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HomeBusinessBusiness OpportunitiesWays To Make Money From: Your Camcorder

Ways To Make Money From: Your Camcorder

Your Camcorder

AS THE POPULARITY of hand-held camcorders grows ever larger, the possibility for video and film-based money making is on the increase. Camcorders can be purchased in any high street electrical store for around $200 (rising to $1500-plus for one with more extensive features), providing the user-friendly technology you need to edit and produce your own masterpiece.

With the right gear and a little practice you can easily start your own video-based enterprise without huge start-up costs or extensive prior experience.

  1. Wedding videos

Anyone who’s tried to save money getting Uncle Sid to video their wedding will know how important it is to pay a professional to do the job. Anyone who can offer a high quality memento of the special occasion can earn a substantial income, especially during the summer months.

After filming the wedding (and the reception, if your client asks you to), you must produce a master copy featuring the edited highlights. You’ll need a VCR and television in order to edit and monitor the recordings, along with a video editing machine – this box of tricks allows you to add titles, mix one scene into another, and add professional-looking effects. A Sony XV-AL100 editing machine will set you back around $600, while the Camlink Audio and Video mixer costs around $150. Stores such as Dixons, Comet or Curry’s, or a specialist video equipment retailer, are the places to go for this kind of hardware, or you could scan the small-ads for secondhand equipment. You’ll also need a tripod for holding the camera steady, and a well-stocked supply of cassettes just in case you run out.

Even if you’ve got all the gear, it won’t guarantee a watchable video. There’s no substitute for experience – take an evening class and practice filming family occasions and friend’s weddings before you start charging anyone for the privilege.

When you’re ready, catch the attention of brides and husbands-to-be by leaving business cards in wedding-related shops (eg. florists, clothing hire outlets), and handling them to guests at functions you attend. Also consider advertising in bridal magazines, the local paper, the parish magazine, and on church notice boards.

A good ploy is to form an alliance with another wedding-related business. By teaming up with a florist, caterer or car rental agency for example, you could advertise each other’s services, hand out business cards, and even take bookings for each other on commission.

The going rate for this is about $100 to $200, which includes a couple of hour for setting up and filming (more if asked to film over a longer period), plus the supply of a master video cassette to the bride and groom. Charging extra for additional copies will increase your profit margin.

  1. Record christenings

In the same way that wedding videos have become ‘the done thing’, christenings are gaining popularity. Nobody wants to miss the vicar’s face when the baby’s sick all over him.

Consult the parents before the actual event, finding out how they want to the finished product to look; for example, do they want soft focus or any music added? To really impress your customers add extras like a title and date, the name of the vicar and a photo of the baby on the front of the cassette case.

  1. Film school events

Recording the instant when the baby Jesus bursts into tears in the Nativity Play can be a rewarding experience. School plays, sports days and leaving ceremonies can all be preserved for posterity by your video recording business.

You could sell the videos in bulk to the school itself, or directly to parents and friends of those involved. Hand out flyers at the event to notify potential customers. You could ask the school to promote your videos and offer a donation as thanks.

(Don’t forget: the chances of something going wrong are high where children are concerned, so there is strong potential for earning cash prizes from TV programmes such as you’ve Been Framed.)

  1. Record business conferences

Filming business conferences gives managers the perfect tuition tool to see where their strengths and weaknesses lie. Consult clients beforehand to establish any particular areas they want to focus on, such as audience response or certain speakers.

Advertise your venture in business magazines and conference agencies and arrange to leave your promotional literature at conference venues. Also, approach firms directly to show them examples of previous work. Large firms and office-type businesses are you main target market.

  1. Become a news reporter

Remember Zapruder’s film of Kennedy’s assassination, Niki Lauda’s near fatal crash at the Nurburgring, or the terrible incident at the Le Mans rally when a car careered into the crowd? All were captured by a regular person who happened to be in the right place at the right time.

So keep your camcorder close at hand. You could be richly rewarded if you film something of note and a TV news programme wants to use a clip of your work.

  1. Video Tours

For anybody who lives in a popular tourist resort of somewhere with an interesting history there is the opportunity to cash in by producing tour videos of local landmarks.

These films (perhaps featuring a running commentary from you) will be excellent souvenirs for tourists as well as being educational tools for local people and schools.

Advertise your tour videos in tourist publications, and get them stocked by local tourist information centres, museum gift shops and the like.

  1. Make videos for estate agents

A photograph often fails to capture the essence of a property. It may show the exterior of the house, but gives you no idea what the rooms behind look like and won’t tell you about the noisy by-pass 30 yards away, or the dog pound over the road.

By producing short videos of properties for sale you can offer potential buyers a true representation of the premises and its surrounding area.

Approach estate agents offering to provide them with a ‘video brochure’ service to help give a better representation of a property to their customers. They may employ you on a trial freelance basis or may want to use you permanently if the scheme proves successful.

Of course, if you’re working for an estate agent you’ll need to know how to highlight the selling points of a house elements occur. A knowledge of lighting would really be useful here as many rooms can be made to look far more homely with a subtle use of shading.

  1. Produce a camcorder tips video

If you’re competent with your camcorder why not earn money by sharing your skills with others? Novice users would welcome a clear and informative instruction video, allowing them to instantly see the benefits of the tips you are explaining.

You may like to demonstrate how to capture a sunrise, the subtleties in lighting and shade technique, or perhaps highlight the importance of composition. This will help novices gain greater use and satisfaction from their expensive equipment.

Mail order is one sales option, advertising them in magazines and newspapers, and / or you could sell your wares via video equipment retailers, photography stores and video rental stores. The latter may be interested in purchasing your instruction videos and hiring them out to prospective cameraman and women.

  1. Record local events for posterity

By recording community events such as royal visits, monuments being laid and new building constructions, you can present a video diary of your community’s history.

Since you own the copyright for your work, you can cash in from selling copies and from licensing clips of your video to local schools, museums, archivists and media. Remember to update your video dairies whenever anything of important takes place.

  1. Pet videos

Videos make ideal presents for doting pet owners and professional breeders alike.

A good idea is to visit pet shows, horse shows and so on, and start recording the events as they happen. Aim to capture the moment when Rover wins the best Mongrel award at the dog show, or when Dobbin and his twelve-year-old rider win a rosette at the pony trials.

Approach the owner with the video: many will buy them on the spot, and some will even buy copies to give to family and friends. Always give out your business card in case someone wants ‘time to think about it’. (It’s sad, but the pet may subsequently die, and the owner might want something to remember them by).

By advertising at shows, in the local newspaper, and even at the vets, you’ll soon build a healthy customer base. You could increase profits by taking still photographs of clients’ pets.

  1. Low budget film maker

You could have great fun writing, directing and producing your own low budget movies. George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead and Peter Jackson’s Bad Taste are two cheaply made films that have gained a worldwide cult following  and made money too.

You’ll need buckets of enthusiasm and a good understanding of editing and sound recording, but don’t let that put you off. There are many likeminded people who may be able to bring their own talents to help realize your idea. By advertising in film magazines or approaching local film enthusiasts’ groups you’ll stand a good chance of attracting the attention of helpful individuals. Get your friends to act in the film and don’t worry too much about clichés. Nobody’s expecting Gone With the Wind, just and entertaining hour or so of low budget fun.

If possible, take your finished product to a distributor or film fair. You’ll be surprised at the level of attention a well-made, low budget film can attract, especially if you have and intriguing storyline that’s well executed.

It’s worth bearing in mind that and estimated $40 million was spent on the United Artists film Heaven’s Gate. Ever heard of it? Say no more.

  1. Sporting ‘best of’ videos

Compiling ‘best of’ videos for a variety of sporting events could develop into a thriving home-based business. You could film the matches of local amateur football, cricket and rugby teams for example, or record bowls, snooker and tennis tournaments. You may need permission from the organizers first – you could offer to split the set-up costs and profits.

Once you’ve filmed the event, edit together the highlights and have an attractive cover made. Sell your videos through the organizations involved – a good tip is to take names and addresses of any participants so you can send them details at a later date.

  1. Insurance videos

Insurance companies are often reluctant to pay up without evidence of the damaged or stolen goods. You could be onto a real winner by starting up a service which videotapes everything of value in a property so that the client has visual proof of their claim.

It’s a service anyone with a camcorder can offer. You need to be methodical about recording the rooms and items the client wants to be included, but it requires no great skill. You could also offer hints on home security while you’re there.

Perhaps the best way to market is to approach insurance firms, asking them to send out your advertising literature to each of their clients. You could organize this on a commission basis, so that the insurance firms promotes your service and earns a small (five or ten percent) commission for each customer they provide you with. You could also try offering this service directly to well-off homeowners via leaflets put through their letterbox.

Provide the customer with one copy of the video, while a second should be sent to the insurance company. Don’t forget to approach each customer every year to update the video to include all their new possessions, as this is a valuable additional source of profit.

  1. Fitness videos

Don’t worry, this doesn’t involve any strenuous exercise. If you can operate a video camera you can make money by collaborating with a local fitness instructor and manufacturing fitness instruction videos.

Your videos could be anything up to an hour long, featuring workouts which can be performed in the home. Exercise routines vary tremendously, from step to aerobics, cardio funk to Tai Chi, so there is the potential to produce a wide range.

Start by contacting gyms and fitness groups in your area to find an instructor you can work with ideally someone who can invest a small amount in the project. Explain your idea, and that the profits will be split. Once you’ve found someone suitable, draw up a plan for filming, including what exercises are to be included, how long they will take, what camera shots will be used, where and when the filming will take place, and so on. You’ll probably have to film a few sessions to give you enough material to edit together a coherent hour long video workout.

Once you’ve put together the finished product, including covers and cases, you can start selling it. Remember that your fitness instructor’s own classes represent a captive market. You can also sell your videos at local gyms, sports centres and exercise clubs.

While you’ll need to pay for materials, plus print, distribution and reproduction costs, it shouldn’t be difficult to sell a thousand videos at $10 a copy, putting you well in profit. And if the first one’s a success you can start selling it over a wider area, begin thinking about a sequel, or even sell the distribution rights to a major video marketing company.

  1. Transfer-to-video business

Many people have happy memories of weddings and holidays stored away on outmoded formats such as Super 8 reels. By offering to convert these old images onto modern formats such as video you can help people relive day gone by.

Your local video equipment shop will be able to provide you with the necessary gear, and then it’s up to you to advertise and market your business. Inform the community of your service by placing ads in the Yellow Pages, the local paper and in video and photography shops.

  1. Training videos

By approaching companies and offering to make staff training videos for them you could establish a profitable business. Organizations such as the Royal Mail, colleges and large factories constantly require training films, perhaps to help teach staff a new production technique, improve productivity or boost staff morale.

For this you’ll need technical and directorial talent, plus innovative ideas to get your venture off the ground. You may wish to employ technical assistants and actors, or you could use the help of some knowledgeable friends.

Promote this service by mailing your literature to firms. Follow this up with a personal phone call. Hints ask to speak to either the head of personnel or marketing, or the managing director. Aim to set up an appointment in which you can show them examples of your work and discuss ideas for filming.

Ideally you should have a wealth of experience to draw upon which will impress potential clients, although if you’re new to the business you’ll have to rely on your ideas and enthusiasm to secure work. It takes effort to become established, but just one impressed client can generate enough lucrative employment to keep you going for years.

  1. Relaxation videos

By filming tranquil scenes in rural areas you could appeal to busy urban types who rarely see babbling brooks and offers. Add a soothing soundtrack to help immerse the listener in the delicate serenity of the countryside. You could also produce alternative packages such as ‘sounds of the jungle’ or even ‘sound of the city’ for rural dwellers who miss the sights and sounds of London or Tokyo.

Advertise your products in gift shops and ‘new age’ remedy shops. Stress management brochures are another promotional possibility.

  1. Video encyclopedia

Compiling and marketing video encyclopedias could be an enjoyable experience and a useful money maker. Concentrate on a specialist area, depending on your own knowledge or interests.

You could, for example, produce a video encyclopedia dedicated to the history of armor birds of prey, or another subject. Or you could exploit the local angle – listings of places to fish, an encyclopedia of local celebrities or inventors, or a guide to local garden centres, are just a few ideas.

To research your encyclopedia make use of your local library and museums, gathering information from existing guidebooks, encyclopedias and other publications. You can then film clips of the relevant person, place or item, perhaps adding your own dialogue and / or comments from and expert.

Schools, libraries, museums, gift shops are just a few places you could sell your video encyclopedias. You could also promote them via ads in specialist publications and sell them by mail order.

  1. DIY teaching videos

Whether you’re a strong swimmer, and expert animal trainer or can build a miniature sphinx out of match sticks, you can make money by videoing your talents.

‘Teach yourself’ videos appeal to all manner of people. You must give precise on-screen instructions, making sure the camera displays what you’re describing accurately. Don’t overlook details which you may take for granted, but which your beginner audience will need explaining.

This is an opportunity with excellent add-on profit potential. If your first video is popular you could continue the theme, with new video reaching a higher standard.

Market your videos in specialist magazines which cater for your audience, in the classified section of your local newspaper, and through local colleges / evening classes.

  1. Make promos for local bands

Every budding pop star wants to see themselves on TV. Perhaps you can offer them the chance to do just that, earn a hefty fee, and make a name for yourself into the bargain.

Arrange a video to local gig and produce a professional three- or four-minute promotional video. By using professional home editing equipment or computer effects on your PC you can recreate that Top of the Pops atmosphere and produce and exceptional homemade music video.

The standard way of working is to overdub the actual song later using a professional CD recording, which should be supplied by the band. This is simply a matter of editing to synchronize the music and actions. It’s important to spend time on this and make sure everything matches up, or else the finished video will fail to impress and your reputation will plummet. You could create additional revenue by offering to distribute the completed product to local TV stations and music shows.

Advertise your business in rehearsal rooms, youth centres and recording studios, and hand your card to bands at gigs.

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