Being a successful freelance videographer and editor has allowed me to expand my horizons and explore things I had only dreamed of doing in the past. The secret to being successful in video, or any field for that matter is no secret, in fact the biggest hump is taking that initial step. So, in light of that, I’ve decided to list the crucial steps that should be taken, as well as some helpful tips, that should help get you on the path to successfully creating video and marketing yourself and your work.
First you need to have some footage “in the can”. You need to, of course, make sure that the footage is some of your best work. You don’t want someone judging your abilities on footage that is not indicative of what you can really do. Editing the footage and getting on tape is easier than you think. Many computers, especially Macs, have built-in software that will allow you to edit footage that is corporate DV quality. Your editing doesn’t have to be flashy, in fact using too many goofy transitions distract from the footage you’ve shot and honestly using excessive wipes and “page turns” etc. are usually quick indicators to the seasoned veteran that you are simply not as professional as he had hoped. Keep it simple and keep it professional, if you want it to be flashy, use several well timed cuts and dissolves, get your edit points from the footage, it’ll usually give you good points to edit.
You can not be afraid to get yourself in front of people. Have business cards made, Vistaprint has a service where you only pay for shipping. Get yourself connected, no one else will do it for you. Networking is HUGE! The more people you get yourself in front of the better. It may suck to hear this but you can only hide in the shadow of the internet for so long. Good, old-fashioned leg-work is the best way to get yourself some work, or at the very least get new contacts. Many times, people think that sending out an e-mail and pointing someone at a website will do the trick, but unless that employer or producer has actually met you, they will think twice about putting you in front of one of their clients. My best contacts will trust me with any of their clients. This is the goal, to get to a point where they trust you with their clients, make them look good and they will call you back for more work. The clients will even start requesting you for more of their work.
One rule to remember when you are on a production for another company… DO NOT pass out your own personal business cards! This is bad business, you can easily be labeled as a person that tries to steal clients. For one, this makes you look bad, you won’t get any more work from the company that hired you and you run the risk of gaining a bad reputation, and in this business reputation is everything. Burn a bridge and you never know when it will hurt you in the future.
Follow up with people you contact. Many times the contacts you initially make will forget that you are a resource for them. Try creating newsletters and sending it to them periodically. This will hopefully get them interested in what you do and keep them abreast to recent developments in your life. Don’t be afraid to put slightly personal things on the newsletter, like “I just took a great vacation to the most beautiful part of the Caribbean” and then write a short story about it. There’s nothing wrong with sharing something slightly personal with people you work for, it helps make you more of a “person” and not so much just another shooter or editor. Regardless of whether you decide on a newsletter or a periodic e-mail, the main point is to keep in contact, people sometimes get into patterns of using people often because they establish a comfort level with that person. You might as well make them comfortable with you.
The last thing I’ll mention should really go without saying, perform. When you are actually onsite, hustle. Don’t let yourself become too comfortable with your employer. Of course, joking and having a good time while you work is essential, people love to have someone around that makes the day go by quicker. the main thing you need to keep in the back of your mind is that you are there to work. So, when it’s a good time to laugh, bring it on, but when it’s time to work, it’s time to be a professional. Don’t let being comfortable translate into being lazy. Be ready to help out in any way. Often times the DP, or Director of Photography, will perform several duties, lighting, audio, grip, shot selection, composition and even talent training. Don’t be afraid to jump in and contribute. Make sure not to step on toes and tell someone else to do their job, but offer an opinion, it may help the production in the end. At the very least it will help you look like a more valuable part of the process.
Conveying your value is the most important part of this process, so get out there and show yourself and showcase your talents. The more value you show, the more valuable you become.
Carlos Borges is a freelance producer/ videographer/ editor in Florida with over 11 years experience in corporate video. More articles concerning video on the way soon. Recently he’s learned the skills required to build and maintain a lasting web-presence and is sharing the opportunity at [http://www.profitlance1.com]
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