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Starting a business... Help!!
show user profile  IBENEZ21
I have decided that I would like to start venturing out on my own a little more, and get away from the current 8-6 job that currently pays all of my bills.

The main problem I am having is that I do not know how to get new clients. So, I need some advice on where to start.

What works... cold calling... freelancing sites...mailed flyers?

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9/18/2011 6:44:43 PM (last edit: 9/18/2011 6:44:43 PM)
show user profile  brazz
nice questions. I´m already on the freelancing wagon for almost 1 year and would like to know the experiences, tips and advises from the professionals here that are doing this for more time.

For me the best part about freelancing from home is that you get to work in diferent types of project and fun projects ( most of them). I`m a freelance character animator btw. You get to plan your day to work and do other stuff that you need like run to the bank, hit the gym, etc You are not stuck on a job that you can´t leave anytime you need.

I get to stop sometimes to play some video game or watch a movie, either to take a break or just get inspired, find reference.

It was hard in the beginning to be disciplined about work, I´m still learning and sometime I fall out of line on this and end up crunching at night.

these are the obvious advantages, but there also disavantages. FOr me personally, I havent worked too much on a actual studio enviroment and I miss that colaboration and the fixed payment in the end of the month. I still want to work on a cool studio, but while that doesnt happen I´m having fun freelancing and in someways you never stop freelancing even after being in a studio, it just gets a little harder, but that´s up to you to do it or not ( if you need more money hehe).

Ibanez, i went off on the discussion a bit, just thought I would give my experiences so far.

To find work these days, I look all over the internet for job ads, forum job posts. Most of the main 3d forums have a job forum, but I have been contacted out of the blue as well.

It´s good to be active in the community either by posting answers, posting works so other people can see, coolab in non-payed projects, making tutorials, giving away free stuff. All of this adds in someway for people knowing who you are, what you do and then the mouth-to-mouth marketing happens that way.

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9/18/2011 7:18:38 PM (last edit: 9/18/2011 7:19:21 PM)
show user profile  IBENEZ21

Thanks for sharing your experience... It's good to know what I am getting myself into. : )

I don't have any experience working in a studio environment, been doing mechanical cad work in an engineering environment (not as much fun). I don't know if that helps or hurts.

I'll have to take a look at some forums... if I can pull myself away from this one!

Have you had any luck with sites like Elance, or

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9/18/2011 8:16:36 PM (last edit: 9/18/2011 8:16:36 PM)
show user profile  jareu
As brazz said, Its the lack of collaboration that you're going to have to make up for. Clients will assume that you know exactly what they want by some supernatural means and then when you give them a product, they will want it changed. The best way to safeguard against this is to write up a small, simple contract explaining that any additional time spent on alterations will mean extra charges. Once they have explained to you what they want, put it all down into a small presentation, meet them somewhere or if you can't, knock up a little letter in msWord. Explain back to them what you understand that they want and if they agree, have them sign the document. This will save you ALOT of pain.

That said, market yourself as best as you can.

I started business about a year ago. My biggest paying clients were my previous employer and two of his associates. I was getting constant work from them and making a butload, so I didn't bother with a decent website or cards. about 6 months ago, they all had a big falling out and decided to stop using me. I was left completely stranded with little to no other clientèle. Even now, I'm only just organizing a decent website and marketing material, which should be up and running soon. So, from my mistakes, if I could go back and do this year differently this is what I would have done.

1) Work out what your bread and butter is. What do you do best? Everyone here can do quite a broad range of things, but you need to specialize in one area and advertise for that. Doing jobs for all kinds of things will be fun and keep your skills sharp, but you need to pay bills, and consistent work in one area will do that. This will also mean word of mouth will spread your business further as more people will say "I need this" "Oh, I know a guy who does that."

2) Find a decent designer. If they are expensive, then you'll need to save up some more, but make sure that they are decent.

3) Have them design a business card and a website. Find a local printing place. Business cards are cheap so get something that stands out, but sells who you are and what you do. Print 200-300 of them.

4) Get your website up, keep the content simple but directly in context with who you are and what you can offer.

5) Google for networking events in your area. Its also a good idea to get some flyers printed up so that you can hand them out at networking events, letter boxes etc.

An idea that my girlfriend came up with, which I thought was brilliant, is to fax a copy of that flyer to all the businesses in a phonebook. It might take you a day or two, but its a cheap way to spread your name.

Also, you should make a facebook page for your business. Explain what you do, then add everyone you have on facebook.

6) believe in yourself. Go crazy, be confident, even bluff if you have to. I've bluffed my way into jobs which I ended up providing fantastic quality for.

hope this helps and good luck :)

He who says it cannot be done is interrupting the man doing it.

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9/19/2011 7:50:25 AM (last edit: 9/19/2011 7:58:57 AM)
show user profile  Mr_Stabby
get friends that talk alot, 90% of my jobs have happened because one of my friends got to bragging how he knows this guy who does this stuff... since a couple years ago i started cutting them 10% for bringing me a deal so it keeps our benders productive

other then that i have no clue.. i dont have a web page or even as much as a phone number that i pass out, in fact i think my parents are certain that im some sort of criminal since i got money but never held a job

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9/19/2011 12:12:13 PM (last edit: 9/19/2011 12:14:14 PM)
show user profile  Dr. Jim
SO very many opinions and experiences regarding this from all sorts, in all aspects of our industry.

My 2 cents:
In order to actually make a 'real living' as a freelancer you should already have enough connections, experience, reputation and achievements that you do not need to "look" for work. You already 'know' you will have work. Ofcourse, there are ups and downs,....ebb and flow of work like in any business,....but IMHO if you do not have the connections/relationships/history and experiences then it will very,very difficult.
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9/19/2011 2:03:56 PM (last edit: 9/19/2011 2:03:56 PM)
show user profile  IBENEZ21
Jareu: That is some excellent advice! I've got a basic website up and running now, nothing to really brag about though. I suppose getting a more professional design and getting it set up on google correctly would help get more traffic : ).

What type of networking events do you suggest? Trade shows?

Mr_Stabby: With as much as my wife talks, you would think I would be buried in work LOL! You seem to be in the position that I am heading for.

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9/19/2011 2:07:42 PM (last edit: 9/19/2011 2:07:42 PM)
show user profile  IBENEZ21
Dr, Jim: That is the problem I am having. I currently work as a mechanical designer... which means that I do not have much daily interaction with people in the industry. I do have a steady job right now, but would like to get enough of a client base to eventually jump into doing the work that I really enjoy. That may take 6 months, it may take 5 years... I just need to get started on the right foot.

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9/19/2011 2:14:26 PM (last edit: 9/19/2011 2:14:26 PM)
show user profile  killerbee2
personal approach works best, scout for potential clients / productionhouses in your neighbourhood, assemble a portfolio and references of what you achieved in the past, call them to make an appointment, present yourself.

If you're not good at presenting yourself, follow an assertivity course first.

Make sure you got something to leave behind too. Like a businesscard or a portfolio copy.

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9/19/2011 2:39:55 PM (last edit: 9/19/2011 2:39:55 PM)
show user profile  adammichell
I started up my own straight after graduating, I joined a business network where they gave business classes on everything you needed about setting up, pitfalls etc...

I got to meet with different business' every week and literally was flooded with work straight off, mostly as there was just a lack of competition in my area.

I was approached by a studio to work for them, so I joined them so I could further my experience and career but hopefully will return to my own business in a few years.

Worst mistake I made was with my first clients...not knowing my costing and with little experience finding it hard to quote. Then they liked the service and kept coming back but wanted the same price (which was like slave labour).

So I'd try and compete on quality and not cost..

Always ask if they have a budget ha ;)
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9/19/2011 4:59:08 PM (last edit: 9/19/2011 4:59:08 PM)
show user profile  9krausec
I was thinking about designing a box with a DVD in it that holds my demo reel, and stick a card and a brochure in the box as well...

I was thinking about maybe making 100 of those packages with my stuff in it and sending them to prospective clients..

also, at mintviz, there is a handy explanation of a PDF portfolio that can be emailed.

I would think most of starting up would be getting prepared. Look professional, and be ready for work before you try to get work (have a website, have a demo reel, have business cards)...

One of the largests pains would be keeping up with updating your demo reel/portfolio, so I would have in the contract for any freelance jobs, that you can use the work that you produce in your demo reel/portfolio. Then you are killing 2 birds with one stone sort of speak.

- Portfolio-

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9/19/2011 9:53:07 PM (last edit: 9/19/2011 9:53:07 PM)
show user profile  Dr. Jim
Definately best to prepare and package yourself based on your area/market and such.....that is probably quite important.
In my world,....I haven't met a client face to face in years.....have no business cards, and prolly sent out a DVD in maybe 2005?.....
So it really is quite specific to your market...etc.

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9/19/2011 10:13:21 PM (last edit: 9/19/2011 10:13:21 PM)
show user profile  IBENEZ21
Thank you guys for your input... Great stuff!

Looks like I need to get serious about it, get my name out there, and get set up properly.

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9/20/2011 2:44:20 PM (last edit: 9/20/2011 2:44:20 PM)
show user profile  brazz
yeah, sending DVDs depends on your area. I see that most studios just want a website so they can easily see your reel and there you can have your CV in PDF format. Again depending on your area, you can make a cool design for a website, but remember it needs to be simple, easy to navigate and find what you want, no clutter. Plus it´s quite easy to update your reel/portoflio and CV having a website.

I´m not sure, but if you already have a studio with a couple of employees it´s cool to send out cool packaged dvds and brochure to agencies and bussiness, in the other hand if you´re one-man-band might be easier to get a simple, cool website with your portfolio and resume. Would like to hear opnions on this as well, specially since there are not rules to things.

Another nice thing to do and this has become a trend with CG artists, is to have a linkedin account. You can add a lot of detail of your college degree, your site and anything really and the most valuable part, you can ask your clients to leave a testimonial of what they thought of your work, your atititue and commitment. Later down the line, clients will look at your linkedin and having those testimonials there can go a long way ( specially if it´s big companies with a good reputation and nice works).

Long story short, keep your CV on your site relevant, simple and short. If clients want to know more detail stuff or other things they can check the linkedin link.

and the most important thing, work hard on your portfolio, since as you already know this is what matters.

Would be cool if reeves would chime in in the discussion. I think he´s been doing freelance for a while and now goes by a "studio name". Would be great to know your opnions on this reeves.

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9/20/2011 7:51:35 PM (last edit: 9/20/2011 7:51:35 PM)
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