Filmmaker Goes From Zero To $14,000 Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR) In 6 Months

Summary

Mike had the idea of adding monthly recurring revenue to his video production agency far before he heard of Next Level Creators...

But it wasn't until he moved to Washington D.C. and had a couple really slow video project months that he decide to go all in on figuring out the Video Agency business model.

In this interview we dive deep into:
  1. How to generate content retainer clients
  2. The importance of being yourself & staying creative
  3. The limits of a one-man video production company

If you're a video creator or filmmaker that has struggled with finding their unique voice & style in the loud, busy video production world.

This interview is jam-packed with value.

Enjoy it and don't forget to comment below with your main takeaway or the action you're going to begin taking today to improve.

Seize the day,
– Paul Xavier

Transcript / MP3

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Hello creators today, I have a guest with you. It is Mike. Now Mike, when did you start working with us here at next level creators.

Okay. Oh I think it was the very end of April or the first week in may of 2019 so just over six months

does six months here. And back then you had basically been having the idea about bringing monthly recurring revenue to your production company, but you hadn't done it yet. And so you had no recurring revenue. And today, six months later, where are you at in terms of monthly recurring revenue?

Um, right around 14 grants. That's with reoccurring and then then we can add a bunch on top of my regular production business. That always brings in some, but it's hard to count on that so, so at least at least working very occurring. That's

pretty amazing, I'm sure. How does that make you feel?

Oh, that's awesome. You know, I didn't think that was possible. I, you know, in your program you suggest people like sort of have a goal and where they want to be in six months. And the way it was going, I thought there's no way that's going to work. Um, but then things kind of stuck and all of a sudden here I am six months later and I think that, I can't believe it. It's good. It's great. I see like, you know where the next six months can be. I think it's pretty exciting. So

it's interesting cause you said when you first got into the group, you said you wanted to be at 15,000 a month in six months. Correct? That was, I do believe that's the case. Yeah. And you're pretty much right there with your other jobs from production. You're surpass that in six months. Correct?

Absolutely. Yeah.

So right. It is interesting how you set a goal and can, might not always feel like you're going to hit it as you're making your progress towards it, but you did it. And um, I always like to sort of start these interviews by asking what got you into this creative field in the first place. Like you've got to, um, awesome brand. I want to talk to you about your brand a little bit and also what made you want to get into video production in the first place?

Right. Well, I, um, I'm a newspaper guy. I spent 20 years as a photojournalist and newspapers, 16 of those years were spent in San Francisco with the biggest paper there, um, shooting a traditional still photography as a journalist. So, um, the last eight years of my stay in San Francisco, I did a column about strange people in San Francisco and it was called the city exposed. And every week I would go out and find a story that I'd write about, do photography. And then the last five years of that, I turned that into a video. So I do a two to three minute video profile on somebody strange in San Francisco. And let me tell you, if you do that, uh, every week for five years, you learn a fair amount about video, you know, mostly of your mistakes, but every week you just put it down and do another one. And I think that sort repetition and learning how to do it is totally key. So I left. Um, I left San Francisco four years ago. I live in the DC area now, um, for a career change and the essence of video thing took off. Got me some awards in San Francisco. Um, it just seemed like the natural no-brainer. The problem Paul, is that I didn't know Jack about business, right? I didn't really know how to market myself, how to sell myself, how to talk, how to do a sales call to do anything. And so that has been the biggest struggle and the last six months, something's working.

I'm glad to hear that. So earn the deal. It sounds like made a difference for you. Mega value marketing, getting out there, getting new meetings, getting opportunities with people that you don't know or perhaps you didn't actually reach out to you before that's making a difference for you. And also, um, the value creation, you know, packaging, ongoing video content versus just one project at a time. That's making the big difference for you here, which is really, yeah. Exciting. And so you, you got into the field kind of out of a evolution from still photography in the newspaper space. And is it something that, you know, you do, you see yourself doing ongoing then, I mean it sounds like it's an evolution. Do you see yourself evolving again or is this the thing that you want to do all going now? Um, well you know, I'm a, I like to think of myself as a storyteller and a filmmaker.

What my goal actually is to figure out how to scale this company so that can have this reoccurring money that comes in and then hopefully that gets to be more and more creative. And my, one of my goals, and I'm not exactly sure how what the path is yet, but it's the be the scale enough where I'm doing the creative work, the executive producing or perhaps the DP on stuff I want to do, but to have people that actually can do all this stuff that I don't really want to do. Sure. Cause work is still work. Paul work, there's no like a magic bean, right? I mean we just, I have these clients now I have to produce, I mean, one reason I was five minutes late today was that I'm got my head in the editor and we're brainstorming project coming out next week. So, and that's awesome, eh, but again, having work is better than not having work.

Having that busy-ness and having more importantly when we talk, when you think about the, the levels of leverage that a company has, and this is one of the cool distinctions I like to, it really solidify for people, you know, in next level creators. I tried to do it up front with the judgment day in the very first module where you look through your, your finances and you figure out what is it that I need to do to get the leverage I need to, to produce ongoing for myself and have freedom. So that way you can do those things that you want to do. And the number one thing is having cash flows that are predictable, right? When you know your bills are care of and you've got extra coming in and you can use that to pay people. All of a sudden there's a new level of fame.

Right. Great. Yeah. So, um, with that, you know, [inaudible] a couple of those things. What were the biggest lessons that you learned in next level creators or maybe the most profound, yeah. A principle that you learned as you were in the program? Um, you know, I think it's just sort of selling what my skills are. I haven't learned, Oh, a lot of new skills in video, content creation since we started here. Paul. Um, it's all stuff that I've been working on for 20 years, so I have those skills. I just had no idea how to get them to the people that needed them. Um, and more importantly, I think the thing I took out of this was how to sell what I do to these people. So it made sense. Right? The thing I like about the content creation retainer is that I'm, I'm selling this people, I don't even think I'm selling it.

I'm just telling them, this is what I do and this is what I think you need. And so, um, you know, part of my selling points is that we're building an archive. You're getting a consultants, I'm hoping you build a strategy. Um, I'm specifically targeting a very, um, a very specific size of the organization. Um, that isn't too big or too small, right? They have to, they have to be at a place where they have some of their own money to throw around and it not be such a big deal, right? Like the mom and pop stuff in my neighborhood. I love supporting my neighborhood stuff, but they're not going to be able to support the luxury of being able to set up a video strategy. Right. And then the problem with the large companies is that they're so big that they already have agencies in New York and you're, it's just impossible to get your foot in the door.

You know, I do some of that stuff, but that is sort of a different brand of what I'm doing and I work with the people who are doing the creative stuff there. So. Yeah. Yeah. And so really finding that market for you was a key thing. Uh, principal you took away, you found out there's this middle ground between the big agencies in New York where they would just contract you to be a DP and the small mom and pop shops that can't afford five, six thousand seven thousand dollars a month and found that middle tier. And not only that, you recognize the value and how to communicate that to them. Right. I mean, the other thing that's important [inaudible] I mean there's all sorts of good stuff in your program, but you know, the, the, the important stuff is like, are we a good fit to work with each other? That's right out of your one-on-one class, right? Like, yeah, I don't want to work with people I don't wanna work with anymore. I mean, that's, that's what I get to say. If they're a pain, it's not worth maybe any money. Right. Yeah.

Okay. Oh, I forgot what the other thing I was going to say. Um, Oh, I know. I was going to say the other thing it goes sort of along is that to turn jobs down that like I just can't afford to leave my couch for, right. Like I know how much I'm getting paid for these other clients and they're paying me good money to do so, so I can't leave the desk or an opportunity to go do something for them or work, find new clients that are going to come through. I just can't go do these small little jobs that I might've been desperate to do a couple of years ago. And yeah. So that's sort of empowering to like to turn something down that okay, that's just super important. Like I just, I am, you know, unfortunately for the client that isn't going to work with me, I just turned them down this afternoon because I, I've got six other things to do that are, that are more lucrative.

So yeah. And that's a, it's, it's, uh, as with evolving your skills and you're what offers you have, right? You went from working a job at a newspaper to developing a skill to now offer video as a value to the newspaper. Did they going out on your own and starting your own company doing freelance video. That's an evolution as well. Then you moved into content retainers now and now as you're evolving your business, right? You start to see when you build the leverage in the proper way, um, you evolved the client that you're working with. As you've done, you know, you went from small mom and pop shop to now you have a system. You know how to go find the right clients, right, and you've increased your rates, you've increased consistency of being paid, and that is a never ending feedback loop. It's one of the most powerful things in your business.

When you take control of that, you can literally continue to climb to a point where you won't take a client unless it's $30,000 a month. Right? Of course, if you want to get to that level that is a [inaudible], we typically recommend that that would be, that would be the scaling thing. That is sort of next in the works, but this is sort of the idea of getting, sort of getting my feet wet, you know, and it's an easy way to do it when I had the money coming in. So, yeah. And that's awesome. So one thing I do want to talk about with you specifically, because this is something I notice you do that I think is really smart and not a lot of people know this or know how to do it. It's branding. You've got a very unique brand. How, how have you created the Mike Capco cap, your house brand, and how has that evolved over time? Well, you gotta be as good looking as I am.

Um, I, you know, I've been working on this brand here for a long time, especially doing my column in San Francisco. People knew that I was, um, as weird as some of the people I was telling the stories about. So I just started playing it up. I wear glasses, but yeah, I mean, it's not over the top. This is just who I am. I'm very a social. I get off on talking to people. It's exciting to tell people's stories. Um, and then I, you know, I think tweaking stuff with like what my actual personal message is. Um, it's sort of an I, you know, so one thing I did, I did get this from your, um, training is sort of building my own brand sales funnel. I actually have two websites, right? One is my kepco.com, which is if somebody is that agency, I have a lot of people that go and specifically looking for a DP, right?

I'm going to jump on their team for the day or the week and I'm going to go create awesome stuff for you. You pay me, I go away. I don't do any of the creative stuff. I have known the control. Um, and then down at the bottom I have a little green tab that says for full production stuff, go to KEPCO house.com. Right. And I, and I've seen, so I advertise myself as a DP through a different channel and I've seen a lot of people come to me through [inaudible], sort of my personal brand. And then that shoots them to the, so the full on production house where I, we talk about retainers and we talk about everything we can do and past clients we've had and where we want to take you. So

yeah, and that's really smart. I mean I do the same thing. It's Mr. Paul xavier.com first. Then it used to be my video agency after that, which was this Paul and savory international. And then from there it goes now to next level creators is the offer in the company that we've built four training. And so it starts personal leads cause I think the smart thing you're doing there and I'm curious to hear your thoughts and how you think your personal brand is benefited you. Um, from what I've done, I feel like the thing that benefits me with most is it creates a human connection first before accompany connection. I think that's important. Have you found that too?

Well, I mean like, so yeah, I mean I think people want to work with me. I think they see my face. You know, like when I was in San Francisco, I was sort of a guy that a lot of people knew because of the circles I ran in. And so I kind of built that localized celebs sort of concept. Not really, but I mean this is sort of pre social media and our our current day. But um, uh, but when I moved into the filmmaking world, I, I didn't really have any of that. I kind of kind of left my other circles and joined some new circles and so I needed a way to sort of invent that. The, um, what my personal website does is it, it's the street cred, right? It says that says where I won the Emmy awards, it says what I did for X amount of years. It says why you need this. And then it has a real, and then the other stuff is like professional, but nobody would like, I think a lot of people wouldn't be sold on just the professional stuff by its basic look. They need to know that, Oh, this guy has been doing it for 20 years. Right. Or he's been doing something creative for 20 years and look, other people have said, Oh, he's worth doing it. So by that it kind of, you know, both tools are working hand in hand for sure. Yeah.

Yeah. It adds that level of social credibility to you. Right. Mike capcha is the dude who's been doing this for a long time. His stuff is great and if you want to know more about how you can hire him, all these people say he's great and you can reach out right here. It's like that level of credibility through the roof on.

He just say, Mike capcha is great. More.

I again, Mike, CAFCA is great. We'll throw that into an app, toss it over to your right.

Damn, that's great. Let's do it. So,

you know, I think finding a personal brand is something that's really interesting for a number of reasons and you've distinctly done it with Ray ban glasses, awesome hair and um, also incredible video work two distinct distinctively, you know, differentiate yourself. Um, is there a specific reason you show? Is that sort of formula for yourself? Is this something that you, you find interesting, so you okay, you do it or is there

another reason? Well, I'm not, I'm not quite sure I understand that question. [inaudible] the Ray bands and look is just kinda God given I can't do much about that. Um, uh, the S the cinematic style or the photography that I do. Um, I mean, one thing I do, and I've noticed this with your new, uh, programs that you're pushing lighting and how to actually create some content that is kind of a step up. And that's, that's one of the first things I do to them, my potential clients is I say, Hey, I'm going to create you high quality content. Um, it doesn't mean we agree on where that's going to go or what we're going to do with it, or how are we going to edit it, but X amount of hours a month, I'm going to go out and we're going to create content with my fancy cameras and lenses and all this stuff that I already have an investment in.

So they're getting an added value there. Right. When I work with agencies, I, I rent all that stuff out. I don't know if you've ever done that stuff, but you, you have a day rate and then, uh, and then an in house rental rate, right? So all of that stuff just kind of gets added to the bill. So I already have that investment and they're already paid off. So I just kind of can show them that if you had somebody who didn't have any of this stuff, you'd have to go rent it or somebody else would just charge you for the rental fee anyway. But basically at the end of the day, I say, I'm going to create you stuff that either you don't want to create because you're too busy or, um, you just don't have the skills. Why would you do something that you're not good at if you could just have somebody do it for you and it's not any sweat off your back. So

time saving money in the longterm and also bring you right now, you, so that's, that's really smart. Um, as far as, as far as where you're going with your business, you know, you're six months in, you've done some really big things here with what you've learned. And, um, also just with your skillset and previous history, it was a great combination there. What are your goals for the next six months out? What is KEPCO house going to look like that,

um, you know, I'd like to get

a couple of more retainer clients. Here's the problem I'm having now, Paul, and um, uh, how much bigger can I grow by myself? Right? I'm getting, I'm believe it or not, getting close to the place where I want to make sure that my clients have the time with me because I think that's what I'm selling. Um, and so at what point can I spring somebody else? The first thing I would do is I'd have somebody to do editing for me so I could sort of get more clients or, or be able to take things more freely and not feel like I've got to keep my hat on everything. Um, yeah. Okay. You know, I, I have a, uh, an unofficial business partner in New York, um, and some of our big production stuff and I that would be the natural would be to have her do some editing for me and stuff, but I'm not really sure.

Um, what I typically look for in a service based company, the rule of thumb that I shoot for is always between four to six clients per individual person. You're at three right now. Um, so you would be hitting capacity at the five, six level. Now the reason that's a great business model to keep your agency at okay is because you can give a lot of great attention, love, have a deep relationship with a handful of people. Anything beyond a group of eight, typically the, the quality of the relationship starts to degrade because there's too many people to talk to. Right? Right. I used that same philosophy in my business. Um, I only if I'm going to be working with a new people, I try to keep it below seven. If it's an agency where it's going to be ongoing work, um, ah, in your situation, I'd be looking at the five to six in total per person Mark.

Um, so if you wanted to scale beyond that, you would hire a person in. When you get that six client or seventh client, you hire someone the same day and that person would immediately come in and take over any big work that's not mission critical in terms of communication that you're doing with all of those clients. And they're going to be that the manager, account manager on that level. Now at an agency level, there's a certain level of scale I recommend stopping at and this is entirely based off of preference though. So, um, again, I like to grow by growing with my clients versus growing by getting lots of clients better versus more in terms of the cash flows your company's bringing in. Um, so through that perspective you could hit five clients and just stay there by yourself, increase your revenues with them and just hire one person to come in behind you. It's what I did. And they manage the majority of that client relationship. Um, that produces enough for us to focus on creating products that requires zero or very limited or fixed amounts of time per week that are much more scalable, like perpetual programs or info products. Now not sure if that's the game you want to get into. That's why I say it's a personal preference. If you're going to go the agency route

you're looking at,

the more clients you bring on, the more employees you hire, the profitability decreases and the communication typically decreases over time and typically the results will decrease over time. So there's a fine balance here and happy to work with you on any of those.

So it's really up to you on what you want to do. Cool. Yeah, I saw that. Those are my thoughts. But um, anyway, I know one of, one of my favorite techniques in your, um, the earn the deal is the silence. There's nothing like silence you're good at, it gets people. That's a, um, that's a skill in journalism too. When you interview somebody, never fill in the gap, let them, let them tell you their story. Cause they'll break the silence before you do so.

Absolutely. Absolutely. You're good at it. You've definitely, you have the skills. So the final question here for today is looking back at where you were six months ago, would you recommend next level creators to someone else who's in in that position where you were and why?

Yes, but it's not easy. I don't think it's a, I think it's important for people to know that it's not a get rich quick scream. I think it's important for people to know that it's not a get rich quick scheme, you know, uh, at least not for the, the guy coming in on this. Uh, right. Paul. Um, I mean there is a lot of information that you've got to get through and there's a lot of soul searching that goes into this to decide how you're going to create a business. What's the right fit for? I mean there's a lot of different business models and your next level creators crew and um, you know, I see people on the Facebook page all the time and they're working on something that I'm not sure that I could do. And I think the other way around. So, but I think the important part of it is, is just the sort of general business concepts and the soul searching that I had to do to kind of get where I am. It was sort of like this awakening and I think that's, you know, I, I think you could sink some investment into a lot of different things. You know, I chose you because I was inspired by the messages you were giving. Um, but I think it's important to, to jump into something and get yourself excited about, but to do, um, it's super empowering. I think without information, um, you can't go anywhere.

I really appreciate that. I think that was a really good answer because yeah, you kind kinda hit the nail on, on the, on the head there with, it's a soul search. You have to find it in yourself, what you truly want. And like you said, everyone in the program is pretty much doing something different,

you know?

Yeah. We have guys working on projects I would never want to do, but they love them. And that's the best part about it is it's your own journey. So, um, congratulations on reaching the level you've reached with it. Mike, I'm excited for the next six months of course here. And um, any final things you'd like to share with other potentially future, next level creators or people in the community who are gonna watch this and get to know you on a deeper level? Um, don't be afraid to be yourself. I think that's the other thing I've learned is that as much as you can study somebody else's technique or worry about failing or being too much this or that, I think it's important that you know who you are. And I think that you're potential clients will know that too. If you're, if you're okay full of BS, they'll know it and you won't, you won't be working with them. So just be yourself. That's what I'd say from Mike. Mike capcha, ladies and gentlemen, thank you so much. I really appreciate it.
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