For those who don’t know, this is how the process of hiring a freelancer goes. What follows is just my meandering experience and observation, your mileage may vary.
Pretend you have a project.
Lets say you need someone to design a Dinosaur character. First you will think if you know anyone. If you do, you will reach out to them. Then you will ask your friends, or freelancers that work for you if they know anyone. Then you’ll go to art station or some other portfolio site, or maybe straight to google and type in “Dinosaur character designer”, you will reach out to some of the people that you like, ask them their rates, and then if they are all too expensive you will go to fiver or upwork or freelancer.com or whatever other freelancing website exists. Nobody goes straight to a freelancing website, it’s usually a last resort. And it’s a last resort for people with small budgets. Because with the internet the way it is you can always find someone who does whatever it is you need to be done. Try it, try to hire someone who does what you do.
I remember when i was just starting out there was this guy at a studio i worked at who kept giving me After effects jobs. I could do them, i had the skills, but it wasn’t really my specialty, i was always a 3D guy. That’s what i did well, thats why i charged more. In after effects i worked slower than most people and really wasn’t that good. But yet this guy just kept giving me after effects jobs. So one day i asked him: “why do you keep giving me these jobs? I’ m sure there is someone who does this better than me, and cheaper” and his answer really changed the way i think about everything, he said “Because i like drinking with you, and if you have more jobs, we can go drink together more”. At first i was like: “awesome”, but then it dawned on me, how many jobs do i miss out on, because someone likes to drink with someone else, or plays golf with them, or has kids go to the same school. It has so much less to do with how good i am at what i do than i thought. To me it was a revelation.
So what do I do if I don’t know anyone who would hire me?
You get to know them or you get known. My career was largely built on alcoholism. Especially when i was in New York. People all over the place drinking making friends socializing, exchanging business cards inviting each other to other events. And there is no faster way to get to know a person than drinking with them ( if you want a guide on how to properly drink leave a comment, it’s also a skill that takes time to develop). Alternatively go to events that either related to your industry, or if they don’t have them in your area, go to networking events for other industries, you might find clients there. I knew people who bought shares in mining companies ( just whatever the minimal was) and then turned up to share holding meetings and made friends and then got jobs out of that.
Don’t like drinking? Get ready to do A LOT of work. Because building relationships with people is a very slow process if there is no alcohol involved, there are exceptional people which can make friends with anyone anywhere with everyone sober, but if you were one of those people you probably wouldn’t need help getting a job. So you have to start making a TONNE of work, and i mean a metric tonne. Start off with just volume, do a daily challenge. Post it on instagram, twitter, facebook, any platform that will let you. You have to get as many eyeballs on your work as possible. And it better be thematic, because people got to remember you for something specific. “oh i know a guy who makes dinosaurs” or “oh that guy who animates cars”. And you got to start posting it like CRAZY. For every 100 things you post, you might get one job out of it. This is not for the faint of heart. Which makes it even more important to pick a topic that you LOVE, because no matter what you pick, there will be people who LOVE doing that specific thing, and you will be competing with those people who will do it better and probably cheaper than you.
Then go onto forums/facebook groups and start helping people, start answering questions, start figuring out problems other people are having, giving advice where people ask for it. Join the community. But don’t just post random comments actually participate, this is yet another way for people to get to know you.
Also don’t forget to put together a proper website, you want a little piece of the Internet that is completely under you control. Go check out my article about small bussiness. It goes over how to set up a website rather quickly and what parts you need. Your website should convey to the visitor what you are good at and what kind of work you want to do as quickly as possible. Reels shouldn’t be longer than 1 minute, the shorter the better. Put your best work up top.
Freelancing websites are really the last resort in most cases, they have the lowest paying clients and the jobs that no one else wants to take on. I know programmers seem to do okay on them. But creative tasks are just terrible.
The most important thing to remember, that because this is hard to do, is the reason you will stand out. My favorite quote is “if it was easy everyone would do it”.
I hope this was interesting, what should i write next? How to figure out how much to charge? Let me know in the comments and have a good one!