“How much does it cost to make a video?” It’s usually the first question people try to answer before embarking on producing a company video. The second question is, how does one choose an affordable video production company? So, if you’re searching for an affordable option, here are 6 tips to help you identify the company that’s right for you.
1. Know what “affordable” means to you
Affordability can mean different things to different people and it hinges on many things, beginning with your needs, your budget, and your business objectives. Early on in our discussions, we will you to share your project budget simply because there’s a huge range in cost when it comes to video production.
A movie like "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" costs north of $175 million. On the other hand, many of the most popular videos on YouTube cost almost nothing to make and have millions of views. While you are probably looking for a different type of video, it's important to understand that there are many different ideas of budget when it comes to video and setting a budget can help you narrow down your search.
2. How does the company estimate cost?
Once you have a budget in mind, it's important to understand how video companies estimate the cost of video production. The majority of companies charge a set hourly rate, but every company is different. No matter how big or small your video project is, it will take a certain number of hours.
Adding additional technology components, shooting locations, interviews, graphics, or special effects will add more time to your project and increase the cost.
In order to get an accurate video proposal, it's important that your production company understands the different elements you are hoping to include in your video. Make sure to outline any specifics that you know when you start a video project and get an estimate.
The estimate for your video should follow this simple formula:
(Company's hourly rate) x (Total number of hours it will take to complete your project) = Total Estimate
Remember, the video production process includes more than just the time on-site shooting your video. The process includes pre-production (the planning phase), production (the capturing phase), and post-production (the editing stage). Each of these will play into the total number of hours spent on your project, and ultimately, the cost.
3. Be cautious of flashy equipment and gear
If you are looking to keep your video affordable, be cautious of producers and production companies who talk about their impressive gear. Fancy gear contributes to the quality of the video, but it doesn't necessarily mean that the company can tell a really great story.
When you are looking to keep your video affordable, the story is the most important component. Fancy equipment and extra bells and whistles won't necessarily help you get what you really need from your video.
Look for companies who excel at telling stories, even for the less-exciting companies.
4. Watch examples and ask lots of questions
When you find a company that looks promising, start by watching their portfolio or examples. Make sure that you go beyond their demo reel and watch a few full videos to get a sense of how they handle a story from start to finish.
Check out their YouTube channel, look at how they are using video on their own site. Check for examples in companies or industries that are similar to yours. Once you feel comfortable about the examples that you see, reach out to the company, but come prepared with questions.
We have a whole list of video production questions that you should ask before your next shoot, but here are a few to help you get started:
- How often do you work with companies with _______ budget?
- What examples do you have from companies/industries like ours?
- What's your current turnaround time on projects?
- How will you work with us to make sure that we stay on budget?
- What happens if we go over the allotted number of hours?
- Do you have a list of referrals that I can speak to?
5. Speak to references and ask more questions
Companies will always recommend that you talk to their favorite clients and partners, so talking to references is a good way to get a sense of what it's like to work with the video production company long term.
So, here’s what you want to ask the references:
How detailed was their statement of work before they started?
Did they come in on budget?
If not, how did they communicate the overages?
How did they handle the revision process?
Were you billed incrementally above and beyond the original statement of work?
Or were the revisions part of the original cost?
Remember, it can be easy for video production companies to give you a "low ball" proposal to earn your business. It’s harder to stick to that proposed estimate once the project begins. So, don’t be fooled by “affordable” in the beginning, because in the end, it might be the exact opposite.
6. How will you measure the return on investment
Keep in mind that affordability goes hand-in-hand with value, and a video that can be used to drive a return on your investment may be of tremendous value.
It's not always easy for video production companies or producers to demonstrate a return on investment, so it’s important that you are clear about how you will use your video and leverage it to drive revenue to your organization. After all, even a video that costs $20,000 can be perceived as affordable if it generates $100,000 in business!
When looking for an affordable video production company, it's important to understand the key elements that drive video cost. It might seem like you will get more bang for your buck with a freelancer or fancy production studio, but remember, in the end, it's all about how well your video resonates and how well it performs to help you drive new business.