Do you have a passion for recording the special moments, events, and ceremonies in people’s lives? If so, a career as a videographer may perfectly align with your talents and interests.
Whether it’s shooting a music video, a wedding, a short film, or a commercial, you need a professional to record those events. But how do you become a pro videographer? Is there a preset formula that works across all industries?
Let’s back up for a moment. If you’re an aspiring videographer, you’ll need to have the follow traits:
- A passion for film and video production
- Decent camera dexterity
- Communication and interpersonal skills
- An eye for details
This short guide will show you how to transform these traits into a tangible career as a videographer. Lights, camera, action!
Steps to become a videographer
Whether you work for a production company, a private client, or as a freelancer, a career in videography is full of opportunities. It can offer you tremendous daily flexibility, excitement, and chances to grow creatively and financially. While the median salary in the field is just under $60,000, a freelance videographer can make even more with the right hustling spirit.1
Not too shabby. Plus, you get to pursue this financial stability by doing something you love. How many people can say that?
But to achieve this alluring life of creativity and comfort, you have to work hard and work smart. Beyond having the interest to go into videography, you also need to follow a few key steps to make it as a professional in this industry:
- Buy the right gear
- Hone your skills
- Find clients
- Position yourself for success
- Get insured
Buy the right gear
You can’t make a film without video equipment. That much is evident.
- A mirrorless or DSLR camera
- A tripod (or several of different sizes)
- Dollies for smoother shots
- Boom mics and portable mics
- Lights and reflectors
- Professional editing software
- Safe modes of transport for your gear
Remember, this gear isn’t cheap—it’s an investment. While you might not be able to afford what you need from the get-go, you can scale your video equipment in tandem with your client list. The trick is to start with enough equipment to make a good impression on your first clients.
Hone your skills
Even if you’re a natural whiz with a video camera or a genius in the editing seat, raw talent might not be enough to carve out a successful career.
The key to success in any field is continuous growth.
To master your craft and hone your skills, don’t just stop at practicing—take your pursuits to the next level by attending online or in-person courses in videography.
You can find some of the best here2:
- LinkedIn Learning
In addition to this, there are other related skills that you should master as a professional videographer, including:
- Lighting, sound, and editing
- Adobe Photoshop
- Final Cut Pro
- After Effects
- Graphic design
- Social media
Knowing how to capture the perfect shot and tying the story together with editing is key to creating product clients will love. Additionally, videographers should have keen research skills and strong organizational skills to adequately schedule shoots, meet their budgets, and nail their briefs. While the creative process is what drives the ethos of videography, you cannot neglect the organizational skills necessary to see projects through from end to end.
Find clients and gigs
Unless you want to be filming your grandpa’s bingo games as a favor on the weekends, you’ll need to hustle to find solid gigs for yourself, especially if you’re a freelancer. Luckily, wherever there’s something worth celebrating, there’s a job for a videographer.
And believe us—the work is out there. A survey by Hubspot indicated that a whopping 54% of people want to see video content from the businesses they love.3
You can find paid work in a wide range of industries, for all sorts of events and projects. For instance, consider:
- Parties and large-scale events
- Corporate ribbon-cuttings
- Product reveals
- Promotional videos
No matter where you are in your career (such as a wedding or commercial videographer) launching a portfolio website is step one. Especially in the beginning, you have to pursue the work yourself. Fortunately, there are several ways you can be proactive about finding gigs:
- List yourself as a freelance videographer on websites like Fiverr or Upwork.
- Apply for video editor or camera operator jobs at studios.
- Email or call local companies, universities, or other establishments with upcoming milestones.
- Market yourself through social media and online by launching an SEO-friendly website with a blog dedicated to topics in your field.
- Register your business as an LLC or corporation to boost your credibility and make your brand more attractive.
When you approach clients, just remember to:
- Present your credentials – your elevator pitch
- Establish your rates
- Present the client with a detailed contract, clearly stipulating everything from services rendered, to delivery dates, to payment schedules
- Confirm any additional equipment or personnel you may need
- Be clear about your availability
- Communicate your estimated delivery time for the completed video footage
Position yourself for success
Because videographer salaries generally vary with experience and location, don’t fret if you’re not getting flashy gigs or top-tier clients just yet. Remember that everyone’s event is worth capturing and that higher-paying gigs will follow as you establish your portfolio.
However, your local area could be holding you back.
If you feel like your area isn’t offering you the opportunities you need to grow, consider moving to one of these cities:4
- New York, NY
- Los Angeles, CA
- Orlando, FL
- Nashville, TN
- Houston, TX
- Chicago, IL
- Denver, CO
- Boston, MA
- Miami, FL
Some of these areas are home to sprawling video and film industries, while others are quickly growing in the field. While the competition becomes tougher the more saturated the industry, the gigs at your disposal will also increase. That said, if you wish to avoid the entertainment “biz” and stick to recording events like weddings, your hometown (and surrounding areas) may provide more than enough work to keep you busy and successful.
The videography career path you follow is your choice. No matter what decision you make, you just need to prove that you’re the best for the job.
Protect your business: Get insured
Videographers, no matter the specialization, benefit from insurance. Between set accidents, property damage, and forgetting to have your audience sign release forms, the industry is inherently fraught with risk.
You’ve dropped a camera before. You know what could go wrong.
That’s why, at Thimble, we created Videographer Insurance, with the option to also protect your equipment by bundling Business Equipment Protection (BEP).
To do so, just click “Get a Quote” or download the Thimble mobile app, to get insured in under 60 seconds. Our insurance covers you by the hour, day, week, or month, meaning you can tailor it specifically to when you’re working (so you never pay extra when you don’t need it).
No matter what Murphy’s Law has in store, you can work with the peace of mind that frees your creativity.
Match your talent with hard work
Pursuing work in a creative field involves more than pure creativity and talent; you have to put your all into client acquisition to get your name out there. But when you’re making a living doing work that you love, it’ll all be worth it.
Remember, to step forward into your dream job, you first have to:
- Invest in equipment that will bolster your skills and offer the highest-quality video footage possible.
- Never stop improving your filming, editing, organizational, and communication skills.
- Don’t just wait for clients to come to you—pursue the jobs that you want.
- Make sure you’re in an area full of opportunities for you to grow in the industry.
- Protect yourself with business insurance.
Last thing before you go: never forget your own style. While your technical skill and hustle will take you far, your unique personality will set you apart. Your entire career will be about creating the biggest platform to showcase that style. It’s about building the stage for what you have to say.
And, with some dedication, we’re confident that stage will be in a packed theater some day.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Film and Video Editors and Camera Operators.
- DigitalDefynd. 4 Best Videography Classes & Courses.
- Hub Spot. Content Trends.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Occupational Employment Statistics – Film and Video Editors.