Monday, July 28, 2008

Freelancing Tips 101

The above cartoon sums up best why it's still better to freelance (Can you spot the 7 things wrong with that picture?). Here's my little advice;

1) Don't be a dreamer. Anyone who tells you to "$@%& them! Start your own magazine" is an idiot. We've all heard those who tell us to follow our dreams and let nothing get in our way..."Self publish your novel...start your own TV show...blah, blah, blah...[followed by]...that's what I did!" Usually by people blessed with connections through family or lovers and not dealing with the day-to-day pressure of making a living. Sure they're living a dream and as George Carlin said, "That's what dreaming is. Open your eyes." One needs the support of established places to make a serious dent. Yes, self-publish your book, film a show for YouTube, whatever...but as a stepping stone and calling card only to then shop it around to agents, publishing houses, etc. You will have to play my their rules, but it's their stadium. Self-publishing, etc. is keeping the game in your backyard. Yeah, it's your rules but nobody watching. You need clout to get on The Daily Show. Where are you keeping 80,000 copies of Getting Rich With Nobody's Help For Dummies Plus, there IS a stigma doing it alone that will keep away reviewers and press. It's all unfortunate, but that's the story. I have this argument all the time with those who believe in the DIY route but the numbers simply don't compare. Get an agent, agent gets you a house or studio, house or studio gets you a publicist and all along the way...

2) Be nice. Return phone calls, answer emails, be a good friend, date co-workers (that's right), and don't burn bridges – every connection is an opportunity and, for better or worse, everyone crosses your path again (or talking bad or good about you somewhere). You're like a restaurant, it's word of mouth. At a time when art directors, editors, etc. never have to hire a stranger because everyone knows some freelance whatever looking for work you cannot afford to be difficult. They want to work with people who are nice and...

3) Efficient. Too many think it's best they continue working their assignment into a masterpiece, even if that means missing their deadline. Believe me, every publishing boss, curator, art director or whatever is less concerned to what awards your piece may win and just wants their weekend to begin without a hitch. And the less problems you present to them, the less questions you have, and most important, how timely you finish, the better. Calling every two hours and bombarding their inbox with minutia is not professional. 

I'm not accusing anyone of having their head in the clouds or not being nice or efficient, but if I was to think of the three mistakes I see within my particular (and, no doubt, bias) circle these would be it.

4) Create a brand name. Number one thing but last here since you all know it already. Whether you're saying outrageous things, creating marvelous work, inflect an accent, having photos posted with the right people or naked with the wrong people, and/or anything that makes you colorful, it's all branding. Starting with baby steps; creating an immensely popular blog. I recommend three sites; Creative Writing and Blog Tips, for blog branding in layman's terms, and Get Known Now, insider strategies that make you a household name.

Good luck and let me know how it goes.

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Anonymous said...

I just stumbled upon your blog. I wish I'd found you when I was starting out!

I have to add that I've really found the website to be a very valuable resource.

I couldn't agree more with being nice. It's very true that being nice can get you places...

Thanks--a great read.

Snowman Expert said...

Thanks and thanks for the lead as I have to admit I was not aware of this site. May I ask; are you affiliated with them (which is fine) and if not, do you have any personal experience working with them you can share? The prospects seem too good to be true. I mean that in a good way that it may be well worth it for many to pursue but I also for responsible that if it's included here that I do everything I can to see how helpful and above board it is. Thanks and hope to hear more. I'll try to look more into on my end.