How to Find and Keep Good Help

Last week I wrote extensively about pricing strategies for your business. That series generated a lot of great discussion and follow up comments and emails. One person asked if I would write about hiring subcontractors. I already did three years ago. But, I think there’s a good follow up to that post worth addressing. Specifically how to find and keep good help.

Finding Good Help

“Good help is hard to find.” I have no idea where that quote originated, but I’m sure you’ve all heard it and/or have said it some point in your life. Unfortunately, it’s very true. “Good” help is hard to find. But, there are ways you can find it. Here are some ways used by me and colleagues I know who have successfully done it.

  • Associations. First and foremost, you gotta network. If you’re not already part of a local association for your profession, join one today (or at least within a week). I think this can be your #1 source for finding good help.
  • Churches. Every church I’ve gone to in the past 14 years has had an amazing media program, filled with volunteers with a wide variety of skills. Volunteer yourself and connect with those people.
  • Social lMedia. You knew I had to say it. But it’s true. Twitter and Facebook are havens for talent. Chances are you all follow and are followed by people in your industry. Be an active and giving participant in the social interwebs, then when you come calling for help, people will respond.
  • LinkedIn. I consider this kind of like the Photoshop of the social media world. It has a gazillion features, but we tend to only use like 2% of them. Start delving into it more, connecting with people in your network, commenting on LI discussions, etc.
  • Boards. Join and participate in an online forum. Many of these forums are tight-nit communities filled with able bodies ready to lend a helping hand.

You’ll notice I didn’t mention Craigslist, or newspaper ads, or flyers hung up at film and photography schools. Why? Well…what’s the one thing all of my suggestions have in common? Social connection with people you know. Craigslist and the like can be useful tools for finding general help. But if you want good help that you can trust, go fishing in the ponds where you swim.

Keeping Good Help

Ah. Now this is the tricky part. Once you find someone, how do you keep them? And how do you find people you can trust? First, let me quickly address the trust issue. If you frequently hire subcontractors or have employees, you will most likely at some point get burned. It’s just a fact of life and part of doing business. But don’t let the fear of that happening keep you from getting the help you need. Especially with regards to filmmaking, this is a collaborative business.

As far as keeping good help, here are some ideas.

  • Don’t hire entrepreneurs. This may sound counter-intuitive to how many successful small businesses have grown, but with respect to the film and photo worlds, hiring entrepreneurs is not a good strategy if you want to KEEP them. I hire entrepreneurs all the time for one-off subcontracting gigs. At least one subcontractor I frequently hire has done work for me for eight years. He has his own successful studio, but always is willing to shoot for me when I need it. But, if you want an employee who will stay with you for the long haul, who will work for you and only you, don’t hire people with dreams of owning their own business. Many artists just want to shoot. Or edit. Hire those artists.
  • Give Incentives. Give your people incentives to work hard. Make it worth their while to stick with you for the long haul. Maybe you give them a bonus. Maybe you give them an opportunity to earn a piece of your company. Maybe you pay for them to attend workshops and seminars.
  • Set Expectations. Make sure all expectations are properly set. The pay, the benefits, the requirements, all should be firmly set and understood ahead of time. It goes without saying, have a contract.
  • Educate and Train. Be a source of education and training for your team. Artists love to learn, and they love to learn from people who have “been there, done that.” But, it may be good to keep in mind something world-famous wedding videography “rock star” Jason Magbanua shared with a room full of seminar attendees. He taught his people everything they know. But he didn’t teach them everything he knows. 😉
  • Be a Leader. It will be necessary to manage your crew of people. But don’t just be a manager. Be a leader. Inspire your people. Instill confidence in them. Cast a vision for where your company is going. Share it and get them excited.  Read books and blogs by Seth Godin, Tim Sanders, Guy Kawasaki, Michael Hyatt (I read his just about every day. His blog post today is perfect timing), and Jim Collins (both the the best selling author Jim Collins as well as the Pictage CEO Jim Collins)

Chances are at some point you will need to build a team. For no other reason than to be able to accept jobs that come your way that you would normally have to decline because you are booked. If you’ve successfully built a team, share how you did it.

6 thoughts on “How to Find and Keep Good Help

  1. This is great information. Especially the part about hiring people that just want to be part of the crew, make art without aspiring to branch off too much.

    1. So timely. I just crossed the threshold of paying a subcontractor (an editor) more than $600 this year and that got me thinking about how to do this leadership thing well. Thanks for the excellent post!

      1. Glad it helped Brian. Make sure you get that W9 from him so you can issue him a 1099 for tax season. 🙂 All contractors paid $600 or more in a year must get a 1099.

        1. Yes! I knew that $600 was the transition but after an hour on the IRS website I still couldn’t find which form I needed. Double helpful today, Ron.

          1. Another bit of advice. Look into a service like Intuit’s payroll service, or maybe your bank’s. Usually they have features where you can file your 1099s online by entering the info for your contractors.

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