“I don’t know if I always want to be in front of the camera. I love producing, I love the camaraderie. I love the adventures. I love the stress.” – Sandra Bullock

You can easily earn a six-figure income with a business you can start on a shoestring. I’m talking about producing your own videos and marketing them directly to consumers. From my own experience, I can tell you that this can be personally rewarding as well as profitable.

For instance, I was a partner in a production company that markets its own sports videos. We began the business with less than $100, and 10 years later it’s earning in excess of $250,000 annually.

I’ve also marketed my own line of videos. One of them – on back-stretching techniques – earned over $5,000 in profits within one week. Another exercise video I produced just generated over $30,000 in sales in less than a month.

There’s an almost endless number of subjects that can be turned into big sellers. I particularly recommend instructional videos, because there’s so much material available. Practically any special interest or hobby could be the basis of a successful “how to” DVD. And remember, you don’t need to be an expert in the subject you choose. You can hire an expert to “star” in your video and do the actual instruction/demonstration.

Of course, as with any new business, there are obstacles to overcome. Here are three of the pitfalls I’ve encountered – and learned to avoid – since I’ve been producing and selling my own videos.

How to Avoid Pitfall #1: Presentation Counts

Back in the days when I was a new ballroom dance instructor, I reasoned that I could multiply my income by selling an instructional dance video. And, since I had very little capital, I decided it would be fine to shoot the video on my home VHS camera and then make some rough edits with my VCR. I figured that all my viewers would care about was the information I was giving them… not my presentation.

Well, I was right on the first count. Certainly, I could make far more money per hour selling videos for $50 each than I could teaching private classes for the same $50. But I was completely wrong on the second count. Although my course material was good, I had an enormous backlash from buyers who complained that the videos didn’t look professional. Even though I gave refunds to anyone who asked, a few of them were so angry they complained to the magazine where I was advertising… which then banned my ads. Since it was the principal magazine for amateur ballroom enthusiasts, not being able to advertise in it was a devastating blow.

So forget about shooting your video with your home video camera. I recommend using Hi-End Digital equipment, but you could also shoot in Beta.

How to Avoid Pitfall #2: Know Your Equipment

Later in my ballroom dancing career, I produced a video for another professional dance instructor. I used a very good camera and placed an expensive boom mike near her to capture the sound. The video looked good. But after we edited the whole thing, we discovered that the sound was very weak. We were able to boost it up somewhat, but she wasn’t happy with the results and I had to re-shoot a ton of footage.

Now I know that there’s a reason they don’t use boom mikes when they shoot $100 million movies: the huge risk of not getting audio that is loud enough. So, in addition to a boom mike, make sure you attach a wireless microphone to each of your video participants.

How to Avoid Pitfall #3: Use Camera-Ready Experts

The people who appear in your video – you and/or any experts you hire – must be comfortable with the camera and must have “camera appeal.”

I once hired someone with excellent qualifications – but English was her second language. Although she could speak fairly well one-on-one, she fell apart in front of the camera. I ended up losing a nice piece of change, because even though the shoot was a bust, I still had to pay my small video crew and rent for the location.

To make sure they can hold up under the pressure of being filmed, ask any potential video performers to do a videotaped audition for you (even if it’s on a home camera).

Hopefully my experiences can save you time and money should you decide to pursue this money-making opportunity. Learn from my mistakes, and you could be on your way to a profitable and rewarding small business.

[Ed. Note: Paul Lawrence is a produced screenwriter, direct-mail copywriter, and business author. He is also the creator of the Quick and Easy Microbusiness System, ETR’s program for starting a business for under $100.

Learn more of Paul’s video-business secrets HERE]

Paul Lawrence

Paul Lawrence is an entrepreneur who has made his living starting and running a series of profitable businesses. One day while cleaning his mother's pool for a few extra bucks, it dawned on Paul that he could perhaps start his own pool cleaning business. He carefully employed all the marketing techniques that he had learned in school and designed his first flyer. Immediately the business took off and within a week, Paul had his own little business. He quickly expanded, hired employees and then eventually sold it some relatives who made well over $250,000 in the next year before they eventually sold it for a six figure profit. After finishing college, Paul did a brief stint in a management program for a national rental company, but he quickly realized that he was much happier running his own show. Paul left the rental company and launched one of the most financially successful independent ballroom dance instruction companies in the state of Florida where he received quite a bit of media attention for his revolutionary business practices that included front page features in the Life Style section of the Sun Sentinel, features in the Miami Herald, Boca News, Center Stage Entertainment and many others. With that business running profitably, Paul started several other businesses either individually or as partnerships that included a million dollar video production company, a mortgage brokerage, a home maintenance business, several mail order companies, a business consulting service among others.With a love of movies, Paul began to work at breaking into Hollywood as a screenwriter where he's beaten the odds by becoming a produced writer. He is a credited writer for the film CRUEL WORLD, starring Jaime Presley and Eddie Furlong and has signed a development deal for a national television series with one of the world's largest producers of television and films among his half a dozen sales and options of movie scripts he wrote. Paul is the creator of the Quick & Easy Microbusiness program.