The demand for video content is rising every year. In 2023, it’s understood that 91% of consumers want to see more online video content from brands, making videography one of the most sought-after services.
So, if you’re thinking about taking the plunge and launching your own video production business, then there’s no time like the present.
In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about starting your own video production company. Let’s get started.
What does a video production company do?
A video production company specialises in creating professional video content for a wide variety of purposes. This may include special event videos, commercials, online ads, product showcases, corporate promotions, and training videos.
They will cover all aspects of the production process; from creating the initial concept and drawing up the storyboard, down to exporting the final edit of the video. The typical process a video production company will follow is:
- A creative consultation (gathering ideas and establishing a mutually agreed plan)
- Storyboarding and scripting
- Providing the equipment, kit, and crew
- Adding audio and music
- Exporting the final edit in the required format(s)
How to start a video production company
While there are no formal qualifications needed to start a video production company, it goes without saying that you will need a combination of technical and creative skills.
Proficiency in videography, video editing, storytelling, scriptwriting, project management, communication, teamwork, and staying up to date with the latest video production techniques and equipment, are all essential components. In addition, having business acumen and client management skills will be crucial for running the company successfully.
Here are fourteen key steps to help you launch a successful video production company:
1. Define your niche
As previously touched on, there are a broad range of videos you can produce. Consider the styles and genres you’re passionate about and have the most experience with. For example, wedding day or special event videography is a completely different category from the likes of online advertising campaigns or independent films.
Establishing a clear identity will help you to find your clientele more easily, as well as gain business, as clients with specific requirements will come to recognise you as an expert in your chosen field.
Remember, once your master one niche, you can always start to expand your services to include other genres and areas as you grow.
2. Build a portfolio
As well as having experience, clients will want to see proof and examples of your work. You should spend time collating a showreel or portfolio featuring the very best of your videography, that you can host on your website or social and video platforms like YouTube and Vimeo, for potential clients to easily access.
Your portfolio should reflect a variety of samples, showcasing your different abilities and styles.
When you’re just starting out in the video business, this can be tricky to establish. Initially, you may need to offer some voluntary or discounted work to organisations and brands that mirror your desired clientele, to help you build a solid portfolio that will appeal to your target audience.
How you present your portfolio is entirely up to you, but it’s important to always keep it up to date, by regularly adding new projects and removing any outdated work.
3. Create a business plan
Before setting up your company, it’s highly recommended that you spend time devising a detailed business plan, to provide clarity on your vision and goals and ensure they are viable.
A business plan can help support accurate budgeting, and allow you to map out your journey from market research, to short-term processes and long-term goals. It’s a great opportunity to identify and prepare for any potential risks or obstacles, while also being a vital tool in securing funding or future partnerships.
We’ll explore some of the associated costs you should consider when writing your business plan below.
4. Register your company
Once you have defined your niche and established a strong portfolio, it’s time to choose your business structure and officially register your video production company.
The two most viable options to choose between are operating as a sole trader or as a limited company.
This is the simplest form of business structure, with the fewest regulations and administrative responsibilities. As such, many videographers will start out as sole traders.
This structure means you are the sole owner of your company, and are responsible for completing an annual tax return, as well as paying any Income Tax and National Insurance owed to HMRC through Self Assessment.
As a sole trader, you have complete control over your business operations. However, you are personally liable for any debts or legal claims brought against you. Additionally, you will not benefit from the same level of prestige or tax-saving opportunities as a limited company.
Another popular option, that may be better suited for those wanting to gain a greater professional status and presence, is to register as a limited company.
As well as giving you instant credibility, this structure provides you with limited liability for any debts or legal claims your business may face, and a range of tax-saving and tax-planning options that could save you money.
However, you will be subject to stricter regulations, filing, and reporting. You will need to register for both Corporation Tax and Self Assessment. Using a company formation agent like 1st Formations can help ease the registration process and reduce the administrative burden.
5. Understand the legalities
As a video production company, there are a number of legalities to familiarise yourself with before completing any filming:
You should always check with the local authorities and council to see if you’ll need to obtain any special permissions or licenses specific to the area you plan on filming in. To shoot in private locations, you will need to apply directly to the property owner or manager.
Additionally, if you’re operating a drone to capture aerial shots, you must first register and gain Permission for Commercial Operations (PfCO) from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
In the event your production involves any children under the age of 16, you must apply for a child performance licence at least 21 days prior to filming.
Copyright and intellectual property
When it comes to using music, stock footage, or imagery in your productions, it’s essential to be aware of and respect the intellectual property rights of others.
Make sure you obtain the necessary licensing and permission to use any assets before incorporating them into your work. Likewise, take measures to protect your own creative work by registering copyrights for any original content you produce.
Contracts and release forms
It’s also crucial that you consistently take steps to establish clear agreements and protect the rights of all parties involved in your productions.
Use contracts to outline terms and conditions with clients, crew members, actors, or freelancers. And make use of release forms, which are essential for obtaining the necessary permissions from individuals appearing in your videos, granting you the right to feature their image and voice.
6. Set up your filming space
Depending on the type of video production you’ll specialise in, and whether or not you’ll be filming in mobile locations, you may want to consider a dedicated studio space. Thanks to the latest technology, your setup doesn’t have to be overly complicated or expensive.
In fact, for those just starting out, a popular choice is to opt for a home studio. If you have adequate space, this can save a lot of time and money.
If you plan on shooting from your home, you’ll need to consider the following aspects:
First and foremost, you’ll want to ensure your recording space is in a quiet location, tucked away from any unwanted noise.
Avoid empty rooms with bare walls, and opt for a carpeted space with soft furnishings instead, to reduce any chance of echo.
For the best results, make use of an external microphone and sync your audio during the editing process. Position your mic at a careful distance from your audio source. If it’s too close, this can distort sound quality.
Make use of natural lighting wherever you can, and amplify this with indoor lighting or special lighting equipment, such as a ring light.
Aim to make your lighting as even as possible, avoiding any shadows from appearing in your footage. For example, prevent reflections from windows or mirrors, steer clear of placing bright light behind your subject, and diffuse light where needed with the use of translucent curtains.
As well as choosing a peaceful area, you should look for cosy corners of your home, free of clutter, to film in. You can upgrade your aesthetic by adding decorative background items such as plants, books, or quirky furnishings.
If you are struggling to find a suitable setting, you can customise your background with a paper backdrop, or purchase a greenscreen kit available at affordable prices.
For more complex projects, you might want to consider hiring a studio in your local area.
This can be a great way of accessing top-of-the-range video equipment as well as extra production support. That said, renting a studio space day by day can prove to be very costly, so if you’re planning on filming complex projects on a regular basis, it may be more beneficial for your finances to look at renting or building your own permanent studio space.
7. Invest in quality equipment
To produce the highest quality content, you’ll need to invest in some quality equipment. Some essentials you will need to get started include:
- A camera
- Lighting equipment
- Audio gear
- Video editing software
- A reliable computer that can run your software smoothly
Consider your budget and the specific needs of your target market when selecting your equipment. As your company grows, you can expand your equipment inventory or consider renting specialised equipment for specific projects. Sites like Wedio and Fat Llama offer a wide range of equipment for rent near you.
8. Find production support
Depending on the scale of your projects, you may find you’ll need to source additional support and expertise from the production crew, especially while you’re growing. There are multiple ways you can achieve this.
One popular way is to make use of online platforms and job boards such as Mandy, Production Base, and Backstage, which are tailored specifically to the film and video industry, and offer access to experienced professionals in your area, available to work with you on a flexible basis.
Freelance platforms can also be particularly useful, offering remote and affordable one-off support from a global pool of talent. Try sites like Fiverr, Upwork, and Toptal, and take note of reviews and ratings when making your selection.
Finally, never underestimate the power of social media. Simply posting out a message to your network asking for recommendations in the industry can be a highly effective way of sourcing support, without the advertising costs.
9. Establish an online presence
Having an online presence is vital for any modern company, to establish credibility and expand its visibility beyond the local area.
As a video production company, online channels will be your primary route to reaching and connecting with your target audience and showcasing your work.
Creating a professional website is one of the most effective ways to showcase your portfolio and attract clients. A well-presented, modern, mobile-friendly site is an essential asset to your business and its legitimacy.
You may choose to design and build your own website using a platform like WordPress, Wix, or Squarespace, which each offer user-friendly website building tools and a range of professional templates. Or you could call on the help of a marketing agency or freelancer, who can take care of the design and ongoing maintenance on your behalf.
Your social media channels will arguably play as important a role as your website. They can act as a virtual portfolio of your work, and a prime way to engage with potential clients, industry professionals, and relevant community groups.
The more visually driven social platforms like Instagram and TikTok are a great way to update followers on your most recent work, and showcase snippets of new projects or exciting footage.
Of course, video hosting platforms such as YouTube and Vimeo offer another great place to connect with potential clients and house your longer-form content.
10. Set your pricing structure
Determining your pricing can be difficult to gauge when you’re just starting out. Your rate will depend on a number of factors, including the complexity of the project you’re undertaking, the level of expertise required, the costs of equipment and overheads, and your desired profit margin.
Research the market rates, and consider offering competitive prices while still ensuring profitability. Be transparent with your clients about your pricing, and provide detailed quotes that outline the scope of work, deliverables, and any additional expenses.
As well as determining how much to charge, there are several pricing models to consider:
- Day rate: Many video production companies prefer to charge a day rate for their services. The day rate typically covers a full day of work, usually ranging from 8 to 10 hours. This rate often includes pre-production planning, filming, equipment setup, shooting, teardown, and post-production editing.
- Hourly rate: Others prefer to charge an hourly rate, especially for smaller or less time-consuming projects. Hourly rates can be useful when the scope of work is well-defined and doesn’t require a full-day commitment.
- Project-based rate: For larger and more complex video projects, a project-based rate may be preferable. This type of rate is typically negotiated based on the scale of work, deliverables, and estimated time commitment.
Whatever pricing model you choose, be sure to keep organised records of your finances and expenses involved with each project, to ensure accurate and effective invoicing and filing, and to use as evidence should disputes with clients arise.
11. Build relationships and collaborate
As the saying goes, your success is often about who you know rather than what you know. That’s why establishing reliable contacts and networking is a hugely important part of running a successful business.
Securing your first client is often the toughest hurdle in starting a new company; however, building a contact list and identifying customers through events, social media activity, and local community groups can ease this process and help you identify a relevant audience who will benefit from your services the most.
You might also consider teaming up with marketing agencies or fellow creatives, to support projects and campaigns that require outside expertise, as many companies won’t have the in-house resource or technical capabilities you can offer.
12. Promote your services
Having an effective marketing strategy in place is a key part of attracting clients and establishing your company as an industry expert.
Take time to clearly define your target market and a strategy for reaching your audience. Identify your unique selling points and develop a compelling brand message that you can incorporate consistently in your promotions.
As mentioned earlier, building a professional online presence through a website and social media channels will be key to selling your services. Ensure your website is optimised for search engines, to improve its visibility in search results. And use relevant keywords along with engaging content on a regular basis to attract organic traffic.
You might also want to consider paid advertising options to give your traffic a boost. Both Google Ads and Facebook Ads allow you to target audiences of a specific demographic, based on interests and search behaviour. This can help you reach a much higher volume of people who are actively looking for video production in your area.
13. Get insured
Insurance is a vital aspect of running your company. It protects you, your equipment, and your clients from potential risks and liabilities.
There is a wide range of insurance protection to consider.
If you are hiring employees, you will need to take out Employer’s Liability Insurance by law. This enables you as an employer to pay compensation to an employee, should they suffer an injury or illness in the workplace or as a result of work-related activity.
As a video production company, we also strongly advise you to take out Business Equipment and Contents Insurance to protect your valuable videography equipment against theft, loss, or damage. This coverage ensures that you can quickly replace or repair equipment in case of an unforeseen incident that could otherwise lead to a loss of business.
Depending on the nature of your filming, you will also need proof of Public Liability Insurance to receive permission to film or carry out commercial photography.
It’s a good idea to consult with an insurance expert to understand the specific coverage options available to you, and choose the policies that best suit your business requirements.
14. Develop your skills
Continuous learning and skill development are integral to staying competitive in the video production industry. Technology is constantly advancing, and new trends are always emerging, so it’s important that you too are continuously learning and keeping up with the latest techniques, equipment, and software.
You can make an active effort to do this by attending workshops, enrolling in training programmes and courses, watching online tutorials, and collaborating with fellow professionals such as videographers and filmmakers who can help expand your knowledge and offer you fresh perspectives.
By investing in your skills and staying adaptable to industry changes, you can position yourself as a knowledgeable and versatile video production professional, ensuring the long-term success and growth of your company.
We hope you’ve found this guide useful and that it’s provided you with enough information to make a start with your video production company. Of course, as with any company, launching your own video production business will take time and dedication. But with perseverance and the right strategies in place, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be a success.
When it comes to starting your first company, there is so much to think about. We’re always happy to help, so if you have any questions about getting started, contact our knowledgeable team today.