‘What should I Charge for Video Projects?’
Posted May 6th, 2021 by Elisabeth
I get asked this question a lot from my former underwater video students, so let’s have a look into ‘What should I Charge for Video Projects?’
So you have done a video course with me at Oceans Below. You invested in a nice camera, some good lenses and an expensive housing. You have spent a long time learning the art of underwater video, and you know what you are doing. Now, you are ready to take on a real paid job in underwater video production.
But, what do you charge?
If you ask other videographers, and check online, you will get many different answers. On top of that, many customers will just tell you what your services are worth to them or promise you “great exposure”.
The real answer, however, is very personal. I can give you a little bit of a guideline to help you calculate what you should charge, but it will never be exact. Hopefully, this can help you to explain the fees you are charging to potential customers.
The first things you need to take into account are your dive and underwater camera gear, travel expenses (if necessary), dive fees/boat space, tank fills, the time you spend on your computer editing (if that is part of the project), etc. Once all of this has been arrived at, you can begin to calculate how much your underwater video and editing services are worth.
Calculating your time’s worth
This is always the biggest question and it changes from person to person. If you take on a new project requiring you to devote all your time to a single customer, you need to have an idea of what your time is worth.
Your time is important. It not only represents all the hard work you’ve put in so far for your dive training, underwater video and skillful editing; but it also represents the avenues of other work that you’re missing out on by taking on this particular job.
Oftentimes, underwater videographers charge per half day or full day for a project. I think somewhere between 200 USD and 500 USD/day is acceptable, depending on the size of the project and the area you are working. This should not include camera gear, travel expenses, food, hotels or any other fees that you incur along the way. This number is purely for your time.
Calculating your gear’s worth
In today’s professional video market, many videographers must provide their own camera and gear for shoots. If you’re taking on an underwater video project that requires you to film with your own equipment, don’t forget that all that costs money too. So make sure you account for it in your final offer. One of the easiest ways to find a good rate to charge for your cameras is to simply check prices from a local online rental shop.
Calculating other gear
Along with a camera, you’ll need to find a price that reflects the rest of the gear you’re including. If your client is asking for specific things like recording audio or drone shots, make sure to include these costs in your quote. Price it as if you were going to rent it.
The biggest mistake of most professional underwater videographers is not including things like travel and expenses. For those who are just starting out, there’s a tendency to work for cheap (if not for free). Often, there is pressure from potential clients looking for cheap services. Other times it’s because you feel inclined to just ‘get your foot in the door’ and start working. Resist the temptation to undervalue your services. It can be difficult to ever raise your rates in the future and keep current business. Doing things cheap, or at your own expense, won’t help you in the long run.
Travel can be a big one. Not only are you talking about time spent flying or driving to shoots, but also paying for extra luggage, hotels and train/boat tickets. In addition to charging your client for all of the fixed costs of travel, a good rule of thumb is to also charge 50% of your daily rate for any travel days. This should be enough to cover food, drinks and incidentals.
Calculating your editing time
If you’re working on a project that involves both shooting and editing (or just editing for that matter), pricing your time is just as important when working at the computer. While you may have to bargain sometimes to get the contract, be careful not to undercut your daily rate by too much. You will likely be tempted to discount larger jobs that require more editing days. This is acceptable and expected. Also, make clear how many revisions are included in the price. It can be frustrating when a client points out a few desired changes after the first cut, only to then keep sending the project back for further and further revisions.
You can be flexible, but the best way to make sure everyone is clear on each other’s expectations, is to be up-front about what exactly you charge for the project. Even making just one small change and exporting out a new video may take over an hour.
Your best bet is to set a daily rate for video editing. Anywhere between 70 USD to 150 USD per day. Or if you prefer, you can simply set a block rate of 100 or 200 USD per video (depending on the length of the video).
Revise your prices
Finally, review your prices periodically. As you progress as a videographer/editor, it is normal to raise your rates. People are willing to pay for quality. I can’t tell you how many times I have ‘lost’ jobs on price only to have the customer returning to me saying that they had wasted their money on someone with less experience, poorer equipment or could not produce the desired results.
Feel free to ask me for any advice for your underwater video projects! Hopefully, this guideline helps you to determine how much you should be charging for your customers’ projects.
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Photo & Video Training FAQs
- Build a great portfolio! Create a great demo reel and show your skills.
- Network. Go out there and shake hands and have face-to-face time with potential customers and meet other production company videographers.
- Use social media: Social media is one of the best ways to promote your video productions. It takes a lot of time and effort though, but it’s a great way to connect with potential customers. Engage with your clients and add some promotions in there.
- Alway produce great quality. Making your client happy about the work you’ve accomplished should be your ultimate goal. If you do this, they’ll spread the word about you. There is no better marketing than former clients speaking highly of you and your work.
- Teach underwater video. If you teach your skills, you show people that you know what you are doing.
- Advertising agencies.
- Dive shops
- Training services.
- Other production houses.
- Music production.
- Liveaboard companies.
- Travel related companies
- Freediving schools
- Dive equipment resellers
- A Professional Demo reel; Before a customer signs you for their project, they will have a good look at your demo reel. Does any of your work reflect the tone of the video they are looking to get?
- Good client testimonials; check their customers’ testimonials that provide more information than just, “this is great work”.
- High standards; Check for great quality work, great underwater video equipment and highly skilled videographers.
- Passion! It shouldn’t be too difficult to spot passion in a videographer you’re looking to work with. Are they genuinely interested in your project? Are they coming up with new ideas of how to tell your story?
- Creativity; Look for different styles and formats.
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