How much should I charge? I am starting in this business and i am young at
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Old August 22nd, 2010, 01:38 PM   #1
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Join Date: May 2010
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How much should I charge? I am starting in this business and i am young

Hi guys,

Im from Montreal and I am 17 years old (Yes im young i know...), my first language is french and not english (sorry for my bad english).

I have been making videos for almost 4 years now. I started wit a cheap 200$ camcorder and now i have a Sony HVR-V1U. And I want to make film making my living (im not sure if I want to be a cameraman or an editor yet). Right now I have my own "compagny" it's called JHDproductions. And I am starting to have some small contracts. I am very involve in car racing and alot of drivers ask me to make videos of them. Normaly I charge 10-15$/h for filming and 15-20$/h for editing. Considering I am young, I am not the best and I dont have a crazy gear. Are my price right ?

Here's two of my last video's :

Thanks alot !
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Old August 22nd, 2010, 02:06 PM   #2
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I think the best advice anyone ever gave me that is that if you play on your age (and at 17, you are young) and charge by the hour, people expect to pay peanuts.

The question is do you think what I do and the total price is good value?

They're a bit 'arty' for me - but that's not important. What is important is that you have an eye for composition
and they product looks good. Many beginners flaws are just not there - I really like the camera movement and the wide angle, low height stuff.

Essentially, we charge for the 'job'. If you break it down into hourly rates, can you explain that a 15 second sequence might have taken 3 hours, yet 3 minutes might have been half an hour? Hours are too small. I now charge short jobs as short, medium or long days for location work. I always charge for travel and hotels and food if the trip will take me more than an hour or twos driving. Editing is tricky to price as it depends so much on the product - so I usually make an educated guess and put a cap on the time, so I break the quote down into pre-production, production, post-production and perhaps word it like this

Post-production - up to three days X Additional days at X dependent on clients requirements.

Then - when they suddenly need the edit changing, I can smile and say of course, this will probably take me an extra day or so, is that OK? Everything is up front.

Many clients have no idea how long things take, and this method of pricing helps me sort it. When we're out doing a job, and the client says "Let's make an early start tomorrow..." I ask them to pick the time, and then it goes on the invoice as 9am call as per client instructions, then the long day charge.

This might not work for everyone, but it does for me. My freelancers also use the same system, so they'll cheerfully ask if today is going to be short or long, and invoice me using the same system.

It's pretty transparent, clients don't get the look at the watch twitch quite so much, and you don't have to talk money once you start - just use the right language.

If money is not the be all and end all - as in at your age you won't have premises costs, finance etc - as these things must be covered each month - you're free to work for lower rates if you wish - BUT beware getting known as the cheap video man. You will get used and abused, and then dropped when they want a bigger budget production on the assumption that spending more will get them better results - even if you are really good. Perceived value is the key. If you can get $1000 but they feel it's worth it, everyone is happy. If they only have $200 and you really want to do it - then be crafty - justify it to them as well below the rate, but you will do it, for a percentage of the profits. They will know there won't be any, so won't mind agreeing. You have a perhaps worthless share in a project, but they think it's a good deal.
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Old August 22nd, 2010, 03:23 PM   #3
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Thanks this is really helping !! But what do you do if the client want to change let's say a sentence only or anything that take 10 minutes to do ? What do you charge them ???

But back to the main question... If i would use your system. What do you think i should charge for a full day of editing and a full day of filming ?
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Old August 22nd, 2010, 09:41 PM   #4
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Changes are part of the game.

When I write up a contract for a client, I allow for some changes. Anything more than that, and they pay for it.

However, if I have VO talent recording the VO, and the client wants something changed, they are going to pay for it because they already approved the VO and I had it recorded.

If you do the VO yourself, don't nickle and dime your clients.

For a day rate, I charge for a 10-hour day. Normally anywhere between $500-$750+
I also include my gear a lot of times.

For editing, once again, 10 hour days. I'd say at 17, you could get away with $250 a day for shooting or editing.

Once you build a reel of client work, you can start charging more, and your age will not have much to do with it. If you produce good stuff, people should pay for it.

Also, you should come up with a budget form in Excel (or Google docs) that has line items for everything you really do on a job, like importing footage, rendering out movies, uploading, DVDs, etc. All that adds up. You need to bill for that, or at least be aware of what's involved before you give a client a discount.
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Old August 23rd, 2010, 01:40 PM   #5
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Ok so I should charge the same for a day of editing or a day of filming ? Thanks for the tip, ill do a list of all the things.

Thanks alot guys!
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Old August 24th, 2010, 03:46 AM   #6
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Little Rock
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You should go to school and get a business degree.
Many good videographers have come and gone, not because they couldn't shoot, but because they could not properly manage their business. If you don't know what to charge, you don't know how to properly run a business. Plus a business degree is something you can use anywhere.

All the Best!
David W. Jones
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Old August 24th, 2010, 07:42 AM   #7
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A variation on what David just said.
You have invested time in learning video skills. You must invest time learning the business skills if this is to move beyond an expensive hobby.

An early step is to make a business plan to the best of your ability. Granted that may change over time just as the direction your skills may develop into does.

Consider how much you need to earn to pay ALL your personal and business expenses. How much unpaid work you need to do to run your business, marketing, sales, bookkeeping, gear maintenance, purchasing new gear. Generally you need to meet all your economic needs (and profit as your business grows) in 20-25 paid hours a week. The rest of the time is doing all the unpaid stuff you need to do. With that you know your base rate you need to charge to survive.

You need to learn how to estimate the time it'll take to shoot and edit and include revisions. You need to know how to get paid. That means always having collateral. Get some amount up front on booking a job. Generally 1/3 to 1/2. Get final payment BEFORE handing over usable work (masters, dubs).

There are some very talented people who've gone bankrupt or had to get "day" jobs because they were highly UNSKILLED when it came to business.

The answer to "how much should I charge" is the question "what is your business plan?"
I don't think you need a business degree but you do need to invest time in learning business in order to benefit from your video skills. Alas that's why you asked the question. Better to ask first then to find out a job is actually costing you money.
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Old August 24th, 2010, 08:52 AM   #8
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In answer to your 10 minute job. Personally, if it's a good client and they want something that will really take just 10 minutes, then I'd probably not charge. The issue comes when they [italic]think [/italic]it's a ten minute job, and you know it's half a day. That takes the business skills!

The OP is still thinking in small amounts of time - and this has to go really. My quandry with my system is when I switch from the medium day to my long day, and this week with a VERY long day that needs a price adjustment. Very often, as long as my clients know my system, I don't need to break it up into exact hours.

When I get a job that is complicated, then before I can price it I need to know exact real costs - so let's say we have myself and two others, then I need their rate for the day - it doesn't need to be the same. I take their rate and add on 25%, and temporarily add another person at the highest rate I'm paying in place of me, to see what the crew cost will be. I then work out the travel rate at the mileage figure Her Majesties Revenue and Customs consider OK, add on the hotel if needed and an evening meal for each of us. Consumable items are detailed separately and charged for. Media can be expensive, so can things like batteries for radio mics - and if you use three figures worth of consumables, charge for it. If the client can see what the money goes on, they'll realise it's not just a figure plucked out of thin air.

When you can see the likely total, you can then adjust it a bit up or down to cover the amount of profit you want to make. Using the substitution for yourself give you at minimum, the kind of money the crew get, plus a little extra. I always have more trouble with the edit price as the clients expectations can be way off, time wise, so where I have a local client it's nice to get them in the edit suite and then they can see exactly how long things really take. I don't want them there all the time of course, but half a day to agree certain things is always handy.
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