4 Things You Need To Know to Succeed In Video Production From The Start


“Yes I can do that. Next Monday? Sure. Payment? Don’t worry, I just need experience.”

This was my response while in school and at the beginning of my career when asked to produce a video. The learning that followed from this client was tough, but I gained valuable insight into the freelance world and on how to properly communicate with clients.

With the video production industry changing so fast, like the rest of the world, there are some things that I think you should know, that I wish someone had told me.   

1. Stop saying yes to every video project that comes your way.

Most people will tell you the opposite. I understand it’s hard to say no to good opportunities that come your way. But, sometimes what you think will be good for you can negatively affect your professional career.

“Yes” was always my response. I thought I needed all the experience I could get, and thought people would lose respect for me if I said otherwise. This is often not the case. People hate when you waste their time, and they lose respect for you when you agree to help them and don’t follow through. Some projects may seem exciting and full of opportunities, but do your research before you take it on. Find out about the people you’ll be working with, get all the project details, write down how the project will benefit you and what you need to do to make that happen, and look at your schedule to make sure that you can truly commit to the people that are putting their trust in you. You’ll gain more respect this way, people will appreciate your time, there will be less stress in your life, and you’ll set the right expectations for future projects.

If you decide that you can’t commit to the project don’t just say “no” and leave the person stranded. Always try to help in a small way. Connect them with someone that could help, provide resources that will help the process, and follow up with them to see how things are going. Actions like these can have a big impact on future relationships. Just because you can’t help them now, doesn’t mean you may not be able to help them in the future.

2. Know your gear and stop spending when you don’t need to.

Technology has made it easier to produce video, but it’s also created a steep learning curve and a desire for all the most up to date toys and gear. I spent close to $1,000 on gear for my first production. It took a long time to get that money back, and I kicked myself repeatedly when the project fell through. My thought was that I needed a better camera than I had access to. I learned later that it’s better to have a clear understanding of the gear you actually have access to than buying gear that you think will bypass the learning curve. Instead, spend time getting to know your gear and use your money for training instead. When you’re ready to buy a new piece of gear, build it into the cost of your next project.

3. Get details on paper.

My first video project outside of school, while still a student, had no contract. I hadn’t learned yet how essential they are. By the end of the project, so many things had changed, and more and more of my time was used making them. I made the mistake of not informing my client throughout the process that the requested changes increased the cost of the final product. The end result costed double what we had discussed and the client wasn’t happy with the resulting bill.

There will be many things that come up in business that you should get on paper and project scope is just one thing that will protect you. Add all the details, make sure you and your client are on the same page, and maintain good communication throughout. Don’t agree to it unless you have it in writing – even from your aunt, grandpa, or family friend. Protect your reputation and your time, and make more money in the process.

4. Be patient with yourself. Take little steps every day.

Good quality video production is an art and it requires a lot of practice. The process is long (pre, production, and post) and there are many variables to be aware of. New techniques, software and plugins, equipment, and trends and styles are released every day and it can be overwhelming getting a grasp on it all. Give yourself small, realistic everyday goals and be patient with the progress you make. There will be times when you’ll feel like you are not going anywhere, but remember that a little step each day will get you there.

Don’t be the person swerving to get around the car in front only to be stopped by the red light ahead. Patience is a virtue, and the earlier you learn it the better.   


Mike Kusters – Marketing Communications Technician

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