There was a time, not just a few years ago in 205 when I was charging as much as I could for a wedding video or film. Today, in 2019, I’m charging half or less than half as I was and there are some good reasons for that. The notion that you must be good and charge out the door for it doesn’t apply to me, this time I’m in the wedding business for a MUCH different reason and it’s not what you think either.
Today, I share with you the reasons why I no longer charge the rates I once did and why I choose to work with clients on a more realistic budget than those spending $40k-$100k for a wedding.
Show Me the Money!
Overhead, that’s the bottom line. When I was operating full-time as a wedding filmmaker and video production house in Roanoke, I had a LOT of overhead. In addition to paying my own salary, I had rented a studio on Williamson Rd, I had two part-time employees’ plus contract workers, lots of money in professional gear, then all the utilities, marketing costs and operating expenses.
In 2014, I remember I was making nearly $200,000 in weddings and video productions. Sure, that’s a lot of money, but after all the expenses paid, I was only making about $38,000 a year.
After a fellow videographer came to me and bought my equipment, my brand and my clients, I got out of the business, signing a non-compete clause.
And of course, that stunk because I loved filming weddings and couples kept asking me to film for them.
The Enjoyment of Filming Weddings
In late 2018 that videographer left the region to pursue another career out west and that left me the ability to get back into the business if I wanted. By that time, I was working at Roanoke College and I enjoyed the work culture, staff and what I did.
Instead of getting back into it full-time, I decided to offer my services part-time, on a very limited basis so I came up with a select number of weddings I would take on annually, that number is 15.
Why 15 weddings a year?
For a few reasons, the first being I don’t have time to do 50-60 like I once did a year. Second, I’m not in my 20’s, I’m 41 and I’ve learned that your body hurts much more after a wedding than it once did.
Third, I have a great full-time job, I don’t need another one.
It’s No Longer My Livelihood
I don’t need to charge $3,000 for my services anymore, I can charge less than half, still make a few bucks and provide couples with a great wedding video or film. Listen, if I charge $1,300 rather than $3,000. I’m okay with that. Filming today is not about making a living, it’s about enjoying what I do and having fun with it too!
It’s not about the money and it’s not my livelihood either. Sure, it’s a great side hustle as millennial’s would say, I just enjoy filming and what better way to capture couples and their wedding day.
Someone that operates full time needs to make a living at what they do and many times they will charge much more. Hey, I understand, I was in that position too. Today, I don’t want to take on high end weddings, I did that, and it was nice, but honestly, I enjoy filming for couples that are considered “middle-of-the-road”.
I can provide them with the same great experience that high-end couples enjoy and still make some side money in the process. I recently had a couple ask me why not just do it for free? Well, I do need to make money, replacing the gear, ensuring I making money to have vacations and the like is part of my goal here, but I do give away one free wedding annually actually, it’s part of my philanthropy.
While operating part-time, I know that I have a few years left of running my small business before I sell it to some younger filmmaker that can elevate it to the next level. But until then, I want to remain affordable to those that want a great wedding video or feature film.
One of the things that I’ve done in the last several months is strip out all the options and only provide ones that are popular, affordable and wanted with couples.
I’ve created an a la carte menu that allows couples to build their own wedding film package that’s broken down by various pieces, the ceremony, reception and feature film.
If I can create an affordable alternative out there and offer my services to 15 lucky couples each year, it’s a win-win relationship.
My job isn’t to undermine my competition out there either, I take 15 clients then pass the rest to those around me.
Roanoke is a Hard Market to Be Successful
One thing I’ve learned over the last 20 some odd years, it’s hard to make it successful in the Roanoke Market, not impossible, but hard. Wedding vendors that operate in the region are all hard-working professionals that want to please you and make a great product or service for your wedding day.
Wedding vendors who make a living at what they do are not rich and they don’t roll around in money just because you think that they’re overcharging you either. It takes a lot of overhead to be a florist, a makeup artist, a wedding venue or a videographer.