How To Turn Video & Photo Equipment Into Income Generating Assets
In our industry, we have to be hyper-resourceful to produce a sustainable income. We need to buy new equipment to improve our content quality and further our careers. But in our search to get more gigs, work more hours, and make more content, we forget that we’re sitting on valuable assets that can generate supplemental income. And now (as of the time I’m writing this), it’s more feasible than ever.
The platforms for renting out equipment, the popularity of freelance work, and the demand for freelance labor are at an all time high. Now is the time to make passive income from your stash of equipment.
So like a Choose Your Own Adventure book, you have three paths ahead of you:
Trading With Friends
Each of these has varying benefits and difficulties, depending on your jobs and current position. But also like a Choose Your Own Adventure book, you can flip back to the page and try the other options. Whenever you want.
Perhaps the most accessible to those who live in or near a major city. Peer-to-peer (P2P) renting allows for a low barrier of entry way to get into renting out equipment.
Just sign up for a service like Kitsplit or Sharegrid (or both!!) and you can rent out your equipment in no time. It takes about 15 minutes to set up, and each item takes about 5min to post, but once it’s up then you don’t have to touch it. The platforms do the work for you. Then you just accept/deny rentals as they come in depending on your/the equipment’s availability. Then follow the instructions for renting to people, coordinate with a few texts, and get it done.
Alternatively, you can rent to people locally. I only do this with people I know or those my friends know. If you’re renting directly to people, make sure print a rental agreement contract for them to sign when checking out, and charge them for any damage/losses if necessary. Insuring equipment prior to this is a must.
Working with production companies or producers has a huge benefit to it: Kit fees. A kit fee is an additional charge for providing some of your gear (camera kit, G&E, accessories, etc). If you’re working directly with a client, you can include your equipment in the “equipment costs” part of your invoice. You should never provide your gear to a project for free unless you absolutely have to. Factor in your gear at a fair rate along with any rented equipment - combine them in the invoice so the client doesn’t question it. Or if you need to cut costs, include owned equipment separately in the invoice and slash the cost with a “(fill in the blank) discount”.
The biggest benefit of renting to productions is that it’s all profit. There’s no overhead with time or costs. The main disadvantage is that you’ll likely get less rentals through productions. Production companies often rent gear from rental houses and smaller clients don’t like to pay for equipment costs.
Trading With Friends
Hands down the most accessible way to start renting out equipment is to trade with it. Trade your gear with friends so you can both benefit from it. You can rent it to them free for a shoot/project, with the condition that they work for you free for a shoot you’re doing coming up. Perhaps exchange your gear rental for renting a piece of their gear later, or use their editing computer, or borrow their car. Anything is possible, you just need to make sure they’ll hold up their end of the deal. And worst case scenario, you rented your gear for a few days for nothing. (Unless you think they’ll run off with your gear…then sign a contract)
If they’re on a paid client gig, you can also rent it to them at a discount to rental houses. And maybe let your friend keep it for an extra few days to mess around with it and make some cool personal projects. The trade economy is so important for building valuable networks of cash-free transactions. It’s so important for any freelancer strapped for cash.
I remember being too broke to own a camera 2 years ago, so I used this same technique to borrow a friend’s equipment for a few client projects. Pro tip: You don’t need to own equipment to start working.
Now take a look at your equipment stash…and realize that it’s ready to make some cash! In our industry, any income helps us get closer to the lifestyle we want to live. Try these options for your upcoming gigs. Drop me a line here if you have any questions or if this article helped you out.