How to Sell Your Clients on Paying for Behind-the-Scenes Videos

How to Sell Your Clients on Paying for Behind-the-Scenes Videos

On Fstoppers, we’ve long been fans of quality behind-the-scenes video counterparts to an interesting photo or video project. They are great marketing tools for us as creatives searching for more work, but they also help promote the primary business or product. This means we can justify pitching these videos as an add-on service to our clients.

A Few Professional Examples

Benjamin Von Wong should be a name known to most people who spend their time reading photography blogs. He is easily one of the best producers of behind-the-scenes videos to go along with his elaborate and unique photography projects. Here are a few short videos to show you what I mean.

Chase Jarvis is another great example of someone who takes the time to produce content not just about photography tips, but also about the work and effort that goes into the projects he takes on.

What About You?

Let’s step back for a moment. Von Wong and Jarvis are accomplished photographers and producers, working with decent budgets and some wild content. There are a lot more of us who spend our time working in the trenches doing corporate, educational, and promotional content that quite honestly, just isn’t as sexy. At least, maybe not to us. But to our clients, having a professional video or photo crew come in to produce visuals is the most exciting thing they will do that month, possibly all year. And you should capitalize on that excitement.

How I Pitch BTS Videos To My Clients

Not every business or person you make images for will care about this sort of thing. The nature of what they are selling or promoting might be for such a small, niche audience that broadening the possibility of viewership simply isn’t important (training videos, for example).

For many projects that I’ve worked on though, the company I’ve worked through has had either a person, or an entire team dedicated to doing various facets of marketing. I usually work through this person or department quite a bit during the discovery stage, as well as scriptwriting. They are the key to adding a BTS component to your shoot.

Do your homework on the company. Do they have social media accounts? Do they have an email list? Do they present at trade shows often? If the answer is yes to any of these, then you have your “in.” The aforementioned outlets are exactly the places where they can leverage a behind the scenes video to generate more traffic and give them more media collateral.

Other Selling Points

  • Businesses love to come across as “transparent.” A non-scripted, off the cuff, and sometimes humorous look into what transpired at a video or photo shoot is a great way to reveal the lighter side of a company of product. It can humanize an otherwise lifeless product. By nature, BTS videos are more rough, often handheld, sometimes spotty audio, etc. To me, that’s part of what helps them come across as “transparent”– they haven’t been meticulously produced and scripted and approved by 8 people in a room with magnifying glasses. They can be a genuine representation.
  • Having a behind the scenes video is a great thing to share on social media accounts. It’s much more likely that someone would share one of these than an actual ad. Plus, all of the employees of the business who starred in, or helped make, the project will likely check it out, and potentially share it on their own social channels. All of this generates more interest and more views on the product/business.
  • It’s another way for them to stand out from their competition.
  • It’s a low-cost, potentially high-return venture for them. Hiring a person or two that can capture BTS content doesn't have to be terribly expensive (relative to the day rate that you might be charging). College grads who need expereince and assistants who want more time with a camera are great recruits for this, and a few hundred bucks a day will usually appease them for “running around with a camera to capture BTS stuff.” They don't need years of experience or expensive gear, just a basic knowledge in camera operation– so their rates should be lower than someone who is a pro or that has been shooting for years. The editing is usually the most expensive part, but again, nothing has to be too flashy in most cases.

Take Your Behind-the-Scenes Video To 11

For the last year I’ve been shooting and editing BTS content for RGG EDU. While I’m in the thick of things during their shoot schedules, a lot of the strategic decisions for marketing and promoting (using the content I created) happens when I’m back home in Colorado, and it’s been interesting for me to watch how they use that content.

Some videos are simple montages set to music, while others include various talking head segments that were shot during our production week. Much of the footage that I shot for BTS makes its way into all of these edits, so by having high quality BTS footage, RGG was able to leverage those assets in creative ways. Here are some examples:

Part of why I feel this works is that their audience/market is photographers, who naturally are curious about production and can apprecaite a good BTS shot. Adding images that “break the fourth wall” appeal to that crowd more than others, so it’s a smart decision to utilize BTS visuals as much as they do.

If you watched those videos, you may have noticed that the footage is not just your average handheld shot from over the shoulder of a camera operator; There are slider moves, steadicam/movi shots, timelapses, unique POVs, and more. So in this example, going the extra mile for high-end BTS makes sense for the product they are producing, as opposed to the earlier example of “transparency” and having a cheaper BTS image collection.

The Obvious Upside

Any behind-the-scenes video that shows you at work can be a great marketing tool. Getting a client to see the benefit in these and agreeing to pay for them? Well that’s icing on your cake right there.

Any time you have a project with a fair budget, or some interesting content, I’d urge you to find the money and find the people to help create some behind the scenes content, especially a short, informative video. I have had many clients comment to me in person about how they had watched a BTS video of mine, and that it helped them make their choice in hiring me over another producer.

I’ll leave you with a video from Von Wong, that’s all about tips on making BTS videos:



Mike Wilkinson's picture

Mike Wilkinson is an award-winning video director with his company Wilkinson Visual, currently based out of Lexington, Kentucky. Mike has been working in production for over 10 years as a shooter, editor, and producer. His passion lies in outdoor adventures, documentary filmmaking, photography, and locally-sourced food and beer.

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Great article Mike!

I tend to view most BTS videos by photographers to be marketing tools that they use to promote their sponsors and maintain their sponsorship. I really find the internet photographer/forum/blog/bts sponsorship really strange but I'm a little old fashioned and just try and do good work to get paid for...

Great article Mike. I especially like that good looking dude in The Complete Guide to Product Photography. ;-)

This is a great article, I have been creating a series of behind the scenes videos for the music videos we produce for our clients. They have turned out to be great advertising and bringing in new clients.

Excellent article! A great read Mike.
I've had a few BTS videos made to demonstrate some of the techniques I employ with my photography. Part promotional, part passing on information.
Some of my commercial and editorial clients commission a videographer to capture BTS footage, and they use it on social media.

Here are a couple of mine:

How do you determine rates to charge for BTS videos?