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When is the right time to start charging for promotional videos? When is it practical to do work for free? This week we are looking at a question from a student about when to start charging clients.

STUDENT QUESTION: When should I start charging clients?

ANDREWI know for me when I was getting started out, it was hard to know when to start charging. Because you want to do free work to be able to grow your network and that kind of thing. But really, the point that you can start charging money for your project is the point that the project is bringing value to that person or business. So, if they want this video for a trade show to sell their widgets for $150 each, and having a video would help them sell 20 more (sometimes that’s hard to gauge, but you can make a conservative guesstimate), that means they’re going to bring in that much money.

So then what percentage of that would they be willing to spend to make a video to help them do that? Just think in those terms. So, even if it’s smaller level, say they could maybe land one person at $150 in the first year, then that means yeah, totally, they should be willing to spend $150 for the video because they, ultimately that video will have a longer life span, and probably it’ll bring in more than two people and just kind of thinking of it in terms of value. It doesn’t really matter in one sense how much time you put into it. It’s about how much value they get from the video. 

It's about how much value they get from the video. Click To Tweet

The other aspect to this is, sometimes I know for me it’s helpful to know what the steps are then to realize, “Okay I’m not charging anything,” and how do I end up getting to a place where I can charge things. And the only thing I can say is what’s worked for us and when we got started. But we started doing work for free until people saw that and they really liked it. And just if you can do a really good job each time you make something, then say you do something for a guy in your church, then chances are you have other business people that go to your church that will see that video.

So then you can network, talk with them. And then say there’s three people in your church that are business people, maybe one of them will ask, “how do you do a video?” And maybe you’re doing it for free, even. Or maybe they’re just paying expenses and then that person will probably have at least five to 10 business owners that they know, and you can ask them to refer you to other people and maybe one, maybe two of those people would be interested in a video, and it just kind of grows from there. And then each time you can try to up your game. Start out even just charging for expenses at least you’re not out anything and you can rent actual gear for fairly inexpensive overall, and then you’re just charging that to them so you don’t have to necessarily have the upfront costs of buying all this gear, and then you just keep knocking it out of the park and then the more that you do it, the more people will see it, and then you do the same thing for them.

The more that you do it, the more people will see it. Click To Tweet

Sometimes you can do a strategic free project. We did some work for our police department recently. We had a really fun time doing that. We didn’t have any connection with them whatsoever, but we made a mini doc for the Rode Reel competition. And so, we just went to them and asked if we could make this short promo—, basically a promotional piece for them, a mini doc about the police department. They were fine with us doing it. They let us follow them around for a few days. And then when they saw that, they really liked it and then they started talking to us about doing work and stuff like that, which was actual paying.

Bethany Meckle

Bethany Meckle

Content Curator

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