Hey guys! So I have a question about your business. I run a small videography company in Nashville TN and employee 4 people on a regular basis (4 – 6 weddings a month). I am in partnership with one of these people but the others are just shooters. All are friends. My question is how do you decide how much each person makes from a wedding? I do all the editing, branding, and find most of the weddings but will send teams out to shoot weddings. I find myself in awkward conversations often with shooters that think they should get more than $200 for a 9 hour shoot. We are working our way up in pricing and its working but I still cant afford to pay the bills and pay more for my shooters. How did you guys start? – Kappel
first and foremost your business needs to be profitable, if it isn’t then it won’t grow and can’t be sustainable. profitable means that you are paying for the time involved (including yours), a pro-rated portion for the gear needed, and there is still something left. the challenge with a wedding is that the post involved is often quite lengthy and that can bring a cost that rivals the production. even though you do it in this case, it needs to have a value assigned and that would be something that goes to you with profit again being in addition to all of this.
we can make a basic formula to give you a rough idea of how to break things down as your rates change. let’s assume you have 2 shooters for a wedding. post is less stressful and needs less gear but it also requires more time than production, so let’s add that in at twice the value as the shooting. we need to have some room for gear (consider renting from our friends at lensprotogo to get great tools when you need them without going into debt early on) as well as the overhead needed, let’s put that in as a quarter of shooting rate.these are guesstimates based on your just started out, and not having as much gear and overhead but please adjust as you see fit. lastly, let’s leave some room for profit so you can continue to grow and be sustainable. let’s go with something not overly ambitious but not enough to let you create a savings that you can put to work for your company – let’s assume an equal rate to the shooting here (it would be better to take a percentage of your income as an overhead budget and for profit but that complicates the math and delivers a similar result)
to summarize we have:
2 units for shooters
.5 units for overhead/gear
4 units for post
2 units for profit
in total that comes out to 8.5 units. how do we then apply this to make it more tangible?
if your package price is $3,000, divide that by 8.5 = $353. that’s the rate each shooter should get based on our assumptions above.
you said you are working with friends, so presumably they are trying to help you out in getting events covered and helping your business grow. this formula is based on the assumption that as your package price gets larger, their rate gets higher – that gives them something to work towards with you and makes everything very transparent.
the handy thing about the formula is that it can also be used to give you budgets. if you were to hire somebody for post, the formula would give you a budget of $1,412. if you shoot 20 events per year, the formula suggests your gear/overhead should be $1,765 yearly. this definitely assumes you are working from home so you have no costs for electricity and space. as soon as possible, you want to be thinking about these things and trying to leave room for them so you can build a truly sustainable business (not one that relies on you to have a home for it to operate out of). thisis also taking into account the long term use of gear – a camera will likely be with you for 3-4 years, lenses even more, so look to pay them off in that period. the formula also says you should have a profit of about $14,120 yearly (based on 20 events at $3,000 each). you can then start thinking about what sort of branding, promotion, marketing, or other avenues to grow with that profit and reinvesting it into the company. if the profit is too low, you can look at strategies for after sales or other sources of revenue. the overarching idea here is to break it down over the course of a year and give yourself a good guide for which you can effectively plan, act on, and make goals from.
stillmotion puts meaning and relevant storytelling first but we are also incredibly prepared and balanced at the same time. the diversity and balance in our team and in our approach gives us our strength as storytellers but having a solid plan is just as important in giving us the room to grow and explore as artists. we explore this deeply at KNOW, our 36-city workshop tour this fall, and we invite you to come join us in sharing and growing together. in the meantime, we want to help you build an environment which allows you to grow sustainably so we’ve built this handy studio budgeting calculator. what you input for each field is something you need to think about and consider to ensure they make sense for where you are at and where you want to go. hope this gives you a good start!