I started doing freelance videography about 4 months ago. It’s been a wild ride so far, and I know I’m just getting started. I’ve failed more than I expected, learned more than I expected, and succeed a bit less than I expected.

The past 4 months have been demoralizing, humbling, inspiring, and uplifting, but most of all, useful. This is the first time in my life my income has been fully dependent on the sales and production of only myself. It’s hard.

I’ve boiled it down to the two primary lessons I’ve learned since I started on my own. I could make this list about 30 items long, but I’m sticking with the two top ones to keep this post focused. These two lessons are directing my macro focus as I step into 2018.

I hope you can relate with what I’ve learned and apply it to your own life and business.

1) The Core Matters Most

The other day, I was talking to a friend of mine about his business, Jyve.

Jyve is a platform that connects local musicians with bar managers, streamlining the booking process so bars can have live music and musicians can play gigs. This short video explains the app from the perspective of a bar manager.

“What’s the core of Jyve?” I asked him.

He talked about the value they provide to bar managers by helping them book gigs efficiently. He talked about the economic value, gave compelling statistics, and clearly explained the ROI (return on investment) for bar managers to use their platform.

Everything he said made sense, but it wasn’t the core. There was no emotion behind it.

I continued, “That’s not the core of it. Why do you care about all of this so much? Why does it matter to help the restaurant managers book musicians?”

After some more back and forth, it came out of him.

I couldn’t possibly say what he said as eloquently as he did, so I’ll summarize: His face lit up, he grinned, and said that music has been the constant in his life that pulls him through tough times, and he knows that local musicians playing local gigs feel the same way. To help them play more gigs means to help more people experience music.

In short, Jyve exists for people who f***ing love music. For people who yearn for that visceral feeling that comes when you sing your heart out in front of a crowd of people, and for people who will spend ungodly amounts of time and money just to see their favorite band play live (again and again and again). For musicians who will take the shittiest jobs, live on little to no money, and will do whatever it takes just to keep playing music.

As he explained this, I felt chills run down my spine. I knew that was it. That was the core. I wasn’t just listening to words anymore — I could feel the passion and meaning behind the words, giving them substance that wasn’t there before.

THAT is what is required to make a good video, or to truly help a customer in any way. You MUST understand WHY your customer does what they do. The skill to execute that and capture and display that story in a video also helps, but it all starts by understanding the core of your customer. It requires a lot of digging. It requires lots of time. You need to get to know the people you’re working with by studying them over time. You need to ask lots of hard questions that don’t have clear answers. You need to keep pushing them to articulate something when they’re not sure how to explain it. Keep digging. Keep asking questions. Keep asking why. When you discover the core, you’ll know it.

Simon Sinek wrote a pretty well-known book called Start With Why in which he does a deep dive into this principle of “why.” He applies it to companies like Apple and Southwest, and paints a clear picture of how one can traverse from why to how to what rather than the opposite direction. I highly recommend reading it.

2) Provide a Full Solution, Not a Product/Service

The two sentences I’ve heard the most from potential clients over the past 4 months are:

  1. “Video is the next big thing.”
  2. “We need more video content.”

Video marketing is important, and EVERYBODY knows it. Therefore, it should be easy to sell a video to someone who already knows they need a video, right?


People don’t buy good videos. They buy solutions. Everyone knows they need videos, but nobody knows how to use a video in a way that will solve their problem.

When someone says “We need more video content,” what they really mean is, “We need more sales and we think videos will do that more efficiently than what we are currently doing.”

I’ve spent a lot of time trying to sell videos, and it hasn’t worked very well at all. The “starving artist” stigma is there because art, while it’s incredibly valuable in its own right, does not solve a specific problem.

When somebody asks me for a video, they don’t really want a video. They want something else, and they think the video will help them get it. So I should ask lots of questions to find out what they want, then build an entire marketing campaign that will solve their problem. This means creating a video, dipping into Facebook ads, making landing pages, handling email marketing, and putting all the pieces together into a full solution.

My job is to find out what they want, then work backwards.

The video is made with the entire marketing campaign in mind. The marketing campaign is made with the video in mind. There are more pieces to the puzzle than just a video if you want to create something that somebody is willing to pay for. This means a lot more work than just creating a video and being done with it. But that’s the point. That’s how you actually help somebody.

Selling people an answer you think you already have doesn’t work. Turn yourself into somebody who can work through their problem, and you’ll end up with a solution that they will actually pay you for.