If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a moving picture may just be worth millions! Video has the potential to reach out to your customers, to advertise your merchandise, and to tell your brand’s story. But most companies don’t have professional videography equipment or video editing experts on their teams — meaning they need to look for outside help to create those spots.

There are three main avenues for a business to source video services: a full-service production house, do-it-yourself websites, and freelance contractors. Each choice has pros and cons in terms of quality, reliability, and budget, so think about your business’ needs in order to choose the right option for your brand.

1. Full Production Houses

The traditional route for creating a video is working with a production house that can handle all aspects of a spot, from filming the footage, to editing and adding computer effects. There is a wide range of quality and pricing for companies that select this option, so be sure to have a budget in mind before you start shopping around for a partner.

Many national video production houses offer expensive packages for beautiful clips, but some also have budget choices that let brands create a high-impact video without breaking the bank. One example is Motion Source, which has a special Value Videos option. But you can also go local and still have great results, often for less money and time than a large studio. For example, Lightswitch is a Chicago-based company that shoots on location for an hour, then sends the finished video back to the business within 10 days.

Searching online for “video production companies” within your city will probably yield plenty of options. Take a look at the portfolios of your choices and make sure you have a good impression of what the production house can accomplish before you make any commitments.

2. Self-Service Web Video Production

If your brand doesn’t have the budget to shoot original footage, there are still ways to get a high-impact video. Some production companies specialize in self-service videos which let businesses create spots themselves. Animoto and AditAll are two such services.

Animoto makes animated graphic design videos that serve as a backdrop for still photos or other video clips. Companies can include their own accompanying text to personalize the spot. AditAll takes this idea a step further by supplying stock video clips and soundtracks that can be mixed into a unique ad. It also has options for adding narration or brand logos to the spots.

These self-service brands are solid options for companies that want the perks of online videos. It’s also a more cost-effective way to keep a steady stream of new videos available on your brand’s website or blog. Even when using stock or pre-made clips, try to push for some consistency in the look and attitude of your videos, just as you would with your photos and images. These spots are still part of your branding, so make sure that your voice comes through.

3. Go Freelance

Searching the freelance market is often a good solution when you’re working on a creative project and don’t have the required skills in-house. Videographers and video editors definitely fall into that category. There are a several good options for businesses looking to connect with independent contractors.

One is a San Francisco-area job board called SmartShoot. The new service is specifically designed for brands to browse local filmmakers and photographers to tackle projects. There are also several similar services that are not focused on a single industry. Elance.com or Freelancer.com are two general sites that help businesses post the contract work they need done and search the profiles of professional freelance workers.

There is always some risk in working with an independent videographer instead of a full-scale production house, so we’d recommend going for this option with a small, inexpensive project to start. If you can get good word of mouth recommendations, or are able to build a secure working relationship with a freelancer, then you’ll be in the better position to start working with them on your more complex video concepts.

Got any tips for getting top-notch online videos? Let us know in the comments!

[Image credits: Zach Dischner, Amrufm, Victor1558, Moyerphotos]