How to Bid on Video Production Jobs

by Nicole Vulcan - Updated September 26, 2017
Movie production of family in living room

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, video producer and director jobs are expected to grow by a paltry 3 percent from 2012 to 2022 -- far below the average for all jobs. With prospects like that, your bids for video production jobs have to sparkle to have a prayer at being accepted. In your bid, showcase a strong educational background in film or video and extensive work experience in the industry. Clients want to see a well-organized, well-thought-out bid that shows them that you understand the job and all of its intricacies.

The Scope of the Job

Before you prepare your bid, answer the five Ws and one H -- who, what, when, where, why and how -- to gather as much information as possible about the job. Carefully read the proposal request, or talk to the client directly. To answer the "who" question, for example, find out who will be on camera or whom you'll need to interview. If the project includes traveling to interview people in other cities, for example, you'll need to build in travel time and expenses. For the "what" question, determine the message, as that might dictate whether the client requires any special graphics. Answer the "when" by finding out when the shoots will take place and when the project is due.

Create a Spreadsheet

Lay out the details of the job on a spreadsheet, then parse out how much each element will cost. If you're shooting in-studio, for example, factor in studio rental, lighting, camera rental and crew costs. If you're working with freelance videographers, script writers or lighting experts, factor in their hourly rates. The same goes for the post-production elements; factor in day rates for graphics experts or designers, voiceover professionals and music for which you'll need to purchase rights. Also, build in your own hourly or day rate. On the spreadsheet, create an "estimated cost" column as well as an "actual cost" column, so you can go back after the job and compare your estimate with the end costs. This can help you make more accurate estimates in future bids.

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Write Up an Estimate

Compile the written estimate for the job with the name of the client at the top and a brief description of the work. Follow that with an estimate of the costs. It doesn't need to include an exact estimate for every element of the shoot, but it should provide a general overview. For example, create sections such as "equipment rental," "crew," and "editing and post-production," with a cost attached to each. Add a section called "extras" or "courtesy items" to list value-added items such as free DVDs, to give the client a sense that he's getting something more.

Price Range vs. Exact Price

Below those sections, provide a final cost range. A price range -- as opposed to an exact figure -- will factor in increased costs should the shoot and post-production process go long. Some clients will request additional elements -- such as an additional interview or scene -- on the fly. Listing a range can help them recognize that those items will run up the cost. If you're willing to negotiate any aspects of the production, write "prices and scope negotiable" on the bottom of the bid, so clients know there may be some wiggle room.

The Bidding Process

Find potential jobs by networking, talking to potential clients at business gatherings and through word-of-mouth. Check bidding sites such as Elance or in requests on LinkedIn. Determine whether a potential client has a particular format or form for submitting bids. If not, place your company logo at the top of a blank document; create headings, including the date, client, project, scope of work and cost estimates; and fill in the information you've gathered. Submit the document to the prospective client by email or during an in-person meeting. If the client responds with a "yes," great -- but if he balks at your offer, ask which parts he's concerned with, then resubmit your bid with changes made.

2016 Salary Information for Producers and Directors

Producers and directors earned a median annual salary of $70,950 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, producers and directors earned a 25th percentile salary of $46,660, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $112,820, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 134,700 people were employed in the U.S. as producers and directors.

About the Author

Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.

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