Video production is an incredibly powerful tool for small businesses looking to promote their products or services. But if you’ve never created a video for a small business before, it can be challenging to determine how much you should budget for your project. When every dollar counts, how do you come up with an accurate estimate? 

There are a number of factors that affect your video’s final sticker price, including the general complexity of the project, the length of the final video, and any bonuses like still photography or video hosting. If you’re not quite sure how much money to set aside, here are a few tips for small businesses to estimate their production costs.

1) Determine Your Video Production Needs

The first factor to consider is the type of small business video you’re creating. Are you producing a video for a Facebook advertising campaign? A brand video for your website? A multi-purpose video that you can share across multiple channels? This is the factor that will likely have the most influence over the total cost, so it’s important to understand what purpose your production is serving. 

Once you know your video type, you’ll have some insight into the related production needs and required video content. For example, a product ad shot for Facebook’s distribution network will have a more limited scope than a TV commercial, so you can estimate costs accordingly.

In general, the more resources, equipment, and talent involved in bringing your vision to life, the more your production will cost you. 

2) Create a Detailed Budget

Next, as a small business owner, it’s always helpful to create a detailed budget that accounts for the most common production line items. 

In the pre-production section, you should make estimates for expenses that revolve around video strategy such as scripting, storyboarding, location scouting, and casting. During the production itself, you should account for equipment costs, film crew and equipment, and lighting and audio recording. And when it comes to post-production, make sure to include editing, color grading, sound mixing, and music licensing.

This is a helpful exercise for a few reasons. First, it helps you understand the many unseen elements that go into a production. You might not know to account for a hair and makeup artist or a location permit, so thinking through the production step-by-step can help you catch these smaller costs. 

Second, it helps you track expenses and stay within your budget as the production unfolds, preventing any unexpected costs from derailing your project. With an estimate associated with each specific element, you’ll always know if you’re coming in over or under your limit. 

3) Be Realistic About Your Expectations

At this point in the process, it’s time to check in with your expectations. The reality is that creating high-quality videos takes time, effort, and resources. It may not always be possible to create videos within a tight budget. And while not every video needs to look like a Super Bowl commercial, there is an element of “you get what you paid for” at play here. 

If you have an ultra-tight budget and sky-high expectations for marketing videos, one outcome is going to have to budge. Be realistic about what you can achieve with your budget, and be willing to compromise on elements like production quality or video length to keep within your budget. If cutting ten seconds off the video’s run time puts you under budget, that may be the perfect solution to balance costs. 

If you’re committed to your video length and you’re still coming in over your spending limit, consider alternatives like animation or using curated stock footage. These options will typically cost less than a live-action production, and the resulting narrative can still be compelling and beautiful! 

When in doubt, ask your production team what they might be able to accomplish within your desired spending range. If they’ve worked on other productions in the past—or if you’re teaming up with a professional team—they’ll likely have suggestions on where to cut costs to get closer to your budget.  

4) Consider a Professional Video Production Company

Speaking of consulting your production team, working with a professional production company is a great way to get the most bang for your buck on set. While hiring a professional team may come at a higher cost up-front, they can help you with everything from brainstorming to scripting to post-production. And when your final video looks and sounds like an expert-quality piece, you’ll likely get expert-quality results. 

Establishing a long-term partnership with a production company may also provide cost savings over time. While it is possible to create a great video in-house, a professional team can typically deliver better results on a shorter timeline, preserving your internal resources for other revenue-driving projects. Plus, many production companies will offer discounts or special perks if you invest in your video content long-term. 

Choose Lemonlight

Estimating video production costs for small businesses can be challenging, but taking the time to identify your needs, create a detailed budget, and align your expectations will help ensure your project is a cost-effective success.  

Still not sure how to think about your production budget? Lemonlight’s professional production team would love to chat! The most accurate way to estimate your project is to get a quote that’s tailored to your vision. Contact us below to get started! 

* This article was originally published here

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