This is my first blog post of story/interviews with people out there shooting real estate video. My goal with this type of post is to share their wisdom, mistakes and advice so that we all may learn. Let me know in the comments below if you found the article useful or would prefer a different style of article? Big thanks to Jon for sharing his experiences.
And without further ado, met…. Jon Ashworth
Where are you based and what is your background?
I am based in Spanish Fort, Alabama USA. Living on Mobile Bay. My back ground is actually in Geology and after having sold my supply company I dove into the world of online business ventures.
In doing so, I had to learn everything I could about marketing online. That’s when I discovered video.
How long have you been shooting Real Estate Video?
I bought a Canon 70D with a 10-18, 24 and 50mm lens and started playing around, this was back in 2009.
Fast forward to early 2016 and a Real Estate broker friend who had seen some of my work asked if I had ever done any real estate video.
I said, “What’s that?”
Immediatley I Google’d it and starting researching the industry and market in my area. I found that no one was doing it except for the occasional iPhone walk through video.
I saw that there was a potential need so I figured I would give it a shot. Possibly as a little side hustle to occasionally get me out of my home office where I conduct my primary business.
Low and behold I found Grant Johnston’s Real Estate Videography course. He also had a course on the Canon 70D.
I bought both and dove in!
After practicing on my home I ventured out and called an agent whose sign was in a yard in my neighborhood. I explained to her that my company was dabbling in real estate video and needed to build a portfolio and have some examples for the future. I told her I would do it for free.
She jumped at the opportunity.
I did one more about a month later.
I posted the second one in a few of the Real Estate listing Facebook groups and then the momentum started. Agents were calling inquiring about more.
Do you offer stills as well as video services?
It then got to where enough agents were calling NOT about video but asking if I did still images.
I realized that with enough inquiries that I might need to pay attention and pick up that skill as well.
So I went and found some courses on Kelby One and learned more about the camera once it was switched from “video” to “photo” mode. Before that I would just put it on “auto” and roll with it.
Now I offer each when requested or both at the same time.
What is your current camera kit setup?
I still have my trusted Canon 70D and use the 10-18mm for all interior and exterior still images. I shoot in RAW and do slight touch ups in Lightroom.
I use use the 70D with the same lens for the videography as well. I occasionally pull out the 50mm f/1.8 “Nifty Fifty” if I want to have a few clips with some blurred background/shallow depth of field, like when I am showcasing a feature or the sort.
I also have a Sony a6500 setup and use it for other video work. I will be experimenting with it for real estate applications here soon.
What is your favourite bit of kit?
Aside from my drone, I would say my favorite piece of kit would be my Rhino Slider with the ARC system. This piece of gear has sped up my on site workflow tremendously. I get smooth slides and pans from all angles everytime and on the first go.
What would be your main channel for getting business?
I do not advertise my videography or photography services other than posting them for the Realtors on 3-4 real estate Facebook groups. Other than that it is word of mouth.
I still enjoy keeping this little “side hustle” just that. A side hustle.
My primary business is too important. I just like to get out when they call and play with my gadgets.
I know you are very active with offering social media services and extra value to agents, can you share what you offer?
Part of my consulting business is working with individuals, businesses and brands by helping them grow their presence online via social media. YouTube, Facebook and email marketing are my strengths.
So I decided, as a value add, to offer tips and guidance on how my real estate clients could effectively leverage YouTube and Facebook to get their videos more exposure after I had delivered them. As well as exposure for them as realtors to help grow their business.
I have actually spoken at various brokerage’s sales meetings explaining how to leverage social media to grow their brand.
I show them how to optimize their YouTube channel and video so their listing AND name appear in search on Google.
When processing still images, I will process about 5-6 of the “money” shots first and post them to the various Facebook groups along with MLS#, agents name and contact info (with their permission).
This gives the listing some early momentum.
You never know when another agent has a client looking for what that agent has.
I have had more than one listing get an offer and close before it ever hit the market. Just by taking the little extra time to do what I just mentioned. The agents love it.
They know I will handle it and its one less thing they have to worry about.
The market in my area is conservative, if you will, when it comes to how the videos are shot.
They do not like all the fancy speed ramps, crazy music, weird angles, text on the screen or any type of green screen effects.
A simple opening slide with address and a closing slide with their headshot and contact info.
This makes it very easy and quick to shoot. It also keeps a clean professional look with minimal distractions.
I use to have a simple SquareSpace site with my videos and images for interested agents to look at. I had to take it down because of too much work coming in. Yes, I said it. Too much work.
Although I love shooting different houses while honing my video and still photography skills, I do know that if this was a full time gig I would get tired of it after awhile which would hinder my creativity and production value.
Keeping this as somewhat of a novelty works best for me.
My most recent video work can be found at the Kaiser Sotheby’s International Realty’s Facebook page found here: https://www.facebook.com/KaiserSIRFairhope/
If I could give any advice to someone just getting started it would be to:
1. Go grab Grant Johnston’s Shoot Better Real Estate Video course
2. Practice on your home and then find an agent or two that will allow you to do a no cost video.
3. Don’t get hung up on gear. I still use the Canon 70D for stills and beat out other photographers who are sporting 3-4K full frame cameras. No gear in the world can teach the basics of composition, best practices and fundamentals.
4. If operating a drone in the U.S. get licensed!!!!!
5. Always keep learning and honing your skills. Whatever they may be. Complacency is a killer!
A few Video links to my favourites.
Timelapse at beginning and end shot with Sony a6500
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Grant, I really liked this format.
Thanks Jon for sharing your story.
Again, Thanks for sharing your story.
Jon, great work! And very interesting to hear your back story. You have found a way to co-mingle a bunch of skill sets that all reinforce each other. Inspiring.
Jon, Thanks for sharing your story and inspiring me and so many others.
Love the video especially the drone shots.