We’ve all heard the cliche saying, “do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” But the reality is, doing what you love is not always as lucrative as many people would like it to be.

When I first started making videos for clients I was solicited with a lot of the same language;

“This is a great opportunity to add to your portfolio”

“We don’t have a big of a budget, but this should be easy”

“There’s opportunity for bigger projects in the future”

Chances are if you’ve been creating videos for a while you’ve been dished one of these lines before, and most of the time they are spoken by people that aren’t ready to take you, your craft, or their video seriously. Now before I move forward let me be perfectly clear that getting the budget you deserve doesn’t happen overnight. It takes years of delivering quality work, positive client reviews, building a book of business, and doing projects at cut rates just to prove your worth. So this article is primarily for those filmmakers and creatives who feel they are ready to earn more.

A couple years ago I felt that I had reached that point. I knew that the work I was producing was worthy of a price tag that would result in more money into my pocket and a better video for my clients. However, I was left with the challenge of getting my clients to spend the money that would appropriately compensate the time I was putting toward creating their video.

Often times a client will come to you looking for a quote, and before giving that quote there’s a number of questions that need to be asked by you as a video professional.

Does the client need a script?, do they need a shoot?, do they need motion graphics?, a drone?, editing? How about their iteration process, how many people are involved? are you going to be pulling your hair out for months trying to get approval? The bottom line is, make sure you completely understand the task at hand before moving forward. Once you have the necessary information there is one question that we’ve learned to be the one that breaks down the door to making the money you deserve. Are you ready for it, ok here it goes, drumroll please……

“What’s your budget?”

Yeah I know, seems like a no brainer right?!, but chances are if you’re struggling to get by as a filmmaker this crucial question is not being asked. We find that a majority of the time the client answers this question, and a handful of times they don’t. Regardless of the result, it will give you a very good idea of how much they value video altogether and if they are ready to embark on producing one that’s high quality and professionally done.

It’s then up to you to decide how you want to move forward. It’s important to be completely transparent with your client and give them an honest perspective on the costs that go into creating a professional video. See our article “5 Tips for Improving Communication With Video Production Clients” for more on that.

And remember that not every project is worth chasing, it’s ok to say no to your client. But before doing so offer them a payment plan or retainer that will allow both parties to be happy. Make it clear that you’d love to work with them but need to make sure you are properly paid for your work.

So there you have it fellow filmmakers. We hope that this article provides you with a valuable perspective to go out and reel in a big fish. Good luck and happy creating!

Written By: Andrew Klein, Executive Producer (Fog Coast Productions)