TurnHere.com: Opportunity for Videographers?

Posted on 5/14/2010 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

eMarketer believes that online video will be a $5.2 billion business by 2014, up from $734 million in 2008. If it reaches that level, the market for short-form video will be about 4 times the size of the still stock-image market, which today generates approximately $1.4 billion worldwide.

According to ad research firm Kelsey Group, small businesses alone spent $10.9 million on Internet video ads in 2007 and could spend as much as $1.5 billion in 2012. Video ads are becoming the main form of brand advertising in the digital space, as marketers recognize the effectiveness and value they offer. Compare the online video growth rate with that of banner advertising, which is expected to be $5.8 billion in 2014 and was $4.88 billion in 2008.

One of the leading producers of short form business profiles (videos of 45 to 75 seconds) is TurnHere.com. Brad Inman, owner and founder of the company, says, “Our market is the 70 million Web pages out there. They can all use video.”

The company has a network of over 8,000 freelance videographers working in over 70 countries. It has produced more than 27,000 short videos (7,000 within the last 6 months) for local business around the world.

Most projects are designed to be shot in 60 to 90 minutes. TurnHere says “the fee can vary from job to job based on the complexity of the project. There are different opportunities for filmmakers to get involved at different pay levels. While a number of our shoots are for local businesses that pay in the range of $200 per shoot, the work is designed to be lightweight and standardized to make the work efficient and profitable for the filmmaker.” Clients pay an average of $1,000 for each video.

One advantage for shooters is that there are no marketing costs. TurnHere finds the customers and brings in the jobs that are usually scheduled at the videographer’s convenience. Many of the jobs are generated through directory partners like YellowPages.com, Citysearch.com, Superpages.com, Yellow Pages Group (Canada), Kudzu.com, Local Insight Media and LexisNexis.

David Griffin of Maynard, MA is one of the TurnHere filmmakers and says he receives $200 per shoot.

“I tend to go a bit longer than the 60 to 90 minute standard for a shoot, but that's my own style. Given that we are working with a fixed fee, there is every incentive to keep it short. There is a ‘formula’ to the shoots—we have a set of questions that we always ask and these reliably create the type of video we are normally tasked with creating (the 45-75 second business profile).

“Likewise editing can be done in a commensurate amount of time -- it depends on how good you are as an interviewer and, quite frankly, how lucky you are with the customer.   I'm a bit of a details guy and might spend some extra time on the editing, but I consider it as much a learning process as I do a source of income.

“I am a full-time photographer and videographer. Video, mostly through TurnHere assignments, has become the larger part of my income stream. I'm working to diversify and improve my own business leads through the usual suspects of marketing, etc. As an independent filmmaker I'd be unlikely to land business from AT&T, so having TurnHere act as that middleman is worthwhile for me. While I have yet to get additional business from any of my TurnHere gigs, I do leave my card with them and follow up with some from time to time where I think there might be additional opportunities. Trying to get additional personal gigs is encouraged and I hope as the economy warms up a bit there might be a higher hit rate there.

“The bottom line is that if you are efficient and skilled, $200 for a TurnHere gig is OK money. (I think a reasonable comparison in the photography world would be Bella for weddings, right?). The amount of time in pre-planning is measured in minutes—I normally call the client 1-2 days ahead of time just to say hello, get a quick idea of how many people will be involved and make sure they know about releases, etc. The gigs are handed to you (i.e., no marketing $$ out of pocket), you're interaction with the customer is limited (I'm not spending a minute convincing anyone that this is a good thing for their business), and after I upload my edited version they handle the review and delivery. Frankly, I'm not sure I'd be making more (per hour) when I do it myself—at least for this particular type of video gig—although I am trying!

“TurnHere has a great support system for the filmmaker network. The TurnHere team is top-notch and provides great feedback on videos. It is a great way to have a (somewhat) continuous flow of new customers on which to try out new ideas and hone story-telling skills. Their Filmmaker Resource Center has lots of tutorials and information sheets to get you producing quickly within the style they want. They have a producers blog that highlights videos they feel are worthy of mention—and are a great source of ideas. They also have a Facebook group where filmmakers can exchange ideas and ask questions. Finally, a filmmaker can call TurnHere just about any time and talk with the scheduling, production, and post-production teams for advice, questions, etc.”

David Scott Smith, a still photographer turned videographer in Montana, has never worked for TurnHere, but had these comments after reviewing the company’s offer.

“It's work for hire, with an indemnity clause. I suppose a big market area could keep you busy and the lights on, and there are lot of shooters on the verge of famine. It is a way to break into the market, not unlike my first near-starvation job at a cable company.

“At least TurnHere pays something. I get an email a week from XLNTads.com for crowdsourced spec work disguised as a contest. Sometimes I think ‘spanking’ photographers is the only way to make money in this business.  So while I complain about TurnHere and XLNTads, I wish they were my ideas.

“Things have slowed down here over the past year. I've been working on a fund-raising film for a halfway house for meth addicts. When they asked me to do it, I told them, ‘This is a $7,500 project. I'll do it for $3,000.’ It's now a $15,000 project I'm doing for $3,000.”

TurnHere says it is always looking for new talented filmmakers to help expand the network. Typically, the company requires a minimum of two years of experience but says, “finding new talent is also one of our key missions. We’ve had a few extremely talented young filmmakers blow us away with the quality of their work, and quickly become some of our top filmmakers.”

To determine whether an applicant meets its standards, TurnHere reviews the applicant’s resume and past experience, online reel, equipment, references and statement of interest. The company also conducts a phone interview. In addition, TurnHere asks applicants to complete a paid provisional project. When a filmmaker has completed this project, the company waits for feedback from the end client before assigning additional projects to that filmmaker. 

Copyright © Jim Pickerell. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

Jim Pickerell is founder of www.selling-stock.com, an online newsletter that publishes daily. He is also available for personal telephone consultations on pricing and other matters related to stock photography. He occasionally acts as an expert witness on matters related to stock photography. For his current curriculum vitae go to: http://www.jimpickerell.com/Curriculum-Vitae.aspx.  


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