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How To Charge For Creative Services In Video Production

The video production industry is evolving faster than Sonic The Hedgehog’s jawline after a series of redesigns. As more brands move production services in-house and technology continues to transform the production and consumption of media, gone are the days of a video production company rocking up to a set without delivering clients additional value. 

Whether you’re a freelance videographer looking to increase profitability, or you’re a Melbourne video production company looking to differentiate your service from others, offering creative services in addition to the “hard” production services you already provide is one means to achieve your goal. Unless you choose to specialise in a production department, by not acquiring knowledge from other fields you’re losing out on an opportunity to achieve greater personal growth and establish stronger relationships with clients.

This article will provide you some tips on how to kickstart the process of adding creative services as a line item to your video production budget. 

Tips For Billing Creative Services:

  1. Define the service you will provide
  2. Use a creative brief
  3. Systemise the creative process
  4. Know your worth
  5. Don’t charge hourly
  6. Don’t smuggle it in

Your Free Creative Brief Template

Want a template to help streamline the creative process at your production company?


1. Define the services you’ll provide

While creative services can bolster the “hard” production services you already provide (be it camera operation, editing or herding child actors), you’ll first need to define them. Whether it’s creative strategy, industry research, copywriting or storyboarding, giving the process a name formalises the process as a distinct service. This enables your team to establish clear boundaries around the process and assign value to the service. 

When defining the service, brand it in a way that will communicate its true value to clients. Less “Brainstorming” may be perceived as more valuable if it’s framed as the “creative discovery process”. An idea is intangible and valued less than a “creative treatment”. However you choose to market it, being mindful of how it is perceived by a client enables you to justify its presence on the budget should you need to.

2. Use a creative brief

Unless you’re as gifted as Denzel Washington’s character in the Book of Eli’, navigating the creative process without a creative brief is like blindly walking through a post-apocalyptic wasteland. In ensuring accountability, the creative brief provides the parameters for focusing your energies on delivering a tangible outcome.  

In developing creative strategies for clients, we adopted the same workflow for using a creative brief as traditional advertising agencies and hybrid video marketing companies. This article does an exceptional job on how to apply that same approach to delivering more conventional video production services.  

Download our creative brief template

3. Systematise the process

Russell Crowe mapping out the creative process in ‘A Beautiful Mind’

Selling any service requires a repeatable process. Be it corporate video production or as a dating coach to enhance the effectiveness one’s Tindr profile, after finding clients who recognise the worth of your talents, you’ll need to establish a formula for billing creative services


With the assistance of a project management tool, these are some of the questions you will want to answer in mapping out your creative process:

  • how much time will be allocated to the task?
  • when will the process take place?
  • who will participate?
  • who will lead the process?
  • how will you ensure quality?
  • how will the service be delivered to the client?

“Give me the freedom of a tightly confined creative brief”

David Ogilvy

3. Know the worth of your creative services

There are a few situations in which you might accept a haircut on your paycheque. Jonah Hill accepted his Academy Award winning role in The Wolf Of Wall Street for the lowest wage permitted by the Screen Actors Guild in order to work with Scorsese. Ethan Hawke famously accepted nothing but a percentage of The Purge’s box office performance. Enamoured Iris started producing video promotions for Melbourne nightclubs accepting nothing but drink tokens and promises of eternal glory from promoters still living with their parents. 

While each of these paid off, they could have ended in us auctioning off all our assets in order to pay tax (a la Nicholas Cage). In addition to calculating any employee time spent on performing the creative service, perform your due diligence and research what the market is charging for the similar service. Early on, a mutual friend working at a global media business generously received quotes from our competitors in order to assess what they were charging for similar services. 

4. Don’t charge hourly

Charging hourly for creative services is equivalent to eating that lone pepperoni pizza slice your production’s catering team put out several hours earlier before your shoot went into overtime. It’s probably going to be fine, but each time you do it you’re undermining your sense of self-worth and tempting fate. With the pizza you’re tempting gastroenteritis, with your hourly billing it’s an interrogation on time allocation from an irate client. 

When developing a pricing strategy for any creative service, consider outcomes, not hours. As Jason Blumer writes, doing so aligns your goals with those of your client, building a stronger relationship built on common outcomes. Likewise, by positioning yourself as a solution to the client’s problems (whether it’s delivering a marketing campaign, capturing more sales or communicating a brand story etc.) you provide more value and your status in their eyes is raised.

5. Don’t smuggle it in

Save the smuggling for cinema, not your client budget

Remember that you’re offering a service in a regulated industry, not a brick of Bolvia’s best. If you’re going to charge for creative services, rather than just inflating your day rate or including a “project fee” to compensate, make it explicit to your client .

Take pride in including the creative service as a line item in your budget. While it may result in a tough discussion on the worth of the creative services you provide, it will remind them not only of your commitment to transparency, but will reinforce the additional value you’re providing them. 

Conclusion 

Intent on proving ourselves and attracting bigger clients for our video production company, while Enamoured Iris was in its infancy we were more organ donors than producers. Creative treatments, taglines, copywriting, storyboarding; all these creative services were stripped from ourselves and given away freely because we’d neglected to define them as separate services. Instead they were a part of a single, monolithic task of winning a “video production commercial”. 

By giving video production creative away for free you’re poisoning the well. Once given freely, your client will never value the service for either yourself or future video production companies. 

Searching for a Melbourne video production company? Enamoured Iris is a creative video production company producing online video content for lifestyle brands in the Travel, Apparel and Entertainment industries. The company’s head office is known as “The Owlery” and is based in Melbourne, Australia.

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