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

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Old March 20th, 2006, 03:58 PM   #1
Regular Crew
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Brooklyn, New York
Posts: 95
How did you build your business?

How did you start out? Advertisments? Weddings for friends? Freebies? I need some encouragement getting new clients. Thanks all...
Michelle Lewis is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 20th, 2006, 05:09 PM   #2
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Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Chicago, IL
Posts: 6,609
I started out so long ago I honestly don't remember exactly what I did then but I can tell you what I do now and have always done and frankly it's worked for me. FIRST I carry business cards everywhere I go. I keep a box in my car so I won't run out...SECOND I make sure that I give them out to EVERYONE. I talk to everyone I meet everywhere I go. I don't care if they are getting married or not if people don't know what you do how can they refer you? (STORY...about 4 years ago I left my card with a tip for the waitress at a resturant-I said for anyone she refered to me, after the wedding I would give her a referral fee. I never really thought I would get anything from it but 3 years later I got a call from someone who got the card from someone who got the card from someone etc-it passed thru 6 or 7 people and I ended up booking the wedding and yes she still worked at the same place and yes I went back and gave her the referral fee.) I believe in word of mouth advertising more than anything else. First it's free, second it's believable and third, did I mention its free? Talk to other vendors that are in the industry give them a card, send 'em to your website, see them about once a month just drop in and say HI to them and soon some of that will come back to you.
Yes, it's a long and arduous process and certainly you can put an ad in the yellow pages, newspaper or whereever but honestly at least in my area I've never found it to be worth the money. Start forming relationships with DJs and photographers and pretty soon they will start to refer you. The first couple of years are usually the hardest-the last couple ain't easy either (I'm in my 23rd and about ready to call it a day) but until I do I just keep talking to everyone I meet cause you just never know where the work is going to come from.
No easy answer to how to grow your business except try everything and keep do what works and stop doing what isn't working but remember it cause it might work later on.
Oh yeah at first do a couple of freebie then move the pricing to a reasonable level, devwelope a GOOD demo and start to develope a GOOD reputation then you can move the pricing up even more. The folks out there that make 8-10K per wedding didn't start out there. It took time to get their business to that point but it proves that it can be done. So go out and make relationships do a couple for no charge and go forth and make good video!
Don Bloom is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 20th, 2006, 05:09 PM   #3
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Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: San Francisco CA
Posts: 154
How did you build your business?

Hi, Michelle

When I started out, I simply did free wedding videos for friends. Since it was free of charge, they didn't expect much. What I always did was to give them more than the expect.

This gave me a great reputation and the business started rolling in.

I also spent the money (that was reserved for advertising) on improving my shooting techniques, perfecting my storytelling techniques and working on my positive attitude.

I relied totally on word of mouth advertising.

Keeping a journal of my ideas is priceless. I'm always refer back to my thoughts in my journal because I always have the desire to learn new things and keep my imagination active.

My way is only one of myriad ways of building a business.
Jaime Espiritu is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 20th, 2006, 08:41 PM   #4
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Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Aus
Posts: 3,884
bit by bit, very slow (took over a year to just set up the wedding element of eh business coz i DIDNT want to follow what others were doing...

Did audio for 13 years and that helped with getting experience in the corporate field, as alot of my audio work required reshooting, and by the time that part grew, i was shooting the whole project coz what we did for those minimal pieces pretty much outshine the "professional video" which was hired.. in the end, they just came to us and asked us to do the whole lot..

from there word of mouth in the business field grew and afew of our clients were getting married etc... so we shot their weddings.. from there it was a decision to work out what gear we were gonna use, at teh time we were using ENG type cameras and i wanted to market what we did as being discrete. Our market here in aus DONT go with video due to lack of discretion and the way the business are operated. Not to mention inferior products. The footage might be good, but the tackiness of the cut turned alot of people off... myself included.. so we went the other route..
From the skills and experience we learnt in the commercial and corporate projects, we integrated those cinematic ideals into weddings.
That market ploy is working well for us, but then bing in this open market, theres alot of plagiuarism, but that was expected.

with regard to everyday runnings of the business, i update my packages as demand changes.. now that more and more people are getting higher end PCs, they want more of the raw footage, so ive opened up the can of worms and started offering a package which is to cover shooting only. Surprisingly its one of the most popular packags and basicaly i get paid $1k to shoot for the day and then i move on.. no editing, no management...
These packages evolve every 6 months either way, and our base packaeg at $2500 is still the most popular.. but its that market penetration..

One thing here in aus though, no matter how good u are, people still want freebies, so what i do is NOT offer "everything" up front..
I give myself enough headroom to add afew "bonus'" and extras when i meet with the clients. Makes them feel a lil more looked after, an its really no skin off my nose.

Word of mouth is big, but for me, most of my word of mouth work comes from photographers. Alot of my clients at this time (3 yrs doing weddings, but this is our actual second season for the general public) are still one shot wonders, so word of mouth hasnt grown that much in that regard. But for a second season and hitting the 40 wedding a year mark is pretty good IMO. weve had a 300% growth spurt in 10 months, and this is the nature of the beast
I only advertise on the net, as magazines are a waste of time IMO, even though i have had one ad free from a high end publisher i used to work for, it hasnt done anything to grow the business. in fact one ad in a magazine could cover your costs in 4 online directories.
I only deal with email and a mobile phone and dont bother with hassling potential clients after ive met them.. usually they come back to me after i meet them anyway and i thnk this lack of hard sales mentality helps.
Having a well designed bsuneiss card makes an impact far more than any info you can dribble out of a flyer.
Having well designed packages in an easy to read format also helps.
I dont put prices on my site as i change them all the time, and if people are serious about me, i will send them a pdf with our prices on it. As soon as i put prices on the website, not many queries came through apart from the ones that wanted to see our work. However NOT showing prices gives them reason to write to us and give us more information about what they want and we can interact with them in a far more effective way. Its better for sals this way as its alot more personal.

i dont do shows, and i dont do brochures. If they can email me, they can get to my website where all the relevant info is available. I dont waste time on dodgy queries (i ask when is the wedding date and if they dont answer, tough. half the time its my competition tryin to see what im up to... youll get this, and its to be expected... ) and i dont answer a million questions when the answers are available on the site. Call it a lack of customer service if you may, but im a one man band and dont have time for frivolous "i want i want i want" with the obligatory "but i dont want to pay more than $XYZ"

above all else, be prepared for the worst, be prepared for the downtime, and be prepared to work like a bugger, coz this game is so unpredictable its actually quite scary
Peter Jefferson is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 22nd, 2006, 07:52 PM   #5
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Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 18
Started Last Year

Michelle I started last year and hear is what I did.

First off I created a catchy name and logo. I put together a good contract and a few simple packages to offer.

Secondly I hit the wedding boards on the internet for my area hard (I live in Toronto, Canada). I had about 5 or 6 years of experience as an editor in the commmercial industry and had a bit of experience as a camera man. I made sure that my posts always stayed near the top and was honest. I advertised a great price for any couples who were willing to give a new business a chance but assured them of my experience through samples of non-wedding work I had done. I found that the key here was to stay at the op of the boards so everyone say my post and to offer a price that was basically too godd to turn down (my first two weddings I charged just enough to cover my costs...I didnt make any money off of them).

Once I had those two weddings finished and under my belt I created a website for myself and used clips from those two weddings as samples. I continued to use internet boards to advertise and raised my prices enough to pay for my time but was careful to still be cheaper than the competition (packages in my area typically start at $1000 we as mine start at $800). Once I had those two wedding to use as samples the bookings came rolling in.

I started out last season by myself just doing 3 weddings to gain some samples. This January I started seriously going after bookings with my couple of sample weddings. I currently have 14 weddings booked for this year and already 4 for 2007 since January and havent paid a cent for advertising with the exception of my webspace and business cards.

The key is to have one or two solid samples, a great personality (make them think that they are your biggest priority), and always try to offer a little more for the buck then your competition. Check out as much of other peoples work as you can as wouldn't believe the ideas that watching other peoples work can stimulate for your own work.
Todd Westacott is offline   Reply

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