Freelance videographers are expected to be a master of many skills in today’s competitive market. They work for clients by creating video content and productions, with job titles ranging from videographer, filmmaker, cameraman/women, content creator, video editor, and camera operator. It’s fair to say that a client’s expectations of a freelance videographer is to prep, capture and cut a project from concept to creation. Unless working in a specific role in a larger production, the role of a videographer is multi-faceted.
With this in mind, how much to charge as a freelance videographer can be difficult and greatly varies from job to job, often dependent on the client you are working for, how big the job is and the demands of the project.
Typically, the wider your skillset, the more you can cover and the more you can charge. A videographer who can’t edit, for example, will limit the number of roles they can apply for and impact their videographer hourly rate. The more experience you have also plays a part although technology is helping to facilitate strong video work with relatively little time behind the camera.
The more equipment and software you are familiar with and able to use also adds value. Beit piloting a drone or shooting on a dolly, the more you can offer a client, the more you can charge as a videographer.
Freelance videographer rates can be hard to define as the work is so varied and therefore the salary is dependent on all of the variable factors that can change from project to project. It is important that a freelance videographer is aware of what factors go into setting a fee and use these tools each time they negotiate with a client before taking on a new project.
In this article, we will unpack the main areas clients look for when hiring a freelance videographer and give you a solid base to use when setting your rate as well as an understanding on a videographer salary. There is no quick answer or online tool that will accurately provide you with a day rate as each freelancer's value depends on a number of factors. However, there are strategies and rules to follow. Keep in mind, the cost of getting it wrong can be fatal to your business so think long and hard before quoting for a job or setting your videographer rates.
Understanding the Terms and Definitions
A freelance videographer works for a variety of clients in creating videos and video content for them. Freelance videographers must have their own equipment and software in order to be prepared for each job at hand and have excellent negotiation and people skills as they will be directly dealing with many clients and teams.
Pre and post-production is a vital part of working as a freelance videographer and can add a lot more hours or days to a job. Pre-production includes developing a concept, which can be already completed by the client, created in partnership with the videographer or tasked to the videographer entirely.
Pre-production can also involve script writing and location scouting. Becoming familiar with the set or sets where the video will take place can often save hours of shoot time.
Post-production largely involves editing the raw footage shot to create the final product. Freelance videographers must also be constantly aware and willing to update their equipment and software, work with and guide team members under them as well as research and collect any additional footage, such as b-roll footage if necessary.
The average pay for a freelance videographer is £21,402 per year, but this varies with experience and education. It is also a figure that fails to illustrate the broad spectrum of earning potential as a freelance videographer.
Types of Videographers
Videographers who work in advertising creating video content that clients can use to advertise their services. Also known as a corporate video, the content created by the videographer is a marketing tool and a representation of the business. The average salary for a video editor salary in this field is £32,482.
Animated explainer videos are short animated marketing videos that companies use to explain, sell and advertise their products or services. Popular with SaaS companies, the videos are short, bright, eye-catching and usually focus on one product or initiative that the company is aiming to promote. A typical animated explainer video costs between £1700 and £10,000 to make. This includes the fees for all participants including scriptwriters, animators, storyboard artists, illustrators, music composers, sound engineers, and voice over actors. Small businesses and startups will generally have a loose idea but rely on the animator to fill in the rest.
Corporate videos aim to showcase the inner workings of a company in a positive way. They can be external, aimed to be distributed amongst potential customers and clients and include favourable testimonials from customers. The videos can also be used internally, depicting changes in the company and explanations of products. These types of videos are usually priced per minute; prices start at £7 per minute.
Videographers who work in documentary must create video content that focuses on real-life subjects and their lives. Both informative and educational, documentaries tell stories of people’s lives. Documentaries vary in length and usually touch on world issues such as the political climate and social and cultural subjects. Experienced documentary videographers can earn between £31,000 and £78,000 a year.
Educational videographers create a method of teaching through video content. These types of videos are often part of a series aiming to cover all parts of one subject area. Usually, create for educational institutions and are used for students in lectures and classrooms. Educational videos vary in cost due to length and production size. A short, one camera educational video costs in the region of £566 and £700 to make, this price includes the fees for all of the creatives involved in creating the video content.
Event videographers must be able to perfectly capture high quality and usable video footage in the moment. These type of videographers can work for large and small companies or individuals who want an important day such as their wedding, birthday or baby shower captured on video. The average salary for an event videographer is £70 an hour.
Wedding videographers work to capture a couples’ special day by working closely with them to create an important piece of memorabilia. It is vital that the videographer works with the couple to create a video in line with their wants and vision. Most people don’t mind splashing out on their wedding day, so videographers can earn from £700 to £1415 all the way up to £2123 to £2830, depending on their experience.
Music videographers work in the music industry for artists, record labels and DJs. Many music videographers film music videos; the visual accompaniment to an artist’s song. Music videos are designed to entertain audiences as well as depicting what the song is about, they are integral in formulating and presenting an artist’s image to an audience. The pay for this type of videographer varies greatly and depends on the production companies budget, small budgets are around £700 but can rise to £14,000 to £400,000.
Product demonstration videos work to visually explain how a product works and how someone can use it. Product demonstration videos are used on a company’s website and YouTube channels and are likely to increase the number of people using the product as well as promoting the business. The pay for this type of videography job ranges from £240 to £2,100 per minute, including scripting, storyboarding, voice overs, sound design, video marketing.
Travel videographers may work for travel companies, magazines, hotels, charities or websites. Their job is to promote a destination; therefore, a storytelling ability is integral. Travel videos help to sell particular locations to tourists and travellers. The cost to travel to and stay in the location is not always included in the salary. On average, travel videographers earn £21,402 per year
Video editors edit footage shot by themselves or a different videographer. They use raw footage and cleverly edit it into a storyline, following the brief and the concept of the project. Sometimes the videographer shoots and edits their own work, but it is not uncommon for the editing to be outsourced. Junior editors can expect to earn £17 to £28 an hour, more experienced editors can earn £35 to £70 and the most experienced editors can earn anywhere between £141 to £354 an hour.
Being paid hourly allows freelance videographers to be paid appropriately for all of the time they have put into a project. The average hourly rate across the board for a freelance videography is £21, however, this takes into account the multitude of smaller projects. When working on jobs that require capturing a particular event in real time, charging by the hour may be the best option.
By establishing a day rate, freelance videographers can assure that they are paid correctly for each day that the project lasts. The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) recommends that freelance videographers receive £500 for a day’s shoot and an additional £500 for a day’s editing, as most videography jobs require at least one additional day editing, usually more.
By charging a rate for the whole project, freelance videographers ensure that any pre and post-production work is included in the final fee. A project fee will include all of the work involved in making the video or film product, including location scouting, researching and editing, as well as the actual shoot day. The risk when pricing for a project is if it goes over time or the clients requests a reshoot or re-edit. Clearly define your terms in the contract to protect yourself from these eventualities.
TV News Footage
Some freelance videographers will create work for national and international television stations. NUJ advises that video created to be broadcast on televisions should pay £300 for up to a minute transmitted.
Overheads are the most important components to consider when it comes to setting a freelance videography hourly rate as they are factors that will constantly cost money for freelancers. Take a look at the following costs and be sure to factor them into your pricing.
Videography requires more essential equipment than most other job roles in the creative industries. It is vital that freelance videographers have the basic tools to create, edit and produce films and videos, with there being many options to improve the style in which you shoot.
- Camera – Owning a trusty camera that allows a videographer to shoot in a variety of styles is vital. The price of video camera or DSLR varies greatly. It is possible to buy a good quality video yet limited video camera for around £300, with the better cameras ranging from £800 up to the thousands.
- Tripod – Tripods are essential in steadying the camera to capture a firm shot. They can be bought at affordable prices – up to £50, or for more advanced equipment that allows the camera to reach more angles, the price can go up to £200+.
- Camera Light – Every freelance videographer needs a light that can be attached to their video camera for dark and night shots or scenes. The prices can range from £50 to £200 and can go up to £500+.
- Three-Point Lighting Kit – With a lighting kit, videographers have more options when it comes to perfectly lighting their shoot. A typical lighting kit that includes three ways to light a shoot costs from £250 to £2000+.
- Microphone – As a video also requires audio, a high-quality microphone that can perfectly capture dialogue is essential. Prices for microphones range from £50 - £200. It may also be worth looking into wireless microphone options, they are more expensive at £500 to £1000 but allow videographers to capture sound without it looking obvious on camera.
- Boom Pole – Boom poles record sound while being situated away from the action. For example, they can record sound from large crowd scenes. Prices range from £50 to £400.
- Audio Cables – Audio cables work by connecting the camera to the microphone and are essential in creating high-quality sound for video. Prices range from £15 to £100.
- Light Reflector – Light reflectors work to perfectly light up a scene and are therefore essential in creating videos. Prices range from £5 to £200.
- Lenses – Having a range of camera lenses allows a freelance videographer to experiment with aesthetics. They allow filmmakers to create a variety of different shooting styles, like extreme close-ups and extreme zoom outs. Prices range from £150 to £2000.
- Extra Batteries – Having spare batteries as a backup is a smart decision for a freelance videographer as shoots usually go on much longer than predicted. Prices range from £10 to £200.
- Flash Memory Cards – Flash memory cards allow videographers to record the footage that they shoot so are vital to any freelance videography job. Prices range from £7 to £50.
- External Hard Drive – If a shoot is predicted to go on a for a long time, an external hard drive allows videographers to store what they’ve shot and have a clear camera memory to shoot more footage. Prices range from £5 to £150.
When it comes to editing software, there are plenty of options for freelance videographers. Popular choices include Adobe After Effects for £238.42 a year and Adobe Premiere Pro for £238.42 a year. Other options are Adobe Premiere Elements for £86.56 and Final Cut Pro X for £299.99, among others.
Many freelance videographers will find themselves travelling around the country or even abroad for work. It is important that this cost is either paid for by the client or considered when setting a rate for a project.
Scouting locations for a video shoot is not always the responsibility of the videographer but it is part of pre-production as it has to be undertaken before the shoot. If the videographer scouts for locations they must factor this into setting their rate for the project, making sure to consider travelling to the locations and the time is taken to view them all.
Depending on how big the project is most clients will hire a separate, professional storyboard artist. However, if the freelance videographer is asked to create a storyboard for a project, this is an additional rate that must be factored into the final fee. Storyboard artists are typically paid between £10 to £18 an hour.
How to Ensure a Fair Rate for Your Services
Talk About Money
Freelance videographers must not shy away from discussing money from the very start of each project they undertake. Working for free is not an option and therefore, all payment expectations should be made clear from the start so there is no confusion or underpayment later on.
It is important for freelance videographers to consider their level of experience and expertise when it comes to setting a fee. As there are so many elements to video making, the more you know, the higher fee you can charge. For example, the more software and equipment you own and are familiar with, the more likely you can justify asking for a higher fee. As with all creatives, the bigger and more diverse your portfolio, the more money you will earn. Experience is not only about the quality of the end product, it’s about communication with the client and a level of professionalism that a client expects.
Equipment and Software
If a freelance videographer is providing all of the equipment and software for a shoot, they can justifiably charge a higher fee as they are providing more than just their shooting skills but essentially putting the whole shoot together as well as providing all of the editing.
Hourly vs Flat Rate
Charging by the hour vs charging a flat rate is one of the hardest decisions to make as a freelance videographer. Both methods of setting fees have their advantages and disadvantages and most freelancers will switch between the two depending on the type of project and how long it is expected to last. Usually, freelancers will make more money if they charge by the hour, but flat rates that are set before the project has begun to make life easy for both the client and the freelancer.
Videography is popular as clients are attracted to its marketability to consumers and customers enjoy the striking medium that film and video provides. Many photographers have expanded their skillset into videography because of this, and if they haven’t, they most likely will be required to in the future. Although a considerable outlay, to begin with, videography is potentially a high paying career because of its demand, technicality and popularity.
Working as a freelance videographer requires you to incorporate multiple job roles into one. It is time-consuming and expensive, so it is vital that videographers are aware of how to set fair fees for their work and be correctly compensated. In an industry constantly changing, freelancers must always be aware of how these changes affect their fees and work at being paid legitimately.