
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Just wanted to add that last year was my first year in business and I filmed 22 weddings during the year. I mention this because I'm wondering how you're pricing yourself?

Last year when I had no "experience" I booked the 1st 4-5 weddings at about $500. As I gained experience and had stuff to show people my prices went up accordingly.

Again I'm not sure what the going rate is in your area or what people are getting for their money. But, it sounds like you have 16 weddings under your belt (from your notes) and are charging already up to $2,000 for some weddings ( you state that you make $1,600 on AVERAGE).

As a client if I'm paying $2,000 I can get someone with a solid reputationa and years of experience.

Something to think about.
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Old January 19th, 2009, 07:41 PM   #8
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Good post. Maybe try partnering up with someone else. If you're lucky, their strengths will complement your weaknesses. May not last, but you will learn something.
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Old January 20th, 2009, 12:34 PM   #9
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I have been thinking about this alot lately now 6months passed since opening of my own production house. I had no choice but opening up a business for my visa.
Things are slow, really slow, other than freelance job that I do for other photo studio (dirt cheap). I started my yellow pages ad last month in suburb, but I am thinking posting ad on downtown yellow pages book instead of suburb area. It was my first mistake. I have booked 3 so far this year and they were all from craigslist. 2 non-profit that I shot last year were from craigslist. Then again, they are mostly looking for something cheap.
I have joined chamber a couple weeks ago to reach out and we will see how that goes. Going out and visit some stores and business is one of my method to reach and marketing myself. Weddings are not enough for me to keep up the business and feed my wife and 2 kids. Also I have to renew my visa every 2 years, and I must have good standing (making profits and hiring people) in order to extend my visa.
I am not a smooth talker and worse yet, English is not my 1st language. However, I am trying to overcome all my negatives to survive. It has been tough... but man, I am trying very hard to be exposed and get some work!
Good luck with you, Craig. We can get lots of help from this forum.

JJ
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Old January 20th, 2009, 12:56 PM   #10
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JJ,

I assume that you've immigrated from somewhere. Is there any chance of hooking up with other members of the community from your country of origin? Chances are they may be more comfortable working with (and helping out) someone from the same country.
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Old January 20th, 2009, 01:00 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Ken Diewert View Post
JJ,

I assume that you've immigrated from somewhere. Is there any chance of hooking up with other members of the community from your country of origin? Chances are they may be more comfortable working with (and helping out) someone from the same country.
Well, I tried to work with a Korean photographer who looks down on me all the time, and he ended up not wanting to pay me for my work (even though the client loved it), and I said I've had enough with him. Many Koreans go to Church in Chicagoland and personally I don't go to church, but I do know some people who go to church and they are looking out for me in case of wedding of church members and whatnot. But the trend here (I think) is they go for cheap packages from photo studio for the photo AND the video. I have shot a couple Korean weddings and they all loved it and their friends are getting married soon, so hopefully I will get some referral from them.
Thank you for your advice.

JJ
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Old January 20th, 2009, 06:37 PM   #12
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JJ... All good advice here. The only thing I would add is when it comes to getting your name and samples of your work in front of buying eyes be as creative as you can and never turn down an opportunity to meet someone who will help you get work or even better, give you work.

If your main competition are photo/video combo houses, you can find a good photog and start your own. You could also highlight why your video work is better than these combo folks because you are a video artist first and foremost. Just make sure your demo is markedly better than your competitions' demo.

If you're good, and your customers have said as much, use that to your advantage. Get testimonials from them. Schmooze florists, wedding and reception venues, DJs and anyone else in the wedding trade.

There was a famous crook who was asked why he robbed banks. He said, "that's where the money is." Yeah, the analogy's shaky but I think you get my point.
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