Photographer Greg Benson has an excellent series of posts on his blog aimed at instilling basic business practices on anyone thinking of entering the creative services business. He’s up to part 4 out of 6 and the advice is very solid and makes a nice outline for someone looking to land their first freelance job. Here’s a couple highlights:
Be ready to talk money when somebody calls with a job
Know what you charge for a day’s work. Do not say “Yes” without talking price. If you don’t know market rates in your city, ask others. Know what you normally charge, but don’t be afraid to ask the photographer what his or her budget is. The same photographer may some have jobs with an editorial budget (lower) and others with an advertising budget (higher).
Develop a standard method for sending invoices, and email them promptly. I prefer PDFs over .doc attachments; a client should feel that he is looking at a finished product, not a work in progress.
Have a 30-second elevator speech in your brain
When you meet people – possibly in an actual elevator, but more likely in a networking situation – you will need to explain who you are and what you do in 30 seconds or less. Prepare a short speech for any situation. An example: “Hi, I’m Jane Doe. I’m a recent graduate of the Acme School of Art and I work as a photo assistant.
Practice your short speech with your roommate so that when you run into an important person that you’ve been dying to meet at a film screening, you don’t mumble and sound like a sophomore on a first date.
When you meet new people, remember Dale Carnegie.
Dale Carnegie wrote a book in 1936 called “How to Win Friends and Influence People”. The Big Idea of this book was that people love to talk about themselves. So, when you meet someone new, focus the conversation on what that person is interested in. Pretend you are Terry Gross on Fresh Air and interview them. Listening is better than blabbing.
It’s all very basic, but oh so important to have figured out before you start a career freelancing. Much of success in business depends on having a plan for the different situations that will arise and making business basics second nature.