How I Made $40,000 with a CHEAP Camera

In today’s video, I’m going to smash the myth that you need an expensive camera to be a “professional” videographer. I’m going to do that, by telling you about the time I made $40,000 on a $500 camera.

I don’t like income claims. I think they’re arrogant, often false, and that people use them as click bait. However- that is NOT the case with this blog. In order to make my point, I felt it was NECESSARY to be completely transparent with you.

Story time: I was 20 years old, and in university at the time, working towards law school. I did all of this freelance work on part-time hours, with a Canon T3i that my parents bought me for my birthday, on a Future Shop clearance.

RIP Future Shop.

To be clear, this was NOT my goal. I was just looking to pick up a few gigs here and there so I could stop selling my soul, working nights at Jack Astors. I f@#&king hate that place.

SO how did I do it. Well, the first $10,000 was a shot in the dark really. Saying YES to everything.  Shooting bands, head shots, events… I did A LOT of free work that then turned into paid work- point being- I had no clue what I was really doing but was still somehow making awesome money. I left my serving job and was relying solely on freelancing while I was in school. The business quickly became my priority, and I decided to give it a real shot- pun not intended. I dropped down to part time at university, and officially created my business.  

This next part is really crucial in the success that I experienced. I put a lot of thought and effort into my branding, my website, and developing my professionalism. I branded as an agency, not a 20 year old girl with a shit camera. My goal was to shoot content for small to mid-sized businesses. Why? Because:

  1. I knew it was a market where money could be made, and

  2. It was within my means to produce for that group given my skill set, my equipment, and my price point. I didn’t have a ton of experience, and yes, I was working with an amateur camera, but here’s the thing- not everyone wants, needs, or can afford, a Hollywood production. SO I decided to fill a gap in the market for businesses that needed simple, professional videos on a small budget. I continued to do a lot of free work for different charities and organizations to keep my skills sharp, and my network ever-expanding. In this process, I learned how to use my gear properly, and maximize the output from it. Also worth noting- I watched SO MANY YouTube tutorials.

I quickly invested in a cheap RODE shotgun mic, and bought a HUSKY shop light kit from home depot to use as my “pro” light kit. It was ROUGH. BUT, I was landing work because:

1)  I didn’t make claims about stuff I couldn’t produce

2) My pricing was accessible, and

3) I treated every client interaction like an agency would

Since then, I’ve grown A LOT. I upgraded my equipment, moved in to different areas of production, I have clients literally all over the world, and today, Creative invoices a very sustainable income. Again, on equipment that makes some “Professionals” question my level of seriousness. You can never make everyone happy, right?

So. Am I shooting high profile celebrity videos in Toronto and LA? No. But I have clients in Toronto and LA. Does my agency have a million instagram followers? NO, in fact, please go follow me because I’m trying to break the 1000 mark! [@creativenest_films] Am I making a million dollars? NOT YET I’m not. And hey, I may never. And that’s okay! Because I’ve built something I’m proud of, and found my dream job.

I’ll leave you with this. I managed to attain success in the definition that I gave it; Make enough money as a freelance videographer to live comfortably, and enjoy the benefits of loving my job.

That’s a wrap ;)

-T