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new to the freelancing game

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Ryan Carroll
new to the freelancing game
on Jan 16, 2010 at 9:17:23 pm

Hey all,

After being laid off b/c of the recession, I decided to go into business for my self freelancing post-production services and scriptwriting.

I'm just looking for any tips or what to look for when you first start out on your own. I've always worked as an employee and never done contract work.

I've worked on a few projects and have more coming in.

I've already setup a separate bank account for my income, setup up invoices and expense tracking with quickbooks, track expenses for gas, food, and equipment.

Someone told me to save 12-15% of what I make for taxes. Should I register myself as a small business or wait until I start to bring in more income? Are there any benefits to remaining a individual work for hire?

I'm sure I'll start to figure out most of this stuff as I get my feet wet but any insights anyone could provide would be great! I figure since it's the first of the year I need to get a jump on this.

Thanks again!

Ryan Carroll

Rgiddy Productions
Englewood, CO
O: 303-997-8405
M: 812-890-8156

I think; therefore I am.

-Rene Descartes

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Bob Zelin
Re: new to the freelancing game
on Jan 16, 2010 at 11:36:43 pm

Hi -
you are worried about all the wrong things. Typical freelancer "newbie" concerns

"should I buy this"
"should I register as this"

you have only ONE concern. GETTING NEW BUSINESS. Contact everyone. And when you get jobs, stay up at night, and SOLICIT MORE JOBS (say "hey, I am working for "so and so" in Colorado, and I would love to work for you"). And when you get this job, do it again, and again, and again. And when you get all this business, THEN you think about buying equipment, working out of your house, and billing your clients for your services AND your equipment. Then you hire a top accountant who will help you learn how to track your expenses, and write them off. And then you will learn about how to COLLECT YOUR MONEY (because your clients who are booking you all the time won't pay you). And then you will learn that you can afford a nicer place to live, a nicer car, a nicer watch, nicer places to take your dates, and you have to work MORE AND MORE, and track your expenses MORE AND MORE, and worry about all the stuff you are asking about more and more. But for right now, all you have to be concerned about is getting MORE WORK. MORE CLIENTS. Forget about your free time - it's over. You are in business now. If you want free time, get a job. If you want a nicer place to live, a nicer car, better quality women, better quality everything (more money), then freelancing is for you. But if you think that you will EVER having to stop soliciting for new clients, then you are in dream land. You will do this till the day you die (or until the day you decide that you want to work for UPS). Freelancing means MORE MONEY, and less time for your personal life. Your personal life means time to learning new products, new software, new plug in's. Your "Im not working" time means soliciting for new clients. Your only reward is "more stuff". Your friends will look at you and say "boy, Ryan makes a lot of money", but they will never understand how hard you are actually working, to get this stuff. To me, you are not a successful freelancer, until you have earned a lot of money, and have to work again, just to collect that money. To me, this defines that you are "in business" for yourself.

never get a cheap accountant. That is stupid mistake # 1. My business started in 1981, when I was fired from 2 jobs in a row, and could not find a job.

Bob Zelin

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Dan Asselin
Re: new to the freelancing game
on Jan 17, 2010 at 3:02:40 pm

Bob I really believe this post should be placed at the top of the Business forum and be required reading before you are allowed in.


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walter biscardi
Re: new to the freelancing game
on Jan 17, 2010 at 3:42:59 pm

In addition to the brutal reality served up by Bob, and trust me, he is the one guy on this forum who tells it straight up like it is out there, I have a three part series on the Cow about starting a business.

And most recently, Tim Wilson asked me to contribute an article to the Thinking Big edition of the Creative Cow Magazine.

You should find some elements in all four that give you some insight on how I did it here. Of course I have an amazing wife who has supported me in this dream for the past 8 years and that does not hurt either.

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author.
HD Post and Production
Biscardi Creative Media

"Foul Water, Fiery Serpent" now in Post.

Creative Cow Forum Host:
Apple Final Cut Pro, Apple Motion, Apple Color, AJA Kona, Business & Marketing, Maxx Digital.



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Ron Lindeboom
Re: new to the freelancing game
on Jan 17, 2010 at 3:44:54 pm

[walter biscardi] "Of course I have an amazing wife who has supported me in this dream for the past 8 years and that does not hurt either."

Hear, hear!


Ron Lindeboom

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Chris Blair
Re: new to the freelancing game
on Jan 18, 2010 at 4:55:48 pm

In addition to what everyone else way I got jobs when I was freelancing back in the early 90s was to offer to learn a facility's editing system for free. Most of the time I would offer to edit a real, short-form project for them because I felt like I learn best when I have to figure something out for a real project.

Not one company turned me down. Every company eventually hired me to do work. A couple even paid me for the work I offered to do for free because I did the job well. As an experienced person you might think this is a crazy way to get work, but the key is to get your face and skills and attitude in front of people. I'd argue it's easier to spend 8 hours editing for no pay to prove yourself than it is to spend countless hours making calls, sending emails, trying to get past receptionists etc...ALSO for no pay.

Of course you have to have some experience and a solid reel for this to work. Nobody is going to bring someone in that doesn't have some skills and let them "learn on the job."

Chris Blair
Magnetic Image, Inc.
Evansville, IN

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Shawn Bann
Re: new to the freelancing game
on Jan 20, 2010 at 2:49:49 am

I have to agree with Chris.

I know ALOT of people shun "free" work, but sometimes it can really open doors.
I'm not saying ALL situations are like that, but getting yourself out there (and your work) is half the battle.

Ask questions. Trust your gut.

I'm fortunate to say since i did a free project it snowballed into me getting a full-time gig.
Not a bad deal considering!!

Take Care

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