I can’t think of anything more rewarding than being your own boss and doing what you love. You make your own hours, you are constantly challenged, and you don’t have to take shit from anyone. I have dedicated my life to this pursuit of freedom. It is in my blood, no one in my nuclear family works for a boss. My father owns a cab, my brother is also a videographer and my mom and sister are house wives. I think we would rather starve than put up with working for a boss. My pursuit of this freedom has come at a cost. I have lost relationships, suffered humiliation, lived in constant financial hardship, met with creative crises’ and I am constantly in fear of having a bad month. Despite these challenges every single morning I wake up at the crack of dawn excited to get to work.
The lifeblood of this creative freedom comes in the form of clients. How do I find them? I am not a particularly social person but thanks in large part to social media and blogging I have managed to build a solid client list. In this chapter I will share a few tips that helped me in obtaining, nurturing, and expanding my client portfolio.
These days I don’t do much if any real world prospecting for new clients. Most of them come via referrals or my website (More on that later). But there was a time when I didn’t have a single client and had to get out and do what I hate most… Network. In public settings I am not particularly engaging, I tend to sit in the corner quietly making observations or thinking about my next shoot or edit. Lucky me I did manage to find my first clients through the people I initially documented. Prospecting in the arts works well if it is organic. At first most of them wanted me to work for them for little or nothing. This was fine, in order to get clients I needed to have a portfolio of videos to show other clients what I could do. These initial contacts provided that. You too should use this approach and add these new contacts on your mailing list and social networks.
In the past few years I haven’t been in personal contact with 95% of the folks that I considered my initial client base. People grow, people change that is just the nature of business. What I have done is I have placed a premium on quality not quantity. I put 95% of my networking energy into nurturing the most promising 5% of clients, and the remaining 5% of my networking energy in nurturing the remaining 95% of my clients. I work smart, not hard. For the 95% I send them reminders that I am still around via social networking and mail blasts. This is one way I try to be a relevant part of the collective conversation. The 5% of contacts I consider premium contacts I keep in contact with them regularly via emails, phone calls, and referrals I send their way. It is also pretty easy to maintain these relationships because more often than not they also become good friends. It is not just coincidence that the common thread between this minority of high quality clients is usually their integrity and mutual respect.
This is the most challenging and creative part of my networking strategy. While most people see social media and blogging as a great place to keep in contact with old friends and family, talk about themselves, read the news or just to be a part of the conversation… I rely on it for expanding my client base. Do you really think I would be sharing all these valuable ideas on this blog every week for nothing? This blog is my primary tool for obtaining new clients and building my brand. In exchange for the valuable insight I give the reader, I hope that he or she will spread my ideas and that they will eventually reach someone who needs my services. Every post is either a showcase for my work, a display of my taste, or a sample of my expertise. It is probably the most efficient prospecting and branding tool a freelancer can have. That is certainly the case for me.
Next Friday: Gaming The Sytem.
Trevor “Trevz” Bayack is a Brooklyn-born filmmaker who approaches his web pieces as mini documentaries. Recognized as a member of the 2008 URB magazine Next 100 for pioneering the “video blog” Trevz continually makes his pieces shorter, sharper and ever more shareable” Follow our twitter feed for more.