You’ve put in the work at your full-time job. And all the while, that freelance broadcast production work you’ve been doing on the side has steadily grown in interest and income. It’s hard to know just when to stop moonlighting as a broadcast production freelancer and turn your side gig into a “perma-lance” career.
As a global network of local crew and vendors that matches open jobs and projects with a pool of vetted talent, ProductionHUB has a great deal of experience helping professionals along the vast continuum of freelance work in the broadcast industry. Katrina de Leon, Director of Marketing for ProductionHUB, offers the following five considerations for broadcast production pros who might be thinking about turning their side gig into a full-time freelance career.
- Consider the expenses. If you’ve been freelancing for any amount of time, you know this already. As a full-time freelancer, you’ll be relying strictly on your freelance income to pay for equipment, insurance, accounting software and services, office space, and upgrades to technology. It is prudent to spend a little time looking at your average expenses and determining how often you currently dip into other sources of income in order to make your freelance gig work. If you’re not making enough to cover your expenses now, it may not yet be time to take the leap.
- Pre-plan now how you’ll schedule your time. If you’ve been freelancing on the side for any amount of time, you’ve likely just figured out a way to make these extra projects fit into your schedule. Late nights, weekends, holidays – but that isn’t a sustainable schedule if you want to achieve any sort of work-life balance. “Perma-lancing” requires that you treat your work as a full-time job, because well, it is! And while you may need to accept projects in the beginning that require you to work during “off” hours every so often, that is okay every once in a while. But try not to fall into the trap of working all day, every day, or you’ll burn out very quickly.
- Be prepared to outsource. Running a business can be hard work. Running a business in the broadcast industry can be extra difficult. That’s why it is important to know when you’ve hit max capacity work-wise, so you can be prepared to outsource as needed. That may involve hiring a bookkeeper to manage your finances. Or, talking to an accountant to file your taxes. Maybe hiring a marketing agency or individual to help get your name out. Or even finding a stable of other freelancers to partner with when your load becomes too heavy or you need more hands on deck for a big broadcast project you’ve landed.
- Make sure you’ve got a brand plan. If you’re stepping out into the world of running your own broadcast production business, you’re going to need to brand yourself, and that is not often not a quick or easy process. If you’ve already branded your on-the-side freelance business, this could be an easy transition, but you’ll need to shout it from the rooftops to your clients and prospects that you’ll be transitioning to “perma-lance” status. If you haven’t yet branded yourself, consider the top message you want people to know about your new business and use that as a starting point to build your brand. One of the easiest ways to gain traction while building your brand is to seek out speaking and content development opportunities that will allow you to position yourself as an expert resource in your field. Whether presenting to a local Chamber of Commerce or a national NAB conference, or contributing to a blog in your industry space, these are great branding tools to showcase your talents and can help to bring more awareness to your spectrum of work.
- When you find yourself with unpaid brand ambassadors, it’s probably time. Are you constantly hearing comments like “I didn’t know you understood sound in post-production so well!” or “Alice referred me to you because she said you did an excellent job producing her client’s television commercial”? If so, then it might be time to consider leaving a full-time work arrangement to pursue a “perma-lance” career. Give your brand ambassadors some love, though. Build out a website and create a profile on professional niche sites to show off your work to the ideal clients searching for your services. In doing so, you will ensure people can easily find you and see samples of your work.
Deciding whether or not to strike out on your own can feel like an overwhelming decision. While pursuing a “perma-lance” position may give you more autonomy in terms of schedule and profit, it can also be intimidating to take on all of the risks associated with running your own business. Hopefully, this list of considerations will aid in helping you decide whether it's time to make the transition from moonlighting to full-time freelancing.