Playing Fairly and Pricing Fairly


The world of video is going through a revolution when it comes to pricing. When I started my career, tape decks were more expensive than cars and a complete editing system cost more than my townhouse. Oh how the world has changed.

The video industry is experiencing a race to the bottom. Gear keeps getting cheaper, which is a good thing in many ways. The problem lies in the cost barrier. Just as many photographers been frustrated by every schmo who buys a DSLR thinking he or she is a pro photographer, so have video professionals felt about photographers thinking they are video pros. Add to this sudden influx hundreds of schools pumping out graduates from media programs and you have a cluttered workplace.

I do not say the above to be protectionist or confrontational. The fact is that the video industry needs to evolve and will benefit from fresh talent and fresh ideas. Just don’t piss in the pool after you jump in.

Take a look around you and see what business practices others are following. Here are a few that I wish more would follow for the good of the video industry:

  • Price fairly – Different businesses will need to charge differently for their services. Still, be sure you price services so you can survive for the long term. Be consistent with your prices and be sure to cover related costs like facilities, insurance, and equipment.

  • Don’t do spec work – There is a lot of pressure to do unpaid work in the video field. Taking spec jobs to prove capabilities or show interest in a client. Look at other professions, they don’t face these same pressures. If you truly need to expand your portfolio, seek out legitimate nonprofit organizations and make a donation of your time and skill.

  • Don’t badmouth your competition – Your only true competition is yourself. Speaking ill of your peers will only lower the standards of the industry as a whole.

  • Your problems are your problems – Always pay your subcontractors (even if you haven’t received client payment). Similarly, you should not accept excuses from others above you in the client chain due to delayed payments. Make sure you responsibly keep payments flowing to those you hire.

  • Act more like a lawyer and less like an artist – I’m not saying shelve your creativity... but remember that you are a trained professional with a code of conduct. You need to remember the important aspects of client management, professional communication, and ethical business practices if you want to succeed in video for the long term.