Starting a production company isn’t for the faint of heart. But I have faith in all you production virgins out there! I won’t lie, you’re going to face a lot of challenges in your first 6 months of running, but if you’re doing these 6 things, you’ll be on track to avoid the top video production problems we see on a regular basis from our VPVs.
Building a portfolio that represents your brand.
Challenge yourself to one portfolio-worthy project per month and follow through. Within half a year, you’ll have enough quality pieces that consistently show off your brand’s expertise and tone – and opening the door for clientele you want. As you begin fulfilling your first projects, you’ll likely be working with various vendors and freelancers. With that in mind, it’s up to you to make sure they receive proper direction to produce work inline with your brand’s MO. Don’t be lazy. Make sure all of your portfolio pieces are readily available on your website, Vimeo and Youtube channel for potential clients.
Why have a kick-ass portfolio if you don’t have anyone to share it with? You could be the most incredible filmmaker out there, but without creating a network of other industry professionals you’ll have no outlet for sharing your work. Put yourself in the right places at the right times. Be active in your local production community.
Get out there and shmooze, people! Don’t know where to start? Stop using Facebook to creep on your ex-girlfriend who’s now 3 kids deep and start searching for local events, groups and pages dedicated to your local production community. Meetup is also a great tool to connect and meet with like-minded groups.
You may be out of your comfort zone, but get your name out there and build relationships for your production house. Check your local video and business orgs and get your ass to meetings and networking events.
Not blowing money on new equipment.
Being successful doesn’t require spending thousands to have all the latest and greatest – it requires minimizing costs and providing work that you can be profitable on. Renting equipment, buying lightly used goods or contracting out shooters you trust (who frequently jump at the opportunity to buy and test new gear) are a perfectly acceptable to keep costs low without compromising quality, especially when you are just starting to build up clientele and budgets are low. When you start winning clients like Apple, then you can justify investing thousands for a camera or lens.
Only buy the bare necessities (a solid camera, basic audio equipment, standard light kit) when starting out. For shoots that require more equipment and a heavy price tag, rent from your favorite local shop or contract freelances who have the finest goods and actually know how to use them.
Important to note: There will always be people in the production industry who insist having the most advanced equipment is necessary to be competitive in the space. Those people probably are are the type who have endless funds gifted to them by relatives (we all know that one guy…). Not all of us are that fortunate. I’m guessing especially not you, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this.
Finishing projects on time.
Don’t half-ass projects and deliver way after deadlines are due. People are paying you for a service and a final product. This isn’t amateur hour people. Make sure it’s in their hands in the time you promised, or you can kiss any repeat or referral business down the drain. If any issues come up during pre-production, production or post, keep your client in the loop and adjust deadlines as needed.
Organize and develop a video production process that is efficient in all aspects of production (this means pre and post too people) – running a production company doesn’t just mean you get to shoot cool stuff and walk away. Be a camera op if you’re about that life. Mark my words – chaos will ensue without proper planning. In our eBook, we talk about pre-production and lay out all the things you need to consider BEFORE getting started on a shoot…so you don’t wind up running around like a chicken with its head cut off.
Dedicating time to focus on marketing.
When you’re starting out, you’re not going to need some major agency working on your behalf to handle your marketing. But it’s important to have a clear understanding of who the hell you want to see, engage with and do business with your company. After all, you can’t rely on your Uncle Bob to keep feeding you his friends’ business forever. Not only should you know who you’re going after, but your messaging should be pointed and consistent. In other words, website content, social media posts and any other content should sound like they’re coming from the same company.
Determine who your brand is and how the outside world should perceive you. Start with the basics:
-Who’s your audience?
-What’s your unique selling proposition?
-What’s your goal?
-What’s your brands tone and personality?
Next, decide if you’ll be using paid, owned or earned media to blast out your brand messaging or content. For brand awareness that’s affordable, you may consider small AdWords campaigns or Facebook ads. In addition, inbound marketing tactics are free and include creating content via blogging, eBooks, whitepapers, etc.
Pricing your projects to make money.
If you’re a virgin, you’re possibly still just wingin’ it with pricing your projects. Here’s your VPV PSA for the day: By this point in the game, you should know how to structure your pricing for your services, whether it’s fixed or more a la carte. Successful business owners know how much their resources and time cost, how to use them most efficiently AND how to mark them up (you wanna make money don’t ya??). You may use various pricing models from project to project – not all jobs are created equal (more on that in posts to come). With experience comes recognizing how long jobs take, how many resources are really needed, so on and so forth.
Create an internal master pricing sheet that includes everything from equipment costs to your trusted contracted freelance crew rates to travel rates and everything else under the sun that would affect the price of a project. From here, figure out what your markup rates are for each item and you’ll be able to construct a proposal that covers ALL costs and still pays the bills.
Holla fo’ a dolla.
Have some tips you think we missed? Leave a comment and let us know.
Wanna read more cool stuff? Check out our video production posts.