Monday, November 09, 2009

A Newcomer Wants to Know

Hello Blog Follower...

I know you didn't intend for it to be, but your "how many jobs (gigs) should I take on" question is a bit open ended, and could be answered with a simple, or complex response. I am known throughout the circles of my readers, followers AND detractors, for writing MORE than most of them want to read; for writing LONG answers for what they perceive only needs SHORT responses - T.M.I one person recently responded. But I try to be detailed and definitive when people ask me questions.


OK, the simple answer is if you acquire one gig a month that covers your fiscal needs then, well One Gig a Month. I'm not trying to be coy, but if you only need $2k, give or take, a month to be comfortable, there are numerous gigs that can bring that amount.

More realistically, let's say your gigs average $500 for a 2-3 hour effort, then FOUR jobs a month should do you well. The thing is, in my arena where I do a LOT of memorial montage & projection gigs and have carved a huge niche for myself in the funeral video production business (a vastly under served market for video IMHO) - any given gig of this nature can bring me business on ANY given day.

Since it is feast or famine in this business, I take what I can when it's there, and use my downtime for other pursuits - fiction/non-fiction writing, research, personal projects and marketing. But for example last week, after about six weeks of NOTHING, I had a gig a day for six-days-in-a-row, all of them funeral and/or memorial montage & projection, picking up nearly $600 a day. Sounds like a lot (or a little in some circles) but a $3,600 week is cool to me.

This week I have ONE scheduled gig, but several inquiries and a number of them could come through by the end of the week.

I am telling you this to point out that you will have an ebb and flow of business, and you need to think more of the slow months so that you are in the right perspective when business IS available and not turn away something simply because you're "gold" for the moment. There will be lean times, so if you are in this full time then working two gigs a week on average (as often as you can) that bring in say a grand a week, will take care of your estimated financial needs and offer a pad you can fall back on during the lean weeks - and there WILL be lean weeks. Trust me.

So, shoot for two gigs of some kind a week.

Depending on the extent of your initial business focus: if you are working with mostly events held by individuals or small groups then errors and omissions insurance or liability insurance is probably not THAT critical. I do recommend that you carry both at your earliest ability. If you are careful you will rarely need it but poop happens and you will appreciate the peace of mind having insurance brings. Also, you really should cover your equipment for theft or natural disasters - fire, flood, etc. So, you're looking at something like at least a couple grand a year (if you shop around) for basic coverage of these three types. You'll need to divide that up by 12 to see what you need to add to your $2K "get by" estimate.

Think seriously about health insurance, especially if you have youth and health on your side - the older you get, and the eventuality of developing something that makes you either uninsurable or prohibitively expense to insure: diabetes, heart disease, etc. Premiums for you now will be less, and then you ARE covered when/if health disaster strikes unexpectedly. At your age and given good health you should be able to find something in the $300 and up zone that you can pay for, live with and have further peace of mind about. Trust me, a guy with BOTH diabetes AND a heart condition - at age 60 I am uninsurable, and Obama's designs on health care reform are not going to come into play early enough to bail me out either. So, I live day-by-day, try to remain healthy, and work as hard as I can to develop a financial buffer that might serve me in worsening health times.

I think the marketing plan(s) outlined in my blog articles are sound, and well-thought-out, practical and effective. I really believe that a person could adapt these principles for their business model and efforts and come out ahead. So, unless you read/see/find something that makes MORE sense, then my advice is probably just as good a place to start as any other.

The industry IS absolutely changing AND growing, but in ways that many of the old-timers are not going to be able, or inclined to keep up with. Video will rapidly transition from hard copy delivery - BluRay, high def or standard def delivery on DVD media, even tape in some instances, hard drive, thumb drive or solid state SDHC cards are going to bow (within mine and your lifetimes) to delivery over the internet. As people already download and record, deliver for worldwide collaborative editing projects, upload, share, stream, etc. this method of delivery and use of video will grow immensely. It will do to hard media what cassette did to 4-track; CD did to cassette; digital did to VHS analog; DVD did to tape; et al. The future of video is on the net, trust me.

In my book I will be including a couple of chapters on what I am currently doing to take advantage of this arena of video production. More and more people are going to want/demand internet delivery, although for some years into the future some might continue to want a "backup" on one of the above-mentioned mediums. Yes, your video business future is and will be web centric. Web content and live streaming...get on NOW while you can be among the front-runners, instead of waiting just because shooting, editing and delivering on DVD/BluRay events and standard gigs is easy money. It will be going away sooner rather than later, I am sad to say. YouStream and LiveStream (formerly Mogulus) are good places to hedge your bets.

The "other" things you should know about already IMHO exist - standard day-to-day celebratory events. The funerals and memorials and projection gigs I mentioned earlier. These are the potential daily cash-flow areas that will keep something coming in while/when you're developing, marketing or working your web-related services and honing your skills there. I cannot really see, or imagine much beyond this point in the future but flexibility and diversity are important factors in a video-related business IMHO - be aware, read up constantly, look, listen and study, watch the market, when you hear about something for the first time check it out, see if it offers you something to work with, then plan and jump on it before it becomes totally mainstream.

ALSO, look around you for markets that are NOT being adequately served, or overlooked by the majority of independent video services providers (funerals and memorial montages/projection for example - they're not for everybody but they're making ME MONEY!). I'm not the ewwww or squeamish type when it comes to blood, or dead people. Guess 30 years in the news reporting business, doing coverage on murders, rapes, robberies, trials and more have given me a thick ewwwwwless skin and mind. :-)


Turnaround time for me depends on the complexity of the project.
Weddings? A week to 10 days.
Celebratory events? 2-3 days.
Funerals? 3-5 days.
Montages for memorials? less than 48 hours from receipt of materials.
Commercial productions? Whatever time line is established and agreed upon. If I can meet or beat a 30, 60, 90 or one-year contracted time line I will. There's often a bonus built in for me, for early deliver, meeting progressive points along the way, or coming in under budget. I try to play that to my fiscal advantage, but never to the exclusion of the quality of the product - I ALWAYS will deliver MORE than promised or expected. This keeps my clients returning year-after-year and a reasonable expectation of renewable business and referrals.


Essentially, deliver fast, price reasonable and create good-to-great product. Believe me the word will get out and a major portion of your business future will be referral based. Develop relationships within the circles of the business you want to pursue; be it weddings, destination sites/venues, real estate, working for non-profits.

Regarding non-profits, due to the nature of their roles in society NPs are looking for the MOST they can get for the least outlay. But by and large they have gotten money, do have budgets and unless you want to develop a reputation for being an easy mark, charge something for your efforts. Otherwise it will be like when I send in a donation to various charities - Veterans groups, Children hospitals, burn clinics, cancer groups, Alzheimer's groups, etc. I am flooded for years to come with monthly mailings and e-mails seeking donations, even asking for specific amounts. Not my way of giving. I give what I want when I want and can, and quickly turn away from those who are spending too much IMHO for the paraphernalia they send me seeking more. Nuff said.

You've got some reading material here, should give you some things to ponder. Stay in touch. Remember, if you market, you will make it! © 2009, Earl Chessher, E.C. Come, E.C. Go

1 comment:

Mason said...

Just stumbled onto your site and want to say thank you! The information you provide is so vast and overwhelming. I'm debating on staring my own side business doing videos and media marketing. Thanks again and Happy New Year!