In the future, I know that freelancing and the process of finding jobs will be a large part of my career. Therefore I want to look into how to Freelance in this industry/sector – and the skills I will need to learn so that I am prepared to find work. There is a very high chance when working in the animation industry that I will be working as a freelancer – or if I get a job within in a company will only be there for a year or two if I am lucky. Personally working for myself is an appealing idea – . Unlike the generation before when people would have only one job throughout their lives – we now must have multiple jobs. Working freelance, working from one job to the next means that I could work with many clients and meet many people however there can be a great deal of stress involved with this – I have below looked into some of the important factors that I need to concern myself with and familiarise so that I know what to expect when working for myself.
Time management is a very important skill in freelance. Why? Simply because you are independent. There is no one there telling you when to get to work – or scaring you too get to it. Especially when you work at home – there is a great chance of distraction, and a need for self motivation. When working alone, it can be easy to give up and return later. To easy to wake up late, clean up your whole house, bake a feast before starting the work – unlike going to a work place where you focus on the job at hand – working at home means we get that same feeling of relaxing and so we can be tricked into doing less work or working more slowly. It is crucial when working as a freelancer that you stick to those deadlines – especially when you are trying to keep vital clients. You want to present yourself as a professional – because those clients could recommend to others and etc. Lastly for your sanity – keeping up with the workload will mean less stress and late nights. Better to do now than later. Making schedules and meet up with clients means that you can give yourself targets at a pace which is possible (achieving your best work.)
Time without work
Without clients – there will be times when there will be no work and .. unfortunately no money. As a student this is okay but when you have rent, food bills, and what ever else to think about that money is going to be needed. Therefore when working freelance you will need to be prepared for the lack of work – by putting aside a chunk of the money earned on a big project for when there is a lack of / or no work. And from listening to other talks by freelancers – preparing the next job for the end of a deadline will means there will be less times without work. Building up a client base over time will mean more work – this can be achieved by creating a positive experience with your client / networking – meeting up with potential clients. Making sure you can make those relationships which will gain you more work. When starting out – it may be wise not to fully depend on freelance income until this client base has been built.
Contract – Although not often referred to as a contract. Having a document between a client and freelancer is useful for many reasons. It shows that the two have had an agreement of amount to be paid and the amount of work expected encase any one of the parties does not fully fulfill their part of the deal – furthermore if their is any said ‘confusion’ over the amount of work expected then the document can be refered back to as evidence upon the agreed sum and amount of work/ type of work expected at the beginning of the deal.
How to be paid – e.g hourly / amount of work / seconds and NegotiationThe amount of money to be paid can often be a difficult part of the job – that, as well as being paid. There can be a number of ways which can determine the amount of pay – and it can be the difference between being paid fairly. One way which could determine the pay could be hourly – just as in any job, paid for the amount you work in a day this could be anything around £200 – £300 a day (£20 an hour) – however the amount which is paid depends on the size of the client, the amount of work and the experience that you have. Another two ways which you could be paid by could be per every second created / the amount of work produced. Lastly a fixed price might be agreed upon for the whole project by the client. This may be difficult however if the client wants to keep changing the design, or the project lasts longer or more difficult then planned – clients will try and get the best deal out of you. Therefore negotiation will be a key skill, and putting your foot down if the project pays too little for your time – which can be difficult if you are in need of some cash. It can be very easy to be unpaid or neglected as a freelancer. Tony Trimmer (a illustrator and concept artist) expressed a key point in his talk with the class that as freelancers we have to pay for our own pensions and other expenses and it is too easy for companies to use freelancers instead of contracting a freelancer because they do not have to pay for a pension and etc. We should keep an eye out for this. Understand your fee – whatever you choose to be paid and whatever method, only you can know what you should be paid and the time spent. Furthermore knowing certain factors can determine the price of your work : media, length of time, amount, and etc.
– Henk Dawson
Working Unsocial Hours
Another perk to the job is working unsociable hours – this may apply to quite a few jobs – if not all in the creative sector. However it is even more so when working for yourself / freelancing. If there is a deadline then it has to be reached no matter what – losing a client could mean losing more income. Therefore staying up late, working on the weekends, evening or no even sleeping a couple of days may be the future. Of course this can be reduced if time management is well planned in advance to prevent to much damage on your life. Although you may have to work those unsociable hours – you still need to be able to escape and meet up with friends – having a healthy personal life will only benefit your work and keep you healthy – its about finding that balance right for you!!
Regular Meetings with the Client (at milestones) – Handling Rejection
I’ve previously mentioned that a good way to keep up with deadlines is by meeting up with clients at milestones during the project. This can be done for the initial idea stage, animatic, and etc – this way you can keep on top of the work by meeting steady deadlines. Another good reason for this is so that the client can see what you are making and can reject an ideas they do not like. A client may change their mind from their initial vision of the piece after seeing what it may look like – as professionals we shouldn’t be precious over our work and handle rejection as it comes. Not everyone is going to like our work and others will – but by setting up these regular meetings your client can feel apart of the loop – and can express how they feel towards ideas your making and the final piece.
Showreel / Presenting yourself well / Know your stuff
Being Unique –
Having a good show reel for any line of work in the creative industry will mean a better chance of beating the competitors. Normally as a rule, putting the best work at the start will grab the company or studios attention. Sticking to the best work – better to have 15 seconds of outstanding work than of a 1 minute of okay work. A show reel should be used to present your self – therefore you should show the bad bits; a future client or employer might only look at the first 10 seconds anyhow – therefore make sure you have your best bits where they will see. It may seem obvious – but yet still need to be said, you need to present yourself to future clients – and throughout the client relationship. Being punctual to meetings and deadlines, polite and friendly will build a better relationship – and can mean more work. Furthermore it can be the difference between you gaining a job and a person less friendly (and may even know more than yourself) not. Lastly, knowing as much as possible, even learning small things from other disciplines / being a generalist will make you a key member of a team. And again mean more work as you are a useful asset. Show your stuff off let others see your work and keep it up to date – uploading your work onto websites and forums where it can be noticed can gain you work and appreciation. Furthermore keeping up to date and relevant to the type of work you want to be hired for – makes it easier for yourself and client to understand what you are offering.
Starting off – Personal Projects / Doing work cheaply for friends and family / Working for free
A good way of starting your ‘career’ in freelancing is to gain clients by working at a low rate or for family and friends. This way you will feel less pressure – and making some mistakes will be okay. Furthermore your family will be kind and means you can put across your own ideas. You need to gain that experience by being pro-active and gaining confidence with work you can use to show future clients. Also creating personal projects will let you be creative and have no stress over deadlines – you can spend time in creating work you are proud of and passionate for. Lastly you can even use this experience to help you determine your own values and what you are interested in. Be flexible – getting paid little when you have less work but then missing out on a big opportunity can be tough – being able to juggle different projects could be a good skill.
Experience / confidence in what you know / and what you don’t!
Unsure of what you are doing – that’s fine, not many people are gifted with the ability to know everything. Learning from experience and researching what you do not know will become easier over time. Gaining experience early lets you get a feel of the industry and meet others similar to yourself (with innovative ideas) or meeting clients / studios which may be looking for an animator. Not being scared of what you do not know but embracing what you do. Furthermore it is alot easier to find ways of doing things now thanks to the internet – YouTube (what would we do without you) online forums, and so much more. Working in the creative industry will always be tough because of the competition but by ensuring you are ready to learn and are a key problem solver – there should be nothing to worry about. Lastly – radiating confidence will let others feel comfortable in you – clients want you to feel sure in your self – be confidence imputing your own ideas across. And ‘fake it till you make it’ (like many do – learn what you don’t know and be free.
- Networking – ‘Its not what you know its who you know’ – sometimes in this business its more about being in the right place at the right time and building up those contacts. Someone is mostly likely going to ask help from someone they have met and know their work. Showing of work by networking is an incredible effective way of getting your name out there and noticed by your potential employer or client.
- Online Profile – Online is the future, using sites such as Linktin and things similar will connect you to more people. Having a professional Facebook page, tweeter, website are all the basic and least you should have when trying to reach potential clients. You want to appear professional and also accessible – if a client cant find out your contact information they will not run around trying to contact you.
- Social Networking – Online networking. Also collaborating with people on the internet – doing competitions such as a big draw when each artist gets 3 or 5 seconds of animation to create a giant animation.
- Forums – Looking through forums could help you to identify yourself. Showing of work can encourage clients to choose you, if you large on a forum or even speak professionally then add contact information on your messages – can mean potential clients.
- Festivals – The UK is renowned for festivals, but also all over the world where the best time of networking and to find funding for projects.
- Intellectual Property / Copyright – Making sure that your work is protected and when you make agreements with a client you both understand who owns what IP – and whether you can use your work on your portfolio (even though this is normally understood make sure that it is in writing as evidence.) Invisible watermarks on work.
- Government – Benefits / Insurance / Grants – Sometimes the government will have grants and benefits for freelancers or small businesses so looking out and knowing about what the government can offer you may help you out alot.
- Taxes / Invoice – Make sure that you have an annual invoice which can show tax and to keep can help you alot when it is needed. Make sure to keep on top of this and do it thought the year.
- Accountant – Having accountant which can help you with finance is a good way to prevent any mistakes of extra stress which is unneeded.
- Price your work correctly.
starting up a business
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