Pricing Subscriptions Services and Unlimited Tasks at Vidpros
This is an interview with Michael Holmes, founder of video editing agency Vidpros. Michael shares some interesting insight into subscription pricing, and a unique perspective on moving away from ‘unlimited’ tasks.
Dan: Today, I’m really pleased to be speaking with Michael Holmes. He’s the founder of video editing agency Vidpros. I think it’s fair to say Michael, you’re an SPP power user as well?
Michael: Oh yes. Thanks. I definitely love the SPP platform. It solves a couple of unique scenarios.
One, as an agency, there’s definitely project management tools. I think of the Asanas, the Basecamps of the world and you definitely need to have them, to be able to move things through the Kanban flow of when an order is accepted all the way to when it’s completed.
But all of those tools, the one thing they lack is the billing. So SPP is great because it combines the different order stages as well as having a subscription billing built into it. So it’s really easy to see what’s going on. Who’s paid who hasn’t and, who should have access to the service versus not.
I think that a lot of companies that start off on this kind of subscription service run into this thing where people either fail payments or they cancel the service. Design Pickle references it a lot in their interviews – before they had their customer portal, people that were not even paying could just submit through a random link and get the service done!
So I think it’s a great product. I’m glad I found your solution. I’ve definitely enjoyed using the white label portion of it, because that’s kind of our core focus that we’re looking for, other agencies to basically be their video editing partner.
And I think that there’s a lot of cases for this. There’s social media agencies that maybe do a strategy or coaching, but they don’t necessarily want to do video editing. So this is like them having a turnkey, video editing system in a box where we just kind of come in and plug additional revenue for them basically.
So yeah, that’s what we’re doing and why we’re using your product.
Dan: It’d be great just to hear a little bit of background about you Michael, and your journey leading to now and to founding Vidpros.
Michael: Oh, certainly. I have been in the industry for a little while now, worked at a similar SaaS, I guess, software as a service, called U-Screen, doing their marketing and that was a company that acted as a kind of build your own Netflix.
So, it was people that were yoga instructors wanting to sell online courses that had a video. I mean, it was very… I would say there was the entertainment side, but then there was the online learning side. And I would say that when you compare that product to say the Kajabis, or the Teachable’s of the world, this was more video focused. It was higher resolution video, and the ability to get your own video app on Roku and iOS and Android devices. So there’s a lot going on but at the same time, it allowed me to work with creators, I guess, industry influencers, and learn a little bit more, about the people that used video editing.
I have my own YouTube channels as well. I’m more of a hobbyist, I guess, but I do have one “how to DJ” video that I made four years ago, it has like 500,000 views on it.
Dan: 500,000 that’s pretty impressive!
Michael: Yeah. It’s YouTube. So I can tell you that I didn’t really think of it as abusiness, so I didn’t have any additional revenue. You know, it’s okay, but it wasn’t like quit your day job type fun!
So yeah, that’s how I got into video editing.
Dan: I know something you’ve spoken about on your channels before, and something that I’ve seen a lot of founders we speak to struggle with is pricing, especially subscription pricing. It’d be great if you could share some of your thoughts and your approach to how you’ve gone about pricing services, maybe at Vidpros and how you think about it generally.
Michael: So, we are mostly white label. On our website, we do have a higher price than what the white label a reseller would actually negotiate with us. That’s just because while we’re probably 99% of the way there, as far as being white label, I also want to protect the resellers. Should the end user find out that we’re providing the service.
I guess that 1% would be… you know, we’re doing lots of file sharing, so maybe it’s a Google Drive or a Dropbox link, and somebody requests it from the wrong email address. And you don’t really think that’s a possibility, but we strive to get to a hundred percent as far as being completely white labeled. But, there is a little bit of padding in our publicly displayed prices on the internet.
I would say a typical reseller, where we advertise $1,000 on the website, they’d probably come in closer to the $600 level. If they’re doing a 35% markup, to 50% markup, they would resell that service at either like $800 to $1,000 basically to get a monthly recurring revenue.
The other big thing on pricing is how we’re positioning the service. We’re calling it “Fractional Video Editing”. This is in direct opposition to what a lot of other productized services do, which is they call it “unlimited video editing” or “unlimited graphic design”.
The reason we’re doing that is we just feel it’s a lot more honest, because it is a service fulfilled by humans. If you look at graphic design or Design Pickle for graphic design, they say that it’s unlimited graphic design, but it’s really unlimited requests.
You’re limited by the speed at which they can fulfill the requests. And that depends on how many actual clients are assigned to each person that works there. So, I mean, if it’s a high number, then that means your own limited request may take a longer period of time to fulfill, per order.
What we’re doing is saying it’s a fractional video editor. We’re being very upfront, I guess, in what you’re getting. It’s up to two hours per day of video editing. And, that allows for each video editor to handle about four clients. Depending on the complexity of the video, you could have a super complex video that maybe takes a few more days time, or most of our customers who are able to get something back on the same day.
It’s kind of more social media, like little, one minute micro content videos that just need to have the “ums” and “ahs” taken out and throw on some banner stuff and adding captions. So it’s relatively simple work – we can crank out usually one or two of those kind of smaller types of videos in a one to two hour time period.
Or if it’s a little bit more complex it might take one to two days to turn it around.
That’s the reasoning why we’re making the switch from “unlimited video editing” to “fractional video editing”.
Dan: How long have you been promoting the services as fractional versus unlimited?
Michael: This has been just within the last month. It is a little bit of a pain because search engines, and people that are looking for this type of service, they’re still typing in “unlimited video editing”. So I mean, it’s not like something that we’ve gotten to catch on just yet. People often get crushed by not understanding what they’re purchasing. The hope is we’ll have less churn in the long run. So maybe we’re making less sales now, but, hopefully we’re bringing on more right-fit customers.
Dan: I was going to ask if you had noticed any difference or had any customers reaching out to you to clarify what it is they’re getting, but it kind of sounds like you’ve made it more clear for the end consumer really.
Michael: And I guess there’s a little bit of the dynamic, I guess, where we’re mostly working with resellers.
So, I mean, they understand what it is because they’re video editors, they know what’s going on. So I guess the question is, how do they want to position the reseller product, when they sell it to their end client?
I haven’t had a lot of take up on the whole fractionaltural video editing thing just yet, but you have to consider the audience. Those users may not understand what two hours of video editing gets you – they’re not using the term unlimited, so that’s good.
But, they are saying “hey, a typical amount of videos done” and quoting a number which is working relatively well.
Dan: Do you think the end consumer really understands what they’re getting into when they look for an unlimited service, do you think they have expectations that they’re going to have almost an extension of their own team, like a full-time team member when they’re signing up?
Michael: I wouldn’t say that. It’s not really well explained on a lot of the unlimited sites. I mean, this is like $500 or $1,000 a month. I’m getting a full-time person and that’s simply not the case. I mean, they definitely run into that. They expect higher output guess, over a certain time period. And they get smaller amounts of output and they’re just like “Hey, why is this taking so long?” I have a dedicated video editor, which is another term that’s used a lot – a dedicated person. It is technically one person that’s working on the account, but they’re just working at half speed or a quarter speed of what they’re expecting.
Dan: I can imagine it’s quite confusing for end consumers, especially if they’re not fully aware of what goes into a skilled job like that, like video editing or graphic design or copywriting, whatever it may be. What do you think is the future for the industry? Would you like to see a world where there’s a little bit more upfrontness and honesty in terms of what customers are getting, do you think we need to move away from this term ‘unlimited’ and start being a bit more upfront?
Michael: Yeah. Yeah. I think obviously we have to constantly be evolving as an agency, just to keep forward of the amount of AI and software tools that are out there.
It’s pretty amazing what can be done with do-it-yourself, online video editors right now. So there’s one side, where we have to stay ahead of that curve. The other side is consumers are going to become more aware of this in the future. And I think there needs to be that point where if it’s not a software product, you shouldn’t be calling it ‘unlimited’ because it’s people using software products that are actually unlimited.
I think it does cause a certain amount of confusion because I mean, it’s not a software product. They don’t necessarily know that, maybe they think that it is a software product and maybe they’re getting confused in that sense, but I would say anybody who’s using people to fulfil the service shouldn’t be calling the product “unlimited” basically.
Dan: Given what you’ve learned, and your thinking about this, is there any advice you’d give to agency founders or those starting their own journey and are maybe tempted to follow the trend of offering this kind of unlimited approach?
Michael: If you’re just starting off then there’s not really that much benefit to doing that because you’re just going to run into trying to rank that keyword against everyone else – an entire sea of competitors, basically doing the same thing. So I would say well, why not be honest?
Why not? Why not stand out? Make a statement, and also it should lead to more valuable business in the long term because you’re getting people that are more knowledgeable about your product. I mean, I think that’s one of the reasons we’re focusing. Let somebody else be the person who has to educate the end user on what they’re buying in a sense, and focus more on customers that are the reseller customers that know more about the industry and what they’re buying.
Dan: So what’s the plan for Vidpros? Have you got any things in mind that you’d like to move on to with the agency? Or are you still testing out what you’re doing at the moment with the fractional thing?
Michael: That’s a great question, Dan. I guess keep on keeping on, I definitely want to continue building this agency, and I think it’s just getting more white label clients is the biggest goal right now, to continue growing.
Dan: Well, thanks so much for your time, Michael. Are there any particular places you’d like people to reach out to you? I know you have your YouTube channels as well. If you wanted to let people know.
If there’s anything we can help you with, we are a video editing agency for other agencies. So, we’d love to connect with people that have complimentary type services. And if you want to add in a turnkey video editing agency to your agency, that’s what we do!