Wednesday, December 31, 2008

This Blog - The Past Five Years

EC Come, EC Go is five years old. It started out being a totally off-the-wall compilation of blather based primarily on my original career skill set - writing. Having been a journalist, freelance writer of magazine articles, graphics designer, layout and publications designer, photojournalist, publisher and owner of newspapers for over 30 years, I figured writing was somewhere "in there."

But the blog was quickly becoming hodgepodge with no sense of direction to it, and I wanted it to be more than that. So, I started writing marketing articles - initially thinking I'd get as many, if not more, clients (brides) seeking affirmation/reason or justification for hiring a video producer, as I would video producers following my articles.

I underwent another change in focus, setting up a blog for publication and sharing of a very seriously screwed up project gone awry when I published a series of critiques from a volunteer group of "fellow" video producers (a total slaughter actually - all of them drawing blood). I included their comments, my responses, answers or rebuttals and the whole shebang was simply too HOT to handle - so I dumped it all.

The same thing for when I perceived that a blog focusing on critiques on the web sites of people in the independent professional video services provider business (by request or not) would be viable, helpful and informative. I called upon my publication graphic design experience, marketing experience and editing experience to help others proof their copy, reduce the redundancy, enhance the impact and focus on the effective. That one pretty much "burned down the barn" with people in the industry - many of them fiercely independent, selfish and headstrong. Many of them unwilling to accept that they might be able to benefit, lashing out instead in overwhelmingly defensive posts and responses on a few video related forums in which I participated.

And now, I write articles about ideas, approaches and rehashed possibilities for business in the video marketing arena, hoping I am helping somebody somewhere. Judging by responses on two forum sites that seem for the most part to have a more well-rounded, less self-centered and egotistical, less abusively aggressive membership all more willing to share than slice and dice their fellow members. Those forums?

Check out and - you might also go to the bottom of this blog and become a "follower" joining the impressive TWO that I now appreciate having aboard. Check out their sites as well. Jay is especially focused on quality information, resources and input in this business of video.

I have participated in facebook and Twitter, using those sites to post when I have fresh material on EC Come, EC Go. And, of course, I post notices on the above two forums as well. I don't know about the overall effectiveness of fb and T, but time will tell. For now these are mostly social/viral marketing experiments that seem to not have much sway.

EC Come, EC GO will eventually (this year perhaps) find its way back to my original intention - promotion of my fiction and non-fiction writing, writing in general and trying to develop a marketing environment for the sales of upcoming books I intend to get published.

I will not abandon my focus on marketing concepts, and ways to make money, sharing mine, and others, experiences in video production with the community-at-large in an effort to spread the word about the commercial viability of video production at the independent producer level. It will simply be under another name with links and re-directs, announcements, etc. regarding the same when all that comes to pass.

Meanwhile, I have a number of marketing web sites that are in serious need of revision, updating and streamlining - this is a must do for 2009. I will keep those of you who are interested posted regarding the changes, and my progress on the above plans, as well as new and improved web sites - if, in fact, anyone is interested and (anymore) has the time to check things out.

My next article coming sometime early January, 2009 (I hope) will offer a review of the many articles contained in this blog's current iteration, and the areas I plan to focus in the coming months. I will also, as has been strongly suggested by Jay - one of my TWO followers - be creating a book with support materials and samples on disk, as well as resources and marketing letters, forms, etc. that can be revised to meet the reader's needs. I will be adding visual content to the blog, more links to other definitive or interesting sites and resources that might prove helpful in the business of video production.

I write LONG, and people in general dislike reading, so my way of communicating is probably going the way of 8-track, audio cassette, VHS tape and even MiniDV tape and standard CD - sooner, rather than later. Until then...
...I will write. READ if you want, or not, but I have to tell you that reading will remain the number one avenue for self-education for a long time to come.

Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Make Money with Video Vignettes

Video vignettes are brief, live recordings of individuals reading from short personal bios/notes, or bios/notes of someone whose special story/memory they wish to preserve. The vast majority of video vignettes I have produced have averaged 20 minutes to a half-hour in length. Some have been as brief as 15 minutes, and others as long as an hour. Occasionally, but rarely, longer.

I have also produced video vignettes of clients speaking extemporaneously, as well as working from a script and a scrolling prompting system using an old Amiga computer and some rather antiquated software, poster board prompts, even sheets of typing paper with key words. Depending on the length of time spent, such productions can generate a couple hundred dollars income, sometimes but rarely thousands - it all depends on your fees, the complexity of the productions, and client budget, of course. The trick is to minimize your editing requirements.

How do you go about getting this kind of production work? Work, by the way, that offers a lot of scheduling flexibility, and provides income generating opportunities virtually any hour of any given day. This is an excellent way to get in some production time during those off days and slow weeks, adding to your bottom line. The preservation of personal memories and stories with professional quality production work can be especially lucrative during economic hard times. People tend to focus more on such things, and the family unit rather than expensive dinners, new cars or boats, or major trips.

Set up is quick and easy, videotaping and audio acquisition is (or can be) down and dirty still with excellent results, and virtually no editing. Planned properly, and with the right client, you can almost edit in-camera and hand it over at the end of the session. But, you probably wouldn’t want to. Why?

A little touch of added production quality: titles, brief opening/closing music score, closing credits and packaged in a nice DVD case with graphics printed on the disk as well as custom color inserts makes all the difference in the world. It takes very little time to spice up the production this way. Making the effort often results in additional sales of copies, referrals to others in the client’s social circles, and can generate even better paying gigs of interesting and varied commercial value. It’s (almost) all in the presentation and delivery.


As with a lot of things you can do with video to make money, you need something to show. You will need to give a little to get a lot, and it doesn’t take much effort. Notwithstanding the family and friends you have around you (known, and excellent resources for practice or developing samples) there are also other avenues to pursue.

I started marketing this production service at retirement centers, convalescent centers, community senior and citizen centers, and most recently picked up a couple from a holiday party gig we booked Christmas week. Two clients there, encouraged by the telling of an old war story by the company owner’s 85-year-old father, have scheduled their own video vignettes for the end of January 2009.

Give a little to get a lot? Well, my first adventure was in a retirement community. I personally visited the facility director and offered to spend a day on location at one of the clubhouses. I proposed to set up a small interview area with 3-point lighting, camera on a tripod and wired mic. (I now use the Zoom H2 standalone digital recorder for virtually all such audio acquisition). I wore a suit and tie, had professional quality business cards and a brief 10-minute video of my Dad sharing one of his many “stories from the past” just to give an idea of what I was proposing.

I told the facility, and also the activities, directors if they had residents who were physically independent, could communicate and were active and interested in having a story or two of themselves on video that they could share with family, friends and others in their social circles, I would be willing to record their brief stories and make a quality production for each of them - no charge.

I explained that I would need them to distribute fliers giving the date, time and clubhouse/activities room location, advertising that the video interviews and one copy for each participant would be free of charge. I asked for permission to provide cookies and punch (if you feed them, they will come) and asked them to encourage family members to attend if they were curious or concerned. I handed out releases to be signed, noting that I would be using the resulting productions for further marketing.

The fliers were distributed and I videotaped and interviewed 18 individuals during an eight-hour day. Some brought hand-written notes on a tablet or notebook, one brought a laptop computer, and others had various and assorted note cards. A couple brought a friend or family member to interact with, telling them “the story” while I recorded. Those came off so natural and relaxed. A few brought photo albums or a representative photo of the story they wanted to record. The excitement level was high and there was a friendly, almost party atmosphere.

I did what I promised, and I sold several copies to most of the participants. Over time I received many other orders, and contact from friends and family members to provide similar services for them. The first year I did this I had all the bookings I could handle, and the scheduling was very flexible for most of them. Only a few had some kind of serious time line they wanted to meet - a reunion, milestone birthday or anniversary coming up.

The best part of that initial experience was being called back not once, but several times over the next two years by the facility to do it again, this time for “paid” gigs. I was also contacted by associated facilities, as well as people who worked with veterans, retired and active senior groups, with interesting stories they wanted to have recorded. They’d heard about, or watched one of the productions and were enthusiastic about doing the same thing.

Another way to get these gigs is to get addresses for community centers and senior/retirement facilities, even churches, in your service area. Develop a single-page letter with the basic information, and create a five-to-ten minute DVD demo to include. It doesn’t always generate interest or immediate response as well, however, as a personal face-to-face.


This is fairly basic production work. Pretty much any kind of light source(s) will work. I have an NRG 3-point lighting system that I found reasonably affordable many years ago, but there are any number of ways to generate soft, pleasant lighting. Also, depending on the time of day, you can utilize available lighting resources as well - just be sure to white balance your camera for optimum results. Avoid harsh shadows. Soft, indirect lighting sources are best for a pleasing and flattering image quality. I also keep a box of tissues handy for blotting oily or shiny faces.

I have found that most community centers and activity rooms have pleasant, soft non-directional lighting, as well as comfortable chairs, and artificial plants, or a side table and lamp, to help in the prop department.

I do a sound check, of course, asking the participant to speak in their normal, conversational voice.

To get the best, most natural shoots, and to help (sometimes) prevent overloaded nerves, after setting up the camera on a tripod for either side, direct, or over-the-interviewer’s-shoulder perspective, checking the lighting on my monitor, I remove the headphones, abandon the camera (leaving it running - if you cannot turn off the blinking red light, put a piece of tape over it) and seat myself in a position that allows the subject to focus on me, telling me their story, rather than worrying about what the camera (or the person behind the camera) is doing.

I ask the subject a few general questions in a light, interested, conversational tone just to get him/her into it. When I see them relax a bit I encourage them to start reading, or telling me their story. This sounds like a long process, but it only takes a few minutes most of the time. Of course I adjust my approach when they have their own props, or have brought a friend to participate in the story-telling process. Be flexible. Don’t let yourself come off anxious or everyone around you will tighten up, making for some seriously tense footage, or even re-takes.

Before the subject leaves, check your footage and your audio to make sure, then call out “next!” Don’t make the mistake of allowing them to see or review the footage. If you are on a production time line, this will seriously screw up your ability to keep on schedule. I usually tell them (if it is so) “looks good, sounds good, you’re gonna love it. I will let you know as soon as your production is ready to delivery.”

They already know an estimated time line for delivery, and have usually given me a photo of themselves, or the story subject, along with their information sheet. So, “next!”

Pricing, of course, is whatever you want it to be, and what your particular market will bear. Set your own values, but first I’ll tell you what I started out charging, and what I charge now, and some variables that sometimes occur.

That first experiment was entirely on spec - meaning, of course, I was willing to shoot and deliver a product for free. I charged $20 per copy and averaged five copies per subject. Some bought 20, others a couple, one took the free copy and “bye-bye.”

Today, I charge $100 per hour and spend, on average, two hours with most clients, including setup and break down. I require a two-hour minimum, unless the client is only going to read from five pages, or less, of copy usually taking about 10 minutes. I’ve done many one-hour gigs, including setup/tear down, but have almost always wound up with copy sales of a dozen or more offsetting the minimum fee.

The hours can add up when a video vignette client winds up being a documentary client or a “This is Your Life” subject with multiple interviews, additional resources and visual materials, extra locations, audio enhancement, etc. This is a whole other subject, and I try to keep my focus when promoting video vignettes as opposed to full scale documentary production work. It is, however, all in the hours and, of course, the amount of editing you wind up having to perform. I currently charge $100 (two-hour minimum) to shoot, and $75 an hour for editing for serious documentary work. I advise that editing can run about one hour per finished minute. Keeps everything in perspective - sometimes.

Video vignettes need to be simple and straightforward with little, if any, editing. Get your clean ins and clean outs, make sure your white balance and audio levels are proper going in, then whip that project out and collect your money. “Next!”

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Money Maker: Day in the Life Videos!

Day in the Life video productions - so simple anybody can do them, but they don’t. And, neither do friends, parents and grandparents who have and use one of the millions of camcorders sold each year.

You can market these special productions, offering client families the opportunity to not only simply enjoy the event, but also get a professionally videotaped, edited, titled, produced and packaged DVD they can enjoy watching and sharing over the years. I know this from personal and professional experience. Many of our Day in the Life clients tell us their children watch these special productions over, and over again.

What child wouldn’t? After all these productions feature them doing something they enjoy, playing music they like, often featuring them as the sole focus in an active, colorful and enjoyable movie. Kids love to watch themselves doing stuff, especially if it looks like they’re having fun doing it! Moms and dads, grandparents and friends get a pretty good kick out of these productions as well.

Back in the VHS/VHS-C days I spent a long weekend with some out-of-state friends. They have four daughters, ranging in ages from two to ten at the time. This is where I realized the marketing potential for what became “Day in the Life” videos featuring children doing something “fun”.

Being a child at heart myself, and often mistaken for a grownup-sized toy for the children I chance to be around, me and the four girls started playing hide-and-seek, hiding and scaring, room chasing and bed bouncing throughout the family residence. We went through a couple hours of S-VHS-C tape while driving the parents nuts with our noise and antics. By the time we were threatened with being forced outside in the middle of a winter day by the folks, I had worked myself into a glorious sweat. The girls, however, were nowhere near ready to calm down.

Fast forward to a couple of months later. I had some time so I went through all the footage and captured the “good stuff” created special titles for each of the girls and generally made quite a production of it. The final video wound up being about a half-hour, give or take. I packaged it up with custom graphics and sent a copy to the girls. The immediate response was overwhelming.

Mainly, the parents offered to “buy” a backup copy for themselves, and one for each of the girls because they were fighting over who owned the original. So, I produced another general video, and four with graphics featuring the girls individually, naming a video for each of them, and sent them off.

A couple of years ago, while talking with my friends, the video came up. I was asked if I still had the original and could I convert it to a DVD for them. “No,” Mom said, “make it five.” Even though the oldest had finished college and the next-oldest was in college, mom said the girls “still” talked about that video. She knew even now they each would want a DVD of their own. Talk about an extended shelf life. I was told the girls had literally worn out the original tapes, watching them so much.

I have honed this process down, and do not necessarily spend that kind of time with client children, but still. I have produced montages with special music featuring digital shots I’ve taken during a couple of hours at the local playground. I have produced live programs featuring a child and her cute antics at a playground, saying the cute things kids are prone to say, making cute (sometimes ugly) faces while mugging for the camera man.

On average I have spent about two hours accumulating video/photo resources, depending on what the client parents hire me for, the type of event, or scenario - most wind up being a few hours at the local park, playground, a petting zoo, the local pier or duck pond, Chucky Cheese, or even a McDonalds play area.

Overall success, of course, depends on how outgoing the child is. I am fortunate in that I seem to have retained the “adult-sized kid’s toy” element and can often develop some good interaction even with kids who have only known me for a short while.

The challenges exist, and it will be up to you to get what you need to make your Day in the Life productions work. I have also had to reschedule due to some situations where the best I could get out of a particularly unhappy child was two hours of crying and screaming. These usually, eventually, work out. Bad takes happen.

Why would people pay someone to produce something they can? Because it is easier, and if you balance what you do for how much you charge, and still give them something unique and professional looking (to a greater or lesser degree - depending on your fees) many people simply do not have the incentive to personally move beyond the “home video” look with their own footage.

The vast majority of home video enthusiasts simply aim and shoot for the duration of the media their camcorder uses. They talk over, shoot down instead of on a kid’s level, zoom-zoom, cut heads off, chop off audio in mid-sentence, swish pan thoughtlessly, jerk into and out of focus, never worry about back light issues, framing, stability, clean ins and outs, POVs (point of view). They record an event or special moments, watch the video once, maybe, fast forwarding through the rough stuff, think about getting some home editing equipment, or having their footage "professionally edited" yikes!

Having samples sells Day in the Life video productions. Samples show potential clients the difference between shooting everything and never editing, and a production that is videotaped and edited using at least some degree of the same professional techniques you would use during any commercial gig.

Decide what you are willing to do for how much and include your shooting time, factor your editing time, and production length into a flat fee. For me a flat fee sells a bit easier than an hourly charge.

Do a couple of samples, say one of only photos for a music montage with titles and special graphics, the other with live footage. Maybe a third featuring narrative from parents/grandparents/family/friends, live shots and photos. The only thing is, if this production is intended to please the child, the closer you come to doing a documentary style video the more you’re going to lose the child’s interest in the final production.

Feature the children heavily, with appropriate music they know and love, antics they enjoy pulling, and you will not only win the day, make the money and set up a whole new service focus, but you could wind up with a seriously renewable business. Don’t be surprised when you get calls for christening, first communion, talent show, elementary, middle and high school graduation, senior montage, milestone birthday parties, and even mom and dad or the grandparents for their parties and celebrations.

Direct mail works well for this. Keep every good address you acquire and use it as your initial direct mail marketing strategy for sending out a one-page cover letter and your Day in the Life sample DVD. Hand them out to folks at community events, around the neighborhood, or along with your samples of special childrens performances at day care, private and public schools.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Make Money Videotaping AND Entertaining!

Take a walk on the wild side and get into the act while making money with what my company calls "Paparazzi Parties!"

See A Sample...
Click on the title to this article and go to our web site page where you will find a link to a QuickTime “Paparazzi Parties!” clip that gives you an idea of what I am talking about. Yeah, that's me in the ball cap, striped shirt and (unlighted) cigar. You will have to wait a few for the clip to play, but it could be worth your time. Also, if you like some of what you read here you can click on "follow this blog" by scrolling to the bottom and be an ec reader.

Pumping You Up!
Like the requirements of some of my previous articles, this is not for the faint of heart, shy or bashful Independent Professional Video Services Providers who prefer to hide and shoot. You will need to have a personality that compels you to perform. But I have to say if you are an outgoing, gregarious, former school/family clown, or just love to have some fun, you are going to enjoy doing your own version of Paparazzi Parties!

Develop your character (or characters) and costume(s) and get into it! Video can and often should be entertaining. While there are certainly serious/educational focus requirements for video productions, entertainment is the key word for our Paparazzi Parties! With this service listed in your marketing materials, and development of a couple of short skits or concepts you do not have to remain always behind the camera, or hidden away in your cave while editing to make entertaining video.

Don’t always be like the frog in that cartoon where he sits and croaks, only talking, singing and even dancing when nobody is watching. Or, in your case, in the shower where (hopefully) nobody is watching or listening.

Those of you who yearn for a chance to be in front of the lens and have a go at letting your entertainment talents take front stage can not only release your alter egos, but make money doing it. And, you don’t even need to be a SAG member.

Make Some Money!
Get paid for 15-to-20 minutes of work (not counting your travel time, or the time you spend “getting into character” and dressing for the part). Put in an hour, or so, of work doing some clean-up editing, putting about 20 digital images on a disk, mail the package and get ready for a stream of referrals throughout the year!

The 2008 holiday season, and current bookings of my Paparazzi Parties! for a few parties in November and December, brought to mind that I should write this article now. I have to say, however, that when we kicked off Paparazzi Parties! several years ago, I used the holiday season to promote it, but we now get bookings spread out over the year. The first few were daunting, even for me/us, but after that? Piece of cake.

What I now hear when answering an inquiry is: "Do you guys still do that paparazzi thing? I hope so! We were at one you did for our friends and loved it! My husband’s birthday is April...” They don’t ask "how much does it cost?” They say, “I want to book you!” Yeah, OK, then they ask how much it costs.

How much does it cost? Our prices “start” at $350 for about 15 minutes of entertainment. The client gets on site entertainment that usually works very well (They want their guests, and the celebrant to have fun, right?), a 10-to-15 minute DVD video, and about two-dozen digital “snaps” of the interaction on a photo jpeg CD.

Depending on the event, the length of time they want you to spend on site and in character, your travel time, preparation, you can adjust that “starts at” to whatever you want, and whatever your market area will bear. We try to hit surprising, shocking, hard - fast in and out. "Gone in Sixty Seconds" comes to mind, but this take a bit longer.

And, the great thing about our Paparazzi Parties! is that they are not always on the weekend. While a good number of inquiries are for Friday nights, Saturdays and Sundays, we also get plenty of events happening during the week. It just depends. Like my marketing mantra: “Somebody somewhere celebrates something every day!”

Our Technique/Approach
I have a number of ideas for characters and approaches to "paparazzi-ing" the client, victim, celebrant. But being in the "old fart" category, I mostly opt for a character who wears a ball cap, chews on an unlighted cigar, wears a black-and-green Grinch Who Stole Christmas necktie, a brown checkered vest, blue striped shirt and baggy blue pants with a pair of roughed up, work out tennis shoes.

My character is acerbic, sarcastic, caustic, stares openly at the "babes" and occasionally (very occasionally) gives the guy celebrants a smack on the cheek (face) when he least expects it. I "tone it" up or down, depending on the occasion, but not much. People like raunchy and it can, believe me or not, be done tastefully. Maybe.

NOTE: When I book with the client I ask about the celebrant's personality, his or her likes/dislikes, phobias, and assorted idiosyncrasies or personal "quirks." This gives me things to focus on that often cause the guests to break out in riotous laughter.

One of my favorite skits is I have a bag full of rolls of film that are absolutely no good. After the initial shock and fun, or irritation, of our entry dissipates I then circle around, handing rolls of film to various guests, breaking into conversations, interrupting them between bites of food or drinks (hey, paparazzi are supposed to be irritating and obnoxious, right) and asking loudly and rudely for them to roll the film back up so I can "re-use" it. I do not sound educated, nor do I enunciate clearly or carefully when I am in character.

"I have this new recycling program going so's I can save money on film." I say. "Roll this up for me so's I can use it when I come back. You do know how, don'tcha?" Depending on the response/reactions (many of the guests really get into it with the interaction) I may or may not linger. I often show the "dimwit" how by grasping the nipple of the roll and cranking a few turns. Sometimes I will pull out the film from the canister, shocking the group. Whatever it takes. I may also ask for help in loading the film into my camera. Duh.

My associate is also in character. She videotapes the interaction, guests and celebrant's reactions, and occasionally yells out that someone looks just like (name the star, or beautiful people member, or politician, etc. here) making sure everybody hears it, and we both scramble to get in that person's face. She videotapes while I snap pictures, the flash going off in their faces, interact, then we move on. It's fast-paced and often a total shock. We try to leave before things get bogged down.

However, we have developed a bit of a "rep" around here, and some of our gigs call for us to be THE PROGRAM or THE ENTERTAINMENT and we remain for a couple of hours. Yeah, we make more for those. Our highest paying gig under Paparazzi Parties! has been $3K, and we were the greeters, attacking people as they arrived, interacted with guests during the social time, disrupted dancing, roasted the roasters during the main toasts, and took off after desperately departing guests, getting that last shot on my camera and/or the camcorder. The final production was under an hour and required no sophisticated editing techniques, simple cuts from one "moment" to another, opening/closing titles, and about a hundred jpeg images - all candids.

Marketing This Fun Service! is a great place to list with this. There are other web sites that focus on things other than weddings, offering DJs and more under entertainment. This is a whole new listing for you if all you have done previously is focus on being a wedding video producer.

I have a direct mail letter that pretty much regurgitates what is on the web site page, and I usually include a full version of the sample clip on DVD. I mail these periodically to every good address I have on file. (you've read my direct mail article, right) I distribute these at other events we book, and make sure to have plenty of cards for the parties we "disrupt."

Go ahead and "paparazzi" somebody. Act up! Have fun! Make money!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Be True to Your Schools

There is money to be made, and business galore in school band, and other events, production services. I know a lot of video producers are going after this market, and aggressively, but that doesn’t mean you can’t carve out a piece for yourself.
Before I get to the elements of what has worked for me in this market, I want to say a few things about what you will be facing - primarily “The Competition.” Believe me, it’s out there, and if you don’t have enough gumption to take on your competition toe-to-toe, you will be wishing you could get into school band and event business for the rest of your independent business career.
Get a jump on the competition and have activity directors, event sponsors, coaches and band directors swinging the doors open wide for your unique, affordable and quality video production services. Every day creates a new opportunity for squeezing through doors that once appeared closed to your knocks. Be persistent. If you simply give up and go away, they will forget you - just at the moment when a reminder might have come at the right time.
I have to go again with my way of doing this, using simplicity, economy of effort and affordability. There are certainly more complex and profit generating ways to approach school event, band and sports productions, but you can earn appreciation, loyalty and money by making things easy for your clients, and for yourself.
Later in this article I will give you a link to reasonably priced materials, resources and information from one of the most successful event production professionals I know. But first I will share my way, using simplicity, economy of effort and affordability.
I have had the pleasure of producing flag drill competitions, cheer leading competitions, football games, homecoming week events, marching band, school orchestra and swing band events, choral presentations and more just by simplifying the production, sales and delivery process.
There are many in our services community who ask for, and receive top dollar for high perceived quality of service and productions. They may, or not, have little competition, great client loyalty and enjoy an ongoing seasonal connection with their area schools. This has a lot to do not only with loyalty from the band director, coach or activities director, even leaders of the various support groups behind funding and activities for all these school events, but with the persistence of quality, or not, by their video services provider.
I have to tell you that loyalty does not count in the reality of this business. You might even thing that is BS, and have apparent client loyalty in some respect, but do not trip, or become overconfident because there’s always someone waiting and watching.
It is my experience that all but the most firmly entrenched area school events video service providers can be dislodged from their comfort zones. How is that? Because after a couple of years working for a group, independent professional video service providers tend to become complacent, or downright lazy, even too greedy, reducing the initial personal service, fast turnarounds and bumping up prices year after year. These people, I am sorry to say, are ripe for knocking out of the equation.
A bad attitude to have about your fellow video producer, right? Well, not really. I mean this is a competitive, aggressive (if you want to survive) and dynamic business environment. All business is this way. The strong survive by being aggressive: there are ethical and non-ethical ways of doing this.
Some focus on cutting the competition off at the knees by any hook or crook. Others actually do the same thing, but maybe sleep a bit better at night, because they perform cutthroat operations via pricing, quality service and products, strong marketing skills and developing inside connections.
It is one thing to say negative things about your competition in an effort to denigrate them, tell stories that may, or not, be absolutely true, or even do work for another production company as its representative, then operating from your new “prospective” client list, go behind your former resource’s back in an attempt to “steal” from their client list.
Whatever it takes, is not always a valid response. But, if you do have a quality product, if you do have the tools and experience for creating these videos, if you can provide reasonably fast turnaround (even instant gratification, using the Bob Anderson approach - link coming up soon), if you are attentive to your current, and new, or prospective clients, listen to their needs, their complaints, often put up with a bit of their BS, then you have the right to do “whatever it takes” to gain that business.
I have won, and lost, serious band production business simply because of massive equipment failure. Although I managed to generate an “acceptable” product, delivered the number of ordered copies at “no charge” wrote apology letters to each and every parent/student, and let the band department keep the proceeds, they went with someone else the next season.
Another producer was on the spot, making promises and guarantees based on what I failed to deliver, based on my bad luck, and talked my clients away. It happens. More power to him.
Two years later I asked the same band director for another shot, saying I was willing to shoot the event for free, if he was not obligated by contract to restrict access, and provide him with a fully produced copy. I told him I was willing to put my production up against the competitions, and if the director thought mine was better quality, I’d provide copies for all customers purchasing the other guy’s video, at no charge. His people were going to get “twofers!”
I got the go, took second choice positions (only fair to the other guy) and we stopped paying attention to them and started doing our own thing. Maybe I shook up the competition. Sorry, I was willing to commit in order to make a comeback, and if he couldn’t stand the heat. The band director made his choice, subjective I am sure, but it was for me. Two years after catching me in a bad set of circumstances, I returned the favor and got my client back.

Ok, how do you get in those doors in the first place. If you have read any of my other articles you know how strongly I believe in direct mail marketing, aggressive followup strategies, and maintaining connections.
Getting area school band business is no different. I do my research and get current names, correct addresses and phone numbers. In Southern California it is as simple as doing a Google search - most schools and districts in my service area now have web sites, and if not, there are a number of general listings compiled by others who make this information available on the web.
You should be able to do the same thing no matter where you live and operate your video business.
After I do my research, make calls to the school office to verify the name, and spelling, of the people I want to contact - the band director, activities director and booster club president, if possible. I prepare my letter - one page, to the point. I also have, or can develop, any number of sample DVDs representing some or all of the school events my company has produced over the years. I am in the process of creating a fresh, new sample now, portions soon to be posted on my web sites. All that is currently a work in progress, targeting completion during January 2009.

Dear (name goes here)

Have your next (name of school band performance) professionally videotaped, edited and produced with current digital technology, delivered in less than four weeks, at NO CHARGE to your school or booster club.
My company has more than 15 year’s experience in producing high school events. See the enclosed sample DVD, and go the chapter on (marching, orchestra, ensemble band, drum corp) productions. I am willing to give you a get acquainted opportunity that will create a win-win situation. You, your school, your band students and their parents and friends will receive a professionally packaged and produced performance production and pay not one dime for its production.
Our regular production agreement for a band performance or event of up to two hours is that presales are held, offering copies of this professionally produced keepsake at $25. The regular production agreement only requires a minimum of 20 sales to guarantee production and delivery of the product. We can certainly deliver more, but they only have to presale 20 to get the production.
As a “Get Acquainted” special, my company will provide the same services and no minimum. Yes, invite us to attend and we will videotape, edit and produce your band performance of up to two hours, resulting in a DVD of two hours or less. We will do this if we sell one, none or a hundred. There will be no further obligation.
Give me a call, or e-mail today to arrange for this special get acquainted offer. Even if you currently have a qualified video services provider, you deserve an affordable opportunity to discover the alternatives.
Call today!
We would LOVE to work with you!

You might want to make a different approach, but I have to tell you that in my service area this letter has generated virtually 99 percent response. We win a few, lose a few, and nearly always hear from them all sooner or later.
Because I follow up with another letter(s), email(s) and phone calls a few times each school year. I research and keep my contact list of names current and accurate. I remain aggressive, and whenever I create a new DVD, I start the process all over again for new school bands, and those who have not taken advantage of the offer. YET!

Always two cameras and two operators, be it marching band, or other orchestra or band event. Always. We arrange to shoot live performances of dress rehearsals when held, giving us an opportunity to freely move about the various routines, getting close up shots, and unique perspectives not always possible during competition or half-time performances.
We set up two cameras on tripod, sometimes with the closer unit hand-held for other unique POVs. The other camera is usually always either on the director’s platform, or a good placement in the bleachers. We alternate angles and shots with the closer camera doing closeups and medium shots, the distant camera shooting wide and medium. Both follow the action.
Halftime performances are almost always shot with one camera in the stands and the other on the director’s platform. I have a video shooter’s ladder I use in cases where I can be along the sideline, but cannot access the platform.
We use the wide-to-medium shots from the stands as our base, and cut the secondary camera closeups, etc. into the mix. I place several Zoom H2 recorders where I think they will best provide backup auxiliary audio. I haven’t always done this, and I don’t always use these recordings, going instead with audio collected through the on-camera mics. Whatever it takes to get the best depth of audio, and control crowd noise/ambient if any, sound.
The DVDs are packaged in clear plastic library cases with custom color graphic inserts, DVDs printed with same, and contain chaptered (where needed) selections of the performance(s).
We almost always deliver in four weeks or less.
Bob Anderson, on the other hand, offers not only finished full productions at a premium price, but individual performance DVDs on location during a highly involved production process that he has honed to a fine edge.
Get the best information possible on how to increase sales by offering more complext productions and instant onsite sales by going to Start a More Profitable Event Video Business Today - Oak Tree Press, $77.00 plus $4.50 S&H.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Dance Recital Video Production

Dance Recitals - you’ve heard of them. You have even perhaps produced one, or tried to, and were not all that pleased with the outcome. Money can absolutely be made videotaping and producing dance recitals but the financial success, or lack of it, has as much to do with your expectations as it does with those of the school, its owners/instructors, the students and their parents, friends and relatives.
My approach to production of dance recital video is based on simplicity and economy of effort, as well as affordability for the clients. My approach to marketing this vast community of video potential is the same: simplicity, economy of effort and affordability.
Though I have not had extreme levels of expectation income wise, not one of my experiences has been an economic disappointment. I am sure this hinges primarily on my personal expectations.
What do I mean by simplicity, economy, affordability?
I mean that you can market to and gain a multitude of gigs from this wide open aspect of the Independent Professional Video Services Provider potential. It might seem so at first glance, but the dance recital market is not as saturated as is the wedding market - at least the 22 percent wedge of wedding video pie everyone with a camera is fighting over.
I will soon focus on what needs to be done to carve out a serious wedge of the remaining 80+ percent of the wedding video market nobody wants to go after. But for now... recital video for fun, profits and referrals.
My quandary in the telling is this: Do I first tell you how to get some, more or virtually all of this business in your service area; or, do I first tell you how I approach these productions technically? I think, to justify my marketing approach I must first tell you how I shoot, edit and produce the productions. And, perhaps why.
It has been my experience and I feel obligated to first point out that the first and foremost person you will have to convince, and please, is the dance instructor. The omnipotent and all-knowing choreographer who is immensely proud of his/her stage designs, blocking and movements, and who expects a wide enough angle on the video to show stage impact- lighting and special effects, backgrounds, group and individual movements head-to-foot.
If you so much as leave more than a few seconds of the feet out of your coverage you will not be asked to return, no matter the artistic flair, timely delivery or cheapness of your services and per DVD sales price.
Trust me on this.
Initially I got past this expectation of the choreographers by doing two things: One, we always shoot a minimum (and usually only) two cameras, stereo (meaning side-by-side) with two operators. One operator shoots primarily full stage, or at least shoots and follows head-to-foot of the solos or smaller ensembles, using solid lead framing, and never (as much as is possible without attending a rehearsal and becoming familiar with the numbers) allowing the dancer(s) to leap or move out of frame. Trust me, even if you are familiar with the production you will occasionally be caught by surprise.
Some of these dancers can sunfish faster than a rodeo bull, reversing direction 180 degrees, and leaping out of frame in a split second of movement. Oops.
The other camera keeps full frame, but with the occasional CU or ECU (close up, or extreme close up) follow shot of full cast, ensemble or solo performances. These movements are smooth and steady, moving from either left to right, or right to left, or both in a double sweep, before pulling back out to a full frame shot - usually a medium shot unless the cast is spread all over the stage or even the floor directly in front of the stage.
Two: Doing this, we are able to offer the dance instructor/owner/choreographer a “full stage cut” that provides that person with the visual perspective they want for study, fine tuning, and later critique for the students. I still offer this, but we have simplified our shooting to the point now that 90 percent of the follow camera footage is utilized, only reverting to the full stage “save” shot when absolutely necessary, or to enhance the perceived production quality of two-camera coverage.
Over the years our dance instructors/choreographers have become comfortable with our shooting and editing techniques and have not requested or demanded the raw, basic-cuts full stage shot. It is there when needed, though.
This has provided us time and again with a means for satisfying not only the teacher, but the parents, and students to a degree (those less technically inclined than their choreographer), who want to see a few close up shots of the action. Yeah, the solos and small ensembles are easiest, but other than the wide establishing shot of the opening, special standout performers in the larger casts, and the often dramatic close and pose-on-the-beat at the end, some tighter angles and sweeps during each performance usually become welcomed and accepted by all.
I never adjust the gain. I lock and load on very little or no gain (we still use Canon XL1 and GL2 models), often use the spotlight settings, and do not attempt to compensate during or in post, for extremely dark, dramatic or high red spot/background productions. Our cameras come close enough to providing an acceptable image quality that is close, if not always spot on, to what the stage lighting and mood truly was.
I also rarely shoot for audio from the boards, or place microphones focused on the “sweet spot” from the speakers. I do use auxiliary and backup audio acquisition, but mostly for another “save” element if needed in post. I have lately changed this approach somewhat.
I continue to use the on-camera mics for audio acquisition - most auditorium and stage environments offer excellent acoustics, and the volume is certainly usually adequate for all but the inevitable narratives.
In addition I have now added four (and eventually, possibly more) Zoom H2 digital recorders, usually placing two in some perspective on the house speaker “sweet spots”; one near front center stage, and the other side-by-side with the front center stage Zoom, but using both sides, and lowering the recording levels to use for ambient sound, spoken narrative from on-stage, and the applause, cheers, and whistles that emit from the audience.
Audio is where I do most of my post production work, sweetening and adjusting levels to give balance to the whole production. This approach has earned many positive comments from the clients (teachers, students and parents) who have long since accepted, supported and voiced their appreciation for how we cover the visuals.
I don’t do “house sound” ever! Anywhere! The professionals jack around with their boards too much, and the amateurs or those “professionals” without a lot of experience (tongue-in-cheek comment intended) forget, overcompensate or overload at the the wrong moments, often sitting back to text message on their cell phones and not riding the levels as any conscientious audio person would do - paying strict attention to the levels from the stage.
I have replaced no less than three times the audio circuits in our two XL1 Canons due to depending on preset and pretested board levels prior to production, only to have everything go to hell in a hand basket once the show gets under way.
A two-hour show takes four hours or less of our acquisition time due to the simple, cable free, set up of camcorders and the Zoom H2 recorders which are usually preset for direction and levels desired.
Currently, before we head into solid state recording high definition tools next year, it takes less than three hours to ingest (digitize) the footage and assess the audio sweetening needs. Then, perhaps a couple hours to ingest audio from the Zoom H2s, and sync the audio, layer the levels, etc.
Another three, maybe four hours to essentially “clean up” edit the footage, create opening/closing titles and credits, and set up the DVD for chapters and burn the master. Having a DVD duplicator tower with a hard drive helps speed up the duplication process. In fifteen hours or less I have usually videotaped, edited, produced, generated graphics and mass duplicated my dance recital. And in every instance I have made more on an income-per-hour basis than my highest paying wedding gig ever.

Simple approach to production, right? Now for marketing. Keeping with the simplicity, economy of effort and affordability concept, I start off with simplicity of expectations - mine. I expect every dance studio, high school dance class or community dance venue to accept my initial “get acquainted” offer. I do not expect to get rich and retire on the next new dance recital gig. I do expect positive growth in sales and continued loyalty through the years a venue is on board.
I direct mail a one-page letter, including a sample production DVD of snippets and perhaps a full number or two from past productions. The letter offers, at no risk to school, owner or board of directors, full professional coverage as reflected in the sample DVD, with two cameras and two operators for performances of two hours or less, and professionally edited and produced DVD for the “get acquainted” price of 20 copies at $25.
Buy the service outright by ordering and paying for all 20. Pay for them from a video production budget, if any. Or sell direct to parents, collecting the money and presenting us with individual checks or a single check for the minimum production agreement (the minimum presented upon our arrival to shoot), and we will deliver quality DVDs with custom graphics, and plastic library cases with custom color inserts within four weeks.
We have never sold less than double the minimum with only one exception, and that dance school only usually has about fifteen students, but purchases 20 copies without hesitation. It is a small organization located in a very low income area. Most of its students are admitted by the instructor free of charge, or even subsidized by the owner/instructor for costumes, etc., who is in the business more as a labor of love than a for profit commercial enterprise.
We have, over the years, sent out at least 400 direct mail pieces such as described above. We have a response level of 375. Many are still with us, and have been for more than ten years. Others come and go, depending on the fluctuation of the economy. Several have left to allow a volunteer parent to flex their production wings, only to return the next year begging us, virtually at any price, to forgive and return.
On average, our dance recitals sell 75 units at $35 each. We also get other gigs, individual jobs and side-productions, personal editing for individual show-and-tell students who seek to ad some of our footage to their video resumes, and more. We have recitals selling well over 400 units, and a couple that hit the 500+ mark.
Very few of the really large operations leave us. They are pleased with the production levels, with the packaging and delivery, and with the professional quality of our interactions, as well as the occasional production meetings we attend at their request. Some of them react and respond positively to our suggestions regarding a compromise on video related issues such as audio quality and levels, lighting (those horrible reds) and a time or two even venues for their annual productions.
There are a lot of other ways to approach this market, and the production thereof, but by focusing on simplicity, economy of effort and affordability, you can acquire a lot of this kind of business available in your service area demographic.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Direct Mail Does Pay Off

Direct mail isn’t for everyone in the independent video production business, but it can pay off if you use a bit of logic about what you send out, and to whom. Obviously, if you live in a town where the sign posted as you enter says “Anytown, U.S.A. pop. 52 and a dog” then door-to-door might be a better approach.

For virtually everyone else there’s a cover letter, demo DVD and a stamp for an envelope that has your next client’s name and address on it. The general conception that thousands of pieces have to be mailed out at high cost for postage, purchase of an expensive “iffy” mailing list and a huge investment of time and effort in order to get them out and expect any positive response is simply wrong.

Some direct mail strategies argue that the more specific your target, and the more pieces you send out to demographics reflecting that target - be it income, higher property values, or geographical bracket - the more likely you are to hit that magical one percent return. This also simply is not so. You do not have to settle for a one percent return on 10, 100 or thousands of mailings. You can actually achieve 10 percent return, or better, responses, and a minimum of 30 percent sales from that. How?

By broadening your area of coverage, widening your base of operations and expanding your range of services. If you do more kinds of productions then you can market more of your services to a more general audience and expect a higher rate of response, more sales. For me a shotgun approach - either sending out a lot of pieces to the same interest groups (dance or martial arts schools, for example), or sending out fewer pieces to a more general demographic (individual householdds) - is very effective.

I realize this has a lot to do with the fact that I live and work in a very densely populated area (Southern Califoria) with a broad range of ethnic groups, interests, income levels and life styles. But living elsewhere doesn’t mean you cannot reach the people in your service area though it might be less dense, diverse and mostly poorer households.

Here’s that word I keep pounding on: “Diversification” of your video services. Stop thinking all you can do, have to do, should do or want to do is weddings. Unless, of course, you actually WANT to do weddings and nothing but. If you are a full time independent professional video services provider, or a part time IPVSP working full time hours in the business, you can make more money if you produce more than weddings.

In fact virtually every other video production gig available to you will generate higher income on a per hour worked basis than any wedding you have ever done, or ever will do. I will leave it at that, because this is a fine subject for an article all its own. Later.

Simply being willing to do other video production work puts you at an advantage, not only to acquire more business and generate more income, but an advantage as well in marketing your services by direct mail. I am currently developing a demo DVD that will contain a highly energetic intro with scenes from all the various celebrations of life I’ve produced. It will be brightly colored and printed on it in bold, black letters will be “Celebrate Life!”

In addition to the energetic intro I will have sample clips from each and every category of video production I have ever done. In my case that is going to be a bunch! But you can start something similar and ad to it as you produce other events, community programs, youth sports contests, school performances and activities, birthday, anniversary and milestone events celebrations, etc.

This new demo DVD will be chaptered for, and include an insert, to show the clips and categories featured, offering any recipients the option to view only what interests them at the moment. My slogan for this marketing tool is “Somebody somewhere celebrates something every day!” © Earl Chessher, 1995-2008. Celebrate Life! has been taken, but there’s nothing to prevent me from using that as the promotional title for my direct mail DVD.

Based on my “Somebody somewhere...” approach, this makes every household in the U.S.A. a “good and viable” target address for a direct mail campaign. I have not limited my chances for success by sending out only a wedding demo, or only a montage demo, or only a small business/services demo, commercial video, birthday demo, dance demo...
...get the idea? Somebody at that address is celebrating something the day, or week, or month they receive my direct mail cover letter and demo/sample DVD.

So, by not limiting the video service categories I am willing to provide, broadening my range, I am increasing the probability of a positive response that will take my returns to much higher levels. Even if you only had four categories including weddings, you have quadrupled the possibilities of someone at that residence being interested, or knowing somewho who would.

There is a high level of perceived value when a person receives a special DVD (in spite of AOL’s pervasive disk distribution campaign - notice they’ve discontinued that approach) and he or she will check it out instead of arbitrarily tossing it into the trash. The recipient will read a brief and specific cover letter, and more than likely will keep the DVD for a good while afterwards. Their thought being that it might prove a handy reference for some celebration down the way, or that they know somebody involved in one or more of the productions featured. An upcoming retirement, birthday, anniversary, or other special celebration.

If you live in or near a larger population base with multiple towns within driving distance, or a major city close by, and are willing to work at it, you can acquire names and addresses for area public schools, private clubs, car dealerships that sponsor annual car shows, local youth sports associations, martial arts centers, private dance schools, etc. from a number of resources ranging from the web to Google searches to the Yellow Pages to community/church directories.

I have every address of every client who has ever purchased a copy of something I have produced, or hired me for music instructional video production, product/business/service video for commercial clients, parents who have purchased school or event performance videos. Every address. And these addresses are from people who have purchased something from me before, people who are to some degree more or less familiar with my company and the quality videos I have produced. They are receptive - the absolutely best kind of direct mail addresses you can have, so long as you don’t bombard them with weekly mailings. Once or twice a year to these will be enough to generate a high level of responses for your direct mail campaign.

• Develop an effective sample/demo DVD (they are cheap and easy to produce in house)
• Develop a single-page, double-spaced cover letter telling them, or reminding them who you are
• Provide them with your website URL, e-mail address, mailing address and phone number
• You can use paper sleeves to reduce costs, and mail in invitation-size envelopes, but...
• ...investing a bit more in creating a color insert, using a protective plastic case, is better
• Include a couple or so business cards (don’t be stingy, they might want to share)
• Initiate a call to action: call now, e-mail now, visit now, buy now, (do it now!)

If you invest the time, energy and money. If you are tenacious, follow up with a second letter within 60-90 days (without the DVD this time). If you broaden your scope of video related services. If you obtain good addresses and names - doing it by hand, walking the community and writing them down, recycling the names and addresses of people who have done business with you directly or indirectly (You do keep a past/present client resource list don’t you?)

If you do any or all of these things, work that bridal mailing list you got from the last bridal fair, or any other event in which you’ve participated, you will greatly increase the effectiveness of your direct mail marketing campaign.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Guerrilla Video: Walk On, Make Money

Before going into this article I want to point out that by scrolling to the bottom of the blog page you can elect to "follow this blog" and become an EC Reader - Thanks Jay, for the suggestion.

You can make a few hundred dollars on an off day simply by walking on at any field where you see youth (or adult) sports activity taking place. You may not always be welcomed, but most of the time you will be if you use the right tact in doing so. With a proper attitude and approach, almost any outdoor activity or public event is eligible to add to your bottom line. Unless, that is, it is being sponsored by Toyota, whomever now owns Busch, or some other huge commercial corporate entity.

Penetrating commercial/corporate sponsored events is not impossible, but let’s keep it simple for now. Stick with public parks, public school fields, and such first, before taking on the bigger venues. There are thousands of events going on virtually every day in the summer, and many evenings and weekends during the school year - all across the country. Recession or no recession.

Bring plenty of business cards, your camcorder, and monopod or tripod, perhaps a shooting ladder for elevation, a pleasant smile and professional decorum. Wear your neat and clean looking cap and/or shirt with your branding. Be prepared with basic order forms, or large postcard size handouts of some kind with general information.

While I have had plenty of success using only my business cards, having a plentiful supply of forms or information sheets often will help you videotape the event you are there to cover without having to spend all your time explaining or selling. Time outs and breaks can sometimes be used for mixing and mingling.

If you do not have a basic order form, or cannot make up one, let me know. While my upcoming marketing package will contain all the ideas I’ve put into action over the years and how to market and do them, it will also have examples, clips, direct mail pieces, and forms you can use as well. Meanwhile, if you’re feeling anxious and ready to romp I can send you a pdf document of something you can use for now.

You can plan ahead for this style of shooting/marketing, or you can simply have the time, see something going on and go for it. I have worked it both ways and both ways have worked for me. Just starting out, I have to say that getting there early and planning to stay throughout the event is usually a best first approach. It gives you time to assess the situation, and gives participants time to grow accustomed to your presence.

I first look for a coach or ask about a team parent, team mother, coach’s wife, etc. I introduce myself, ask if they know of anyone already hired to produce a game tape. If not I tell them I do this often, am insured and will remain out of the way while shooting the game. I let them know of my experience and bonafides, and sometimes have even brought DVD samples of related youth sports events I have produced.

I also tell the coach or head mom or dad, whomever, that for a bit of help, or simply permission or clearance from them, I will “comp” them a copy of what I produce. I usually get help passing out business cards and/or information sheets/postcards, am given a premo spot to place my shooting ladder, and told their kid’s jersey number. At this point I suggest that I always “follow the ball” and that usually results in nearly every child getting in the production at some point.

I have a digital camera I use for the inevitable request to get a team shot for the cover.

I have also done my research and sometimes contacted leagues, league mothers, league sponsors, coaches, youth sports support groups, and other event organizers, setting up a presentation to their respective panels, representatives, boards or activity committees or directors. Getting on the venue for a formal, or even informal, meeting to offer your information, handouts and proposal can sometimes bring on bigger returns, better production runs and strong advance sales.

But, like asking for a cookie before dipping your hand into the jar instead of after you’ve eaten it, this approach can sometimes backfire with too much red tape, control issues or other parental/alpha male/female politics that get in the way of simple, straightforward shooting, editing and sales.

Walk-ons have, by far, been my most fun, adventurous and largest guerrilla gamble payouts. Why? It is an "impulse aisle" thing, where you get people interested in the heat of the moment. Here is where a parent’s camcorder battery ran out of juice, or the tapes were forgotten on the desk at home, or were eaten by the dog, or something broke, or they simply become so engrossed in the game that they keep forgetting to hit the record button. I’ve even known moms, or dads, to wave their hands so wildly, urging their child on to the goal, that the camcorder gets knocked to the ground. Oops.

This kind of shooting, production and sales is wide open in spite of the fact that some might have already made arrangements for coverage and production by a independent professional video services provider. These people sometimes become lax or lazy, screw up big time at a major event, or simply do not show up as expected. I am there and often it is a “right place, right time” happening.

And, it is not limited to youth/adult sports - baseball, basketball, soccer, football, softball, swim teams, rowing teams, martial arts events, water polo, equestrian events and more. I have had great success covering antique and custom car shows (pre-planned and walk-on); outdoor art and crafts shows; drag racing events - a friend of mine in Arkansas is making quite a specialty in covering outlaw drag racing events in his area, becoming the official videographer for the local group.

I’ve made a killing as walk-on video producer for area skateboard competitions, amateur volleyball tournaments, rock climbing events, and a wide selection of festivals held throughout the year. Area publications often provide advance information of community, sports and other special events being held in the area. Read, make some notes, grab your camera and fill in that unbooked date. You have caught up with your editing backlog, right?

It would be to your advantage also to have liability coverage. Proof of having this has actually helped ease me through doors (well, gates) at many a ball field or other sports venue. I have to stress, however, that walking on without reflecting an “I have every right to be here and you can’t tell me to leave, or I paid taxes to support this public facility - attitude” will do more than anything else to get you in and keep you there.

All that being said, guerrilla marketing/shooting will only work for those who have the gumption to try it. Some are not comfortable with this aggressive style of doing business. It isn’t for everybody, but then what is?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Video Gone to the Dogs, and Cats

Your video production business can literally go to the dogs...
...and cats! Birds! Monkeys! Ferrets!

But you will still be able to make a living at it because people love their pets and often become enthusiastic when you suggest creating a professionally produced Pet Video Biography of one (or all) of their non-human family members. I mention dogs first, because they are either neck-and-neck or second only to cats in how they are loved, doted upon, spoiled and treated... well as abused, but that is another story I will share at the end of this article.

Any breed, or type of animal or creature that can display a personality, do tricks on command, or respond to its human companion is ripe to star in its own video biography. And the family members who love and care for their special friends love having something to show off to other friends and family members, as well as the story of their pet that they can visit in the event that one day their favorite animal is no longer around. Pet Video Biographies extend the lives of these animals for their families, renewing and preserving special memories over the years.

Maybe even fish...
...well, maybe not a fish. Perhaps if there is a pet dolphin?

Pet Video Biographies are excellent focus for personal professional video production services. Properly promoted and with good production skills represented in a couple of samples you could make this aspect of video production a full time career in and of itself.

I created one example, using a special family pet, a black lab - young, energetic, personable and special (obviously) - to its human family, as well as neighborhood friends, both canine and human. His name is Mickey.

I spent about an hour with Mickey and members of his family, videotaping Mickey's favorite activity - going for a walk around the neighborhood. Mickey loves his family, and they love him, and he gets so excited when it comes time for his daily exercise routine that he almost puts on his leash by himself. Well, he does take it in his mouth and makes a dash for the back yard gate, tossing the leash end up into the air and catching it in his mouth, sometimes nearly making the loop fall over his head and onto his neck.

I've no doubt that Mickey sooner or later will learn to make that trick happen. He also lets one of his family place a doggy bone biscuit on top of his nose then, upon command, makes a quick move causing the biscuit to disappear into his mouth. Before that command though, Mickey rolls his eyes, searching and patiently waiting for the command that will let him put the tasty treat where it belongs. Mickey has no problem letting the rest of the family know when he is hungry as well, grabbing his food dish in his mouth and sitting in front of the first one home, looking up with those expressive eyes, catching their look and smile before dropping the dish at their feet. Subtle hint, huh.

The family has something to say as well, sharing special anecdotes, tales of excitement, close encounters of the scary kind, and unique personality traits and tricks their favorite pet can perform. Many of these can be captured as well, along with the narrative that will often take on a life of its own. Invariably, there will be family photos of their pet as well, alone and sharing in family outings, splashing at the beach or in the lake, riding the boat, bicycle or even a little red wagon - maybe even pulling some kids in one.

The narrative, the live footage, photos - from "childhood" to those taken during production acquisition, as well as stills taken from some of the live footage that does not lend to inclusion as moving shots because, well, maybe the pet isn't moving. Maybe he, she or it is posing. All this comes together to create a combination of narrative, establishing a story line; action and photo montage with music that can generate a very special production.

Usually, for this kind of production, I find that on-camera audio is adequate for the purpose. But you can certainly improve the interview, or story telling part of the video by using a more direct audio acquisition approach when action is not involved. I was fortunate in my first sample production because Mickey's family genuinely loves him with great affection. Talking about him, interacting with him, and talking to him came perfectly natural for them, giving me all the narrative I needed to put it together.

There will be challenges. There will be perfect and natural successes. There will be many experiences and interesting events along the way, but offering, creating and producing Pet Video Biographies can fill a special service niche for pets, pet lovers and people who love capturing their stories on video. When professionally edited, these documentaries are an excellent formula for growing your business as a professional video services provider.

I also acquired through a library of public access images, and my own, a series of mixed dog and cat still shots that I put together in a music montage. As a demo, I discovered that this was a bit to long, and am now in the process of reducing the sample to only enough special images and a music track that can represent to potential pet lovers another, more affordable, possibility for preserving their memories of their special animal friends.

I currently shoot up to one hour, at $100 per hour. This is usually enough if the participants have planned it, or if it is part of a standard daily routine (these come off a bit more natural, usually). Sometimes it may take more time, more dates...charge accordingly.

I include photos (theirs) at $3 per image for actual photos; $2 for slides; and $1 per image for digital jpegs on CD. I charge per music selection (they provide on their personally purchased and owned CDs); titles or other special inclusions.

I charge $100 to $200 for editing, depending on the complexity, and deliver a production that varies in length from 12 minutes to 30 minutes. Their first DVD, with special printed graphics on insert and DVD, and clear plastic library case, is $25. Copies 1 to 10 are $15 each; 11 or more go for $10 each - all with the custom graphics.

I average about $400 per project, for around 4-5 hours of work. Not a bad way - FUN actually - to pick up some coin, enjoy the "work", get out of the standard wedding/event production routine, and tell a special story. This is something you can actually feel good about.

Regarding pricing - I've gone cheaper, and I've charged more, depending on the situation, story, cooperation and the family's budget and interest level.

I talked earlier about abused and/or abandoned pets. Millions of dogs and cats a year are mistreated, abused, abandoned, all too few of them finding their way into a shelter. Sadly, even the shelter is often only a way station to euthanasia - a necessary but troubling mercy killing of all but a rare select few who find a second home with loving people. (Other species also are victims of uncaring, or stupid heartless, people, I am sure - we often read or hear of horses, pet pigs, boas and other animals suffering from inhuman treatment, or lack of...)

Video can be utilized here as well. A local public access station I have worked with in the past always maintained a program, or allowed time as part of another program, to introduce a few animals from the local shelter, hoping to entice someone watching to come, visit and take home a pet. Paid, or simply finding a way to provide this service for your local animal shelter can go a long way toward establishing you as a caring and active community member, pet lover and provider for a very real need. Contact your local shelter and find out what you can do with your video skills that might help a few of these animals find loving homes.

Did you know that a ferret is a domesticated version of the Old World polecat, often trained to hunt for rats and rabbits?

That's it for now. Find a pet. Tell a story. Make some money.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Great Ideas Only Work if You Do

I can post something every single day here that has the potential to make you money with your video equipment, bring you new business and clients and take you from aspiring beginner to money making business person. But, as the title says, you are going to have to put some forth some effort in order for any of my ideas, or yours, to work.

I don‘t want to sound like a preacher here, but so many times people tell me “it won’t fly” talking about one or another of my...
...“concepts” they call them. To be honest with you I’ve not yet written about anything I haven’t personally tried. And, the only reason any of my “concepts” do not pan out is that I quit working at it.

I admit that most of my suggestions for diversified video business are not new, or even unique. Most of them in one form or another have been tried with light to moderate success, occasionally to huge levels of success. Most of you at one time or another have thought of doing one or more of my suggestions, but never seem to quite get around to it.

Keep in mind, however, that if you are not excited about it, your potential clients will not be either. It takes effort to prime the pump of possibility, and you have to find ways to spread the word about your services that will be most effective for you. Waiting for the phone to ring, for someone to find you by chance, or show up at your door isn’t going to cut it.

Sure, you know this, but we all still fall into a non-aggressive rut occasionally and become lax in our attempts to stimulate business.

That being said, take video-to-DVD transfer services, for example. You can let people know you are willing to provide this service, tell your existing client base that you offer this service, advertise and promote the service in a big way. Essentially, this is grunt work, and though others have expounded on it as being “easy money” and a “monkey job” that anybody with a VHS-to-DVD standalone burner can accomplish, there is a bit more to the process.

There’s more you have to do if you even care to compete with all the drug store chains and WalMart types that provide similar services at cheap prices. First, get it out of your mind that you must compete with price. You cannot! The difference, and one for which many individuals are willing to pay, is personal service.

I tell my existing client base, and people who inquire after finding me on the web, or referrals from other satisfied customers, that the difference between what I do and what the local drug store chain does is that I “babysit” their tapes. If something goes wrong - tape jams, long lengths of no image or audio, broken tapes, short tape lengths, etc. - I am there to do something about it, not just let it continue recording (or not) junk footage.

Sure, I’m multitasking (to the extent that a male is capable) but I am in the same room, always alert to situations that can arise when transferring video to DVD. I am getting other work done, but I am giving their transfer projects my professional attention as well.

What I do not do, is take their prized videotapes, giving the illusion that I will personally be doing the work, then ship it off to Crater, Moon or some other facility where the process isn’t as I have described to them. You know, the one about personal service.

If my clients come up with a format I cannot handle, I do have resources for getting them done. I always explain that I have to outsource this format, but will do everything in my power to ensure the safe handling and return of their original materials. If you do enough stuff like this, and ship out enough product, sooner or later something will happen. Murphy’s Law is a guarantee, right up there with death and taxes. Just be prepared to be up front, and honest about the mishap. Commiserate with them, show empathy, and refund their money, as well as some portion of the insurance you placed on their (now lost, damaged or destroyed) materials.

Insurance will not replace those memories, but money and sympathy will go a long way toward softening the situation. Never, ever, send a client’s personal materials out without insuring it for all you can claim, and without first having your client’s signed written permission to do so on file. This is a highly recommended C.Y.A. measure.

If you are not yet frighted away from trying. Start by investing around $150 in a VHS-to-DVD transfer system. Most brand name consumer products perform nicely. Get an adapter for VHS-C tapes and you are in the VHS and compact VHS transfer business. Have an Hi8/Regular 8 deck or camera with A/V outputs, you are good to go on another format. MiniDV camera with outputs, or a playback deck? There you go.

There are other formats, and you either need to plan to establish resources for outsourcing this material, or avoid it, or refer it to a resource you trust. Film transfer? Even I tremble at the thought and will always outsource film transfers, or refer my clients directly. I have done some on a very small scale, but unless you are properly equipped and can capture a large enough volume of this business, it is not for the faint of heart.

Pricing is pretty straightforward. Yet, clients will still attempt to find ways to whittle down their costs. Don’t yield. If they use the local drug store argument, politely suggest that this might be their best route if they are on a limited budget, or don’t care about much more than getting their memories dubbed over for archival purposes.

I now charge $35 for each one-hour of video, or portion thereof. I will only place up to 2 hours of video on each DVD. And, I charge a $1 tape change fee for people who also want to squeeze as many tapes as they can (like the old 20 minute VHS-C format, for example). So, a DVD will cost them $70 for up to 2 hours of transferred video, and they will pay me an additional $1 each time I change to the next tape. This should give you a basis for establishing your own transfer service price list. You can also check out the competition on the Web via a Google search. Just remember to not fall into a price competition rut.

Make sure what you do is what you WANT to do, and make what you get for it worth your while.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Make Money with Video Greeting Cards

You can make money creating and selling Video Greeting Cards even in this current tight money and DIY (do it yourself) market environment. Though there are plenty of available programs and internet resources for this, not all DIYers are getting beyond the usual amateur creations. In addition to providing DIYers with a more professional product, there are plenty who do not fall into the DIY category.

The market is wide open for a fresh, if not unique, approach to greeting card creation and sharing. In years past I have done this full scale using a shopping mall booth rental during the holiday season (actually from Oct. 1 through New Year’s Eve), as well as on a smaller scale, marketing to existing clients I know might be receptive.

Ironically, my biggest Video Greeting Card breakthrough came last season when I decided to develop my own personal and business VGCs and sent out about a hundred of them. Several clients, as well as family and friends responded to thank me for the “special and unique” holiday greeting. And, they wanted to know if I could create VGCs for them!

Initiating a set of appropriate content for differing personalities, and developing a library large enough to give some choice for people is, and will continue to be a challenge, but there's no doubt that investing time to do so can pay off.

My typical Video Greeting Card is about 15 minutes in length. I have a few that focus on specific holidays such as Thanksgiving, Mother’s/Father’s Day, Halloween and, of course the Christmas season with its various flavors - from traditional to religious, to contemporary, serious or humorous.

When I developed material for the shopping mall experiment, I generated a number of selections and seasons with appropriate music from my library of copyright free selections, and used live video as well as moving stills representing the event. For example, I have collected quite a library of outdoor winter scenes and holiday decorations for the Christmas themes.

At the mall, and even now, I added a live greeting from individual or families, inserted that at the end of what is essentially a montage with music, then created my master. This first experience was during the VHS era, so I used short tapes purchased specifically for the purpose.

Now, with DVD, the process is even easier and faster, offering time to generate 20 or more copies for people who want to do more than just send one to a specific special person, family member, friend or client.

You will have to figure out what your time and the product is worth, and also what your specific market will bear. This starts out feeling like a labor of love but can soon escalate into a fun and profitable element of business. Things can change, and you will not always experience a long shelf life of the contents used even from a year ago, but Video Greeting Cards are an excellent approach to a work once, sell many concept.

Creating, marketing, selling and producing Video Greeting Cards can grow as huge as you want, or stay as subtle as you desire. It is up to you how much time, effort, money and income you put into or get out of this, but the market is real.

There is a lot more to this aspect of diversified video business, but this article should be enough to get your creative juices going. I will follow up with more details as reader interest dictates.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Marketing Projection Services

You can pick up a lot of business, new clients and referrals simply by doing something for free!

“Free?” You ask. Why not? I am willing to bet that over the period of a year most people in business do something for free, believing this will somehow bring them extra paid business. Done wrong, it will bring you nothing but frustration. But, done right... will get your money’s worth, or your time’s worth.

In this particular case I am talking about promotion of not only your availability for providing projection services, but your production work as well. A few times over the past six months I have held planned, and impromptu, block parties, backyard events and even a Movie in the Park event that brought me a lot of good contacts and new business.

I have to tell you that there are potential hazards to doing this, especially in this litigious era where lawsuits, complaints and city/county ordinances abound. Some people with attitudes get miserable just watching others enjoying themselves and are quick to lob verbal, legal or real water balloons at the happy crowd. Use a bit of discretion and plan your guerrilla style movie presentations a little and you might be able to avoid the nastys.

I’ve had people who live on a circle actually get neighborhood permission to close the circle off and throw a block party where I’ve offered to project a movie. The “catch” to my offer is that prior to, and following the movie, I show one of my productions. I might show a montage, a cuts-to-the beat production with photos of kids and animals (pets), or even a wedding highlight, or some other celebration event.

I have also shown highlights of youth sports events, especially if I have something that includes or involves the people throwing the block party.

I have done the same thing with others who have made neighborhood announcements that they will be having a neighborhood social in their back yard. They also announce a movie showing to be projected on the Big Screen (I use a 6x8, T-stand screen), and maybe even children’s entertainment as well. Again, I show my stuff before and/or after.

The most guerrilla of these is to take a chance on showing a Movie in the Park. I am particularly lucky in that I have access to a few small parks in my area where pretty much anything but loud rock concerts goes, at least until 10 p.m. or so at night. This works especially well if you try it on a weekend as opposed to week nights, when surrounding residents might resent the noise and complain. I mean they have to get up and go to work next morning, and they probably want their kids to get some rest before school. Right?

Summer time is more conducive to mid-week park projections, but be prepared for a few people who might “crash” your event and try to raise a bit of sand. Usually, however, you and a few of your followers can keep the bad boys toned down.

I have been able to access power from some nearby source, even from the park’s auxiliary facility - some parks do have these and you can usually sign up to use the facility if you plan ahead. I have sent out notices, usually by e-mail, to people in my neighborhood, others whom I know, and urge them to invite friends. Keep it smaller rather than trying to attract a crowd of hundreds - the local law enforcement will surely come down on you then, and not because they want to watch your movie.

You can get permits, ask permission, get neighborhood support, etc. and sometimes you can simply jump in and back out before anybody causes a problem. Another thing is to not always show something at the same place, on the same day, at the same time. You can be responsible about this, or treat it like a RAVE - notifying past participants via phone text or e-mail.

Occasionally the shear outlaw sense of showing a Movie in the Park will be fun if you can keep things from getting out of hand. Use some common sense about it. And reap the benefits of having an open-minded, fun-loving crowd that not only enjoys the movie, but your productions as well, brings out potluck-style snacks and asks for business cards.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Offering Projection Services

Sometimes you have to spend money to make money: investing in projection equipment in order to market a value-added service, for example.

That can be easier said than done during the present economic state of the union, and your pocketbook. However, if you can manage $2,000 or less (often way less) to invest in a large screen, projector, table, skirt and a bit of marketing you can easily recoup your investment in 90 days or less.

All it would take would be four, maybe five gigs and you’re now into R.O.I. territory.

“Projection!” you might exclaim. Who is going to pay for projection services in today’s depressed economy when I cannot even get them to buy into wedding video production?

The short answer is: A lot of people will “buy into” projection services if you are reasonably priced, service oriented and willing to do the work. Actually, doing projection gigs for a “reasonable” price, say $350 to $450 for a one-time showing, on site for 3 hours or less, will get you a good bit of business if you promote it right.

Nothing wrong, that I can see, in averaging $100 an hour for fairly easy work. Set up. Show. Pack up. Go! It’s over! Next!

If you have been in video production as a business for any length of time, attend church, are a member of your local Chamber of Commerce, Lions Club, Rotary, Kiwanis, etc., participate in your children(s) school events/activities, youth sports programs, or just enjoy a great social environment in your neighborhood, or on your block, you have the human resources available to start making money by offering projection services.

I constantly hear the argument that “everybody has it,” meaning projectors, large screens, etc. but that isn’t what I’m seeing in the real world. I have provided projection services for block parties, outdoor social events by groups and individuals, memorial montage showings at funeral homes, mortuaries, chapels and churches, school graduation, sports awards banquets and other events. Some of these venues even actually have some or all of the equipment, but they don’t always have access to it for one reason or another. Usually, and often it is simply “broke” or inoperable due to poor maintenance.

The key to successfully marketing your projection services is: “If you don’t ask, they can’t say ‘yes!’” If you do ask, not everybody is going to say, ‘no!’ And that’s not just dumb blah, blah, blah... works, if you do. Gotta make the investment, make the effort, ask them, and tell everyone you know that you are doing it. Put it on your web site, feature it in your brochures, direct mail it to any good address you can lay your hands on.

“Good” addresses include anyone who has ever, ever used your video production services, bought a product or paid for your time, referred you to someone, offered you a drink, dinner out, or a reduced price on t-shirts from that defunct church fundraiser. If you are too embarrassed to pursue your available resources then, video AND PROJECTION, being service oriented business is probably not what you should be doing full time, part time, or in your spare time.

I currently have two relatively cheap ($800 or less) 1,200-to-1,500 lumen rated projectors and one Panasonic 2,000 lumen rated projector, VGA or S-VGA, without auto focus or auto keystone control, but totally serviceable for the vast majority of my gigs. Contrary to public opinion (public opinion sort of being like the ubiquitous “They” when people quote: “They say...”) most venues, projection times I service don’t mind lowering the lights if it will help.

My Panasonic works in pretty much anything but open sunshine, no shade, and I have been able to get by using it under carports, inside the garage, or under the backyard lattice cover with decent results. Sure, you can get brighter ones, if you want to spend the money. The key word here is “want” because you certainly do not have to.

I use a projector stand with screw-in legs that are adjustable to a variety of heights. This is covered with a black velvet drape material making it look a bit more professional than the spindly legs (especially at more formal venues such as wedding receptions and memorial services). There are carts as well, that do not require assembly and can be loaded and rolled into position. If you have the means for transporting this, it might help, but again it isn’t totally necessary. I can get my projector table up and covered with equipment in place before most of you would be able to unload your system from the vehicle and roll it into place.

I use a $28 player from WalMart for most of my gigs, and it works just fine, thank you. I purchased a 6x8 front projection screen, t-stand assembly, from ScreenWorks and have used it for nearly 10 years. Yes, it has a few patches here and there, and I’m about ready to put it into second place backup position soon as I purchase another one before the end of the year.

It has been my experience that front-projection, unless you invest in a projector that has an extremely short throw, will more often “work” in your average venue. Even with the 20-feet, or less, throw of my Panasonic, I get full 6x8 screen capacity. That’s workable.

There are dozens of places where you can shop for price and product, and just about that many affordable projectors out there for the taking. Check it out and get started making money even if you are not shooting or editing video today.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Videotaping Funerals

Funerals are not for everybody. “Ewwww, videotaping dead people and infringing on the privacy of mourning loved ones.” While that may be the general reaction, it certainly isn’t so.

This may not be for everybody in the Independent Professional Video Services provider arena - wedding and event video producers working part- or full-time. It is, however, one of the most under-served potential event video production markets on the planet.

I recently had a friend on the East Coast tell me that she had “never heard of such,” adding that it must be a “West Coast thing.” Maybe.

I don’t know about the other side of the Mississippi, but I do know I have videotaped and edited funerals, created and projected memorial montages in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada and Utah, as well as California.

I have created basic memorial photo/music montages for clients all over the U.S.A., including the above states, and Florida, South Carolina, Maryland and Ohio - by mail using USPS Priority.

Granted insurance doesn’t do a thing to replace lost or damaged original photos, if that happens. I have to say that before there were digital formats and jpeg photo CDs the risk was greater, but with the hundreds I’ve produced over the past decade or longer, the Post Office has lost or mis-delivered nary a one.

Interesting enough, deviating from this article, I have had bills, payments, checks lost or dropped off at the wrong addresses, and an equipment order I once made was delivered to Colorado Mining Company before making its way to me...
...eventually. This is over a 40+ years span, mind you, so the percentages are quite low.

They’ve done well by me and my clients.

Churches, funeral homes, mortuaries, cemetery associations and even an ad published on the obits page of your local newspaper, are excellent resources for offering this service. While many large churches, and many of the larger funeral homes usually have audio/video, the vast majority do not. Often those that do provide inadequate equipment, and impersonal service. At funeral homes, especially, they rarely have someone who is well-trained in operating or maintaining their audio/visual equipment.

Quite frequently, even the montages these folks produce are not of a professional quality. It is usually generated by a point-and-click program, limited in scope and selection, length, time to create, and often put together by a minimum wage assistant who has plenty of other responsibilities to overpower her creative focus. Few facilities or their employees are dedicated enough to compete with what you are capable of producing, able to offer.

Putting together a montage, as we all know, can range from simple to complex, but simple is the direction I’ve taken to both get this business and get the projects done within the 24-hour turnaround I promise...
...and have managed to maintain for a long, long time. I have hundreds of satisfied clients. Not one has complained about the quality, or lack thereof, of a single, solitary memorial montage.

Creating montages, frequently within a day of receiving the materials; providing projection service as well, and offering videotaping and editing of funeral and memorial events does require a major commitment. I occasionally have to put in an all-night session in order to deliver as promised.

Over time, however, the over night express has slowed down and many of our family client counselors now give us advance notice, knowing they can depend on us to deliver. Over the years they have become convinced that we are serious about not letting them down. We’ve earned their trust.

Money isn’t huge, but over time it can be. Other than churches, most of the other resources want pricing at a level where they can tag on a percentage and provide this as a value added service. The upside to this is that eventually you’ll get to increase your prices, bring in extra orders for copies, even book other events from people who are impressed with both your work and your presence. Many other potential business sources have come my way through this area of video production.

It all started with a one-page cover letter, backed by a full-length 8-to-15-minute (100-to-150 image) demo with 3 songs, opening/closing title and packaged in a full-color case/insert, with matching graphics on the DVD. And a promise/commitment to “Be there, on call, 24/7, or have somebody who can be.”

Mail these to every church, and all the other resources I mentioned earlier, within your service area. If you do not hear from them, mail the ones who did not respond again within 90 days, then, if you are serious about pursuing this, follow those non-respondents up with a phone call within two weeks after the second mailing.

Even in rural areas throughout the U.S.A. there are literally hundreds of churches, cemeteries as well, where funeral and memorial services are held. Pretty much every state has a Bible belt somewhere, and believe me when I say cemeteries are just about as numerous.

Follow up, follow through and make it happen, and you will soon have all the funeral and memorial business you can handle. Unless, of course, you want to pay and train others so you can provide multiple services at multiple locations and different times of the day. It’s up to you, but if you want this kind of business it is certainly a wide-open area for growth, income and company name recognition.

There are a practical set of things that can and/or should be done when videotaping/editing a funeral, or creating/projecting a memorial montage. That is a subject worthy of follow-up if anyone responds further to this article.

Click on the title at the top of this article to see a one-page web site promotion of this business.