How We Got Started In This Business

Rick Smith’s story: I was working as a photographer almost right out of high school and then I began professional media production and publishing immediately after college. Working for a unique quasi-commercial university department that specialized in producing educational materials, we were producing and selling filmstrips (we didn’t have VCRs yet) and slides and books.Under my direction, we moved into video production, then CD-ROMs, software and other formats. We produced many award winning productions and had a few programs aired on PBS and the History Channel. We also won awards for our direct mail marketing efforts, including two “Best In Catalogs” awards. We literally sold millions of dollars worth of educational videos and other media all over the world. All of this before the heady days of the internet. It was a great opportunity to learn the nuts and bolts of marketing.

Here I am featured in the 1983 Photographers’ Market. I had already been working in photography for 10 years by then. I’ve made media production and marketing my life’s work and I look forward to helping you find success in this area.

This was all fun but … in 1997, the university went in a new direction and sold my division to another company. That’s when I decided to go on my own.  I had always had a dream of producing and selling my own videos on my own terms, and I’ve been doing that since then. Now I’m sharing what I’ve learned with people like you.

Kim Miller’s story: I met Rick when he was the director of the university program. On the tail end of completing my photography degree and feeling stifled in my job in human resources for the university, I approached him with my portfolio in the hopes that he would hire me. Well, he didn’t hire me but I did end up working with him anyway – as his spouse! (Much better benefits I might add! 😉

In 2000, a client hired us to produce a new educational video on how soil is formed. Rick was so busy with a large client load that I decided to take a shot at starting it. I had never done video but I had very recent experience doing photography projects. I researched, storyboarded, wrote a rough script, contracted with an advisor who helped me refine the script, and directed, shot, and edited it. Needless to say, I was hooked. The fact that that video is still out there and selling strongly excites me no end. It also won a Telly Award.  Not a bad first project!  At the time I was tickled with a big check upon completion but after seeing how well it is doing, I have changed my thinking.

Enter The Internet

Prior to 2004, the bulk of our income came from corporate and client work, and Kim was still tethered to her stable, good paying job at the local university. But that all changed for us In 2004.

(Rick) It all started with a video I made of my dad…

In 2005 we completed a video I made called Patrick Smith’s: A Sense of Place. For years my dad, a well-known Florida writer and lecturer, known for his hugely popular book A Land Remembered, told me that if I made a videotape of the talk he gave throughout Florida, that I would sell thousands. Being reasonably quick witted I said GREAT, let’s do it. However, it was a project I seemed to keep putting off due to my client work and the very real fact that I live in California and my dad lives in Florida. But then my dad was diagnosed with cancer and on a visit back ther, he graciously sat down with me on his back porch and I taped him. It was a very simple, low tech production. I had a camera, lavalier mic and a tripod. That’s all. Over the next few years through numerous trips back home, I taped B-roll, shot some re-enactments and researched photo archives to illustrate his story. I turned that little story into a video that won several awards and was shown at film festivals. In fact, the Tupelo Film Festival invited me to attend, where I won the Founder’s Award prize.

Winning all those awards felt great but I had also put a lot of time and money into this film and felt my dad was right; I could actually sell this thing. However my market was in Florida and I lived in California and my dad, due to his health problems, was no longer able to do the lecture circuit and sell them to his fans. So that left the internet.

Now as I have said, I had been in direct mail marketing for 30 years but never sold anything on the internet at this time except some video equipment on eBay. I could see the potential of selling on the internet and decided to build a web page. This video was a perfect product for me to get started.

I was told that my market, older Floridians, probably wouldn’t buy over the internet. As of today, my dad proved to be right and I have sold over 8,000 of this DVD at prices ranging from $20 to $95 each… and I still get orders for it from all over the U.S. I was thrilled to see that I could mix my desire to start a business on the internet with doing what I loved. As a result of this rewarding experience, Kim and I share a new way of life. She no longer works in human resources at the university and is a full time partner in this business with me. We’re SIV producers and internet entrepreneurs!

Great Background Story, But So What?

Working in this business has been the thrill of a lifetime. We travel, meet fascinating people and make a great income from it.

If you want to get started but don’t know where to start, then enroll in the Special Interest Video Academy, where you can take a 16 week, hands-on course that will get you up to speed in your own business fast.

I also encourage you to join the Special Interest Video Organization and take advantage of all of the information that is waiting for you, plus all of the blog posts, videos, tutorials and newsletters that you will receive. We are here to help you and others with similar dreams. If you join the academy at the Gold level you get a year’s membership in the Special Interest Video Organization included.

At the very least you want to get a copy of our book Shoot To Sell, Make Money Producing Special Interest Videos. We poured our 40+ years of combined experience into it and it will be an invaluable guide as you start your video publishing business. In fact, if you are considering selling anything on the internet you’ll find a wealth of online marketing advice in it. If after buying the book from us (not Amazon.com) you join at the Silver or Gold level, we’ll refund you the cost of the book.

Today Is Someday

There really is no limit to what you can do in this business. I like to say that there is no “Someday” on the calendar, so get started now. Today is your Someday.