Video production is an up-and-coming industry. There has always been a niche for individuals who excel at video production, but with the uptick in companies running video ads, content creators in need of video assistance, and other aspects of our digital media ecosystem, there has never been a better time to start a video production company.
The best part of starting a video production company is that you do not have to go to school or get any special training. All you need is some aesthetic vision, business smarts, and an eye for captivating video products.
If you are a creative individual and get your satisfaction from making art, then a career in video production might be for you. So to help you out, we put together this comprehensive guide on how to start a video production company from scratch.
How Much Can You Earn as a Video Producer?
Like with most creatively-focused careers, there is a huge range in earnings for video producers. Some people do video production just as a side gig and might pull in a few hundred extra a month while top-of-the-line professional video production companies can easily clear six figures and more, depending on the clientele and projects they receive.
According to Zippia, the average annual salary for video producers in the US is about $58,121, which comes out to $27.94 per hour. This is an average figure and might be skewed by outliers that make significantly more or less.
The good thing about video production is that you can do it just as a side hustle or you can create a full-scale video production company. There is a lot of flexibility in the career.
Starting a Video Production Company from Scratch
1.Think About a Production Niche
Like most kinds of businesses, you will be successful with a video production company if you choose a specific niche to work in. Video production ranges all over the gamut and there are several different styles depending on what your client’s needs are.
Common niches in the video production company could include things like
- Educational pieces
- Advertising video
- Webinar videos
- Content production
- Short films
- Music videos
The types of video production niches are as numerous as the number of videos out there. One way to narrow down a niche is to think about the kinds of videos that you like to watch and would want to create.
Do you watch a lot of educational content? Or maybe you enjoy watching short entertainment videos or music videos. Picking a video niche that you are already familiar with will help give you ideas and also give some guidance on what kinds of projects to pursue.
2.Find Your Equipment (Buy Vs Rent)
If you are running a video production company, obviously you will need some equipment. Common equipment pieces you will need to include the basics like cameras, microphones, lighting, boom stands, and camera lenses. There is also various software you will need like video editing software and publishing software.
Despite what you might think, you do not necessarily need to buy everything before you start creating videos. You can opt for equipment rentals at first.
In fact, when you are just starting out and revenue might not be very high, it might be more economical in the short run to rent equipment on a per-project basis rather than invest in equipment upfront.
Here are a couple of resources for renting camera and related video equipment:
These resources let you rent individual and bundle camera equipment and have it shipped to your door or pick it up from a nearby location.
Video equipment rental can run you anywhere between $100-$1000+ for a few hours. Often, these kinds of rental companies will give you a discount if you rent multiple pieces of equipment at once.
We would highly recommend researching rentals if you do not have any video equipment before dropping a few thousand on cameras, tripods, lighting booms, etc.
However, eventually, you will need to buy your own equipment. A decent, mid-range video camera that is good for video production can cost anywhere between $1,000-$4,000. Some high-end cameras can get up to $10,000+.
Other pieces of equipment that you will need to buy and the average price of them include:
- Tripods – $75-$200 each
- Lighting Kits – $100-$500
- Microphones – $100-$1,000
- Backdrops – $150-$500
As you can see, costs for these pieces of equipment can vary dramatically depending on the quality. Based on our estimations, a decent, mid-grade production studio will cost about $2,000-$4,000 to get started up.
Higher grade studios will come in around $7,000-$10,000+. If you do not have much cash on hand, you could get a working low-budget studio up and running for <$1,000 if you are thrifty and smart with your purchases.
3.Pick Video Production Software
Picking the physical hardware is just the beginning. You also need to pick the right video production software. Without some kind of production software, you won’t be able to actually edit and piece together the video from the raw footage that you capture.
Video editing software will allow you to upload raw footage, splice cuts together, adjust sound levels and sync audio, and add after-effects and post-processing effects. In many ways, the production process is where a video gets its heart and soul.
Like equipment, video editing and production software can vary dramatically in price depending on what suite of tools you get. Most video editing tools are licensed products and you can pay for different levels of services.
Basic software services that allow for editing, modifying audio, transition, and other simple techniques can cost between $50-$100 while high-end professional software can cost several hundred and even thousands of dollars.
- User interface. The user interface is the way that the user interacts with the editing software. Good user interfaces strike the right balance between complexity and intuitive layouts.
- Input formats. Input formats are extremely important as they determine what kinds of video files can interface with the software. Most modern editing software has wide compatibility with several video file types, including MP4, MOV, AVI, or WMV.
- Editing tools. You should be able to make cuts, join footage, splice video, and move around fairly easily with the editing tool Many types of video software use a simple drag and drop editor so you can arrange clips, make cuts, and adjust sound levels.
- Transitions. Standard cuts are a feature for all editing and production software, but some products offer interesting and unique transition effects to jump between cuts.
- SFX. Special effects and post-processing effects are an important part of any video project. Things like filters, graphics, lettering, and coloring effects can add style and aesthetic vision.
- Output and distribution. Most modern editing software allows you to cut and publish videos from the same place. Video output can be in physical form like a DVD or in digital file form.
Ultimately, the right kind of video editing software depends on your specific needs and how complex of a project you are working on. Here are some popular video editing software packages:
- Adobe Premiere Pro
- CyberLink PowerDirector
- Pinnacle Studio
- Magix Movie Edit Pro
- Apple Final Cut Pro
4.Get Some Experience
Now that you have all the tools for the trade, you need to get some actual editing experience under your belt. The best way to get some experience with video editing is by actually doing it. You can make a few videos on your own to showcase your skills and practice with the editing software.
You can also offer project services for free to get your foot in the door with clients. Most clients would be more than willing to pay for services if you show them some samples of good work.
If you know any friends who need video work performed, then now would be the time to ask them. You can also troll around job boards and message boards or create an ad for your services on something like Craigslist.
When you are first trying to get clients, don’t worry about asking them to pay you at first; just take a project to create something tangible and build loyalty. Pretty much every creative career requires some free work as an audition at the star, and video production is no different.
5.Make a Digital Portfolio and Market Yourself
Once you have some samples together, you can put them together into a professional portfolio so clients can see examples of your work. A digital portfolio is basically a gallery of work you feel best shows off your talents and skills to clients.
If you make a digital portfolio, make sure that you are only filling it with your best work. Client’s won’t really care how much work you have done if none of it is good. Making a digital portfolio usually involves creating a website or some kind of webpage. There are a ton of free services for creating digital portfolios, including:
You can also use an application like Squarespace or Wix to create your own website with a custom domain that is your business name.
Once you have a digital portfolio ready to go, make sure you share that thing and put the links everywhere clients can see. Put it in your emails, social media profiles, and don’t hesitate to send the link to prospective clients. The more professional your portfolio, the more likely clients are to hire you.
Social media is a particularly good method of self-marketing as you can create and share videos you made yourself as a form of advertising your services and capabilities.
7.Hire Extra Help
Initially, you should be able to handle most aspects of filming and production on your own. However, as you pick up more clients and your projects get more complex and expansive, you will most likely need to hire extra hands to help out.
The most common positions you might need to hire are a camera operator, a boom mic operator, and someone to run and check audio while filming. If you are super strapped for help but don’t have the funds to hire full-time help, one option is to outsource some tasks to freelancers.
Freelancers can help with small details on projects such as syncing audio, doing voiceovers, editing projects you don’t have personal time to work on, or hiring a motion or computer graphics design specialist. Websites like Upwork, Furu, and Elance are teeming with freelancers eager to help out.
(Note: Keep in mind that if you hire freelancers, then you have to remember to report what you pay them to the IRS at the end of the year!)
8.Grow and Scale
Once you have a solid baseline and clients, the next step is to scale operations and grow. A particularly good investment is to upgrade your equipment once you have the funds so you can continually improve the quality of video projects you can provide.
The most efficient video production companies are the ones that know their niche back and forth and have a key format that works and is locked down with clients.
Video production is a growing career in today’s fast-paced digital ecosystem and there has never been a better time to start a video production company. Video production is a great idea as it allows you to flex your creative muscle and make something unique.
You can start a video production company as a small side hustle or you can turn it into a full-time gig. The best part is that you don’t have to have any special education or training. So if you are a creative individual and want to make movies for a living, then video production might be your calling.
Ruben has been doing online marketing for the last 4 years. Prior to that, he spent 15 years managing different brick-and-mortar businesses, in the home improvement and logistics industries. Overall, he has 20 years of business experience under his belt. Recently, he added SEO, affiliate marketing, and link building to his business skills.