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Have you just started making video for yourself? Are you in that grey area between renting and buying?

What’s the problem?

Years ago, but I first set out on my adventure to become a producer, I had no equipment but I did have a dream. I knew I wanted to make the best content, which meant I needed the best gear.

Empty Wallet

I started shopping around and discovered (very quickly) that video equipment is not cheap. Not only was all the gear I wanted expensive, I had no money. Nor did I have the work to earn the money I needed. To make matters worse, I needed the equipment to get the work, to make the money to buy the equipment.

It’s a real catch 22 and a situation most video producers have experienced.

Even if you are not looking to be a video producer but want to make content for yourself or your business, this dilemma probably sounds familiar.

So here is my solution…

When to rent?

Using a calculatorThe first question you need to ask is how often you are going to use a piece of equipment? The answer should not be general i.e. ‘a lot’ but specific. Are you going to need it everyday, twice a week, once a month etc.

List all of the equipment you need and then all the equipment you want. Find your local rental supplier and make a list of all their prices.

Now it is time to work out how much you are going to spend on rental gear in a week, a month, a year (and don’t forget to include delivery or collection costs).

Only you can be the final judge, but when you are spending more in a year on rental costs for specific item than it costs to buy then it is time to take the plunge and purchase it.


But I can’t afford to buy yet

Back to my original dilemma…

I don’t have the cash to afford what I need so how could I buy even if I want to?

Lots of equipment

Not the real me! Although you can find me on social media.

I started hunting for work. I charged 50% up front and used this to cover the costs of renting gear. Then I took the final 50% on completion of a job.

By splitting your list into wants and needs you take emotion out of the process and can create a list of priorities. This means, when you do have the money, you buy the essential things first.

Many would guess the camera came first but for me the first and most important purchase was a fast and reliable laptop (I needed the portability). This allowed me to pick up editing and producing work without too much reliance on other gear. This helped keep costs low and profits and savings high.

Over the years I built up my supplementary gear: lights, audio, tripod etc. The camera was going to be a big purchase and I was enjoying the perks of renting.


But I can’t afford to buy yet

Rental, for me, was, and still is, great. It meant I could try different equipment out and experiment. More importantly it allowed me to choose the best equipment for a specific job every time.

There is more to this story (like my first camera) but that will have to wait for another blog.

Rent or buy?

Hopefully this has been useful for you. Remember to:

  • separate ‘needs’ from ‘wants’
  • work out the cost per week, per month, per year of renting
  • decide on your threshold
  • build rental vosts, including delivery, into your quotes until you’re ready to buy
  • when you do buy – don’t reduce you costs. Your customers are clearly happy to pay for your gear.

For more information about Smarter Video take a look here.

Please get in touch and let me know what you would like to learn or read about.

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