No matter how good of a filmmaker you are it’ll be hard to do anything if you don’t run your business well. If you truly want to create videos as your job you need to work for it. Learning how to operate a business and spending the time to take care of it.
You’ll want to take advice from people who have already taken the time and made the mistakes running their own business and then pushing through it to success.
It’s sometimes better to learn from mistakes. Parker Walbeck has created a successful business and has a list of 10 mistakes that all filmmakers should avoid.
1. No Vision or Plan
In a small business, there are three key roles: an entrepreneur, a manager, and a technician. The entrepreneur is the one who provides the vision, the manager plans and creates systems to realize that vision, and the technician is the one who produces the final product.
Most filmmakers start off as technicians, or the makers. You’ll need some entrepreneurial and managerial skills. An entrepreneur focuses on a future goal and makes sure that current goals work towards that larger picture while technicians focus on the present without much concern for the future.
If you want to scale up and grow you’ll need to work on your business and the best way to do that is set goals and plan how you would achieve that.
2. Poor Time Management
It’s easy to spend a lot of time-consuming other content. If you take some of that energy and apply it to what you want to create you’ll be able to improve your business. Time spent creating is going to be more educational than pure consumption. You should be spending more time creating that consuming.
3. Cold Contacting
You’ll likely spend a lot of time reaching out to potential clients via cold calling or contacting. There are right and wrong ways to go about this. Just sending some emails and hoping for a response isn’t going to get you the best results.
You’ll want to do some research on the business and competition, explain how you will bring more value, and then make additional effort to communicate in more ways that just sending an email to a generic inbox.
Another option is to make something that you can show off and show to clients the work you could be doing for them.
4. Poor Networking
In any industry where you need to find and work with clients, you’ll need to put a lot of energy into networking. It is absolutely vital to do this.
You’ll need to meet and talk to people and put a lot of effort into making these connections. Once you meet people and talk to potential clients you’ll likely get some work and as long as you do a good job that will likely turn into more work later with other clients.
Video in particular is great for this since many projects require multiple people working on a project. If you build a network you will not only get asked to work on more jobs but you’ll have people you can call on to join your projects when needed.
5. Putting Money First
It’s not always about the money. There is a thing called reciprocity that people expect. You’ll need to prove you can add value before you can expect to reliably make more. A common process is free to fee.
This way you might start off by making a smaller sample with the expectation that bigger or future work would be paid. Usually, the free work when done well proves the quality and value add and can convince clients to pay more later.
6. Not Setting Expectations
You’ll need to learn how to communicate and set expectations. The free-to-fee method demands a clear understanding of the goals.
For example, laying out that you normally charge certain rates but that you are willing to do the first video for free with the understanding that if it does bring value to the client that they should hire you for more at those initial rates everyone knows what is happening.
You’ll also want to make sure you are asking questions to figure out what the client is looking for so you can provide the best product.
7. Providing a Poor Experience
Working with people is a big part of any business and it has already been mentioned a few times here. Even if the work is perfect, if you aren’t good to work with you will likely not get much more additional work from a client.
Be a pleasure to work with and over-deliver.
This is usually how you can generate more work through word of mouth. You can also make it so that you are overdelivering by adding a little extra that you bake into your normal workflow. They feel like they are getting more while you aren’t actually overburdening yourself.
8. Poor Marketing
You need to spend time marketing your videos and content. It’s not just about your fun social media. You’ll need to show off your work on sites like YouTube and promote it using good keywords and SEO.
Over time if you build up a reputation or network you may start getting work just from all the content that people can discover online.
9. Your Portfolio Sucks
No matter what you’ll need to produce good content to do well. Even if you are making good videos you’ll need to create a portfolio that allows you to show off the work you are capable of making to potential clients.
If you do have a portfolio then you should always be working on it and learning new skills. You’ll want your videos to stand out and be of the highest quality.
10. Trading Time for Money
Generally speaking, you are getting paid to spend your time making videos for clients. You could work every day at a decent rate and still not make your income goals.
You’ll want to grow your business and start creating systems that will earn you money without taking up your time. This is known as passive income. Examples of this include ads from YouTube videos, stock videos, sponsorship deals, and more.
This way while you are doing some normal work just making videos your other work will be making you money without taking up extra time. It’s not all about just getting the next paid gig.
[source: Parker Walbeck]
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