When you first set up a video production company, you may need to do some freelance work to make up for the time away from doing big projects. As a freelance videographer, how much should you charge for your services?
I have always believed that when negotiating with customers, you should never put money on the table. In other words, if a customer wants to pay $1,000 for your one-day withdrawals, you shouldn’t bid $700. On the other hand, if the client is willing to pay just $700 for your service, don’t turn it down just because you usually want to earn $1,000 for a day’s work.
As for my pricing strategy, I try to charge fees close to industry standard rates to make as much money as possible while remaining competitive with other videographers in my market.
For a one person camera crew, my daily fee is $1,200. This includes my camera, tripod, wireless microphone, lighting kit and up to 10 hours of recording time.
My single employee costs $800 for half a day, which includes the same equipment package and up to 5 hours of on-site work.
This rate is acceptable for most customers. For others, this is beyond their project budget. When clients say my rate is higher than what they are willing to pay, I simply ask them how much they have in their budget for these services. If the fees they are willing to pay are within the range I am willing to accept I will book the show.
I don’t normally accept a full day withdrawal for under $700 and a half day withdrawal for under $500, but I rarely need that low. Most clients with experience hiring freelance videographers are familiar with industry standard rates and expect to pay them in full. If they call you again in the future, they will pay the same rate over and over.
The best strategy is to set your rates according to industry standards so that when people ask about the fees you charge, you can get an idea. Then be prepared to negotiate from there so you can book a show.
In my opinion, it’s better to guarantee a day’s worth of work worth $700 than nothing, because you refuse to accept an amount less than your rate schedule.
A bird in the hand is better than two in the bushes. The $700 in your checking account is better than the $700 in the competitor’s account. In addition, if the client needs to hire a cameraman to take another shot, who do you think will receive the call? The other person will… every time. Before turning down freelancers, think carefully about the lifetime value of new clients because they won’t pay you the full amount.
Another thing to keep in mind is that if your rate is too low, compared to other videographers in your area, customers may think you’re not qualified. If they spend an average of US$800 to US$1,200 for a full day of shooting, and your expenses are US$500, they will most likely hire one of them instead of you.
No matter how long you’ve been working as a professional videographer, a low interest rate will make you look like an amateur.
There are also opportunities when you are asked to work on other people’s equipment rather than your own. For these situations, you only need your time rate, excluding your equipment use costs.
I don’t want to work without my own equipment because I like to make extra money, but free beggars can’t always be picky. Again, guaranteed money is better than no money.
My price for a full day without equipment is $500 and the price for a half day is $350. For experienced videographers, these are very industry standard, so your rates may vary. If you still want to become famous for yourself, you may want to charge nearly $300 for a full day and nearly $150 for a half day.
When negotiating interest rates, the same rules apply as above. When asked how much it will cost you to shoot with someone else’s equipment, tell them, but if their budget requires it, they can cut the cost.
Always remember that guaranteed money is better than no money. If someone wants to book you today for $300, but there is a 50% chance that your transaction will pay you $500 for the same day filming, take the deposit. You can always persuade other customers to shoot on other days by offering discounts.
Or, if they can’t shoot on different days, you can still book the show at a higher price and call one of your trusted videographer friends to shoot for you. The customer pays you $500. You pay another cameraman $300.
The end result is that you have $300 in the same days, you regularly have to book several performances at the same time. If the operation is correct, you can perform this operation. The more reliable partners you have in the network, the more money you can make in any given day, week or month.
One last thought on setting up free camera rates. While these services have industry standard rates, you need to manage your finances so that your rates can cover your monthly business expenses and personal salaries.
When you first start out, it’s vital to run your home and business as streamlined as possible. If possible, cut out all unnecessary expenses and restructure your debt so that you can reduce your monthly payments.
In this business there will be some months of sales, and then bad months. Minimizing your monthly expenses puts you in the best position to succeed. You can use your freelance income to support your family and even provide a luxurious lifestyle, but many families find it much easier to get a second income from your spouse’s work.
If your family has two incomes, you can choose to charge services at a lower price than your competitors. Remember, you run the risk of your customers not taking you as seriously as your competitors because your rates don’t match theirs. Step on it carefully.
I suggest you quote industry standard rates but be willing to negotiate to get a gig if you want. Then, when you need to issue an invoice to a customer, first enter the industry standard rate and then the discount amount you choose to help the customer meet their budget requirements. This way they will understand the real value of your service and you have helped them by lowering the rate to meet their needs. This will help tremendously in building a good relationship with that client, and if they need freelance jobs in the future, it will greatly increase the likelihood that they will want to work with you alone.
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