Turn your passion into a career as a freelance video producer
You can turn your love of video production from a side hustle into financial independence and ultimately your dream career.
However, as any freelancer in any field will tell you, the key to success is you. As your boss, you need to work smarter and not harder. This means maximizing all your efforts so you can move up and connect to clients with better-paying projects. These include both corporate and music video productions.
It’s these more lucrative gigs that will give you the freedom to live your best life. As a freelance video producer, the sky’s the limit. You just need to follow the 6 tips below to get the most out of your freelance video production career.
1. Make plans
The old saying goes, “failing to plan is planning to fail.” You need to have a one, three, and five-year plan with obtainable goals and appropriate rewards. This structure will keep your freelance career-focused. Additionally, having a list of achieved goals will help motivate you through a rough patch. You can always look back on where you were vs what you have accomplished.
Building your own business requires budgeting resources, especially time. The plans must include time spent marketing yourself, from getting client referrals to developing social media branding which will help you land your next higher-paying project. As your boss, it is up to you to fill your business pipeline and find your next clients.
2. Play to your strengths
When starting your career you may have to work your way up to being a producer. So take it in stride and focus on what you are best at. For example, if you have a strong editing background then focus on landing jobs that can showcase that. And if you don’t know a field, such as animation or storyboarding, then be honest and say you don’t as the truth will come out anyway.
3. Always be networking
The video production industry is all about connections and reputation. The relationships you develop will either open or close doors for you. Always treat talent, crew, and others with respect and be dependable. These two traits will further your career faster than you think. For example, A videographer may suggest you replace a producer who got fired due to their bad attitude or poor management skills.
Networking is not a natural skill for many of us. However, like most other talents, you just need coaching and practice. If you’re not sure where to start, here’s a helpful video guide:
If you just want the highlights, Evan Carmichael suggests implementing the following:
- Redefine what “networking” means. It is not job fairs or industry events with networking in the title.
- Networking means establishing a real connection with another person and developing a relationship with them.
- Broaden your chances to interact with people in the industry. Go to trade shows, professional society meetings, and leadership conferences.
- Going to events where networking is not the focus, but you still can meet other professionals, with similar interests.
- With the focus not being on networking but on something else, you have a better chance to create real connections.
- The trick is to make yourself easy to talk to. Wear a shirt with your company’s logo or an interesting slogan. This will make people ask you what that graphic means?
- Get people talking about themselves. Don’t be afraid to ask people why they are at this event. Ask what they hope to get out of it. What cool things are they working on?
- This is how you figure out what they want and what opportunities are available.
- Play matchmaker by connecting people who have something to offer one another.
- This selflessness will grow your network exponentially and these people will be more likely to help you create other connections in the future.
4. Market yourself
While networking, always have a short clip on your phone, around two minutes, that highlights the variety of projects you have completed. This is also a fantastic way to highlight your skill as a storyteller if you can create a memorable narrative as well. This visual portfolio can also do wonders for your linked social media accounts.
5. Develop more skills
Finally, your plans should include time for learning some new skills that synergize with the ones you already have. That way you can pivot to parts of projects that the client will pay more for, or that will give you better exposure.
6. Getting that dream job
You must develop the previous skills to help you land gigs in the lucrative fields of corporate or music videos. By playing to your strengths, networking, and developing more skills you have increased your value immensely. And having a proven track record of completed jobs will raise your profile and lead to financial independence from the traditional 40hr grind.
Your successful history will make securing corporate or music video projects much easier. As both areas are going to be looking for someone who can produce results. Either one or both of these fields offer great paying gigs that can transform financial independence into a lucrative career.
Corporate video production
Businesses need you to produce videos for them. Their projects range from internal communications, such as training, to company profiles and branding. And they are looking for freelance video producers to make them as engaging as possible.
Simplification is essential for corporate video production, especially when there are so many people in these businesses that want to have their input implemented. The key is to streamline your production so the project does not get derailed.
The fine folks at Soundstripe have a great article detailing how to minimize obstacles throughout the corporate video production process.
Here are the takeaways, if you want to skip ahead:
- Take advantage of pre-production. Utilize storyboards and shot list templates to get better feedback.
- This will eliminate many issues later, such as endless edits and revisions in post-production.
- Sound design matters as much as visuals. This goes from music choice to the audio quality of the narrator.
- Audio establishes and reinforces connections to the visuals, and this engagement can help minimize the number of versions you’ll have to make later.
- Knowing which platform this video is ending up on will allow you to optimize for it from prep-production onward. Always double-check the destined platform at least once during production.
- Come prepared with stock video and images as well as royalty-free music to save time and end up under budget.
- When possible, outsource. This will benefit the video’s quality and help you to get more work from them or others.
Many of these same tips apply to music videos. The key differences are pleasing one person, the artist, and the creative license to go wild with themes, colors, and lighting.
How to shoot a music video
Music videos allow you to showcase your creativity by interpreting an artist’s song. This field offers a lot of freedom when it comes to creating and maintaining a vibe through the use of non-realistic colors and lighting options. Just make sure you and the artist are always on the same page.
Soundstripe has an excellent article detailing how to shoot a music video and the necessary steps required to make the artist’s vision come to life.
Here are the highlights, if you want to skip ahead:
- Music videos allow you to focus more on the creative side versus the technical or narrative demands in other projects.
- Artists require a “treatment” which is a visual outline somewhere between storyboarding and an idea collage similar to using Pinterest.
- A mood board is also essential to the treatment as it illustrates the tone and style you have in mind.
- You want to highlight the chosen colors and lighting effects to see if it’s consistent with the artist’s brand.
- Treatments also include relevant technical information such as required gear and locations.
- The treatment should lay out whether this is going to be a story-based, performance-based video, or a mixture.
- Pre-production is more time-intensive in music videos than in other projects.
- This is because your job here is to enhance the song, so learn it well enough to sing it in your sleep.
- Because you need to emphasize both the emotional and rhythmic beats of the song.
- Get the music video budget finalized.
- Storyboards are your greatest tool.
- They allow you to mock up basic shots to see how they sync with the song.
- Also creating a shot list is essential for working with other creatives.
- And the list keeps you focused on shots you need to capture that day.
- Casting actors is another vital part of pre-production, don’t settle for ok, go for perfect for the part.
- Using your connections is key to advancing your career as you can call in favors to complete the project.
- As you move on to larger budgeted projects you may be able to hire additional crew such as runners, dop, and a director so you can stay focused on the creative.
It’s a wrap
Turning your passion into a career as a freelance video producer takes work. You need a plan that will play to your strengths and allow for further skill development. Remember to use a self-produced video to promote yourself through social media platforms. This clip is also useful to stand out during networking opportunities. Utilizing these steps will help you obtain corporate and music video productions that will pay you very, very well.
Story by Dave Staples