What it Costs to Run a Wedding Videography Business

February 6, 2020

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Episode Transcript:

You are listening to episode 10 of the Level Up Your Wedding Film Business Podcast. This week I’m getting my financials ready to take to my CPA, which means I have some interesting numbers to share with you. How much did I spend in my wedding film business in 2019? The answer: more than I wanted to.

I’m your host, Taylor Petrinovich, and at the core of this show I want you to feel inspired to take your business to the next level, and I want to give you tools and practical advice to help you along the way. Let’s Level-Up together.

So like I said at the very top of the show, I’m getting ready to file my taxes and I have my entire 2019 financial report in front of me. I’m always so curious to hear about other people’s businesses, what they’re spending money on, and how it’s working out for them. So I just wanted to go over some numbers and talk about whether or not I feel like some of the expenses were worth it.

So here we go. In 2019, I spent a grand total of $18,295 in my business.

Yikes. Yeah, that’s a lot of money.

So I’m going to break that down into the major categories that I spent money in last year.

To start:

– I spent $1,000 on a paid storefront on The Knot. I did not renew that subscription, which ended in November. I did make my money back from that subscription though, and I ended up booking 4 weddings through The Knot in 2019.

– I spent $337 on Facebook and Instagram ads, which actually didn’t result in any paid bookings so that was a waste. Going forward, I’m going to be focusing solely on organic reach through social media.

– Music Licensing:

Soundstripe: 3 months = $45

Musicbed = 9 months = $720 – even though Musicbed’s subscription is way more expensive (soundstripe is $15 per month and Musicbed is $79, I’m a lot happier with Musicbed overall and I definitely get my money’s worth)

-Education – online courses: $694

-Insurance: $325

Dubsado: $250 (my current CRM)

-Website: hosting + new theme: $477

-Color presets: $259

-Second Shooters: $1440

-Film delivery: $1122 – flash drives + shipping + vimeo – I’m going to explore other options here. I’ve loved delivering my films on fancy flash drives, but I’m going to start considering other options from here on out. Delivering my films via usb drive costed me an average of $62 per client. Just through a really quick google search, I could switch to a service like Wedflow and pay between $5-9 per client. That’s something I’ll have to think about though. I’m planning on polling my past clients to ask them if receiving the flash drive was something they really enjoyed, or if it didn’t really matter to them.

-Return deposit: $925 – this might not necessarily be considered an expense, but the couple put their deposit down the year before, so it wasn’t really an even wash like it would be if they cancelled their wedding just a few months after they put their deposit down. I will write that off as a loss this year, but it still was a little hit on the finances this year.

-Gear: $2856 – new lights, batteries, hard drives, I upgraded to the Ronin S, and misc. things that help me on a wedding day or while editing. I do think that the vast majority of those expenses were necessary for me, but I’m sure a few hundred dollars could have been saved if I did more research before buying things. I have a slight amazon addiction.

-Legal – business license + part 107 license: $332

-Travel – 291

-Branding photo session: $508 (hair + makeup included) This was something I felt was necessary to do to finally get some professional photos of me up on my website and on social media. I’ll probably do this once every few years.

-The remaining several thousand dollars is made up of micro expenses. Things like buying clients a cup of coffee, buying odds and ends for styled shoots, office supplies, and a few gifts for clients as well. 

Looking at these numbers shows me where I can tighten up my budget going forward. Like I said, I’m going to consider delivering my films a different way, which would save me potentially a thousand dollars. 

I’m not planning on spending any money on marketing this year, so that alone will save me over $1,300 compared to last year.

When I first started getting serious about my business in 2018, I read the book Profit First by Mike Michalowicz. The tagline of the book says this: Transform Your Business from a Cash-Eating Monster to a Money-Making Machine. Based off the numbers from last year, I think I need to reread that book to get a better grasp on the money going out for 2020.

It’s super easy to get caught up in the vanity metrics. For example, if a filmmaker charged $5,000 for a wedding film, but had to pay $1,000 out of pocket for travel, $500 for a second shooter, $300 for an assistant, and an additional $200-300 on music licensing and delivery, That’s only a net of around $2,900-$3000 before you take into account things like taxes and social security. On the flip side, a solo shooter who does local weddings and charges $3,500 for a wedding is technically charging $1,500 less than the first guy, but they actually make more money in the end. Their profit margin is a lot higher.

I want to bring this to attention for a few reasons. First, to remind myself to be smart with my business expenses and be more intentional. Secondly, I want to lay out the facts of the way the industry works. Striving for a higher price point is so amazing, but if your expenses increase at the same rate, you aren’t actually making any more money.

I also want to bring this to light as encouragement. Vanity metrics are often put on a pedestal, but what we see is only a small piece of a bigger puzzle. 

Don’t get me wrong: There are definitely times when it’s worth taking a bit of a financial hit. Sometimes, it’s necessary to spend a bit more money on a project or give a client a discount on a wedding if you think it’s going to help propel you closer to your goal. But that should be a once in a while thing.

This year I plan on focusing on being more intentional with my expenses. And only spend money on things that are necessary for my business to continue thriving, and to keep pushing forward.