Published on February 18, 2014 | by Jonny Elwyn


Top tips for freelancing success

Jonny Elwyn

After years of successful freelancing, Jonny Elwyn produced an e-book [Jonny Elwyn]

Jonny Elwyn is a freelance film editor, blogger and author of How To Be A Freelance Creative.

In this post he shares five tips for graduating creatives looking to make a successful go of it as freelancers.

1) Be Nice To Everyone.

My best advice for any soon-to-be-graduate is to be nice to everyone. The people you are at university with now – the competition within your class – are in fact your very best community.

They are your best community for two reasons. Firstly, they are most likely to be your best ‘contacts’ in the industry when you leave the comfort of higher education and enter the battlefield of the working world.

Today, I still work with many of the people I was closest to at uni. People only work with people they like, so be likeable to everyone.

2) Build Community

If they’re in your class, they’re likely to be applying for similar jobs. Get to know as many people as you can, who do exactly what you do or want to do. Your competition are your community.

Other editors I know are the best source of work for me, because people who want to hire them are quite likely to want to hire me too because we have the same skills to offer.

And when those editor-friends are busy, they can serve their clients with a quality referral and pass work my way and vice versa.

3) Take Risks

I decided to ‘blag’ my way as a freelance editor upon graduation, rather than becoming a runner and working my way up in a specific company –  not that there’s anything wrong with that!

So I’m a freelancer and have been my entire working life. But it was a risk to trust the powers that be that I would make it.

After a bumpy start I started getting regular work and eight or nine years later I still love being a freelance film editor.

4) Make Stuff

Christopher Nolan made his first feature film, Following, on weekends over the course of a year with his mates.

Don’t give up and just make stuff. The equipment is cheap, the friends for favours are legion, and all that’s required to make and show something is the discipline to make it happen for yourself.

Keep your passion alive by making stuff you care about. As with Nolan, who knows where it could lead.

Just do what tech start-up’s do and make something that’s pretty ok and ship it. Get it into customer’s hands, listen to their feedback, and then make it better on the next go.

The more you make stuff the better you will get.

5) Forget about doing things ‘right’

Often when you don’t know how to do something you ask: ‘What’s the right way to do this?’ These days, there is no right way.

Change is happening too quickly for there to be prescriptive methods for making your career happen.

That’s why imagination, entrepreneurial vigour and a bit of chutzpah are all needed to make it as a freelancer.

For example, there is a huge appetite for creative filmmaking – just look at all the projects being funded on Kickstarter, Amazon Studios and Netflix. People want to experience well-told stories.

But the business model of traditional funding leading to a cinematic release is becoming less and less viable.

On the other hand, it is much easier for a young creative to reach a wide audience.

The internet makes a much bigger audience readily available to anyone who can make content that gets noticed.

Therefore, more than ever, the job of a creative is part storyteller part marketer. So think like a salesman, not just an artist.

Bonus Tip: Take Shortcuts

After many years of successfully freelancing I’ve put down everything I know about how to do it well – everything I wish I had known when I started – on paper in an ebook called How To Be A Freelance Creative.

Take a shortcut to a pain-free beginning to your freelance creative career and pick up a copy from my site


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