Are you in charge of a video marketing budget?

Before you commit to a storyboard or begin the search for a video production partner, let us give you a few tips on how not to spend your money. 

It's easy to get overwhelmed by what's possible in video production. Everyday there's a new shiny toy to capture footage or a new best way to produce a video. 

Let us help you avoid some common pitfalls.

Here are 5 terrible ways to spend your money.  

1. Insist on Specialty Camera Equipment

Is the Red Epic Dragon a kickass camera? Uh, yeah. Yeah, it is. Could any production company you hire get a Red Epic Dragon for your production if asked for it?


And if the production company didn’t have experience operating it? Then they’d be able to find and hire a suitable operator. 


But let’s talk about what this choice could do to your perceived budget:

Let’s say you have $10K to spend on this video. If you demand a Red Epic Dragon, then you just told the production company that half of the budget will go to this effort. 

They’ll need to take some profit for the deal. After all, they are a business, too.  So at best this leaves you with $3K for lighting, audio, additional crew, editing, graphics, music, sound effects and actors. 

Chances are this means that the rest of these must-haves will need to be tightly managed.

Read: These must-haves will get skimped on. 

Don’t waste your budget on a specialty camera unless you have shots that need that camera. Any professional camera will be HD. 

2. Ask Your Co-Workers to Act Instead of Hiring Actors:

"Wait. But my co-workers won’t cost me money and actors will. How is this a terrible way to spend my money?"

Chances are, your coworkers aren’t professional actors.

This means that no matter how tight the script, no matter how professional the production partner and no matter how awesome the filmmaking gear, your video will be subpar.

And spending money on a subpar video is a tremendous waste of your budget. 

We’ve been here before. When we were young and learning how to say ‘No’ to clients, we said ‘Yes’ to letting them hire their coworkers as talent.

They'd book us for a half day shoot, but that half day would quickly become a full day. Then, that full day would turn into overtime because the actors were not professionals and had a tough time delivering their lines. 

We all know that more production time means longer post-production time. Deadlines for delivery will get pushed when a shoot goes much longer than planned.

We commit to flat-rate pricing with our clients. But we've learned to write a contingency clause in our contracts for these situations. 

Read: We have to charge extra for the extra time and extra work. Everyone does.

Now we just avoid this particular mess all together and say 'No'. And everyone is happier.

Acting isn’t easy, folks. Add a bit more to your budget and make sure you hire professionals.

A little more will go a long way. Trust us.

3. REnt Locations

Location rental can cost anywhere from $500 to $100,000 or more a day.

Unless the location is necessary for the storytelling, we suggest sticking to locations you control.

Ask your production partner if they have an in-house studio. Or maybe your office can look the part. And who knows. Maybe your in-laws will let you use their gorgeous atrium for the shoot. 

When you avoid adding location fees to your shoot you can be confident that your budget will go to other extras.

Your production partner will be able to put more into production and post-production. Think specialty equipment; special effects; custom graphics; better music and sound effects. The list goes on.  

In short, they will work hard to make sure your video is the best possible video your budget can buy.

4. Licensing Music 

Sure, Jay-Z’s Empire State of Mind is the perfect sound track to your video. But if you insist on using his track then you’re looking at costs that will far exceed the cost of your video. 

There are many independent musicians who can custom score your video for a reasonable price. Ask your production partner what their thoughts are on music. They’ll have many options for you, from a custom score to stock music.

Together, you can decide the best sound for your video - and you won't break your budget.

5. Hiring the Cheapest Video Production Partner (or Hiring the Most Expensive Production Parter)

Let’s go back to your hypothetical $10K budget. Say you ask for quotes from three companies. One company comes in at $9,999; another comes in at $8,000 and the third quotes $6,500. 

Don’t just choose one based on their price. Take your time and do your research.

Look at their reel; check out their portfolio; ask them about their typical process. And their fee structure.

The most expensive option may only be the most expensive because they have a high overhead. Not because they are the most qualified.

Read: They’re one-man/one-woman shows and have to rent all the equipment and hire freelance crew. 

The least expensive option may seem like a great get, but make sure you ask about additional fees.

We recently had a client come to us to redo a video they’d already paid to have produced by a different company. This company originally quoted below the client's budget. But by the time the video was complete, they’d incurred an additional $12,000 in fees and the video still wasn’t what they had asked for. 

In short, before you hire a company make sure you know what you are signing up for.

Our biggest mistake starting out was not establishing clear expectations at the beginning of a project. It's just as important for us to understand our clients' expectations as it is for our clients to understand ours. 

Establishing these expectations makes creative process fun. Each party leaves the project happy. 

Download the Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Right Video Production Parter:



In conclusion, to make sure you get the best video for your budget:

  1. Avoid unnecessary expenses like high end camera equipment
  2. Don't try to cut corners that shouldn't be cut
  3. Work with what you can control when it comes to location
  4. Avoid paying music licenseing fees
  5. And do your due dillegence. Set expectations and make that you and your video partner are on the same page before beginning a project.

We hope you found this post helpful! Here are few other resources you might like:

Additional Resources



Erin Hayes

Erin's a producer, writer and content lover. She's worked with MediaBoss since 2008. In 2010, she quit her marketing and freelance writing jobs and came on to lead MediaBoss full-time.


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