People have been searching for tips on how to become a videographer for over a century.
The first video was filmed back in 1832, after Joseph Plateau simulated moving images with what he called the phenakistoscope. In the time since, video has become one of the most important mediums on the planet. Businesses and individuals alike are constantly seeking ways to use video to create experiences that customers want and make their brands stand out.
Want to get in on the fun? Videographers are in growing demand. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that videographer jobs will increase by 22 percent by 2029. But how do you break into the industry? In this post, we’ll give you some practical tips to help you get on the right track to starting a videography career.
4 Steps to Becoming a Videographer
OK, let’s be real. We all know there are more than four steps to becoming a videographer. There are also more than four types of videography you can do. Some of you might want to know how to become a wedding videographer. Others might be eager to learn how to become a travel videographer. There are even a growing number of people looking for guides on how to become a legal videographer.
But if we explored all of your options, not to mention all the steps to reach that goal, we’re pretty sure that we’d lose your attention—and we’re not here to overwhelm you, especially as you’re just learning about how to become a videographer.
So instead of “tips,” let’s call these four categories of things that you should focus on as you start to explore a career in videography. Again, these aren’t the only categories that you’ll have to tackle—but these are the most important right now.
Step 1: Master the Basics
Many videographers break into the industry without a formal degree. Even those that have an associate’s or bachelor’s degree studied something completely unrelated to the craft before becoming a videographer. But that also doesn’t mean that you can become a best-in-class videographer without learning (and mastering) the basics.
Check out this popular course on the basics of videography. There are over 40 sections that cover everything from the different types of cameras you can choose from to basic editing concepts and creating your own style. Nobody’s stopping you from calling yourself a videographer because you know a few tricks with your smartphone camera. But what will really make you stand out as you begin your career is taking the basics seriously—and carving out the time for some in-depth videographer training.
Step 2: Buy Quality Gear
There’s always going to be the temptation to simply buy top-of-the-line equipment right out of the gate. But there are several issues with this approach. First, you’re just getting started and will need some extensive videographer training to learn the ins and outs of that technology. But more importantly, you’re just getting started. Even if you’re a whiz at all the top-end technologies, it’s going to take you a long time to recoup those investments.
Most videographers agree that there are a few key pieces of equipment that are crucial. And if you’re going to start with just one piece of equipment, prioritize your camera.
Digital Camera World recently put together a list of the best cameras for beginners. Most of them are DSLR cameras, which are best known for taking high-quality still photos, but they can also serve as great video cameras. They also aren’t nearly as expensive as some of the gear that your favorite videographers might be using, and they can be great to practice on while you’re getting up to speed.
Step 3: Create Videos As Often As Possible
Marques Brownlee is one of the most respected tech reviewers on the Internet. His current videos are filmed in a best-in-class studio with high-end equipment. But that’s not how he started his career in video. In fact, his first video was quite a sight to behold—and not for the reasons you’d think:
Brownlee is the first person to admit that it’s not feasible for someone in 2020 to fire up a webcam and become an influential video creator overnight. But his story is an incredible reminder of the power of simply getting started. The videos you create right now will likely not win you any awards, but the lessons you learn along the way will ultimately pave the way for you to become the videographer that you want to be.
Start Your YouTube Career With Marques!
YouTube Success: Script, Shoot & Edit with MKBHD
Step 4: Put Yourself Out There
Feeling good about your skills as a videographer? Not quite? That’s OK—it’s still time to get yourself out there and start building your network.
Don’t be shy about sharing your work on platforms such as YouTube or Vimeo. And once you’ve done that, consider attending some (virtual) videography meetups on sites like, well, Meetup. While you’ll meet some folks with more experience than you, you’ll also interact with lots of videographers who are all trying to level up their skills.
Interested in earning some money for your hard work? Sites like Upwork enable videographers to offer their services at prices they set. This is an especially popular option for beginner videographers who are looking to make some cash while they learn their craft.
Career Questions for Videographers
As you wade into the waters of videography, you’ll probably have a few burning questions. It’s easy to create a really long list of them too. But to help you focus on what’s important while you get started, we’ll focus on three specific areas:
- Typical salaries for videographers
- Day rates and freelance rates for videographers
- Skills to put on your resume
What Salary to Expect
If your biggest question is related to a standard videographer rate, you have plenty of company.
There’s a decent amount of research that suggests that full-time videographers earn a pretty nice living. According to Salary.com, the median salary videographer salary in the United States is just over $66,000 per year.
This videographer rate might seem high at first glance, especially for newer folks behind the camera. But it’s important to keep a few things in mind. First, this data is a median average of the data that Salary.com currently has. It also doesn’t account for factors such as experience, education, and the types of companies these videographers are working for. Although we’ll say to use this data with some amount of caution, it’s just as important not to sell yourself short, especially considering the number of videographer jobs expected to enter the market over the next few years.
What is a Day Rate or Freelance Rate for a Videographer?
While some companies employ full-time videographers, many others work on a freelance basis. Typically, a freelance videographer earns a flat, per-project fee or a day rate. And if you’re looking for advice on how to become a freelance videographer, we’re willing to bet that you really want to know what type of rates you can expect.
Hollywood cinematographer Will Carnahan says that a beginner freelance videographer often works for less than $100 per 12-hour day. Of course, this fluctuates depending on your location and the type of work you’re doing. Carnahan says that while some film sets will pay as little as $150 per day, wedding videographers often get rates of up to $600 per day (or more!).
So how do you build up your rate? Carnahan says to set your rate high and drop it down for projects you really want to work on. “When I came out of school, I was shooting for between $75 and $150 per day,” he adds. Now, Carnahan says that he tries not to leave his house for anything that pays less than $400 per day.
Skills to Include on Your Resume
Ready for a little more information? Good, because it’s time to talk about videographer job descriptions. Specifically, how do you land the videography jobs that you want?
We hate to break the news, but unfortunately, there isn’t a template for a videographer’s resume. In many cases, video professionals rely on their websites and portfolios to tell their stories.
While this makes it pretty tough to crack the code of videographer job descriptions, you have a lot of freedom to create the type of “resume” that you want. In the Skillshare course below, you’ll see that there are a few common things that artists think about when they’re creating a portfolio. A lot of this manual work is tricky to set up as you get started, but it will ultimately serve as a living, breathing resume that’s constantly available and easy to update as you gain more experience.
OK, but what specifics should you include on a portfolio, website, or traditional resume? Typically, we see videographers focus on a few key areas:
- The types of projects they’ve worked on in the past (case studies, weddings, legal proceedings, etc)
- Their philosophies and approach to shooting video
- Logos of the companies that they’ve worked for, if they’ve worked for well-known brands
- Links to their work
Unlike a lot of jobs, actual projects that you’ve worked on speak louder than a list of bullet points on a traditional resume. Even if you only have a couple of projects to share, don’t be shy—make sure to feature them in any conversation you have with a potential employer.
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