Today is a guest blog post by Tristan Pelligrino, president and co-owner of 522 Productions.
I’ve worked in video production for nearly nine years. During this time, I wasn’t always a full-time professional. It was quite a journey and learning experience as I made the jump from freelance to full-time.
Like most of us, I started freelancing to get experience and gain some exposure in the industry. I always aimed to exceed expectations, build a portfolio and learn about the whole process of working with clients. You can learn a lot in school, but you can learn so much more while getting hands-on experience. And, by “hands-on,” I mean experience in all facets of video production, including the business side of things. I was able to learn how to invoice, create a contract, deal with lawyers, formulate a business, file taxes and so much more. At the end of the day, there wasn’t a single place or book that helped me. I had to navigate the waters myself.
Things to do before making the jump
As a co-owner of a production company in Washington D.C., I deal with many individuals who are in a situation where they are between freelance and full-time. Often, we employ freelancers first and then move them into full-time positions. Since I get exposure to so many freelancers, I wanted to provide some suggestions about things to do before you make the switch to full-time.
- Maintain a current demo reel. If you’re in video production, a demo reel is crucial. After all, it is the visual representation of the work you’ve done as a freelancer. If you haven’t been the editor or DP on every project, that is ok. At least note the involvement you had in each project. One of my employees recently noted a good blog post for demo reel tips.
- Understand your value in the marketplace. When you’re a freelancer, you should consistently gauge the salaries and rates of folks in your area. Then, when you’re approached for a full-time position, you can have an educated conversation with your possible employer. You shouldn’t have to guess what your salary should be.
- Know your strengths. In so many cases, we are exposed to individuals who “just want experience.” I certainly appreciate this since I was in the very same frame of mind many years ago. I honestly just wanted to get my hands into everything. But, for many employers, they are looking for a specific skillset or to fulfill a specific position. So, give yourself a better chance against the competition and know your strengths.
- Make references available and not “upon request”. Video production is such a collaborative process. At the end of the day, you have to enjoy working with your co-workers. Therefore, have references immediately available for possible employers and demonstrate how you are a team player. Even better, have a video testimonial prepared.
- Get a website or at least a YouTube channel. Video is on the web. That’s where everything is going and you need to demonstrate that you’re “with it.” Employers want to be able to see not only your demo reel, but other things that you’re interested in. Develop a site and YouTube channel to showcase what you’re all about.
- Engage on social media. Working on shoots and editing jobs certainly helps you connect with people in the industry. However, these days, you can make so many contacts just by engaging on Twitter or LinkedIn. You can reserve Facebook for another purpose – focus on Twitter and LinkedIn for your career development.
Things to do right after making the jump
Ok. So you’ve made the jump from part-time to full-time. Congratulations! Hopefully, the tips above provided some help. However, even though you’ve secured a full-time gig, I’d encourage you to follow-up on these things:
- Know your tax situation. Taxes, deductions, etc. are all different after moving from a freelance gig to part-time. So, just make sure you work with a tax professional to understand the difference.
- Health insurance and other benefits. One of the major advantages of full-time positions is the benefits package. Make sure you fully understand what is offered with your new employer and take full advantage of any health insurance, savings plans, etc.
- Understand the non-compete agreement & non-disclosure agreement. Most production companies or creative agencies will make you sign a non-compete agreement when being hired. Essentially, this outlines policies regarding freelance work and the information you share while employed (and usually a period of time after you depart). I strongly advise that you read this document and also discuss freelance work with your employer. Make sure your new full-time employer knows about other freelance work you are doing and that it doesn’t violate anything within your employment contract.
- Maintain connections in the industry. Even though your part-time work will obviously decline with a full-time position, this doesn’t mean you close any doors. In fact, your established relationships may help you grow business with your employer.
All in all, the transition from freelance to full-time can be overwhelming. Just remember to always keep focused on learning in the industry – whether that is on the creative or business side of things.
Tristan Pelligrino is the co-owner of 522 Productions. 522 is a video production company located in the Washington, DC metropolitan area.