Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
AromaKat

Going Freelance....

Recommended Posts

If you are just launching out into the unknown for the first time, you should probably expect a period of free-fall before your chute opens. When I started freelancing years ago It took me 3-4 months to start getting good gigs (remote work is harder than on-site), and I was pretty sure I had made a mistake that whole time.

Hopefully you have some savings or other sort of pad.

 

People only call right when they need you, and often don't respond to reel submissions, etc because they are swimming in reels. That is normal, but it feels pretty terrifying at the time.

 

What eventually happens (hopefully) is they file your reel away and make first contact on a low-stakes project when they can't find anyone else. You then impress them and go on their "A" list instead of "last choice" list. When you make the freelance A list in the eyes of any given producer/client, things get a lot smoother. Do that a dozen times and you'll have regular clients all the time, and your choice then becomes which project to turn down and how not to offend the producers and projects that you turn away.

 

All of this assumes that you do GOOD work and make your clients happy EVERY time. As a freelancer, your track record has to hover around 100% success rate whether thats animating a project or producing good (not necessarily winning) boards for a project. If you create any drama for a client in terms of not living up to expectations or being flaky, prepare to not ever be called back.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was staff for 3 years at the same place just like you and was scared to death about going freelance but once I talked to like a million freelancers and got a good feel of what to expect I just jumped in head first and it was the best choice of my life. If your in LA theres more work than freelancers it feels I get hit up everyday and I cant even refer any of my friends because they are all booked up also. I know its not always busy like this and freelance isnt for everyone but in my experience I've been working non stop for the past year even taking on gigs at night when i'm booked during the day. If you can do solid work and dont have a rock star mentality and people enjoy working with you once you get in a few places they will almost always ask you back. Make a lot of friends int he industry also because I know in my network we refer jobs to each other all the time

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
If your in LA theres more work than freelancers it feels I get hit up everyday and I cant even refer any of my friends because they are all booked up also

 

 

Thats good to hear.

 

So how does one get on the roster of these studios? Just send them a reel? Wait for a posting? I hate to be intrusive, but hate feeling like I'm not being as proactive as I could be either.

 

On disc or a link within an email? I would like to avoid discs if possible because I can constantly update the online reel.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey man, congrats!

I think, as far as marketing yourself is concerned, you need to get a real handle on what you want to do. Saying you're a freelancer is about as informative as saying you're a worker, and I don't really know what a "multimedia developer" is. That could be a bit of a problem because most of the time, it's a producer's job to get out there and find the people that a studio needs, or it's otherwise the job of someone who doesn't necessarily know how to distinguish two reels from one another. Someone's going to tell them "we need another AE animator" or "we need a designer for this pitch" and the producer is gonna go look for an animator or a designer, not a multimedia developer. I mean, you might get lucky, and someone might get desperate and give it a chance, but don't play just to luck.

 

So while you're starting out, you probably need to state very clearly where your value lies. You need to do this by applying an appropriate title to yourself, but you also need to prove it in your presentation (ie your reel etc). Right now your materials and your presentation don't really communicate where your value lies. If you want to be in production, then tell people that you're in production by presenting like someone in production. Feature those skills. If you want to be in design, feature those skills. You could work as a jack-of-all-trades, but you'd need to convey your value in that way. Are you trying to get studios to notice you, or are you looking for direct clients? Figure out your audience and then figure out what you need to do to speak directly to their needs. Weed out some work. Cut your reel down. Do everything you can to focus your audience's attention on the fact that you're a designer/animator or a maya generalist or storyboard artist. You could be any combination thereof, but make sure that visitors to your site understand that, because again, saying that you "do motion graphics" means about as much as me telling you that I do cars. Down the road you'll have some networking done and your work will sort of speak for itself and you can probably be a bit more ambiguous in the presentation, but don't be mushy about it just yet.

 

With that said, why not just condense your "works" page and your "main" page into one? List your roles on each project instead of telling us what the project is. We'll figure out what the project is if we choose to look at it. We can figure out if it's a video or a print piece. But we don't really know your place in it. Even if you're the sole creator, just list the roles anyway. Concept/Design/Animation/whatever. That will reinforce what you do and how much of a powerhouse you are at it. Again, it won't always be necessary to be so explicit, but no one knows you just yet, so help them out.

 

And remember that the way you feature your stuff tells people what's important. Right now your reel is first and foremost, but I don't necessarily know what I'm looking at when i watch it. It plays like you haven't decided what you're good at. You show me some design/animation, then you show me some greenscreen compositing, then you land on something for a while like I'm supposed to be looking at design, and so forth. Tell me a story like "this is what I fucking do, right here, and i'm fucking good at it". If you want to do UI design and AE production because you think web studios, for example, have a need for that kind of person, then tell me the story of how sweetly you've pulled that shit off in the past. If your reel is first and foremost, then you're probably an animator or something. If you're showing images of logos, you're probably a designer. If you present a wall of different things you've sculpted out of wine corks... blah blah blah. Just figure out what the order of importance should be, if any, on your site, so that you convey your specialty.

 

And lastly, try not to show anyone your presentation until it's ready. In an emergency, get it as close as possible, but if it's not an emergency, just make sure it's where you want it before you show it. We've all seen your reel now with the crappy intro, and your bored jaggy site header, and that's the first impression. Most of the time you're not going to get a second. That's not meant to be scary or anything, it's just a general rule. Smart realtors won't show apartments or houses unless they're in the condition they're to be sold in, because the first impression is like quick-dry cement. It's hard to chip away once it has set.

 

Sorry, that's kind of a disorganized shotgun blast of ideas. Hopefully there's a moral in there somewhere for you. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Binky, awesome. Thanks for taking the time to write all that up. I didn't notice the jagged lines in the header. Thanks for pointing that out.

 

I understand what I believe to be your general concern - which is what the hell I do exactly. Multimedia Developer was my last job title - and its basically a corporate world position coined by people who think a "designer" should be able to do websites, print design, video production, video animation, UI design, etc. Basically anything creative - from design to completion. I never agreed with this mindset, but theres nothing I can / could do about it, so I am just trying to work with that unfortunate fact, and market myself as a "jack of all trades". I know you are right though, its just going to be a hard balance trying to constantly pull in end-clients as has been my after-work freelance model marketed toward people who don't necessarily know nor care how it gets done, and marketing toward studios with as an animator - which is what I am primarily looking to do, but can be conveyed to end-clients as a cartoonist, which I am not. I thought about splitting the two entities - the specialized version on my name site, and another on the domain of the incorporated entity that all direct clientèle business goes though, but I that would pose a problem showcasing my work as Adam the employee on the company site, giving the wrong impression of client-base.

 

With time and clients, I think things will start getting weeded out, creating a more refined message. There is a lot of web development, etc that I do not showcase because I hate it and don't care to be hired for it. Due to the wide array of projects tasked with in the past, and not a lot of any single particular skill, I was really going for more of a credibility / time of experience thing there.

 

Quite a dilemma... But thanks for the much appreciated constructive criticism. I think I need to spend the rest of the long weekend tweaking the reel and site / figure out exactly how I can somehow make a compromise between your concerns and the marketing requirements for my current client-base, whom I kinda need during this transitional process until I get a local client base.

 

Any particular pieces in the reel stick out like a sore thumb that should be dropped?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you're going to fix the jaggies in your header, spend some time on it overall. You've placed it as if it's a logotype with tagline under it, which it essentially is. So treat it with some care, the way you would a proper logotype. The legibility is inconsistent, the typography is generic in a way that's not interesting in itself, and there's no treatment of it which would otherwise signal any skill or initiative. When dealing with minimalist design, there's just that much more scrutiny given to what's there and what's not there. You may be an animator, but people want to be assured that you have some aesthetic sensibility as a foundation. Give what you have some care, cuz that's all there is to form an opinion from.

 

Remember that you're presenting yourself to the world. You didn't exist before this. It's your debutant ball. So make yourself extra extra pretty so people remember you as the sparkling maiden of virtue that you are. Or the black-haired corsetted harlot with witchery in her eyes. Y'know, whichever. But make it right and make it clear so your impression is strong. Over time you'll evolve this impression, but this is the time to seize the potential.

 

If you want to be an animator, then sell the shit out of your animation skills. Everyone else who doesn't know their ass from a show open is going to expect you've got the rest of the package, apparently. So you may as well cater specificity to those seeking it, and let the blind and clueless think what they will. Someone else may have a better idea how to handle that.

 

As for the reel, just carve it so that it's a roller coaster of rad animation. You're not featuring design, so don't make us watch anything that's just sitting there. Show us your moves, and nothing else. When you're done, the ride is over, everybody gets off, throws up on each other, yells over everyone else about how awesome it was, and gets right back on. The viewer should be sweating by the time you're done whipping them around. So what's your roller coaster going to do? Is it going to spend a bit clack-clacking way up some giant ramp while the kids in the front start squealing cuz they know what's coming? Is it gonna explode out of the gate backward at 130mph? Whatever it does, it better not stop unless it's to build tension right before exploding again. It better go from vertical corkscrew straight into plummeting upside down dive to blacked out underground cave rocketing into double loop and then going completely fucking airborn over a lake of sharks through a wall of fire and slamming to a stop. Or if that's not your style, make a meandering water ride, but it better be entertaining or no one's ever buying a ticket.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
With time and clients, I think things will start getting weeded out, creating a more refined message. There is a lot of web development, etc that I do not showcase because I hate it and don't care to be hired for it. Due to the wide array of projects tasked with in the past, and not a lot of any single particular skill, I was really going for more of a credibility / time of experience thing there.

 

Quite a dilemma... But thanks for the much appreciated constructive criticism. I think I need to spend the rest of the long weekend tweaking the reel and site / figure out exactly how I can somehow make a compromise between your concerns and the marketing requirements for my current client-base, whom I kinda need during this transitional process until I get a local client base.

 

Not that I can really add anything to what Binky said but I thought I would chime in because I have been in a similar position not that many years ago. I started doing jack of all trades kind of stuff and for a while my marketing reflected that, but you really can end up in a situation where if you try and be everything to everybody you end up confusing people and losing work because of it. If you give people too much choice often they end up passing on you altogether. For me anyways things changed a lot when I started marketing myself as what I wanted to do not what I had done (obviously you need the skills to back this up), I think this is another one of those scary leaps of faith you have to take, everyone's situation is different but for me this made all the difference. Your existing client base already knows what you do so you won't lose them and then you won't run the risk of confusing new clients. There is a big danger too that if you introduce yourself to a studio as a multimedia developer they will always see you that way, it's hard to change that first impression.

 

If you want to hedge your bets you could say "Animator & Multimedia Developer" or even list a few specific things you do but at least you are giving people specific skills they can hire you for. Everyone's situation is different but I followed that advice of being more specific in how I marketed myself and for me anyways it worked. A good way to think of it is people always want the expert. Your roof is leaking who would you rather hire a general mister fix it or a roofer, I'd go with the roofer. The funny thing is I still end up getting gigs outside of motion design (editing, color correction, etc.) and being more specific hasn't really hurt that.

 

Also just to reiterate another one of Binky's points about the website. I find if producers or whoever are going through tons of reels they can't really keep all those reels in their heads, by the time you actually meet them often all they will actually remember is the design and branding of your website if it's memorable. It doesn't have to be complicated, but if you can make something unique that says something about you it really helps you cut through everything else they are looking at and helps you stay top of mind. A lot of times when I end up getting called in somewhere the first thing they will mention is my website.

 

On disc or a link within an email? I would like to avoid discs if possible because I can constantly update the online reel.

 

Forget discs. You want the shortest distance between someone and them seeing your reel. Send a link. I usually include a PDF of my resume so if they are the kind of person who needs something physical to file away somewhere they can print it and file it.

 

I send my reel out cold, apply for postings, network with people I know. Do anything and everything you can to hustle for work. You never know what is going to stick. I have sent my reel out cold to places not heard anything back and then gotten a call out of the blue a year later. But like Binky said make sure you have cut the best possible reel you can before you blast it out because that is your first impression.

 

One thing I would lose in your current reel is the shots of the talent on the green screen. When we see the finished shots we get that the talent was keyed, showing them on the green screen interupts the reel without really adding value.

 

Hope all this giberish is helpful.

Edited by anothername

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Adam,

 

I'm sure you'll have no problems working into the freelance market. Might I suggest however, that you add your direct contact phone number to your contact page on your site. I noticed it on your resume page, but only a form submission on the contact page. I know from personal experience, when booking talent or agencies, direct contact numbers on readily accessible reels/websites can make the difference between a distraction on my end = disruption to just phone you up.

 

Best of luck to you mate-!

 

D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just a quick note about insurance. Check out Assurant. For a family of 3 we pay ~750 per quarter, with 8000 max out of pocket in a year. Obligatory Testimony: I just had an ordeal of encephalitis-grand mal seizure-heart attack (yeah, at 34), and they held up their end of the deal fully. CoPay is 20% iirc.

 

As for your website, check out your Vimeo settings. It is saying i don't have permissions to view content.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
As for your website, check out your Vimeo settings. It is saying i don't have permissions to view content.

 

Your not the first person to say that, but I have checked 3 times now, and tested on other's machines and all seems fine. Is it all videos or just a few?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just to add my 2¢ to all the other good suggestions: One of the big challenges of freelancing is managing cash flow. Assuming you have enough total work to get you through the year, you can still end up in tight spots since the work won't always be consistent. You can be crazy busy one month and dead the next, etc. Clients also pay on widely varying schedules so it's possible to be slammed for months on end and still be waiting for checks. I've been fortunate enough to have been consistently busy for the last several years, but it's not uncommon for me to go 3 weeks or more without any checks coming in. If you can manage to keep a cash buffer to cover at least a couple months worth of expenses, this will go a long way to giving you peace of mind as well as keeping you out of debt. Living month to month is a bad idea in general, but it's an insane idea for a freelancer.

 

Also, be disciplined about setting aside around 30% of your billings as they come in and making your quarterly tax payments on time. It's easy to skip a quarter or two when cash is tight, or you need to buy new equipment or something, and then be facing a massive payment on April 15.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Just to add my 2¢ to all the other good suggestions: One of the big challenges of freelancing is managing cash flow. Assuming you have enough total work to get you through the year, you can still end up in tight spots since the work won't always be consistent. You can be crazy busy one month and dead the next, etc. Clients also pay on widely varying schedules so it's possible to be slammed for months on end and still be waiting for checks. I've been fortunate enough to have been consistently busy for the last several years, but it's not uncommon for me to go 3 weeks or more without any checks coming in. If you can manage to keep a cash buffer to cover at least a couple months worth of expenses, this will go a long way to giving you peace of mind as well as keeping you out of debt. Living month to month is a bad idea in general, but it's an insane idea for a freelancer.

 

Also, be disciplined about setting aside around 30% of your billings as they come in and making your quarterly tax payments on time. It's easy to skip a quarter or two when cash is tight, or you need to buy new equipment or something, and then be facing a massive payment on April 15.

 

 

Thanks. I am fortunate that all of the stars seemed to line up for me at this particular time, with a few gigs that should carry me well for a few months, and have some left for padding.

 

Yesterday I ran into an article about LA3D's event on Friday, with the topic being on legal and financial advice for freelancers, so I bought a ticket. Is anyone else going?

 

*Edit: Actually, I cannot find any real info on this event. Just links that say "free legal and financial advice at the next LA3D party".... But the ticket was $20, making me wonder if its an event I have been previously unaware of which will have a few CPAs there trying to sell their services or something..... Anyone know?

Edited by AromaKat

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just to add my 2¢ to all the other good suggestions: One of the big challenges of freelancing is managing cash flow..

 

Good thing to consider. One thing I recently started doing was to set up a separate checking account with a weekly transfer, like a salary. Mine is a business account, but yours doesn't have to be if you don't have an INC or LLC. Any separate account will work.

 

This takes all the guesswork out of tracking your income. It's nice to just glance at my business account and see that I've worked ahead of my "salary" by 8 weeks or so, or if it's running low, it's a good indicator that I need to take on more work or start making calls to people who are late paying.

 

Not only does it give you a better feel for how your business is doing, but it also helps you to set goals. For example, you can choose to pay yourself as much or as little as you want, but a good place to start is setting an income that will cover all your monthly expenses and see if your business can outpace that. It will also keep you from blowing a big payment on something you can't really afford.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Bumping up an old thread here. I finally made a new site / reel. Figured I would share.

 

Binky... all of the other crap is gone now. All thats there is animation goodness. laugh.gif

 

 

Spent the holiday weekend building the new reel cut and site. I think I have a pretty good layout going, specific to what our needs are... "Get in, show off, break it down, heres my number..." I'm wondering how you all feel about my approach.

 

Not really looking for a critique on the reel here, more the site layout. But hey, if you want to love on it, or hate on it, you are more than welcome tongue.gif

 

 

 

http://www.AdamElder.tv/

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Bumping up an old thread here. I finally made a new site / reel. Figured I would share.

 

Binky... all of the other crap is gone now. All thats there is animation goodness. laugh.gif

 

 

Spent the holiday weekend building the new reel cut and site. I think I have a pretty good layout going, specific to what our needs are... "Get in, show off, break it down, heres my number..." I'm wondering how you all feel about my approach.

 

Not really looking for a critique on the reel here, more the site layout. But hey, if you want to love on it, or hate on it, you are more than welcome tongue.gif

 

 

 

http://www.AdamElder.tv/

 

Wow huge upgrade. Great job. Your approach is perfect. Content is king, and as someone who's had to look through a lot of portfolio sites, I can tell you the more your reel is front and center, the better. None of the other content matters until you've at least proven something with your reel.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Much better than what I remember! I wish your name was a bit bigger.. Seems like with the height of the top bar you can make your logo and the type larger

 

Bumping up an old thread here. I finally made a new site / reel. Figured I would share.

 

Binky... all of the other crap is gone now. All thats there is animation goodness. laugh.gif

 

 

Spent the holiday weekend building the new reel cut and site. I think I have a pretty good layout going, specific to what our needs are... "Get in, show off, break it down, heres my number..." I'm wondering how you all feel about my approach.

 

Not really looking for a critique on the reel here, more the site layout. But hey, if you want to love on it, or hate on it, you are more than welcome tongue.gif

 

 

 

http://www.AdamElder.tv/

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

well done for taking the plunge! now you can look forward to many days sitting around in front of the tv in your pants (with your laptop of course)

 

in all seriousness, all i can see is it can seem daunting when you have no work, however it really is best to embrace these times and use them productively for your own projects. When the work is piling up and you can't see a way out, you will dream of a time when you have less on !

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It would be nice if your name stood out more, at least using the same value as your links.

 

I'd prefer to see a playback bar at the bottom so that the video can be scrubbed. I also think looping the reel is not a good idea. Treat the reel more as a consumable package, and not as a standing art installation. I was a bit miffed when I started seeing the same things over again (before I realized what was going on)

 

Good luck with everything!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
It would be nice if your name stood out more, at least using the same value as your links.

 

I'd prefer to see a playback bar at the bottom so that the video can be scrubbed. I also think looping the reel is not a good idea. Treat the reel more as a consumable package, and not as a standing art installation. I was a bit miffed when I started seeing the same things over again (before I realized what was going on)

 

Done and done.

 

 

I know what you mean about the looping, but its kind of there as a solution to the intro / outro still being in the oven.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...