The video production landscape has changed dramatically in the past five years. In early 2011 I left a full-time job as a Senior Editor at a full-service production company and set up my own post shop.
Such an undertaking would have been next to impossible a few short years ago - the cost of purchasing professional video decks alone would have run into the tens of thousands. But thanks to new tapeless workflows that have been almost universally adopted, in the past year I have edited a television documentary series and a few dozen corporate videos and have yet to use a single tape deck. Starting with the bare minimum I needed to deliver high quality videos for my clients, I was able to get my edit suite up and running for less than $10,000. But running a successful editing business isn’t just about start-up costs – there are some things you need to keep in mind if you want a steady flow of work to support your business.
Understand the Market and Find the Right Clients
If you want to work in the lucrative corporate video space, you need to think of what kind of clients (in this case video producers) will keep you busy. You might think bigger is better and try to land a traditional video production company. By traditional video production company I mean a shop with two or more full-time staff and a lot of videos under their belt. But these kinds of companies seem to be getting squeezed by price pressure these days, being unable to sustain the high rates that in the past could cover their large overhead.
All of my clients are experienced producers who in the past worked for traditional video production companies but now work for themselves. Running a one-person shop out of a home office means they have little overhead, and having extensive contacts with production professional means they can put production teams together on a project-by-project basis. If you can find and build good working relationships with independent corporate video producers – and you provide them with and excellent service and product – you will never find yourself out of work.
Have a Professional Online Presence
Having a website that showcases your work to potential clients is paramount. But not any website will do. People will be looking to hire you for your skills as a visual storyteller - so a clean, well designed website that effectively tells your story will get you a long way. In my past experiences in hiring freelance editors, I sometimes never get past the first page of their websites to see their work samples – the design of the site alone tells me something of their particular design sensibility (even if they didn’t build the site themselves), and if I find that sensibility off-putting, then I tune out. Having said that, you don’t need to break the bank to get a professionally designed site custom built. There are plenty of website templates out there that are well designed and affordable. Take a look at some of the portfolio website template at Envato’s Theme Forest for some idea as to what’s out there.
Another point to consider is that many corporate video deliverables today are for web-distribution. Showing that you can efficiently navigate the world of web video will only serve to make you a more attractive prospect.
Get a Room
Although it is possible to work out of a home office, I recommend you rent office space where you can set up an edit suite. Not only does having a physical location project a professional image, but given the client profile mentioned above (the independent producer working form a home office), clients will welcome a comfortable space where they can come in and screen edits. Bringing a client into your home office, which also happens to be your laundry room, just doesn’t have quite the same appeal. And it doesn’t have to be anything fancy – all you need is a room with a door.
Have the Right Tools for the Job
One of the distinct advantages to specializing in corporate video is you don’t need to break the bank buying equipment. You won’t be doing high-end color grading and finishing, so you don’t need to invest in an Avid DS or drop 15Gs on Smoke. And like I said earlier, tapeless workflows means you don’t need to buy expensive video decks. I do quite well with a 27” iMac, a 17” MacBook Pro, good quality speakers, and a couple RAID drives. I cut on Final Cut Pro and create my motion graphics with After Effects. With the advent of Final Cut Pro X, I am currently re-evaluating my situation in terms of a NLE. One option that is looking more and more attractive is Premiere Pro. As an After Effects user, the integration makes sense, and Adobe now offers a monthly license rental. For 60$/month, you can license all the tools in their production suite, rather than pay $1600 for a license that you would need to upgrade every 18 months or so.
When I first cut the safety net and went out on my own a year ago, I did have a certain amount of fear and anxiety. But by doing the things I have outlined here, I have been able to establish a very busy corporate video editing shop that has yet to experience any downturn in work volume.