Get Hired, Stay Busy: How to Be a Good Freelancer

Production Coordinator Daniel Graf lists his pet peeves and pro tips in our latest staff post.

Are you a freelancer looking to score a gig at a cool design agency in New York City? In a place full of top-notch talent, it takes more than just a cool reel or website to get noticed. Take it from Daniel Graf, our in-house production coordinator, who recently compiled a list of do’s and don’ts for how to make it amid the competition. Young designers, take note.

When Reaching Out

• List your skills and softwares up front — be specific and be honest! If you only have a little C4D experience, just tell us. No-one wants to be caught by surprise in the middle of a project.
• List out your past clients/studios somewhere on your application or portfolio. This helps us with references if we don’t know you, and sometimes to avoid potential conflicts of interest.
• Please don’t have any video autoplay in anything you send us, especially if it has sound.
• You’re probably not a senior CD, and that’s okay! A lot of times, we just need solid designers and animators. Be honest with your experience level. Making it in this industry is a marathon, not a sprint.
• Organize your work into categories, i.e. advertising, experiential, broadcast, editorial, personal, etc. Please don’t put everything together on just one page.
• Credit other people on projects you’ve worked on. It’s rarely a one-man band. Trust us, we know.
• Be specific about what aspects of a job you’ve worked on. If you were the animation director, note that! But if you just did the lighting and texturing, note that, too.

When Interviewing + Coordinating

• When you show us a project, tell us about more than just the deliverables. What were the challenges you faced? What did you enjoy about the project? Do you actually want to do more of this work, or are you just listing it because it was done with a prestigious client/studio?
• Show us a calendar! A few freelancers we work with have a shared google calendar showing their booking status — a producers dream! We like calling them back.
• Holds! Honor them! It can be very frustrating to have someone on a first hold and then find out they went and booked themselves somewhere else. It makes it very likely that we won’t call you for the next project.
• Have a “hello [at] freelancerjones [dot] com” email address on your website and not a form. We want to know our emails are getting read.
• Be cordial with studios. Don’t be short in your email communications. We like to work with people whom we like!

When You’re at the Studio

• Talk to people when you’re at the studio. This is something I love about live action — chatting idly with people on-set. You get to know people better, learn to trust them more. Remember, at the end of the day, this business is about relationships.
• Invest in a project, finish it out. Don’t act like you’re just a freelancer. And don’t ask when you’re good to go home. You go home when the day is done. Someone will tell you.
• Invoice promptly please! Trust us, we want to pay you. Believe it or not, sometimes when you get paid slowly, it’s partially your own fault 🙂
• Finally, have fun. Get creative. Show us interesting things that we may have never thought of. We bring in freelancers to help expand our network and our capabilities. And if you show us something new, we’re most likely going to call you again.