Should You Produce Video In House or Outsource?
Video Scenarios To Consider
As the head of video production at Brightcove, I get asked all the time, “James, my customer is new to video and wants to know if they should staff up or hire an agency to start doing more with video. What should I recommend?” My response is usually a long-winded “Well, that depends on XYZ factors in ABC industry, what their budgets are, how their marketing works, etc.”
Basically, there is no easy answer to this question. BUT, there is a general equation I follow to determine if an organization should produce video in-house or outsource, and it all has to do with how much content you’re planning on producing and how much would it cost to a) outsource or b) hire someone internally. Let’s dig into a few scenarios to see how this plays out.
Scenario 1: The one and done video project
Say you’re looking at a project that requires a few basic videos like product videos, interviews, or demos that you plan to leverage for a while - evergreen video content. You don’t have a dedicated team of folks, but you have a few players who are willing to lend a hand and get the job done in terms of writing, direction, and production. For all intents and purposes, this video venture is a test of the content type and is budgeted accordingly.
Solution: Outsource video production
What are the advantages of outsourcing vs in-house video production? I’m all for DIY, but when it comes to video there are some things you just don’t want to risk. Poor lighting, audio, or a lackluster concept may not be deal breakers for some audiences (thanks to YouTube for those expectations!) but they can leave potential customers feeling that the content is a reflection of the quality of your business. Especially if you’re thinking about video content for your homepage or a major marketing campaign.
In this scenario, I always recommend finding a vendor; either a solo freelancer or a production company. This approach will help you get your project off the ground and ensure you have the quality you need. These vendors have all of the capabilities in one place so they can help you write, shoot, and edit the content. And although the expense may seem high, the quality and success of the content you get out of the relationship will be worth it.
Scenario 2: You’re all-in on video
You’ve already determined that video is a cornerstone of your marketing. And now you’re trying to build a larger video program with product videos, interviews, demos, communications, and some big budget projects. This means you’ll be looking at managing multiple vendors plus doing on location shoots as well as capturing footage on the fly.
Solution: Bring video production in-house
This is a scenario where you’re really going to start to see the benefit of in-house video production vs outsourcing, both from a management and budget standpoint. For this scenario, I almost always suggest hiring someone internally. Hiring internal staff will help you meet a consistent demand for content. Here, there is a continuous need for internal and external content, that ranges from quick spots to more in-depth pieces. Having someone dedicated internally (like me) will enable you to write, shoot, and edit different types of video.
If you are starting out with video and doing simple interviews and events, then someone with less experience and technical skill would be fine. I’d find someone fresh out of school. This way, you can both learn and grow the program – but with a lower cost investment to you as you explore.
If you have more invested in video already, I recommend you look for someone or multiple people with more experience. Look for someone with serious technical chops, the experience to shape your video strategy, and the ability to keep things moving.
What we do at Brightcove
When I started, Brightcove was already doing enough content to warrant having an internal person. The thing I looked at though, was the type of work we were doing and the quantity. We were doing lots of two camera shoots, and while I could manage the setup and the shoot, I knew I would be overwhelmed on set and not produce the best work I could. So every day we had a shoot, I would hire a freelancer. Doing the math, I saw in 30 days of shooting (we usually shoot 1-2 times a week) I could have hired a part-time person or even a junior full-time person. So that’s what we did.
Over the course of a year, that person became a full-fledged member of the company and we were able to scale the operation to support the vast array of content. Yes, there are extra costs of bringing someone in-house (like healthcare and other benefits), but the power we have not only as a production arm, but the institutional knowledge, and the relationships with other project owners is invaluable. I don’t miss the days of having to onboard freelancers or spending hours a week just explaining what we do here.