Creative Cow Jobs - the do's and don't - some advice please
I've just recently discovered Creative Cow has this cool thing - jobs!
Now i have read through several of the job ads posted and thought - gosh i can do that - and that... and oh i can do that too.
Granted i haven't look heavily at the High paying jobs listed - figuring i'd start small - take one step at a time.
And I've been wondering how to get off the ground with everything i've been learning - all these tutorials i've been completing and experimenting i've been doing creatively and to me this seems to be a great way to start
- i don't know - maybe it is, maybe it isn't...
So i need some do's and don't on how to go about this - protecting my self and the customer from having a bad experience from those with experience dealing with the jobs posted here at Creative Cow / and online in general.
I want this to be fun - make some money and every one smiles in the end...
the biggest question i have is - How do you get paid? Or know you will be paid once the work is done?
any help or How to's and Don'ts and advice for me and others that want to get started or our feet wet and participate in the jobs listed here at CC or online will be greatly appriciated.
Some general rules of thumb, in no particular order. Feel free to add to the list.
Do not promise things you can't deliver. Be honest about what you are good at and what you are still learning. Don't stop learning. Ever.
Production communities are remarkably close-knit communities; everybody knows everyboy else's business, and your reputation means everything. If you shake hands on something, cut off the hand rather than go back on your word. This means eating a loss if your estimates were bad.
Pay your workers and suppliers before you pay yourself. In exchange, these people will often go to the mat for you when you need them most. If you get a reputation as a slow payer or unreliable payer, your support system dries up and you find you can't get crtical stuff done.
Know what things cost before you make estimates or bids. Nothing worse than having to contradict yourself when telling a client what things cost. They will decide you don't know anything or are a scammer.
Research the COW archives for how to establish your day rate and base your estimates on the day rate. Resist the urge to lowball your rates, even though you are less experienced. You just depress the business for everyone when you lowball, and you hurt your own rep if you start out working at a loss; it becomes really hard to raise the rates later. Also, if all you ever do is lowball stuff, you get pigeonholed for that and never even considered for bigger things.
When negotiating, if you hear these magic words: "Cut us a break on this first one, and we'll give you all our lucrative future business", you need to smile, get up from the table, and walk out of the room. Because they have just told you they are scammers, that they think you are a bumpkin, and these promises of future business are lies. I've never seen a situation where they weren't. Might happen somewhere, but incredibly rare. If you still want/need the gig so bad, tell them the discount happens on the LAST gig, not the first.
When negotiating, the first guy to say an actual figure loses.
When negotiating, they have to believe that you are willing to walk away from a bad deal. If you can't believe that about yourself, and make them believe it, you are not really negotiating, just waiting to surrender to whatever they will give you.
Be nice to everyone you deal with in this business, because this week's PA is next week's exec, and vice-a-versa. And it's just easier to be nice than not.
[Mark Suszko] "When negotiating, if you hear these magic words: "Cut us a break on this first one, and we'll give you all our lucrative future business", you need to smile, get up from the table, and walk out of the room. Because they have just told you they are scammers, that they think you are a bumpkin, and these promises of future business are lies. I've never seen a situation where they weren't. Might happen somewhere, but incredibly rare. If you still want/need the gig so bad, tell them the discount happens on the LAST gig, not the first. "
My response is usually, "Let's talk about a contract and deposit for that future work." I like pulling down their pants before leaving the room. After the humanahumana I may finish with, "in business a "promise" is fulfilled with a contract."
More rules of thumb:
Get everything in writing before the job starts. Client expectations and needs have a habit of mutating over the length of a job. If you're not careful, you get locked into a fixed price while the hours you spend on the job climb up and up until you're losing money but can't stop.
Have clear boundaries and mileposts for a project: you get paid in thirds, for example: One third up front deposit to start the work, onr third at the first rough cut stage, final third at completion. The deal is to deliver a rough cut, one revised cut based ont heir feedback to the rough cut, and then further changes are a new contract. Mistakes YOU make, like misspelled titles, YOU eat. Mistakes THEY make, like giving your the name spelled wrong, in writing, THEY eat. This must all be documented.
Changes after the fact beyond what was agreed require at least a change order on paper, admitting they know they are altering the deal and thus adding costs. You skip this documentation at your peril.
Things can go wrong in any situation, your fault or not. Make it clear in advance how a deal is cancelled by either party, who owns what and for how long. What is the policy for weather days, weather cancellations and re-scheduling, how close to the shoot they can cancel without paying a penalty, is there a rescheduling charge.
Establish if this is a work for hire BEFORE you start the job. Make them understand if this is not a work for hire, you own the footage rights, not them. Establish, if needed, their permission to use some of the work you did for your portfolio and demo reel purposes.
Establish what pa4ts of your IP you include in a paid job: do thyey have the rights to your project files and templates? Make this clear in advance if you don't want to give away your tradecraft to someone who will take your templates and files elsewhere to make the next project cheaper.
You don't release your footage until the bills are all paid in full - you must make this clear and never waiver from it. The master footage is your only leverage against those who would rip you off. If they need samples or approval copies to review, always mark the footage with a visible overlay of time code and/or a watermark, so it can't be pirated. An honest client won;t complain about that. Explain the time code windo burn is there so they can be framepaccurate in telling you where to make their changes. When their check clears, the clean master copy is delivered.
Great tips and advice - I'll be honest, some things mentioned i wouldn't have thought of, nor knew exactly how to protect myself or scale job pricing.
I'm not a production team at this point ready to do large scale productions. But i did feel - if i do this it may lead to eventually either growing on my own to a larger business - and/or - having a good client base to join another team. Adding to my port as you mention above.
Further more as mentioned - i'm small - just starting - looking to start with smaller jobs listed in the Low Pay Job listings here at CC. I want to get a feel for how things work - a system for getting payed - the work flow of creative works and working with clients even on a small scale. To me, with out a house to do all this for me adn just being handed the work, this seems a great way to not only start but to gain first hand a further insight and understanding of the business as a whole and how to go about doing business like this line.
Let me ask a couple direct questions.
Given that i'm going solo on this...
Are you suggesting 1/3 deposit even on a say a job listed here at CC that by example that say only offers $10 to $25 dollars for the project?
For online jobs here at CC - or i presume anywhere, but for now here at CC... and not to be totally nieve - but wanting to structure a small business venture like this correctly...
Would you suggest a pay-pal account for collecting payments such as deposits etc etc. or just use a personal account and perhaps have funds wired or electronically transfered or some similar means?
Or does a Pay-Pal account as a payment method suggest to the client or aquate to a client a sense of un-proffesionalism? if so or perhaps even if not, Is there a better suggested method payment for online work that is suggested and would suggest to a client that you are more professional or handle things professionaly...
I could be wrong about the Pay Pal thing but i usuially aquate it with ebay
[chase canadé] "
Are you suggesting 1/3 deposit even on a say a job listed here at CC that by example that say only offers $10 to $25 dollars for the project?"
Jobs that pay $10-$25 for the WHOLE PROJECT? Are you serious? What sort of work? That doesn't even meet my hourly rate...BEFORE I add in the cost for my equipment. And yes, you add in the cost of your equipment. Your rate is you+equipment...unless you are working on THEIR equipment. You paid money for this equipment, you get to bill for it. Otherwise they need to buy the equipment. They don't get you for a set amount, and the equipment for free. That stuff costs money to buy and maintain.
Who the heck pays $25 PER JOB?
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A: Craigslist pay crap wages like that. They prey on newbies.
chase should figure out what a base survivable wage is. There's absolutely no point to go below it unless one wants to spiral into bankruptcy or homelessness.
yeah i kinda thought the mentioning of the 10 to 25 dollar job offer would get a slight rise...
Actually it wasn't on Craigslist - it was here on CC and in the CC newsleter a couple weeks back.
though i agree about Craigslist - so many scams claiming jobs it's unbelievable - i refuse to answer anymore on Craigslist...
Here is the link to the job offer: CC Job Offer 864451'>CC Job Offer 864451
and seeing it again it was actually an offer of $5 to 25 dollars not 10...
Keep in mind as stated - I'm just starting out. I'm just trying to get started... I learned everything i know from CC and VCP and CGArena and dozens of other sites and my own experimenting with apps. I don't have a piece of paper from college - though that doesn't hinder my thinking of my abilities...
- it seems to hinder houses doing the hiring. So I thought hey 15 to 25 bucks to do this i should be able to knock this out pretty easily - though this is my thought sight unseen of the job and it would add to a port and a bunch of these could lead to bigger things.
But... i thought well before you do anything - ask the Pro's at CC the do's and don't. I've been screwed before - actually a couple times well, okay, i'll admit it, it's been a few times doing all the work and not getting paid or handed a token and a thanx for all the help or work i did with me standing there going but... but... you said... and leaving empty handed.
Anyhow - the job offers for me to start out looked promising here at CC and some people have posted more than once in the job offer area for work to be done. Which may be a good sign that e=they actually pay for the work once completed.
And there are other offers like the one mentioned - one for Audio work i know i can do. Though i really don't know how to protect a 30/40 second audio piece - they are going to want to hear a final take and to hear it - you have to give it to them...
VFX - i would love to do and hope to graduate to VFX after proving myself on some smaller stuff - even if it is just converting a file format. or Re-doing some audio etc etc. Little stuff can add up to a nice port - at least i'm thinking so...
If i'm going about this wrong chime in...
It was mentioned about getting things in writting - I've learned a hand shake isn't worth squat anymore the hard way... so...
Are there standard or genaric forms for diescribing the job or work to be done - the revision or first approval mayge?(sorry I forgot what he called it in the above post) and then once the revisions are made the final exceptance - are their generic forms for this and are they different for graphics work or video or audio or all the same forms can be used for all?
I'm familiar with model releases etc etc - so I'm thinking there must be a generic form out there for the afore mentioned.
I don't mean to sound completely nieve or like an idiot here but each industry is different
- I'd rather start out doing things right from the start is why i'm asking so many questions. Some may seem moronic but... it's good to get views and opinions from those that have been doing it for a while and learned from their mistakes. Even on some of the things some people would over look...
You all know - you've been there done that - You've graduated beyond you're up and running - i don't know and i'm sitting on the bench - and i don't want my knowledge to go stale
- so all i can do is ask - so thanx for the advice, I mean that.
Here is the corrected url on that CC Job offer link i posted above
I'm sure it's gone by now but - it was one of the jobs i was seeing that promted me to post this thread and ask your advice on how the do's and don'ts.
[chase canadé] "and seeing it again it was actually an offer of $5 to 25 dollars not 10...
Keep in mind as stated - I'm just starting out. I'm just trying to get started... "
Why sink the ship before it leaves the dock?
If you're starting out you want a client that will help with word of mouth. Mouths that pronounce you work for $25 is not one worth opening. Once you hang a low price albatross around your neck you'll get plenty of job referrals that will sink you so deep in red ink, you'll need an expensive marketing campaign you can't afford to attract clients who can pay a living wage.
The rate calculator will give you a base rate you MUST charge if you don't want to be homeless. As time goes on and you can experience and skills you can raise that rate.
If you can't make enough to buy the cardboard box, Ramen noodles and the electric bill to charge the batteries and the computer, then you've missed the starting gun.
If someone offered to do work at $25 I wouldn't trust them because they clearly have no confidence in their ability to make good on the job.
You can start out by donating a few hours to create your killer video for a non profit. If you get word of mouth, it may be to their donors who have serious cash and appreciate you serviced a cause they also believe in.
Hey Craig - i see what you mean about the low paying job Albatros.
and i looked over your rate calculator. Seems like a good one for just about any business.
Seems i have a lot to mull over and consider.
Let ask you though about bread and butter jobs - like the one mentioned - $25 bucks for a graphic file conversion didn't seem bad to me.
While waiting on the Rolls Royce jobs to come in
- what do you do for filler jobs?
$150 for an background removal of 40 seconds didn't seem too bad - to me of course. (that was another CC Job i looked at) though i recomended they consider another option which the $150 might better serve for a better end result.
As far as forms - are there standard forms you or anyone would recomend for either video or graphics or audio work
- or things that your work forms should definitly be sure to state to protect you and/or protect the client?
[chase canadé] "Let ask you though about bread and butter jobs - like the one mentioned - $25 bucks for a graphic file conversion didn't seem bad to me.
While waiting on the Rolls Royce jobs to come in
- what do you do for filler jobs?"
It really depends on time needed for the job. If the calculator shows $50/hr and you can do the job in half an hour, given there's not travel time and shipping cost or FTP time is accounted for than you can do it.
If jobs are below what you need to survive then "filler" is used for marketing to get proper paying work. That's why I assuming a 20-25/hr paid work week to meet all expenses. You're going to spend a lot of time marketing. It's also why repeat clients and word of mouth are highly valuable. It's better to spend "filler" time to go after one reasonable paying repeat client than lots of "one shots" in which you can't make ends meet and put you on a hamster wheel tied to a boat anchor.
If you can't make ends meet than one should examine the business model relative to expenses and marketing. Going below your survival rate doesn't win.
If you want to do resume/reel work find a non profit and produce a killer video and your credited video may make you appealing to their donors who obviously have money.
Once any "paying client" circle knows your prices are low and spreads that, your business is sunk. When someone comes to you expecting $25 for the day because they heard that and you tell them $400, they're gone. All their associates are gone. Your business is finished because of poor marketing.
[chase canadé] "$150 for an background removal of 40 seconds didn't seem too bad - to me of course. (that was another CC Job i looked at) though i recomended they consider another option which the $150 might better serve for a better end result."
If it takes you an hour, great. If it takes you a day or two, tighten the albatross rope. Price per "job" is meaningless without knowing details so you can estimate time.
While working at a high end post host in the days of tape and I was booked with a client who simply wanted a few lower thirds removed. The people in scheduling were CLUELESS. There were no clean sources. The client thought I could simply "remove" the lower thirds exposing the original shot. After looking at the job and explaining what an edit room can/can't do, I told him it's really a roto job. He didn't even have close to the budget for that. NEVER, NEVER, NEVER accept a client's description as accurate. Make your own judgement or get the judgement of experienced peers.
Hey Craig -
aaah - now what your saying makes more sense to me.
Perhaps the terms CC used to describe the jobs listed is not the best. Perhaps low production or Small Jobs or something of that nature would be more befitting a discripter...
But i do fully understand your point now - don't low ball or get into low ball production pricing that under cuts your production cost needs and of course allow enough profit to take care of future marketing - and hopefully growth.
One can except small jobs as well as larger jobs but preferably target your marketing towards repeat business and given what some have said that doesn't go beyond your production capabilities.
Love the advice on not taking the what the customer states or job discripter states at face value - especially for pricing. Always know exactly what it's going to take to accomplish what the customer is truly after - and price accordingly.
A lot is common sense stuff but - easily over looked just starting out.
As far as charities - i really don't know any that i'd even want to deal with - as far as i'm conserned anyway... from what i've seen - their all such bs. They may have a great logo and the logo means well but behind the scenes ... i best not say much more.
And i'm in no way religous - i want nothing to do with people that are. They are worse thatn the chatities from what i've seen. or maybe they're equals ...??
My biggest mistake thus far has been not gettting it in writing. being new to a lot of this - i'm eager to show what i can do at times - i'm sure a lot of people have been there.
That's been a hard lesson to learn for me - i pretty trusting almost to a fault and as stated - This is all still new to me - and the more i learn, the more eager i get - anxious even.
I see a comp or someone doing this or that in a production situation - be it webmastering - AE - Sound engineering what ever - especially via software with some great gear and i want jump in on it. It's really tuff to curb the "let me do it or let me show you how it's easy" for me at the moment
- but i am learning to esepecially after the last one - they took real advantage of me... which was kinda an eye opening experience in a way - i did take some postives from the experience so not all was lost.
live and learn as they say.
and now i'm ready to get payed - so i can be around another day.
Beside i want some new gear and new software... and clothes... and a new car...
Thanx guys for all your help - really great advice!
[chase canadé] "As far as charities - i really don't know any that i'd even want to deal with - as far as i'm conserned anyway... from what i've seen - their all such bs. They may have a great logo and the logo means well but behind the scenes ... i best not say much more."
If you feel that way about charities, and that's understandable, why afford a higher regard for a for profit business for whom some would work for for next to nothing?
The difference is perception and that's what you as marking person (and you MUST be one) have to deal with. Working for a non profit will be perceived as a good deed by those with money and they will not question that the price they were charged (maybe free) would be different then what a new, for profit, client would pay.
To put it bluntly, if one is going to work for low pay/no pay it's best to chose work that is more likely to bring future high pay. Low pay/no pay for a non profit will not hang an albatross around your neck. That's what it comes down to.
[chase canadé] "And i'm in no way religous - i want nothing to do with people that are. They are worse thatn the chatities from what i've seen. or maybe they're equals ...??"
Many if not most charities have nothing to do with religion. In fact the ones that do, generally are most likely to have money to pay since they often have very strong financial resources for marketing. In fact, you believe most non profits are religious based, it may speak to the fact that you have not yet well analyzed what markets to pursue.
One market one should never pursue is bottom feeders and "grinders." No good can come of it. The "experience" will be more costly than profitably and more likely inflict either short term or even long term damage to your business.
Better to do a fun and creative job with your buddies which will show off your talents than to work for a business who will take advantage of you and then spread that info around.
i do understand what you mean... from a marketing point of view about charities... i do...
Bottom Feeders and "Grinders"
would you mind defining those terms?
- i think i know what you mean by Bottom Feeders - but not sure as i know a couple ways i can be used and meant.
Grinders - i've never heard that term used before
- except the kind you eat. (hoggies - subs - grinders)
What is the market of Grinders? and Bottom Feeders?
thanx for the link.
It was definitly a good read.
I can certainly attest to many businesses in my local area that fit the grinder or bottome feeder catagory... too many perhaps. Seems that is all ive run into for many a year now.
I thought by studing graphics - vfx etc and then seeing the Jobs listing here on CC i could climb my way out of the crab basket so to speak - i'm really sick of the circle jerks and want to make my escape so to speak.
Hence i've been looking hard at ways around or over what seems to surround me.
Being a single person here - with just a oomp and some apps and very little gear... i have to do what i can with what i have. And with many locally trying to hold me down orkeep that thumb pressed down on me. And i know it is happening - one would have to be blind or a complete idiot not to see it or realize it.
as mentioned - I'm looking to do what i can. but in saying that, i really don't want to get screwed over either. or as it wass mentioned above by another taken advantage of like on craigslist just because i'm new to the industry. Hungry or perhaps even eager to get started.
I've run other businesses in the past with great success. I was making 6 figures with my last one, even still, Money has never been a driving force for me though i do love what money can buy. It's [money] always been secondary to doing a high quality job and doing something i like or love doing. I've always been in the creative field one way or another. I've always started at the bottom with little or next to nothing and climbed the ladder.
Though admitedly - i've neve had a bunch of jerks for what evr reason constanly thwarting my rise as has taken place since my last business venture. Be that as it may - i intend on overcoming this slight wall of opposition or what ever it is some way - what ever way i can.
I'm hopeing i can achieve that start of climbing beyond the circle jerks circle or at least start something worth while by doing some jobes listed here at CC.
While money isn't a driving force - it is nice to make some while doing what i want to do.
any further advice under that premise and given those conditions?
Figure in like i mentoned - a single creative talent which i know i have (talent) limited funds - limited gear - and many of it older pro gear for stills - some home made gear.
I'm familiar with 2D graphic software - like PS Illustrator and others.
3D i'm still learning -
love vfx and definitly audio creation. background in concert lighting etc etc which i know helps.
but space is limited on my end. funds are defintly limited. and locally - the push is for me not to succeed. Or prevent me from climbing the ladder once again...
They play this "zone " game here amongst the local networks/circles.
Aside from re-locating (which i definitly want to do just to get the heck away from these limiting factors) and funds prevent me from leaving.
point being - this is all i have at the moment CC that is and what jobs are offered. I don't want to get in over my head by excepting a job i can't do - - and i know better than to do so. And further more most higher paying gigs are for very experienced personel or college grads in the field or those with high end gear and a lot of it.
so... ?? what advice can you give someone like me in my position - to over throw the opposition and gain head way in the industry?