Producing Special Interest Videos
Rick and Kim have a thriving video business creating niche videos. This interview is a look into their operations. Kim Miller, Rick Smith
Producing Special Interest Videos
Hi, Perry Lawrence here - Ask Mr. Video - from AskMrVideo.com, with another Impact Interview with Industry Professionals. I just want to say welcome to Rick Smith and Kim Miller from Panorama Studios. Welcome, Guys.
Rick/Kim: Hello. Thanks for asking us. I met Rick when he came to a camera camp that I was giving. We had an absolute blast and I quickly realized that Rick and I are kindred spirits. He ate my food and slept in my bed…the next bed over…He's since introduced me to his lovely wife, assistant, and partner, Kim Miller.
Perry: Rick, would it be fair to say that you do the video and Kim does the marketing? How would you characterize your relationship?
Rick: Well, whatever needs to be done…we can both do everything. So Kim can do everything I can do. What's that old song? You can do it better? No, she's better at some things than me.
Perry: So Panorama Studios…I would characterize it as a video production company - work for hire. Do you do special interest videos? You do all kinds of videos but primarily it's a two-man operation…just the man/wife team of Kim and Rick?
Kim: Yep, that's it. We hire subcontractors…other videography professionals. Yeah, when we need help we call people in to help us.
Perry: So you guys can't do it all? You have to get in extra help?
Rick: No, we try. That's our biggest problem. We try to get in more than we should be doing.
Perry: I wanted to get you guys on the phone just to talk a little bit about your business and how you got started in video. I love successful video companies because a lot of us are creative. Some have a camera. They have some success in their own business and either they've started a video company or they are having a successful video company, but I love bringing folks like you guys who are bringing in a new twist or new perspective and perhaps a different profit and revenue stream to the mix…to the video company…that folks may not have thought about before. Before we get into that, Rick why don't you tell everybody how you got started and where your company is today?
Rick: I did get started in this pretty early in life. I was shooting Super 8 movies when I was in high school. I've always been in love with moving pictures and photography. At 19 years old I was working in a commercial photography studio in Cocoa, Florida, shooting portraits and weddings and school yearbooks and senior portraits and things like that. At the same time I was going to the local community college and took every photography course they had. After that I went over to Orlando and went to college there and got a degree in Fine Arts Photography. While I was there I learned graphic design and typesetting. Once I graduated in the 70's…everything was happening in California then. I thought: My girlfriend (at the time) had parents in California, so we decided to come out to California.
Kim: That was not me, either.
Rick: No. I came out and immediately fell in love with the place and thought I'd stay for awhile. I went to this local university called Cal Poly or California Polytechnic State University, and it just so happened that their Audio/Visual Department had just bought a typesetting machine and nobody knew how to use it. It was the one I'd used back in Orlando so they said: Well, you teach us how to use this machine and we'll pay you for 3 weeks part-time to come in and teach us. That job lasted for a year. At that time I applied as a Production Supervisor for this unique company called Vocational Educational Productions. I got the job as a Production Supervisor and it was a very unusual department. They produced film strips. (This was back before VCRs were available.) They produced strips which they sold to schools all around the world. Cal Poly is a famous agriculture school. They produced these for agriculture teachers. So that was my introduction into producing and sell media and I loved it. The Director really wasn't into it that much. He didn't really care for the marketing end of it and they kind of did a poor job on their catalog. I really got involved in catalog marketing. I went to school and took seminars and learned about copywriting and design and list rentals and all that so in addition to supervising these productions, I really got interested and fascinated with marketing. We went on to win several awards in marketing. We won a thing called The Best in Catalogs award two years in a row with Eddie Bauer and Sharper Image and companies like that.
Perry: Wow. Fantastic.
Rick: I've always felt that I had one foot in production and one foot in marketing. I didn't ever really take any marketing classes in college. I just had an affinity for it and always just enjoyed it. Nowadays, we're all Internet marketing but I spent 20 years just in direct mail marketing of catalogs and every kind of gimmick you could do back then. It worked. The company did really well. In the early '80s when VCRs became available in schools we switched from producing film strips to producing videos. One of the first ones we did back then was working on ¾ inch tape …not too sophisticated or too great quality compared to what we have today.
Perry: So was this company a subsidiary of Cal Tech?
Rick: It was actually. They moved it over to what they call The Foundation which was the commercial side of the University that runs things like food service and the bookstore and does things that the college itself shouldn't be doing. It really was a business turning a profit. (Kim) We didn't produce these things for Cal Poly to use. We produced them with the explicit goal of selling them to help teachers. Nobody else was doing this for agriculture teachers and so we had no competition basically for many years. Thousands of high school teachers around the world knew Cal Poly only because of the products that we produced which is ironic. In their 'wisdom' the University closed down the program in 1997.
Perry: So fast forward a little bit and tell us when you branched off and started Panorama Studios?
Rick: In 1997. At that point I'd worked there for 22 years and I was going: Okay, what do I do now? I went to some workshops with Private Industry Council and they kind of make you do an assessment of your life. I went through this stuff and realized that I loved what I'd been doing. I wanted to keep doing it but doing it for myself. In hindsight the University closing down that program was a blessing for me because it forced me out of the safety of the nest there to start my own business. I started Panorama Studios and at first I was just doing contract work…whatever came along. The University did hire me to do some nice video projects for them right after they laid me off. That kept me going for awhile but I really wanted to produce and sell videos. I saw when I worked for VEP the incredible power of producing something one time at a certain fee. Some of the stuff we did wasn't that fancy or expensive to produce. You could sell it for years and years and years. I love that model.
Perry: You're saying something that's really important here. A lot of folks especially folks who start their own production or think about shooting videos for others, it's kind of a 'one and done' scenario; whereas, you get hired to perform a service. You had the notion of continuing to do the production model where you would produce a video for yourself and then sell it to other people. Not many folks make that leap initially. How was it that you were able to? Was it because of your background that you were able to think: Hmmm, let me make it once and sell it multiple times?
Rick: Yeah, because I had seen it with VEP. When I started there (back in the filmstrip days) we'd produced those in idsel for 5 years when we moved into the video phase. Actually what we did was just basically transferred the filmstrips to videotape and continued to sell them. I was going: Good grief! We've been selling these things for 10-12 years. I just couldn't find anything wrong with that model. I just loved it.
Kim: He also had the exposure to this whole market that a lot of people don't think about as real nichey- high school agricultural teachers. So one of the things that was happening when I got involved in the business was he had mentored a lot of people. One of our business associates took over where VEP left off in selling agriculture horticulture agricultural videos. He started to need people to shoot and produce videos and that's one of the first ones I did back then. So we were still within because of all the connections. Then Rick branched off. He'd always wanted to get into the Internet marketing side.
Rick: That guy she's talking about was actually one of my students. Cal Poly required every student to do a senior project. His senior project was one of these agriculture videos. He was horticulture major but because of his background he had video. He enjoyed that so much he started his own company doing these videos and still has it today. He does very well with it. Another student that worked for me was also a horticulture major and he did some videos for us. For several years he liked videos so much he didn't go into horticulture. He went into video. He produced videos for us and then went off into doing medical videos and medical videos sell for $400-500 each. He found a very lucrative niche for himself. Those are just two students who worked for me who went on to do the same thing. They saw the light and went for that.
Perry: So basically you had some sort of system or at least an approach that you were creating these niche market videos? You had some folks who - for lack of a better word- took your system and applied it to other niches and are doing extremely well with that.
Perry: I'm looking at your website and you have Crazy about Cacti, Hooked on Succulents…Are these typical of what you guys produce these days?
Rick: I like to do a variety of things but I still try to produce things that I think I can sell to schools because most people don't know if you go into WalMart and buy a video you may pay $9.95 or $14. When you sell to a real niche market like schools, they can go for hundreds of dollars.
Kim: Because they sell a distribution right call Public Performance Right. When you buy a video to show in your home you get the right and the permission just to view it in a small environment for friends or family. Now movie theatres have to spend more money getting the same rights to show the film but they collect money or are showing it to a big wide audience like the schools do. They show it over and over again.
Perry: So by selling them the performance rights you can basically sell them the same DVD but mark it up higher and they're used to that.
Rick: It costs the same to produce it whether I'm going to a consumer market or a school market, so you'll probably sell fewer onto a school market but the math works out so that you're much better off selling to schools. Like these agriculture videos typically sell for $120. They don't blink at that. This one student friend of mine that I was telling you about that has his own company has several where he puts 4 fifteen or twenty minute videos on DVD and sells that set for $400.
Perry: That's the medical niche?
Rick: No, that's actually the ag niche. The medical one you might have a single 20 minute video that could go for $400-500. So back to your question, we do produce some things for a commercial market but we also are always looking at schools because of what they sell for. Plus we have inroads into distribution in schools.
Perry: Let me ask you a question. Before you spend the time…and really that's what it's all about…when you get hired by a client you're on their dime. You're trading dollars for hours. But when you're producing a video that you're going to turn around and market and sell and rely on that income, I'm guessing that you're doing some kind of research to make sure that baby is going to sell because you are indeed spending a lot of time and effort and perhaps some out-of-pocket expense to get it done. How do you do that research in whatever niche you happen to be in to ensure that there is going to be some sort of return on that time and investment?
Kim: You bring up a great point. That is very important. We have to be honest and say we haven't always practiced what we preach in that regard… where we think we have something because we're really interested in it and get excited or we have access to the information and we shoot it and then find out afterwards that people might be interested in the information but they might not be interested in getting it in that form. What we've started to do now is a lot of research with the Internet. We recommend signing up for Google Alerts. Do you know about that? You can really research those. Sometimes if you go and do searches…keyword analytics search tool…What is that called? We use that a lot. If you don't find something out there it does not necessarily mean: Oh, I have no competition. I should make something.
Perry: It might be no competition for a reason. Kim: Nobody's interested in knowing…
Rick: It could be that nobody has done it or it could be that people have tried it and quit. I usually think if you find some existing products that's a good sign because that shows there's a market for it. I'm not discouraged if I go out and say: Oh, somebody's already done this. I'll look and see if we have a different take on it and a different niche because it's a big world out there. I'm never really discouraged if there's a competing product that's exactly like what I'm trying to do in a very established distribution network.
Perry: I was going to say even so, you can fairly quickly assess if somebody has cornered the market on a particular product. I would imagine that's rare but in certain niches I would imagine that there are folks who are the expert and they have the market. Okay, next. Move on.
Rick: Yes. You can go into Amazon and look up a book title. Say you want to do something on motorcycle maintenance. You can go onto Amazon and look at the books and tell by the titles of books that are in there. You can see how many they've sold. If you're thinking about doing a video on this you can tell by looking at the Amazon sales how popular a title is, too. There are so many tools to use now to see what is selling. You can go on Amazon, too, and it will often show you the Table of Contents. Guess what? That might be the outline for your video.
Kim: Another thing when we work with the special ag teacher market, Rick still knows a lot of the ag teachers. They've actually emailed him and said: We'd like you to do a video on XYZ. He has learned that sometimes they're the only ones who want that video. Where I was going with that is with the school market you can find out what the curriculums are out there and if you do a video that's based on a specific curriculum, you have a higher potential for success. The first video I did where I got my feet wet is for Properties of Soil. It was for the FFA.
Rick: Yeah, they do soil judging. That doesn't sound very exciting, does it?
Perry: That does not sound like an exciting video, Kim, I must admit.
Kim: No, it was not an exciting video but I loved it because Rick was really busy with something and he kept saying: We really need a video out there. (Our friend who sells the videos to the ag market)….I took it upon myself to research and do a script, connect with a technical advisor…Luckily, where we live we're right by the University and he was very willing to be a technical advisor on it. So we did this and I learned something about that. I did it for pay. He paid us to produce that for him. Now that's his best-seller. He's made over $150,000+ on that single title. My light bulb went off there. I said: Wait a minute. I'm not doing that again!
Rick: The lesson there is we very easily could've said: We'll produce it on our dime and you just distribute it and we'll retain ownership of it. That's a lesson learned.
Perry: Hold onto the …
Rick: Yeah, hold onto the rights and just let others distribute it for you. Perry: You're bringing up some great great points. Let me circle around a little bit. You talked, Kim, about a technical advisor. I'm sure some of your other videos have some experts in them. How do you compensate your technical advisors or your experts or your on-camera talent when you're not the actual one in front of the camera?
Rick: Several different ways and there are some lessons I can share with you on that. Sometimes we'll make an arrangement -- we'll just buy somebody out or if it's an on-camera talent, we'll just pay to them a certain amount and they're just on camera and that's it. Typically with a technical advisor…here's an important point. We produce a lot of videos on stuff we don't know anything about. I did one on car detailing. I didn't know anything about car detailing but I work with this guy who is a recognized expert about it and so I used his expertise on the subject and my expertise on producing it. I came up with an arrangement with him where I pay him a royalty. Every time I make a sale he gets a royalty. I think what we arranged with him was 25%. I would advise your listeners not to go that high because I was overly generous. Here's another point. We didn't really get a contract or arrangement until we started discussing the details. You really should do that up front before you do anything. Once you've shot it and you're at the mercy of the technical advisor, there's not really anything you can do if they go: Hey, I want 25% or I want 50%. That's happened to me, too. I've learned some lessons the hard way about getting it in writing and get it up front before you start. Once it's shot and done and they dig their feet in and say: No, I want half…It's hard to get around that. It really won't work out for you if you're giving a royalty that's too big. If you're carrying the cost of producing it, duplicating it, distributing it, marketing it…you've got to be getting about 85% I'd say really.
Perry: Twenty-five percent may seem to some as stingy but the reality is authors get only 18% and that's a top selling author. Twenty-five percent really is quite generous. What would you recommend percentage-wise these days?
Rick: I would still try to give (if I could) a maximum 15% royalty because it doesn't cost as much to duplicate a DVD or maybe you're doing a digital download to publish a book but the model is the same. Especially if you're doing the marketing yourself, you're going to have expenses there. You have the expense of production and you're still not going to make a lot of money unless you're pulling in about 80% at least for yourself. You're exactly right about what authors get. I don't care who you are…if you're Stephen King or Mary Higgins Clark or any big author…you're not getting 50% of a book. You're probably getting like you said, anywhere from 10-18%.
Kim: I would say that you could do some different permutations of that if say this person was an expert and they've approached you and it's more of a joint venture where they're going to take a lot of the ball of doing the marketing. We have learned on some things that sometimes when you get involved and shoot a video series with an expert and then it's on those of us who don't really know the area of expertise to market it, it's tougher to market it. If they're behind it and out there….That's what a lot of people also don't realize about authors. The publishers aren't just the ones to market their little book. They have a lot of other books that they're marketing so it's still on the onus of the author to get out there and market his/her book.
Perry: Instead of the percentage…there will be times where you can negotiate a buyout. I'm sure a lot of experts would say: Yeah. I'd much rather have the upfront cash rather than the 18% maybe.
Kim: There are certain people you could probably negotiate more of a different thing if they're going to take it and really be active in it. We've worked with a couple that when they were active and out there promoting, it was a great situation for both parties but when they died on the vine….unfortunately, one of our good friends did pass away…her book sales (and she let us not only sell her DVDs but her books)…they haven't sold. We haven't sold a book in one month.
Rick: She was on the lecture circuit and that's a good point. Several of these people were big celebrities. She was a celebrity in her world and she would go out and do talks all around the world basically. When she did, she would sell a ton of stuff at the back of the room. She passed away two months ago or so and with her went her celebrity status, I guess. Kim: So that's why we probably would enter into everything more that the first thing we talked about was doing 15%.
Rick: A lot of times people we work with do go out and sell them themselves… so they buy their DVDs back from us. We'll set up a deal where they buy from us at 50% or better off and some of these people will actually sell more than we will because they're out there on the road. We have this one guy we work with who is always out there traveling around doing talks and demonstrations. He sells quite a bit of the DVD we made with him because he's out there personally selling it. We make all kinds of arrangements depending on the situation and the person. If the person is a big celebrity then they may have more pulling power than other people. So you take it one at a time. Always watch your back and don't get too generous with what you're paying your technical advisors or you won't make any money.
Perry: Absolutely. Let me ask you this. Once you've got your research and your front-of-the-camera talent picked out and contracts negotiated and you have this shot, tell us briefly about the technical aspect. How difficult is it to put something like this together? What kind of equipment are you using to do that?
Rick: Like I said, the first one I did was on ¾ inch tape. I've always told people: When you're doing special interest videos (I probably should take a little time to explain what I mean by special interest videos.) people are generally buying the information. They're buying what you know or what your expert knows. They're not buying it like you go buy a major motion picture like a 3D movie. They're not buying it for that. They're buying it for the information. Visuals are not as important as the presentation of the information; however, cameras are so good today. You can go out and buy a $200 hd palm corder that will do better quality than those ¾ inch systems that we were using 20 years ago.
Perry: I know that for sure. Kim: You still need to make a good image…lighting, audio. Rick: I think the one area that you most have to watch… because the camera quality is so good…is audio. Audio is half the picture so I think people don't notice good audio but they notice bad audio. I think it's really important that you learn to do good audio. It doesn't have to be expensive. You can buy a Radio Shack lapel mike for 40 bucks that will sound pretty darn good if money is an object.
Kim: One of the things I realized when you were talking was you're going to want to look first at how you're going to approach it. Are you going to have an on-camera narrator or a voiceover or what exactly are you going to show? Is it going to be more entertainment like educational entertainment documentary type or how-to or sometimes you can even shoot someone doing a talk at a seminar (That's what we've done.), then do the visual.
Rick: Like PowerPoint or something later…It's important but I think anybody with any resources at all just about can get into it. You don't even have to have a camera. A lot of people I know do them with Camtasia where they're just doing screen capture things. Perry: Even special interest videos you can do with Camtasia?
Kim: Right. A lot of people sign up for these membership sites where people are selling their video courses on the Internet. All you're doing is downloading them. A lot of those are tutorials. Perry: Absolutely. I've got my web TV show in a week and it's all Camtasia. I'm on there for one video. I guess you're right. You can absolutely do special interest with Camtasia. It's very cool. Rick: Which brings up what I wanted to say a minute ago about what a special interest video is. Maybe you don't realize that you're buying special interest videos because they aren't branded that way, but if you've ever bought a tutorial, a how to do something, a travel video… Kim: Learn How to Dance…exercise videos…
Rick: All that stuff…yoga and all these videos that are out there…that's what I mean by special interest…anything that's a niche -- kind of a vertical interest area. It doesn't have to be How to Tune Your Car or something how to do it step-by-step. It can be thousands of things. Kim: I've also heard it called non-fiction video.
Perry: Oh, okay…any non-fiction video. Kim: Yeah, because when you watch a PBS series or even some of these things on the History Channel and then they'll sell the DVD later, that's a special interest video. Those are, too.
Rick: There's no real hard definition of what special interest is, but I can almost classify it as anything other than what you're renting at the movie theatre or what you might rent at a DVD rental place. Pure entertainment isn't so much special interest but almost anything else….If you want to learn to do something. Our most successful one ever is actually a DVD of my father. He was a very popular speaker. He was a well known author in Florida and a very popular speaker. I taped what he would've said if he were doing a speech because he got ill and could no longer go out on the lecture circuit. I taped him saying what he would say to an audience. We spent a good bit of time going out and doing research and some re-enactments and getting historical photos to illustrate what he was talking about. That one is really more entertainment in a way but it's special interest because it's Patrick Smith, the Author. It's not something you're going to see at a movie theatre. That one we've probably sold around 7,000.
Perry: Oh, my gosh!
Kim: That's where you get that -- There's riches in niches. That one is a really good example of that. Perry: That one must've taken a lot of time to put together. What is a typical time frame of a special interest? How much work do you put into these? How many of these are you guys cranking out a year, would you say?
Rick: On a real productive year we'll do maybe 4 or 5 because the other side of that is you have to take the time to market them and build a website or however you're going to market them. We're not just cranking them out like crazy. That one took several years because I was doing other projects and I was on my own dime. Because he was my father I had some reservations about jumping in and doing it. Kim would tell me: You've got to get that done. It was at her urging. We had to fly back to Florida twice and shoot re-enactments and go to some historical societies and find photos. That one took, like I say, about 2 years. If you're taping a seminar, we have done several like that, and it takes you a day. That might be your whole special interest video. You find some expert on accounting and they're giving an accounting course that lasts a day. One of our friends' specialty was fung shway and real estate. Her fung shway seminars were sometimes an hour long. That's it. You'd add titles on it and maybe sweeten the audio a little bit. In her case, we'd take her PowerPoint and lay it back in in post so it would look better. It could take you a day or it could take you a month or a year. Probably I would recommend that you pick one that's shorter to start with.
Perry: Let's talk about that fung shway one. That's a great example. You've got an expert giving a speech. You record that. Do a little post sweetening…in other words, you relay the PowerPoints in there so they look nice and match up with what she's saying. Now how do you market something like that? How do you distribute that? What's the process?
Rick: Well, in her case, she was very well connected. Where we taped these was at the California Association of Realtors. She also spoke at the National Association of Realtors and had very high recognition. We had a built-in market name recognition for her. Those organizations buy them and promote them but we also built our own website. I got pretty proficient at building websites because of all this.
Perry: So then how would you drive traffic to those websites? Rick: We use Google AdWords quite a bit. I'm trying to back off from that now because we've learned enough about SEO (search engine optimization) where I can actually get some of my sites found pretty quickly on the first page of Google. If you're not found on the first page, I'd say you're probably not going to be found. People don't usually go to the second page. We use Google AdWords. We've taken out ads in magazines for some of our products. We've taken print ads. We've tried a little bit of everything.
Kim: Amazon. We did it to Amazon Advantage. We set up an account there. They take a big chunk, but the positive side of them is that they're so huge. When we did this her whole focus was selling your home faster with fung shway. She approached us to do that because she needed something whenever she'd go out and speak. She needed things to sell at the back of the room. (We were talking about other video projects with her.) We also did it to distributors because of the realtor organizations. We built up an email list as well and so that was auto responders doing it. She also recorded her book in audio so they get a free chapter in audio in exchange for their name. Rick: We've come a long way.
Perry: Would you guys mind sharing the URL for that product so we can just get an idea of what you're talking about? Rick: That one is HollyZiegler.com.
Perry: So you just branded that straight to her?
Rick: That's her name but what I'll do often is I have about 4 different websites where I sell her things. I buy URLs like crazy. If they don't do well I drop them but I've had HomeSellingWith..., FungSwhaySellsHouses, HollyZieglerFungSwhay, HollyZiegler.com. I think I had several others that are still out there. I think HomeSellingWisdom is still out there. I'll try different websites. The HollyZiegler.com is a WordPress site that I just recently revised a month ago. Some of them are HTML sites. I'm really going toward WordPress these days. Often I'll buy 2, 3, 4 different URLs related to different aspects of that product and test them. Perry: Will you build a different site for each URL or will you point them all to one place? Rick: I'll build different sites. I'm starting to do that more now that I'm getting proficient with WordPress, it's not that hard to build a different one and try different looks and different headlines with even different prices.
Kim: She was more the brand. Rick: People knew Holly Ziegler in real estate. Kim: That was our niche market…real estate professionals.
Rick: With her initially we were appealing to realtors because her books are telling realtors how they can sell more houses if they use fung shway. Well, they also appealed to homeowners who want to prepare their house to sell and that's a much bigger market. So we're also going after the homeowners. With Holly Ziegler.com, her name was so well known within the real estate circles because she did speak at national associations and things like that but we took advantage of her celebrity status there. Another way to distribute is if you can find a distributor. Some people just don't want to do marketing. I always think that what stops a lot of videographers from getting into this…they know how to make videos and use their cameras. They don't know how to market and they won't try. You don't always have to do it yourself. We do it because as I said at the beginning, I enjoy marketing and Kim does, too. She just got fanatically on fire with it once she got into it. We both enjoy it a lot but if you don't, you probably can find a distributor who is well established in your niche and let them distribute it for you.
Perry: Wow. Fantastic. So you can just produce this? Does the producer usually take a fairly substantial cut?
Rick: Usually 40 or 50%...sometimes less, sometimes more.
Kim: What we also do is even if we have a product that we sell on our own website, we'll also sell through distribution channels as well even though we won't make as much money.
Perry: So you're going through Amazon as a distributor. You're going through your own websites and you're also finding niche distributors who can sell those for you. You're selling those every way possible. Kim: Yeah…eBay, also.
Rick: EBay is a really good one.
Perry: I like that. Kim: You can even get in their DVD catalog there. Usually what's best…I don't know if we want to talk about…you need to get U.P.C. and ISBN.
Rick: Yeah, if you're going to sell Amazon you need to put a UPC code on your box because that's how they catalog things and you can just buy a code from different places like UPC Express…which is one we use. I advise people to try as many marketing channels as possible and if you don't want to market it yourself, find other people who do. If you want to market it yourself, find people who do anyway and just diversify like crazy. That one friend of mine who does agriculture and horticulture videos actually sells more of his own titles through one of his distributors than he does directly even though he prints a 48 page color catalog that he mails to about 50,000 schools during the course of a year. He has one distributor that outsells him with his own titles and they up his price. He sells his DVD for $120. They mark them up to $159 and sell more than he does.
Kim: Do you want to know why? They're better at marketing! We're always trying to coach him.
Rick: A lot of it just comes down to marketing…how good and how aggressive you are.
Perry: Let me ask you who you use to press your DVDs? Do you do them yourselves or do you farm that out to a DVD company?
Rick: I've done both. Right now we mostly do our own. We have a 9 bay DVD duplicator and a Primera Probe printer which you can stack up to 100 DVDs in there and it will print them and do a really great job. We have a shrink wrap machine and because we have so many titles and we do duplication -- we have a duplication business and duplicate about 70 different titles and we can't really have a thousand of 70 different titles laying around. We just do them on an as-needed basis.
Kim: Because we're selling such diverse niches, it's tough to get fulfillment. We're going to look into that next year in some of our titles to get a fulfillment place. A lot of what we sell…some of our bigger titles…we also sell books. We've morphed into selling other types of media. We've kind of kept it in-house because we have other people who want to buy a DVD or a book or an audio CD…that's another thing. I know I might be going off but what we did with the DVD on my father-in-law…There are visually impaired people so we went: Oh! We made an audio. That's the beauty of video. We just stripped off the audio and now we sell that as an audio CD as well. You kind of get more bang for your buck.
Rick: One service a lot of people use to duplicate right now is the Kunaki.com where you can send them a master and your artwork and you can duplicate I think for about $1.30 each and that's totally packaged with a full color cover, shrink wrapped. Kim: I think they ship for you. You can set it up.
Rick: You don't have to order 1,000 of them. Just a few years ago we had to order a minimum of a thousand to get them replicated and we did orders of say 2,000. But then you have all that inventory sitting around for awhile. You had to do that to get the cost per DVD down. Now with things like Kunaki (or if you do it yourself)…we can produce a DVD and package it for about 50 cents.
Perry: I was going to ask. That's fantastic. Well, guys, you have really done a really great job. I was so impressed meeting you, Rick, when you came to our camera camp and just had a really great time learning from you, as well. I was super grateful that you were there and now I've gotten to meet Kim and know her a little bit. You guys are definitely a dynamic duo of the niche of DVD industry. Let me ask you one last question. Have you found that pressing the physical DVD is still the way to go versus offering a digital download or have you gone that route yet? What are your thoughts on that?
Kim: We have started to sell some digital downloads. Rick can talk a little bit about the deliverability of that but I just was reading in today's newspaper that even the big movie production companies…I think a physical product is still going to be viable because there's just so many problems with the delivering of it and having to be in different players. That was in the L.A. Times this morning. We thought when we started to offer things digital that that would explode but it really hasn't. People still kind of want the physical.
Perry: There's a convenience factor but there really is no advantage to offering it. There's no real sales advantage. People still love the idea of a physical product being delivered to their house in a box, getting to open it just like Christmas. I think there's a lot to be said for being able to offer a DVD and then have an instant download. There's a little bit of cache there but at the end of the day people want to buy a product from you and if it's a physical product they feel like they're getting their money's worth.
Rick: It depends on what the product is. We have one series we did on pain relief. They're basically yoga exercises that help you get rid of pain. It's called 10-Minutes To Pain-Free. You can go to 10minutestopainfree.com, and they're little videos. If you do these exercises they take about 10 minutes and they'll help relieve pain in your neck or your back or your shoulders, your hips, your feet, and with that one we rarely sell a DVD anymore. We sell the downloads because people are in pain and don't want to wait 2-3 days to get a DVD. They want relief right away. We offer both there…the DVD or the download. Ten to one we sell the download because people want relief right now.
Perry: Ah. I'm very interested in this. What's your price point difference on the download versus the physical?
Kim: We've been experimenting and our download is $9.95. The physical is $19.95.
Perry: Do you offer a package where they can get both?
Rick: Actually, not both but we offer a package where there are (I think) 6 titles in there. If you buy all 6 titles like in a DVD, you get them substantially less than if you buy them individually. We really need to go back in and offer so you can offer all 6 of them and download if you want at a substantial decrease in price.
Kim: Part of that whole thing for us delivering the content is you want to make sure that people aren't pirating it. There's still all this…if it's underneath a site where they can do a password, they can share a password. I had a gentleman call me: I just want to download it and put it on my phone. Well, we wanted to offer that but the other thing is he could share it with so many others and you've lost the profit margin.
Perry: It's interesting because anybody in the world can rip a DVD but for some reason there's all these extra hoops. If somebody is going to rip you off, they're going to rip you off no matter what but why make it completely easy?
Rick: We just signed an agreement. We're going to be promoting I guess you could say, with a company that has a downloadable system which is very very secure. You can go in and you can buy a download video to do it one time or a set number of times, a day, a month, or forever. It will only let one IP address see it. It does some kind of encoding so if you buy it to watch it for a week, only that one IP address can watch the video. You can transfer it to another one, but you cannot download it and share it. They've got it really secure. You'll probably see a lot more of that kind of services offered so that if you are selling downloads, they're not going to be distributed to all your people's friends and things like that.
Perry: You are definitely a wealth of knowledge. I wish we could keep talking forever but I know you have put together a couple of videos on basically everything we've just talked about. Tell me a little bit about that.
Rick: We've always been interested in doing this. A couple of years ago I was involved with Weva (the Wedding and Events Video Association)…not that we shot weddings but we had a great deal on insurance. We usually get general liability insurance so we go involved with them. We started thinking that we'd like to teach people how to do what we do. I proposed a seminar and they let me be a speaker. I went on and talked about why you want to produce special interest videos…kind of like what we talked about today- the financial rewards of it and the creative rewards and all that. At the end of my talk one lady said: Well, how do you produce a special interest video? A light bulb went off and I thought: Oh. There's all these video producers out there but they don't know how to produce one. I just assumed that they did. Really what they'd done was weddings and events where you go to an event and you kind of just turn on your camera and make sure you capture the main event but they weren't working from a script. Lots of times special interest videos are a lot like making a movie. You need to write a script. You shoot to a script. You have to maybe use a boom mike and do lighting and things like that. So that showed me that they need more instruction. We did another video called My Secrets to Producing Special Interest Videos which was my tips on how to do it, how to write an audio visual script. That's kind of launched us into the direction of more teaching people how to do what we do. We realize that to us it's second nature but to a lot of videographers it isn't. So we've got two DVDs right now. we're working on several other titles to help people get into this business. There's just no end to what you can do. Like we said, you don't have to have a camera even. You can do Camtasia videos but the number of topics you can work on is really just limited by your imagination. We really think it's a great way for videographers to either supplement their income or maybe it'll become their sole business like it is with us.
Perry: You have been doing this and making a nice living for awhile and have really become the experts, I believe. There aren't too many folks who are the experts that are teaching this. If everybody listening to this call is a videographer or video business owner, it's an excellent additional stream of income and if you fall in love with this model you can actually make it your main income stream. Rick and Kim have been nice enough to put together a package that we're offering to AskMrVideo listeners. You can find that special pricing and packaging…both DVDs that Rick just talked about: Make Money Selling Your Own Videos and My Secrets of Producing Successful Special Interest Videos over at HowToSellYourVideos.com/Perry. That will take you to a special link that will give you a great discount on these two videos. Rick and Kim are the experts at finding the niche, producing the video, marketing the video, and making some money off this system. I highly recommend that everybody go to HowToSellYourVideos.com/Perry. (That's my name.) They're going to give you a great discount on that. Any final thoughts or final word that you want to leave with the audience here today?
Rick: I think it's so exciting. I hope our excitement and enthusiasm for this came through because we both wake up thinking about it and go to bed thinking about it. I hardly go to a party that I don't talk to somebody that has an idea.
Kim: Be prepared if you do that because, man, everybody gets excited. They pick up on your excitement. We've got so many projects we could do with people because when a light bulb goes off…Video is one of the best ways to learn things.
Perry: That is true and nowadays more people are doing YouTube searches for 'how-to' topics than they are doing Google searches. Folks love video. Think about it. They want the information succinct. They want it quick. They want to be shown how to and what better way to be shown how to than to watch a video. That's the first place I go when I'm stuck on either a program or a project. I'll do a YouTube search and 9 times out of 10 there's some great videos there….which is another point. That's a great place to put your trailers for your For Sale videos.
Rick: I've had things viewed tens of thousands of times out there that can lead people back to our website.
Kim: There is a little bit of it undercutting because people are wanting knowledge free. I just did a post in trying to promote my neck ones and they said: Oh, but there's a charge when I go there. I'm like: Well, yeah. But I do think if people really want something they recognize that to pay for it they're going to get some better information.
Rick: Yeah, you'll get better value off of a complete paid one than a snippet on YouTube.
Perry: Again, it's all about marketing, too, because you're going to market the expert. You're going to market the benefits. You're going to also market some add-ons for example…the audio or the transcripts with it. There are so many ways you can package and market. It really does come down to all about marketing. Even if you don't love marketing, there are distributors out there that will sell it for you for a cut. It's a way for you to be creative and create videos or DVDs and then just hand the product over to somebody to sell it for you. That's another great way to do it. There are a lot of people out there like that, I think, who don't like marketing at all. They don't like selling at all. They just like to be creative and produce videos. There's a future for them as well.
Rick: Like you said, it all comes down to marketing really. It doesn't have to be a fancy title or elaborate production. There really aren't any barriers to getting into this.
Perry: Properties of Soil…a great topic.
Kim: Hey, it won a Telly.
Perry: There you go! Oh, my gosh.
Rick: We actually had music composed for it by a composer. It's really quite emotional when you watch it. You feel like: Oh, boy. I love soil.
Kim: It's very important, you know. We wouldn't be eating if we didn't have soil.
Perry: There you go. I can tell you guys absolutely love what you do and really it shines through. Thank you very much for the special offer to discount those in a dual package for my audience here. HowToSellYourVideos.com/Perry is where you can get those DVDs. Make Money Selling Your Own Videos and Rick's Special Secrets for Producing Special Interest Videos. Rick and Kim, thank you so much for talking to me and talking to my audience and sharing some insights into producing special interest videos.
Rick: Thank you for having us. Enjoyed it. It's always a pleasure, Perry.
Kim: Yes, thank you.
Perry: Again, great to meet you both. Rick, I look forward to hanging out with you again and eating some steaks.
Rick: Me, too. You're a great steak barbecue.
Perry: Kim, thank you so much. Guys, I'll talk to you later.