Video production is an industry that is quickly on the rise! Video content is everywhere and it is not going away anytime soon. This is a great thing and ultimately creates the need for expert videographers to create stunning and effective content. With that being said, this article is all about starting a video production company. If you’d like to learn more about the process of starting a video production company and my lessons learned, then this is the article for you!
Before we get started, I first want to define what is a production company. This definition is coming straight from my head and personal experience 🙂
A production company is an organization that produces video for a client. More specifically, this organization facilitates the video production process with the end client, including the use of equipment, planning the concept, filming and editing the end video.
How’d I do? Ultimately, video production is all about creating an effective video for the end client, whether this is for a business, wedding, event, or really anything else. It is up to us, the videographers, to effectively facilitate and execute on this process for a high-quality product. Ok, let’s move on to more of the specifics when it comes to starting a video production company!
Naming your business
- Before launching full force into the business plan, I first want to touch on the topic of naming your business. This is definitely an important aspect of your business because what you include in your business name will ultimately be conveyed as your brand. I’ve created a more detailed article that walks you through the process of creating a great name for your video production business.
Your business plan
Let’s start with your business plan. There are so many things to consider when starting a video production company and I think that a business plan can help you to get your thoughts together. Because launching and growing a business is complex, it is always a good idea to create a plan before you get started.
For example, imagine starting a business with no plan at all. You don’t have a clue how you will scale your business past your first couple of customers and you also don’t even have a rough timeline in place. Outside of that, if you plan to eventually rent space for your business, you aren’t entirely sure when or how you will get to that point. Sounds like a recipe for failure, am I right?
Alternatively, the exciting thing about creating a business plan is that it helps you to stay on track so that you can actually meet your business goals. Even if you don’t meet that exact goal, having a plan and process in place to follow can help you to get extremely close to that goal (which is the goal, haha).
Video niche focus areas
Ok, let’s get real for a minute. When we are new and learning how to start a video production company, we are likely to accept work from anyone and everyone. As we grow our business over time we are likely to raise our prices and get more selective. With that being said, I totally get that niching down in the beginning might not be completely do-able, but I think it is still a really, really good idea to know what direction you’d like to go with your business.
This is important for a number of reasons when it comes to starting a video production company. First, when you know and understand your target audience, you understand how to market to them. More specifically this means where to reach them (which social media platforms, websites, magazines, events, etc.) and also how to talk to your audience and what resonates with them (does this industry use specific jargon? Are they more casual? More formal?).
When you hone in on this messaging over time, this helps to create a strong brand for your business. Your past clients, friends and family will also understand how to refer you to potential clients, which is absolutely critical!
The next thing that I want you to focus on when learning how to start a video production company is your market analysis. More specifically, the market analysis consists of researching the market value of the videography industry as a whole, the specific clients that you will serve, as well as potentially the types of services that you plan to sell.
A few good metrics to capture for these areas include:
- Market size
- Industry trends (like growth, as an example)
- The biggest players in the market
- Any context/history on the industry
This information is important because larger industry trends can inform how profitable the market will be as well as how you should approach this market. You might also consider completing a Porter’s Five Forces diagram, which analyzes the different potential threats and advantages when entering a new market.
The next area of focus for your business plan is a competitive analysis. When creating your competitive analysis, I’d recommend including the following:
- Name of competitor
- Length of time in business
- Areas the competitor serves
- Services / pricing
- Target audience
- Social media presence
This information should provide a good, solid foundation around who the competitor serves and how effective they are in doing so. Create a list of at least 10 competitors (I know, I know, this is tedious!). This is important because this will start to provide you with an understanding of what needs are being served as well as potential gaps. For example, you may find that most of the videographers in your area do strictly video production and little to no video marketing strategy. This could be a great opportunity for your business to come in and serve that need in the market (if there is one, of course!). Check out this article to learn more about creating a rich competitive analysis.
Services and Prices
Next, it is important to identify your complete set of services as well as your pricing. When learning how to start a video production company, you should know specifically what you offer as a business because trust me, you will have people ask you on the spot. You want to know off the top of your head everything that your business can provide. This will also be helpful when it comes to getting referrals because people will know how to refer you to others!
When it comes to pricing, what I will say is to do your research and strive to charge what you are worth. Starting extremely low will make it that much more difficult to raise your prices in the future. Pricing in and of itself when it comes to business is very complex – expect a more in-depth blog post on this topic in the near future!
Marketing and sales plan
Ahh, marketing and sales! One of my passions in life. These topics are so complex, fascinating, and absolutely critical for any business. Having a solid marketing and sales plan in place is absolutely critical. There is so much that I could say about this topic – I honestly could probably write a book! Between working in marketing and sales enablement previously to getting my masters in marketing, this is one of my passions. But I digress…
Here is how you should start your marketing plan for your video production company:
- Determine where your audience hangs out! Are they online? What platforms? Do they read certain websites and blogs? Do they go to networking events?
- Go where your ideal clients are likely to hang out! This is so important. You need to make yourself visible to the types of clients that you want to get.
- Everything that you do when it comes to marketing should center around those top to bullet points above. I am going to do a more in-depth article around how to market your video business, but a few other ways to reach your target audience include:
- Aligning and creating partnerships with businesses that serve similar clients
- Creating testimonials and pitching them to websites/magazines that your customers read
- Develop an active social media presence – post content that your target audience wants to see and engage with them regularly!
So we all know that finances are crazy important, especially when it comes to running a business! Finances could be make or break for your business, yet so many people overlook this section of a business plan or even purposely skip it because…numbers. Still, as a business owner, it is your responsibility to plan for the financial health of your business.
Here’s what I’d recommend (but also, do your own research). Create some sort of excel spreadsheet or table to keep track of all of your business expenses (this is separate from what you’d turn into your tax person). This is a very important aspect of learning how to start a video production company and should also include expenses like your business overhead. You also want to project your planned revenue for the next year. Not only is it important to have a plan, but visually seeing how your business can grow is motivating. Check out this article to learn more about writing the financial portion of your business plan.
Planning your business goals
Ok, so now that we have all of these details mapped out, let’s walk through planning your business goals.
I think it is important to have both short term and long-term business goals when learning how to start a video production company. The short term goals give you something to reach for immediately, and the long-term business goals keep the vision of your business in check. These goals can also be used as a checkpoint to determine if the short-term goals actually make sense for your business.
With that being said, it would be good to create 5 long-term business goals and 3 short-term business goals. The long-term business goals could be anywhere from 1-3 years from now. The short-term business goals should be within 6 months from now.
Setting up your business
When it comes to setting up the legal framework for your business, I’d recommend consulting your local government. It is very important to be compliant for both legal and tax purposes. I started off as a sole proprietor but quickly moved to an LLC.
Preparing to launch your business
Outside of creating your business plan, there are a number of tasks that must be completed prior to launching your business. These are critical when it comes to successfully starting a video production company!
The first of these tasks is to create promotional materials for your business. No, this doesn’t mean create a bunch of flyers (however, this may work depending on your location and niche!).
More specifically, I’m referring to creating some sort of website for your business. When you are just starting out, I do not think that it is important to spend a ton of time or money on your website. Of course you want it to look good, but it does not need to be super advanced. A lot of times when someone is just starting their business, the website will become a bottleneck and take up a ton of time. This is not ideal when you are starting out because you want to keep the momentum going and spending extra time on your website isn’t the best use of time.
What I’d recommend is creating a simple website with your portfolio on one page and then specific pages for each industry you are targeting (weddings, real estate, etc.). This way it will be easier for someone to find exactly what they need. Of course, creating a portfolio is extremely important when it comes to video production. I will have an article coming up on this topic soon!
Next, you want to ensure that your social media accounts are active and have content on them. Specifically, I’m referring to Instagram, Facebook and YouTube if possible. You might not think this is important, but if a potential client lands on one of your social media pages and it isn’t active, this could severely hurt your chances of working with that client. People may assume that you aren’t open for business or that you aren’t as good at what you do.
Next, I’d recommend investing in some business cards. You never know who you will meet and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked for a card and didn’t have one on me. Learn from my mistakes, please!
Finally, equipment is a must when it comes to starting a video production company. Of course, we all have to start somewhere!
Check out my kit for recommendations on equipment for new videographers as well as videographers that have been in the game for some time. My kit includes recommendations on cameras, lenses, mics, lighting, stabilizers, laptops and more! Click here to learn more.
Promoting your business: Sales and marketing
We touched on the importance of sales and marketing in an earlier section when it comes to starting a video production company. Essentially, you want to put yourself in front of your ideal client. One big mistake that a lot of people make when it comes to starting a business is waiting for clients to come to them. This may happen eventually, but definitely not in the beginning.
So, when starting a video production company, be sure to get active in different networking groups, guest write for websites, or even create ads in popular magazines for your niche. I also recommended in an earlier section to establish partnerships with business owners that serve the same clientele. There are a lot of ways that you could create visibility for your business and I will be writing another article on this soon. To start, I’d recommend using the ideas that I’ve provided and start brainstorming different strategies to try!
Working with clients
This section focuses on your process and workflow when it comes to working with clientele. Your workflow and client process is one of the most important things when it comes to starting a video production company. This is important because you want to be organized from the start when you are working with clients. This will ensure that the process goes smooth on your end and results in a stellar customer experience!
Alternatively, if you have a process documented and things are not going so well, this at least gives you a baseline so that you know here you are and can improve upon what already exists.
With that being said, be sure to document your entire process from the moment you begin speaking with a potential client to after the final invoice has been paid and the video has been delivered. Understand the different touch points so that you don’t miss anything. Even the number of check ins with a client can make or break a project.
Here is an example workflow:
- Initial contact with the customer (this could be your cold outreach or someone contacting you)
- Set up initial phone call / pitch packages
- Send invoice for first half of the project
- Send video concept
- Follow up for feedback / discuss on phone if needed
- Revise concept as needed
- Schedule day to shoot video
- Send first edit
- Allow for one round of edits
- Send final file plus invoice
- Send feedback form
Of course, how you prefer to engage with a customer may be different, but I wanted to provide an example of what a customer workflow would look like when learning how to start a video production company. It is a good idea to keep this consistent so that the entire process is measurable and repeatable (my inner marketing/business nerd is coming out!).
Since this section covers workflow, I also want to mention the importance of contracts! These documents are so important because they are really the only thing that will enforce whether you get paid and whether the client gets their video. I highly recommend speaking with a legal professional and potentially having them draft a contract for your business. Trust me, there may be loopholes in the ones that you find online and the last thing you want is to work for hours and hours and not get paid. Also, contracts are a great way for the client to protect themselves so that they get their final deliverable.
Now that we’ve covered the general process of interacting with a customer, let’s review the video creation process. I’m not going to run through the specifics of this process in this article (comment if you’d like me to create a separate post for this!), but I’ve listed a few important questions to ask yourself when it comes to the pre-production, production and post-production processes. These questions are critical when it comes to learning how to start a video production company and are based on my own experiences, lessons learned, failures and successes. Of course, I don’t want you to repeat my mistakes, so I hope these help!
- Understand how long you will need for each step in the process
- What documents are needed (contracts, releases, etc.)
- Where do you need the client’s sign off?
- How many / who needs to be involved on your side?
- How many checkpoints should you have with the customer along the way?
Show me the moneyyyy!
Ok, but really though. This section is so important because once you’ve spent time and money investing in your business and completing projects, you want to get paid!
I first just want to say that I’m not a legal expert by any means and my recommendations are based on what has worked for me, so I’m not liable for your business decisions (whew! Glad that’s out of the way…). There might be a better way of doing this, but I always ask for 50% of the project fee up front. I always invoice for the final 50% once the project has been delivered.
When it comes to working with wedding clients, I’d recommend 50% to book and 50% two weeks before the wedding. This is because weddings keep couples busy and you never know long long they will be on their honeymoon!
When it comes to getting paid for your work, the payment schedule should be clearly outlined in your contract. You should also be very clear with the customer around when you expect payment. I can’t stress how important these factors are when learning how to start a video production company.
Here are a few of my favorite tools when it comes to running my business, I hope these help! (these may contain links where I earn a commission).
I sincerely hope that this article helps you as you start your own production company. This has been one of the most challenging and fulfilling journeys of my life, and I’d love to help you as you embark on this journey! Please comment below with any questions that you may have.