Now we need to talk about the whole getting work done thing.
So you understand how to market yourself and you know what kind of business you want to run. Now let’s talk about actually getting clients and doing the work.
STEP 3: GETTING YOUR WORK DONE
We’ve talked about ways to get your first clients – leveraging your current network by asking friends and family, and working for free in order to build a Portfolio.
Further on in these guides, we’re going to talk a lot more about marketing yourself and your brand. We’re going to talk in detail about really getting yourself out there to your potential clients.
But, for the purposes of the Quick Start Guide, I want to address…
GETTING YOUR FIRST CLIENTS
I’m sure you’ve heard about the infamous ‘Cold Calling’ and how it doesn’t work.
Well, I want to show you a method that does work to get your first clients. It’s actually better described as “Warm Calling.”
Now, I’m going to assume that you have already built up a Portfolio of Work, as discussed earlier.
I want to give you an example of how to pitch your video services to a local business.
You’re going to research local businesses that you feel would be receptive to your services and make a list of them and their email addresses. These should be people who don’t already have video on their websites.
You’re then going to make a list and email them. If you don’t hear back from them, you will give them a follow-up phone call.
If they do respond positively to your email, then you have a meeting for potential business.
Here’s what one of these emails should look like:
“Dear [insert name of their business, or even better, a first name if you can find it.]
I was looking on your website and found you don’t currently have video to promote your business. Did you know that video is absolutely essential these days for businesses who want to connect with their audience and show potential customers what they do?
[put some benefits here about your video service and what it will do for them.]
We are [insert your business]
We do [insert what you do]
You can see samples of our work here: [insert a link to your website]
We would love to sit down with you and discuss options that would fulfill your needs. If this is something that interests you, get in touch on [insert your phone number] or at [insert your email address.]
That’s a sample email and you should add add your own touch to make it a perfect pitch for the services you want to offer.
You should also make an effort to look at the website of each potential client and pick out details to mention in your email. This shows that you’ve actually taken the time to consider them and what they do, rather than just pumping out hundreds of copy & pasted messages.
Now, I’m going to talk in detail about marketing, separating yourself from the crowd and really putting yourself in front of the right people later on in the course. But this method is a winner for getting your first paying clients.
We don’t have to try every marketing technique in the world. We just need to try a few simple ones that will get the ball rolling and get you started.
1. Look at the websites of local businesses who don’t already have video.
2. Make a list of their email addresses and get first names of the owner/manager where possible
3. Write a template email that you can send to multiple businesses, but ensure you include specific details about each business that you contact.
4. Send out batches of these emails, including your contact information and links back to your website.
5. Give those who don’t respond a polite follow-up call. “Hi, I’m calling on behalf of [your video business name] and I’m just wondering if you received our recent mailing about a great opportunity in online video…”
6. For those who respond positively, set up an exact time for a meeting. This is called an Initial Meeting and is the first big step towards gaining a paying client.
THE WORKFLOW OF YOUR WORK LIFE AS A VIDEO BUSINESS OWNER
So what does this kind of work look like in practice? I want to outline exactly what happens in a paid video project for a client. From start to finish.
The above chart represents the continuous cycle nature of working as a freelancer owning a video business.
The steps are as follows:
1. You get a client.
2. You work out a contract between you which legally binds the work.
3. You work on their project.
4. Give the deliverable and ask if any changes are required.
5. Make changes if the client requests.
6. Deliver the final version of the project.
Obviously, there are variables with certain jobs. The above is just a representation of the average type of job you will encounter when you own a video business.
During the course of your Initial Meeting, you will discuss the project with your client and find out exactly what they want. This can sometimes be a difficult process because the client isn’t always sure about exactly what they want.
It may require just one meeting, or sometimes multiple meetings, but you need to get everything down in writing as to what the project is and how it’s to be achieved.
You need to have this proposal in writing and it should be agreed upon by you and the client in the form of a legally binding contract.
You’re going to want to capture footage on-the-job and transfer it over to your laptop a lot of times.
This especially goes for big jobs with lots of footage where you’re on-site for lots of hours. Instead of waiting until you get home to upload your footage, doing it on-site saves a lot of headaches and also potential loss of footage (a nightmare!)
When the shooting for the project is complete (or even during), you want to start with the task of editing. Again, talking about technical filmmaking skills like editing is outside the confines of this course, so I’m going to assume that you are comfortable with editing video footage.
Once the project is rendered and outputted, you can easily show a client the project by uploading it to your video channel at a site like Vimeo. Vimeo is great because you can password protect a video and give details of the password to your client in an email, complete with the link to said video.
On some projects, you may want to screen the project to your client. This is especially true in situations where you’re working for a company with a board of multiple directors. It often makes sense to get everyone in a room at once and screen the project to them.
Whether you screen the project or send them a link to watch the video online, you’ll want to get feedback from your client as soon as possible.
Take this feedback onboard and make any requested changes, provided that was agreed upon in the contract signed at the beginning of the project.
Once everything is finalized, you want to be paid for your work as soon as possible. You do this by submitting an invoice with the final payable amount and how to pay you right after the work is completed and agreed upon by both you and your client.
WORKING WITH CLIENTS
I’m often asked what are the most important ‘rules’ to working with clients. Here are some pointers that you will do well to abide by:
1. Get Things Down In writing as early as possible
It’s never too early to start writing things down.
Whether that’s notes from meetings, or a draft of the project proposal, you should have things in writing from the beginning. This covers you incase there are any issues during the project.
You should also work hard on drafting out a full project proposal with a client.
If you’ve done lots of them in the past, you might think “just a wedding shoot,” and wonder how difficult it can be. But, on some level, every wedding is different. You also should give the couple the respect that is your undivided attention and eye for detail that will make their big day extra special.
You should discuss in detail with the bride how the day is going to play out and get them to tell you exactly what they want.
Believe me – they will know and won’t be afraid to tell you!
2. Always remain polite no matter what
You should always remain polite. Always. You should also be calm and chilled out no matter the situation. All of these are good things to keep in mind when working with clients.
If someone’s screaming down the phone at you, you’re not going to win any awards for screaming back. It doesn’t benefit you, win you the argument, or benefit your business.
Let it be known: there will be times when you get thrown a curveball, when your nerves are jangled and times when you feel like the whole world (and all your clients!) are against you. Believe me, I have enough stories from the trenches to fill up this whole guide!
Cool, calm and collected. Always. And polite.
3. Let your clients know what’s possible and what’s not possible
You let your clients know what’s possible and what’s not possible. And you do it as early as you can from the outset and before any work has started.
If something isn’t possible, then you need to let your client know.
Telling them during a shoot is far too late.
4. Follow deadlines and meeting times to a “t”
You should abide by all deadlines and meeting times. This is common sense and clearly Business & Life 101, but I’d be remiss not to throw it in here.
Don’t turn up late for anything. Respect deadlines. They were created for a reason. In fact, start to see deadlines as a massive gift.
Human beings invented deadlines in the first place in order to accomplish things. Without them, nothing would have been built or achieved throughout human history.
Quick story here: Dan Pena, the billionaire tycoon, has a great story about how he never misses a meeting no matter what the situation is. He explains how he was briefly hospitalized after a serious beach craft crash, but didn’t want to miss a meeting with an important business contact.
Instead of missing the meeting, he travelled overseas on a plane and was wheeled into the meeting in a wheelchair, much to the shock of his business acquaintance. Pena reels off the list of breaks and serious injuries he suffered and explains that it was originally his father’s example that set the trend for his dedication later in life.
This is an amazing mindset to have in your business and your life in general.
You can hear Dan Pena’s full story in the video below:
5. Respect client boundaries and always be professional
You should respect client boundaries and always be professional. A lot of this point is common sense, but you’ll be surprised how many times I’ve heard about freelancers breaking this rule in one way or another.
This means no calling after-hours, unless you’re given express permission to do so. It also means no potentially offensive jokes on a shoot.
Two rather obvious examples, but you’ll be surprised how often I hear stories about those or something very similar.
6. Don’t be afraid to say “no”
This is a really important one, but also one that’s massively underused by freelancers.
If you can’t accomplish something, whether there’s a communication issue, a technical issue or a time constraint issue, or whatever it is, you should never be afraid to say “no” to a client.
You’ll actually find that to some clients this is music to their ears, and they’ll actually respect you for being upfront and honest. A lot of the bigger executives aren’t used to hearing that word, so it’s also very refreshing for them!
That’s a hard distinction for most people to grasp, as they likely haven’t been surrounded by ‘yes men’ for the majority of their working life. But for top executives who are used to hearing ‘yes’ all the time, ‘no’ can be a welcome word that they believe can help their business move forward for the better.
So the next time a client asks you to do something extra that wasn’t in the project brief and hasn’t been budgeted for? Say “no.”