Whether you're just beginning your filmmaking career or have a few clients already under your belt, you may wonder, "How can I scale my video production business for long-term success?" When starting, it may seem impossible to grow your video production company, but investing your time and money in honing your craft will pay dividends for your growth.
Blitz Studios was founded in 2017, and over the past five years, we've experienced exponential growth and success. We've expanded our team AND offer video production services, including drone videography, promotional video services, wedding videography, video marketing, real estate videography, and more, to serve clients in virtually every industry. We’ve worked with every size company from an entrepreneur just starting out to creating a commercial for a Fortune 500 company. Blitz Studios is located in Cleveland, Ohio, but we serve clients nationwide; pretty cool, right?
Over the past 5 years, we have learned a thing or two about how to successfully grow a video production company. Having a growth strategy in place helped us achieve success quicker than if we were not intentional with our business decisions. Interested in learning how we did it? We'll break down six key ways that helped us grow our video production company to become one of Cleveland's top video production companies.
Position Yourself as a Video Production Company & Not A Freelancer
How you position yourself and your services is essential at the beginning of your career. Even if you have yet to gain years of experience as a videographer, steer clear of defining yourself as a freelancer. When you position yourself as a video production company, it garners more respect from clients.
Unfortunately, when people hear "freelancer," they may think you are less established in your career and try to bargain with you regarding your pricing or services. Positioning yourself as a legitimate company will deter this from happening, as you have more negotiating power. However, one thing to keep in mind when you’re first starting out is leveraging your personal brand. People aren’t going to know the name of your company right away but they will know you so utilize your personal connections to bring brand awareness to your business.
To position yourself as a video production company you need to have a legitimate business. Get an LLC with the state you are in and register your business name. It’s only $100 to register in Ohio, and the LLC can protect you from lawsuits. Obviously, you’ll need to create a catchy name for the video company too. You can also look at getting liability insurance for the company. Sometimes clients will ask to see a certificate of your insurance for certain types of shoots. However, if you have little to no equipment and not a lot of client work, I would forgo the insurance until you think it’s necessary to have protection in case of gear breaking, accidents, etc.
Building trust with clients is very important especially if they are hiring you to film an event or something that can not be recaptured. They need to have assurance that you are a seasoned professional. If they see that you are a one man band without a business, it can raise a lot of red flags.
One easy way to make your business look professional is having a website. You don't need an expensive custom website to start but make sure it is clean and showcases your work in a professional manner. As long as your website communicates who you are, your business, and your videography services, you're golden! Plus, there are plenty of professional website builders that offer low cost solutions for you to choose from when creating your website. We built our website on Wix which has been a great DIY tool and helped capture a lot of clients. However, there are certain limitations with DIY websites, so once you are big enough, you’ll want to switch over to WordPress or custom site solutions. Hosting a lot of videos on a website slows down speeds which can hinder your ability to show up on google.
Build your Client Portfolio
Your portfolio is everything, so laying the groundwork at the beginning of your career is vital for your long-term success. Getting as much experience with different clients and projects as possible will help you eventually land the clients your ideal client for every project.
If you are early in your videography career, offer to do projects for free or at discounted prices so you can build your portfolio. Find industries and clients you want to work for and reach out to them. Most businesses need content so if you are willing to offer a good deal, it can be an easy way to get your foot in the door. It is important to pick industries that have money and resources such as corporate testimonial videos, company promotional videos, event and wedding videography. This might be an unpopular opinion, but we stayed away from doing music videos (as fun as they are) because those projects typically have a small or no budget at all. We built a nice portfolio first, then started doing music videos later and are about to charge $2,000+ per music video. Sometimes you have to pass on making money on a project if it will help you later in your career, which is a risk you must be willing to take.
The first projects you take on can be the most important projects you ever do. They’re going to be the stepping stone of your business and you need to make sure they show off your abilities as a filmmaker and editor. You'll need to go all-in during the video shoot and post-production process to make this a key portfolio piece. Do not hold yourself back in terms of creativity; spend the extra time perfecting every element of the video. It might be time-consuming up front, but we have secured $10,000+ projects based on a video we did for under $1,000 three years prior. A perfect portfolio piece can help you attract more prominent clients and projects in the future.
This also might be a controversial tip but don’t pick a specific niche up front. People always told us at the beginning to find a niche. We thought that advice couldn’t have been more wrong. Picking a niche right away is going to limit your ability to get new clients and experiences. There are certainly benefits to picking a niche, but we don’t recommend doing that until you are established and know exactly what type of niche you are looking for. Try to get as much experience in as many industries and types of videos as possible. This will help you in many ways such as diversifying revenue streams and improving your skills as a filmmaker. You’ll get to experience such a wide range of different lighting situations, directing strategies, editing techniques, etc. that it will make you a well rounded videographer ready for any type of project. Clients also love to see the diversity. It helps build trust with them knowing that you are not specific to one type of video and can be flexible for them.
Invest in Key Areas of your Business
Here comes the classic tip of “invest in key areas of your business.” You're probably thinking of the old saying “which came first, the chicken or the egg.” Obviously, you need clients and money to buy the gear, but you can’t get the clients until you have the gear. So it is extremely important to understand what gear you need to buy upfront.
You must spend money to make money, regardless of where you are in your career. Investing in the right equipment, like your camera, audio gear, lighting, and stabilizers, will improve the quality of your videos. Just because something is the "newest" or "best" camera doesn't mean it's the right one for you; research what gear will help you achieve your goals. It is extremely important to invest money into other equipment outside of the camera and lenses. Obviously, the newest Sony or Canon camera that can shoot 8k 60 frames per second and cost $5,000 is amazing, but do you need that to film weddings or corporate interviews? No you don’t, but you will need a lav microphone that has clean and crisp audio such as a rode wireless mic. You’ll also need a simple lighting kit for interviews and corporate shoots. One thing that we can not stress enough about lighting is that you don’t need the fanciest lighting possible. It is way more important to understand how light affects a subject and mastering the ability to harness light is portrayed in a room. If you can learn how lighting affects the mood and a subject, you can achieve what you want with a basic $300 LED light kit.
It is important to invest in all areas of the production and not just your camera and lenses. It is much better to have a wide array of decent equipment that covers your lighting, audio, stabilizers, cameras, lenses, etc. then just having the nicest camera and nothing else. You also need to invest in high quality royalty free music. Music is everything in video, so making sure you have great music that captivates audiences attention is critical. We recommend Lens Distortion for cinematic tracks, and Soundstripe for weddings and corporate jingles.
This is especially important when you are first starting out and getting clients. Once you have the cash flows coming in, then you can begin to upgrade to the fancy cameras. Finding the right equipment will help elevate your service offerings and master the different areas of video production. The more you invest in your gear, the better storyteller you will be. You can gradually build your toolkit, as you don't need to buy everything at once. Identifying your essential video production tools can help you narrow things down.
Another key area to invest in is your marketing. If you spend all your money on equipment but have no clients, what is the point of having nice gear? Start with google and create a google my business listing. This is free and easy to do. You can make a profile, add photos, and showcase your brand. You can also run google ads to show up on the first page. Before spending money on ads, make sure you watch videos and read about the proper way to create ads. Understanding what makes a good ad that performs well is critical to the success of your marketing budget. You can also advertise on marketplace platforms such as Design Rush, TheKnot, Thumbtack, or Clutch. These are great for SEO but do cost money and can be time-consuming. However using platforms like these provides extremely valuable back links to your website that help increase visibility and increase your ranking.
If you don’t want to focus on online marketing, join networking groups and build a sales funnel. In person networking is an amazing way to get new business and put yourself out there. Building your brand and online presence will put you in an excellent position for long-term growth. Creating a social media presence is the perfect place to start if you are still determining what marketing tactics you want to lean into first. Find hashtags that fit your videos and post consistently. Once you dip your toes into marketing your video production company, you can explore other marketing channels, such as paid media ads or email.
Build Strong Client Relationships
Never underestimate the importance of relationship-building with your clients. Being available to your clients before, during, and after your project wraps is of utmost importance. Going that extra mile for them, especially early on in your career, can prove fruitful; they may want to work with you again for future projects, or they can refer you to other people. Plus, you'll be more likely to collect happy client reviews that you can use on your website and social media, which is excellent for evidence management to attract potential new clients. It only takes one or two big clients that can fill your pipeline and provide recurring work.
When you are on shoots with them, make sure you get to know them. Be personable, ask questions, and engage with them. It goes a long way and shows that you actually care about them as a person and it’s not transactional. The client experience is often overlooked but is critical in the video production industry. They’re going to be champions of your brand and want to make sure they are completely satisfied (even if that means making one more edit request without hassle).
Lead Generation Efforts
Once you start investing in your customer acquisition strategy, you'll see things take off. Building your sales funnel takes time, so don't stress if you aren't focusing on creating SEO-optimized content from the start.
Building an SEO strategy is essential for long-term growth, and the best part is your efforts will help you organically promote your video production company for free. Identifying the relevant keywords you want to rank for and optimizing your content around these words will help you appear higher on the SERP, reaching new clients. Plus, most businesses underestimate the power of SEO and don't have a strategy, giving you a leg up on competitors. One thing that is great about video productions is that people search online for those services. Having a presence on the first page of google can get you huge paying jobs and better types of clients.
You can also do other marketing efforts such as email campaigns, hosting networking events, creating Facebook groups, etc. It is important to establish a strategy that provides new leads consistently. This will take a lot of stress of you as you are not worrying about when the next project is coming in. The video production industry is growing exponentially with the needs of content creation and screen time. It is all about having brand presence and visibility to capture some of that market share.
Don't hold back when it comes to growing your video production business. When you fully commit to putting in the time week after week, you will see your work pay off. Not everything is going to be perfect. There will be ebbs and flows, and you’ll experience many highs and lows along the way. Just go with the flow and don’t get discouraged if you have a slow period. Everything takes time, so trust your vision. Believe in yourself and take the plunge. You can always get another job somewhere else but you won’t be able to become an entrepreneur unless you give it your full time effort. It might be scary to quit your day job, but you will be amazed at what you can accomplish when it is your full time commitment. It will be much more rewarding working for yourself and building your own company. You can always get another job if things don’t work out, but you’ll never be able to get a job as an entrepreneur.
Hopefully this article gives you confidence in your ability as a filmmaker and entrepreneur. These 6 practical tips will go a long way when building your video production company. Blitz Studios wasn't always a household name for video production in the Greater Cleveland area. However, we have grown our service offerings and clientele through these six key strategy points over the years. If you want to grow your video production company, consider implementing these tips to scale your business and reach new clients.