Agency, Freelancer, or DIY?
In our recent blog posts, we’ve been talking about the types of marketing videos, budgeting for video, and planning, and now you’re ready to start! Congrats! Whether you’re venturing into video for the first time or you’ve been doing it for years and want to try something different, the task at hand now is to choose who is going to create your videos. The good news? You have a lot of options. The bad news? That makes it hard to compare. Let’s see if we can help you decide which option is best for you.
Do-It-Yourself | In-House Video Production
The DIY option is becoming more common because companies are doing a lot more video. Teams may need quick access to their video staff and are requesting more on-demand video with short turnaround times. While in-house video production can mean greater access and efficiency, it also means you’re paying year-round for a staff member (which includes the additional staff costs like health benefits, insurance, taxes, etc.) and you still have to manage all of the details of the projects internally. Some companies also struggle with finishing projects on time due to ‘decision by committee’ which is sure to delay or even kill the best-laid plans.
But what about the gear? Technically, DIY videos can be done inexpensively with the right basic equipment, like a good digital camera (yes, some cell phone cameras can work just fine for some things), a good microphone, good lighting, a tripod, and editing software. Using these tools requires a little experience and/or training, but remember, the equipment doesn’t necessarily make the video. “User-generated” or DIY videos have their place, but a truly great video will need someone with experience in marketing strategies, storytelling, production processes, directing talent, interviewing, lighting, camera techniques, post-production...whew! There is even more to creating great video, but these are the basics.
For some uses, DIY videos will work great. It really just depends on what your brand is, what your goals are, and what the audience’s expectations are. When it comes to budget, DIY is viewed as a low-cost, fast option. Just make sure you consider the staff, time, and equipment you'll need to invest and the quality expected. While many companies think they’ll save money by hiring a videographer and keeping the projects in-house, many do not take into account the true cost of hiring employees. You would be surprised how many videos you could get from an agency if you had budgeted that same amount in your marketing budget.
Freelancers can be a great option for companies that know what they want, don't have any gear, and just need someone to shoot it. They are a great option if you don’t want to hire staff, and maybe just want someone to take on a few projects for a reasonable cost. The quality, experience, and therefore the cost of a freelancer will vary widely. Some are experienced and can give you a quality video at a reasonable cost. Some are just starting out and will take more time because they are just learning the art of video production. Freelancers also typically work out of their home office or work remotely and may not have studio space for things like voiceover recordings, client meetings, or even space to allow the client to participate in an editing session. For more complex projects, this might be a frustration point.
Another important factor to consider when hiring a freelancer is whether or not they are insured. Accidents happen and if they’re not insured, you may be left holding the bill.
That said, freelancers are typically focused on their specialty and should have a portfolio of work that you can look at. If what they deliver meets your needs, they can be a great option for you.
Video production agencies, whether big or small, have the greatest likelihood of creating professionally produced videos that help you reach your goals. Agencies typically have the technical knowledge, experience, processes, and creative teams to produce awesome and effective videos. That doesn’t mean that all agencies are the same, however.
Video Agencies May Focus on Different Things
Some video agencies lean more toward creative storytelling, which means they may love their ideas more than listen to your goals for the video. That can cause a lot of frustration for marketing teams.
Other agencies may have a lot of technical know-how and could tell you every setting on their camera or how to edit video six ways from Sunday, but it’s hard for non-video producers to understand the jargon and communicate with an agency so mired in technicality.
Others may be great at one specific genre, or style, such as interviews, but have no experience in other types of videos such as explainer videos, animation, or training videos. Video agencies with a broad portfolio will likely have the experience you need to get the job done, regardless of the requirements.
To find an agency that will work for you, try to find one with the best of everything: 1) they are easy to communicate with; 2) they have the technical know-how and experience, and 3) they have experience in a variety of genres.
Oh, they should also be able to tell a great story. (That’s not asking for much, right?).
Other Things to Consider When Hiring a Video Agency
Check their demo reel for variety and quality of work. Do all of their videos look the same, or do they show a variety of examples on their website.
Check their Google reviews to see what others have to say.
Cost, project management, timeline - these are some of the other things you need to consider. Video projects can vary greatly in cost, from $1,000 - $100,000 or more, depending on who, what and locations involved.
Organization - It’s important to find an agency that is very organized when it comes to managing the production of your video, too. Finding an agency that takes care of the details for you will make your life a lot easier, too.
Ask About Retainers
If your marketing plan includes posting video on a regular basis, but you can’t seem to get it all together upfront, ask them if they’d be willing to work with you on a monthly retainer. Many agencies would love to work with you on a retainer, but the agreement needs to be beneficial to both parties. The client should get a deal on production based on volume, while the agency benefits from having monthly projects that they can work into their schedule. Ask for details and see how flexible they are to work with.
We'll talk more about working with video agencies in our next article, with some tips on what to include in your RFP!
We’re always happy to answer questions you have about a new video project, so don’t hesitate to ask! We have real-time chat on our website, you can email us, or just give us a call.