What part of my video business would I outsource?
Stock footage and teaching on-line courses has allowed me to start an on-line video business from Asia. It has allowed me to follow my dream and passions of travel, exploration, and filming footage. Listening to various online entrepreneurs the discussion often shifts to the topic of outsourcing to scale your business. Today I wanted to talk about what parts of my video business would I outsource. I thought it would be a good exercise for me to go through to take a step further to actually doing it. Perhaps through this article I may find people interested in helping me or give videographers ideas of how to go about outsourcing.
Outsourcing is something that I had on my plan for this year. It’s something I fear because I’ve had a bad experience outsourcing my site through a team in India to O-desk. I’ve also wondered when is the right time to outsource? What is the return on my investment going to be?The goal this year was to scale the stock footage business and outsourcing would be one way to scale this business.
1 Filming, Traveling, and teaching
I love this part of the process. I love traveling and exploring and filming stock footage during my trips. It’s an excuse to get away from the laptop. I also love teaching what I know. I wouldn’t want to outsource this part of the business right away. To build a business it would be more cost effective to train videographers in local areas to submit footage. It is not necessary to travel to film. Traveling can allow you to build a unique collection with similar style. You can also film stock footage locally and film things unique to your geography. For on-line courses it is a lot of work for one person to teach and produce an on-line course. It would be optimal to have a production space or team that could help me focus on the video production side so I can focus all my attention on teaching.
2 Manage media & curate
It’s important to have a master library of your footage. However, to make your footage useful for stock footage purposes you need to pick out the most suitable clips for stock footage. This means in your first pass you will filter out the clips that have commercial value and select these clips to render in your video editor. This requires a bit of judgment and experience to develop. If I was outsourcing it may make sense to curate at this stage because it would reduce the amount of files that I have to upload to dropbox. If the person helping was local then I would have the opportunity to go over some clips with them or perhaps this could be taught through on-line training. For on-line courses it also takes time to go through the video and audio files and synch them together.
3. Editing and creating clips
This part of the process takes time. You need to render the video clips, trim them, perhaps stabilize them, color grade them, and export. Once you export them you may need to convert them into a photojpeg format for better quality and rename the files in build. I could upload them to the cloud for someone to take care of these steps and re-upload them to the cloud. I could then download the files from dropbox and re-upload them to the agencies. This actually involves 5 upload/downloads and seems inefficient. It would be nice for them to upload the clips to all the various agencies. In some cases to do this you may be giving control to your entire account profile. This means access to manage your entire on-line collection, payment info, and earnings. This would be my hesitation. Some sites may allow a limited ftp account that allows just upload access; however sometimes the ftp credentials are related to the web account. I would want to review the curated clips before they are uploaded as a quality check. For my on-line course I have training footage in my course and this would be great to outsource. Video training files can go from 2 to 10 minutes of video editing. Once they edited the video clips they could upload it to my dropbox account where I would have a copy in the cloud. Some on-line learning platforms like Gumroad and Fedora allows dropbox linking, meaning you can save a step downloading and re-uploading to an on-line learning platform.
4. CSV Keyword files and text copy
Creating the keywords for the clips is probably the most time consuming and least desirable step in the process of stock footage. This is something I would definitely outsource and use my course to train people to do.
Creating the keywords for the clips is probably the most time consuming and least desirable step in the process of stock footage. This is something I would definitely outsource and use my course to train people to do. I would then ask for a copy of the csv file to be uploaded to dropbox in all the appropriate agency formats. Some agencies offer to create the keywords for you in exchange for exclusivity. I believe it is risky to give up this right on your footage, and you shouldn’t rely on just one agency. For on-line courses there is a lot of text copy required for the course summary, curriculum, titles, and key wording across more than one platform. Unfortunately this copy has to come from the instructor, which is me. Outsourcing would involve handing off the text copy basically for someone to take care of the administration of publishing a course on-line. I don’t publish courses frequently enough for outsourcing to make sense.
This relates to step 3. This is an easy part of the process one you have the edited files. Video files are huge. A 4k 10 second stock footage clip can go up to 100mb. A video lesson can go from 500mb to 1gb. If you live in a destination with fast upload access this makes a huge difference. Living in Chiang Mai there is a co-working space with 100mps upload speeds. If I’m outsourcing to someone in the Philippine’s it may take them a long time to do this. It makes sense to do this step myself.
6. Apply CSV & submit clips
This step involves some data massaging and some work depending on which agency. This step follows the upload and I think it would be more efficient to do this step myself.
Marketing of stock footage clips is still an area of confusion if following a non-exclusive model. Is it marketing the collection for an agency or a collection on your own site? One you upload your clips to multiple agencies which collection do you promote. These are questions that still require answers. I still think that agencies should be the ones that promote their platform and their artists. On some sites you can create a lightbox of a particular collection. If a customer is looking for nightlife clips perhaps they be interested in more than one of your clips. Making it easier for them like this can only lead to more sales. Creating a video reel on youtube can help demonstrate your collection and lead them to one of the agencies, but which one?
I’m waiting for a platform that allows an artist to sell their collection direct to customers. A platform that takes a reasonable percentage, offers a user-friendly experience, with no storage limits. It would also be great to have better interaction with the customers. Who are these customers exactly and can we get their email address to build individual relationships. Currently the agencies do not reveal whom these customers are leaving a lot of guesswork up to the artist.
Until there is more clarity about where to put the marketing efforts it may not make sense to put money into outsourcing the marketing.
For on-line courses there is also a large marketing component. It requires getting the word out there, providing some preview material for youtube, and useful blog posts. To be honest I don’t consider myself a marketing expert here. For courses on Udemy they have a large built-in audience and provide some of the marketing. If you place your courses on other platforms like Gumroad or skillshare then you have to repeat the marketing on these platforms. If you start your own on-line school then you are responsible for all the marketing. I prefer to produce courses rather than market. If there was an established individual that provide on-line marketing specifically for on-line courses then this is something I would consider.
Stock footage is a great way to build an on-line income especially for photographers or videographers that already have the gear. There is a steep learning curve and a lot of work to get your initial collection on-line. It is a struggle to figure out, which parts of the process to let go and outsource. In my opinion to video editing and csv file creation offer the greatest time-savings. For 100 video clips and a csv file creation I’m looking at roughly 2-3 full days of my own effort. What is the return on investment for a video collection? That is the question that is difficult to answer. If there was a dashboard allowing us to measure the performance of our collection across platforms over time it would be easier to see. I would need to figure out how much is that worth to me. Perhaps if there were less guesswork where you have regular clients requesting particular type of clips outsourcing would make more sense.
For on-line courses I see opportunities to outsource the editing and marketing. I would need to find an editor I can trust and produce my video lessons. On the marketing side I would consider outsourcing this later especially since I had a better grasp on the marketings tasks myself to justify the spend.
I apologize if I made this topic more complicated that I originally planned. Working with a virtual team with video can pose many logistical hurdles. Perhaps the answer would be to outsource these tasks locally instead of abroad.
Do you have any thoughts on this topic?