Hi, I'm Dave, the Freelancer Advocate. I teach prospective and current freelancers, especially those who want to work creative industries (video, design, photo, copywriting, web dev, etc) to build their careers and protect themselves from mistreatment. I consider it a personal victory every time an accountant or insurance adjuster realizes their dream of making a living through their photography or writing- even though the vast majority have no idea who I am and have not received help from me in any way- I just like to take the credit.

I spent a decade as a producer and editor of TV, film, and video. I worked primarily on documentary/doc style TV and advertising, serving some of the biggest brands (eg. Suntrust, Audi, Facebook) and television series (eg. Hell’s Kitchen, Biggest Loser, Tanked) in the world. In 2016 I founded Black Chip Collective, which helps connect video professionals to clients. I met some cool people, my work has been praised by folks like Harrison Ford, Daymond John, and Nick Offerman.

It took me a long time to realize that I was an expert in freelancing, but with all the different perspectives from which I'd seen freelancing- as a successful freelancer, an unsuccessful freelancer (I spent my first 8 months as a freelancer without finding a single job), a hiring manager, and a de-facto recruiter- a number of things had become abundantly clear to me that seemed counter intuitive even to other successful freelancers.

I started out by mentoring some of the freelancers who worked for me and giving some live presentations, but more recently it has led me to write articles, start a podcast, and create online courses. With the exception of the comprehensive courses, the content is free, and most everything can be accessed through my site: Freelancer Advocate

So ask me anything about freelancing, creative industries, editing, producing, working in reality tv, this massive resume experiment that I'm doing and haven't mentioned and this is a weird place to bring it up, or my dog Ellie.

Proof

EDIT: Ok, Reddit you win. I'm tapping out for now. I'll try to come back and check for some questions that I haven't answered later tonight.

Comments: 521 • Responses: 67  • Date: 

Quigleyer198 karma

I work in freelance, here's my work. My income is almost entirely commission and in my field it's shamefully work for hire until the cows come home, however:

A few times I've wound up with the copyright to the cover of a product that hit it big and the client set up for himself a semi exclusive deal- I can sell the copyright to the same people he has sold the rights to the game to. This game has been made into two or three languages other than English now and every time I have to make a deal for the rights for those people to use it.

I know how to write the contracts, I cannot figure out what the appropriate value to sell them is. What does an expert on freelance consider here?

I was so desperate one time I tried to contact Ralph Horsley to see if he'd help a nobody, but alas...

Reno-_-78 karma

I'm not 100% clear on what you do- make art for video games? I like your work, though.

I'm afraid it's a bit outside my area, in any case. Situations outside work for hire are very open and shut in TV and film- either you're getting paid partially with backend points usually union s or you make something on spec and try to sell it. So I can't help you with a price, but I am wondering why work for hire is shameful? Are you not getting a high enough rate? are you trying to build a passive income?

Quigleyer49 karma

I'm a freelance illustrator creating illustrations for people who work predominately in pen and paper roleplaying games, but I work almost exclusively for an ebook Amazon self-published guy right now painting concepts for monsters and aliens for his books.

Work for hire is "shameful" because I went to school with people who were trying to teach me to be an editorial illustrator and they would always say, "never do work for hire." I know, funny- right? Like who were they working for they didn't have to deal with that? (And the fact they all said that and then I left school without the knowledge of how to answer this question is double-funny).

Thanks for looking at this, I know it's weird and nuanced and you're not the first nor last I've asked. I'll figure this out...

I'm not necessarily trying to build a passive income, I'm past my eyeballs in work at the moment and love riding the commission wave. Truth be told I honestly was not even aware I had the copyright to the piece in question until someone e-mailed me, having gotten my contact from the publisher, to try and buy the copyright.

Reno-_-35 karma

Well that's cool. My first instinct, if you don't want to work for hire, would be would to be to look for a partner rather than a job. Create a product together and share the profits. I'm totally unfamiliar with your product so I wouldn't want to get more specific than that.

roudyrod87 karma

At your current job as an advocate, do you have health insurance?

Reno-_-80 karma

I do. I was on marketplace insurance since it rolled out, but my fiancee's company allows me to get insurance through an informal domestic partnership. It's not all that much cheaper or better, but I don't have to deal with the covered california people, which is nice.

murfburffle87 karma

I just want to do nothing all day. What you got?

Reno-_-210 karma

Become a seal, they seem pretty chill. Not a navy seal. A literal seal.

Jaxtaposition9278 karma

What is the first step to taking the plunge into freelancing? I would assume it’s taking on work while balancing a full time job or some sort of advertising. I’m curious what you suggest.

Reno-_-155 karma

The first step is, especially in creative fields, to put together a dynamite portfolio. That's the key piece of what I call a 'candidate packet', which is everything you might share with a potential client.

I definitely recommend you start with side work unless you have industry experience and at least 12 months of savings. Freelance starts sloooow. It snowballs, but those first few jobs are far and away the hardest. Hopefully you'll educate yourself more than I did and it won't take you so long to find your first job, but even experienced freelancers should keep 6 months of savings on hand. Because shit happens.

digitall56524 karma

What does a dynamite portfolio or candidate packet look like? I've been getting work from some contacts but I'd like to market myself better. I have a variety of content... copy/translation for brochures, press releases, blog articles, sports journalism.

Reno-_-54 karma

It is, aside from quality work, targeted.

You know how they say you should write a resume for each specific job? It's similar with a portfolio. Except that'd be mad overkill, so you can have like 2-3 different ones that you share with different prospective clients.

NeoVictorianic77 karma

What Javelin do you use? Ranger? Interceptor? Storm? Surely not the Colossus

Reno-_-79 karma

I don't know what is going on right now.

brutalgash55 karma

My passion is podcasting about a particular subject that I love. I work full time, so I record, research, and promote my podcast in my spare time.

It's an extremely over saturated market, and yet I know for the first time in my life that if I was somehow doing this full time for money, I would genuinely be doing what I love.

Have you worked with anyone in this situation before? What advice did you have for them, and do you have any for me?

Many thanks.

Reno-_-72 karma

I don't want to be a dream killer, but even popular podcasts can be hard to monetize. A strategy you might consider would be to look into doing some work, on a contract of full time basis, for some of the really popular media outfits- NPR, APM, etc

Fareley44 karma

Is becoming a freelancer to work as a helper for freelancers kinda like becoming rich by writing and selling a book on how to become rich?

Reno-_-32 karma

That would have taken way more planning than I am capable of.

bmault43 karma

How can you get me out of being a public school teacher and into a job where I can actually be respected?

Reno-_-131 karma

If you want to be respected you definitely do not want to be a creative.

iia40 karma

Hey Dave, thanks for doing the AMA. I don't have a real question for now, but do you think you'll be adding a SSL certificate to your site soon?

Reno-_-27 karma

Probably not, but mostly because I only vaguely know what it is.

justifun68 karma

Well for one it will help stop your site leaking email addresses of those who sign up for your newsletter :P

Reno-_-46 karma

Ejecto_seato_cuzzz33 karma

I am a copywriter who is currently trying to take the leap. I've written the copy for two websites, ran a blog, and run my own personal blog. What is the hardest obstacle you see for copywriters?

Reno-_-80 karma

Saturation is difficult to overcome for copywriters. Everyone thinks they can write. Most of them are wrong, but that doesn't really help.

My advice would be to specialize early. Pick a lane and OWN the ever-loving shit out of it. A 'website copy' copywriter is a lot more compelling than a copywriter who can write website copy.

ShadowyPirateCapt36329 karma

Hello! How do you put in your resume the various contracts you have done, without the resume looking like you quit a job every 3 months?

By this I mean, as a freelancer, I put in the various contracts as separate jobs: Company A (Feb 2016 to May 2016), Company B ( June 2016 - September 2016) and so on, instead of saying Independent Contractor (2015-2019) followed by the Company A and Company B as dot points, but I have been informed by friends that this may put off any recruiter??? What has been your experience in resume writing?

I work as a social media manager freelancer in the TV/Film industry and evemts industry, so contracts averages 3 months in length in my small city.

And from one dog lover to another, hi Ellie!! Dogs are the best anti anxiety mechanism, especially when being a freelancer is such a high anxiety work system... I dread the job search moments after a contract finishes.

Reno-_-61 karma

It shouldn't put off recruiters hiring for a freelance position, but yes, full time recruiters are bastards about freelancing because they think you're a flight risk.

My resume rule is this- if the contract is less than 6 months, incorporate it into a general 'freelance' line item. You should have 1 description bullet that names your most prominent clients. If it is longer than 6 months, it gets its own line.

And a tip- I know hours can be long in the TV and film industry. I've done many a 100 hour week. But you shouldn't be waiting until a contract is over to start looking for the next one. You should build yourself a sales funnel that is low impact enough that you can work it Every. Day. regardless of if you're working or not.

ShadowyPirateCapt3639 karma

I can no longer afford to be a free freelancer this year so I have to start going for full time work, at least to be able to finance myself for a while. I'll give your resume method a shot, thanks!

A sales funnel that I can work on every day... that'd be a perfect support for freelancing. Going to wrack my brain and Google for this. Not sure how to produce a sales funnel in film/TV industry, other than film video reviews or film news blogs combined with Patreon. Not skilled nor qualified for either of that. Hmmm... will try and find something, cheers!

Reno-_-9 karma

Leads for a sales funnel don't just have to be inbound- they can include outbound inquiries as well. Job listings, cold calling, networking, etc.

SkySarwer23 karma

What are some of the best platforms for freelancers and employers to connect? Or what is a generally good methodology for freelancers to find employers?

Also how does the global marketplace affect the local economies of remote work? In other words what are good measures that a freelancer in, say, North America can take to not be outsourced by countries with different currencies and lower cost of living?

Reno-_-56 karma

Upwork, Guru, Freelancer, Fivver, Freelanced... they all suck. They're garbage. I'm not saying that you can't dig around and find the 1 real client in the sea of cheapskates, and people have done this successfully, but you're just as likely to get lost in the noise of the 300 applications on that real client. I'd avoid them entirely.

If you want to use online platforms to find work, and I understand the appeal, try traditional job boards and sort for temporary and contract work. They may have less freelance jobs overall, but they attract a much better quality of client.

You kind of alluded to the answer of your second questions with your first question. Try to find work locally. Network. Ingratiate yourself in the local professional community. Someone is far more likely to hire someone they know and trust. If they're going to outsource, they're going to outsource. But if they've got the budget to keep it in the country you want to be the one they think of.

KodamaNuki11 karma

What traditional job boards do you suggest?

Reno-_-25 karma

Indeed, Google for Jobs, and there is almost always at least 1 good, industry specific one.

coffee_code3 karma

thoughts on Mandy.com for post production? seems decent but not sure how legit it is from the outside perspective. You're able to send requests for verifying work too. just never know if its worth mentioning when contact a company. I sometimes throw it in after linking my portfolio to say that I've got verified credits for x/y/z. you also have to pay monthly in order to get full access -_-

Reno-_-10 karma

I haven't looked at mandy in a while but the last I saw they were "TV and film pro" and charging people a monthly fee to see their jobs, which, no thanks.

Staff me up is better. More production work on there, but the majority of the jobs, at least, pay decently and are from the kinds of clients you want to work with.

333rrrsss14 karma

How do freelancers compete today when going up against small Indian companies, offering a much lower price, faster delivery and have a whole team of people?

I've been on lots of freelancing sites and discovered that all the Indian based accounts are actually teams of people. The pricing is ridiculous, for example, accounts offering $50 for a website and delivery within 3 days.

Reno-_-25 karma

If you've ever worked with any of these outsourced companies you know that a local or semi-local freelancer has a very clear competitive advantage.

Let's say the potential client is a producer at a digital agency. She has a budget of 100k. She can outsource to india and do it 90k under budget or she can hire locally and come away with the standard 20% profit. She's definitely going to go with the local

Her job isn't going to be in jeopardy if she uses all of her budget. But she has to manage these freelancers and that's going to be a massive pain in the ass if they're in India. Additionally if they come back with a crap product, she's either slapping her agency's name on it or going over budget and blowing up the whole timeline.

Pahanda14 karma

Hey Dave, thank you for doing this AmA. I'm a freelancer myself and work in a wide variety of branches: Photography, Graphic Design, Artistic field, Video Editing, Web Design. I'm a generalist and I like that. Though I sometimes get the impression that people don't take you serious if you say you can do all of that. On most of my projects, I collaborate with experts in the field because I know where my limits of knowledge and skill are. I graduated three years ago and managed to live off freelancing already in the first year of graduating.

Would you suggest focusing on one field and become a specialist or stay a generalist? If I would, I'd prefer photography but the market is kinda down... Any thoughts are appreciated!

Reno-_-28 karma

Absolutely pick a specialty. You're right, people trust you more when your focus is more narrow.

If you really like being a generalist and you already working with experts in each field, it sounds like you might make an excellent producer. Producers manage projects and oversee work- in ad agencies there has been a push to make producers more general, handling video, design, web, etc. This might give you the opportunity to stick your hand in all of the pies without needing to commit to any of them.

Pahanda8 karma

Thank you for your response! Yes, you are right! When you say producer, do you mean Project Manager? (sorry, non-native English speaker) Currently I'm overseeing a large web project where I do no coding at all, just do the planning, communication, contract etc with the client. It's fun as well :)

Reno-_-8 karma

That is, in a large part, what producers do, yes. Some kinds producers, like myself, also provide creative direction. Some kinds do 'client service' work as well. Producer is a very overused title so it probably wouldn't matter if English was your first language, it means too many things.

skelmbos13 karma

Is it possible/feasible for a law student to do freelance work drafting contracts, setting up bills of costs or doing other law-related things?

I’ve checked the law on practicing without a license where I live and I shouldn’t run into any trouble in that regard. Just wondering if there is anyone who’d be willing to hire a student.

Reno-_-10 karma

Disclaimer: I have no idea what the legal rules are and am trusting you looked them up correctly.

Absolutely. Advertise the service, not the student. Clients see you through a tiny keyhole- they know what you want them to know. If you tout your competitive advantage (in this case I'm guessing it is price, but it doesn't have to be) the fact that you're a student becomes secondary.

mark9090912 karma

How would you recommend a prospective freelancer create their first website? Is Wix the way to go or are there better alternatives?

Reno-_-39 karma

I'm not a website guy but this is what I have heard from website guys. Never. Never. Never. Use wix.

Squarespace will get the job done (fair warning, I've tried to make 2 sites in squarespace and literally punched a hole in the wall both times out of frustration) Wordpress is much more flexible. It's what I use but it does take some development time, even if you buy a theme.

gentlemans_dash5 karma

Damn. I really like how wix works. Is the seo element crap?

Reno-_-15 karma

Yeah, and it isn't responsive, which is insane in 2019. Plus a bunch of other stuff that was technically over my head.

Jerk_hardwick9 karma

Hello. I am a freelance video director. You can view my work here [jeffhadick.com](http://)I have been freelance for the last ten years and have been pretty successful. I was essentially repped by a single company that provided 90% of my work. That company has since restructured and is hiring production companies instead of individuals. I am seeking advice on how to get in front of other companies. I do the usual: networking events, talk to friends in the field, cold call production companies. It’s just been painfully slow. I was wondering if you had any ideas of how to get in front of other clients? (I hope that link works. I’m using a new app).

Reno-_-13 karma

That link did not work, but I got there in the end.

You're doing the right things, and it is slow. Especially for something pretty much everyone wants to do, like direct. But you may need to work on your positioning and targeting. Looks like you're kind of all over the place in terms of the projects you direct. You may consider focusing your lane.

And, I never recommend this to new freelancers, but since you've been at it a while, it might be time to create a company and sell a product rather than a service. You've got a portfolio, I assume you have crew you like to work with, you pretty much just need a DBA and you're in business. A product is, for sure, an easier sell than an oversaturated position.

Jerk_hardwick3 karma

Thanks. Creating a company has been on the table for a while and might happen soon. I will look into narrowing the scope. I’d love to tack on an extra question. When do you think following up stops being advocating for yourself and starts to become annoying? Exmp. I meet with an industry rep through mutual friends. We had a great meeting. She even told the mutual friend that it was a great meeting. She said she would get back to me next week. She didn’t. I followed up politely. She replied politely. It’s now been a month. How much do you badger and how long do you wait? Don’t want to be forgotten but I also don’t want to be a burden.

This is a great AMA. Thanks for doing it.

Reno-_-5 karma

As someone who fields emails from literally hundreds of freelancers, she'd ignore you if you were being annoying.

Every week should be fine but there should only be 2-3 emails before you see progress. Try to schedule another 1 on 1 meeting or phone call- there is no point in stringing along a dry lead. A fast no is always better than a slow maybe.

alieoli9 karma

Hi!

I’m a photographer and sadly graphic designer for a big corporate environment (boring corporate style guide).

I’m trying to break through and work as a photographer. I’m not garbage, but I can’t seem to find a way to just dive in.

I also live in Europe and here the economy is ghastly.

Any tips? Should I Specialize?

Reno-_-14 karma

Absolutely specialize. I can't say I know much about the european scene, but people always trust a cardiologist more than a GP when it comes to heart issues. Additionally, as you narrow your target, the places where you can find them become much more obvious and it's easier to direct your attention to them.

Also, think about what markets you're trying to break in to. Here in the US, most new photographers shoot for B2C markets like weddings and family portraits. And that's fine, certainly a low barrier to entry, but they're crazy over-saturated. A product photographer would have much less competition.

I'm sure you're more than 'not garbage', too. Clients pick up on your confidence, so let's see some swagger.

FictionalForest4 karma

Product photographer here, finding difficulty in getting interested clients. I've got a portfolio which I'm building, but unsure how to get in touch with busineses and where to find them

Reno-_-5 karma

This is an exercise that I always thought was stupid until I actually did it.

Create an 'avatar' of your ideal client. What industry are they in? What product do they make? What size company are they? Are they using a digital agency to manage their website? Who is the person in charge of hiring product photographers? What is his name? Is it Jeff? What does Jeff like for breakfast? Where does he hang out?

Once you have this target, it will be a lot easier to narrow down where to find Jeff's friends. Generally you're probably going to find success networking, but you should definitely try to target the right places to network.

alieoli1 karma

Thank you for that... mind if I keep poking your brain?

I’m not even sure where to begin with product photography.

I’ve been dabbling with equestrian, but I’m seriously afraid of not getting paid or not earning enough. I have shot a couple of “famous” people and my photos seem to be well liked but I’m still nowhere near getting hired.

Do you have any idea where else I can get extra income with my work?

I do okay video editing/shooting as well... do you think that’s a way to go too?

Thank you :)

Reno-_-7 karma

Product photography is just an example. Basically you want to find the intersection of- what you're passionate about, what you're good at and what there is demand for. Find your lane before trying to find clients so you know where to look for them. The more narrow your target, the easier it is to find out where to reach them.

Don't try to add new skills, hone the one you have. The man who chases two rabbits catches neither. And, this is the opinion of a jaded video pro, but photographers who started shooting video always frustrated me because they had a limited understanding of specifically video elements like camera motion, rhythm, and audio.

HateToBeABuzzKillBut7 karma

what are some things can i do as a partner of someone who is first getting into freelance to help them succeed?

My partner and I recently hit the road traveling the US in an old renovated camper. I work full time as a software engineer, and my partner is trying to get into freelance writing and editing. she copy-edits books for a major publisher, but there can be weeks between projects.I support both of us financially, which i have 0 problem with - I know she will do an amazing job when she can build up a larger client base.My questions is more along the lines of what other types of things (outside of just being generally encouraging) can I do to help with the times when work isn't coming in?Thanks in advance!

Reno-_-6 karma

Patience is everything. The first bit can be brutal but as long as both of your expectations are realistic, that it takes time to build a client base (extra points to remind her of this). She'll feel less pressure to succeed right away and just generally be in a better place.

freshoutofgravitas6 karma

I'm a musician, I write and play guitar, banjo, viola, mandolin.
I have concerns about copyright hijacking. One video was posted on Facebook years ago, and recently other band members shared files through fb messenger. What resources do I need to claim and uphold my material as mine?

Reno-_-7 karma

Disclaimer: I'm not an attorney

There are formal, legal ways to do this but they can be expensive. Informally, posting it on social media is the modern version of mailing it to yourself. It offers dubious legal protection but is better than nothing.

Generally copyright concerns are overblown. People aren't usually likely to steal your shit unless they can turn around and sell it in its current form.

jessterswan5 karma

Can you find me full time work building gundam models with full health plans?

Reno-_-17 karma

Why would a gundam model need a health plan?

SexyDSLR5 karma

I love video editing and have 500+ subs on YouTube. Any advice to pursue my passion of making online videos? Currently doing my graduation. Thanks! :)

Reno-_-8 karma

Making online videos is a very different career path than a traditional video editor. You'll have to decide if you want to be an editor or a content creator.

I might be too much of an old man to help you become successful as a content creator, but I have 1 tip I can share about building an audience. Find other content creators who have a similar audience demographic as yours and collaborate. This will allow your subscribers to cross pollinate, so to speak.

daynightsavings5 karma

how did you break into the industry? I've heard it is very difficult unless you know people in it and work for free for years.

Reno-_-19 karma

It can be difficult to break in, sure. But I didn't know people, I met people. Networking is extremely important. I got a strong majority of my work from people in the industry.

It helped to have blue chip experience at a major ad agency before I became a freelancer. But as a freelancer I clawed my way up, rung by rung, from shitty craigslist jobs to slightly less shitty jobs, until I was the youngest editor at Discovery. It's like 80% hustle, 20% talent.

HoPMiX5 karma

Im a full time commercial editor and sound designer that freelanced for nearly 15 years before taking a salary position. I worked substantially more as a freelancer because my fear for work drying up far outweighed my need to make my own schedule and call my own shots. Do you advocate freelancing over taking a salary position when you’re not dealing with someone who’s new to an industry? What’s your tips for work life balance in a freelance roll? What’s your strategy on health coverage since that was by far one of my biggest worries as a a freelancer.

Reno-_-6 karma

I've found that the opportunities are very often better as a freelancer, and, as you said, the money is better. However, some people can't stomach the uncertainty. There is no shame in that. I've also done a number of things that were bad business decisions but great life decisions and I don't regret any of them.

My work- life balance was terrible as a freelancer. I quit my first full time job because I was working 90 hour weeks. But then as a freelancer I started working 110 hour weeks. I was making like 7 times as much, but still. It was untenable. After about a year of steady income I was able to settle it down. My strategy was to build a system to cultivate work that I worked every day, with a current contract or not, that took about 30-40 minutes. This helped me feel safer and I felt much more comfortable turning down work if I was already booked up or I wanted to take a day off because I could be confident more work was on the line.

Before AMA, my strategy on health care was to have a catastrophe plan and hope I didn't get sick. The ACA wasn't perfect, lord knows the administration is terrible, but it helped me secure real coverage at an affordable rate. I don't know how it's going to play out in the future, but it's still shambling along for now. It helps to be marrying someone with a full time job.

free2015 karma

How can I make money marketing? I'm very specialized (less than 100 in the USA) and good at what I do. My main issue is I hate talking and selling new clients. Any advice?

Reno-_-14 karma

We pretty much all hate selling new clients. I'm afraid there is no real way around it.

Really, the way to mitigate is to start targeting clients who you can be relatively sure will have extensive need for you in the future. That way, at some point, you can reach a critical mass and you will have enough recurring clients to minimize new business.

BeckWreck4 karma

How do I get my music to game and film companies? I've been doing small projects for years, but no one ever gets back to me from the big guys.

Reno-_-6 karma

There is an over-saturation problem in film with composers. I imagine it is the same with AAA game companies. I gotta give you guys credit though, nobody hits up my linkedin inbox like composers and voice actors. Lots of hustle.

2 things:

-Try to work it like a ladder. Don't try to jump from small projects to massive ones, but rather look for some larger indie projects that you could get involved in.

Start building relationships rather than trying to get a job right away- sure, with people with big film and game connections, but also other composers who are having success. With luck you'll find a mentor off of whom you can draft. Some people call this person a rabbi but I have no idea why.

Greynudeblue4 karma

Hi I just started getting my profolio together as a freelance creative writer and artist. I’m overwhelmed with the fact I have nothing professional to put in my portfolio. I’ve had a few poems published, but I’m old school, I have 1000’s of writings and drawings by hand but barely any completed projects on pc. I just started learned how to use the apple pen for my art and all these freelance app startup videos are clogging my senses. I have so many questions, but I’ll start with just.. how do I begin with my work? Do I start posting it in my portfolio? Does it work that way? Do I scan all these drawings into my files? I feel like I have so much work but don’t know how to direct it. I am a beginner in this industry and there’s so many people with so many projects under there belt. How do I charge for my work? I worked hard on everything cause they were all made for myself or some emotional release. I’m sorry I’m all over the place , I should’ve kept up with all the new programs but I do everything by hand, how do I start to build my business?

Reno-_-6 karma

You're not going to want to hear this, but creating work for your portfolio starts now. Spec work is less effective in gaining clients than you might hope. Don't just chuck it all, but you don't want to feature it if you can help it. Volunteer for some non-profits. Collaborate with or assist another freelancer doing what you want to do.

You'll get there.

jingg4 karma

So I started filming my own “HGTV-style” home renovation show where I interview fix and flip investors on their latest project. I would love to continue making new episodes, but each episode costs $$$$ to produce. I hire a freelancer to film and edit everything, but I handle the basic script, coordinate with fix and flip investors, etc.

I’ll eventually have to find sponsors to help with the costs, but I don’t even know where to begin. We’re still making the first several episodes before I start releasing them on a weekly basis on YouTube.

Should I start looking for sponsors now with no proven audience, or should I just release the first couple of episodes, promote it the old fashioned way, and then start reaching out for sponsorship? I’ve been told by the investors I’ve interviewed to also try to pitch the show idea to Netflix/Hulu/etc, but I don’t even know where to begin with that either. Hah

Reno-_-6 karma

There are two main paths to take a project like this to network or streaming:

1) Sort of what you're doing, try to build an audience on social media so you have a proof of concept. If it gets popular enough, they'll be coming to you. This could take months or, more likely, years, so it would be better to find a partner who could take some ownership of the show rather than paying out of pocket.
2) Get some established industry folks on board and pitch a pilot. With an existing product, this might be a little easier to get some people on board but it will still be difficult and they will take creative control.

alamana4 karma

Is there a particular way/site that you think is best for showing clips, etc? Or does it matter, as long as you have them?

What kind of dog is Ellie?

Reno-_-6 karma

It doesn't really matter, but I still prefer Vimeo for hosting.

Ellie is a shih tzu/cavalier mix. She is originally my fiancees but I've been slowly ebbing away at their love.

mczyk4 karma

Hello -

I am a freelance director and producer and former agency creative working in low to mid tier commercials and branded content. Here is my work! https://vimeo.com/66997066. I need help connecting with agencies to pitch myself. I also have directed a number of marketing pieces in the medical device industry that I cannot share publicly. How should I make more contacts with decision-makers and get more work?! Thanks in advance.

Reno-_-3 karma

Your decision maker is almost certainly going to be a producer. Join the AMA (or just go to some events) and start making connections.

masdar14 karma

What’s the most interesting/successful career you’ve helped build?

Reno-_-12 karma

I'm afraid I don't have a fun answer to this question. I just finished the course a month ago and it's not like people who attend my presentations or read my articles let me know how it affected them.

But a SVP of Paramount did add me on linkedin after reading one of my articles, so that was kinda cool.

PM_me_your_DEMO_TAPE3 karma

I'd like to compose for film and TV, but I don't know what rates to charge. I find many professionals don't want to share this information because it helps them by excluding competition. Is there a way to research this info accurately, or should I keep hounding the pros?

Reno-_-8 karma

There really isn't a good reason to keep your rate private but everyone does. It's bizarre. There isn't a great way to research this outside of asking people, I'm afraid, but I'll tell you what I know about composers. I don't staff them, so don't take my word as gospel, but I've hired them on occasion so maybe this will give you a starting place.

-Many composers like to get back-end points, but it pays to be flexible and do work for hire, especially if you're just starting out. Advertising has a lot of work and doesn't like to pay back end points if they can avoid it. -The cheapest I've ever hired a composer for was $250 for a 3 minute song. He could have probably charged double that and my client would have paid it. I reached out to him about another job, he offered the same cheap rate and that client decided to cheap out and go royalty free. -Most of the composers I've hired have been for 2-4 minute scores. They were largely in the $500-1000 range. -I've worked on some national spots, which are 30 seconds to 1 minute, that had music budgets of 5k.

It's a pretty big range, but hopefully that gives you a starting place.

Cutter97923 karma

I really want to get into video production or photography, I live in the Northern Virginia area, and I have no degree. What steps should I start taking to get into either of those businesses?

Reno-_-5 karma

Are you near DC? Because that is a terrific market for both. Here are your next steps:

-Pick a role. Not just production or photography, but your job within either. Videographers make far less than DPs. -Select a target. What market do you want to work in? TV, Advertising, fine art? Be realistic, this isn't just about what you want to do, it's about where the market opportunity is. -Create a hell of a portfolio of deliverables close to what your target market will want you to create. You can do this by volunteering for non-profit work (don't offer companies free work, none of the good ones will be interested, don't work on spec for similar reasons) and partnering with more experienced freelancers for whom you can provide a supporting role.

theboyd19863 karma

My SO is dead set on starting an at home business of personalized hampers to send to loved ones.

Could you recommend an effective way to get noticed? How best to advertise etc....

Reno-_-7 karma

In the beginning, focus on earned media. PR, content, etc. It's a rough game out there and until you have your messaging nailed down and your website optimized you don't want to start throwing money at advertising.

flogginmama3 karma

Hi. Thanks for the AMA. I’m trying to get into producing music for TV, film, video games.... any media that will have me. Is this an area I could contact you about paying to help me with?

Reno-_-3 karma

I'm afraid I don't do 1 on 1 coaching. You might consider checking out my site and see if you think any of the resources can help you out.

zSplityy3 karma

What’s a good way to get noticed on Upwork? I see you listed that as a resource but I’ve found that most jobs won’t really give you a reply if you haven’t had any jobs on it yet. I have experience but it’s hard to convey that without having worked a job through UpWork.

Reno-_-5 karma

My advice in regards to Upwork is to avoid it. It attracts garbage clients. But if you're determined, you position yourself the same as anywhere else- define a specialty, find your competitive advantage.

Sweentown3 karma

I work in Video freelance but feel as though my talents are being wasted... Here's my Reel - I get clients pretty consistently but its not the work I want to do ( yoga teaching, shoe product videos etc). How do I find other creatives, Directors, Producers that create higher end work? Living in Montana its hard to network...any tips on how to find other talented artists that have projects with bigger budgets?

Reno-_-5 karma

Unfortunately Montana is the problem. For production (and, honestly, post too) there is a need to be local and Montana just doesn't have the industry. There are some clients who might be willing to fly you out, but more often they hire locally to save on travel costs.

You can offer to 'work as a local' but producers are often hesitant to hire 'work as a local' types because projects get moved and canceled all the time.

Your work looks great. I'd hire you if I had jobs in Montana. But I never, ever will.

GroovyEggs3 karma

What is the main unexpected hurdle people come across when trying to turn their dream into a reality?

Reno-_-12 karma

Unexpected? Isolation. Even introverts start going a little crazy if you spend every day sequestered in a dark room.

Hamsternoir2 karma

How do you suggest people manage their time and hit all the deadlines?

For example I'm working on a long term project for one client but another who's been good for many years throws me semi regular but short notice jobs, are there any tips for juggling everything?

Reno-_-4 karma

Establish some rush and cancelation fees. This can help keep your schedule more regular and predictable.

In terms of time management, I think of everything like cooking. The turkey goes in first because you need to wait 4 hours before you have to do anything else with it. You can peel potatoes, chop carrots, and prepare green beans all while the turkey is cooking. In the metaphor this is like submitting a project for review. If you know a client is going to take a day to get back to you, you finish up something for review and you've just bought yourself a day to work on your other project without interruption. Fires go out first, then prioritize based on what works efficiently in this way.

I find gantt charts kind of redundant, but they can help visualize this concept for you.

laylasaurusrexx2 karma

Hi! I’m a freelance costumer in Los Angeles with a degree in production design. Any tips on how to continue getting new jobs after another one ends? Usually after one project I’m in a very slow lull where I have no work. How do I keep the ball rolling when every job ends? Trying to dive into the film industry but you have to know someone! Mostly I’ve been working in live entertainment.

Reno-_-6 karma

That's the 'feast or famine' cycle. It's a terrible pain. There are 2 main things you can do to mitigate it:

1) Start looking for more work well before your current job ends.

2) Network with other costumers so you can pass work to each other when you're otherwise occupied.

deletethis252 karma

As a new freelancer (web developer and app developer) how could I go about getting my first clients? Is it better to charge per hour worked on the project or per project?

Reno-_-5 karma

The quickest return is going to be job listings, but you should start networking as well. It takes longer to bear fruit, but it is much more effective in the long run.

When you're first starting out, charging per hour makes more sense. You're probably going to have a hard time estimating the amount of time this are going to take you and you could end up doing a lot more work for less money if you take stuff on a per project basis. That said, start using a time tracker like Toggle so you know how long things take and you can better estimate on a per project basis in the future.

TheAndySan2 karma

I've been a freelance video editor for YouTubers for 2 years, and I'm running into a wall when it comes to bigger projects (ie collective raw footage over an hour long). For the simpler videos though, I can bang them out no problem.

How do you deal with big projects and also burnout?

Reno-_-4 karma

Create a process. That way you always know the next step. When I was a newish editor working on long documentaries, I'd go on 'creativity walks', where I'd just amble aimlessly around a client's office trying to think of how to tackle the next obstacle. This wouldn't have been necessary if I created a process and was able to know when it was effective to brainstorm and when I should be moving video around.

A process looks something like this:

Concept> string out> client approval> rough cut> less rough cut> client approval> fine cut> client approval> client changes> client approval

And then you repeat the last 2 steps until you die.

maybenosey2 karma

I consider it a personal victory every time an accountant or insurance adjuster realizes their dream of making a living through their photography or writing

So, I'm wondering, do you also consider it a personal failure every time someone tries and fails to realize their dream of making a living through their creativity? Or are you taking the credit without taking the blame?

Reno-_-2 karma

I'd consider it a personal victory if someone gave it a shot.

But yes, I want the credit without any blame.

Obversa2 karma

Hello, Dave! Thank you for doing this AMA!

I'm a long-time freelance writer who was hired on, or started working, for Scripps (USA Today) around age 18. (I'm 27 now.) However, I noticed one of the problems with the company, and one of the reasons why I left after some months, is that they had very strict invoicing and payment deadlines. If you didn't meet them, they would purposefully withhold pay, or claim "you missed the deadline, so we don't have to pay you". They would then proceed to use my [unpaid] work anyways. Do you have any advice for freelancers to avoid or deal with this situation?

Additionally, I'm trying to re-enter the freelance market and industry. I've become a well-known fan and original content contributor for about 3-4 years online, but another issue I noticed is that third-party sources and YouTubers keep plagiarizing, or stealing, the content I'm trying to build publicly for my portfolio. I feel that this has also hindered my attempts at getting hired, because more popular venues and individuals have falsely presented my work as their own, or failed to give credit properly. Again, is there any way for a freelancer to deal with this situation?

Reno-_-3 karma

Contracts. They definitely can't withhold pay from you because you missed a deadline, but it might not be worth it to try to compel them to pay if you don't have a decent contract with them. It is vital that every freelancer has a contract that can punish behavior like this.

YouTube has a 'copyright match' tool that you can use to get stolen videos taken down.

shaggorama1 karma

I like the idea of going into business for myself, but I just am not into the business development side of things. What are some low-effort ways to build a client base?

Reno-_-2 karma

There are 0 low effort ways to build a client base. Most of us hate it, but errbody has to sell.

Aceblast751 karma

I am a freelancer that has a lot of passions. 3D printing, videography, video editing, podcasting, logo design, and animation to name a few. I am passable at all of them but a master of few. I have a small company for 3D printing that does relatively well but I want to be able to flex all of my skills and grow into a larger business. However, I feel that if I give each of the topics attention then nothing substantial gets done. Any advice?

Reno-_-2 karma

You're right. You'll be much more successful mastering 1 avenue than trying to spread your attention to a bunch of businesses. If you need motivation not to get distracted, your goal can be to build a business to a point where you can hire a manager and earn passive income so you can start on your next adventure.

I'm the same way. I get interested in everything and it's a struggle not to sprint off after every butterfly.

allexpleblord1 karma

Hey. Web development ( and design ) is my hobby. I am already quite experienced but I'm not sure how to get started with freelancing. I used to earn money from graphic design freelancing but I want to get started with development freelancing. I don't know where to look for jobs. The site I used to work on doesn't have many web dev offers. So where should I look?

Reno-_-2 karma

You're in luck because quality development is more in demand than design.

As I said to someone else, job listings will have a more immediate turnaround time (there are about a bazillion sites specifically for development- here is what you want to avoid- any site where you have to pay to bid, any site where you have to pay to see the jobs, and site where you have to offer a price to bid), but networking is more effective in the long run.