Our class had a lecture from Joel, a freelancing animator.
Freelancing is where you have a specific job you are good at and you get employed by different companies to do a job for a few months and then carry on.
The first myth is where you can “Be your own boss”. This is marginally true, you get a degree of freedom regarding to what job you accept as some clients are more involved than others. Another is that you can”Work whenever you want”, but when you’re given a deadline, you’re committed to the job and the deadline meaning you can’t just go on holiday 2 weeks away from your deadline. But, you still have flexible hours as you’re not restricted to a 9-5 hour shift everyday. This is better to the some people that have their creative ‘peak’ in different times of the day, evening, morning, whenever. However, time management is crucial so you can’t just have loads of breaks throughout the day. The last myth Joel told us that is you’re “Always chasing jobs”/”No stable income”, but if you build up a good relationship with the clients, they’ll encourage future collaboration meaning you sort of have a stable job with that client. It’s true to the extent that people do have their peaks/dips, especially when you’re starting up.
Perks of freelancing
It’s a lot easier to network as you can be easily found online, and a lot of companies are now starting to recruit online as they can try and find the most suited person for the job. Even people from the opposite side of the world will employ you if they find you online, because you can easily communicate via things like Skype. Obviously, the degree of freedom and flexibility is another perk. You’re also open up to more variety as anyone can with their own styles and content can employ you and you take up their content and do different things rather than working for one company with their specific style.
Joel said that we should do a demo reel (the best shots you’ve gathered over the years) of roughly 15-20 pieces, about 60-90 seconds worth. He also told us not to use any fillers because the clients are going to want to see the best footage you have gathered rather than the mediocre footage you have. But also, if you’re good at different things (editing, directing, camera operating), put them all into different reels rather than confusing the client who only wants you for one specific job.
Networking is good as you can easily get employed online if you put yourself available online, on social media (such as linked, monster etc), then the clients can easily find you and employ you. You should also make a personal sight which looks professional and attractive to the client. Once you’re employed (or being employed) you can remotely talk to your client a lot of ways; on the phone, email, Skype, etc. This helps a lot if you’re employed by someone in a different country as you don’t need to move away from your job because you can easily contact your client.
Dealing with clients
Client relationships will vary a lot depending on the company, some clients will be distant and barely give you any feedback but some will collaborate well with you and give you frequent feedback. If a client wants you to do a job for them with a tight deadline, know whether you can do it or not before you agree to the job. To minimise constant changes give your client frequent updates of your work, so that you don’t finish your job then have to change it. If you’re not going to make a set deadline, your client won’t care about excuses. However, some clients will make a ‘fake’ deadline so that if you’re not ready you can carry on for a while afterwards. And finally, payment. Ask for half of your money first so you can feed yourself and get all of your necessities, also so both of you are invested. Then get the other half once the job is finished.
Time management is important, to help this you should make to-do lists and plan by difficulty and not in chronological order so you can get the long, hard jobs over and done with first. If your deadline is a long way off, make multiple smaller deadlines and agree those with the clients to also keep them frequently updated with your progress on the job. Once you give them your work, you should ask for brief bullet points of feedback so that you can change it before it’s all finished completely. With breaks, you should work in 90 minute burst then take a short break of around 15-20 minutes to get your concentration back.