Winning the Internet

What’s it cost? Professional video

After a great run, the Winning the Internet blog has been retired. However, you can still keep in touch with New Media Mentors here.

Nearly every organization I work with wants to do more with video.

It makes a lot of sense—conventional wisdom tells us it’s critical to use visuals and stories to connect with would-be supporters online. Facts, figures and articles can only take you so far.

For the most part, I agree with the conventional wisdom. However, from working with real organizations, I can tell you that creating a compelling video is hard. And not just kinda hard, but really freaking hard.

Most of us fantasize about creating amazing DIY video that will cost next to nothing and go viral just like that. However, the unfortunate truth is that video is often more art than science. Unless you have a staff member that is exceptionally gifted or you’re creating a very basic video (like one person talking directly to the camera), most organizations will need to turn to a professional if they want something that’s polished and compelling.

Asking someone how much it costs to make a video is a bit like asking someone how much it costs to buy a house. The range is huge and depends on the concept, where you’ll be filming, how much filming is required, the amount of editing, motion graphics, etc.

Though costs definitely vary, we collected estimates from experts in the field that are useful for high level budgeting. It’s safe to estimate $500 to $2,000 for a very simple video (think single speaker and maybe your logo at the beginning and end). More elaborate videos with a plot, etc. can cost up to $20,000 or $30,000 and even more. One very well respected agency even said that $30,000 – $40,000 was the starting point for a professionally produced 1-2 minute video.

So, if you think you want to create a video, the first step is to really think about your goal. Is a video the best way to achieve it? Is it a realistic undertaking for you? Is it worth the cost?

Then, spend some time putting the goal and any other requirements on paper. Talk to video companies and consultants. Take time to shop around. If this is your first video, make sure you view several videos created by anyone you’re considering, and don’t be afraid to ask how much they cost to produce. When you’ve narrowed it down to one or two possible companies or contractors, check their references.

Creating a video can be daunting, but it can also be very powerful if you have the budget and time.


About Melissa Foley

Melissa is the Director of Training and Mentoring for Netroots Foundation and New Media Mentors. She aims to use her MBA + nonprofit background to teach organizations to use new media tools strategically.