5 Tips to Get Started As a Freelance Videographer
By Wayne Bonilla
It takes courage, passion and great belief in yourself to get started in the world of freelancing. I have been doing freelance videography and editing for about two years now, and last year I finally decided to bite the bullet, quit my retail job and concentrate on earning my money as a freelancer alone. It was definitely a big decision. The uncertainty of not having a week to week paycheck while raising a child will definitely give anyone a second thought about the possibility of failure. What reassured me and relieved some of my anxiety was preparation and having a great support system. Saving enough money to start a business is a huge topic in itself. What I can share with you are tips that have helped me get started earning money as a freelance videographer and editor.
1. Be a great student of your craft.
Traditional schools are a great place to learn and network, but they only scratch the surface. If you want to be great in what you do, you have to educate yourself further. In my case, I subscribed to lynda.com, macprovideo.com, and insidetheedit.com to learn more about videography and editing. I read books about photography and composition to help me develop a better creative eye. In addition, I subscribed to YouTube channels and Facebook pages that offer free lessons to gain more knowledge. What this does is prepare and guide you on what you need to learn and work on. It also covers topics more in-depth than traditional schools. The more things you know, the more you become invaluable to your clients or your team.
2. Do free work.
Doing free work can help you get future jobs and make you a better shooter. I am firm believer in the principle of planting seeds, that investing in other people will eventually come back to you. The first production I did outside school was a free gig. The event was called Mission and Vision. It was an art show that raised money to help out the youth in my neighborhood. That project ultimately lead me to meeting two of my future paying clients. I can say that this one free project is what ultimately helped me get started with my business. In addition, as I stated in my first point, you must study your craft; I think that real world experience propels learning. Furthermore, since you are not paid, there is less pressure when it comes to making mistakes.
3. Be humble and kind to the people you work with.
Humility and kindness are very attractive traits to other professionals. People would rather work with a nice novice than a professional with a huge ego. When I was starting out I got hired as a second camera shooter. The other person I was working with was a seasoned veteran, who had been shooting for years. This guy ordered me around like I was his intern. He assumed that just because I was new that I did not know much and his demeanor and choice of words reflected it. I told my self, when I start doing my own thing that I would never do that. I would rather work with somebody that is just coming up then with somebody that is pompous. Now, when I need help, I tend to hire friends and people I know I can mesh and collaborate with.
4. Beef up your social media game and make a reel.
Most of the time when I am bidding for a job, I usually just send them a link of my reel and my LinkedIn account. You can have the best resume, but without a reel or client recommendations—this is what I use LinkedIn for—they wouldn’t care. Furthermore, The more you post on social media about your projects, the more people will know that you do what you do, and if the quality of work is great, then they will eventually recommend you.
5. Always do the best work you can.
Someone once told me, you are only as good as your last job. This resonated with me because it’s true. If you slack off or just halfheartedly shoot or edit something this will come back to haunt you in the future. You can lose repeat clients, and if you’re working with a crew they may never hire you again. On the other hand, if you push for excellence every time, regardless if it’s paid or not, people will appreciate you as a person and a professional. You can get recommendations and good reviews this way. As a result, this will ultimately help with your reputation and get you more clients.
Disclaimer: I am no way claiming that I am an expert—I am still learning project to project. These tips are just based on my experience.
Wayne Bonilla is a Senior Broadcasting Electronic Media Arts student at San Francisco State University and a Freelance Videographer and Editor.