Online Video: Costs to Consider

(A follow-up to It’s Not Only Video Production – It’s Marketing)

In last week’s blog, I discussed the advantages of using video in your marketing efforts, including outlining the video process, and how long a production may take to create.  As a follow up to that blog, I have dedicated this week’s blog to answering questions regarding budget-related costs associated with video production.

As the owner of a marketing agency with a full service video production company, and over 13 international video awards, my clients often ask me how much producing video costs, and how these costs are determined. I’ve shared my answers to those questions below.

How much does it cost to make a video?

Costs are very much dependent on your needs. Every video is customized and unique, and as such, production costs vary widely according to the video style, and the time spent writing, shooting, and editing the final product.

If you plan to buy TV airtime, or buy online advertising to showcase your video, this will also add to your costs.

Have a budget in mind, and then discuss it with your agency to see what type of video can be produced based on this budget.  You should be able to reduce your budget if you can share some of the responsibilities, like writing the scripts, or providing images.

Be realistic about your expectations.  Do not expect to pay a semi-pro rate and get a professional product. Cheaper is usually not better.

What Drives the Cost of Video?

Understandably, I get this question all the time. There are three basic factors that drive productions costs.  These factors eventually get reflected in dozens of budget decisions that impact the quality of the final product.

  • Time.  Time spent increases costs. The more time that is spent in pre-production, scripting, location scouting, camera and equipment used, number of locations, days shooting, size of crew required, special effects, and editing, the better the final product will be.   Reduce the number of locations, for example, and this is reflected in the cost.
  • Talent.  The greater the talent of the people working on the project (crew, director, producer, editor and on screen talent), the better it will be.  In online video production, as with most things in life, talented and experienced people tend to cost more. Use in-house talent, for example, and this will be reflected in the cost.
  • Tools.  Understand what type of camera is best for your shoot requirements. Small DSLR cameras make beautiful footage, but they fall short in many areas, and therefore may not be right for your shoot.  High-end cameras with professional lighting kits, sophisticated post-production motion graphics, and animation will also add to your cost.

If I only want a 30 second video, is that cheaper?

The truth is that the final length of the video is not directly proportionate to the cost of the production.  Consider TV commercials, which are usually created in 30 second time blocks: the production cost alone may be well over $25,000, even though it is only 30 seconds long. Why? Because the project still required planning, scripting, a talented team, professional tools, etc.  So even if you reduce the final video time to 30 seconds, it does not mean the costs will be lower. That being said, you would be able to save costs in the “time” side of things as outlined above.

What is included in the production costs?

Production costs will be itemized in any video proposal sent to you, but they can include everything from initial research and concept development to scriptwriting, shooting, editing, graphics, music and narration. Duplication of CDs, DVDs or USBs is usually not included. Again, discuss what items you will be responsible for and what you need your agency for and then they can send you the itemized costs and responsibilities in their proposal.

I have outlined for you what you can expect from a professional and experienced video production company. Although you can produce videos from an iPhone, or use free editing software on your computer, please be aware that you do get what you pay for.

As a business professional, consider video to be yet another professional service, as you would your accountant.  Video is a powerful medium, as I have said many times: it has the power to influence clients by going viral and driving your brand and ROI. However, if done unprofessionally, it also has the power to leave a negative impression in the minds of your potential clients.

Do you have any questions about using video in your marketing? Do you have any other costing questions for me?  Please share your questions and stories about producing video in the comments below.

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