(Update November 2015…We Craft For You’s website is no longer in operation). I was recently contacted by Cinde from “We Craft For You”, a business specializing in creating video montages for both personal and business uses. Cinde contacted me to see if I thought my readers would be interested in how one Mom of a young child was able to turn her passion for a hobby into her own small home video montage business. Of course I was interested! So many people would love to have a career in something they enjoy doing, and where work doesn’t seem like work, and family can still come first. For Cinde, it was her background in advertising, and a love and talent for photography and videography, that gave her the push to start her own home business.
In an interview format, Cinde answers my questions on how she ended up taking that leap from being in the Corporate world to being the owner of a small home business.
What is your background?
I am currently a SAHM with a background in the advertising/marketing field. I graduated from the University of Delaware in 2001 with a degree in Communication/Spanish. I have worked mostly in media planning at large agencies in NYC and with the birth of my son in 2007, decided I wanted to do something a little less stressful and left the advertising business. I have always had a passion for photography (having taken over 10,000 pictures of my son before his 1st birthday!) and am beyond thrilled to be on this business venture of producing video montages.
What made you decide to pursue your own business in the video field?
Being very passionate about picture taking, with the technology available at our fingertips, I was able to move from the traditional scrapbooking to a more lively hobby of creating video/photo montages. As soon as I created my first video montage, I was instantly hooked! I began creating video montages in my spare time for big events like birthdays and little ones like a day in the park with my son. I’d share these little videos with my friends and family and they were so impressed with the creativity that they insisted I go into business! At first I thought they were just being nice, but after much thought, I decided to give it a try! Truly though, I find creating video montages to be rewarding, and I really wanted to put my passion to good use and start creating video montages for other people. After I got my first clients, I listened to what they had to say and learned how to convert VHS tapes to DVD, thus broadening my services.
What skills do you have that helped you in this role?
Primarily, I’d say patience. Creating video montages can be very time consuming. Making sure that the music starts/stops according to the length of the video and coordinating it with the number of pictures is all part of the editing process. People tell me all the time that they don’t have the patience to sit and create them, and they are thankful I started this business – so they can still have customized video montages to share with their friends and family, but without the hassle of having to create one. Secondly, I’d say creativity. Personally, I don’t believe you have to be all that creative to make a video montage, but again, I’m reminded that you do by my clients. When I’m out with my family I’m always taking pictures, and immediately I think, I have the perfect idea for this video montage. I guess since I’m so passionate about it, I don’t realize that my mind is constantly working on the next video!
Do you feel like your past experience has helped you in this new career?
My professional experiences thus far have centered around the advertising/marketing field. I dealt mostly on the media side of things and not the creative side, so I don’t think my previous experience has really given me too much help. However, I will say that working in large advertising agencies and working with marketers, has provided me with the business experience that is needed to start up and maintain a business.
Were there any skills you needed to acquire before you started your business?
Starting your own business is a big undertaking and before jumping in, you need to make sure that you’ve really thought about what you’re pursuing. For me, it wasn’t just about creating video montages, but running the business and maintaining it. So yes, there were many skills that I had to acquire before starting the business.
How did you get your first client?
My first official client was a family friend. Her daughter is getting married this summer and I contacted her to see if she’d be interested in letting me create a video montage for her that they could play at the shower. Of course she loved the idea and worked with me for weeks to pull everything together. I knew this would be a great opportunity to reach some potential clients (as the montage would be played at the shower), and knew that the bride would be thrilled with the result and would treasure it forever.
What kind of marketing and/or advertising do you do to promote your business?
Being a home-based business that started from a hobby, there isn’t much of a budget for marketing/advertising efforts. I’ve found some fairly inexpensive ways to get my name out there, but mostly I’ve been using social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, and the traditional standard of ‘Word of Mouth.” I’ve given business cards to friends/family and kindly asked them to pass them on to people they think may be interested in my services. I’ve also created flyers and posted them around my neighborhood.
How are you getting subsequent clients? Is it by word of mouth or through your marketing and advertising efforts?
Subsequent clients are coming from referrals. I’ve priced my services very low for this reason. I want people to come to my website, see what I have to offer for a very affordable price, take advantage of my specials and then tell all their friends and family about me. I believe that a person is more likely to order a video montage from me after seeing her sister’s and learning how inexpensive it was to get. In my business model, the referral is key and that’s why I also offer incentives to my customers to refer others when they receive their orders.
Did you create your own website, or did you have someone do it for you?
Since this is a home-based, small business, that began from my passion for photography and such, I opted to create my own site and save the money on hiring a professional programmer. It took a lot of time and patience to learn what I needed to in order to create the site, but in the end I think it was worth it. It may not be the most advanced site on the internet, but it certainly provides visitors with a thorough understanding of what I do and I believe it does so in a ‘crafty’ way. In the future, should my business take off and become what I hope it someday does, I may consider hiring a programmer to ‘spruce it up’, but for now, it’s doing the job. It’s also a conversation starter when I tell people that I designed and built the site myself.
What are your hours of operation?
This question makes me smile and that is because since I’ve started getting clients I literally find myself working 24/7. I have a blackberry so I’m always able to get my emails and find that I’ve responded to people’s inquiries while food shopping, sitting in the car, at the doctor, and sometimes even out to dinner! It’s ironic, when it’s something you truly are passionate about, and have fully invested yourself in it, you always want to do more. I couldn’t wait for 5pm to come at previous jobs, but now I find myself longing for the nighttime hours, when my son goes to sleep, not to sit down and relax from a busy day, but to spend some quiet time, working on orders and thinking of new ways to grow the business. Even now, I’m sitting here answering these questions at 4pm on a Sunday, when my husband on son are enjoying a relaxing Sunday afternoon together.
Where in your home do you work?
Before I started getting clients, I would sit at the kitchen table with my laptop and ‘work.’ But as soon as the orders started to come in, I felt I needed to set up a legitimate ‘office space’ where I had everything I needed at my disposal. Initially we created a little area in the family room, where I kept my computer, printer and other essential items, but I found that I couldn’t keep things organized. Now I’ve decided to make our guest room my office, and have reconfigured the room to best suit my needs. I went out and bought a dry erase board so I could easily keep track of incoming/outgoing orders and tacked it up on the wall over my desk. My printer sits next to the desk along with the equipment I use to convert VHS to DVD and I have a book case where I keep all my information and a shelf that houses my other paraphernalia. I find that I work better now as I’m more organized in a designated area and like the fact that everything is not the focus when people come to visit.
What equipment do you need in order to run your business?
I use a MAC computer to create all my video montages and needed to purchase the necessary software to create the labels/inserts for the DVDs. A DVD burner is necessary to burn the projects onto DVD once complete.
I have my scanner/printer which I need to scan the photographs I get and print out the labels for the DVDs/cases as well as all promotional material I distribute.
I have a paper slicer to ensure any cutting I need to do is done precisely.
I have a VHS/DVD converter along with the apparatus needed to transfer footage to my computer.
I’ve bought DVDs, cases, labels, inserts etc. in bulk in order to create the actual DVDs.
I’ve purchased a large PO BOX at the local post office to ensure that people’s pictures won’t be bent when they send me old photographs to include in a montage.
Lastly, I’ve purchased the necessary items in order to ship the orders once complete.
What was your best assignment? What was your worst assignment?
Is this a trick question? lol I can’t say that I enjoyed/disliked any of the projects more or less than others I’ve created thus far. For me, it’s exciting to get someone’s pictures/videos and know that I’m creating something for them that they’ll share with friends and family and watch for years to come. Additionally, in transferring people’s wedding videos to DVD, I know that they will be able to sit down and relive their special day, years afterward, because I was able to upgrade their technology.
Did you incorporate your business or are you a sole proprietor?
I’m still new to all this and have yet to do any of the sort. We are looking into it and hope to take the necessary steps within the near future.
What is the best part of the job and what is the worst part of the job?
For me, there are so many great aspects to the job:
1) Finally doing something that I’m passionate about. I remember growing up thinking, all I want to do when I grow up is something I love. I didn’t want to wake up in the morning and think, great, I have to go into work. I’m glad to say that I’m actually doing something that I love and can only hope it continues.
2) Being able to work from home – spending time with my son. I’m truly happy that I am in a position where I’m doing what I love in the comfort of my own home, and get to spend every minute with my son. It’s truly a blessing that I’m grateful for.
3) Sharing my passion with others. Before I started this business, I created numerous video montages of my son and shared them with anyone who was interested. As much as I loved creating them of him, I would beg my friends to give me some pictures so I can create one for them. Now that this business is starting to take off, I’m sooo happy that I can do what I love and create video montages for other people to enjoy. I know from the few customers I’ve already dealt with how appreciative they are and know that they’ll be able to watch these video montages and look back on all the good times they’ve had.
4) Running my own business! Not having a boss to answer to and being able to make all decisions on my own is great! Of course I often run ideas by my husband and go to him for advice. I like knowing that I’m making an impact – if the business becomes a huge success, I know I succeeded and – I’m impacting all these people’s lives by ‘bringing their memories to life’ (my tag line).
Obviously running your own business is a big undertaking – so at times it can be stressful. These days I find myself wishing for more hours in the day and days in the week to accomplish all I’ve set out to do. But the love I have for what I do outweighs all that and I almost don’t mind the lack of sleep and relaxation.
What is your advice for anyone just starting out or wanting to pursue a career in the video creation/editing field?
If you’re just starting out (as I am) stick with it! Don’t give up. It’s going to be time consuming and hard work, but it’s totally worth it in the end! You’ll need to develop a thick skin as a new business is just like a new baby. You take everything about it to heart and only want the best for it. Some people may not see the value in what you do or think they can do a better job. That’s what makes the world go round…everyone has their opinion and they are entitled to it. I know that what I do is invaluable to people and there will always be a customer base. People get married, have babies, go on vacation, graduate etc. There is always something that can be made into a montage! And if you’re thinking about starting out – make sure that you have the means to do so. You don’t have to spend a fortune but be prepared to invest a decent amount of money to get things going. My grandfather used to say: “You have to spend money, to make money.” He was a very successful businessman and I’m heeding his advice!
What are your fees? Do you feel that you can make a full-time living from this career?
Fees (in terms of what I charge people): Since I work from home doing what I love, I’ve decided to keep my prices very low. In this economy, not many people have discretionary income and I really want to just share my passion of video montages with whomever I can.
I love doing what I’m doing and really hope that this little business of mine takes off. It would be nice to say that someday it could be big enough to make a full-time living from it, however, I’m more of a realist and am just taking it one day at a time. I signed up to do a bridal expo in a few weeks and am eager to share my wedding packages with those getting married.
For me, as long as I have orders, I’m happy.
To find out more or to place an order, please contact Cinde at her contact us page, or at 917.887.3881. Be sure to check out the website at WeCraftForYou.com and see the current specials!