Who are my customers?
People setting out as freelancers explains how they network and get new clients.
Identify your potential clients
Successful freelancers build long term relationships with their clients and will often work with them on a regular basis on a range of different productions over a period of many years. This works well for both the freelancer and the client as they know each other’s working style and requirements and they know they complement each other.
It can be challenging when you are either new to the industry or looking to step up and find new clients to work with. This is where having a focus on a particular genre and doing an analysis of your full skills profile can help you identify which companies would value you most highly and then you can target them with your marketing efforts.
Do your research thoroughly, focus on specific people – either freelancers or within production companies – and write to them. Keep it short and explain why you are the best person to solve their needs. Quite simply, less is often more. You are looking for the clients that are the best fit for you and to build long term relationships with them – which ultimately means more regular work for you with less marketing effort.
Remember if you don’t get along with the client and you can’t gel, it’s going to be difficult to produce great work together so consider whether working with them really is right for you.
Collaborating not competing
As well as building long term relationships with clients it can work well to build good relationships with those who do the same role as you. This might sound counter-intuitive building relationships with your competition, however, if you are hired on a big project you may find that you are working as part of a team where there are more than one doing your role so you’ll need to collaborate. Also, you can refer each other for work when you are busy. Again, building long term relationships will stand you in good stead.
Once you are clear on the people and/or companies you want to market your services to you need to find ways to get in front of them and pitch yourself. This can take place in a number of ways. You can look to attend events and conferences which they are attending and/or you can reach out to them directly via email or direct message. You’ll need to have a short compelling pitch ready that centres around why they should want to work with you and why you are the best person to solve their needs.
In addition to approaching people directly you can leverage your networks. If you can see that someone in your network is connected to a person you want to meet then see if they will introduce you to that person. Your introduction then comes with a built-in endorsement which makes it all the better. Word-of-mouth is one of the most valuable ways to get in front of new clients.
This can be hard when you are just starting out, but you will likely have more people in your networks than you might think. If you’ve studied media at any time then you’ll likely have tutors who have networks they can introduce you to. And chances are you’ll also have had guest speakers who are happy to be contacted as well. Reach out to them. ScreenSkills run our own networking events as well as attending other organisations’ events around the country. There are also further tips on how to network well.
If you are looking to grow your networks further, there are many regional organisations that organise local events within the sector, be they screenings, masterclasses or socials. Find out what is happening in your area and make the effort to go along and meet people. Don’t be afraid to ask someone who has been working in the industry for a while if they will mentor and support you as you find your feet – ideally someone doing a role in a similar area to you as they’ll likely be keen to build their networks with new talent.
ScreenSkills offers mentoring support which can also assist with building your networks.
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