In my professional opinion, based on actual experience, the top five moneymakers for independent video services providers, not in any special order of importance, are:
• Personal Events
• Youth Sports
• Community Events
• Web video production for small businesses
ACTUALLY? There’s probably SIX, and I have to agree with Heidi at H. Mueller Design who noted that development of special interest or how to or Do It Yourself video programs can be highly profitable. So, there‘s six in the top paying bracket for independents. I also agree with Heidi that doing video you enjoy can offset the profitability factor in many instances.
THE BEST PAYING
...the highest paying based on actual possible dollars per hour earned is web video production for small businesses. This production service has the highest potential, and once a solid production/delivery system is established and in place, can be a quick turn around with serious profits. The required investment to establish a viable business plan in this arena is comparatively low.
There’s currently a high perceived value among this demographic and product is capable of almost instant delivery. These productions, when planned well, can often experience a long shelf-life making the venture economical and affordable for the client. Productions can be worked in such a way that content may be endlessly repurposed.
When the system comes together and the product works for your clients, you’re looking at a high level of repeat business, strong potential for renewables and referrals with a natural tendency among such clients to expand their perceived web video needs and budgets.
THE WORST PAYING
Weddings bring in the least amount of dollars per hour invested from start to completion. The investment in equipment and marketing needs can become quite expensive if a video businessperson wants to have a go at wedding video production at a high-quality professional level. It is, however, not essential that a talented producer invest heavily, or even market heavily for that matter, to gain the level of consistent business he or she personally desires.
Wedding video production requires the highest investment of time and effort, and potentially high initial investment, to produce a high quality finished product. Your average bride, or groom, or parents in most demographics in this business arena are essentially the least likely people to perceive a high level of dollar value, generally speaking, of services rendered and products delivered.
I must say that a significant number of independent video services providers who focus exclusively on wedding video production are quite successful. For many, even the most successful, like marriage itself, this can be a love/hate relationship.
WHAT BUSINESS PLANS TO AVOID
What should you avoid?
Due to the tremendous amount of competition and existing valid and viable services offered via storefront, website and major chain, and at rock bottom pricing, I’d have to say it would be a difficult and expensive task to invest into the equipment needed and obtain the level of business required for R.O.I. in film, tape and general video conversion services.
Again, there are exceptions, and some business savvy individuals may certainly be able to carve out a niche here for themselves, especially in under-served areas. Personal and/or other unique services can make such a plan commercially viable, but any attempt to compete on price alone is going to be business suicide. The required volume to become a profitable business is going to be huge. It will need to be consistent, or don’t plan on this as your single-income source or a full-time business. Keep your day job.
I think it would also be difficult for a startup independent video services provider to engage the corporate sector even if the capital investment required and associates/client resources were available in abundance. This is something that, with rare exception, the established boutiques and large production houses have a firm grip on.
And again, there are exceptions. Shear determination, along with some good fortune and key clients/accounts can make some of us the cheered underdog. However “exception” is the rarely occurring key word here.
WHAT OTHER POSSIBILITIES EXIST?
Other potentially viable startup, and even add-on video business, service and product might include development of a specialty concept.
Remember the abundance of places, especially in tourist magnets, where kids of all ages could cavort in front of a background, mime or lip synch to the cameras/audio and walk out with a 60s or 70s style MTV production of their own?
Some folks are still making this work, mostly hiring out as part of the events and activities offered at school graduation parties, private group celebrations, even at fairs and community events where there's a large public turnout.
Folks who focus on and invest in the equipment necessary to provide instant video to marching band, dance, cheerleader, flag drill team and other major competition events that have local, regional, state and national level contests can still carve a niche for themselves. There's a formula that works, and the upfront investment can be huge, but the end results for a determined and savvy business operator can be rich.
Other areas are those currently being under-served: funerals, memorials, custom animations featuring children's heads, arms, legs in cartoon, 2D and 3D environments. Also, starting your own specialty HD/SD stock footage library, or focusing exclusively on acquiring such footage and getting yours placed with any or all of the larger stock footage houses in operation.
SPECIALTY OR DIVERSITY?
Neither or either.
There's speciality and diversity in this business. Both work. What is required is tenacity, determination, applied effort, consistent production and a good head for business with a solid finger on the consumer pulse. Identifying and recognizing the next HOT video concept, then getting the jump on the rest of us.
Remember: If you market you will make it! © Earl Chessher