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3 Tenets to Consider When Taking on New Video Projects

Jourdan Aldredge

Let’s take a look at the “Three P’s” of taking on new filmmaking or videography projects: passion, prestige, and profit.

Cover image via Shutterstock.

As a freelance videographer or editor, you have the luxury (or burden, at times) of choosing the projects you work on. Sometimes, these gigs can be for awesome clients, representing awesome brands that will improve your reel while making you some money.

Other times, you’ll have to work for little to no money, for terrible clients, and for boring brands you wouldn’t want anyone to see. So how do you, as a smart investor in your own brand, make these video project decisions?

Well, let’s explore what I like to call the “Three P’s of Picking Projects.” If you cross-examine a new project with the values of these three tenets (passion, prestige, and profit), you can make smart decisions to help you improve your craft, expand your portfolio, and further your career.

Tenet One: Passion

3 Tenets to Consider When Taking on New Video Projects — Passion
Image via Shutterstock.

Understanding what makes you tick is a huge part of defining your own success. There are certain types of projects that we all gravitate to that don’t feel like work at all. These “passion” projects motivate you to dive in, try new things, and make the best work possible.

Passion projects are sometimes few and far between. Sometimes, you have to make or find them yourself, but they are highly important to your creative well-being. However, they are also often the types of projects that pay the least — but, they can be highly prestigious (think of a film getting into a festival, or winning an award).

Tenet Two: Prestige

3 Tenets to Consider When Taking on New Video Projects — Prestige
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When choosing a project, it’s also important to consider how the project will reflect back on you. If you’re in a corporate track, working with big corporate brands may offer a level of prestige that validates your work and your brand. Your work could also get a boost by appearing on a national stage and garnering thousands more views than anything you could do on your own.

Sometimes clients can be aware of this (nonprofits and savvy start-up clients do this all the time), and they may ask for cheaper prices or pro-bono work to help elevate your brand with the work.

Tenet Three: Profit

3 Tenets to Consider When Taking on New Video Projects
Image via Shutterstock.

This may be the most important tenet to consider. If video production is your career, you have to make decisions that will make you money to pay your bills. While passion and prestige are important — and can help garner higher profits in the future — at the end of the day, you will always need to consider what a project pays.

As such, the most profitable projects are often the least prestigious and inspire the least passion. Some examples might include medical industry work, long-form HR training video series, or corporate explainer videos — to name a few…

How to Maximize All Three

3 Tenets to Consider When Taking on New Video Projects — All Three
Image via Shutterstock.

So, if these are the three tenets of your video project decision-making rubric, your goal as a video professional is to find ways to maximize all three.

1) Be upfront with potential clients about which tenets are lacking in a project.

When considering projects and talking with clients, I’ve found it helpful to be upfront about what I’m good at, what I’d like to do, and what I expect as fair pay. If they’re asking for work that doesn’t satisfy all three tenets, let them know and give them options. There are very rare instances when clients offer perfect projects off-the-bat. It usually takes communication and negotiation to find the sweet spot.

2) Fill in the gaps yourself.

If there are no ways to account for lacking tenets, be proactive and find ways to do it yourself. If you know you’ll be doing a bunch of profitable but boring work for several weeks, find fun passion projects to work on during the weekend. Maybe volunteer your time for a nonprofit to try a new technique you’re excited to use.

If you’re only working fun projects that aren’t paying the bills, you may need to buck up and take on some profitable work to build up your brand for more prestigious work.

3) Don’t take on projects that sap your ability to balance the three.

At the end of the day, if you aren’t finding that balance of passion, prestige, and profit, your work is going to suffer, and your career can become untenable. It’s up to you to understand your video project decision rubric and what’s best for your career.

For more tips about navigating the world of freelance video production and editing, check out the following resources.

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