Intro to Freelancing

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    Animation Pagoda Staff
    Animation Pagoda Staff
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    Unless you have relatives in the industry, you’re probably not going to know many other designers, animators, or filmmakers immediately after college. That makes it hard to find connections.

    A collaboration or partnership with a fellow creative person is a common way of getting both your names out there. It’s also a lot easier than trying to start out alone.

    Collaborations don’t tend to last forever, even with best friends. Eventually, once you have both built up some portfolio work and attained a degree of financial security and confidence, you’ll probably want to go separate ways to pursue other projects or interests.

    Never attempt to screw over a business partner. Create a clear business contract that divides things up equally and both parties understand

    Always try to part on friendly terms. It’s never a good idea to burn too many bridges or alienate people. If you get along with someone, you can always work together on another project in the future. If you don’t want to work with that person ever again, well, it’s kind of self-explanatory

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    Freelancing is a Business

    Most creative people don’t really enjoy boring paperwork, finances, management, and marketing, so this is just a heads up that freelancing involves a lot of that unglamorous stuff.

    You’ll likely have to file independent business taxes to the government if operating a legitimate company. If you know any business or accounting majors, they might be able to provide some tips to keep you from banging your head against the wall over scary math stuff.

    Hiring a manager, part-time assistant, or agent are alternative options if affordable. These people can track down leads or manage finances while you concentrate on finishing jobs.

    If just starting out in a partnership generally someone is going to have to handle more of the promotional, contacts, and business aspects while the other handles meeting client demands. You can alternate turns, but collaborations tend to work better when specializing in different areas.

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    Unlike the pipeline production jobs found in animation, gaming, and film studios, most freelance commissions are done solo. Collaboration projects and full-time advertising jobs aren’t uncommon, but they are usually only short-term. Freelancers are constantly moving on to new projects, and rely heavily on references from past clients.

    Unfortunately, what this means is that a large part of being a successful freelancer is not just having a good eye for design, but also sending out calls and emails seeking out potential clients. Knowing how to communicate with clients and standing by payment deadlines is essential to running a small business effectively.

    Balance your workload. Don’t take on more commissions than you can manage. Sometimes that means you have to turn down a high-paying contract or awesome job offer to honor completing a previous agreement. There will be other opportunities

    Freelancing is not easy. You have to spend a large chunk of time every week promoting yourself and trying to attract new clients. Some clients will be horrible to work with, and others will try to pay you less because you’re inexperienced. You still have to be polite and stick by your rates, unless it’s something for your mom or best friend.

    Know when to say no to clients. Some jobs will just end up getting drawn out and wasting your time. You can always walk away from a deal that goes way over schedule. You don’t owe the client anything more than you agreed upon, and if the client tries to pressure you or make you feel guilty for quitting on them now, they are probably the ones who have broken the terms of the arrangement, not you.

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