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Taking Care of Business
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Old January 2nd, 2017, 01:11 PM   #1
Major Player
Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: Charleston, WV
Posts: 385
How to Get Started

Just a couple tidbits before I ask anything

-I work as a full-time videographer/photographer at a university
-My wife works full time at the state
-My wife and I have a photography business in which we probably made almost $8,000 last year (4 weddings and the rest were small portrait sessions)
-My wife and I have a video production business on the side in which we made probably $5,000 last year (2 weddings, a commercial for an attorney and some other small things)

The photography business is growing at a nice pace but we both really believe the video production has the most potential based on the quality of my work and the competition in the area.

This upcoming year, I'd like to put a lot of emphasis on the video side of things so I was wondering if anyone had any info for me on how exactly you got started finding clients.

Did you go out and try to meet with clients? Did you call people? Did you advertise in your area? What ways have you found most effective to find clients?

Brock Burwell is offline   Reply With Quote
Old January 2nd, 2017, 03:12 PM   #2
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Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: LIncolnshire, UK
Posts: 2,213
Re: How to Get Started

Hi Brock,

I have been filming weddings for over 30 years and carry out the same PR and promotion that I have always used as it works well for me, plus some more modern additions.

WIth weddings, you need to attract Brides in particular to your work. There are several ways to do this, wedding magazine advertising, wedding shows, wedding websites and social media. Different countries and different areas within those countries will probably bring varying results and costs, I can only speak from my UK experience.

Starting from scratch, the most immediate way to meet brides planning their wedding is to exhibit at wedding shows. Over the years, I have found that the ones that work best for me are regional and local ones that are well established and in popular wedding venues. I avoid the big multi day events as I find them oversubscribed, very expensive and can be confusing to potential clients. It is very much a matter of personal preference, but I love to take the opportunity to chat very informally with potential clients. Others will have alternative opinions of course, but I take bookings from every wedding show. and do about 10 per year. I also keep a blog on our Facebook page to promote our appearances at the shows and post about clients we have met and put up stills from recent weddings. Brides seem to like the blogs as it keeps it personal and friendly, plus it is a chance for their friends to keep up with things. Brides love to chat to their girlfriends and Facebook is one of the things they tend to share. Friends are potential future clients.

Wedding mags and websites tend to cover a much larger area and having tried a few, they brought very few bookings. They can be very expensive to advertise in, but if you are looking at up market weddings and are prepared to pay the costs, they may bring in work.

Word of mouth from previous clients is probably the biggest seller for me, but then I have a large past client base. Second to that for me is wedding shows and I also get recommendations from other wedding suppliers. Networking at wedding shows is always useful and sharing links with other suppliers can bring enquiries. Some videographers and photographers get regular work from venues that they have worked at and I also pick up a few every year from venue recommendations.

Other posters will have differing views of course but the above works for me :-)

Roger Gunkel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old January 2nd, 2017, 03:12 PM   #3
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: San Diego, CA
Posts: 1,082
Re: How to Get Started

Think about what your long term goal is first. Part time freelance with part time employment? Wife working full-time for the state and you full-time freelance? Both of you full-time freelance? Do you want to have employees? 1? or 10? or 100?

Once you get that, write it down, and with every move, ask yourself if that move is taking you toward the goal.

I was full-time employed at a TV station for 5+ years while I was getting my business going. By the time I quit my "real" job, I was working full time at work, and working full-time at home - 45 hours a week at work and 40+ hours a week at home. I couldn't sustain both, so I quit.

I was surprised by the amount of work I started getting the moment I quit my "real" job. When you have a job, people don't want to hire you as much as when you are full-time freelance.

Before you leave your job, start working your connections. Start doing freelance stuff now. You are out on campus every day with a camera and equipment, people must ask you about video - make sure they remember your name and make sure you remember theirs.

I started teaching college a few semesters before I quit my job. One day a week, 4 hours. It was not a lot of money but it was a couple hundred bucks in the mailbox, every week. Reach out and see if you can get that kind of stuff now.

Start buying equipment. Used stuff takes a while to buy. Troll craigslist and ebay looking for deals. The camera that I bought when I went full-time freelance was a Z1U. They were $5k new and $4k used. It was the end of the month and this guy had been asking $4500 for his for weeks. (I'd been watching.) I showed up at his (very expensive) apartment to look at it. He needed the money, hard. I offered him $3250. He laughed. I left. He called me before I got to the car and told me I could have it in 3 days for $3250 if nobody else bought it. I told him I had $3250 in cash in my pocket and he could be done with this deal in 5 minutes. He took the $3250 and in 5 minutes I had a $5k camera at a $1750 discount. That was not the first camera I'd looked at, it was the 20th. Surfing craigslist for a few weeks saved me almost $2k. When you're broke, do that on every purchase.

Team up with somebody who is doing video locally. Find out what they charge. Work for them at a deep discount. Ask if they'll work with you at a deep discount when you need it. Find out what kind of gear they have. Buy stuff they don't have. Loan out hard goods (light stands, sandbags, stuff that doesn't have brains) freely. Loan out mid-range stuff (lights, monitors), less freely. Never loan out cameras and lenses.

In videography, the guy who shoots the best video does not make the most money. The best businessman who shoots average video makes the most money. Strive to shoot the best video but *always* strike the best deals.
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