building a budget for video

The New Year always comes with a desire to improve upon the past, and video production is no exception. Whether you’re looking to do more of the same, or take things in a new direction, a solid budget will help you get there.

We’re getting down to brass tacks in this blog post, and giving you a blueprint for budgeting for video in the New Year.

Number and Complexity of Shoots

For many companies, video is not a one-off event. If you’re incorporating video into your marketing, sales, on-boarding, or training processes, or if video is part of a product you sell, you’re likely to be looking at several shoots over the course of the year.

Whether it’s a wild guess, or a carefully thought-out calendar, try to get a sense of how many videos you’re likely to produce in the next twelve months. Be sure to take significant events, like company milestones, holidays, and other special occasions into account.

For example, let’s say you’re planning on producing weekly videos for your blog, issuing quarterly executive video recaps, running twelve monthly video marketing campaigns, and celebrating four major holidays or company milestones with video messages.

Once you have a rough count in hand, divide your video shoots into buckets according to the level of complexity required to pull them off. Your company’s buckets will be different since each business’ needs are unique.

To provide a general rule of thumb, we divided video shoots into three buckets – small, medium, and large productions. While we provided an indication of cost, your company’s definition of small, medium or large, or types of production in general, could be very different. Look to data from last year’s shoots as a guide to what you might spend on each type of shoot.

Small Productions

Small productions are the most basic. Sometimes it might just be one person and a webcam or phone, or up to two people at the most. These shoots are low or no cost to produce because they use equipment you already have on hand, and can usually be executed in your offices.

The post-production requirements are similarly minimal for the final cut. That means, light editing and very simple graphics at the most, like a title card and lower thirds. Usually, free or low-cost applications like iMovie or Adobe Rush are good choices for this type of editing.

From our example above, the weekly blog videos and quarterly executive recaps likely fit into this category.

Medium Productions

A medium production is a step up from a bare-bones shoot like that. For instance, you might be renting some special equipment, like lights or a specific camera. You’re also looping in a couple people to assist with the shoot, and you might hire someone to appear on camera.

However, you’re not splashing out on professional hair and makeup, and the location is either low cost or free to use. Also, the entire shoot takes no more than one day to complete. These types of constraints usually keep the cost under $10,000 max.

Videos shot for online marketing campaigns, like the monthly campaigns mentioned above, often fall into this category, depending on the scale of the campaign.

Large Productions

Complex shoots require more equipment, crew, and on-camera talent to pull off. The production might involve more than one location, or take more than one day to complete.

The budget for large scale productions can vary quite a bit – the sky is the limit. If you’re including any shoots of this nature in your plans, it’s worth taking the time to spec them out a little more thoroughly than the smaller shoots.

Bigger events often fit the bill for larger productions. For instance, major company milestones or significant holidays usually merit the effort and expense.

Take Stock

Once you know the number and complexity of the shoots you’re likely to be undertaking in the New Year, you’re off to a good start.

If you tabulate the information, you’ll even have a rough idea of what you might be in for budget-wise. Here’s an example:

Item Ave. Cost In-House Studio Total Quantity Total Cost
Small Productions $150 56 56 $8,400
Medium Productions $2,000 8 4 12 $24,000
Large Productions $12,000 4 4 $48,000
TOTAL 64 8 72 $80,400

 

You’re not quite done, however. You still need to think through a few more details to fill in the gaps of your budget.

Resources

Regardless of the complexity of the shoot, you might be handling some, none, or all of the productions in-house. Usually, the more complex the production, the more likely you are to need outside help. Depending on which way you go, the impact on your budget can be substantial.

Hiring In-House

The main question here is whether you already have the right people for the job on your team. If you’re looking to start producing video on a regular basis, or dramatically increase it in the New Year, you might need more hands on deck than before.

This comes down to the frequency and type of production you’re undertaking, and whether you plan to hire a video production studio for the majority of your shoots, or go it alone. By breaking down your shoots by whether they’ll be in-house or studio (or a combination), you’ll have a better sense of your hiring needs going into the New Year.

If you decide to hire more staff to support your video efforts, search for online salary data to build those expenses into your budget. Be sure to include the cost of advertising the position on job boards, or recruiter fees as well.

Studios or Freelancers

If you’ve worked with freelancers or studios in the past, you might already have a sense of what future engagements will cost you. If not, try to obtain quotes or research rates online to make your estimates for your shoots as accurate as possible.

For instance, resources like Thumbtack provide general guidelines for cost per hour for videographers, directors, and editors. However, the rates for individual freelancers or studios can vary significantly, so if you know who you want to work with, obtaining quotes directly is the most accurate way to go.

Equipment

It’s time to take stock of all your video gear, its general condition, and whether you need to make any upgrades or additions to your kit. After looking ahead to the types of productions you’re planning to undertake next year, you should have a good sense of the gear you might need to buy, rent, or improve for your shoots.

Common items that need upgrading or replacing include:

  • Cameras
  • Lenses
  • Tripods
  • Backdrops
  • Lighting
  • Microphones
  • Cables
  • Hard drives
  • Accessories, like wind shields and batteries
  • Extras, like gaffer tape and lens cleaners

Of course, your needs could vary quite a bit. Maintaining an inventory of your gear, including the model numbers and purchase date, is a good way to track the age and condition of different components of your kit.

A final piece to consider is whether your company carries adequate insurance for the equipment you own or plan to rent over the course of the year. Review your policy to ensure you’ll be covered in the event of a loss.

Summing It All Up

This process should give you a full view of your budget needs for the New Year. By anticipating your expenses accurately, you’ll be less likely to face unexpected bills over the course of the year.

Here’s the final result from our example scenario:

Item Ave. Cost In-House Studio Total Quantity Total Cost
Small Productions $150 56 56 $8,400
Medium Productions $2,000 8 4 12 $24,000
Large Productions $12,000 4 4 $48,400
Subtotal 64 8 72 $80,400
New Salary $45,000 $45,000
Equipment $10,000 $10,000
TOTAL $135,900

 

Of course, there are other approaches to budgeting for video, and the right option depends on your specific needs. For instance, you could work backwards from a hard limit on what you can spend. Or, look at what you spent last year, and increase it by a percentage that corresponds to your anticipated needs for video.

Even a budget of zero is a budget. If you know you can’t spend out-of-pocket on video, look for free resources and DIY tutorials that can help you achieve your goals. Read this article for more tips on getting the most out of any size budget.

The important takeaway is to plan ahead, and plan thoroughly, so you can execute your production plans with confidence.


Questions about getting your video budget right? Let us know in the comments below.

Written by Courtney Purchon

Courtney is the Head of Marketing at SproutVideo.

Posted December 5, 2019

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