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Thousands of dollars are potentially at stake, so you want to be sure to get this right: should you hire a video production studio, or do it yourself?

It’s not just the expense entailed in hiring the studio or purchasing your own equipment, it could also be lost revenue and time if the end result isn’t that great, and the video doesn’t have the desired results.

Here’s our guide to knowing when you should go it alone, or bring on the professionals.

Desired Outcome

Think carefully about what your expectations are for your video(s), and take the time to map out the results you are aiming for.

Are you looking to grow brand awareness? Generate new business? Engage and retain existing customers? Educate employees? Are you planning to sell access to it?

Video can work well for any of those ideas, and many more to boot, but by identifying exactly what you’re trying to achieve, you’ll be able to define what success will look like for your video, and the KPIs you’ll want to track to evaluate it. Also, thoughtful planning will focus your ideas and energy behind exactly what to do to achieve your goals.

Hire a Studio If…

You are aiming for brand awareness, or to generate leads. In those cases, you might want to spring for a more polished production than what you’d be able to achieve on your own. It will help reduce the chances of embarrassing gaffes, and possibly increase the chances your video will be shared widely.

Do It Yourself If….

Your goal is to engage and retain customers, since that requires a little personality so they know who they’re dealing with. Personality can help build trust in your company. Same goes for employee communications – connecting directly with your colleagues and employees is likely more important than high production value.

If you’re planning on selling content, the choice is really dependent on what your videos are all about. If they pertain to cooking, crafting, or similar DIY projects, a hands-on approach might be best, and the most cost-effective option.

For educational or consultative content, especially if it requires graphics or lots of text overlays, a production studio might be the way to go to ensure the end result is sufficiently polished.

Budgetary Constraints

It would be lovely if money wasn’t a factor for creative pursuits, but that’s sadly not the world we live in. Be realistic about how much you want to spend on your videos, and plan accordingly.

If you have less than $500 you want to spend on a video, you might be better of investing in equipment and learning how to use it than spending it all on a one-off project. Rentals and used equipment are great ways to keep costs down, too. In fact, for certain types of video, you might already have everything you need – a HD video-capable smartphone, a natural source of light, and a way of capturing clean audio.

If you’re comfortable with spending upwards of that, you should be able to enlist the services of a video professional or a studio, although the scope of what they can do will depend on how much you’re willing to spend. The right partner for the project will work within your budgetary constraints, and come up with creative solutions to keep costs down. They should also provide different options for the outcome of the project, in terms of what a given level of spend can get you.

Believe it or not, budget isn’t a hard and fast rule here. For example, a simple interview with fixed lighting, one location, and proper audio equipment is not an expensive production, and can be done very cheaply either on your own, or with a professional. In this case, enlisting a studio will benefit you by ensuring the right equipment is used, the shots are framed correctly, and everything is edited together properly, resulting in a polished video. If you go it alone, depending on your level of experience, you might not end up with a perfectly finessed result, but, that might be adequate depending on your goals for the video.

Hire a Studio If…

You can justify spending a lot of money on the production based on your goals for the video, and can afford to do so.

Do It Yourself If…

You are really strapped for cash, don’t need any fancy special effects or equipment for the video to come out the way you want, and are willing to acquire the necessary equipment, or already have what you need.

Work Load

It’s possible that time trumps money when it comes to making videos. Think about it – if you had endless hours to work on a video, you would eventually come up with a very professional result.

The real question is whether that’s a good use of your time, and if you even have any to spare in the first place.

Hire a Studio If…

You’re a busy entrepreneur or working professional, and can’t allocate the amount of time required to see the project through on your own.

Do It Yourself If…

You have the availability to dedicate enough time to your video production to achieve the results you want. This might be more than you think, so take a hard look at your schedule, and go over the time you think will be required.

The full process entails planning your video, script writing, acquiring equipment, setting up the shoot, filming it, tearing it down, searching for b-roll or creating your own, finding the right music track, and editing everything together. If you have to learn how to do any of those steps in the process, the time it will take will increase significantly.

In Summary

Hire a Studio If…

  • You don’t want to invest in video equipment;
  • The project is a one-off;
  • You want to hire on-screen talent rather than being the star of the show;
  • You don’t have the skills or time required;
  • The project requires advanced production work;
  • You need the video done urgently and are strapped for time;
  • Your budget can accommodate a higher level of spend.

Do It Yourself If…

  • You’re interested in learning how to make videos;
  • Plan to continue making videos going forward;
  • Already have the necessary equipment, or are willing to acquire it;
  • The project only requires basic skills;
  • You have the time to commmit to seeing your project through;
  • Don’t have the money for anything too fancy.

Resources

Whether you wind up in the DIY camp, or decide to hire a studio, here are some helpful resources for pursuing your dreams.

Where to Find Studios or Video Professionals

No matter where you find your partner for your project, you should feel comfortable working with them and able to trust that they’ll stay within your budget, and stick to your deadlines. Asking for client references, carefully reviewing their demo reel, and looking online for honest reviews of their services are all important steps to take to check for any red flags.

Guides to Working With Video Professionals

Even if you’re working with professionals, you still need to know what you’re doing, and how to approach the project. These guides provide pointers on how to do exactly that.

DIY Guides

If you’re going it alone, you’re still not actually alone. These articles will help you get started:

Where to Find DIY Gear

Picking gear can feel stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. Stick to tried and true resources, and make sure you’re only getting what you really need.

  • Top-reviewed microphones, lights, tripods, and cameras on Amazon
  • B&H Photo
  • Craigslist
  • Hardware stores for extension cables, clamp lights, tape, foam board, and more.

Written by Courtney Purchon

Courtney is the Head of Marketing at SproutVideo. Follow her on Twitter.

Posted September 1, 2016

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