So, About Freelancing
Throughout my four years of undergrad I had no problem sharing my skills with my friends in times of need. I edited resumes, created sound scores, and danced in dance films with no hesitation. The barter system within the dance department was high quality, especially within my class. Everyone had something unique to offer so it wasn’t hard to design the music for a piece in exchange for thorough editing of my research abstract or create a dance reel in exchange for headshots.
As my final semester came to a close, however, so did the opportunity to render my services for free. There was a lot of pressure that came with my first big videography project—a large scale dance film. What is my vision? What is the choreographer’s vision? How do I make sure I get enough footage to work with? How do I direct dancers with confidence? Do I actually know what I’m doing?
I have since picked up a few more freelancing gigs and have a few helpful tips for those of you that literally have no idea where to begin.
Create a ballpark pricing list
For my first few gigs, I accepted the pay that was given to me. A lot of the time I was doing work for my friends that we would both benefit from, so I wasn’t hard-pressed about the price. My first opportunity with a professional ballet company in Columbus was very last minute and honestly, I would’ve done the work for free just to put it on my resume. After these experiences, I created a (very) rough estimate of what I would charge for video and editing work. It does not have to be set in stone, but having this ballpark estimate written down was really helpful for the first time I was approached for my services in Chicago. I found this article when I wasn’t sure about my pricing and I found it extremely helpful.
Ask about budget upfront
My best friend and I set off to create a dance film adaptation of a piece she created. We talked about payment loosely, but never set a number. I’d written my rough estimates of my services but based on the amount of days and hours spent shooting alone, I didn’t know what to ask for. That caused a very awkward lunch conversation, but a learning opportunity on both of our ends. Ask about the budget at the very beginning and if you’re the person inquiring about services, state how much you are willing to pay from jump. The fact that I learned this lesson with my best friend softened the blow.
Create an invoice
When someone asks you to send you prices for projects, create an invoice. It doesn’t have to be extremely fancy, I just hopped on Pages and created a very simple document after looking at samples online. In my opinion, it’s a lot more professional than just putting your prices in an email and it shows your potential client that you put thought into your work. Also, ALWAYS SEND DOCUMENTS AS A PDF!
Remember, clients could have asked anyone else to do the work for them but they chose you. The faith they’ve placed in you is only half of the faith you should have in yourself. Take any doubt, fear or insecurity you may be feeling about a project and put that toward the time, care and precision it takes to create your very best work.
Working independently can be very exhausting, but rewarding as well. If you're new to the freelance game like I am, congrats on beginning! Now let's work.