Marie Tueje's blog: short texts about all things.

5 Things Everyone Should Be Told About Working Freelance

What follows is a follow-up to an article posted on on Pro Tools Expert. After reading 'Working For Yourself - 5 Things Everyone Should Be Told' it struck me that there were a couple of remarks worth adding. So rather than just posting a reply in the comments like any normal person would do, here are my add-ons, based on three years working as a freelance

For the original article, go here.

1. It Will Take At Least A Year To Build Your Client Base
Seems to me that this is highly dependant on the industry you work in. For someone working predominantly in film and television I would say two years at least. It's just the nature of the beast. That's not based solely on my own experience, but also the experience of other freelancers I know, who've been at it a lot longer than me.

Feature films, short films, television series, etc. take a long time to make and, in even if your best friend is a line producer or post-production supervisor there's a limit to how much repeat business and also how much of a reputation you can expect to build up in a year. Aim for two, but plan more for three or four.

2. For Every Five Leads Expect One Job... If You're Good
I'd agree with this more or less, although I've never actually stopped to work it out. Jobs that seem a sure thing can be snatched away from you at the last moment, for all kinds of reasons (often nothing to do with the actual quality of your work). Handling rejection without bouncing off the walls, along with a thick skin, are essential character traits you'll need to develop.

3. You Get Paid Last... Change Your Lifestyle
Some people are very good at managing their finances, others are very bad, with most of us falling somewhere in-between. If, like me, you have a tendency towards financial sloppiness I can assure you that there's nothing like being freelance to sober you up sharpish with regards to your finances.

I not only try to keep a lid on unnecessary spending but also - importantly - keep my monthly direct debits to a bare minimum. Anything that I can pay for upfront (car insurance, MOT, subscriptions)I do, in order that my monthly outgoings aren't spiralling. My mobile phone contract is for one year not the more standard two, and I've always got one eye on unknown circumstances that might be lurking around the corner. Also, I squirrel away as much money as I can,  and try to keep to a saving plan (usually updated every six months or so).

4. Most Clients Don't Pay Until They Are Asked
The only thing I'd add is that you should never - ever - be reticent about asking for payment that's due to you. Never. Ever. 

5. Don't Give Up!
By giving up you're allowing your competitors an easier ride. Simple as.