Hey all you hard-working video producers out there. We are living in some exciting times for our business. The good news is, more and more companies and organizations are realizing the importance of video. Even social media superstar and consultant Chris Brogan is championing the need and benefit of video.
The bad news is that more and more of these organizations are doing it themselves. The aforementioned video by Chris goes into detail on how he lights his video blogs, how he captures audio (at least he recognizes the importance of good audio), etc. And as programs like FCPX become more powerful and more accessible to the average Joe, you can expect even more DIY videos to hit the market. That could mean less work for you…and me. (I recently got an email from an “almost” client who LOVES my work and started to hire me, then got the project cut by the Exec. Dir. so that someone from within their organization can do it and save the money. Such is the way of things.)
To be fair to professionals like Chris Brogan, I don’t know if it’s really necessary to hire a pro to shoot your daily or weekly video blogs. I actually think what he’s doing is smart and I commend him on making the effort to up the quality of his video blogs (which up until now had just been webcam videos. Blech!)
But in the past few months, I’ve seen quite a number of promotional videos by high-profile, financially successful authors, consultants, coaches and professionals who have absolutely terrible video. I’m talking about videos where you can tell they just set up a 5D Mark II, turned on maybe one 250k light, then started talking. No mic, just on-camera audio. I’m sitting here thinking to myself, “I KNOW that dude has bank. Why in the world is he settling for such a crappy sounding/looking video? Geez! At LEAST hire a TurnHere videographer or something!”
And truth be told, it’s not just videographers dealing with this. I’m seeing a lot more DIY teen and family portraits on Facebook too. So, you photographers out there are facing the same issue.
So I’m wracking my brain trying to figure out what the heck-fire is going on. In some cases, like the example of my “almost” client, I know economics play a real factor. (They are a non-profit and have to be very wary of when they do invest in things like professional video). But how do you account for millionaire (or at least hundred thousand-aire) professionals who won’t even put out a few hundred bucks for a well crafted promo video? The only answer I can think of is this: “They, and their audience, just don’t care.” User Generated Content sites like YouTube have made the average viewer used to what we artistes would call, ahem, crap. Why spend $1,000 or more on a professional video of you talking to a camera just to have good lighting and audio when the people you’re marketing that video to won’t miss anything if you did it on the cheap with poor lighting and an on-camera mic? So, to some extent, I can’t blame them. It may make good business sense to save the duckets.
So what does that mean for you and me. Those of us who make a living from this? Well, I can tell you one thing, there’s no point whining about it. It is what it is. Technology has changed the landscape of visual arts, and those who have made a living at it need to keep up with the times. No. Check that. We need to stay AHEAD of the times. So, as I’m prone to do, here’s a list of ways in which we visual artistes can continue making a living at this, if that’s what we wish to do.
- Be different. This is a broken record for me, but it always bears repeating. You HAVE to set yourself apart. You need to create work so compelling, so different, companies must come to you to get it. You have to make them WANT to hire you and not DIY it.
- Diversify. You have to look at other ways of generating revenue from your talent. This does not mean market all kinds of video services under one brand. Many of you know that I’m a huge proponent in focusing what you sell. But, there’s no reason why you can’t have one brand that sells weddings, another brand that markets corporate work, and a third that does cat-juggling videos. Whatever. Another way to diversify is look into content you can create that people want to buy (e.g. long-form narratives; documentaries; etc.)
- Find a new market. If you previously made a living shooting video blogs for high-profile authors and business coaches, you had best start looking for a new market. There will always be SOME company out there that needs professional, well-crafted video work and are willing to pay for it. You just may need to work harder at finding them. If you have to, partner with someone who’s good at sales and marketing to help you.
- Education. Since there is a surge in DIY video production, maybe you should consider creating a series of videos that teach others how to make videos. The education market is changing a lot too, so this may not necessarily start out as a big revenue generator as there are so many free resources online, but again, if you’re different, perhaps you can capture that market with HOW you teach. You Suck at Photoshop is an excellent example education delivered in a unique way. Again, it might not yield dollars per se, but it could be used to build a platform from which you can generate revenue (e.g. advertising, etc.)
- If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. You can do what one of the videographers for Chase Jarvis did. Reach out to one of these high rollers and offer your services as a part of their team (i.e. become their employee). Show them why you working for them full-time can be the best investment they ever made in promoting their brand.
These are just a few ideas of how to deal with the changing tide of video production. Do you have any?
Here’s Chris Brogan’s video where he talks about his DIY video set up.
Tim Ferris is a successful author who “gets it” when it comes to the power of video.