I was surprisingly not too nervous even though it felt a like I was going in for a job interview.
What are they going to think of me?
I hope I don't stumble over my words!
I hadn't planned this out in advance. It was a spur of the moment kind of thing. I was in a city 1.5 hours away from where I live. And I was cold calling design studios.
I drove to Winston-Salem with my wife. She was attending tennis coach training at Wake Forest University. So I planned on writing a blog post at a coffee shop for a few hours while I waited on her.
When I got to Krankies Coffee, something hit me. Why don't I look up all the design studios here and drop by? Maybe someone would be interested in chatting for a minute. Surely they need to hire freelance motion designers from time to time.
After working up the nerve, I started my trek around the block to the first studio. I was hoping the studio had a front door on the street. Hadn't really thought about the fact that they might be in one of the skyscrapers. Alas, I could not find the first three studios I was looking for.
So I walked around the block rehearsing what I would say on the phone and finally started making calls.
"Hey, I'm Austin Saylor, a freelance motion designer in Boone, NC. I happen to be in town and have a few hours. Wondered if you'd be interested in connecting before I head out of town."
I got one, "If I can get back to the office before you leave town, I'd love to chat." He didn't get back to the office in time, but we may find a time to connect soon.
I got one, "Thanks for reaching out, but we're not in any need for freelance motion designers."
I got one, "Cool. Come by the office and I'll introduce you to the team." I made my way to the 21st floor of the Winston Tower which was the best view of Winston I've ever seen. Forrest introduced me to the partners that ran the studio and then to the rest of the team that was in that morning. I didn't stay long, but it was nice to make a positive connection.
Right after that meeting, I got a call back from Chad, the CEO of another studio, whom I had left a message with an hour before. He took a look at my portfolio and thought it would be worthwhile to have me come in and talk with him and one of his art directors.
YAY! This sounded promising.
This meeting was amazing. The three of us talked in Chad's corner office. The elegant studio space of Elephant in the Room was a great spot to hang out for a while and talk about design philosophy, running a studio, providing solutions instead of just pretty designs, and how motion could potentially be incorporated into their client work.
This hour long chat may or may not result in getting freelance work (I hope it does!), but it was very inspiring to hear about how they operate with high standards and have been doing so for 11 years. They output incredible quality work AND quantity of work.
One thing that really stuck out to me was that they don't price projects by the hour. In fact, they don't price projects for profit on an individual basis. Chad is more interested in making sure they are making a profit as a whole studio at the end of the month. In their experience, limiting a project to a number of hours is the quickest way to getting subpar results. And when they pitch a proposal, they are mostly concerned with providing something that will make their clients successful.
Chad is very intentional about bringing on people that will bring something valuable to the culture. Being a small studio (7 or so people), everyone you bring on will affect the culture by a significant factor.
Ok, back to the main message...
What I thought was going to be a productive few hours of writing turned into a big time networking day.
By taking one step out of my comfort zone, I was able to make multiple steps towards my goals...
- ✏️ I could potentially get freelance work from these connections
- ⚠️ What used to be scary (cold calling studios) now is an exciting prospect
- 💪 Taking on new and bigger out-of-my-comfort-zone fears also sounds fun and exciting
- All it takes is having an idea and going for it. Don't give yourself time to hesitate.
All it takes is having an idea and going for it. Don't give yourself time to hesitate.
Fear of the unknown is keeping you from the life you want. Don't listen to it anymore. Give fear the boot... then use that boot to take a giant leap out of your comfort zone.