Continuing our “Getting Paid Suite” started with Nino’s article “When Working for Free as a DP Makes Sense“, we thought we would mention an article we found written by Matt Jacobs, owner at Filmmaking Lifestyle. He has compiled a list of tips from working video professionals from all over the world regarding the complicated topic that is pricing your video productions.
“Lower your prices to stay competitive… But you want to make a living and earn what you’re worth… But will people actually pay that?” These are considerations that have probably crossed every video freelancer’s mind at some point or another. Well, in order to demystify this touchy subject, filmmaker and blogger Matt Jacobs asked video professionals from around the world how they approach the topic of pricing.
His responses come from names you will certainly recognise, with the likes of Vincent Laforet, educator Larry Jordan, podcasters Ron Dawson and Alex Ferrari, cinema5D’s very own Seb Wöber and many other bloggers, YouTubers and video professionals chiming into the discussion.
The old adage that says, “You do it for the money, for the artistic purpose or for the career opportunities… Get 2 out of those three, you’re doing pretty well” certainly seems to apply to video, judging from the variety of comments. When you are trying to move your career forward, money certainly isn’t the only factor, and many will reconsider their prices for a job if there other advantages such as networking. However, the opposite also applies…
“If the people are jagged to start and/or have a rep of being difficult, I raise the price, even if that means losing the job. Life is too short.”
– Alex Ferrari, Indie Film Hustle.
But when you do get down to the nitty-gritty, how do you ultimately decide your price? Judging by the contributors’ comments, and perhaps unsurprisingly, the greatest decisive factor is always how much time a project will take. But interestingly, even here there are mixed opinions. While some recommend not taking too much time to work on a quote unless they are convinced the client definitely wants to hire them, others believe that establishing a good connection beforehand is good.
“Sending video examples to my client during the quote process, showing visual examples and discussing at length what they have in mind ensures that we are on the same page creatively and that I’ll be able to include the necessary items in my quote.”
– Thierry Denis, Helium Films USA.
Furthermore, there is of course the great divide that is the decision between charging a daily rate or a price for a completed project.
Finally, an interesting point that surfaced a couple of times was the problem of underpricing too much. Charging to little in order to secure a client could unexpectedly result in resentment towards both the project and the client if you feel you are not getting paid what you are worth. And in the end what suffers is the work itself.