In my short time as a qualified audio engineer, I have explored some ways in which to find work as a freelancer in the industry. Some methods took me to dead ends, and others ended up succeeding. So I thought I would share my experience here.
5 Tips to Landing more work as a Freelance Audio Engineer by Kirsten Hunnyball
Why you find it hard to find work:
1.REGISTER YOURSELF ON ONLINE DIRECTORIES
This one seems pretty straightforward, but you find a lot of people forget this simple step. Registering yourself onto online directories can help you find local and even international work.
- The website does all the work for you. Generally, when you register on a well-known site, the internet will do its funky algorithm things and make you and your services searchable.
- You can often set alerts to notify you of jobs that match your skillset, saving you endless hours of online job searching.
- A lot of platforms allow you to create free profiles, meaning there is no cost to you at all.
- Most of these platforms operate internationally, which means you could source work that is anywhere in the world (and often get paid better for your time too!)
- If you do a good job, people can leave comments/reviews on your profile which enhances your chance at future work.
- A lot of platforms ask for a fee or require you to buy “credits” to apply for jobs, which means you end up spending money before you’ve even landed your first job.
- Larger platforms are saturated with people from all over the world, often with a lot more experience than you, which means your profile gets lost in a sea of people and your chances of landing work are reduced.
- Sometimes you find you are fully qualified for an international job, but it requires that you have a work permit for that country, so you end up having to forfeit the job completely.
- The process of searching for jobs on these platforms can become a bit addictive, and you may spend hours of productive energy surfing job opportunities that afford you nothing.
Effectiveness at landing more jobs: 7.5/10.
2.CREATE AN AUDIO SHOWREEL
This is a simple 3-5 minute audio demonstration of the work you have done and what you’re capable of doing. Here you can include little snippets of anything you have worked on.
- Potential employers can get an idea of the work you are capable of doing.
- Sharing it with groups, friends, companies, agents, etc. means that you have gotten your name out there – the next time that person is thinking of who to hire, they will remember the fact that you sent them something concise and professional.
- Doing a reel each year helps you see how you have personally improved over time.
- Adding this to your profiles on online platforms improves your credibility.
- There aren’t many cons to doing this except that it may take a bit of time to put together, especially if you are new to this all and don’t have a lot to showcase. BUT seeing as though you are reading this (i.e. potentially looking to fill your time with more work), it probably also means that time is not something you’re lacking right now – so go do it!
Effectiveness at landing more jobs: 8/10.
3.INVEST IN YOUR TOOLS
It’s important to deliver quality when working in audio. Some of the best investments are in the tools you use. Whether it’s live sound gear or third party plugins, your tools can help you stand out among the crowd!
- Defining what kind of work you want to do, and then getting the right tools means you have a competitive advantage.
- Long term saving on equipment hire (and also less you have to charge the client!)
- Feeling satisfied with the work you deliver because you have tools that meet your needs. (Rather than feeling disappointed in your delivery because you have used crappy tools)
- You may not see an immediate financial return, BUT if you can deliver a higher quality project, your chances of retaining clients are massive.
- If you don’t have capital, it’s tough to invest. I suggest setting a goal (e.g. my most recent one was to buy iZotope’s RX 9 Advanced) and see how you can save toward it.
- Choosing the tools that will bring you revenue and serve the purpose of the work you are getting paid for. It’s lovely to have toys… but are you seeing any financial return from them? Be decisive in your choosing.
Effectiveness at landing more jobs: 8/10 (long term)
4.CREATE THE WORK YOU WANT TO ATTRACT. (AND GET IT OUT THERE!)
It may sound silly but if you want to do dialogue repair – go repair someone’s dialogue. If you want to do location sound – get onto a set! And be willing to do it for free (depending on the project)
- If you create what you want to be hired for, you’re more likely to be hired for that thing. Yay for job satisfaction!
- Offering your skillset for free (at first) may mean you land yourself on bigger projects, meaning more connections and a better chance at getting future work.
- By doing what you love, you will feel more satisfied and won’t mind that you are not earning your full rates at first.
- There is the danger of not knowing when to say no. you need to pick your “free work” wisely. Don’t do something unless it will benefit you in creating a larger portfolio, connecting you with the “right” people or getting you future work.
- You may need to spend money upfront to do projects that bring you large satisfaction levels.
- If you don’t get yourself “out there” you may find yourself stuck in endless “passion projects” without seeing any return. Know when to put your business hat on.
Landing more work: Beneficial, but not guaranteed, so 6/10.
This is by FAR the best tool I have come across in my time as a soundie. Network, network, network!
- The more you stay connected, the better people’s chance of reaching out to you when they need to hire a soundie.
- Developing relationships with others means opening the doors to new and exciting projects you might not have ever done on your own.
- Often when networking, you get people willing to teach you new tricks along the way, so your resource pool for skill development is enhanced.
- Good relationships improve your chances of repeat work.
- Networking can be tricky if you’re naturally introverted. You will have to step out of your comfort zone.
- People talk. So if you have a poor experience, that will get shared just as much as if you have a good one. Be nice.
- You need to be consistent with maintaining relationships – which isn’t easy, but 100% doable. Be that person who randomly messages a past creative simply to ask how they are doing. Do it. You won’t regret it!
If you learn nothing else in your job searching meanders, take this one step with you. You will not see it fail, ever!
So, there you have it! My personal opinion on various “job landing and retaining” methods! Do you have any to share? I’d love to know!