Finding new clients is one of the hardest parts of launching a videography business. I know from experience — for the first few years I lived in LA, I had a hard time making a living as a freelancer. I tried the usual routes — a website, college alumni groups, networking events. Nothing seemed to work. I’d send out my resume to ads on craigslist and …. never …. hear …. back.
It was a competitive market, and I just didn’t have the experience, skills, or equipment to stand out from the crowd. But then I came across some unconventional ways to find clients — and since then I’ve had a steady stream of videography and editing gigs.
This is in spite of the fact that I don’t have a “reel”. I don’t have a dedicated video production page on my website. I don’t spend too much time marketing my videography skills, or post many of my videos online. In fact, I’m trying to transition out of the field altogether!
Since moving to Portland, I’ve landed a handful of gigs, none of which I came across through the “conventional” job search process.
Here are a few of my favorite tricks:
If you’re not leveraging the “sharing” or “gig” economy to find work, you’re missing out on a bunch of clients. While your competitors are spending their time on craigslist, you can be tapping into a whole new marketplace. It’s true that TaskRabbit gigs may not pay as well as other outlets, but you can rest easy knowing that you will get paid: the site handles payments directly, so you don’t have to worry about following up on invoices.
I found dozens of production and editing gigs on TaskRabbit when I lived in LA, some of which turned into long-term clients who still send me work here in Portland. Plus, keeping a profile on TaskRabbit means that clients can find you directly. I was offered a gig out of the blue just last week, based solely on my TaskRabbit profile and reviews from previous customers.
I’m an active Twitter user, and in many cases it’s been the perfect tool for reaching out to local businesses. Some businesses will Tweet job leads to their followers before placing a traditional ad, or may give preference to applications who reach out on social media.
After finding an ad for a small business that needed a videographer, I sent in my resume, and then quickly followed up on Twitter. It dramatically sped up the interview process, and within a few of days I was meeting up with the owners at a coffeeshop. I had the chance to shoot a few demo scenes and get to know the business owners before they started meeting other applications.
3. Meetup.com Groups
If you’ve made any attempt to promote your business in person, then chances are you’ve already been to several Meetup events. But which events? If you’re only going to “freelancing” or “networking” meetups, then most likely you’re going to meet people just like you — unemployed, out-of-work, and potentially competing for the same clients.
Instead, go to events that interest you for other reasons. Maybe a food or drink related meetup, or a hiking group. You’ll get to meet people who aren’t entrenched in the same line of work as you, and without the added pressure that networking events can involve. Here in Portland, I signed on to shoot some videos for a relationship-based Meetup group looking to recruit new members. If you’re feeling ambitious, start your own event for a non-work-related hobby or activity.
4. Blogging and e-mail lists
I already mentioned that I don’t actively promote my videography work on my website. But I discuss my projects in e-books and blog posts — like this one. That lets people know that video production is one of my skills, even if it’s not my primary focus. And when people who read my blog for other reasons — say, they like my posts about Burning Man — need a video made, we already have shared interests and a prior connection.
I recently went to an event where a writer/blogger was looking for an intro video to her site. I told her that I did that kind of work, and gave her my business card. “Wait a minute,” she said. “I know you!” It turned out that she’d already come across my site and was familiar with some of my posts and e-books. Instead of being a random videographer she’d just met, she already had an idea of my business style and personality. If you can build up a reputation in some other field — via a blog or an e-mail list — you’ll make it that much easier for clients to find and connect with you.
5. A handwritten letter
Don’t forget snail mail! While it’s great to reach out to businesses via the latest platforms, it can be just as effective to connect the old-fashioned way. When I heard that Airbnb had opened a new office in Portland, I Googled their address and sent them a letter, letting them know that I’d been active user of their site and would love to work with them. A few days later, I got an e-mail inviting me an employee picnic to interview some of the local crew and cut together a short video. Who knows? Maybe I’ll get to meet the CEO!
If you’re looking for work — in any field! — don’t pass up your chance to get in touch or follow up in unconventional ways . If you sit and wait, you might get overlooked. But if you stay engaged on Twitter or other social media platforms, your chances of an interview will increase. Make it clear that if they don’t hire you soon, someone else will!
How about you? Have you ever reached out to clients in an unconventional way? Let us know if these ideas work for you! For more tips, check out Saul’s e-book The Lateral Freelancer, available for $2.99 on Amazon. Or follow him at @saulofhearts.