A Beginner-to-Expert Roadmap for Videography Pricing
If you’re just starting out as a videographer in Los Angeles, New York City, or even in your small town in Oklahoma, one of the first challenges you’ll need to overcome is videography pricing. Especially in the beginning, it can be hard to know your worth and pitch yourself in a way that feels fair to potential clients, as well as maximizes your earning potential. One thing you’ll always need to consider when creating brands is the location where you plan to conduct the shoot. Peerspace uncovers thousands of unique spaces in hundreds of cities, giving you stunning places to produce your next video project.
Assess your gear
What camera are you shooting with? What kind of quality and resolution will it produce? As a baseline for this videography pricing framework, the lowest quality camera you will come to set with will be a Canon t3i. The t3i has been a common beginner’s camera for almost a decade, and it lays the ground rules for quality in a professional setting.
The t3i records 1080p video at 24 frames per second. Its interchangeable lens system leaves the possibility of using nicer lenses on what is only a $300 camera body, and better lenses will create a higher-quality image regardless of the camera body’s own limitations. The record setting 1080p24 is the baseline requirement for your equipment. If your camera can do that, and you have a good way to capture clean audio, you’re ready to follow this pricing framework.
If your equipment does not meet these specifications, you can absolutely start working with clients. The difference is that you may need to start at a lower price point and use the money you make to upgrade your equipment.
Your first client and the “day rate”
Your first client will likely be a small local business, such as an artisan coffee shop or the car dealership down the street. They’re going to need a short promotional video shot and edited within a week to post on their Facebook page. A great baseline for your videography pricing is a day rate. A day rate is a set price that you can advertise to clients for eight hours on location shooting. In the beginning, you can charge a day rate for the time on set, and then as part of that commitment, you will edit the video within one week of turnaround time.
A great starting point for your Day Rate, is $150/day. Videography is a specialized skill, so $150/day comes out to $18.75/hour. As such, it’s above the wages of an unspecialized skill, but not so high that a lack of experience and polish will hurt your chance of being hired.
Raising your day rate
At some point in your career, perhaps after purchasing new equipment or developing your skills as a videographer, you’re going to need to raise your videography pricing. If you started at $150/day, which includes the edit, the first step will be to split your prices for filming and editing.
When you’ve gotten better at filming beautiful shots, and you consider yourself comfortable with editing a good video, raise your day rate to $200, and start charging $100 for the edit. This effectively doubles your earnings and communicates the different value propositions of your filming and editing skills. The next tier as you get better is a $350/day rate and $150 for the edit. When you reach this price bracket, it’s time to start looking at another videography pricing framework.
Videography pricing by project
Pricing your videos by project presents the greatest opportunity to increase earning potential for your videography. Pricing by project shifts the clients’ focus from how much effort you are giving to the production and focuses on the value of the completed video for their goals. Especially when you’re more skilled, a video that you spend a couple of days on could earn a client thousands or, for the right ad targeted wisely, millions of dollars in revenue. That’s a lot more valuable than your $350/day rate.
A great place to start pricing by the project is to create a sample one-minute video in your style, then sell it to other brands or personal brands for a flat fee of $500. This is very effective for marketing your videography because you can create a sample video, with graphics and color treatment as a template to use on future videos like it, and show it to new potential clients.
Your current marketing sounds like this, “My time costs this $350/day, and it will take me one day to film. Plus, it’s $150 for the edit to make the video you want in a week’s time.” After shifting to a project-based pricing model, it’ll sound a lot better, “Here is what I did for X company, if you want this with your logos and message, it’s $500 and a week turnaround.”
As you create a larger body of work and develop your skills, you can start charging more for your work. Perhaps you sell the same kind of video, with your new skills a year into your work, at $1,000 or $2,500. The right clients with the right need will pay almost any price if you make them confident that it will be worthwhile.
There is no upper limit to videography pricing by project. It is not uncommon for videographers to pitch and close the deal on corporate videos for Silicon Valley tech companies at $50,000 for a single 10-minute video. A great rule of thumb when you’re trying to grow your income: find a price that you’re comfortable with asking of your client, then double it. Even if you negotiate back down, you’ll likely land above the original number.
Videography pricing by retainer
Retainers are a rare, wonderful, lucrative type of videography pricing that can change your life as a freelancer. When you get good enough as a videographer to develop an ongoing relationship with a single client, you can start to explore a new arrangement in the form of a monthly retainer.
A monthly retainer gives the client certain access to your services on a rolling basis for a premium price. Videographers commonly desire to work with the same client fairly often, but do not want to be stuck in the corporate machine and overseen by a boss for less money.
When setting up a monthly retainer, you need to set boundaries. You do not want to give your client unfettered access to you for one price because they will almost certainly take advantage. Set up time constraints, like a set number of hours each week.
In addition, clearly state monthly deliverable expectations. For example, you and the client can agree on making three of one kind of video each month and three of another. When those deliverables are created and delivered, the work is done. Any work outside of that is an added expense for the client.
A great price structure to start you out, is creating four YouTube videos under five minutes each month for $2,500 each month. Let’s say the client loves the videos but wants to put them in more places. You could then charge an extra $500 to reedit the same videos in square and vertical formats for the client to post on other platforms.
However you decide to price your work, remember your value to the client. Don’t allow them to take advantage of you. Don’t allow them to ask for anything outside of the agreement for free. Know your worth, and earn what you’re worth. Good luck!