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The great video debate: In-house or Outsource?

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Judging by the fact that you're reading this, you're probably one of those savvy marketing types who is sold on the idea that video is the best thing since sliced bread. Whether you're a long-time advocate or you've only recently seen the light, thankfully we're all in agreement that marketers should be using video. Period.

But what next? Do you scour the video world looking to outsource your production to a talented contractor or do you make the investment here and now and hire an in-house video producer? Let's weigh it up.

The cost analysis

The acronym on everyone's lips is of course ROI. What will our company get out of it, and is it going to be a total money pit?

Depending on what you want to achieve, video doesn't have to be too expensive. But if you want a professional, sleek output delivered in a timely manner then costs can certainly add up. Think thousands, even tens of thousands. Which is fine if it's a one-off.

But if you're serious about integrating video into your content strategy then it won't be a one-off. You'll be producing videos across the company for engagement at all different levels, be it internal or external communications, marketing campaigns, you name it. So then it becomes a simple case of doing the maths: if I pay $10K per video through my contractor, yet I want a dozen of them across the year, can I hire a permanent employee for that price? More than likely.

However, don't forget the upfront investment you'll need to make on equipment, software and HR related costs if you go down this route. While the likes of Salesforce, Dell and Visa are producing outstanding video content through their in-house producers, they’re obviously the type of companies that can front up with the money to kick it all off. On the other hand, if you’re just starting out and lacking capital, a video contractor has already invested in the equipment, so it’s less money out of your pocket, meaning you can get going straight away.

The mindset

As a freelancer there is often very little attention paid to the business case for making a video – most simply get given a brief and a budget, and they’re off. It’s not up to them to understand the strategy behind the video, decide how effective it needs to be, or consider the reasoning behind it in relation to the cost.

This mindset doesn’t work when you’re an employee. More and more in-house producers are being forced to think like business people, forced to understand the real costs that go into full productions, and what the return on investment is going to be. They have to understand how and why the video will be effective in relation to the drivers behind each project.

Living the brand

One thing about hiring in-house is that you are employing people who will live and breathe your brand. Their jobs depend on the business succeeding. Contractors, especially when you've worked with them for a while, can be great brand advocates, but with multiple clients they might not have the same vested interest in your success.

Employees who live your brand then also have a deeper knowledge and understanding of your company, its people and its products or services. And with that comes more ideas around the tone, style and voice of the video content that you want to produce. Often forgotten is also the wider understanding an employee would have of your competition and what they are up to. On the other hand, creativity around your content is a must; no one wants stale, boring messages that look the same every time. And outsourcing can prove fruitful here. Contractors are working on different projects for a variety of companies all the time. They are forced to come up with a wide range of ideas and outputs, giving them more opportunity to grow, learn and develop new styles and skills.


Both within a single firm and between companies and freelancers, a lot of time is spent delivering briefs, thrashing out ideas, giving feedback and finally getting to an end product. While a lot of contractors are seamless and don’t require much attention and follow up, having someone who sits in the same building as you can save you time. Having someone that you can bounce around ideas with on the spot and who knows your video strategy is priceless. It is often those ad-hoc conversations that spur creativity and set the direction of the video. Get a good colleague and quite often they become so in tune with what you’re thinking and what you need to deliver in regards to your content strategy, that you barely have to brief them at all.

Deadlines and timeframes

When you need a video executed on time, every time, both contractors and in-house people have their benefits. Contractors rely on your business, so you would hope they won’t screw it up, and as most people know, late delivery is a surefire way to do just that. So they’re likely to give it 100% to get the end product to you.

In-house people however don’t have the competing workloads. They have one client – you. They don’t have to juggle other clients and their competing deadlines. You have their sole focus and you can easily map out with them your timeframes throughout each project. Also, there’s the added benefit of guaranteed availability of in-house people, rather than having to compete with other client's for your favourite contractor's time.

So, if your content strategy includes video (which of course it should), then you need to seriously weigh up whether you should be hiring a video producer and making a real go of it. Many small start-ups are doing it – and on a tight budget too. Perhaps it’s even time to try and lure your favourite video freelancer into the dark, dark world of employment and get them onboard permanently.

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