Film and entertainment have always been attractive industries for careers. They offer you opportunities not just to make a good living but also to explore your creativity and collaborate with talented professionals. However, the rise of our digital landscape over the last couple of decades has seen video become a more accessible medium.
More affordable high-end equipment, open-source educational resources, and access to audiences via streaming platforms have all helped to make freelance film and entertainment careers not just practical, but available to more people. Not to mention that a recent study predicted the digital video marketing industry to be worth around $154 billion, representing significant opportunities for contributors.
However, whether you’re operating as a film freelancer from the perspective of narrative storytelling or a digital marketing content producer, there are still distinct challenges. Not the least of which is the fact that while greater accessibility is positive, it also tends to bring with it far more competition. As such, to find success in the field, you need to apply time and energy to activities that make certain you’re able to stand out over the noise.
It’s not always easy to know how to do this, particularly if you’re just starting out. So, let’s take a moment to review some areas that you can start making an impact with today.
Here’s How to find success as a Film & Entertainment Freelancer
Commit to Upskilling
In a competitive environment, it is difficult to have a successful freelancing film and entertainment career with a stationary skillset. That doesn’t mean to say that you can’t develop a niche and build a thriving business around it. Rather it’s more about committing to exploring and learning about the various elements of both your craft and your business to stay at the top of your game at all times.
Online spaces can make for useful tools here. There are formal e-learning courses in most aspects of filmmaking and video production through universities or private education providers via platforms such as EdX and Udemy — many of which are free. YouTube can also be a practical source of tutorial videos on everything from animation to video editing, with some content creators producing full playlists that take you step-by-step through techniques. Indeed, self-guided learning is a skill that will help you throughout your career. Keep being curious about what is new and trending in your craft and seek out the methods to include them in your work.
However, it’s also important to note that a freelance career is in essence your own small business, and you have to educate yourself on those elements. Regularly review what aspects of your business practices you can improve on. For instance, research a more efficient approach to your invoicing by adopting a template approach that reduces the time you spend on creating entirely new documents for each client. This not only allows you to spend more time on creating than administration but can also signal to clients that you are a professional who is always on top of your processes.
Build Your Reputation
One of the most important elements that can keep you working as a freelancer in film is knowing the value of your profile. The video content industry is fast-moving and competitive, and as such you need to be able to maintain a reputation that shows prospective clients that you are effective, reliable, and valuable. As such, from your first project onwards you must place some focus on how your actions can bolster or damage your standing.
From a reliability standpoint, your most important focus is to be both on-schedule and on-budget. As a freelance filmmaker, when you blow deadlines you are not just holding up delivering a product to clients, you also have a knock-on effect on various departments throughout a chain of your client’s business. The same goes for budget — your creative vision does not overrule your client’s needs; respect their goals. If you can consistently get quality content in before the deadline and below budget, you can keep scoring those behind-the-scenes jobs.
Too many freelance filmmakers also tend to overlook the importance of building a reputation on being relatively easy to work with. This doesn’t necessarily mean kowtowing to decisions you disagree with, but rather being a pleasant and useful collaborator. Even making practical plans is vital to your reputation, such as keeping a portable router or satellite internet connection with you if you are shooting on location so that you are always online and easy for clients to reach. This also means that you can share rushes and dailies with other production staff in real-time and improve efficiency. Keep considering how you can make the journey smoother for your clients, and word is likely to spread.
It might seem contrary to your skillset or artistic ideals, but part of the key to your success as a freelancer in film and entertainment is knowing how to market yourself. The jobs in video content fields are extremely competitive and if you don’t put effort into making sure your work is seen by people who can employ you, you may as well not be in the industry at all.
In an increasingly digital world, you need to optimize your online presence. Create a website for your business. Certainly, this should function as a portfolio — showcasing the highlights of your work through images and video showreels. However, you must also take an approach that brands adopt. Research the relevant keywords for your industry and your services, and place them throughout the text of your website. Keep your navigation clean and simple; clients must be able to find what they are looking for easily and be able to contact you. Include quotes from previous satisfied customers to give trust signals.
It’s also important to create quality marketing content and host it on your website. Write regular blog posts or make podcasts about your industry or the technical aspects of your work. Make videos giving behind-the-scenes peeks. This can not only help to raise your ranking on search engines, but it also helps to reinforce your expertise in your area of work.
There is no magic trick to being successful as a freelancer in film and entertainment. Much like your approach to your craft, it takes time and attention to break through the noise of competition. However, ensuring that your skills are always at their peak, working on building your reputation in the industry, and marketing your skills effectively can make a significant positive impact.
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