7-day video challenge: find and land a $1,000 client

All right Bold Nation, I want you to take the seven-day video challenge.

This one is really simple; you're going to take the next seven days and you're going to land a $1,000 video client.

Who: Any film or video gal or guy that freelances on the side or works as a solo-preneur

Why: to gain practice with pitching and negotiating budgets with financiers and because you're valued and have what it takes

Goal: get one client to sign a contract for your services valued at over $1k 

And for those who make it through to the end, there will be a bonus for you to help you get started.

How many clients will you reach out to? Multiply that by 10 if it's not already a ten-digit number.

Here is why you need to do it: if you want to be a filmmaker and tell stories that are going to impact others, and if you want to lead a crew or be able to navigate the murky waters of pitching investors and then seeing a film all the way through to its proper distribution, you have to grow!

It starts with the small jobs.

It starts with working for your mom and pop bakers downtown or the marketer online whose blog you admire or whatever it takes to get more reps in, not behind the camera, but in talking to people, presenting your vision and coming to some sort of common place: a shared vision.

So this is what you need to do: reach out to at least 50, if not 100 people.

Here's what I recommend, I recommend making a list of one hundred people and reaching out to them if you don't already have a number.

Do not cold call them; it will not work, try e-mail instead. E-mail is much more welcome than cold calling.

On your list you can put people that you already have that are warm leads, or even possible leads but if you have absolutely no leads, then you're going to have to start from scratch to fill up your list of a hundred people. So let's get into it.

If you actually can commit to doing this, I want you to use the hash tag


to share your progress on Facebook and encourage one another.

When I roll out my course "How to land a $1000 video client," I am going to be building a private/chat group for all of us to build one another up, encourage one another and review - peer review that is - our pitches. So here you go.

1. Strategies

What you're going to do, strategy number one, look for places online where you can find businesses and when I say businesses, I mean:

  • for-profit places
  • non-profit centers
  • churches

At the end of the day, they are a business; they have a bottom line, they have balance sheets, and they have budgets. So we'll just call them businesses for the sake of this challenge.

Pick which one you want. Write it down.

a. Craigslist

Okay, so you're going to go to Craigslist and you're going to look for leads there. 

I know that Craigslist is shady so you have to be careful, there is some really, really nasty stuff on Craigslist, but there are also some legitimate people on there. 

That's the world we live in, no different than the real physical world that you and I live and breathe in every day; Craigslist is home to some people who don't have your best interests in mind. Use discretion. End of story. 

P.s. Be careful when you type in "video" on Craigslist. Especially in a town like Las Vegas that's full of broken, hurting people in need of hope:


b. Chamber of Commerce

Okay, with the chamber of commerce in your city (if you don't live in Mayberry, NC or any other place where there are more chickens than people), especially in a big town like Las Vegas, this is a site you can look to find possible businesses.


If you do not want to use the Chamber of Commerce because it's old and the site does not work well, which is seemingly a typical problem and it comes with these government entities or even state agencies, then I recommend using good old-fashioned Google or even Yelp to make a list of businesses. 

c. Google

Google "YOURTOWN businesses." 

This is my favorite because it's just so darn easy. Google already pulls a lot of businesses into one big pile for you.

Thank the Lord for Google.

I'm not kidding. I literally love the fact that we have Google; what did people in 1896 do? They didn't even have these guys at the library:

Image c/o  Autopilot

Image c/o Autopilot

d. Yelp

I don't like Yelp except to leave a good review for outstanding customer service, but like the Yellow Pages of old, you can scour Yelp for businesses in your town.

Look for businesses where possible that you know that their revenues are going to be in excess of $1 million.  I realize that won't always be possible because you're going to have the mom and pop small businesses that bring in about 100,000 every year, but you want to try to find the guys that you know easily bring in $1 million or more and aren't so giantly corporate like Apple, for example, or Coca-Cola that’s not going to give you the time of day. Use good judgment here.

The guys that have $1 million in revenue or more, say $10 million, they're going to be able to easily drop $1000 - $3000 on a video to promote their business, their product, or their service. So again, use good judgment here - creativity and patience too.

2. Make a list

So make your list; write the list of all of your different businesses. You're going to write down points of contact, their e-mails, and what they are offering.

Put it in a spreadsheet; you can use Google sheets and then send it over to your VA.

Mine came up with this:

Click to expand

If you don't have a VA, you can find one on Upwork, you can ask for someone to help you there, or you can go to Elance, although Elance is rolling into Upwork sometime this year. 

I recommend using Upwork.

You could also try fiverr, but from my experience, Upwork has been great, I have never had any problems with them.  

The one minor hiccup I may have ever had with them was not with Upwork, but one potential freelancer on Upwork, and he and I cleared it up, man to man (is that even possibly virtually?), so it wasn't a problem.

But, with Upwork you could ask a VA to e-mail this list for you and ask these businesses if they would be willing to have a fifteen-minute consult with you.

You can ask for a fifteen-minute consult, but mentally you need to prepare for a thirty-minute consult of course.

If you are too cheap and don't want to ask your VA to do it and pay them to do it, go ahead and do it yourself; e-mail every single person on that list and ask them if they'd be willing to do a free consult on the phone to see how you can do video to help their business.

Time-consuming? You bet.

I personally have my VA find the businesses, then I reach out to them one by one because I 

  • introduce myself with a short YouTube video (custom for each PERSON I'm addressing)
  • send a short demo (tailored to them)

BLANKET (ahem, spam) videos do not belong here. 

If that's your approach, have I taught you nothing?

I do all of this so they see I'm real AND I'm willing to work for them (as evidenced by the animated bumper I send them).

That's too much time. I've got 5 hours of Breaking Bad to catch up on after I walk the dog and pick up the kiddos from school.

Then you need to adjust your attitude. This guy has the same hours in the day as you do AND he has four kids and lots of employees.

Oh, he also started off sleeping in his office and showering at the YMCA while fighting an uphill battle in the 90's trying to convince businesses that online advertising was the future (c/o waitbutwhy.com).

You CAN do this.

Just don't do blanket videos, blanket spammy text, etc. You're going to not just say their business, you're going to be specific. 

For example, if they have an upholstery business, then you're going to say "To help promote your upholstery service, I'd like to drive 4,000 leads your way with a video and a Facebook ad to 30-65-year-olds in Las Vegas with an income of $45k or more.”

Be specific.

If you're dealing with somebody who is into dogs, dog care and dog ownership, then you're going to tell them "I want to promote what you do for dog owners by way of a video."

And so, you are going to tailor each e-mail to that person.

You're going to use their first name at the beginning and at the end of the e-mail. 

Because you are blasting a lot of people with e-mail, you need to make it as personal as possible. When you don't address their name and you don't address what it is they do, then you know immediately that you are spamming and you might as well just be throwing your wallet in the trashcan.

Don't do it, it's worthless, it's a waste of your time and theirs, honestly. They have to click delete, that burns their time and leaves a sour taste in their mouth for you; you don't want that.

Don't burn bridges in this industry. Even if you are the small time guy or the Christopher Nolan at the other end of the spectrum, don't burn bridges. As with anything when it comes to business, business is all about forming relationships. So honor those you wish to do business with by being specific in your e-mails.

And in the same e-mail, you can invite them to check out your demo page; that should be a simple page with a few samples of the different work that you can do for clients.

Remember, they want to see themselves in your videos. So be specific. All of my side videography is for other businesses, since I live in that world and think more and more like they do. 

I don't solicit people in need of low-budget short film help or wedding videos or quinceañeras. Just like Cody Dulock said in an upcoming podcast (4.18.16), have a niche reel or portfolio.

If all you've done are backyard videos, then you need to have had at least one or two videos where you did good quality work for a client. Ask them to take a look at it so that they can see what you bring to the table.

3. Make a short video every day for 6 days

The third thing you need to do is to make a short video for six of these clients. Pick six of them, make a short video for six of these clients over the next six days and if your day of rest is somewhere in the middle of this weeklong challenge, then you are going to pick up after a day of rest and you're going to do it.

This is something that you can do for about two to three hours each working day, make a short video, twenty to thirty seconds, it could be animated, it could be you against a white backdrop that's well lit and it would be you communicating their vision, their mission, trying to encourage people to come visit them here at such and such location. 

Here's a pitch that didn't pan out - embrace the failures lasses and lads. It's part of the journey!

If it's an online store you can invite them to visit the online store at *this URL* - just make it about their business and reaching their customers.

Again, if it's a church, then change the language here and invite people to come to their services on Sundays at 10 AM or 11 AM or whatever the case may be.

If it's a nonprofit, again, adjust the language, make a short video, you can do it animated, you can do it live - it doesn’t matter - send it to them and put a watermark on it. 

Don't forget to watermark your video.

That's so important, it's going in red. 

Do not send them a video without a watermark.

This is to protect you and your assets especially if they are interested and they want to work with you; you don't want them to take advantage of the work that you have done for them. Some people will say nothing too, they will just open the e-mail, they will download the video or click on the link to watch it, and then they will never say anything - not even a thank you, and that's life. Accept it. Move on. Builds character and grit, both of which you need in spades to be a filmmaker, yada yada yada.

Watermark the videos to protect yourself, send them something, don't ask for money, you can send them a video and say, "Here is a gift from our organization.” 

If you are a one-woman or one-man band, then you can say, "Here is a gift that I made for you, a video; you can download it here.”  There needs to be nothing more said about it.

This is you making the best cold e-mail introduction possible to six of your most prime candidates out of those fifty to two hundred people on the list. That's what you're going to do because that's going to get their attention.

Everybody gives them pitches, everybody wants their time, everybody's asking for their money, but you're going to do none of those things, you're going to give them a gift.

And a quick, ten-second video of who you are - it won't kill you. It helps break the ice.

  • Simple
  • Short
  • Break the ice

Rehearse in front of your phone a few times, then just do it.

Back to your 30-second video.

Yes, it's watermarked so they can’t technically keep it, but it's a gift that shows that you are committed to working for them even when there are no guarantees in place. And that's going to speak volumes about your character, your integrity and what you can bring to the table, plus give them a insight into what you can create for them on a short turnaround.

A lot of these businesses... they're not looking for that elaborate video that’s shot on a raw camera, color-graded and then edited for two months on end just to get that perfect mix and balance between sound and music; they are not looking for that.

They're looking for something that's going to be unique to their culture and communicate what they want to say to their customers. So put yourselves in their shoes and create your video with that mindset.

Why do we do this again?

Everybody I talk to, I always tell them the same thing. Once you have figured out your why, then you can go about determining your what. I'm not the only one who thinks this. Our Canadian brother Carey Nieuwhof thinks this way. Simon Sinek things this way. A lot of other great leaders think the same way.

It is the same for us.

You are doing this 7-day challenge because if you truly want to grow as a filmmaker and tell stories that are going to engage people and facilitate conversation about the hope that we have in Jesus (without being cheesy or forced - again, I reference the 1998 Les Mis with Liam Neeson), then you have to learn how to finance and market your films.

Even your favorite directors have a handle on these two phases.

In the early days, especially as independent artists, if we do not know how to properly finance and market our stories, we are dead in the water.

Accept that you are in a time of development, learn as much as you can, and grow as a filmmaker.

Why should you be trusted with a 25 million dollar budget to tell a story that could impact 10, 20, 50 million people if you can't even manage a $1,000 video shoot?

Check out the ole parable of the talents again.

4. Day of rest

The last thing you're going to do in this seven-day challenge is you're going to honor your day of rest.

Every single one of you should have one day off per week.

Now, even if you have nothing to do with this whole Jesus thing, that's totally fine, I get it, but you should have a day of rest every week.

Working every single day of the week is a quick recipe to burnout and failure, not to mention you will have problems sleeping, and you don't want that. 

I take Tuesdays off - you?

You need a day of rest where you disconnect from the computer, the laptop, everything that has to do with your work and rest. 

So if your day of rest is on a Monday and you start this challenge on Saturday, guess what? You're going to work Saturday and Sunday, you're going to rest Monday and honor that, and then you're going to work the other four days. 

So you’ve got six working days at most to land this one thousand dollar client.


Now to help you get there, we’re going to use #SevenDayVideo and you're going to share with us on Facebook your spoils.

You can go to the Church Films Facebook page, it's facebook.com/churchfilms and you can use that hash tag to share your stories. We will build up and encourage one another, and we will land a $1,000 video client.

Will some fail?

Yes. Is it the end? Nope!

Will some not even bother to try? Yep, those who didn't make it this far. 

If you are too scared because you don't know how to talk to people, this is the challenge for you, because if you never overcome this fear, guess what?

You will never make the feature length stories or the short films that impact people or entire multitudes and generations of people if you can't overcome that fear of presenting a vision and leading others to follow it.

If you want to work towards that, you have to make the steps and it starts with learning how to overcome your fears when it comes to talking to people, sharing the vision, compromising and negotiating budgets, deadlines and so on and so forth.

This is all integral to that and it's a part of your journey as a filmmaker.

So take the seven-day challenge and to help you get started, I’ve got a bonus for you so that you can see exactly some of the language I have used to reach out to cold e-mail clients, just to get your foot in the door. 

You don't have to use it word for word, but it will get some training wheels on your bicycle.

If you need more, there's a live workshop on Sat, 4.23.16 on just this thing - landing a $1k video job if you've never done it before. 

Sign up here.

Bold Mail

This is from Tienny:

How do you find and build the right team members?

Start with the people closest to you. That's what I've done with Church Films. 

I served as a video producer at a mega church in Las Vegas. My team there, in many ways, has become my team here at Church Films. 

Jason, who writes movie reviews, is from my circle at church. 

Same for Terry and Tay who help with production. 

Now to address the general population:

My team doesn't know anything about film...

Bury your excuses. If you want to tell stories of hope, true freedom, and what life looks like in Christ (a la the 1998 Les Mis with Liam Neeson) without the cheese and poor production values of your God's Not Dead variety, then you have to be willing to teach. 

Communicating at that level is about teaching a vision so that it's a shared vision. 

Carey Nieuwhof from up north wrote an excellent post on competency vs. capacity here. It's well worth your time, and I wholeheartedly agree. Skills can be learned - look for capacity and build into your team.

What does that look like?

Lunch on the boss (you). Education (on you). Game nights. Golf. Watch their kids for them. Share in their losses and their triumphs.

Just live life with them, no different than the example that the Almighty gave us in His Son. Isn't that a big part of that word church?

Start small. Make the asks. Take rejection and "no" in stride - I had a big proposal shut down today.

I know; it's tough, but press on. You're not alone, you're not worthless, and if your story is not about you, there's a way to tell it. 

If you can't or worse, won't, go ahead and hang your hat.

Filmmaking, even at the microbudget level, is not for the fearful.

Need an action step?
  1. Call up one potential collaborator.
  2. Present your idea.
  3. Invite to lunch, hiking, volunteering at the old folks' home - whatever grounds you can connect on.
  4. Invite this friend to your next shoot and give them a real responsibility and let them own it.
  5. Accept the bumps and bruises. Nothing kills a team like a lack of confidence, micro-managing, and "leaders" in title only.
  6. Comment below when you have a crew member (if you're starting from zero).

Jake the film guy

I want to encourage others and bring honor to the Almighty in everything that I do with film and video. My goal is to take the first 11 minutes of my tv pilot and seek out decision-makers who can further the conversation about developing it into a show. If my team and I can do that, then we can teach 100,000 other microbudget filmmakers how to do the same thing so that we might tell stories of hope to millions. In the meantime, I'm a son of the King, a family man, a lifelong student of film, and the author of two microbudget filmmaking books.