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Shooting non-repeatable events: weddings, recitals, plays, performances...


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Old November 23rd, 2005, 11:02 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A.J. Briones
when a videographer with little or no experience charges far below market price, i don't consider it undercutting. i'm not worried, i'm not upset, and i feel no animosity. they are cheaper for a reason. the brides take a risk, albeit at heavily discounted prices. in return, the videographer gains experience and expands their reel. it happens all the time with other vendors (florists, photographers, djs, etc.) and in other industries.

there's a clear difference between an experienced videographer and a newcomer. experienced videographers know the local churches and venues. they know how to work with difficult photogs and lighting conditions, they have the confidence to adjust on the fly to catch the right moments, they know where to set their cameras up to get the best angles, they know when to stage a shot or shoot candid, they know how to make brides, bridesmaids and children feel comfortable during awkward moments (i.e., getting dressed), they have honed their skills in the editing room, etc. etc. and it all shows in the final output.

i don't worry that the market becomes saturated with sub-par work or that newbies may be lowering the perceived value of my services. i'll take the pepsi challenge with my work versus a newbie any day of the week and feel comfortable that any bride will see the difference and justify the added cost. if she wants to go with the cheaper product, more power to her. two weddings ago we did a photo session at a popular location (balboa park in san diego, ca). i counted 6 other wedding parties at that location alone. there is so much work out there. the way i see it, we choose the brides we work with, not vice versa.

basically, what i'm saying is, feel free to undercut me. if you can take a wedding away from me and save the bride $2k in the process, more power to you. it just means that the bride is willing to take a risk to save money and give you experience. no worries. i'll still be able to book someone else for that date at full price.
hello a.j.

thanks for your post.
i am one of those newcomers, who run out, about 5 yeras ago, with just a little sony.
since i have my canon, more expirience, and my overhead is bulding up, i can't do things for free anymore, don't want to do things for free anymore, gaining more and more expirience. getting return clients, even return clients which like the quality and pay now.
there are still bigger jobs out there which i still decline, for various reasons, not enough knowledge, beeing scared to take bigger jobs, no helpers who want to work for an entry level salary. most important, i am still a super beginner in the editing part of the business.

greetings
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Old November 24th, 2005, 12:05 PM   #17
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Newbie guide to pricing weddings

The issue some of us may have with the 1k videographer is not so much price but price/performance/quality. There are excellent 1k videographers who are providing multi-cam shoots and doing exquisite shoots and edits. They unfortunately, have no idea how to run a business (meet expenses, have no reserve for maintenance, upgrades). They basically offer matching quality at a ridiculously low price. They go under but are replaced by doing the same. That drags down the entire market. No Problem with McDonalds/Burger King. It's when they're gourmet at the fast food price that creates the problem.


My quick and simple guide for the "newbie" price.

Add your monthly living expenses (housing, food, utilities, transportation, etc.)

Plus all your business expenses (Credit card bills to pay off, or buy new equipment in 24 months, equipment maintenance, consumbles like discs and tapes, insurence, software upgrades).

That's what you need to make per month to keep the business and your life from going under. Assume it takes you One full work week to edit a wedding. You now can figure out what to charge for a wedding and meet your life expenses.

You may not be able to book a wedding a week at first but the above gives you a business survival rate. If it takes you a bit more to edit your wedding because your new (NOT because you gave away too much) you can eat that cost. If you gave yourself a few weeks turnaround time, the client won't know it took you 8 days (to fix your newbie problems, learn) instead of 5.

The above will prevent you from charging too low. What you don't want is going low and getting that wedding, doing a great job, getting a bunch of referrals who expect the same rate and not being able to survive at that rate. Your base rate is your SURVIVAL rate. NEVER LOWER.

What you're not making in the above is PROFIT. The money that buys you trips to the movies, a night out, a vacation (or more gear toys). As you feel more confidence you can move your price up and you can increase your profit but you'll never make too little.

One caveat. The formula is a little different if you're doing other types of video projects. In that case you need assume about 20-25 hours of paid work (not 40) since you'll need to spend more time/money marketing, talking/pitching to more clients, doing paperwork. You'll need to do some of that for weddings too though.

You can be looking at a 60 hour work week with nearly half unpaid. If you want to work closer to a 40 hour week, you've got to make what you want in 20 hours or less or have so many regular clients you can cut your meeting/marketing time. That's actually why referrals are so valuable!
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Old November 25th, 2005, 03:56 PM   #18
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You can't expect to start out in the business with prices similar to competitors, it's as simple as that. If someone has the choice to hire a veteran or a newbie for the same price, of course they are going to hire the veteran. I'm getting plans on starting out, and I know for a fact i'm going to have to charge $1000 or less for the first several weddings, or else i'll never get the business going. I'm still a college student, and making over $40 an hour is much more than any of my peers make, and by charging less than 1k, is what i'll be making.
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Old November 25th, 2005, 05:08 PM   #19
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Chad, how can one even determine a single "price" similar to competitors. With experience you charge more. If you can't pay your bills though, you won't ever make it to "competitor. There's no single price point. They have varying degrees of skills, experience, gear etc. If they live in one part of town vs another they may have higher or lower costs of living.

I made the BIG mistake of undercharging for my first wedding although I had over 15 years doing corporate videos (which a wedding is NOTHING like). Well, the couple loved it SOOOO much, they posted all over the wedding boards along with the rate. A had a stream of referrals, all of whom wanted the same rate. At that rate I would have been insolvent. I raised my rates and learned my lesson real fast. Charge a base survival rate and never less or . . . you may get so busy you'll drive yourself out of business.

Undercharging is probably the single biggest mistake newbies make. Take more time to edit if you need it and eat that loss. Better to charge $1500 and take 3 weeks the first time and 1 week the next time. You're making more since you can increase your volume. Want you don't want is to increase your volume at a price so low that you can't pay for housing, food and the fat credit card bill you used to buy the gear.
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Old November 25th, 2005, 07:38 PM   #20
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You can't expect to build a portfolio of hardly any experience and charge the same as competitors though (I'm from a MUCH smaller market than NYC, so it's easier to find those similar to me). So you charge cheap the first couple weddings, get the experience under your belt (and less pressure for someone new when charging less). If the waves of referrals want that price, don't let them have it. Use the previous weddings you did to show off to new clients with a brand new price.

I don't see if its even possible to do your very first couple weddings as good as your next 50 or 100, so why charge that person the same price?
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Old November 25th, 2005, 08:11 PM   #21
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There seems to be the assumption you CAN'T charge what your worth out of the box. I think that is wrong.

We did one wedding free to figure it out (for a friend) then charged $1800. Did 4 that way and went to 3k. We stay as busy as we want. If you take your art seriously and take pride in what you do, you can get the bucks. You can learn your craft (well enough to shoot a wedding) on your own time and charge accordingly when you get hired. You are most likely going to eat it in post - but that is temporary.

We tend to sell brides short. We assume they don't know the difference between crappy video and good video. In my experience - WRONG! They know and some are willing to pay for it. If you take your craft seriously those are the people you want to work for. Target them and leave the others to the 1k guys. Nothing wrong with that.

If you build a reputation as a quality vendor you can charge accordingly. Do it. I think we all have a responsibilty to improve the image of wedding video. Photographers get more for less because they have cultivated a concept of value for their product. There is soo much crappy video out there that we are fighting an uphill battle. Brides, however, are starting to notice that wedding video can be VERY good and are starting to fork out for it. In fact, I see many post from brides that go so far as to say they value good video over photos. Great!

I think I am rambling now but I suppose the point is this. If you do good work - charge for it. If you don't do good work YET, charge less but when you figure it out get your prices where they belong. You need to be making $40+ and hour at the least.

My 27 cents presented in an incoherent mess.....

Mike
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Old November 25th, 2005, 10:21 PM   #22
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So $500 a day for post production, $1,100 per day for videography, works for me!
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Old November 26th, 2005, 02:31 AM   #23
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mike, i find it funny that you say "There seems to be the assumption you CAN'T charge what your worth out of the box. I think this is wrong." and then go on to say that you did your first wedding for free. um. you charged zero dollars out of the box, right? ;-P the rest of your post is spot on, though.

the basic fact of the matter is you are going to need a reel before you can charge full price. mike is right. brides are not stupid and know the difference between crap and good work. they will want to see samples and they will ask the tough questions (how long have you been in business? how many weddings have you done? have you shot at my church? etc.). would any bride in her right mind pay >$1k for a videographer with no samples and no experience? no.

and craig, with all due respect, i think you took the wrong approach with your discount, which is why you were not able to capitalize on the referrals.

our first wedding was for $200. 3 manned cameras, no time limits, montages, bonus features, all the trimmings. but it was not just any ordinary bride. we hand picked the couple, one that had a very marketable look, whose ceremony location was perfect prototype and reel material.

also, instead of giving them a contract for $200, we gave them one for $2,500 with a substantial discount line so the subtotal was $200. because of this, the couple understood that the value of the package was $2,500 and when the referrals came, they knew the cost. also, since they knew how much we were giving them, they were extra accomodating with us and let us shoot everything we wanted. this couple is still sending us referrals. best $200 i ever earned.
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Old November 26th, 2005, 04:09 AM   #24
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marketing?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Cook
There seems to be the assumption you CAN'T charge what your worth out of the box. I think that is wrong.

Mike, we did just the same thing... We ARE NEW! We did 4 shoots before we got paid, but when we got paid, we got paid what we are worth. Our first paid/contracted gig was for $3750. We have big ambitions and plan to be umong the big players by the end of next year. Our problem is prospecting, this is really new to us and even though were busy, we are really busy from all the refferalls from the "free-bees" we did originally. We need more originating business so we did a bridworld show at OC Fairgrounds in costa mesa two months ago. So far we have had NO return on our investment. A Photographer friends of ours did the same show and they have had the same experience from this show... We have been wondering if it was just the show, or something we didn't do right.. or ?? our prices too high? There were actually alot of +/- $1000 price shoppers there and we are wanting to target the 3-4K range.

We would really like to break into the $5+k market, what is your opinion for the best strategy for accomplishing this (in marketing terms)?

Thanks!!

incase its not posted here is our url www.visualmasterpiece.com
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Old November 26th, 2005, 06:18 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Padilla
We would really like to break into the $5+k market, what is your opinion for the best strategy for accomplishing this (in marketing terms)?
Mike, how much is your high package now? Do you sell a lot of these? Actually, how much are all three packages?

At the high end, your business will come from referrals, not cattle shows.
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Old November 26th, 2005, 06:58 AM   #26
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Thanks for the help!

well actually our prices are at 2700 & 3700 including tax. We originally had a 1700 as well for just basic coverage & editing but are thinking about taking that away, I belive the package is still posted on our website however.

so far we have booked one at 3700 and one at 2700. Other than that we are honestly starting out fresh, so it's kinda a clean slate. We started our business in the summer of this year (mid-late 2005). We had never had a DVCAM in our hands before let alone operated a steadicam rig, nor had I ever edited anything. This was a totally new venture from the ground up.

Our competiton for this (our) type of work in so cal starts at 4k & up but its rare (blueskiescinema.com are our corona neighbors). A decent videographer ranges in the 2-3k's.

I need to post more of our work cus the demo cut (in my opinion) doesn't do us justice. We edit down the whole day to one music video similarly to ourweddingvideo.com and have a full "real-time" documentary cut as well.

In all honestly we would really like to get more business in the range were in... Our best (only) market has been refferals, and we just don't have enough previous business to generate an overflow of refferals yet.
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Old November 26th, 2005, 07:44 AM   #27
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In the interest of full disclosure, I don't do weddings.

I think you should leave the $1700 package. Since you have not booked one, it is not costing you anything. People like to book the middle package, if you only have two they are stuck between being cheap or extravagant. You need more bookings, so doing cheaper ones (and $1700 not bad for now) gets you more work, more practice, and more referrals.

From what I have seen, you should also re-evaluate what is included in your packages. The biggest thing that jumps out at me (among several) is the "lightscribe DVD". Most people don't know what that means. And I think they look cheap. Better wedding vids have a nice presentation package, including 4-color imprinted DVD and a nice DVD case (some leather, some just a nicely printed custom cover). This is REALLY important in terms of how you are perceived, maybe more important than the actual video in some cases.

Do you use 3 cams with 2 operators? That also gives your packages added value, gives you more options for coverage and editing. It does add some time when editing but not much.

IMHO, you need to really evaluate your marketing, based on your webpage. Maybe hire a pro to help you tune it all up (web page, brochure, demo, ads, DVD packaging, personal sales calls, etc) getting more customer focused (emotion sells!!). And if you only have two bookings since summer, you probably need to spend a few more hours EVERY DAY working on marketing /sales stuff. Have you personally met every bridal shop, wedding consultant, photographer, and venue manager within 50 miles?

The big thing is to jump start what you are doing. Get some finished projects under your belt ASAP, and look for ways to leverage each one of them into a stream of referrals. If I was in the wedding business, I would give the first five (or more) clients a free DVD for every guest (they pay postage costs and give you pre-addressed envelopes of correct size). Imagine what 500 "demos" (or more) out there in your target market will do!!!

HTH
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Old November 26th, 2005, 08:01 AM   #28
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Bob, thanks for the advise.. your absolutly right about our website's marketing, I personally don't like it and its high on my list of priorities for a full make over.

The Lightscribe probably sounds odd so I'll take that off, our actutal finished package however looks very good. that's something I put alot of time into.

As far as the aggresiveness, your also right... I am way focused on my actual work instead of marketing for prospects & partners.

Time to re-evaluate.
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Old November 26th, 2005, 09:08 AM   #29
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If you want to break into the $5000 dollar wedding market may I suggest moving on up to the Canon XL-H1 high definition video camera. At $9000 the camera is pricey and there are cheaper cameras however the shoulder mounted form factor is critical in order to be taken seriously at the $5000 price range. DVinfo has some footage from this camera that you can download and view in full high definition quality on your computer.
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Old November 26th, 2005, 09:21 AM   #30
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A.J. Interesting strategy. It can avoid those low priced referrals that way.

My own initial low price was not a discount or meant to be a newbie price. I grossly underestimated how long a wedding took to edit. That's why I emphasize that one should assume a week of editing.

Chad, market size often dictates cost of living and hence the rate. You still need to charge a base rate that to survive . . . or you won't. Your base rate in your market my be lower than mine but you still have to charge a rate that pays your rent/mortgage, food, bills, for you gear.

Mike Cook has the right idea about charging what you're worth. Now you may not make a PROFIT on the first few weddings but you MUST make your COST OF LIVING. You certainly can raise your rate with experience but if you charge lower than your survival rate you'll stick your business in a bad financial situation.

If your small market is so saturated with wedding videographers it's either the wrong business to get in to OR you need to differentiate yourself quickly.
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