The first thing you need is the required equipment. This can be the biggest hurdle for most entrepreneurs. I’m not going to lie to you, the start-up cost can be hefty. If you are thrifty, and use internet shopping to your advantage, you can find some fantastic deals out there. Finally, be mindful of your equipment and insurance costs when setting your wedding videography prices. You want to be competitive, but you also want to be profitable!
This is a bare-bones you will need for starting your videography business:
1. Professional HD camera (I prefer the Black Magic; it’s very user friendly, very professional looking, and with a price tag of $2,000 on Amazon, very affordable, too!)
2. Wireless Lavaliere microphone. I started with the Azden WMS Pro, a fine choice for simple indoor shoots, like shoots for DemandStudios (of which I have completed many). In time, however, you are going to want to upgrade to a better system (especially for outdoor shoots) such as the Sennheiser ew 100 G2
3. A good tripod. My suggestion is the Tiffen Davis amp; Sanford Provista 7518. It’s a fantastic budget tripod with a very nice fluid head and a great load capacity.
4. A decent Shotgun Mic. I started with the AudioTechnica ATR 55; a great deal at $55.
5. Extra batteries: both for your microphones and your camera. You want at least 10 hours worth of battery life for your camera, is not more. I usually carry about 24 (2 10 hour, 2 2 hour).
6. Tapes, if your camera uses them. I use Panasonic HDV MiniDV tapes, and I’m always sure to bring more than I will need for any given shoot. I.e., 6 hours of tapes for a 4 hour shoot.
You need to promote your services. Nothing can help make you loom more legit than a nice website. In fact, you can make a pretty nice (and free!) site using Shutterfly.com. Also, through a video service, you can add high-quality videos to your free site, to show people demos of your work. And of course, there’s Youtube, like my friends over at 2Bridges:
A great place to promote yourself is actually craigslist, and other similar online listings. It also helps to put up brochures or business cards on community bulletin boards at coffee shops, and similar business to the ones that you want to do work for.
You can also sign up to do work for groups such as TurnHere, Demand Studios, Howcast, and many other online video content providers. It’s a great way to get some actual footage under your belt and on your website (as well as money in your bank account).
Book some jobs! Once you have everything you need and have started to promote yourself, it’s time for you to book some jobs. Please keep in mind that many people will be reluctant to use your services if you do not have examples to show them of similar work. It is actually a very good idea to offer your services for free for the first few clients, to build up a good reel. If you want to shoot local business commercials, offer some owners to do it for free at first. If you’re doing weddings, make postings on local wedding website forums offering your services for free.
Once you’ve got examples on your site, you’ll find it’s much easier to get clients willing to actually pay you for your services.
Once you have booked clients for shoots, you MUST be as professional as possible! Word of mouth is far more powerful than an online ad! You should always be on time, or better yet, a bit early. Present yourself well, and dress professionally. You are the expert in the eyes of your client, and you must always come across that way, from your dress, to your speech, to how you direct them and film. If you are polite, pleasant, and professional, you will always satisfy your customers. Always be sure to get proper release forms signed BEFORE you start filming. There are many places online where you can find generic forms, and if you are working through another company, they will likely provide them for you.
Once you have the shoot in the can, get to editing! It’s important to discuss with the client exactly what it is they are expecting to see in the final version, so that what you create will blow them away. Be sure to look at your signed release forms for the proper way to spell everyone’s name who is on camera, if you are doing lower thirds or credits. There is nothing worse than delivering a DVD to someone, and the first thing they see is their name… spelled wrong.
Once edited and exported in the highest quality possible for the clients needs, it’s time to author that DVD! Make sure you really play around with your software first, to get a feel for what it can and cannot do. The built in help file is your friend, not your enemy.
Presentation is just as important when making the DVD menu as it is when you are actually shooting. Know your software, and really play up to what you think your client will be impressed by. If they want it to auto play and bypass a menu altogether, then give them that.
Finally, once your job is complete, keep at it! Keep marketing yourself and your services whenever possible, every day if need be. The only time you should take a break from it is while you’re working for a client, either on location or in the editing suite. But the most important thing you can do here is keep it up! If you don’t let up, neither will your business. It really helps to get some book keeping software at some point to, because you WILL get more clients and jobs than you can keep track of in notepad, believe me.
Good luck, and happy shooting!