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My Next Move

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Aaron CadieuxMy Next Move
by on Oct 25, 2011 at 4:14:50 pm

Hello Everyone,

I apologize in advance for this long post.

As of November 4th, my full-time position is coming to an end. From those of you who have read my past posts, you know it was a rocky situation. The company is in danger of going under, and my employers can no longer afford to keep me on. Despite all of my complaining on the cow, I never lost my temper in the workplace, and the extent of my unhappiness was never known. As a matter of fact they say I'm the best employee they've ever had. With only 3 of us in the office, I had a firm understanding of how bad things were financially, and I knew this day would come. Their plan is to stay open, and in order to do that, they need someone who does what I do. So, they are planning on using me in a freelance capacity for future jobs.

Meanwhile, in preparation for this day, I have been building up a firm client-base w/ my freelance company. I have been getting busier and busier in a bad economy. With no full-time job to destract from my business, I am confident I could make as much, or probably more money than I was making with my full-time job.

Here’s where things get interesting. At my full-time job, we used to have a car dealership as a client. A few years back they decided to go in-house w/ all of their video production. Their new in-house guy also handled all of their graphic design work and did some web site content updating (not building the actual site). Recently, I saw a job posting that this car dealership was looking for a new in-house guy. So, already having beein told that I was going to be laid off, I applied and sent in my resume. It was really just to stick my toe in the water more than anything. However, I immediately got called back. The car dealership already knew me and had worked with me many times in the past. They called me in for an interview. They plan to have me shadow their current in-house guy (who is not leaving until January) for a day and watch what he does. If I like what I see, they told me the job is mine.

I have some concerns. My previous position had a pretty flexible schedule, which allowed me to work on freelance jobs during the week. I was not under a non-compete there, and they knew about my side business. In the last few months, I had even negotiated a new deal with them that in lieu of a raise (which I had been deserving for years), I wanted to work from home more often, and be able to take on more freelance work since things were so slow there. They agreed to my request, and that’s how things had been going for the last few months. It was agreed that they would be my first priority, but if one of my freelance jobs did not conflict with my duties there it was not a problem for me to work on it. The new position, however, would be a more traditional M-F 9-5 job. They also know about my side business and don’t care about it as long as I don’t do video work for another dealership. But, I am worried that if I take the job I will no longer be able to run my freelance company. All of the clients that I have worked so hard to obtain would have to go elsewhere for much of what I have been doing for them. The new job would also involve a lot of graphic design for print ads and a lot of web site content updating. Video is only about 1/3 of what I would be doing there. I have always considered myself a video guy. I am worried that I might not be happy there. I had always planned that the day I lost my full-time job would be the day I jumped into freelancing full time. My heart is saying to be self-employed and run my own shop full-time. My head is saying I’d be an idiot to pass on a well-paying full-time job in a bad economy. I would be making significantly more money at the new full-time job than what I was making in my old full-time job.

What would you guys do if you were me?

Also, an interesting side story. I did not tell my current employers that I was applying with the car dealership. Even though I am being laid off, I felt it was awkward since they used to be a video client of ours. But, I have to look for work where I can get it, and it’s not like I was stealing their client. They’ve been off of our books video-wise for years. During my interview my potential new boss asked if it was all right that he told my current employer that I went in for an interview. He wanted to be honest with my current employer, because on occasion my current employer still records radio commercials for them. Needless to say my potential new boss called my current boss and told him about the interview. My current boss then called me and told me that he was happy for me that I may land a position with the car dealership. However, he then went on to say that he had wished I had told him that I was interviewing with the car dealership. My question is, is that really my responsibility? They are laying me off. Where I go and what I do after my last paycheck is my business, not theirs. I suspect he would have tried to get his hand in the cookie jar with some sort of finders fee had he known I was applying there.

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Steve MartinRe: My Next Move
by on Oct 25, 2011 at 5:23:22 pm


Could you/should you have told your current employer about the interview? Perhaps yes. Perhaps no. It sounds like you've got a good relationship with him - so I wouldn't be too worried. It doesn't sound as if he's too upset about it. Besides, as you say, you're being laid off and you need to focus on your future.

As for the full time vs freelance options in front of you - it sounds like you've broken down the pro and cons for each and it comes down to how much of a risk are you willing to take to start a full time business.

As the owner of a small production company with 7 people, I can tell you that it can be both rewarding and maddening at the same time. I like the freedom and flexibility that comes with owning my own business. But having everything fall on your own shoulders can sometimes be a heavy burden that a 9-5 employee simply doesn't have to deal with.

There are times when I make really good money and other times when I don't do as well. How much a roller coaster can your stomach handle?

Your own personal situation has to be taken into account as well. If others (i.e. family, kids, etc...) rely on you for support, the risk of entrepreneurship may be too great. Or not.

I started my business when I was pretty young. Not yet married and no kids. If I were in your position now (married with 2 kids) I might make a different choice than I did 20 years ago.

Short of a very public airing of all the variables in your life, I don't know that any of us on the COW can really offer too much specific advise for what, in the end, will be a very personal decision about your future.

So please don't view this as advise - but perhaps some insight. Of course, your mileage may vary!

Good luck!

Production is fun - but lets not forget: Nobody ever died on the video table!

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Sam CornelisRe: My Next Move
by on Oct 25, 2011 at 5:41:33 pm

I would like to add one thing to the reply above: it was my experience that you can not combine freelance work with a fulltime job. The rest is a personal choice as stated in the reply above: what do you want the most, freedom or some security. I found out that there is more security in freelance work than you might expect. After a while, there is always a client that needs something. The diversity you get when working freelance is a big bonus to me. But that's personal.

- I have read the entire internet, and I am feeling a little bit bored, so I started to reply to interesting forum topics.

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Sam CornelisRe: My Next Move
by on Oct 25, 2011 at 5:44:51 pm

Oh yeah, can't you work freelance for the car dealership?

- I have read the entire internet, and I am feeling a little bit bored, so I started to reply to interesting forum topics.

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Aaron CadieuxRe: My Next Move
by on Oct 25, 2011 at 5:59:03 pm


Thanks for your response. I agree with the full-time AND freelance thing. Even with my old job, it was getting harder and harder to juggle it with working freelance. Freelance work kept coming and I was often forced to work on freelance stuff on weekends. Even with the flexible arrangement that I had, free time was hard to come by. I am married and need at least some time to spend with my wife. I really enjoy the freelance stuff. I really enjoy working for myself and not having to answer to anyone. I like the direct relationship with clients.

As far as working freelance for the dealership goes, I don't know that they would go for that. They want an in-house guy that they have direct control over. They want a salaried employee that they can throw as much work at as possible. One option would be for me to offer them all of their video work for a flat yearly rate. The graphic design and web end of the job makes me nervous. I am not really into either of those things (especially web), and I am worried that I might hate it.



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Tim WilsonRe: My Next Move
by on Oct 25, 2011 at 6:32:16 pm

[Aaron Cadieux] "I am not really into either of those things (especially web), and I am worried that I might hate it."

This is why they call it "work" my son.

My advice is to go all-in. Bite into every task with gusto, ESPECIALLY the ones you have no expertise or interest in, because these might be your ONLY tasks at your NEXT job.

I'd have given you different advice in 1998 or 2002. Jobs opportunities were exploding then. They're IMploding now.

Take the full-time job. Take the money. Give it your all. You'll put it too many hours, and you'll spend a lot of time miserable -- but you'll have work and get paid. Learn from the tasks you hate, lay the foundation for a future job that you can't even imagine today, and remember that this is why they call it work.

And pray that Zelin doesn't find this thread. :-)

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Aaron CadieuxRe: My Next Move
by on Oct 25, 2011 at 7:03:23 pm


I appreciate your viewpoint. But it leaves me with the question of what do I do with my current freelance clients?


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Nick GriffinRe: My Next Move
by on Oct 25, 2011 at 7:37:17 pm

"[Aaron Cadieux] "I am not really into either of those things (especially web), and I am worried that I might hate it."

"[Tim Wilson] This is why they call it "work" my son."

It's unusual that I disagree with my friend Tim, but this is one of the few times. Aaron, I believe that you have already identified a serious issue: you don't know too much about print and web development and therefore would possibly be putting yourself under too much pressure and therefore likely would hate it.

I also have doubts that the macro view that jobs are [Tim Wilson] "IMploding now." What's happening to large numbers of job seekers and recent graduates may (repeat MAY) have little relevance to Aaron's situation if he already has a base of clients onto which he can build.

Which brings up one of the most critical issues to consider, how solid is that base? Should one or two current projects head south, will your business be able to survive? What are your reserves? Got enough to keep paying the rent/mortgage should things slow down? Are there any large capital outlays required to go fully freelance?

BTW- While none of us know any more about this situation than what's posted here, I really like the idea of pitching for the video work alone, even if it's on a long-term, discounted basis. The key of course being long-term and that they're not just using you to teach the print/web guy how to add video to his skill set so they can replace you.

These are my opinions. Not to be taken as too much more than adding a few more ideas to the conversation.

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Sam CornelisRe: My Next Move
by on Oct 25, 2011 at 6:34:41 pm

A few years ago I was in exact the same position. Everyone in my department got laid off - they were going to outsource everything. I offered them that I would continue the job on a freelance basis. They were happy with this plan, because they could keep the knowledge inhouse (sort of - remember: the entire department got laid off), and I could dare to make the jump to my own company with this prospect.

And I did make the jump. But looking back, I didn't do that much work for my old employer. There were just too much other projects. However, the idea felt safe.

What I want to say is: going freelance means you have to jump in a lot of things you don't know how it is going to work out. Almost everything can be negotiated, as long as the idea is good for every party. I like the idea that you want to propose you do only the video work for the car dealership. That will make the search to a graphic designer/webmaster easier. Because there are more graphic designer/webmasters than there are graphic designer/webmaster/videographers.

If I read your posts, I get the feeling that you know what you want to do. I also see that you know how to discuss the things with every party involved ... so, you'll find the answers you need. Good luck.

- I have read the entire internet, and I am feeling a little bit bored, so I started to reply to interesting forum topics.

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Mark SuszkoRe: My Next Move
by on Oct 25, 2011 at 10:40:09 pm

You're married; so, what does your wife think? This is not longer completely your own decision. How much can the two of you lean on her income if the freelance falls through? I don't know what your plans for a family are, but generally you want some stability before you commit to parenthood. That was the choice that I faced when I was at the same point in my career as you are at now. I chose for stability, with less money, versus a lot of excitement and possible fabulous money, but a lot of uncertainty. Because I'm not a gambler.

I have a friend who did car dealership ads, it was high-pressure, low fun, low-pay work. Something that you do for a year to build character as well as intensively learn a few apps REALLY well. But it becomes very repetitive work.

If you look at your job possibilities a a set of investments, the freelance gigs might be the random penny stocks where one or two may pay off big but most will just creep along. The full time car job is the blue chip, but it's troubled company with an uncertain future. If you could spread the risk across all the options, that's safest. So I would pitch myself to the car guy as a freelancer on retainer; push the idea that that way of working makes his jobs priority but he's not on the hook for your taxes and benefits; you are.

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Patrick OrtmanRe: My Next Move
by on Oct 26, 2011 at 8:47:19 pm

Echo Mark- wife think. Important.

PatrickOrtman, Inc.
Los Angeles Digital Agency and Video Production Company

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Jonathan ZieglerRe: My Next Move
by on Oct 26, 2011 at 2:57:38 pm

I think you said it at the beginning - with one job gone, you can focus on your work. If you are working for someone else, you will always have a split focus - between an employer and your own business. You need to decide what you want and go for it.

Jonathan Ziegler

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Bob ZelinRe: My Next Move
by on Oct 26, 2011 at 11:51:34 pm

Here is my 2 cents (yup, I found this thread !).

Keep your freelance jobs. This car dealer will ultimately get slow, ultimately find a kid cheaper than you, and ultimately FIRE YOU.
It is my opinion that you should BEG this car dealer to hire you as a CONTRACTOR - you can do all of his work that you were doing for your last job, for a FRACTION OF THE PRICE, and because he doesn't have to have you as an employee, he doesn't need to pay you vacation, benefits, etc. And on the other side of the coin, you get to charge him for PROJECT AFTER PROJECT. This way, when he works you to death, you are billing him for every thing that you are doing for him.

You must understand that there are no permanent jobs anymore, unless you are a school teacher, or policeman. You will continue to lose your job for the rest of your life, and have to find something else. This is especially hard if you work for a company for 20 years, do good work, and then they lay you off.

Being self employed is not easy, but we do not live in an easy economy. If you had found a job at the local TV station, that would be a more secure place to stay for a long time. But I don't think anyone is going to have a 20 year video career at a car dealership.
Get them as a client, along with your other freelance clients, and this can be the start of your own personal business. Once you have them, you can get MORE car dealerships, and other clients as well.

As far as "I don't like web" - what does that mean ? I dont' like a lot of things - when I get done with an install, I throw out my garbage - I dont' like to throw out the garbage, but I am getting paid to do this. You have to learn everything today - web, podcasting, streaming, teleconferencing, audio, graphics, etc, etc.
IF you say "I just want to edit" - then you should surely just get a job. Because just knowing one skill will not help you in our ever changing industry.

Bob Zelin

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Chris TompkinsRe: My Next Move
by on Oct 27, 2011 at 12:13:17 pm

I've done the the car dealership thing - it's fleeting @ best.
Tell them your here for them if they need something and go for your own way.

Go freelance, build your own biz. If the dealership looses their in house guy, you'll get some work from them while they scramble.


Chris Tompkins
Video Atlanta LLC

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Aaron CadieuxRe: My Next Move
by on Oct 28, 2011 at 1:01:43 am


Thanks for your input. I met with their in-house guy and shadowed him for the day. The job is 70% graphics for print, 10% web site updating, and 20% video. I am pretty much a video guy. I shoot video. I edit video. I do some video graphic stuff. But I've never considered myself a print graphic designer. I'm talking like print graphics for mailers and newspaper ads. So when I say "I don't like" graphic design, I don't mean in regards to video graphics. I have no interest in graphic design. I didn't go to school for graphic design. If the job were 70% video, I might consider it. But, I agree with you, and think I would be better of freelancing.



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Neil HurwitzRe: My Next Move
by on Oct 28, 2011 at 2:27:26 pm

I agree with Bob here. However you should be aware that as a Freelancer your Number One Job will always be selling yourself.
Freelance work (especially production) can dry up just as quick as getting laid off from any job. In addition you have the added work of accounting,collections,taxes, medical insurance, along with the fact that you have no benifits and most likly will never be able to qualify for unemployment insurance if things go south. One thing you don't mention is what brand of Auto and in what market. A huge BMW or Mercedes dealership in a major market (Large Wealthy Area) is a lot more secure than a Chevy dealership in a smaller less wealthy area.

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Tom SeftonRe: My Next Move
by on Oct 31, 2011 at 10:06:53 am

Take the money, take the money, take the money, take the money.

It is infinitely easier to find another job, be it a freelance contract, project you can tackle as a self employed person or a video production job WHILST YOU ARE EMPLOYED.

I agree that the car dealership sounds like the work will be fleeting and that you won't be doing what you love for 100% of the time, but in this economy - take the money.

You can always work nights, weekends, holidays and all other hours under the sun to keep your freelance productions going.

Not to sound too whipped either, but ask the mrs too.

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Steve MartinRe: My Next Move
by on Oct 28, 2011 at 11:59:13 am

Geeez! As much as we try to hide this stuff from Bob, he seems to always find it! :-0

Production is fun - but lets not forget: Nobody ever died on the video table!

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Mike CohenRe: My Next Move
by on Oct 30, 2011 at 10:27:33 pm

Take the full time job. It's 2011 in case you forgot - you take the job if it is offered and there is nothing else on offer. It's not for the rest of your life if you don't want it to be.

You have freelance clients? Great. Is the freelance work enough to keep you in milk, bread, netflix and baby formula on a consistent basis? If not, take the full time job.

You're a video guy? Great, then you must be a whiz at Photoshop which you can use to create print ads and website content. Go for it.

If you hate it, so be it. Do you like having a roof over your head and heat in the winter?

Sorry to sound like your father, but I do tend to talk like my father.

Good luck.

Mike Cohen

PS - Now your current and future employers know your story.

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Brad SpinozaRe: My Next Move
by on Nov 3, 2011 at 5:12:56 pm

I'm going to respectfully disagree with those who say the full-time job is "more secure" than freelancing. Stability at a car dealership?? Are you kidding? When times get even leaner and the co-op ad dollars get smaller, what overhead would be high on the cut list?

When you're the house video guy anywhere, you're overhead. Expendable. Your survival is tied to one company, one boss. Freelancing can be considerably more secure, particularly if you're versatile. You can control your own future. Better to have a handful of customers who love you than a weekly paycheck that could vanish on a whim.

With all due respect to the "grow up and take the job" crowd... Being overhead is not secure. If you don't sell cars or fix them, you are overhead in a car dealership.

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