Joey assured me that if I did the leg work and followed a plan, there was no doubt I would be able to attract clients. The most important thing he told me was that no matter what’s going on in the industry, hiring managers are having just as much trouble finding talent as talent is having to find work.
Joey laid down a foundation for what was about to become the best and scariest decision of my life. While everyone, it seemed, was clinging onto their jobs for dear life, I walked into my boss’s office the next day and handed in my notice. Then I took Joey’s advice and started hustling. It took me about two months to start getting fairly steady work, and already, I was making more money than I did when I had a staff job. At the end of my first year, I doubled my salary, and by year three, I was making six figures!
This book is a Trojan horse. It’s a whack upside your head to get you to take control of your career and life.
Comfort is the enemy of growth. You’re going to get uncomfortable, and you’re going to grow.
I realized that freelancing allowed me to reach not just my professional but also PERSONAL goals. It allowed me the control over my life that I was craving and that I knew I’d never give up again.
But first, they had to let go of that comfortable job, and that’s key to a lot of what I’m going to tell you. Remember, comfort is the enemy of growth, and if you want to succeed at this, you have to seek discomfort. You have to get up—GET UP—and reach. That’s how you get there.
You are probably thinking, If freelancing is so great, why isn’t everybody doing it? There are two good reasons. The first is that most people simply don’t know how to quit their jobs and take a different path. I wrote this book to help them make that transition, with step-by-step instructions. The second reason is fear. Most of us are afraid of trying something new and failing. That’s OK because when you are afraid, I will be here for you every step of the way. We’ll take the freelance journey together in baby steps.
That experience taught me an important lesson: When you work for someone else, you have no control over the work you do.
I’ll say that again because I want it to sink in: When you work for someone else, you have no control over the work you do. None.
During my first year as a freelancer, I said yes to every job to build a large client base. I was booked almost every day, but the work I was doing wasn’t as cool as the stuff I was seeing from the best studios. And those studios sure as hell weren’t calling me. I didn’t have the portfolio that would impress them yet and sorely needed to improve my reel. My financial situation had improved immensely, but my reel needed a tune-up. Ironically, the lesson here is that being just “good enough” can get you plenty of gigs if you make your clients happy and work in a town where there isn’t a huge pool of awesome freelancers. I also learned, eventually, that being better than “good enough” won’t necessarily allow you to charge more for your work. You have to gain the control to charge more.
In my second freelance year, I focused on sharpening my skill set. I took classes to learn new tools and techniques and finally got a foot in the door at a studio that did Motion Graphics work for HBO, Showtime, and the Discovery Channel. Surrounded by amazing talent, I felt like an imposter. I was a “two” surrounded by “nines.” They weren’t just a little better than me; they were light-years ahead of me. That studio gave me work that was beyond my current ability, allowing me a chance to fail, but I worked like a mule, staying all night to prove myself and turn out awesome product. I improved tremendously as a Motion Designer, my reel improved, and by the end of that second year, I began turning down work frequently.
I eventually boosted my day rate to $600 and made more than $125,000 in a year. Raising my rate that first time was one of the scariest things I’ve ever done. It’s terrifying for a freelancer to ask for more money because it’s so easy for the client to say no, and then it’s awkward. Worse, they can just stop hiring you. It took me two weeks to work up the guts to do it, and I actually called my old boss from the studio—never burn a bridge—to ask for his advice, which he graciously gave me. I almost fainted asking for a raise in my rate, but I did it, and it worked.
I continued approaching clients directly and managing multiple projects frequently, hiring my buddies to help produce jobs that I couldn’t physically do by myself. Because I was taking on so much work, the final year I freelanced before starting a studio was the most grueling and stressful year I’d had up until that point. Amy and I were saving to pay for our wedding, and we wanted to do it FAST. I’d double- and triple-booked myself for months and was pulling all-nighters to get stuff out. But I was in charge of all of those jobs, working on my terms, and that year, I made $200,000 and paid for our wedding and honeymoon.
Two. Hundred. Grand. Think about that. That year was grueling, but it taught me another valuable lesson about freelancing: You can choose a year of hell in exchange for a big bag of gold. You can work long hours and put yourself through tons of stress if there’s a good reason, like getting married, starting a studio, or saving for a house. I don’t recommend doing all that in one year, but it’s a choice you have when you’re a freelancer and not on staff answering to a boss.
I developed a career strategy and created a tactical approach to achieve my goals, satisfy my why, and design my ideal life.
My why had two goals—teaching and spending time with my family. I found that I had more than one why, and you will, too. In part one of this book, The Freelance Manifesto, you’ll see why identifying your own why is important. Your why determines your freelance choices, which gives you the power and motivation to create the life you want.
The how—how I achieved my goals as a freelancer, and how you can achieve yours—is described in Part II: The Freelancer’s Field Guide. Part two teaches you the methods I developed for a successful freelance career. These methods allow you to design the life you want and earn the money and freedom to live it. OK, fine, that sounds lofty and weird and new agey, I know, but I warned you that I was going to say some things that would make you uncomfortable, even skeptical.
Think of it this way: If you’re like most people, you got on a train the minute you started school, and you’ve been running on that same track ever since. After high school and college, you took a job that happened to be out there, one you could do that was offered by an employer who would hire you. That’s backward. That track leads to only one place, and you may not like it, but now you’re stuck. You’re stuck in a city, a job, and a life that you picked from a few choices, without ever imagining that there are many more choices out there.
Instead of blindly following that track, you can literally write down how you want your life to look and then take steps to make it look that way. This exercise has been called “The Perfect Day Exercise,” and legends like Debbie Millman recommend doing it (see freelance.how/debbie)The nuts and bolts are this: Figure out what you want a typical day ten years from now to look like. Where do you want to live? What kind of work do you want to do? Do you want to go into an office every day and work with the same people, or do you want to work with different people? Maybe you want to work remotely. Do you want to live in an expensive place, or do you want to live somewhere cheap? In the city or in the country? By the sea or in the mountains? Now ask yourself, if your actions stay the same as they are now, will that perfect day be your reality in ten years? Probably not.
Figure out what you want because you can have it, but only if you change your mindset. Give yourself permission to decide what your life is going to look like, or else it will just be a random collection of haphazard choices that met some short-term goals.
When I decided to leave Toil, it was because of this exercise. It was the first time I consciously went through the exercise of “choosing,” and it was liberating to imagine what my life could be like if I actually took control and designed it. Amy and I sat down and literally wrote down our ideal life, what we wanted—and did not want—our lives to look like.
There’s a core concept of being a freelancer, and you’re going to hear me repeat it throughout this book: You will never get paid to do something that you haven’t already done before.
You will never get paid to do something that you haven’t already done before.
You Will Never Get Paid To Do Something That You Haven’t Already Done Before.
YOU WILL NEVER GET PAID TO DO SOMETHING THAT YOU HAVEN’T ALREADY DONE BEFORE.
Sorry for yelling, but you need to really get that to have a freelancing career. You will never get paid to do something that you haven’t already done before. So, you need to do the work you want to get paid for before you can get paid to do it. The only way to do that is to take time off from paid work to do projects that push you to the next level.
The best studios in the world operate like this. Companies like Buck, Royale, Shilo, and MK12 invest MASSIVE resources to do unpaid work, so they can do better work and eventually get paid to do it. In 2012, Buck created a piece called Good Books “Metamorphosis.” That piece was most likely a money-loser on a humongous scale, but the publicity, accolades, and talent development that the project earned were priceless. It elevated the company to the pinnacle of Motion Design studios. Buck used that piece to develop its internal talent and ended up with better Motion Designers. Metamorphosis launched careers and made Buck a household name in the Motion Design industry.
We may be Artists, but we can be good at business, too. You have to be creative and good at business to maximize your potential as a freelancer, and the business part is what I lay out for you in this book. And don’t think business means hard sells, spreadsheets, and contracts. That’s a HUGE misconception. Business is the art of providing value to your clients. You’re not tricking anyone; in the end, you’re just making their lives easier. But they won’t give you the chance to make their lives easier unless you can market yourself properly and establish relationships.
Your goal, as a creative person who wants to do badass work—which takes time and money—is to learn how to separate the money-making projects from the creative ones. Freelancing lets you do that.
To work at the highest levels, you need the portfolio to support that goal. Even if you come out of Ringling, or any other great Motion Design college, your first job might be as an in-house Motion Designer for an ad agency doing bottom-of-the-barrel work. You’ll be doing work that needs to get done, and it’s not sexy. It’s not what you need in your portfolio to get hired by better clients.
Sure, you can get a job at a studio to make money and then do creative work on your own time before and after work. But even if you have the discipline to do that, you’re going to burn out fast. Freelancing is more sustainable.
But here’s a caveat: If you’re coming right out of school and haven’t worked in the business anywhere AT ALL, get a staff job first. When you’re starting out, a staff job can be an amazing place to learn skills. You won’t be a successful freelancer if you have no skills. So, get a job, but start thinking about freelancing. If you’ve been out of school for a while, have been working, and have the skills, think about making the leap.
I have to stress that none of this will work if you don’t have solid Motion Design skills. That’s the price of entry into freelancing. Make sure you have that side down. (I’m completely unbiased, but check out schoolofmotion.com if you need help with those skills.) You don’t have to be a rock star—you’ll get there over time—and once you have a solid base of Motion Design skills, you can focus on the business side.
I mentioned that this book is a bit of a Trojan horse. Well, here it is, the real reason I wrote it: This book is a call to arms, my rallying cry to you to take control of your life—design it, own it, make it what you want it to be. I’ll show you how to do it and remind you that with that knowledge and power comes the responsibility of using it properly. You will have to choose what is important to you. If your lifestyle, your family, getting out of debt, and buying a house are important to you, you can choose to do jobs that will move you closer to those goals. If your goal is to work six months a year and travel or work with nonprofits and do fun, creative work, you can choose to do that. Your goals can change from year to year. But you will always have that choice.
You have no work choices, time choices, or money choices.
Freelancing gives you the authority to make those choices. Whatever your goal, you need flexibility to achieve it. Being on staff, you give up that flexibility in exchange for the illusion of security. That is the dilemma: not having the authority to make the choices you need to make to achieve your goals.
As a freelancer, taking time off to work on your reel might cost you a few thousand bucks, and with no big office, no staff, and much lower expenses, that might be no big deal.
The more creatively bankrupt a project is, the more money there is in play.
—David Lewandowski, from Wonderland, directed by Terry Rayment at Eskimo freelance.how/wonderland
In the simplest terms, the more money a client pays you, the more control they want, and the less creative the job’s going to be. That is the “Pain” end of the graph. The less money a client has, the cooler the job. The project’s budget can even be negative, where there is no client, no money, and you may be spending your own cash. That is where you can be the most creative, and that’s often where your best work comes from. That’s the “Rainbows” end of the graph. Some of the best work in Motion Design in the last decade has been these “passion projects” that individuals or studios have done, unpaid work where they had the freedom to create whatever they wanted: the Rainbows.
Now let’s talk about the middle. The middle of the graph are jobs where there’s some money and some creative control but not a lot of either. It’s not the Pain where you’re making a lot of money, and it’s not the Rainbows where you’re doing your best work. It’s No Man’s Land, and you have no good reason to be there.
Lots of freelance Motion Designers get trapped in No Man’s Land. The money is just enough to sustain you, and the creative aspect is just cool enough that you don’t hate yourself for doing it, but it isn’t moving you forward creatively or financially. You’re treading water.
When you’re in Pain, you get a big paycheck. The paycheck is nice, but it’s secondary to the real reason you want to do that kind of work. The paycheck affords you time. As a freelancer, that big payday gives you the freedom to start saying no to other paid work and using your time to create something on the other end of the graph, the Rainbows.
There in the Rainbows, you have total control. You can do exactly what you want, create your vision, and make something really cool that you would not have the opportunity to create otherwise. Those Rainbow jobs will get you noticed and move your career forward. Pain makes the Rainbows possible.
Your rational brain gets overtaken by your lizard brain, with primitive thoughts of fear and aggression and worst-case scenarios that take you all the way to homelessness. But freelancers have the luxury of low overhead, whereas companies don’t. A big part of going freelance is coming to grips with the fact that, most likely, nothing bad is going to happen to you. If you’re a half-decent Motion Designer and do what you’re supposed to do, you are going to get booked, and nothing bad will happen at all. And if it does, it will never be as bad as your lizard brain would have you imagine.
When you’re a freelancer, your reputation is always on the line. You have skin in the game, and the stakes are high. You’re fired up about every job because if you don’t do a good job, the client doesn’t have to hire you again. There’s a direct relationship between the work you do and your future with the client.
As a freelancer, knowing your good work will provide you with repeat business is motivating. More importantly, you can exceed your client’s expectations and improve your reputation in the marketplace. If you do a good job for a client, not only will they hire you again, but their employees, when they move to other companies, will also recommend you to their new studios. Staking your reputation on the work you’re doing every day is enormously motivating. Your reputation is everything when you’re a freelancer.
When you’re stuck in the middle for too long, you start to get jaded about the work that got you excited about Motion Design in the first place.
Our profession is very cool, but sooner or later, the shine will wear off, and it’ll just be your job. If it’s not moving in the direction you want, it can be demoralizing.
Motion Designers struggle with accepting the fact that we’re doing commercial art. If you’re working on an animation for a gigantic bank, the bank doesn’t care that you’re an Artist. They care that the logo is big enough and that it’s the right color. They care if they can squeeze four pages of legalese at the end of your video. It can feel gross, and you might think the Motion Design business would be great if it weren’t for the clients. Don’t adopt that attitude. If you’re getting paid to do work for a client, assume it’s not cool. Accept that you’re doing work for money, own it, and move on.
The long-term goal is to get out of No Man’s Land and split your time between Pain and Rainbows. Why are you animating a pie chart? You’re doing it to get a lot of money for a month of work so you can take the next month off to do the work you want to do. Accepting that concept is liberating because it gives you a why.
Freelancing is a way to get unstuck, own your time, and split it between Pain and Rainbows. You need to consciously choose Pain work and accept it, so you have time to do the Rainbow work. Time is far more valuable to you than money. You can always make more money, but you can’t make more time. To invest in yourself, the currency you need is not money but time.
Time is the freelancer’s currency, and spending time in the middle of the graph making sort-of-cool work for sort-of-nice money is not going to afford you any time or move your career forward.
Let me reiterate: making money is not the primary goal. If you make a lot of money and keep getting the same projects you hate doing, your career won’t go anywhere. Money is a tool that buys you time to improve your skills and do the kind of work that will get you noticed and bring you the work you crave.
Now, you might think that if you keep doing middle-of-road work, eventually your clients will wise up and bring you cooler stuff to do. The fact is, even if they have cooler stuff, they won’t give it to you. They’ll probably give it to someone who’s already doing that kind of work—not you, their middle-of-the-road Motion Designer. Again, it’s the catch-22. You need time to learn new tricks and build a better portfolio, and no one’s going to pay you to get there. Once you have the time, and you get better, you will have a better reel and get better jobs. Once you get better jobs, you will have an even better reel and get even better jobs. It’s like a flywheel that keeps you moving forward.
Initially, you won’t start out with the magical ability to pick and choose the work that lets you meet your financial and lifestyle goals like my friends did, but you can get there and it’s not as hard as you think. That’s the end game.
The obvious and most immediate benefit of freelancing is that you’ll make more money, and while money is not the goal, it will buy you more time and more freedom.
As a freelancer doing jobs for smaller clients, you may be concerned that you don’t have any big names in your portfolio. The fact is, it’s not that important. Clients we surveyed said that while seeing a big name on a freelancer’s reel may show them the freelancer is used to working at a demanding pace, it doesn’t show them how good the Motion Designer’s work is. Clients are more concerned with seeing good work, and everyone in this industry knows the most interesting work is often not created for big-name clients; it’s created for small clients, or for no client at all.
As a freelancer, you get to choose how much you work.
The obvious benefit is work-life balance.
Don’t expect this benefit to come right away. You should expect to put in more time initially as a freelancer. The learning curve for Motion Design is hard enough, and getting really good at what you do takes time. Learning how to manage projects and clients also takes time.
Imagine you’re building a rocket ship for a client who knows nothing about rocket ships. You show them the rocket ship, and they decide they want another window in the rocket, a really small change in their eyes. Of course, now you’re going to have to remove the entire shell and move the engine somewhere else, and all the custom-made wiring doesn’t fit anymore. To the client, it’s a simple change because they don’t know anything about rocket ships. Many clients don’t know anything about Motion Design either, and they will ask you to make changes that can cost you a lot of time and grief, simply because they don’t understand the implications of what they’re asking. You can learn how to manage that process with the client, but it will take some time initially. You may have to put in more hours to get started.
When you think about it, it’s crazy that most of us in the United States accept two weeks off a year as normal. There are fifty-two weeks in every year, two of them are yours, and fifty of them belong to your employer. When you go freelance, it’s like the blinders come off, and you realize how insane that is. We live in this awesome world surrounded by wonderful people we care about and get only two weeks a year—plus weekends, whoop-de-do—to enjoy them.
It hit me one day that I’m spending more time making money than I am with my family. If the way you use your time is a snapshot of what your priorities are, then money was more important than my kids. It was starting to feel like a weird situation, like a really odd use of a lifetime.
—David Stanfield, freelancer, davidstanfieldis.me
Who made the rule that we have to work when someone else says we have to work?
When did we all relinquish control over our time and how we spend it—literally, our lives—to somebody else?
I don’t remember agreeing to that, do you?
Creativity is not like a faucet you can turn on and off. As a freelancer, I would sometimes wake up at four o’clock in the morning and crank out seven hours of amazing work. In three days, I could do more work than I did in a whole week on a nine-to-five schedule. The caveat is, to do that, you need to be freelancing remotely and not on-site at your client’s office. Then you have the freedom to do creative work when you are at your most creative.
When you’re freelancing remotely, you’ve wrestled control of your time back into your own hands. You can work at your ideal times and create an ideal situation. Your work will be better, and you’ll be happier. Your clients will notice the better work, and they won’t care how you got it done. They only care that you did a great job for them.
Once you’re a freelancer, you’ll be ruined for the workplace forever. You’ll go to the beach on Wednesday and have the whole ocean to yourself. You’ll go to the airport on Tuesday, and there will be no line. You’ll wonder why you didn’t do this sooner. It’s like being in a secret club.
Hiring a freelance Motion Designer to work remotely is only successful if the freelancer is responsible, sticks to deadlines, and hypercommunicates.
As a successful freelancer, it’s your responsibility to be current on and to become adept at these tools, so you can educate a client to allow you to work remotely. You have to understand, accept, and manage their fear, so they eventually come to trust you.
Most freelancers, unfortunately, are not very good at working remotely.
I’ve worked for people I didn’t like and chose to never work for them again. Whenever they tried to book me again, I always seemed to be busy. It’s a wonderful feeling, being able to choose your employer instead of the other way around.
Going freelance is a life-changing decision. It’s scary, exhilarating, and a little like learning to ride a bike. You’re going to be wobbly at first and afraid to go fast, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll have access to a whole new universe. Sadly, most people will never give freelancing a shot, even though they would have a much better quality of life. They could do work they care about and enjoy, spend more time with their families, and be more financially secure. But they will never freelance because they cannot overcome that fear of quitting their job. Some people think they’re not “cut out” for freelancing. Deep down, it’s fear that’s holding them back.
Until you do it, you have no idea how transformative it is.
You don’t even have to settle for what someone wants to pay you because as a freelancer, you tell them what you cost. Once you get the hang of it, you will wonder why no one told you freelancing is an option. Most people don’t talk about it. I’m telling you now: It’s an option.
Freelancing allows you to rearrange your work to match your life priorities. You can scale up to make more money or down to have more free time. You can work with people you enjoy being around or choose a shorter commute. The longer you freelance and the more clients you gain, the more options you have, and the more precisely you can design the life you want.
That’s an alien idea to a lot of people, designing your life. You don’t have to react to life or play only the cards you’re dealt. You can sit down with a piece of paper and decide how many hours you want to work, how much money you want to make, and what kinds of clients you want to work with. You can draw a map of how to get there. It might take a few years, but you can design your life and live it. I truly believe you can.
If you want success, figure out the price, then pay it. It sounds trivial and obvious, but if you unpack the idea, it has extraordinary power.
—Scott Adams, How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life
Isn’t that a crazy idea, believing you could actually decide what you want to do with your life, then doing it? What a concept!
As a freelancer, it’s up to you to find the next job, and there isn’t always one out there, so you have to learn how to deal with uncertainty.
When there’s no work, you don’t get paid. There’s nothing I can tell you that will make it easier for you the first time that happens.
No matter how good you are, you can’t control the market.
The market always comes back, and there will always be work. If you’re good enough, and you’re doing the things I tell you to do in this book, you’re going to get work.
That is your mantra to get you over the humps, so you better believe it: If you’re good enough, and you’re doing the things I tell you to do in this book, you’re going to get work.
Be patient and ignore that voice in your head telling you you’re never going to work again. Trust in the fact that people hired you once, you did a good job, and they will hire you again.
[When I travel] I let everybody know like, “Hey, guys, I’m going to be away.” I make sure that my out-of-office response was on Gmail. I was like, “I’m going on vacation, and in an effort to have a real vacation, I’m not going to be checking my e-mail. Sorry. See you in a few days.” I actually got so many positive responses from clients because…they thought that was just really refreshing that I was being honest about it, that I’m not going to be answering your e-mails right now.
That’s the only way that I was able to do it, was just put my foot down and say, “This is time to take a vacation. I’m not going to make any money, but that’s OK.” Being a real human is more important.
You have to manage the fear and deal with the uncertainty. That’s the small price you pay for being a freelancer.
To work remotely, we need instant responses to e-mail. No excuses about time zones or Wi-Fi signal. Be as reliable and prompt as you would be in studio.
—Anonymous producer from our survey
As a freelancer working remotely, you need high-speed Internet, and it has to be reliable and fast because you’re often moving big files around. Even if you’re in a major city and have a good mobile hotspot, your connection may not be reliable, and you don’t want to stake your job and reputation on slow Internet. At some point, working on a laptop is going to slow you down, and being slow as a freelancer is not an option. You’re going to need to be at your desktop computer to do a lot of the work.
Those same problems can come into play when you work from home. Remote workers are initially excited about working from home and the idea that you can wake up, roll out of bed, and start working. In reality, it’s harder to collaborate with people because you can’t just turn your head and see what your coworkers are doing or ask them to look at what you’re doing. There are a lot of technologies that make it easier, but there are still challenges. There are distractions, too. You may be able to work from home if you live by yourself or have a separate workspace, but it becomes impossible the second you have children.
Motion Designers need to concentrate for hours at a time. Children don’t care about your powers of concentration. They want hugs, and they’re super cute. You love them. The minute they toddle over and put up their arms, you’re distracted, and you’ve lost your concentration. That After Effects comp with two hundred layers you’re working on requires total focus, and if that focus scatters for even a moment, you’ve set yourself back at least twenty minutes because you need to be back “in the zone” to work on it. This phenomenon is called context switching, by the way, and it’s a doozy if you don’t protect against it.
So, once you’ve hugged your kids and handed them off to your spouse, it takes about twenty minutes to get back to where you were before you got distracted. If you’re distracted four times in one day, that’s eighty minutes lost. It’s horribly inefficient to work from home when you’re regularly interrupted, and it’s not just children that distract you. Your spouse, girlfriend, boyfriend, or roommate might interrupt you. They don’t mean to, but they see you sitting there in your underwear and think, I’ll just say hi and see how it’s going. And you just burned twenty minutes.
Working from home may not be as great as you expect it to be. I tried it for a while, then moved into an office space with no distractions. I got my work done more efficiently so I could go home and enjoy my lovely family.
If you live alone and want to work from home, you still need to separate your life and your work. If you’re eating dinner and thinking about work and your computer is right there, it’s too tempting to spend two hours working instead of enjoying your dinner. Separate your work environment and home environment, and you will get more work done and be happier, too.
As a freelancer, you need to deal with cash flow.
Companies usually pay “net 30.” Net 30 means that, in theory, they will pay you within thirty days. In practice, they usually pay you on the very last day, day thirty.
Some clients pay freelancers net 45. If you go from being a freelancer to opening your own studio, you may have to deal with clients that pay net 90, and some gigantic clients even pay their invoices net 180.
Freelancing requires you to deal with client contracts, such as work agreements that clients want you to sign. You may also have your own contracts that you want the client to sign, where you define the terms of your work. There are important questions to consider when you create a contract. For example, how many rounds of revisions are you willing to do? What sort of benchmarks and goalposts are you setting for the job? What are the job’s parameters? What happens if the client asks for one thing, then changes their mind, and you have to do a lot more work? To deal with business contracts effectively, you need to know how to talk to clients about work parameters and possible issues, and you need to know how to not get screwed over.
Another business hassle you have to manage is sales and marketing. When you’re an employee, someone is out there getting all the gigs for you. When you’re a freelancer, you’re getting your own gigs. You’re doing all the sales and marketing. That part of freelancing is a gigantic fear for Motion Designers, and that’s why I spend a lot of time in this book showing you exactly how to do it.
Before we go any further, let me just define sales as the art of telling people what value you can bring to them. That’s all it is. It’s not cold-calling. It’s not showing up with a briefcase at their office and asking to speak to the owner. Sales is just the way you let a potential client know that you have something to offer them and that it’s something they’re already paying other people for, so it’s not like they don’t need it.
If you’ve never done sales, it can seem icky to sell your art, but the harsh reality is, if you don’t, no one will buy it. To be a professional Motion Designer, you have to do sales and marketing, but it’s not hard or icky, and I’ll show you exactly how to do it.
So now you know why I’m so jazzed about freelancing and why I believe—I truly believe—every Motion Designer should try it. I’ve told you the good, the bad, and the ugly, and you should understand by now that freelancing isn’t all sunshine and puppies, but it’s pretty damn great.
Phase zero: I can do motion design
phase one: they know me
phase two: they like me
phase three: they trust me
phase four: they need me
phase five: my freelance life