When you're a freelance motion designer, you're going to have time when you don't have client work.
What the best use of your time?
I'm going to start by suggesting that you refrain from doing what I see a lot of people do. Don't jump on Twitter and announce to the world that you're available for freelance work.
But isn't that the easiest way to get work, by letting people know you're available?
Yes. That is a quick way to potentially get a project, but you're really coming across as desperate. And desperation is undesirable.
You want to build your personal brand as a confident professional.
So what do you do when things get slow?
There are a lot of things you can be doing on your downtime to move your business forward and set yourself up for success in the long run.
Focus on taking actions that demonstrate your expertise
1. Personal projects
Personal projects are a perfect way to demonstrate your abilities, get people's attention, and attract the work you want to be getting paid to do.
This is something that I've been doing for almost two years now. I don't write so much to share my voice. I write more to find my voice. I've grown a lot as an animator, designer and writer over that time, and I attribute some of that growth to taking time to write out my thoughts and share them with the world.
I started a vlog when I left my day job. It got a lot of good responses and helped me land a couple freelance projects. I should have kept it up (I plan on picking it back up this summer).
4. Guest post
A great example of this is Nol Honig. He has developed a relationship with Justin Cone of Motionographer. And he has written several great articles for the motion industry's most prolific website. I guarantee that has led to Nol getting opportunities or at least recognition that will help him in the future.
5. Experiment with new techniques
Experimenting on client work can be scary. Capitalize on your downtime. If it turns out pretty cool, share it, but if it doesn't turn out so hot, you don't have to post it anywhere, or turn it in to any client. Experimenting and testing is a great way to stretch yourself and develop your own style.
6. Read a book (or 2 or 3)
Books are one of the greatest ways to learn and grow. Here are some of my top recommendations.
- Start with Why
- Deep Work
- Animators Survival Kit
- Quitter, Start, and Do Over (3 of Jon Acuff's finest books on careers)
7. Simplify one of your processes
As a freelancer, it’s important to think of yourself as a business owner, not just a hired helping hand. As a business owner, it’s important to have written down processes (again, something I am currently working on).
Here are some processes you could write up or simplify:
- Initial contact with potential client
- Collecting payments
- Creative processes
8. Do some deep thinking
This is a great time to dig deep. Why are you doing what you’re doing? Are you heading in the direction you want? If not, what actions can you take to get back on course? Write these things down. It can help clarify your purpose and give you new excitement for what you’re doing.
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