What should you charge your clients for the videos you make in 2021?
I have made every mistake in the book when it comes to pricing out a video project. From the beginning stages of doing video projects for fun, doing video as a side-hustle as I wrapped up film school, creating videos with a marketing agency, and now working in my own video production business, I’ve gone through the different levels of the video business.
Now, this is just my approach to pricing out video production based on my own experience as a freelancer, business owner, and team member in an agency setting. I’ve taken a number of courses as well that explain useful ways to price projects out and I’ll recommend some resources in this article.
Without further ado, here are key ways to price out a video production project. I hope it helps you out!
Create the Video For Free (Stage 1: Aspiring Videographer)
If you do not have example videos or a reel to show, consider doing the video for free.
At this stage, you are likely just getting started in your video/filmmaking journey. And, the focus of this stage is to improve your skills and not maximize how much you get paid.
As you are looking to find projects to do, try reaching out to non-profit organizations or businesses you admire and ask them if you can film a video for them for free in exchange for letting you use it in your portfolio moving forward. The key here is to just be open and honest with them – just let them know you are figuring out this video thing and want to give it a swing because you love their organization’s mission or their business’s food or whatever it may be.
Free to Fee Video Pricing Example
To give you an example from my own experience, I wanted to start doing real estate videography. Although I had done many other types of business-related videos and weddings previously, I did not have experience at all with real estate. I saw a very cool-looking building, called up the company that constructed it, and asked them if they would be open to having me film a walkthrough of their place.
I let them know that I would do this first video for free and, if they liked the work, I’d be happy to do more work but at my regular rate. And, if they decided they did not need video, that’s no problem either. In the end, they loved the video and I created a few more videos for the different properties they built.
Parker Walbeck from the Full Time Filmmaker team calls this the “free-to-fee” method and I highly recommend this to every person just starting out. Take the pressure off completely on the pricing side of the business and focus on creating great videos. Here is a link to Full Time Filmmaker if you want to check that out.
One indicator that you are ready to start charging for your videos is when people are reaching out to you and asking for price. If this is the case, the next section will help you out.
Charge Between Your Very Happy and Not Happy Price (Stage 2 – Side Gig)
If you have a portfolio of work and people are asking for your pricing, consider charging between your very happy and not happy price.
At this stage, people are asking you to make videos for them and you have a body of work you are proud of. You have at least three example videos you can send clients to show what you can do.
When clients come to you asking for your price, I highly encourage you to trust your gut with a simple test that I have called the “Happy Price” test.
Introducing the Happy Price Test
Let’s take, for example, a wedding film. If someone wants a 5-8 highlight video, what should you charge?
Ask yourself, “What would I realistically be happy to be paid?” Then, ask yourself, “What would I not take the job for? Or, what would I be unhappy doing the job for?”
Don’t overthink it – just trust your gut.
So, let’s say you have a few videos under your belt and you would be very happy to be paid $1500 for the video. Great!
What if the client says their budget is $1000 – are you still happy? What about $800? Or even $500? What about $100?
Let’s say you would be unhappy to work on a wedding film at $700 and lower but very happy to deliver one for $1500 – just split the difference and your price is $1100.
Is this the most scientific approach? Does it take into account expenses, taxes, second shooters, etc? Nope. But, it is a really simple gut-check to quickly get pricing for a project that usually is pretty good.
And you know what? After you do this once, you’ll begin learning the other factors you need to consider in order to adjust your happy and unhappy range for the next project. Even now, I still do this and find it a very helpful exercise to build estimates.
What’s Your Budget?
To add one additional tip to this – it’s helpful to ask the client what money they have set aside for this project or what their budget is. They will probably say they want to know your price, which is totally fine. If they do give you a budget, you can see if it fits within your happy and not happy range and assess from there.
One helpful phrase as you talk with the clients, when you know your happy and unhappy price, is to say something like, “are we talking a $3000 video or more like an $1100 video?” This is a simple way to bracket the price and figure out the client’s budget range.
If you find yourself with lots of clients wanting to work with you but not enough time, it’s time to jump to the next stage.
Price the Project Between Your Very Happy and Extremely Happy Range (Stage 3: High Demand Full-Time Videographer)
If you have begun to start turning down projects because you simply don’t have enough time or have a full reel with many incredible videos in your portfolio, it may be time to adjust your brackets. You may also want to consider value-based pricing.
I really like the idea of charging what you are very happy making on that video.
To keep things simple, if you are at this stage, you can create a new gut-test by charging between your very happy price and your extremely happy price. For most projects, this will serve you very well. From this point on, you will be taking on jobs because you love doing them and they are paying you well. It’s a win-win!
Another popular pricing strategy is to do value-based pricing. In short, this means figuring out how much value your services will bring to the client and charge according to that.
For example, if you are pricing out a video for a construction company that builds million-dollar homes and you can demonstrate that it will bring in even 1 new customer per month, the amount of value that would bring that company over a year’s time is massive. In other words, how much is it worth to the client to have even 1 new customer every month? It could mean literally tens of thousands in profit.
As such, it actually makes a lot of sense to pay upwards of $10,000+ for a single video with that much of a potential return. They already love your work & trust you and, even though they could hire someone to do it for less, the amount of money they could lose by not having a great video could actually cost them tens of thousands. This is a very effective way to price projects, once you have the experience and knowledge.
Though, to be completely honest, this is a big topic to cover and not something I think that can be learned in a single blog post. If you want to learn more about value-based pricing and how to do it very well, specific to the video industry, check out The Real Deal Video Strategist Club course. They cover how to talk with clients, how to price the project out, and so much more in extreme detail.
They are my #1 recommendation if you want to get more comfortable and familiar with pricing projects in the video industry.
Final Thoughts on Pricing Video Production Projects
There are so many strategies for pricing out video projects. You can use calculators, estimate with day rates, figure out hourly rates, and even do flat-rate pricing. But, I wanted to cover a slightly different approach to pricing that I think will work well for a majority of people.
My advice would be to try not to stress out too much about pricing and take it a step at a time. Yes, getting paid is important but don’t put too much pressure on yourself to get it 100% right every time.
If you don’t feel comfortable charging what others are charging, then don’t. If you are unsure how to do value-based pricing, then stick to what you know. Over time, you’ll build confidence and courage to step outside your comfort zone and experiment with new ideas. And, if you get stuck and need some guidance, consider working with a coach or sign up for a course that will help you work through pricing, like The Real Deal Video Strategist Club.
At the end of the day, you probably got into doing video because it makes you happy. Price in a way that makes you happy and price in a way that will give you enough to make your clients happy.
I hope this was helpful to you and best of luck pricing your next project out!