Freelancer Diaries: Self-Doubt

Zoe here! Man, it’s been a LONG time since I last blogged – many, many apologies! I wrote a blog that never got posted because I wanted to revisit the idea before putting it up but it’s stumped me ever since. I finally had some time today and was determined to sit down and work through it – so here goes:

A few weeks ago, I was all down in the dumps because I had no gigs on the horizon; and in my mind, that means I’m useless.

This, of course, is an exaggeration of my abilities (of anyone’s, really) but I’m highly critical of myself and couldn’t avoid it in my mind.

As a freelancer, being gig-less has serious financial repercussions; but more importantly, I was stunned by how hard I was struck morale-wise.

When you freelance, it’s just… you. You take full responsibility of the success for failure of your “company” – i.e. you. And yes, life throws a few monkey wrenches along the way but regardless, that’s pretty overwhelming to think about.

At the same time, though, I find that this responsibility drives me to push myself creatively and continue learning everything I can about cinematography, editing, Photoshop, color correction, typology, graphic design, etc, etc. Continually learning makes me a better freelancer/artist.

Sometimes it feels like I’m at the mercy of my clients who can either throw me a bone and give me some work or simply ignore all my emails. But the more tips and tricks you have up your sleeve, the better your work will be and the more likely people will want to hire you.

Anyways, I made use of my free time and put together an updated and beefed-up DP reel that turned out to be well worth my time. Not only was I impressed by the variety of my footage but also how much I had improved since my straight-out-of-college DP reel.

It really came in handy when new clients showed up at my door (not literally) and I had a fun reel for them to check out. (This DID lead to other gigs by the way.)

Freelancing moral of the day: Beef up your online presence, keep your chin up, and keep on learning what you love.

PS: I recently learned about and which are sites that post your resume online and help you find gigs. The catch is you have to pay to join them. So… I guess… happy networking! It’s free!

PPS: IU Readers – how do you deal with the downtimes?

PPPS: Brilliant fellow writer for IU Christina had this to add:

I just watched my hero Ava DuVernay (aka the FIRST Black woman to win Best Director at Sundance) give this great talk and thought of you. The overall theme is desperation vs. passion, which is definitely something I’ve had on the brain.

She rewinds to three years ago, when she was first starting out and admits she reeked of desperation:

“Some of us don’t even know we’re wearing it. If you spend more time in the day thinking about what you don’t have than working with what you do have, then you’re acting in a desperate manner and you’re not doing. I didn’t stop being desperate because things started going my way. I changed my mind and things started going my way. By not pursuing “the other”, it left me hours and hours and hours to actually create work. The only thing that moves you forward is your work.”

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