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semifiction

NYC Freelance Advice

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Currently I am staff at a company that has merged a number of times and has seen better days over the past few years. I am contemplating the idea of going freelance in order to hone my craft and ultimately have the chance to do better work within the realm of Motion Graphics / 3D. I have my own reservations about this though as I have been working with the same team for quite a while now. The only reason I can justify staying where I am at is that it is a steady job with good pay and the office relationships.

 

Some questions for any New York City based freelancers:

 

1) Have any of you started staff somewhere and made the transition to a successful freelancer, and if so how did it shakeout with your employer at the time?

 

2) How did you market yourself in order to get booked on jobs at different shops?

 

3) What applications did you specialize in at the time, and did you change any of your skill sets once you made that jump to being a freelancer?

 

As of right now I use AfterEffects and Cinema4D most days. Though I have been teaching myself XSI and have been using it on some home projects as well as some basic Nuke. In the long run I want to get more into commercials either on the 3d or Compositing side of things.

 

Have a look at my site / reel: www.semifiction.tv

Any input helps. Thanks!

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I've seen this question a couple of times and am surprised there have been no replies.

As an in-house artist who eventually wants to go full time freelance myself I can definitely relate. Take what I say with a grain of salt, as I'm in a different market and have only been motion designing for 3 years.

 

There are a couple things I would consider after reading the little I know about your situation.

First, you mentioned that one of the draws to freelance is working on better projects. This won't happen over night. You can't quit your job and say "here I am NewYork, give me your best stuff." In fact, the most recent agency I started working with is highly established here in PHX, and several other locations, My first project with them was basically a throw away on their end to see how we worked together. There are other people who are already doing what you want to do in your area, I know of Dan DiFelice as a great 3d animator and compositor, and that's just off the top of my head from someone who doesn't live in new york! ( vimeo / dandifelice ). Agencies stick to what is working even if it is more money unless you give them a reason to switch. Every client I've worked with in town has worked with someone in my area who is great at what he does. It has taken time to give them a reason to switch to me, mainly lower pricing on lower end work, but I'd like to say I'm a pretty cool guy too! Take competition into consideration before quitting that day job.

 

Secondly, you might not like it. I've known people who just didn't like the business aspect of it, maintaining client relationships, the phone calls, quoting, cutting losses when you quote poorly, fighting for your design when they pitch it poorly to the end client, paying for all your own stock/software, hiring out for modeling, or for sound design and lastly, my final hurdle to make the switch... paying for insurance... I've gone after freelance for the past 11 months and am finding I love it, but the learning curve is steep to get your name out there and learn how to maintain/cope with these added details. Some people are just not cut out for it.

 

Thirdly, I encourage you to approach this venture as starting a business. This is essentially what you need to do unless you want to get screwed that extra 7% on taxes for endless w-9 misc. work. Also, telling a potential client you own your own business, and to make checks out to semifiction.tv, here is my EIN is more impressive than "I'm a freelancer, make the check out to me, here is my SS"

 

So my suggestion is this. start picking up clients and try it out. Get some good relationships. be very particular about what you take on and who you work with, and charge more than you think on every first job and deliver it hard, well, and on time. Then use the extra money to buy the CD and owner a gift. This will set a precedent that you are not the cheapest in town, but they'll never have to worry about quality and the gift will let them know you're pretty cool too. Lastly, read Quitter by John Acuff. Seriously, download it now. It gave me incredible insight into how much I love my job! Not what you would expect from a book called quitter, but it also gave me practical steps to getting there, in due time.

Edited by Biederbeck

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