I’ve freelanced on and off since April 2014, when I saw my full time job stagnate and I decided that my best opportunity for career growth was to try and freelance instead.
At the time, a colleague gave me this advice “The first year is the hardest. Get through that and you’ll be set”. I didn’t pay a lot of attention at the time. I was young (well at least younger than I am now) and cocky. I was still working freelance on a brand funded documentary for my former employers and I thought I was set – freelancing was my bitch!
How wrong I was?!
After getting engaged on an overseas holiday, and the documentary winding up, I found myself sitting at home with no job, no money and an impending destination wedding to pay for. I’m pretty sure this was also before we had Netflix in Australia so I was watching a lot of Ellen and Bold and the Beautiful.
To say that that time was depressing is an understatement. I was stressed, poor and I had no clue where to go and look for more freelance work. I was a newbie to the idea of hustling for gigs (I naively thought they would come to me) and apart from a couple of agents I knew who might have been able to help me, I was completely lost.
Times were so desperate that after 9 months I ended up taking another full time job, at 3/4 of my former income, just so I could keep busy, pay the bills and pay for the wedding.
Part of me wishes I’d heeded the advice I was given by my colleague and persevered with freelancing rather than giving in so easily and taking a permanent gig. Although that job, taught me the value of networking, relationships and hustling. And I only stayed there until 4 days after I returned from my honeymoon as a big freelance project did come my way. I haven’t looked back since.
Flash forward 4+ years later and either I know more, or there’s way more information and help out there for new and old freelancers. Apart from my own recent 4 month exile to have my daughter, I’ve had a steady stream of freelance work coming in since October 2015.
Some have come to me directly, others I’ve actively pursued.
I have a few go to places I recommend for any newbie freelancers who are looking for work:
Women In Telly
Australia I Need Crew [Professional and Entry Level]
Find a Finders Fee (this is a peer recommended group)
If you specifically want an Agent, do some research and see who specialises in your areas. Crew agents that I have worked with in the past include:
Calling All Crew (tell Maria I sent you)
TVCV (more a jobs database than an Agent though)
I’ve always found that persistence and networking are key. Be seen, be heard and add value.
I often get recommended for roles. If I’m available, I’ll chat with them and see where it leads. If I’m not, I’ll pay it forward to someone I know who is also freelance. The rationale is that one day, they may do the same for me. I also recommend former colleagues and friends when I hear of projects that are looking for specific crew. I want to work with the best and I know other Producers do too so I will only recommend people who I know can get the job done to my standards.
In summary, my go to advice for freelancing is:
Network, network, network
Persistence is key
Be an active freelance community member
Join groups (Facebook and LinkedIn)
Keep your ear to the ground
Always be polite…you never know where your next gig is going to come from