Well, folks. It's that time of year again.
Many of you might be starting a new year of school or even moving to a new city. Whatever you're doing this Fall and beyond, I bet you've got high hopes for what you're going to achieve in this upcoming year. I know I do!
I've been doing a lot of thinking lately about what has proved effective in helping me get my freelancing career moving and I decided to write a little bit about it. As most of you know, we musicians (and many other careers) depend a lot on freelance work for extra income. So I decided to give my spiel on what has worked for me thus far. I'm a big believer that by defining and measuring what works, you can not only achieve success, but replicate it by applying those principles over and over again. The following have worked wonders for me (and many of my most successful friends) and I hope that you'll give them a try a let me know how they work for you.
1. Acknowledge that it takes effort.----I know a ton of people that sit around moaning and groaning about how they never get gigs. Some people seem to think that it will just magically happen someday. Wrong!
This may seem super obvious, but it is amazing how many people will never take the time to put in the work it requires to really get yourself out there. It takes some time and energy, but it's all a matter of making it a priority. We've all got the same amount of time, it's just a matter of how we decide to use it.
2. Reach out to others for guidance.----The only way to ever get hired for anything is for people to know that you exist. You can spend hours everyday in a practice room perfecting some random 8 bars of some random symphony, but if nobody knows you're around, you'll never get called for anything. Anywhere you go, there is someone who was in your same position at some point. Reaching out those people for advice can go a long way. Nobody starts out on the the top of the freelance scene, but everyone has experiences they can share that will shed some light on what might help you along.
I am still very close with some of the people that took time to sit and talk with me several years ago. One of them has passed along countless gigs to me, I currently work for two of them, and another one hooked me up with my current teaching position. Once you've started making these connections, you'll be in the perfect position to put the next step in to action.
3. Create opportunities to hire other people.----Being in a position to hire other people is a very powerful networking tool. Find the people that you want to work with that can and will return the favor. Before you know it you'll have a nice little circle of people that are totally willing to help each other out as much as possible. A huge chunk of my freelance work comes from my friends that referred me to a contractor or conductor. The more opportunities you have to help others, the more opportunities you'll be presented with.
From my own experience, starting your own group is the most effective way to kick start this process. If you're constantly generating opportunities to hire others on your own, that means that you always have the ability to expand your network. This can take a lot of effort on your end, but again it's all about prioritizing what's actually important enough to you that you'll make the investment to get started.
4. Be a good colleague.----All of these steps are useless if nobody wants to work with you. Make sure you've got your shit together when you venture out in to the world of freelancing. No one wants to work with someone that has a reputation of being difficult to work with, unprepared, or irresponsible. In my opinion, the best people to work with are the ones I'm friends with. Most people would rather hire someone that is totally awesome to work with over someone that is an amazing player, but a pain to deal with. Again, this may seem like common sense, but I can think of a lot of people that I will never call just because I don't enjoy working with them. It's nothing personal, but we all want to spend time around people that we enjoy being around. I think we can all agree on that.
In closing, I think it's worth saying that the freelancing biz is very much a relationship business. People want to work with people that they enjoy being around and that add value to their lives professionally and personally. Like anything worth doing, developing a freelance career is a lot of work, but extremely rewarding. I hope that all of you that have been looking to break in to your local freelance scene will take this formula and really give it a whirl. From talking with a lot of my friends that are infinitely more successful than I am, I've found that these steps are universally used in everyone's career.
Take some time and really think about if you're where you'd like to be in the freelancing part of your career. What could you be doing better and what can you change to improve?
Take a moment to leave me a message or make a comment. I'd love to hear your thoughts.