How To Get More Clients In Freelance Video In 2019
Here’s a new guide with different methods of building a freelance video career in 2019. While everyone with an A7sII can claim to be a freelance content creator, these tips will help you generate professional clients and rise above the competition. There’s so many ways to acquire clients and work with new companies & people, especially in our current climate of social media/internet outreach. Increase your incoming work and client base with these methods.
“Positioning refers to the process of establishing the image or identity of a brand or product so that consumers perceive it in a certain way.”
Before anything, make sure any website and social media is dialed in to your “brand image.” If you’re tired of creating wedding videos, then don’t host your wedding portfolio on the homepage of your website. Position yourself to demonstrate the style of work for the clients you want to work with. Limiting a client-base can help you create your niche, work on better projects, and build a more sustainable business. Take a look at this article about building a personal brand and apply it to your freelance business.
The Craigslist Hustle
This method is inspired by Matt Workman of Cinematography Database. His video on “The Craigslist Hustle” was remarkably helpful, but has since been deleted from all sources.
This was one of first ways I got started. I would send out 5-15 emails per day responding to “seeking videographer” posts. The response rate was maybe 1:10 if I was lucky, but that was more than enough to work with. Some practical advice for this:
Check it every few hours to catch a new or last minute request
Go back 30 days on each of these:
Gigs -> Creative
Gigs -> Crew
Gigs -> Event
Jobs -> TV/Film/Video
Respond to every post that event remotely intrigues you
Draft up a template email that looks like this. Then customize for each post so it doesn’t look like a spam response. Remember when copying/pasting to use Ctrl+Shift+Option+V to paste without original formatting:
My name is [your name] and I’m a [your city] based cinematographer. You can see my latest work online @ (website)
I’m responding to a job that you posted on Craigslist “[Post Title].” I have experience with [type of work requested]. Here’s an example:
I personally own [list some equipment, like camera, audio, and lights]. Anything else we would need to rent but I’d be happy to connect you with some local rental houses.
My day rate is typically $500 /day but I’m flexible, so let me know what you have in the budget.
Please feel free to reach out, I’d love to learn more about the project and how I can help out.
Original Post: [link]
There’s a few things going on in this post. First off, you don’t actually need to own the gear, you just need access to it - such as a friend willing to let you borrow, rental house that’ll cut you a deal, or using a P2P rental service and taking it out of your day rate pay. For the day rate, always start with $500 /day to establish your value. Then negotiate so you can meet the client’s needs. They need to understand that you are giving them a discount so you can easily charge your regular price ($500/day) on any future gigs from them or new clients.
Spec work or decent quality other work is required for this method. Along with an online portfolio that shows off your stuff. You will not get hired unless you show what you’ve done before — it’s too risky for the client.
This template will change over time as you gauge responses and dial in your interest. But it’s a great place to start.
Fair warning: You will meet some interesting characters and have some interesting experiences through these Craigslist gigs. But that’s life, right? Some quick examples: I shot a reality show pitch video in New York, made a semi-pro football web series, became a DP then dropped and was publicly harassed by producer for a micro-budget horror series, and almost worked with a Nigerian scam artist to make IG comedy videos. All in less than a year.
This is the other thing I did to get started. I would send out a few emails per day to different startups and companies that I was interested in. Mostly I’d target smaller businesses that weren’t doing much or good quality video content. I found many companies through https://bostonstartupsguide.com, but each major city should have their own similar version of this site.
My template would look like this:
Subject Line: Video Opportunity
I’m [your name].
I’m fascinated by [company], being a _________ myself. (or some similar way of relating to the startup personally)
I work with startup companies like [other company] and make videos for their brands. Here is one that’s currently running: [video title with hyperlinked work]
Just wanted to email you and see if [company] might be interested in a similar video.
Is this something you guys would be interested in?
This template for companies is much more straightforward. It’s designed to be simple, unassuming, and easy to digest. Most importantly, you want them to be interested before laying a full pitch commitment on them. The response rate was about 30%, but most of the responses were the company denying the offer because they’re in a too early stage of their company to invest in video content. If they respond with this, offer to touch base with them in a few months or make a prototype investor video if they’re interested.
Instagram Direct Messages (DMs)
I’ve done very little of this since my IG isn’t on point. But there was a time in 2017 when I dabbled with it and got some leads, a few phone calls, and some potential work. A few brands even hit me up to work with them. In 2019, this is a very viable way of finding work.
Just search hashtags, locations, and accounts to find potential clients. Shoot them a quick message that’s personally typed.
Here’s a few samples…
Hey! I’m loving the product and style. I do brand videos for startups in [location]…I’d love to make some content for you. Let me know if you’re interested, I’m available to chat anytime!
Yo I’m really digging the music. U have a nice flow. I do [types of videos] in [location]…I want to create a music video for you. Hit me if you’re interested.
Tips: Change your voice to match the identity of the brand or person you’re talking with. Also do your best to be available to chat anytime. Opportunities can slip away in a heartbeat so be prepared to talk with the client when they’re available.
Networking at conventions, mixers, and business events can be a great way of finding clients. It’s more challenging as a more introverted person, but if you go with other likeminded people who want to network, it can be an enjoyable event. Find 1-2 freelance colleagues to attend the events with, then approach some of the businesses there and learn about their business/gauge video production interest. I met some of my first clients at a startup convention and generated leads at other events so I personally recommend this approach.
Cold calling used to be a viable option, but times have changed. Most people operate with personal phones and are very busy. I wouldn’t want to talk on the phone about some unprompted business inquiry. Instead do warm calls - AKA preliminary calls scheduled from an email conversation. They need to have time scheduled & interest in your business inquiry so you don’t waste your time or theirs.
Generating leads on here is an interesting approach, it’s ultimately not my favorite networking tool. I’ve had clients reach out to me on LinkedIn, but I haven’t reached out to businesses on the platform. If your profile is well-structured, then I say give it a test run for 2 weeks and see how it goes.
Make sure your Instagram looks professional, invest in a website portfolio with a standalone domain (no ____.wix.com or squarespace trial sites), and have only your best work on the site. You don’t need to show everything. I’ve found that 4-6 pieces of work is ideal for video, and 3-5 collections is great for photography.
Reaching out or finding clients is necessary to accelerating your freelance growth. Don’t waste your time on freelance database websites (Upwork, etc). These sites have few gigs and too many freelancers, so even if you did get a job it’d be at such a competitive rate that you’d be crushed with work.
Starting a freelance video business really comes down to timing for clients: Right place at the right time. If the company shows interest in video production, then you reached them at the right time. If they’re not, check back with them in 3-6 months. There’s a good chance they will have changed their mind.
For tips on how to raise your pricing/rates, check out this video: How To Increase Your Rates
For invoicing tips, check out this article: Invoicing Tips For Freelance Video