ow much does a commercial video cost in the UK? That's a good question, and one which I find myself answering a lot. Businesses are asking for video more and more and rightly so. It's absolutely vital to have it.
But if you know you need it for your business there's a risk the cost can sometimes be quite prohibitive. Without trying to scare you, you need to know there's a lot of businesses providing this service and their quotes will probably vary quite a lot.
So if you've put any of the following questions into Google: 'how much does a product video cost', 'how much does a 30 second instagram reel cost to make', 'video production cost calculator', 'product video price sheet' then you've likely come up against an almost infinite number of different results making you none-the-wiser and quite possibly put off by what you're seeing.
To help explain this, let's take a look at what kind of organisations you might come across so you can appreciate where the numbers are coming from.
In the following paragraphs, I'm going to talk about three different categories of video production companies so you can identify who you might be dealing with. Each has its advantages and disadvantages and it's not just about what their commercial video production rates are. And when we're done, I've got a bit of info to help get your project underway.
1. Those who turn up and shoot
In the case of this first type there are lots of videographers who operate this way and are fantastic people to work with. However, if they're doing that they're likely able to charge more and should be in the second category. So it begs the question 'Are they actually that good?''. The much more likely answer is that they're not. I'm not trying to dismiss these individuals - I've was once one of them, but you'll need to have your eyes open when you work with them so you can lower the risk to your investment.
Things to look out for
- They don't mention a planning/pre-production phase
- They might not ask you to sign a contract - because they probably don't have one.
- If you were to ask if they have public liability and professional indemnity insurance they might not.
- They might not ask the right questions to allow them to make a more appropriate video for your needs e.g. what are your marketing objectives for this content?
- There's limited detail in the quote, offering a project cost and no indication of what's included in the fee - p.s. don't be frightened of project costs (see below for more info) but do your homework on the company first.
- Their portfolio of previous work may look nice but the questions to ask them should tell you if the client's marketing objectives were achieved.
- As their prices are so low you may find them trying to get the job done as quick as possible so they can get on to the next client
- Cheapest option by far
- The shortest production time
- Perhaps the best option for getting something quick to satisfy the constant need for social video - but will it do what it needs to?
- Because they're so cheap the risk to your business is very low. If it doesn't work out then you've not lost much.
- They're probably not the most experienced film makers
- They'll use minimal kit to get the job done because they can't afford better or don't understand its value, sacrificing image quality and raising their margins
- They typically produce 'pretty' videos which might get you social likes but may fall short on your ROI.
- It's likely they only accept a bank transfer or cash because they either don't have the payment infrastructure to offer card payments or want to minimise their outgoings by avoiding card merchant fees.
£50 - £1000 for a 3 minute video, £50 for a social reel
2. The middle-ground hero
As you start spending more money, the value you should receive should also increase. This may mean an increase in video quality but it should definitely mean more thought is put into what to create and how will that will benefit ROI rather than how good it looks.
Things to look out for
- This company type asks the right questions to ensure the marketing objectives are achieved.
- They'll have a contract, insurance and the ability to take payments online, possibly also offering payment plans.
- Offer solutions which will help save you money whilst still providing you with what you need.
- Will be better business-people because they've been doing things longer. Can answer tough questions on cost, can demonstrate their value and have
- These folk offer a lot of 'bang for your buck'
- They have enough equipment and know-how to use it to produce higher quality video suitable for all but TV and film
- Their number may be more than one and could include a second photographer/camera operator, an assistant and or an editor.
- This is the best for those looking for a balance of quality and cost
- It may be difficult for you to see the value a single individual can make which aligns with the prices they're charging - experience and a thorough interrogation will help you identify who's worth 'their salt'.
- Things may take a little longer to produce because they're working on their own or have one helper during the shooting phase, which in turn may inflate prices
- They may be specialists in their particular niche but might not have the equipment or infrastructure to be able to offer services at the next level.
At this point, video production companies are a bit more experienced and so may charge in a few different ways. Some may charge based on the time it takes to produce the content, in which case, £1200 - £5k for a 3 minute video and £200 - £1000 for a 30-second social video. Some may only offer a retainer package with set levels of outputs at a fixed price per month. Prices could start around £1.5k pcm for a predefined range of video and photo products.
3. The large production company
If you've got deep pockets or great ambitions then the large production company is probably more your thing.
Things to look out for
- They'll have people who are called the 'DOP', 'Producer' and 'Gaffer'.
- If they invite you to their offices and have an in-built studio then you know your budget is paying for that too.
- These guys have much larger budgets so if they need to advertise, they'll probably have the budget to spend a lot on ad placement - consequently, you'll see them everywhere you turn.
- Projects they take on will typically require a tender process - that is, a client will create a brief and vendors will be required to submit their proposal for the job, possibly with a bespoke example video file showing the ideas and how they'd achieve the objectives for the film
- They will introduce you to more than just one individual in the initial meeting so you have the experience in the room when discussing the project
- Everything that can be done will be done to get the best quality and ROI
- They will be specialists in their niche and will have the kit and equipment to do whatever is necessary for the job
- They will, most likely be able to produce TV or Big screen films or at least have the capability to do so.
- They'll have a team of people, each with a specific role and they will work harmoniously together to achieve big outputs as efficiently as possible
- They'll be able to simultaneously capture photo and video meaning you're getting a lot of products in a time efficient manner
- You'll probably not get a video out of them for less than £10k and the sky really is the limit
- You may not need to invest in such grandeur to achieve the results you want. Creativity may result in finding options for doing things much cheaper.
You won't get much change from £10,000 and will probably need a lot more.
As mentioned earlier, there are a few different types of pricing structures that video production companies tend to offer. As a recap, they are:
- Priced by time spent doing the job - either per hour or by 1/2 and full day rates
- Priced as a project - a figure which can be misconstrued to have been plucked out of thin air - and sometimes this is true.
- Priced as a package - where you get a set list of service options to choose from, each with a different set of predefined outputs for a fixed fee.
Which Pricing Structure is right for you?
Priced by time
Those which are priced by time spent are the most transparent. You know how much time they'll invest in delivering the work and you can see how the quote is built.This is particularly helpful if you feel you want to increase or decrease the requirement to suit your budget.
Priced as a Project
Project quotations will, in most cases be built upon a time-based quote, but the largest factor will be what the company 'thinks' it'll be worth to the company and so it will include a margin on top to account for this.
This is where the company's experience, portfolio of high quality work and their client history will really make a difference. So if they can't show you examples of excellent work which significantly overlaps what you're trying to achieve and have only worked with unknown brands they're not going to be able to convince you that they're able to command top spec prices.
The advantage to project pricing is that it's contained. If they quote you £15k all in then you should expect no nasty surprises. To be fair, this should be the case with priced by time too but you'll need to have agreed what happens in the case of unexpected problems.
Priced as a Package
Lastly there's package pricing. As an example, let's say a company produces a mix of photo and video services in a package for a monthly fee. They offer x50 photographs and 3x Instagram reels for £1000. This means the deliverables are defined and the unknowns are removed from the equation. It may work better for you because you know exactly what you'll get and how much it'll cost. The same goes for the vendor as they know what outputs they need to deliver for each package and will probably be quite slick at delivering it because they deliver this package regularly - and so are able to increase their margins. Does it have any negatives? Probably not other than a lack of flexibility. Need an extra few photos or more reels? Maybe they'll offer bolt-on products too, but the chances are you'll be pushed towards a more expensive package option.
Which is the best Pricing Structure?
Each has its merits. For you it might be knowing you're going to get a defined result for a defined fee, making budgeting and marketing campaigns easier to plan. Or it may be you are more of a risk taker. But there's another problem to navigate: who you find might not provide the pricing structure you would ideally want! In which case, you're going to have to make a trade off between liking them and what they can offer against the way they change for their services.
Which type of provider do you choose?
Of course, knowing all this, you've then got to work out which is right for you.
- If you're a new business, or have a smaller budget, then option 3 is clearly not going to be suitable.
- The next question you should ask yourself is, 'Are we doing this for brand awareness or do we need to get more of a return on investment?'. Why do I say this? Because a brand awareness campaigns need to do one thing... be seen. So as long as the output created is of a suitable quality to reflect the business, a cheap and cheerful option may be all you need (as long as the distribution tactics you employ are sound). Whereas if you're looking for more tangible outputs, such as sales or leads, perhaps you want to invest a little more to ensure you get a better ROI.
- There's still a lot to be said for the cheap and cheerful option #1 since not everyone has a lavish budget. But, by going down this route you're going to have to spend more time doing your research and verifying you've got a 'diamond in the rough' compared to what you would have to do if you went for option #2 and #3.
- Then there's option #3. Their big budget solutions will undoubtedly give you the returns you're looking for, but the barrier to entry is significantly higher. But if you can afford it, maybe this is a serious contender.
- So is #2 the 'Goldilocks' solution? Absolutely and is certainly one you should give serious thought to regardless of your budget.
Where do you go next?
As you form your ideas it may be worth stepping into the planning phase a bit more yourself before you reach out to someone to make the film for you. In which case, here's a helpful guide I put together to allow you to do just that. This article tells you how to go about producing a video for yourself, even if you end up outsourcing the production and post production phases. By following the process identified, you'll have an idea of what to do to ensure your project is a success, even if you find yourself working with someone who isn't quite meeting the standard expected.
So whilst there is a myriad of options out there, hopefully this short guide will have lifted the lid on things so you can make an informed decision about which type of company you want to work with.
More importantly, unless it's obvious from the outset, it might be that you uncover the business you're speaking to isn't operating in the category they say they are and so you are now able to steer clear before you get more than you bargain for.