Producing Videos – To DiY or Hire Out

Let’s be honest, creating a video can be an expensive proposition. Often, the decision goes beyond the cost to determining whether to hire a production company (Prodco) or to just do it yourself (DiY).

Project Type

The type of project you’re producing definitely plays a role and there are advantages to both approaches. Identifying exactly what you’re looking to produce will help make the decision for you.

Hire a Production Company If…

Your goal is to create a commercial or a video that’s aiming for brand awareness. In those cases, you might want to pay for a more polished production than what you’d be able to achieve on your own. The work of a quality prodco will help reduce any chance of embarrassing mistakes and increase the chances your video being shared widely.

Do It Yourself If…

Your goal is to engage and retain customers. Such videos require a unique personality so they know who they’re dealing wit and inspire trust. The same goes for employee communications – connecting directly with your colleagues and employees is likely more important than high production value.

It Depends…

When you’re planning on selling content. The choice is really dependent on what your videos are all about and the portal they’ll appear on. If it’s a specific product, a prodco might be the way to go. If they pertain to cooking, crafting, or similar DIY projects, a hands-on approach might be best, and the most cost-effective option.

For educational or consultative content, especially if it requires graphics or lots of text overlays, a prodco might be the way to go to ensure the end result is sufficiently polished.

Budgetary Constraints

It would be wonderful if money wasn’t a factor in video production but that’s not the world we live in. Be realistic about how much you want to spend on your videos, and plan accordingly.

If you have less than $1000 to spend, you might be better off investing in equipment and learning how to use it than spending it all on a one-off project. Rentals and used equipment are great ways to keep costs down, too. In fact, for certain types of video, you might already have everything you need – a HD video-capable smartphone, a natural source of light and a way of capturing clean audio.

If you’re comfortable with spending more than $1000, you should be able to enlist the services of a freelance video professional or a prodco, although the scope of what they can do will depend on how much you’re willing to spend. The right partner for the project will work within your budget and come up with creative solutions to keep costs down. They should also provide different options for the outcome of the project, in terms of what a given level of spend can get you.

Believe it or not, budget isn’t a hard and fast rule here. For example, a simple interview with fixed lighting, one location, and proper audio equipment is not an expensive production, and can be done very cheaply either on your own, or with a professional. In this case, enlisting a prodco will benefit you by ensuring the right equipment is used, the shots are framed correctly, and everything is edited together properly, resulting in a polished video. If you go it alone, depending on your level of experience, you might not end up with a perfect result, but that might be good enough depending on your goals.

Hire a Prodco If…

You can justify spending a lot of money on the production based on your goals for the video, and can afford to do so.

Do It Yourself If…

You are really strapped for cash, don’t need any fancy special effects or equipment for the video to come out the way you want, and are willing to acquire the necessary equipment, or already have what you need.

Work Load

The idea of ‘sweat equity’ should never be dismissed and it’s possible that time trumps money when it comes to making videos. In theory, if you had endless hours to work on a video, you would eventually come up with a very professional result.

The real question is whether that’s a good use of your time… and if you even have any to spare in the first place.

Hire a Prodco If…

You’re a busy entrepreneur or small business and can’t allocate the amount of time required to see the project through on your own.

Do It Yourself If…

You have the availability to dedicate enough time to your video production to achieve the results you want. This might be more than you think, so take a hard look at your schedule and go over the time you think will be required.

The full process entails planning your video, script writing, acquiring equipment, setting up the shoot, filming it, tearing it down, searching for b-roll or creating your own, finding the right music track, and editing everything together. If you have to learn how to do any of those steps in the process, the time it will take will increase significantly.

In Summary

Hire a Prodco If…

  • You don’t want to invest in video equipment

  • The project is a one-off

  • You want to hire on-screen talent rather than being the star of the show

  • You don’t have the skills or time required

  • The project requires advanced production work

Do It Yourself If…

  • You’re interested in learning how to make videos

  • Already have the necessary equipment, or are willing to acquire it

  • The project only requires basic skills

  • You have the time to commit to seeing your project through

  • Don’t have the money for anything too fancy