Sunday, July 29, 2012

Diversification STILL Critical to Video Business Survival

There are logical exceptions to most any claim, rule or philosophy but independent professional video services providers who fail to diversify are making their business life much more difficult than necessary. Sure, you can specialize, establish yourself, a solid brand and even succeed in the video business, working ONLY weekends and producing ONLY weddings. This is certainly the most acceptable form of video business for those holding down regular weekday employment and seeking to slowly extend their reach, develop their business and brand.

It often works well for those who have established a solid referral system, maintained a reasonable price/perceived value position in the industry and have engaged in an ongoing marketing program that keeps them in the bridal community loop. If you, however, are one of myriad independent videographers fighting over that 20 percent or so of the bridal market that actually WANTS a video of their ceremony and related events, you’re finding it a tough go trying to build your business and stay busy in an overwhelmingly saturated market, much less be or stay profitable.

Many variables come into play here. You’re a young family man or woman with a family to support and kids to raise. You HAVE to hold down your day job because it’s the cushion you rely upon to help until your video business gets established. You’re wife may, or not, also be employed and that brings about other responsibilities such as who is cooking tonight, who picks up the kids at school, takes them to dance or piano lessons, soccer or baseball games, swimming lessons. And how about when you want some quiet quality time with the spouse, or family time with the whole bunch?

Wedding production may very well be all you can, or want to handle. Weekend work that you can control by accepting bookings (if you’re getting the calls or inquiries and referrals) only on dates you want to work, occasionally working a bridal fair or other event that gets you exposure to the wedding community.  You’re in control, and sometimes your spouse is right there beside you, helping, working and even enjoying it.

Or, you could overbook, overwork yourself and/or your wife or husband, wind up with an overwhelming editing backlog, over-extend yourself financially trying to keep up with the latest technology and soon to become equipment standard, painted yourself into a corner that takes up all your former family or free time in order to try and stay afloat with all the productions sitting there, on the shelf, making you feel guilty in any number of ways. Usually, unfortunately, you’ve been competing on price and have not been bringing in enough to warrant the 40 or so hours you require to edit a wedding video masterpiece. Editing becomes a chore, no longer fun, and being especially creative with your work eats into the time you used to spend with family, friends, kids and yourself. You even start outsourcing your editing but that eats into the already small markup you have on your time and work, and one day you come to the realization you’re very close to burnout, personal/professional failure or going out of business.

If you DO have it all under control and are happy with how things are going for you in your wedding video production business, read no further. If you are REALLY happy doing weddings, enjoy the creative rush and have NO problem staying up all hours, missing the Little League playoffs or dance recitals (and your spouse has no problem with you having no problems) then by all means, Spielberg stay the path.

Diversification, however, can be the path to fewer ulcers, divorces, litigation, long and late nights eating junk food and editing. Diversification can offer you the change-up that variety provides, easing the pressure and workload while adding to the bottom line, usually quicker and in fewer hours.

AND, if you’ve been into video production on a full-time basis for a year or longer because you need the weekdays to edit, market, make and receive calls, book appointments with prospective brides and grooms (who usually want to meet with you in the evening, at a coffee shop or restaurant), maintain equipment, attend rehearsals and all the other stuff that goes with being a potentially successful wedding video production professional or specialist ... did I say “edit”? Then, diversification will be the best thing that ever happened to you.

Diversification offers both part- and full-time videographers an opportunity to further control their workload, commitment to family and get back the personal life they once enjoyed but had to give up for the sake of the business, or their sanity.

Anyone who MUST continue doing weddings because they’re addicted to them, love them, WANT to do them, PREFER to do them, can balance the load by doing fewer weddings and doing them at a more profitable price point. HOW? By having the option to turn down the low-ballers and tire kickers, those people who have NO real, educated perceived value for what you do, and accept ONLY the higher paying gigs because throughout any given week you’ve got a couple of montages, a funeral video gig, or if you are one of those ‘euuu, dead people’ people, there are dance recitals often held on thursdays, community and school drama performances often held on Wednesdays or Thursdays, daytime events ranging from school and community sports programs and nighttime events ranging from soccer and baseball to swimming competitions and more.

The concept of work once, sell many, often provides the same, or more, income as an average wedding but usually with an investment of one-quarter the time from shoot to delivery.

Consider expanding your services and production range and committing to the marketing and advertising needed to expand your business and its bottom line while reclaiming some of your personal life, family time and sanity. Be in a position to take gig that occur during the week, or even weekend gigs that require less investment of time for shooting as well as editing.

Check out my series of How-To books: “They Shoot Funerals, Don’t They: Complete Guide to Funeral Video Production & Marketing,” “Seven Ways to Make Money with Video,” (Book I, of a planned multi-book series, also in ePub and PDF), “Make Money Marketing & Producing Photo Montages: The Complete Guide” and the business marketing, branding and promotional program-in-a-book “Video StoryTellers!™ Productions.”

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

No comments: