Well it's the end of the line for my career as a freelance editor. No, I'm not changing careers. I've taken a staff gig! (This is not news to at least 7 of the 10 people who read this blog. Sorry.) No more invoicing or going to the post office to send my reel. No more 1st and 2nd holds and releases and bookings. No more "challenging". Not directly for me anyway.
In the past 6 years I've learned a thing or two about how to manage a freelance life. Guidelines, not tricks of the trade:
- Never take a hold without getting something in writing. E-mails are your best friend here. My favorite way to get it in writing was always "Can you send me an e-mail with the dates? I don't have my calendar in front of me."
- Not that I ever did this, but a fellow freelancer told me: Never give somebody the first hold. You always have a first hold on your calendar - your own free time. The people calling get a 2nd hold until you decide what you want to do. You're a freelancer after all. Free as a bird. Sometimes that bird is a dirty pigeon eating scraps out of a garbage can, but you're free to do what you want until somebody decides to hire your sorry ass.
- NEVER NEVER NEVER EVER take a gig from a startup without getting some money before you start. I got burned. You will too. If they're serious, they'll give you some money to get going. If not, let the next chump get burned. Unless you like working for free. Which leads me to...
- Everybody has a great film that will definitely get bought and of course a killer distribution deal, and they have no money but they need some of your time to make it happen. Read the script. If you like it, then by all means work on it! Unless you're a kid out of school and need some work for your reel, you might be wasting your time. But if you're building client relationships, that's different and you should work with them because you wanna work with them.
- I didn't have the balls to do it, but you're free to ask what the budget is for the position they're calling you for. People always ask what your rate is, and then they freak when you tell them what you want to get paid. Why not cut to the chase and find out how much money they have to offer and then you can decide to take the gig or not?
- Make friends with people in your field. I got so many random recommendations from people I worked with for short periods of time. And don't buy into the competition bullshit. Editors recommended me for edit gigs more often than anybody else in the field.
- Don't freak out over time between gigs. Something will come up and you'll find yourself missing all that free time you wish you'd done something with.
- And lastly, never say never.
It's your business so do what you want with it. If you wanna build a steady stream of clientele, then treat it that way. If you wanna work as little as possible, then go ahead and do that. But don't ever think that somebody will always hire you, because there's plenty of kids coming out of school every year to fill your shoes who are faster and more hungry.
Oh yeah, and don't listen to anybody who gives you advice through a blog. Doy. Like I needed to tell you that.