Tips for Bidding on Videography Projects

One of the big questions that people have is, "how do I bid on jobs and win." So rather than answer the question directly I thought I'd share a story of a recent bid that went well. I won the project out from under four other production companies.

I got a bid request. Now let me make a note about this right quick. Even when I get requests for a "bid" I always respond with an "estimate." I know that sounds like it's probably the same, but I think of it in different terms. I say estimate because I want it to be known that this is only an estimation of what the costs will be not a rock solid price. A bid feels more binding to me. This protects me from those rare clients that are extremely nit-picky (which most aren't by the way) So... where was I.

Oh yeah, I got a request for a bid from a state-wide organization. They had a very professional bid request that laid out the project and what all it needed to do. It's really nice when you get something like this because you don't have to ask as many questions up front.

On the bid request it mentioned that what the budget was. Now this is pretty rare. Most bid requests don't say what the intended budget is. Most people, when you're talking through a project don't even have a bid request. They may say they want a project done, and then when you ask, they hem haw around about what their budget is. So anyway, this bid request had their budget.

So I thought, what could allow me to win this project. I really wanted it because it is the kind of work I like to do, and it was for a good cause. The bid request gave a budget range. It said their budget was from x - xx. (I don't want to say the actual budget in case there is privacy issues.) So x - xx. It gave a high and low range. So I thought, I bet the other companies that bid, will bid at the top end of their budget range. They won't think what can we do it for, they will think what can we get for it. Now just as a note, their budget was plenty and then some. I felt like even the low end was plenty to cover the project costs. So I bid it low. I bid it lower then even their low number. So if their budget was between x and xx, I bid it at x minus about 20%. This wasn't just a random number by the way, it was based on the amount of time and expense I thought it would cost. It just so happened that it wound up being about 20% less then their lowest number range. Now don't get me wrong, of course I was tempted to say, It will cost XX, but it just didn't feel right, when I knew I could do it for less and have plenty.

I won the project and am excited to be working on it. The person who I met with told me that four other companies bid for it, and they all bid at the maximum amount, and that my work was better than their samples at near half the price. So that was a real pat on the back..

Here's the lesson.

Don't be greedy, people can smell it. They picked me, not only because my work was good, but because they sensed that I wasn't just doing it for the money.

Second, think about what you can do it for, not what you can get for it. That's two different things. If you can do it for $1000 but could get $4000, then it's smart to land near what you can do it for rather than what you can get for it. There is a reason for this, and it's important if you want to work in the business for long.

YOU NEED REPEAT CUSTOMERS. If you charge their pants off, they will find someone else that allows them to keep their pants on in the future. If you charge what you can do it for rather than what you can get for it, you will not only make a long time customer (which is more money in the end) but you will possibly make a friend, and an alley. People will talk about you if you are reasonably priced but also turning out great work.

This works in both directions though. Often you will be asked to do projects with little budget. It's my opinion that the same rules apply.

So Estimates work this way.
Hourly rate x Time it will take
Mileage travel and other incidentals

Don't rip people off and they will respect and thank you for it.