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CC Rider
06-03-2010, 08:28 AM
Just started out on my own a few months ago. I've been in the film/video business for over 20 years so I know how to do the work, but I was not prepared with how stressful it would be. Most of this is probably in my head and I'll just have to adapt but rather than having more free time to enjoy life it seems there aren't enough hours in the day anymore. Any free time I do have I can't enjoy because I feel like I need to be doing something productive to keep $$ coming in.

I have a couple of good clients so far and everything is actually going as expected. I hope when I get a couple more regular clients I can begin to chill out a little. I actually didn't write this just to vent or whatever...I have a question for those of you who have been where I am:
I know that the conventional wisdom is that networking is the best way to promote yourself in our business, and I agree to a certain extent, but that just seems like a very passive way of marketing yourself...to depend on word-of-mouth to find it's way to your would-be clients. Have any of you found success with a more direct approach to prospecting/marketing? Cold-Calling? How do you find decision-maker without looking like a stalker?

I'd love some advice from someone who's been there!

Hieron
06-03-2010, 09:15 AM
Networking/word-of-mouth can work absolutely perfect. Nothing wrong with a passive approach if you are busy enough already and the network itself keeps growing. One of the big benefits I think, is that everyone is more bound to eachother and more friendly. No one would ever think of pulling a trick on the other either. It requires a pretty sizable network though.

If you do want to pursue another market you have no leads in, I guess you would need a more active approach. But I think you will have to be prepared to put in quite some hours. Perhaps you could check around your network and see if anyone has a job in said industry.

Stress is common though.... downside to doing it yourself. You'll get used to the fact that every job seems the most important job yet etc. Just make sure you toughen up vs clients and keep plenty of time to get stuff done with some time for you and your family as well. And charge for extra work or they'll suck you dry :)

JeffrySG
06-03-2010, 09:41 AM
Welcome to the world of being a business owner! ;)

Any way to get clients is a good way... networking, word of mouth, marketing, cold calling... you have to pick the ways that work best for you and your style and personality. Sites like Linkedin can help if you have some contacts in the industry already.

Sarford
06-03-2010, 05:04 PM
I used to do a load of cold-calling to get jobs. It depends on the economic climate on how successful this is, but on average I'd say 1 in a 100 calls can become a job. I got some clients that way who gave me lots of work over several years.
You have to know the structure of the business you're aquisiting in. Decision makers aren't always the head of the company. At advertising agencies (my business) I usually ask for the art buyer, trafficker or creative director, and most of the time that gets the job done.

You really have to get rid of that feeling that you need to keep on working every moment possible. If you can't enjoy your time away from the job cause you're afraid to loose money, that feeling will eventually kill the fun of being self employed and make your life pretty miserable.

And get a buffer of money for at least six months, cause if you have a client that will pay within one month, you are in luck, most will pay later (two to three months), some will pay very late (up to six months), and every now and then someone will never pay.

Titus
06-03-2010, 06:32 PM
All I can say is: Hakuna Matata (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ejEVczA8PLU)

Titus
06-04-2010, 08:11 AM
As an employee I remember the: Yeah, it's payday!

Now it's: Oh, payday!

heynewt
06-04-2010, 03:09 PM
You really have to get rid of that feeling that you need to keep on working every moment possible. If you can't enjoy your time away from the job cause you're afraid to loose money, that feeling will eventually kill the fun of being self employed and make your life pretty miserable.

And get a buffer of money for at least six months, cause if you have a client that will pay within one month, you are in luck, most will pay later (two to three months), some will pay very late (up to six months), and every now and then someone will never pay.[/QUOTE]

:agree::agree::agree:

Yeah, I've been self-employed for 21 years now. It's never easy (and the last 1.5 years have been worse than any). Couple of things:

1. Get out of your house as soon as you can. I worked from home for 5 years, and I finally rented office space in a post-house. So much more productive, and you feel less like a freelancer and more like a business.

2. Building a client base takes time. While you're doing that, it's always tempting to lock onto one client who gives you a lot of work. That's a really comfortable situation, and it keeps the daily stress at at bay. But if you find yourself in that situation, save your money and try really hard not to burn bridges with other potential clients. Because one thing I've learned for sure, clients always eventually go away. It might take 10 years; They in-house the work, the guy who hired you leaves and the new guy has his own CG people he wants to bring in, the client goes under, new CG people come in the area and undercut everyone to get market share. It's always something, but eventually they go away so diversify your client base.

3. The real payoff of being self-employed for me comes when I have enough work to turn down the people I really don't like working for or the jobs I really don't want to take. That might happen for 3 months a year. But for those 3 months when I'm working for people I like and respect (and respect me) on projects that inspire me, I think how great it is to be your own boss.

The other 9 months, well you just get through them.

Rayek
06-05-2010, 01:42 AM
I have been freelancing for pretty much my entire career - I tried 9 to 5 jobs in an office, but those are not for me.


1. Get out of your house as soon as you can. I worked from home for 5 years, and I finally rented office space in a post-house. So much more productive, and you feel less like a freelancer and more like a business.
Completely agree - though there are other ways: I teach part-time, and working and interacting with others is immensely important for me. My students force me to keep up with the current trends and technology - which helps me in delivering better results for my clients as well, and keeps things more interesting.

In my experience the workload is never ever balanced: one month I am working 80 hours a week, the next perhaps 10. This can be frustrating, but is part of going freelance. Some advice: you really MUST drag yourself away from the screen, even during busy times. During the short periods of 'regular' jobs, I was literally forced by my bosses to take a break - due to my freelance life, I got used to no breaks at all. It's counter productive, and WILL break you - believe you me, that is something you will want to avoid (happened twice to me). And every extra hour of work during night time has to be payed back double.

In short: set yourself working hours, and STICK to those hours (well, for 90% of the time ;-). Though as a freelancer, especially someone just starting out, you may be scared out of your wits to not take on every job that comes along and break that rule all the time. It IS one of the hardest things to do, but stick to a time schedule, just like a regular job. The advantage is, you're the one deciding on the schedule. For example, I do my best work late at night - so I tend to take the morning off.

Anyways, good luck - and remember: TAKE A BREAK. The mind needs play time as much as anything else!

CC Rider
06-06-2010, 08:17 PM
Thanks guys...all sound like good advice. As I said, I've been in the business for a long time, but always as a full-time employee. I was just surprised at the emotional toll that it seems to be taking. I actually heard many people say it before I made the move, but I guess that's one of those things that you have to experience for yourself before you really understand...
I'm sure I'll adapt after a while.
I like the idea of getting a separate space rather than work from home, but that won't be a possibility for a while most likely. But I'll keep that in mind!

Thanks again guys! It's nice to hear from those who have been there!

Chris