Becoming a freelance videographer can be a lucrative full-time job or a side hustle. Thanks to social media, there’s a universal need for content that can elevate the value of a brand with its audience.
If you have the skills to capture beautiful moments on camera, you’re already halfway there! However, it isn’t as simple as Man With a Movie Camera makes it out to be. (Hint: even that movie required a lot of work).
Worry not, this article has all the steps you need to start as a freelance videographer and excel in the field.
Is Being A Freelance Videographer Worth It?
As of 2022, the freelance market is at an all-time high. There are over 58 million freelancers in the US alone, and the industry is expected to comprise a majority of the workforce by 2027. There are a variety of reasons for this, including:
1. Setting Your Own Salary
If you’ve ever applied for a job, you’ve come across the following terms: salary cap, industry standard, and limited appraisals, among others.
Most companies have a fixed idea about how much they’re going to pay employees across levels. However, as a freelancer, your independence allows you to appropriately value yourself and choose clients who pay you congruently.
The right clients won’t be at your doorstep at the beginning. You’ll have to generate word of mouth with your work and network to make that happen.
2. Getting Work Autonomy
A company can’t offer full autonomy to its employees. You’re expected to only work on the responsibilities assigned to you. However, as a freelance videographer, you can both choose the type of work you want to do and the clients you want to engage with.
If you’re a multi-skilled individual, you can tap into and monetize multiple markets. In the beginning, you may have to take up jobs you don’t like. But, with time, you will be able to do the kind of work you love as well!
3. Flexibility With Your Time
No, you can’t control time like the Prince of Persia, but you do have total control over your schedule. This can come in handy when you’re trying to grow your brand, develop personally, or even if you just want more free time.
Working with an open schedule requires a lot of self-motivation, but if you can master the art of being your boss, then the freelance videographer life is for you.
4. The Ability To Network (More)
While you can network as a full-time employee, it gets embedded into your routine when freelancing. Networking with diverse clientele will lead to more work and protect you from a lack of the same when certain industries aren’t doing well.
Make sure you take time to build relationships; converse with your clientele about more than just work. Set aside time for networking and catching up with as many people as you can every day.
These benefits show that freelancing is an extremely viable career option. With more autonomy over how you grow, becoming a freelance videographer might just be for you. But how do you even start?
How To Get Started As A Freelance Videographer: 7 Steps
Filmmaking and videography are not cheap professions. You’ll need to invest in courses, equipment, and tools to create something substantial for the screen. Follow these seven steps to begin your journey!
Step 1: Invest In Film Courses
Unlike filmmaking, videography will require you to be versatile. Clients, especially the smaller ones, won’t have the budget to hire a separate editor, cinematographer, editor, and producer. This is why courses that teach you how to edit, direct, shoot, and manage shoots are crucial to your success.
The more versatile you are, the more projects you can pick up. You don’t need to attend a university either. Check out online education platforms like Udemy to find affordable filmmaking courses.
Step 2: Buy Or Rent Cameras
You’ll need a camera to shoot with, and luckily, almost everyone these days has a smartphone with decent video quality. Take note that some clients may require RAW footage to manipulate the color and look of the final video. For these shoots, you will need a DSLR or mirrorless camera.
The top-end cameras can cost over $2000 without the lenses or accessories. But remember, you’re just starting out, so you don’t need to go all in. There are plenty of affordable cameras you can look at to get started. Work with the classics like the Nikon D3500 and save up for better cameras for the future.
Step 3: Get Editing Software
If you can shoot and edit, you’re the full package as a freelance videographer. Video editing software can seem daunting in the beginning, but all you need is some practice, navigation, and trial and error to find the best one for you.
Edit smaller, personal videos and adjust the keyboard shortcuts to your comfort level. Software like DaVinci Resolve, Lightworks, and Final Cut Pro X have free versions or trials you can get started with.
Step 4: Create A Proof Of Work
Being a freelance videographer can be a chicken or egg situation. You need experience to get work as a freelance videographer, yet who would hire someone with minimal exposure? The answer is simple. Start with a personal showreel!
Showreels are video portfolios showcasing your finest acting moments. It features sequences from programs and films you've been in, videotaped performances, or audition self-tape moments.
If you don’t know how to get started, this video will shed light on the process:
At the start, your projects may not have the budget or production value of a funded video. On the bright side, they’ll give your clients an idea of your personal style of filmmaking.
Step 5: Network, Network, Network!
Networking is paramount, whether you’re a freelance videographer or a freelance chef. Reach out to your family, colleagues, and friends and ask them to spread the word. If the skills you have are in demand, the people you meet may be able to help you find business opportunities.
But don’t make asking for opportunities your main goal with every conversation. Get to know the people you’re talking to and build a rapport with them. People you have a good relationship with are arguably the most likely to recommend your work to others.
The six degrees rule may not be 100% accurate, but it does reinforce the principle behind networking. You most likely know someone who knows someone who knows someone who has a project for you.
Step 6: Master A Niche
As a freelance videographer, you can pick up a plethora of projects. Every event and industry requires different types of videos. Every brand in one industry has a particular tonality and target market.
Master a niche, tonality, or style of filmmaking. This will allow you to be an irreplaceable asset to your clients. If your clients don’t have an alternative to what you can do, they’ll be willing to listen to your pay demands. This is true not just for freelance videographers, but also for every type of artist.
Even among established filmmakers, some simply stand out because they’ve mastered a style. For example, Wes Anderson’s framing, dialogue, and execution style are unique and recognizable. So much so that there are guides built around the filmmaker’s style.
Step 7: Build Your Voice And Brand
Developing a solid voice and style of filmmaking takes a long time, but it is never too late or early to market your brand and yourself. The best way to do this is to experiment with small personal projects.
You can start by creating microfilms; these are projects shorter than five minutes in length. With every film, you’ll get closer to developing a voice.
Put your work online even if it doesn’t seem perfect. This will not only show stakeholders what you can do but also document your growth over the years.
How Soon Can I Start My Freelance Videographer Journey?
A videographer isn’t just somebody who simply makes videos. Rather, a videographer is somebody who makes videos that inspire, motivate, and move people emotionally.
You can start your journey as early as now by shooting and editing videos for yourself. Create video content consistently and keep your passion alive, and you will be noticed sooner rather than later.
You’ll only get better with time and experience, so take the leap today. Embrace your highs and learn from your mistakes, and you’ll be getting more work than you can handle.