Filmmaker Goes From Zero Distribution Experience To 325% ROAS On First Video Campaign 

Without A Distribution Strategy Your Videos Are Most Likely An Expense Instead Of An Investment

In this interview you'll discover how someone who has no paid advertising or distribution experience was able to:

  • Land his first ever commercial campaign client
  • Generate them a 325% return on ad spend (ROAS) in less than 30 days
  • Increase his rates & the ad spend for the campaign to $1k per month
  • Use this momentum to land a second content retainer client for $1k per month

For the first time in Stephens business, he has absolute certainty that he can scale to a new level, deliver transformational results, build wealth, gain momentum, start saying no to bad (or boring) clients and strategically land more creative clients.

Let us know what you learn from this interview in the comments below!

Seize the day,
– Paul Xavier

Transcript / MP3


Paul Xavier: Hello creators today, I have Steven with you. And he had never run a commercial campaign for a client before it got into next level creators in for his first ever commercial campaign has generated a 325% return on investment on his advertising dollars so far. Really incredible. And he's going to share his experience going through NLC, getting clients results and what it's like to produce videos that actually get results these days. Stephen, thank you for being here. Stephen: Yeah, no problem. Thanks for having me. Paul Xavier: And Steve, I always like to start these interviews by asking what made you passionate about becoming a video creator, filmmaker and drew you into this line of work? Okay. Stephen: Just in general. Yeah, I mean I, I picked up a camera when I was a video camera when I was a, I don't know, hold was I 11 years old maybe or something like that with some friends. And we did spoof sort of spoof sequels to movies that we liked. So we've made like mission impossible to when there was mission impossible one, you know, and we make twist or two and we, you know, we would just, we were making movies and, and then from then from that point on I was sort of addicted to, I wanted to make movies for a living. And then I w I went to the Minneapolis college of art and design. I went to college there, studied film and video. Then after college kind of wound up working in the journalism trade. So I worked for television news for about a decade and I'm wanting to just kind of get more into doing creative work work versus just the journalism. Stephen: I loved the journalism work was a great job and especially being connected with the community and all. But I was seeing friends that I went to film school with doing more creative, fun things that I think do moving into advertising can allow you to do more creative work. And so then I made that leap, started my own business, worked as a freelancer. It's been a little over four years now that I've been just a freelance video guy and I live and work in a fairly small community. So I'm a little bit surprised. I was even made able to make that work. But you know, it's a feast or famine business like everyone knows. And then I started seeing, you know, your ads were targeting me with the, you know, solving that problem. And to be honest, I kind of ignored your ads for awhile cause I see lots of similar type ads like that video production. Are you in the video production? Do you want to get higher paying clients this ladders, whatever. But I kind of, I clicked on one of your ads. I just happened to be in a moment where I was really feeling that pain, you know? Yeah. Press click and you know, went down your funnel and signed up. And I saw the results pretty quickly actually. Paul Xavier: Yeah. So was there anything specific about our messaging that when it, when that moment happened, where you were, we were seeing it kind of called out to you or specific to a situation you were in at the moment? Stephen: Well, you know, I, so I've been making lots of videos for, for clients and I was never on, I was never doing or involved in distribution of the videos. And I would see clients bungle that a lot. They would just, I'd make it, you know, they'd spend a good amount of money to hire me to make this, this thing and they would just put it up on Facebook or YouTube. If it did really well, it would get a few thousand views, but then it dies. And you know, who knows that those that, you know, resulted in any actual sales. And I just had this feeling in the pit in my stomach that clients were thinking like, wow, that was a tremendous waste of money. That was not a, you know, that was not a good, and then it looks poorly on me and, and if, you know, so, and then also I was just in this position when I, when I finally clicked on one of your ads me and my wife had just done a vacation to the Yucatan and spent a lot of money doing that and I had this fairly large contract that seemed like it was like a, for sure thing it was going to happen. Stephen: And then I got back from vacation and it like, it fell apart. And then from, you know, feeling like my accounts were looking pretty good to this big project being gone. All of a sudden I was, you know, it was one of those situations like, ah, I don't know if I'm going to be able to pay the bills this month. Yeah. And and then your ads came up and I started clicking on that and it was just, cause I always saw distribution and doing Facebook ads as something I could get into, but I just didn't know how. I mean, I did some Facebook ads for myself way back when it first started. But you know, not running a full campaign and then, and just seeing your offer of learning how to do that combined with the skills that I already have, it just made sense and to, you know, have recurring revenue every month and not having to, you know, a hustle for the next job all the time. Paul Xavier: Yeah. And so at that point in time, you were really working project to project primarily, that was all the income, there was no monthly recurring revenue coming in. Stephen: Right? Correct. Paul Xavier: And then you said that when you got into next level creators, you know, you went through our funnel and you scheduled a strategy session, you talked to one of our guys, we decided to work together. I'm getting into next level creators. Explain your experience, you know, what was it like when you first got in? Was there a little bit of skepticism then you got in and what happened when you started going through the content and seeing the community? Stephen: I think, honestly, I wasn't very skeptical because I kind of felt like this is something that was gonna. It was gonna work. Like I, I felt like right away it was going to work because I just knew that getting involved with, with the distribution of the videos was a great idea of what was already an idea. I already kind of thought I would go after somehow, but I just didn't know how I needed, I needed that tool to take me from my current situation, the desired situation. Right. And you were exactly that. So I wasn't skeptical on it and I bought into it right away. Like I was just, you know, I'm, I'm, I'm making this investment to, for my own education. So I was just gonna just listen to everything you say to do and just do it. So I bought them right away and I saw the results right away too, because you guys are, you know, pushing to sell the self service before you even really know how to do it. And clients like right away. And, yeah, so it's, I had no skepticism whatsoever and it's been working right away. Paul Xavier: And so you got in, you went through earn the deal, you've got your first client and that was in the travel and tourism industry. Correct. Stephen: Right, Paul Xavier: Right. And so with that, you know, you'd only run a couple Facebook ad campaigns before for yourself, but not a full campaign like you said. And what about, you know, that process of sort of understanding, cause I know one of the big fears for a lot of filmmakers or creators is, Oh well sure. You know, I can just go learn Facebook ads on YouTube. I can just go, you know, basically learn how to do Instagram ads on, you know, Google, I can search around and find a ebook on it. Right? It's someone who got in and saw in the Facebook advertising training, how it works with your video skills and packaging those things together. How intensive was it for you to comprehend all, like get the whole system and then go and implement it for your client. How did that process, what did it look like? How did it feel going through it? Stephen: I felt like it was pretty easy, you know cause my first campaign is a Facebook ads campaign was the first campaign I was running. And that module where you're teaching that once you start getting into the perfect architecture and all that stuff, cause I'd run a Facebook ad for my own business before in the past and I did exactly what everybody does. I suppose if you don't know what you're doing is I, I made one ad put it out there and just let it run. And I actually saw some sales from it. But but learn, learning that, that perfect architecture stuff that you teach in the module was sort of like a light bulb. Oh, okay. Yeah. This makes perfect sense. Like, of course you do it this way. How come I never thought about this before? You know, so and, and I just started implementing it right away. Stephen: And so that first client was a client that I had made videos before in the past. So they were actually using it and they were running their own Facebook ad campaign already. And then the owner of the business was running it himself. So running during the deal with him, the, the, the, the benefit for him was that he would save a ton of time not having to do it anymore and he could focus doing other stuff like yeah, let's let someone who I trust and can run these Facebook ads and get me up, get me a profit, do that. So then now I can focus on them, other things, you know. So once I realized that that was the thing that really made that light bulb clicking in his mind, that's what I pushed after. And so the first month, so we agreed to do three months where I didn't take a fee and he was going to pay me $500 a month on ad spend. Stephen: Right. Just to see, cause it was my first one, I really didn't have any competence really. So I was like, let's just see how it goes. Yeah. And within two weeks we were seeing sales and he without me prompting he pot, he, it was his idea to then up the ad spend to a thousand a month. And then after that first month then we just decided to start paying me a fee. And I was getting paid 500 a month off $1,000 ad spend to sell one of the tours that he sells. He sells multiple tours. Sure. And then, and then we were seeing results and then he was like, why don't you do the Facebook ads for this tour too? So then I was doing, I was managing about 2000 a month in ad spend and I was making $1,000 a month. Yeah. And as a fee and a, you know, and that's where I'm at with that client now. And it's been going well, so it like, it grew faster than what we had even agreed to grow, if that makes sense. Because he was seeing results right away and he was like, let's grow it now. And that's what happened. Paul Xavier: And that's the beautiful, that's the probably the smartest in one of the most important lessons that any video production agency owner, King pay attention to, which is your business no longer has to grow by finding new clients or trying to get repeat clients who paid you once a long time ago to come back and pay again. You simply are working with clients on an ongoing basis, a longterm basis and granted the value is there, which in your case it was, you implemented the strategies, you got your client results within the first 30 days up, dad spend in that 14 day window. Then again he added in another, you know, essentially another offer free to market. So your rates went from zero to 500 to a thousand in a very short period of time. And the same thing can happen again. Granted, we keep improving the campaigns so you keep adding new video creatives in changing up the audiences, changing up your perfect architecture to get results better. All that's going to happen is your revenue per client will continue to climb. And that's the best way to grow a video production agency is having that small handful of great clients. Well you're improving your rates with them over time. And so yeah, you, you did a great job there with that client and that's not the only client you have now. You've actually gotten another one. Correct. Stephen: Yeah. That one's, that one's a content retainer client. And it's, they're a brewery. And so I had an, you know, I did the earn the deal with the owner of that brewery. And one thing that's unique about breweries, and I, I didn't really know this, you know, you learn when you, when you start talking with the business owners, cause I don't, you know, they're the experts in their business and I'm not some learning from them. You know, they, they were talking about like 80% of their sales come from selling beer outside of the brewery. You know, like people coming in the brewery and the drink, but most of their sales comes from selling their beer, either on other bars or restaurants or grocery stores or whatever. And essentially what I've learned from that earn the deal was that they only really have one client, which is the distribution company, right? Stephen: So there's the distributor, they buy all the beer and it's that you're stripping your people that sell the beer to the different, right. So I was like, okay, so what from talking about it didn't really seem like the traditional campaign would really work for them, at least for, cause we wanted to increase their sales outside of the brewery. And what we've decided to do is create a video campaign that's specifically targeting the distributors, sales reps, so to, to tell this brewery story to the distributors reps. So they have a connection with the brewery and can tell those stories when they're trying to sell it because a distributed or a lot, you know, every brewery has got an IPA or whatever. And what will make a sales rep sell one IPA over another is if they have an understanding of the story of that beer or the story of that brewery. Stephen: And, and so that's, that's the target. And then we're gonna multipurpose those videos. So that would be an edit that's sort of target at those districts, those sales people. But then we'll make an edit for the general public and they can put it on their website or use it in social media or any of that kind of stuff as well. But you know, so that, that, that contract, I'm making $1,000 a month. Actually last week we just started shooting everything. And it's, and I'm making just a, you know, short video every month at 1000 bucks a month. And so right now I'm making $2,000 a month from, you know, jobs that I got just specifically from doing next level creators. Paul Xavier: And that's awesome. And that, I mean, that's not including the other projects you have. And I know you've actually been working, you've been very busy with all your project to project work that you've had. And this is actually been just a side next level critters has been almost the side work for you Stephen: As you're implementing this. Correct? Yes. I mean it's feast or famine. So I was on this famine when I signed up, you know, and I was really committed and I was doing next level creator classes and modules, you know, all day, every day for [inaudible] like a week or two. And then work started coming in and then I just got bombarded with stuff. And I was taking them on because I, you know, the next level stuff wasn't really bringing in a ton of money right at the beginning. Like I said, that first plan to actually bridge the do three months at with no fee at all, even though that increased within just a couple of weeks in increase. But so I was taking on this freelance work and and some of them were very large projects and I'm still sort of like, I'm in this weird transition where it's like, I'm actually in a position, I want us to say no to the one off stuff. Stephen: And, and actually disappointing some clients that have been repeat clients, you know, thinking and it's like, I, I just can't take this on right now unless, and then I pushed the whole idea of doing a campaign with them. It's like, well, unless you want to be a campaign client and I can run distribution and this leads to direct sales and [inaudible] and tomorrow actually I have a meeting with a re you'll enter that up and lots of videos for, and we talked over the phone about doing a campaign and she's super excited and you know, she sells like, you know, high end million dollar plus homes. So, you know, I'm really hoping that's going [inaudible] [inaudible] out to be another, you know, a thousand a month fee clients. So then my monthly fees are, you know, $3,000 a month. Plus my goals right now is by the end, by 2020 to be making $4,000 a month. And my goal from a year from when I started next level to be at $10,000 a month. Paul Xavier: Yeah. And you see that path, like that's a vision. You believe in it and you know that is possible. Stephen: Yeah. And that's, you know, that's a big thing with what the next level creators has done for me is like doing one off and be just a freelance one man band type guy. I just, I couldn't see a path to scale. Yeah. It isn't this, you know, like even if I'm super, super busy and it's like, man, I wish I had an employee. Like in the back of your mind, you know, it's like, well this, I mean, I'm in a feast right now and it's gonna die off. And then all of a sudden I have this employee who I'm responsible for and I don't want to be like hiring and firing someone back and forth. You know, where with the, with the campaign stuff, it's like, it makes it like, it's like the lights going off. It's like, Oh, this is how you can scale a business. Yeah, yeah. And, and just keep getting these clients and bring in, bring in, you know, start developing a team of people that can, you know, help you grow that. Paul Xavier: Yeah. It's all about leverage, right? I mean leverage and freedom and cashes cashes a poor business model. If you're dealing in just cash. Even if I tell people all the time, I talked to a lot of seven figure video production companies, they're selling $100,000 video projects even higher. Right? And that sounds amazing on the, from the outside looking in, but then once you get into that company and you see they have six employees, they are in tons of debt from renting tons of equipment from behind, tons of equipment they shouldn't have boughten or bought. And then, you know, trying to keep the cash coming in fast enough to handle the 20,000, $30,000 a month in just operational fees that they have. Not including all the surge expenses that come when they get these big projects and have to hire. That's where things get really nerve wracking and they're making, you know, 50, 60, $70,000 a year just as much as a freelancer by himself. Paul Xavier: And it's scary to see that kind of thing and the agency model can and has the ability to scale with profit margins granted that you do it the right way. And I think you're doing it the right way. You're not looking for hundreds of clients, you're looking for a small number of clients. You're looking to deliver a great value to them. And in return B, just be able to justify your rate to be able to show results that then in turn allow you to increase to five, $10,000 a month per client. And just keep that small handful there. So being the best at what you do in that domain, I recommend that to all my clients who you're at. You're doing great. And Stephen, I mean, my last question for you you know, I don't want to take up too much time here. Is would you recommend this program to other creators, filmmakers who are in your shoes or in your place before you joined? Stephen: I mean definitely you know, I guess it depends on what they want. Like if, if, if they don't want to get into distribution. I mean I guess I understand that. It's all you want to do is make videos. But the bottom line is a, and this is a pitch, like I was at a chamber of commerce thing recently and it was sort of like a speed dating thing and you get 30 seconds to make a pitch to this table of people, right. And I would always open up like it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter how good your video is. It could be the best video in the world and Steven Spielberg made it and whatever, if you don't, if you don't have a district solution strategy attached to it, if it's worthless, it can be next to worthless. If you don't have a strategy in order to get that video in front of the eyeballs of people who are actually interested in what your business has to offer. And so, especially as a freelancer, as a one man band guy, if you don't have the ability to distribute or you don't have a partnership with someone who distributes what, what do you sound like? You, you're possibly selling people debt. Stephen: They're just going to be spending money and not getting anything in return and nobody's going to want that. So so I would say, you know, if you wanna make a business that people want to hire and, and people see the value in it, it just makes perfect sense. And especially if you're a small one man operation like me you know, it just makes sense to, to learn how to do it and do it yourself and versus make a partnership with like a marketing firm who does it for them, which by the way, they're going to be, they're going to be making way more money than you are when you're the one making the creative. You know, the creative aspect of the video making is really where a lot of the value comes in in these marketing campaigns. But you know, the distributors take all the money that they're the ones that make all the money because that's the video by itself is worthless. It's the district distribution that that makes the night. Yeah, Paul Xavier: Absolutely. And it's, it's interesting, I was talking to someone on a television company the other day as a filmmaker at a television company. He said that the company to compete with other television companies started giving commercials away. They don't charge for the commercials anymore. They only charge for the media buys. So they'll make you a commercial for free if you buy a media buy. Now. So it's, it's insane. It's just the creative in the video creation has been packaged in with distribution is the best model moving forward. And so I, I agree with you. Of course, again, as you said, if you're someone who just wants to create videos, Hey, don't do video plus distribution, create content retainers with clients that still a recurring business model. And if you pair that with the right company or the right media buying team, then that is a massive value as an asset as well. And you can also track your content retainer through their distribution as well. So you just need to know how to do that. But I really appreciate your time. Steven. Thank you so much for taking a moment to share your experience. And any last words that you'd like to share? Stephen: No, not really. I'm just thank you for the opportunity and to do the interview but also just, you know, to take my business to that next level and Stephen: Okay. Stephen: You know, for the first time I just, I feel stable in the business, you know what I mean? Like you know, I'm saying jobs are coming in and I'm saying no. Yeah, probably like the first time since I've been a freelancer where it's like, even if I was super, super busy, I always said yes because you just, it's like you just don't know if next month is going to be a good month or not. And now I'm in this position where it's like I couldn't say no at which is I don't know. But it's, it's empowering in a way cause it's like I'm in control now versus like the market being in control and you need just trying to hustle to keep up and losing sleep and being stressed out and all that. Now it's, you know, I feel more in control of my [inaudible] Paul Xavier: That that's exactly why I do what I do and it's, it's to help as much as I can. And, you know, challenges aren't done. Every, every new growth stage comes with new challenges. And I just appreciate you doing the work to get to that next level and that's why it's called next level creators. There will always be the next one. And I hope I can get you, I hope I can get you from where you are now to that next one here very quickly as well. I hope you can too. All right, Steven, thank you so much.

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