Online Video Marketing Basics – Self-Produce or Hire A Professional?

Hire a Pro- or DIY?

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Once you’ve made the decision to get involved in online video, and picked the video style that you think fits both your personality and your goals, it’s time to start thinking about production.  And in online video production, there are really only two choices:  self-produce, or hire a professional.  

Right off the bat, I think it’s only fair to tell you that I think you should hire a professional.  It’s not that I don’t think you’re capable of creating a great online video by yourself.  But your pluck, energy, and willpower will never stand up to the raw talent and experience professional filmmakers bring to the table. 

Let’s break down each choice—video self production or professional production:


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Low Production Values.  When you self-produce, you can count on your video looking self-produced.  Professional, high-quality camera work and editing almost always looks better, and today’s savvy viewers can tell it apart subconsciously.  If you want your video to have the best production values possible, you simply cannot choose to do it yourself… unless you just happen to also be an expert in video production.

But if your business or personal endeavor is not related to video production services, then you definitely won’t do as good a job self-producing as a professional firm can do.  Period.  It’s not even really up for discussion.

Mistakes.  When you self-produce, you’re going to make mistakes.  This is a tack-on point to the first one.  You’ll chop too much on an edit, or record the audio levels too low… or some similar mistake.  One of the reasons people hire professional firms is that they’ve repeated the video-creation process enough times to have it down to a science… they’ve practiced the tasks so often that they simply don’t make many mistakes.  Beginners, however—regardless of what craft we’re discussing—are going to make a lot of mistakes… and that leads to something even worse:

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Wasted Time.  When you make mistakes as your own video producer, that costs you time.  Think about everything you don’t know about video production, from lighting to lenses to blocking and framing.  You’ll be using trial and error in making several of these decisions, and you’ll make many more mistakes than you realize.

Every decision you make will cost you most time than it would a professional – I guarantee it!  What kind of camera should you use?  Don’t know?  Maybe you can do some online research and read some reviews to find out which camera is best?  Of course you can… but it’ll waste four hours of your life. Each mistake costs you precious time, but it also costs you money—every wasted hour you spend on video production is an hour you’re not billing your customers for.

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Hiring A Professional

High Production Values. Professional video production firms have some huge benefits to offer you in the area of production values.  First, they have better equipment.  Most full-time video production houses have top-of-the-line cameras, lighting equipment, and editing capabilities.  The second major benefit professional production companies offer in the realm of production values is related to their experience.  While you’ve been building your business or personal reputation for several years, they’ve been making videos.  They know more than you ever could, and that insider’s expertise leads directly to a finished product of noticeably higher quality.

Minimal Wasted Time/Effort. That experience also helps trim wasted time and effort that naturally comes from trial and error.  For instance, before self-producing a video, you might comparatively shop video cameras online, reading reviews and gathering data to help make your choice.  But the professional firm already knows what the best cameras are, and what the strengths and shortcomings are to every possible piece of equipment your video requires.  What takes you hours or days to research could be answered in seconds by a seasoned vet.

Added Value/Services. Most professional video production firms offer a wide variety of ancillary services such as scripting, casting, and marketing.  Those that don’t offer such services usually at least have solid relationships with vendors who do, and can facilitate a smooth transition from script to filming or from production to marketing.

If you self-produce, you have to either do all the scripting and marketing yourself as well, or at least go out and shop for such vendors on your own.  Obviously this can add tremendous time to your overall project, further removing you from your day-to-day core operations.  Instead of selling more widgets, you’re spending all your time creating YouTube accounts and researching the use of social media in video marketing.

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Creative Collaboration. Video production firms make videos for a living.  They’ve seen more than you ever will.  Much like a graphic designer seeks inspiration from other graphic designs, video firms pay attention to what they’re peers and competitors are doing.  They know what’s working online.  Almost every video company I’ve worked with in the past has a creative team ready to jump into the brainstorming session with you, pooling the ideas that spring from their experience with the root concept you developed.  In most cases, listening to this kind of collaborative advice will result in a better overall product.


I would advise almost anyone to look for a professional.  There are fewer risks, and the potential for huge upside.  And if you value your time, then self-producing can often end up costing you more than paying even high-dollar video production firms to handle the project.  But I know that reason number two above is going to put a ton of you in the self-production column, just by virtue of today’s economy.
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Re-posted excerpts from Jeremy Scott
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