All filmmakers, especially those just starting out, will be searching for every creative opportunity they can find. There are many talented individuals out there fighting for each job that comes up, and there will undoubtedly be periods of time where jobs are scarce.
We all need to eat, to pay rent, bills, and garner experience, so there is nothing to be ashamed of searching for alternative work elsewhere. Some will opt to work in call centres or bars while they spend their free hours practising their craft. However, there are several ways in which you can make money from something a little more your cup of tea.
There are many job sites out there that cater specifically to creative industries, and while the money isn’t always great, these small jobs can help fill the gaps between paychecks.
peopleperhour.com, freelancer.com, freelancevideocollective.com and indeed.com all cater for a wide range of skills including filmmaking, editing and animation. Clients will post ad hoc jobs which you can apply for and bid on, however, sometimes these jobs can seem to be more work than they’re worth, and it may take you a while to work out the best pricing strategy. Be it a live event, a commercial shoot, or something in the private hire sector; you need to ensure you’re not selling yourself short.
It is often assumed that the lowest bid will win the work, which results in a race to the bottom amongst the applicants. Based on experience though, we can say that that isn’t always true, a lot of clients will look at experience and quality of your work as a significant factor in deciding who they want to hire. If the client is merely looking for the lowest bid, more often than not, they are not the sort of client you will want.
Our top 3 tips for applying through jobs sites are;
Keep all communications open and digital. If there are any problems receiving payment down the line, you want to be able to prove that you have completed your work as requested. It might be tempting to take communication away from the platform you’re using to save a few quid on fees, but should you have a problem getting paid, you’re on your own.
Don’t be taken advantage of – explain with your bid precisely what that entails, how long the filming be, what kit will be included and how many edit revisions they will get. Providing this information should prevent clients from taking advantage and asking for more than their budget allows.
Don’t be afraid to tell them they are wrong or to bid outside of the guide price. While you should never be rude or nasty to potential clients, a lot of people posting on these sites have no idea about the true cost of video work. If you see someone wanting a day of filming for £50, there is nothing wrong with bidding above that and explaining why it will cost more. They may even be thankful for the information. Just remember to keep your comments professional.
As a filmmaker, chances are you’ve relied on stock footage to fill gaps or illustrate specific points in your productions. On many occasions, I’ve found myself trawling stock footage websites such as videoblocks.com, videohive.net and shutterstock.com looking for just the right content. What is easy to forget, however, is that they also present an alternative revenue stream for your filming skills, not just editing solutions.
All that stock footage has to come from somewhere, and a lot of the time, it’s from people just like you. Individuals sell their footage and creations and make real money as a result. While it may not be a large sum for each clip, every payment adds up to passive income from your work.
Of course, it’s not just actual video footage sold on such sites. Your skills may lie in creating title and graphics templates, or abstract backgrounds and computer image modelling. The market for this is also lucrative, as not everyone can or enjoys using programmes like After Effects and Motion.
Focusing on actual video footage, it’s worth considering a few questions before picking-up your camera and filming everything and anything around you. For instance, do you have easy access to specific or unusual locations? Do you know any local sporting or activity groups? Does anyone you know work somewhere unique? Do you have green screen facilities available to you?
Thinking commercially is essential, especially considering the volume of video used in social media advertising. Location shots can be invaluable to creative filmmakers who want to establish action in another part of the world, or otherwise inaccessible places.
Ideally, you’ll present something different to what you’ve seen before on stock footage sites, or offer what’s already there to a higher standard. If you’re willing to invest time and money into niche content, be prepared for potentially fewer profits, but selling the footage later can be an excellent way to offset the costs of personal filming trips – or even holidays! – that indulge your passions.
If you have a drone, this opens up a world of opportunities. Just remember to seek the correct location and identifiable persons’ releases, and legal permissions before flying. Likewise, if you plan to hire models or actors for staged material, make them aware it is a commercial project and be fair in your financial dealings.
It’s also worth noting that where you are will have a direct impact on the sites you can use and the money that can be made. If you are UK based, there are several attractive stock sites based in the US that you may want to look at joining. However, there are also several tax implications that could result in you losing up to 50% of each sale to the site in question, before accounting for UK tax.
A lot of creative filmmakers will grimace at the prospect of turning to corporate work to make ends meet. However, the corporate film world can be surprisingly innovative and challenging, as well as offering some great contacts.
There are plenty of corporate jobs to peruse on the job sites listed above, but we’re going to talk a little bit about how to help that work come to you. Corporate work is a bit different from many of the other job application processes, as in general a company will find the videographer and ask them to provide a quote for work. The first step in this is to get noticed.
Start off with a simple website, tell the potential client who you are, what you do, and where you are. Get a killer showreel on your homepage, showing off your best material, and include client logos so they can see the companies you have worked with before. Remember – make sure you ask permission from your previous clients to be included in the showreel.
Once you have your site up and running, link it to your social media accounts. Social media plays a big part in SEO and will help you get seen. It isn’t enough to just have the accounts; they need updating regularly. Post photos or short video clips of the projects you are working on links to final pieces of work and get your clients to review you online. All of this will lead potential clients back to your website.
Get some business cards with your web address and social media links on, and get out there networking.
If you live in a city, there are hundreds of networking events for small or start-up businesses. You can meet other people who have businesses at a similar stage to you. Working with a start-up might not bring you the best payday, but if you help them, they will remember it. As they grow, they’ll need more video content for which you could be their preferred supplier.
The corporate video sector isn’t for everyone; it can be stressful, underpaid and occasionally a tad dull. But for those filmmakers who are happy to knuckle down and work at it, it can be a rewarding and lucrative career path that brings you regular work.
Earning a living as a freelance videographer takes determination, patience, and the occasional bit of good old-fashioned luck. Referrals and testimonials are key to building a solid client base; treat your clients well, and more will follow.
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