How To Make Money With Video

Cloudbreak Creative

If you’re already making money with video, congratulations!  Hopefully, we can help you make more.  For everyone else, even with no prior video experience, you can begin to generate new sources of income through video.  Or save money by helping produce your own content. 

The decline of big-budget video projects is certainly heartburn-inducing for some who have trouble adjusting to the way things are done today — short videos, shot on a phone, with no frills.  But facts are facts.  It doesn’t take the same number of people or amount of equipment to create a video as it used to.  The audience’s tolerance-level for what some veterans consider “bad video” is very high.  With that said, there’s a place for everything.  Some content still demands a strong, experience production team, starting with a powerhouse advertising or marketing firm driving the ship.  Nike wouldn’t trust all its TV commercials to a high school kid with an iPhone (maybe one, if he were about be drafted to the NBA).  On the other hand, you can’t expect top-dollar budgets for every project when companies have so many channels to fill on a daily basis.  But we digress.  The video industry as a whole is strong.  There’s more video being created today than ever before.  So how do you get in on the action?  First, see where you might best fit in the mix.


We can broadly look at video in three parts: creation, execution, and distribution.  Each area has unique jobs and responsibilities.  Some of these disciplines you may already know.  Some you may be capable of learning.  Some you may never grasp.  That’s why it’s important to take an honest look at your own skills, abilities, and goals and see if you find a match.  Video production is not easy.  However, if you find part of the process to be interesting and something that fits your skill set, you have an immediate opportunity to explore something new!  If jumping into the world of video is something you’ve always wanted to do, or if you see the potential to expand your professional offerings in some way through video, don’t be afraid to challenge yourself and go for it.  Video’s not going anywhere so you might as well start learning now.


“Ideas are a dime a dozen.  It’s the execution that matters.”  We’re not sure who said that first, but it’s a good line.  It reminds us that ideas are worthless if not followed by action.  However, you still need an idea!  Ideas can come from anywhere, but often are inspired by others videos.  If it’s ideas you want, watch other people’s works and see what your right-brain comes up with!  Once you have your idea, you need to move it from your head to something tangible, a reference document to keep all collaborators on the same page.  Much of this process typically falls under “pre-production” but we’re calling it “creation” as in “creating the plan” for your video.  What will the viewer see and hear?  Where do the video and sound come from?  Is there a script that needs to be written?  A certain location where you may need permission to shoot?  Will you tell your story with text, a voiceover, or maybe an on-camera talent?  Organizing and arranging those many moving parts is the reason you’ll pay good money for a producer in most commercial productions.  However, for the day-to-day social media videos, it may be better for you to tackle those things yourself, or have someone on your staff step-in and help.


This is the toughest for someone with little technical chops.  We think it’s the most outsourced part of video production these days.  We meet a lot of customers who have done a DIY producing job, written their own script, and will be the on-camera talent, but they don’t know the first thing about shooting or editing.  Often times, they’ll show us their first edit and ask if we know someone who can polish it up a bit (from a budget standpoint, remember the more polish you want, the more money you’ll spend).  That polish comes in the form of gear, audio, lighting, set design, editing, graphics, and many other things. Many of those aspects of production are specialties that require talent and experience to be done at a high level.  However, for the daily or weekly internet video, it will be more cost-effective to go with a freelancer who can handle all of it.  Or consider shooting it yourself and simply outsource the editing.


This is a different kind of challenge and something that should be considered at the beginning of a video project.  It comes last, sequentially, but you’ll get better results if you create the video knowing where you want it to go and who you want to watch it.  If you’re creating an Instagram video, you can probably cap the run time at 30 seconds.  If you’re doing a general sales video for the “about us” section of your website, a video of 90 seconds or more might be more appropriate.  But perhaps the most important question to ask about distribution is, “paid or unpaid?”  Running video ad campaigns could become an extra revenue source for someone who’s already producing videos.  Which leads us to some examples:


Samir has been shooting video for ten years.  His production company has grown from just himself with camera and wireless microphone setup to him and a production van, two full-timers, and a solid list of freelancers to fill-in when needed.  To drive extra revenue, Sammy recently went beyond producing and delivering great video content to his clients and learned how to distribute that content in a way that gets results.  He says it’s helped with his producing as well, having more information about what kinds of messages work and which ones fall flat.  It didn’t happen overnight.  Sammy spent months studying and practicing with his own brand and then did a test run with a couple of close client to prove his concept.


We have seen a lot of still photographers transition into the world of video production.  A lot.  And with good reason.  They have the eye.  They know the camera.  So instead of snapping one frame, snap 30 or 60 per second.  Sounds easy enough, right?  At least it’s enough to get by in the beginning.  Not every video needs an orbiting steady-cam or a whip-pan that’ll snap your neck.  Often times, a gorgeous, locked-down shot will take care of business and the still photographer is usually primed and ready!  Most often, what they lack is video editing experience.  Since most photographers have a certain level of understand of photo editing software, it’s not a difficult transition to move to video editing software.  Once you learn basic layering and manipulating the timeline, you’re on your way!


We’ve started seeing website developers and managers dipping into the video world.  How does that work, you ask?  Take our friend Jackson, for example.  He’s been making websites for clients for almost 20 years.  In addition to coding, he has flexed his writing muscles over that time by filling those websites with content.  At this point, he knows his clients’ business almost as well as they do and is perfectly capable of producing useful video content like product videos, customer support videos, and documentary style videos telling the story of the business.  Usually, this consists of writing a script and hiring a freelancer to shoot and edit these segments that live on the company’s website and social media pages.


While most large agencies can effortlessly handle almost any of the aforementioned pieces to the video puzzle, they haven’t always.  There used to be clear lines drawn between marketing, advertising, and PR firms.  Not so much anymore.  They’re all creating content in one way, shape, or form.


Whether you’re a brand or business looking to bring some of this content creation in-house to save, or you’re a freelancer looking to grow your business and expand into other areas, there’s no harm in exploring something new.  But be patient!  And most importantly, be honest with yourself.  Learn what you can do well and what needs to be outsourced.  It might take a little trial and error, but your business will be better for it.

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