“Getting started in freelancing (as a videographer)” by Zoe.D


My advice: don’t quit your day job.

In fact, get a small side job!

I moved to my current residence after studying in college so when I got here, I had ZERO contacts. And having no contacts is the worst possible thing for a videographer. It means no clients, no work/projects, no income. But more importantly, it means no challenges, no growth and development as a freelancer/artist.

My side gig was at a warehouse, stuffing paper into women’s purses (you know, to fluff them up or something) and stacking huge boxes of these purses into shipping containers (you know, the kind Dexter’s mom was killed in). It was laborious, time consuming work and though I hated it most of the time, it was humbling work. I met a few interesting characters at this gig too.

A small, somewhat mindless side job will get you some cash so you don’t have to depend wholly on your parents and still leave you with enough energy at the end of the day to still go work your freelancing gig on the weekends.

Start with a small job for a family member or friend. You might have to do this for free but do it anyways. It’ll be the start of your portfolio. (The great thing about doing things for free is that if you f*** up, it’s not a huge loss because you weren’t paid in the first place! Don’t take that as a reason NOT to do a good job, but think of it as a sweet, sweet cushion in case you do fall.)

Once you complete that first project, ask them if you can use them as a reference. Maybe have them write you a testimonial you can put on a reference page or your website. Then ask your first client for other contacts. You can then cold call the new contacts and offer your services.

There’s also Craigslist (which I hit up A LOT in the beginning). It’s admittedly sketch but there are some legitimate jobs out there and worth applying for. I applied for this one gig and though the company tanked before it could hire me, the guy I spoke with ended up hiring me for a completely different thing. And it’s been a continually growing relationship surprisingly. (More on the not-so-successful gigs later…)

The important thing is to keep trying, to keep putting yourself out there. Trees don’t become great from a single trunk but from the many branches that reach out.

Did that metaphor work? I thought it was pretty clever…

-Zoe.D

On the next IU Freelancer’s Diary: self-respect for beginners and professionals

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