The business model that resulted from this research was tested by carefully checking it against eight important factors all successful business models need to contain to reflect on the model. Furthermore a SWOT analysis was written, examining the strengths and weaknesses of the position of my business in the market, that I came across while creating the supporting products. These products have also been reviewed on the degree of success by reflecting on the achieved results regarding the numbers of views, interactions and effects of the products.
All of the testing results and the adjustments to the business model that were made accordingly can be found here.
Testing Business Model
This research is targeted towards the goal of setting up a professional business plan in order to reach my short-term goals and start my professional journey once I’m graduated. This business plan describes how I can make a profit as an AV-freelancer, offering my products and services to the clients of choice, to become financially independent. The business plan is build up from 9 different building blocks, each describing a different element of how I’m planning to do my business. The power of this business model is its degree of clarity and its ability to quickly adjust one or more building blocks when my strategy changes along the way.
Additionally to the Canvas business plan I also wrote this explanatory attachment with guidelines to help me with long-term goals. These guidelines are based on conclusions that formed as a result from this research, and are substantiated with personal preferences regarding my travel and career aspirations. For example the personal goal to eventually earn my money with artistic projects instead of commercial ones, and the urge to travel a lot and the probability of having to do so on a low budget. I’m hoping to find a way to generate a steady and high enough income, to preserve sufficient spare time to invest in my artistic development.
Guidelines regarding legal and financial foundation:
- I will remain a Dutch citizen, with my company registered in the Dutch business market. I will refrain from leaving the Netherlands for a longer period of time than 8 consecutive months, so it won’t arise problems regarding my Dutch registrations. The near future plan is to spend my time in Europe (Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Berlin) in the summer months, and try to reside in Asia (Chiang Mai, Bali, Bangkok) during the winter months.
- To fund this lifestyle I will try and find an employer, preferably in the AV industry, that will hire me to work 2 or 3 days a week in a salaried employment. Another possibility is to apply to certain modeling agencies and try to get some work in the modeling environment. Both options will simultaneously help me grow my network and allow me to involve my own creativity to a certain extent while gaining experience in a professional environment.
- Alongside the sources of income mentioned above, I will also set up a couple of profiles on websites that offer the sale of stock footage, and offer all existing footage that I already shot that might be valuable as stock footage. I will hopefully slowly generate some passive revenue, and gain experience with what kind of footage sells well. In my next travels and creative project I could then actively choose to spend some time to shoot additional stock footage with the intention of uploading that to those websites.
- Any commercial freelancing assignments that might come along the way will still be valuable and I will examine its opportunities to determine if I want to accept them or not. With these assignments I will try to start with small clients and use each assignment to gain experience in the professional industry, and learn more about the communication between the clients and me. When I’m in Asia these assignments can also be barter deals to save on travel and tourism expenses.
- With the money earned from this business plan, a portion will be set aside to save up for new investments in AV equipment and protective gear.
Guidelines regarding artistic development:
- In order to obtain a status in the music industry as a valued music video producer, I will invest a lot of time and energy into building that status. I will do so by contacting strategically chosen labels and music artists to ask them if I can bring them value by producing a music video on the basis of donation derivative from what value they see in the end result, with the possibility of doing the work for free if they decide not to donate anything. I hope to open up a door in the music industry relatively quickly, and get noticed by the right people as soon as possible. Once those people will see my work and be impressed by it, it might mean them connecting me to even bigger artists in the industry that will help me make amazing things for them. An ancillary of the investments made for this goal is that the end results of the music videos could be sent to film festivals that focus on music videos and by doing so growing my name in more ways.
- I will keep building my social media channels, and continue the self-promotion on there. On my mixmaxminiclips Instagram (instagram.com/mixmaxminiclips) I will keep publishing personal artistic projects, and occasionally release some fragments of professional work. I will also start a new Instagram profile soon that will only showcase my modeling jobs in order to attract more modeling work through agencies or photographers that are scouting on social media. On this profile I will test some follower and engagement boosting services that I got offered to use by people I met while doing this research. To professionally showcase my work, a YouTube and Vimeo account will be made to attract a different part of my target group and have a channel where I can upload my work in a higher quality.
It fits the business need
My company exists of only me. And since I plan to be travelling a lot, I needed a business model which basis is not complex so that I could re-establish my core goals with a quick glance or adjustment. I wrote my business model according to the Business Model Canvas structure. This type of business model is simple and clear and all information in clearly structured on one page. It’s easy to find the exact bit of information you are looking for and it’s easy to modify a certain element in the plan. I really feel that a short and simple business plan like this motivates me much more than a 20-page business plan that is not an easy to-the-point read. So the business plan that I developed really fits the needs of my company.
It’s realistic. It can be implemented.
The plan focuses on my personal goals in my career, however this structure has been done before as lots of digital nomads have already done somewhat the same before me. This can be proven by the 6 interviews I did with creative nomads to inspire me, and of whom I based my own business model on. The plan therefore proves to be realistic, and could only fail if somehow my own qualities and abilities turn out to be insufficient to keep the business running.
The fact that I decided to keep my Dutch citizenship in the near future also helps to make it realistic, as doing otherwise could have been too complex to be implemented at this point. Traveling also gets more accessible every year, and the minimal setup of resources needed is also giving this plan more chances of succeeding. The rise of social media came with lots of new opportunities amongst digital nomads, and this helps the plan for this business a lot. In the early phases of this plan the revenue will mostly be generated from a side job to help finance the cost structure, which is low due to the nomadic style of living. I also have roughly €10.000 saved, which serves as a backup when needed. This makes the financial part of the plan realistic until any major setbacks arise.
It’s specific. You can track results against plan.
At this point the plan does not include any measurable data, planned deadlines or calculated budgets. Therefore this plan is not specific enough to be able to track the results along the way. Including some measurable (financial) goals and deadlines to achieve within the company will help improve the plan.
It clearly defines responsibilities for implementation
Because of me being the only employee in my company, the complete business model defines me as the responsible person. Until I decide to expand my company in the future by hiring additional freelancers, setting up partnerships, or even employ someone, there is no one else to be held responsible within my own set of tasks to keep my business running. The business plan with additional guidelines are written in a very personal way, and no one other than myself is mentioned to be held responsible for anything in the business model. Therefore the definition of the responsibilities is clear and should not form any problems.
It clearly identifies assumptions
The tone of speaking in this plan clearly indicates uncertainties, by using words as ‘try’, ‘hopefully’ and ‘possibility’ while describing the guidelines to reach certain professional goals. These uncertainties are assumptions of how the plan could turn out to be implemented, but are not determinative of the actual course of the plan. The Business Model Canvas makes it easy to change any building block whenever needed, making it a good business model to work with the assumptions and later on change them when the outcome turns out differently. Everything that is enclosed in the model right now is speculative and optional and it is never stated as the absolute unchangeable truth.
It’s communicated to the people who have to run it
This plan is written only for myself, as I’m the only one running this company. Communication between employees or management is therefore not needed. Must there ever be communication of the business model to possible newly acquired partners or employees, then this plan is easily shareable due to the simplicity and one page format.
It gets people committed
Because of the short and clear structure of the model it motivates me to run the business effectively. It makes it possible to remind myself in one glance what I’m doing and why I’m doing it. It does not distract me from my own goals, as they are written in the plan itself, and it will only help me to get focused on the right subjects if I get confused about whether or not I should lead myself in a certain direction in a later phase of this plan. However, adding some clearly stated goals for the business to reach in the near future could help me and possible partners get more motivated and committed.
It’s kept alive by follow up and planning process
The business plan currently misses out on the essential part of a visually built schedule that helps to keep an oversight of the time management of the plan. If no clearly stated regular checkups are written down and kept track of, this plan could end up in the drawer to never be looked again. The power of this plan is that it’s so easy to change, so it would be a huge waste if that power would not actually be used regularly. By planning moments to re-evaluate the plan, it will become much more flexible and less static, making it a better business plan. The plan could be improved by adding an additional chapter to the plan with a visual schedule of how the business plans to achieve its goals.
To guarantee quality and effectiveness of the business plan I asked two professionals currently working as creative freelancers to carefully examine and review my business plan. Erik Post, working in Amsterdam and being very successful with his freelancing jobs, read my entire graduation research and business plan. Jade Morssinkhof, who is also currently living her life as a digital nomad as an AV producer, also took the time to review the plan. I asked both of them to take notes of every positive and negative thoughts they had while reading the plan based on their professional insights. The following is a sum up of the feedback they had given me (re-written by me):
- The plan is stubborn in Max his own way, which makes it strong and personalised. He really keeps his signature style throughout his work.
- Having his own style is good, but he should be wary not to start working on automatic pilot if he keeps working in his own style too much. He should experiment more with other styles and different kinds of content. He may not want to share all of his work on his public social channels, but having different experiences with more kinds of content will help him add value to his qualities.
- He found a good way of staying stubborn with his vision and not ‘giving in’ to the commercial world, while also staying realistic with his plans and realising that sometimes commercial work just needs to be done to earn money. The concept of A-work to finance B-work is pretty strong and helping him a lot.
- Its really clear that the extensive amount of research he has done translated well into his business plan. He really took conclusions that he learned from his research and translated that into different ways of approaching his business.
- I thought that the stock footage revenue option was a pretty creative approach of earning money as a AV producer and I enjoyed reading that part a lot.
- I think Max has an interesting and rare approach within the AV business because he focusses so much on the niche of music videos. This makes him stand out in a good way, but his products are not really commercial hits yet, so he needs to keep close attention to making sure that the niche will pay off eventually for him.
- I like his choice of the business model canvas, its really clear and provides a good structure. However I think because Max added some extra guidelines (that are really adding value to the plan) he loses a bit on the clarity of the plan. But as long as he doesn’t mind and its still clear to him it’s no problem.
- His goals and deadlines are formulated and structured really clearly. But it could use a bit more concrete numbers next to his goals he would like to reach so he can reflect on them in maybe a year, to check if for example he reached the amount of clients or projects he wanted to have in a year.
- I miss a clear overview of travel expenses that should clearly be taken into the business model if he wants to work as a digital nomad.
- I think its a good choice to already set dates for the coming year on which he wants to review the business model to keep it up to date. It will help prevent to forget about it as he can now already put the dates in his calendar.
- The plan and the research results are pretty strongly connected, I can clearly see some of the conclusions from the results taken into consideration in the plan itself.
- I would have expected the explanation of the 3 phased structure to get interesting clients to be written in the business plan itself, not in the supporting products.
- Broad skillset in creative technology. As a result of my education, my skills and knowledge of technical possibilities are versatile. This makes me a powerful self-contained worker and easily adaptable in new projects.
- Organised. I have a strong sense of structure and I’m good in keeping my work organized.
- Powerful equipment. My setup of hardware is fairly powerful and diverse, especially after I make some of the planned investments in new gear.
- Artistic portfolio. The portfolio I already have is very strong and impressive from an artistic point of view.
- Travel prospects. As I’m freely living my life without any obstructions, my ability and desire to travel far and wide make me easily employable in rather adventurous projects.
- Weak network. I’m still building my network, and at this point I have limited connections to solve problems with.
- Commercial portfolio. My portfolio currently only consists of artistic work, and therefore no real experience or skills with commercial work can be proven.
- Anxious mindset. My tendency is to overthink and make my problems way too complex, which results in pessimistic thinking and self-obstruction.
- Small online reach. As I’m still building my online presence, the reach that I currently have is fairly weak.
- Limited luggage. While travelling, I am limited in the amount of gear and personal belongings I can carry.
- Growing demand for video. The rise of video and the growing demand for quality content gives me a huge customer segment and job prospect.
- Rise of remote working. Digital nomads are a relatively new group of workers, and the industries are rapidly growing in favor of this group, giving more opportunities for my business to operate in.
- The Internet. No matter where I am, the Internet offers me a great communication channel that allows me to always find a niche that’s looking for my service.
- Technical development. New technical developments could help me operate my business in a more productive and effective way.
- Dutch citizen. As a Dutch citizen, I benefit from a good social security and health system, and pay a relatively low tax rate.
- Technical development. The fast paced technical developments could also mean more competition, as simple tasks I perform might become obsolete and easy for my clients to fulfill themselves. I also need to keep up with the developments to stay on top of my game.
- Legal issues. Travelling to different countries could put my business at risk when operating without the right legal visas to work there.
- Health issues. As I’m the only person in my business, I’m highly susceptible to loss of revenue when I get health issues that make it unable for me to work.
- Travel risks. Travelling to foreign places comes with an increased risk of getting robbed, kidnapped, scammed, or mistreated by corrupt cops.
- Greater talent. There is always the risk of new or better talent taking away my clients.
The business model has been tested on quality by checking it on the 8 competences of a successful business model, and by writing a SWOT analysis of the position of my business in the market. Arising from the test results came a list of adjustments to be made to the business model to improve its quality.
The adjustments that should be made:
- To complete the plan, the following missing elements should be added:
- Clear business goals
- Calculated budgets
- Planned deadlines
- To track results and prevent the plan from ending up in the drawer, a clearly reoccurring review should be planned to re-adjust and evaluate the plan.
- The plan was missing ‘the Internet’ as a key resource for the business to run that should be mentioned.
The adjustments that could be made:
- Making the plan more clear and punctual by adding a visual time based diagram with the goals, deadlines and budgets included.
- To improve readability and clarity, the most important aspects of each building block could be highlighted.
Testing Supporting Products
Roughly 40 new followers
Received 95 likes on the video
Mostly meant new engagement and raised awareness of my brand and my quality.
Roughly 80 new followers
Received 119 likes on the video
This video meant a great raise in exposure, as a result of posting it in an active Facebook group.
Also the fact that I documented a sensational news story helped to get seen more often.
I think the clean but impressive Instagram feed also had its positive effects.
This video is yet unreleased on my channel and still in production, making it impossible to test it for now.
Roughly 50 new followers
Received 90 likes on the video
Working with an influencer and 3 other girls with active Instagram account helped a lot for exposure.
The fact that these pictures got reposted on a couple (big) Papuan Instagram accounts also helped, though it did not really help to reach my target audience as it mostly meant new followers from secluded Indonesian islands.
It seems as if pictures work slightly better on Instagram than videos.
This video was not released, making it impossible to test its reach.
Roughly 10 new followers
Received 42 likes on the video
This video did not perform well, presumably because of the failed connection with Pretty Poison.
I also think the somewhat vague thumbnail had some negative effect on how many views it received.
Roughly 20 new followers
Received 50 likes on the video
It looks like these posts did not perform very well, as it was a bit more branded than my usual posts.
It also wasn’t reposted anywhere except for the brand page (which has a very low reach).
It did build my commercial portfolio a little bit.
It also helped me to build up a modelling portfolio, in case I decide to give that direction a shot.
This project is still in production, and therefore impossible to test on its reach.
One of the most important things I concluded from these results is that getting your work reposted on big channels are the quickest way to gain exposure. However, it should be noted that not all big channels offer the right exposure, as a difference in target group could mean a lot of new followers that don’t engage at all. Another way of bringing more effect with my own products is by actively reposting it myself in groups that could potentially be interested. Especially when I visit a new place and need to acquire a new network locally, a good approach is to find a local Facebook group to repost my work. Influencers also offer a great effect regarding the exposure and possible new leads.
Whenever something major happens around me, I should always try to capture it as good and quickly as possible. This could bring lots of exposure and good footage to experiment with.
These results show something that has been proven long time ago already, but is still something to take into consideration when promoting my work. Sex sells, and the more I show attractive and (almost) naked girls in my content, the better they seem to perform.
Showing too much or too little of the brand or company I’m trying to reach or promote will have a negative effect on what I’m trying to accomplish. The sweet balance seems to be to carefully examine the brand message and aesthetics before creating something, but not overly bombarding my target audience with its message or products. More experimenting on this topic definitely needs to be done.
A catching thumbnail (preferably with an attractive girl) seem to work wonders for the view and engagement count.