Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Three Steps to Making More Money with Video


I average $300 a week producing music/photo video montages.

I’ve been doing these for years now and have honed the process down to the point where, if I had three of them a day, I could easily create these productions and still have time to take care of other business, enjoy getting out, reading a good book or even occasionally going to bed early.

I have three basic creative montage levels, each of them offering a different approach to the standard montage production, or a mix of one, two or all three, depending on the number of images used and music selection length.

The GREAT thing about producing montages and offering a range of creativity is that I can start with a really GREAT product at an affordable and popular price level, then ramp up with other elements that many clients are willing to pay extra for.

The Complete Guide to Photo/Music Montage Marketing and Production will be released this year. Watch for announcements here, and on Twitter and Facebook, as well as several video related forums where I participate.


I average $500 a week, spread out annually, in Funeral and Memorial Video Productions. After quite a few months of developing direct-mail letters, DVD samples and direct-mail post cards, I’ve managed to generate good relationships with a number of funeral/mortuary/cemetery establishments, funeral officiants and church officials. Many of these now use my services as their preferred/referred vendor for end of life, celebration of life and memorial video production needs.

While developing this business program can be a challenge, it is absolutely a do’er and anyone putting some effort into developing a valid funeral and memorial video production service can average $25,000 or more a year. Combined with memorial photo video montage production services, an independent video services provider can average $40,000 or more a year, working alone and full-time.

The book that tells you how: “They Shoot Funerals, Don’t They” is now available and has received solid reviews for its quality and content. It truly has everything you need to know, including real-life stories, forms, direct-mail examples and more. Check it out today at http://lulu.com/spotlight/Earl and order this resource publication that will help you approach a seriously under served market with confidence.


I average $10,000 a year with easy-to-produce, basic wedding video productions that don’t eat up all my spare time, weekends and holidays or make me pull my hair out during a 60-hour editing marathon.

You can be a video artist or essentially an independent wedding video businessperson and make good money without having to work as hard as some in the wedding video production business do. You just have to learn how to keep a firm balance between your Michelangelo and “Business-angelo” sides, focusing on good shooting, editing and production techniques that don’t take you 40 hours, several weeks, months or years to deliver.

There are many in the 80 percent wedge of the bridal community pie who don’t even WANT a wedding video, who could be convinced if the price, services, turnaround time and quality were more in line with their budgets, their expectations and their real video production needs.

Instead of fighting over the 20 percent or so group of brides who are sold on video and want it, and sometimes will do whatever it takes to get it, take a stab at convincing that HUGE other source they might like to have a video production of their wedding event after all.

The Basic Guide to Profitable Wedding Video Marketing and Production will provide you with some concepts that are already in play but either over used or under delivered, along with several approaches that are overlooked by many in the wedding video production industry. This valuable video business resource will be released this year. Watch for announcements here, and on Twitter and Facebook, as well as several video related forums where I participate.

Remember: If you market, you will make it © 2011 Earl Chessher

Another GREAT resource for video ideas, tools, marketing hints and suggestions is In the Viewfinder, a video business blog by Jay Michael Long of JML Multimedia, Mississippi. Check him out at http://intheviewfinder.blogspot.com

Also, check out Bill Mecca’s popular Video Quick Tips series, a LOT of good, easy, quick and affordable approaches to improving your video production abilities.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Why I’m a Video StoryTellers!™ Associate

by Jim Nicholson

When Earl invited me to write a brief article for his blog about Video StoryTellers!™ (VST) I immediately wondered if it would be possible. I know I can type a few lines but that would be the challenge. He made it perfectly clear the article had to be objective, unbiased, truthful, and for my sins it was to be written using proper grammar.

All kidding aside, I knew I would have a hard time with the “unbiased” condition. Having been involved with Earl on the ground floor of VST makes it very hard to be unbiased but I’ll try my best.

I first discussed VST with Earl some time ago. As a newbie at that time in the video profession I found myself turning to Earl often to learn and gain lots from his years of experience both as a business person and also in the field of video production. We tend to talk too much on the phone but for me that’s OK because I feel I always come away with more from the conversation anyway.

We happened to be speaking about one of my usual issues with video and after I was done beating myself over the head for missing the usual easy solution that Earl was always willing to provide me with, we got off on a side conversation, as we do many times. It was about VST and Earl was in a groove for sure. As we talked I started to envision possibilities for my company if I were to give VST a whirl, and like we often do, we fed each other many scenarios about what a VST business could do for someone like me. I was trying to build a video business in a down market and it looked to me like VST would fit right into a need I had to get something rolling. I agreed to give it a whirl.

I may be a little different from others looking at VST because I may not be the sharpest tool in the shed. I will let my love of video lead me, and although I know I need to earn with my business, when something comes along like VST that I feel strongly about I tend to let my love for video take over. That being said, I jumped in with all three feet. From the beginning I knew I was going to take VST through a wide range of possibilities, utilizing a number of different marketing formats. I tend to always see the big picture and find myself focusing in on specifics later. VST was no different and I compiled a long list of situations where I could present it to the public.

Nursing homes were the first because I think that was Earl’s first thoughts and I agreed. Having been around nursing homes since my wife works at a very large one, it was very clear to me that the residents love to talk and tell stories. I can remember one Halloween, we took our two-year-old grandson to the nursing home for trick or treat. Every year they go crazy for the local kids with dressing up and handing out candy. The whole complex is into it. This one is roughly 100-plus acres so that is loads of candy, but it relates to a ton of residents too.

As we made our way through the halls and candy stations that were set up where the residents were sitting in full costumes with boxes of candy, handing it out, it became clear to me these guys love to tell stories. It was impossible to stop for candy and not have to stand and listen to several stories the residents would share from tales of their trick and treating as kids, to little tales of what happened that day as “Joe was trying to get his mask on and scared his cat with it.” These were all their important personal stories, and believe me we were not leaving that area until we listened and acknowledged we understood that.

What’s my story?
My story is that VST has some teeth in it. The older population is a great place to start. I did run into a few hurdles trying to get past those dreaded gate keepers when I tried to set up a VST session in this very same nursing home. I thought I was a shoe in since my wife worked there and was a trusted employee for 11 years. This is when I found out that people responsible for these residents are very cautious because so many scammers have robbed this population. It becomes part of the social director’s job to protect the residents.

At first I was a little bummed, thinking I was looked upon as a possible scammer, but if you think about it they really do need to protect these folks. My next move was to find a way in, a work-around for the gate keepers. It became a challenge for me to accomplish this. I know Earl has tips for this but I can share how I did it. I used a “side door” approach.

This nursing home has many separate clubs for the residents. I found one that I was familiar with, a train club. They have weekly meetings and a public open house once a month. I chose to attend and I sought out the head honcho and just being me I started talking about the trains. I wonder if you can guess what happened next. In case not, this guy started telling me one story after another. If I’d had my camera I could have shot those stories and completed a session right then and there. We did talk about VST and when I left I had the contact number for the president, and all it took was a call to get the word to them.

I tend to run into things, and if I’m alert (to the possibilities) I grab onto them and run with them. This is what happened when I was shooting a demo for my website. I have a friend in his 70s who just happened to work at Three Mile Island atomic power plant in Pennsylvania, back during the meltdown scare. He was actually on shift when it happened. I’d heard many stories from him in the past about it, so when I needed a demo I naturally asked him. He jumped at the chance to tell his story and I shot my demo.

When I had it all ready and on DVD, of course I gave him a copy. He watched it with his wife that night and the next morning my phone was ringing. Ron was so excited. He could not believe he was on a DVD. You might say he was star struck. He wanted to know if I could make him a number of copies for his family. I told him I would have to charge him for the copies and he was totally OK with that. Here’s where I ran into another idea for VST.

I was joking with him because he was so excited. I said Ron, now that you’re a star you need to sell these videos. He came right back and said, “I know. I wanted to ask you about that.” Here is another opportunity for VST stories. If you run into one that is out of the ordinary, and you will, it can be sold and your business can make a tidy little profit. You can offer marketing help in the form of a marketing package where you charge a fee for getting the production out onto the Web and either you can package deal a shopping cart or help them do it if they’re computer savvy. This is not confined to older people. This can work for anyone. Ron has sold hundreds of copies, all that I duplicated for him. What started as a demo turned into a tidy sum for my business.

Since I started with VST I tend to listen for stories and I’ve not had any trouble finding these special ones. I just found one last week while talking to a painting contractor appraiser. He was writing my estimate and in general chitchat he started telling me of his home in Brazil, and proceeded to tell me a story of how eight of 10 people at some point in their lives there are robbed by drug or other gangs. He told me of the time he was robbed in his house with his wife and kids there. To skip right to the end, one of the robbers seemed very bothered by the deed, he told me. The homeowner said to him if he did not hurt his family God would forgive him.

Later on, roughly a year later, he met this same person in a church. After talking to him, he learned right after the man had robbed him he’d remembered the statement about being forgiven. He sought out a church and now was a beneficial member helping other gang bangers to give up crime and seek the church. The whole story was very moving. This is a true VST story. One that can easily be sold and could be targeted to a church-related market.

The biggest thing you need to come to grips with is you MUST LISTEN to people when you talk to them. I think so often we’re in such a hurry that we converse with people to be polite but we do not really listen to them. If you listen, VST will gleam with possibilities and that equates to profits for your business. I can fill this blog with ways to make VST work for you. The key word is “work”. You must work it for it to work for you. It is a two-way street and does require commitment. If you’re like me and love to talk, or listen to other people’s stories, VST is just part of who you are. It can be an extension of your personality. If you’re alert (to the possibilities) and if you listen, the rest falls into place.

There are so many possibilities with VST I’ve not touched on. Fairs, libraries, schools and veterans. One of my passions is the fact that so many veterans from WWII, Korea and now Vietnam have so many stories to tell. Their stories are really bits of history and as they pass away their part of that history is lost forever. I have run into many of these while doing other work and I see they are VST stories. There can be a link made to schools and education too.

I had an editing job before VST was known to me. I had a client that had made a video of a friend who was the owner of the business he worked at. This fellow was a WWII veteran and he was retiring so the office staff decided they needed to get his story on videotape and turn it into a nice video for him. I was hired to produce it. I guess you can say this was a VST job before I started with VST. I edited and cleaned up the footage the best I could since I did not shoot it, and produced a DVD.

While the project was at the duplicators, I got a call and was asked if Charlie, the WWII veteran, would mind if his DVD was used by a local school for history class. The teacher who was a friend of the fellow who duplicated my order at the time asked if she could use the DVD in her history class. I duplicate my own DVDs now, but you can see where this was headed. Not only is VST a story for the owner but can be marketed to any organization that deals with history. I guess you can tell I like this side of VST.

I promised Earl I would be brief but I find it hard to be brief when there are so many possibilities with VST. I have not even scratched the surface yet and I think it would be a long time before I could exhaust every way I can make VST work for me. Darn, that nasty word again: “Work!”

Editor’s note: Jim Nicholson is the owner and operator of Nicholson Video Productions, www.nicholsonvidproductions.com and is an independent professional video services provider operating throughout the New England region, as well as the southern states, including Florida. He is an original member of the Video StoryTellers!™ associates group.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

How Much Do You Love Doing Weddings?

Tell me again, how much you LOVE doing weddings. Tell me how “easy” they are to market, videotape, edit and produce. Tell me you NEVER experience frustration, burnout or other cycles of mental fatigue as a result of too many (or too few) weddings over non-specified periods of time.

And tell me again why it is that you focus all your energy (part time or full) on marketing, acquiring, bidding or begging for them; spend hours of your lives each year preparing for, schlepping equipment to and working weekend bridal fairs; buying vendor, DJ, wedding planner or photographer lunches; constantly revising and updating your website, website samples and related marketing materials such as business cards, brochures, full-production demo DVDs; why you spend all that time, energy and money to produce (what? maybe?) a couple of $2K wedding events a weekend?

Why are you working 10, 12 or more hours on a Friday, Saturday and/or Sunday, attending pre-event rehearsals where absolutely NOTHING that is rehearsed happens the WAY it was rehearsed at the actual event? Why are you bargaining with the bride and groom who KNOW they WANT a wedding video (some of you call it, your productions, “film” even though not one second of your work is actually produced on FILM) but do not value it enough to not haggle with you on price, or attempt to get you to “match” a price given them by their cousin who just got a consumer camcorder for Christmas?

Why are you putting in 20, 40 or 100 or more hours editing what has become a “labor of love” (REALLY?); spending time devising replies as to why the production hasn’t been delivered as promised? Why was it promised (in some cases even I used to make a four-week delivery guarantee “or your money back” to set me apart from my competition.) in weeks, months or years, only to take months, years or NEVER to get done?

Why are you taking on more, advertising and marketing for MORE business when you cannot even begin to reduce your current backlog; when you fight that endless vicious cycle of burnout, frustration and LIFE, juggling a REAL or full time job, family, illness, and all that beautiful, warm, wonderful and fabulous wedding video editing with all those kind, considerate, loving, patient, unassuming brides breathlessly waiting for months, even years, to see their video? Why all this, at no profit whatsoever; all this expense and work for an underpaid, under-appreciated production that has created ulcers, caused prominent headaches and sometimes divorce or failing partnerships?

Why are you putting forth all this effort, money, time and uncompensated hours of fast food, dirty coffee cups or empty RedBull cans, and battling against a HUGE, HUGELY competitive market where EVERY person with a camcorder, if nothing more, is attempting to claim a sniff, a smell, a touch, much less an actual TASTE, of the roughly 22 percent wedge of the bridal community pie that actually WANTS a video (er, uh, “film”) of what so many of us remind them is “The most important event of your life!”?

Diversify! Expand your focus. Even if you’re ONLY a weekend warrior (or “worryier”) putting in evenings and weekends in an effort to get your productions delivered, there’s millions more birthday, anniversary and milestone event celebrations held on a daily basis than there are weddings. The pie is much larger and I can assure you that the size of the business pie wedge of people who will pay reasonable fees for quality audio/video productions is is HUGE compared to the roughly 22 percent wedding video business wedge.

And if you’re full time. WOW! Think of the shorter, quicker, easier, less complicated, higher profit generating events you can now market and acquire!

Wedding video production is BAD?

No! But a part time or full time independent video production business based on a blend of wedding gigs you WANT and can be selective about accepting based on profitability rather than bargain basement competition (yes, YOU accepting instead of the other way around), combined with the awesome amount of potential event video production business held OUT THERE on a daily basis is a much less severe and overwhelming crunch on your bottom line and the life you try to live between gigs.

Remember: If you market, you will make it! © 2000 - 2011 Earl Chessher

P.S. Well, saw where my Marketing Challenge had no takers. Good to know that business is booming for everybody but me ;-)