10 Best Things to Do to Get Work as a Freelancer

10 Best Things to Do to Get Work as a Freelancer
Design by Judy Moore in Canva
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If you want to get work as a freelancer in the film industry, you can’t wait for the jobs to come to you.  We all need to be proactive about putting ourselves out there to get the jobs we want.

It’s not always fun or easy, but it’s crucial if we want to work consistently to build our careers.  In our industry, it’s often out of sight, out of mind, so we have to stay visible.

Here are ten best things you can do to get work as a freelancer:

  1. Send out letter of introduction (LOI) emails.

Believe it or not, people do get work this way.  I receive emails from P.A.s with resumes attached about once a month, and I put them in a file for the future.

I read every resume, too, to see if they’ve worked with anyone I know.  I’ve also gotten jobs by doing this, both as an a.d. and freelance writer.

I’m currently working on a writing assignment that expanded into a year’s worth of work as a result of one LOI I sent out cold.

Even successful, experienced freelancers who’ve been working for years send out LOIs, which is probably why they’re successful.

  1. Keep your resume, portfolio, and website up to date.

These are the things people look at to see if they want to hire you, so make sure you keep it all up to date.

You may not think about it much when you’re working, but you don’t want to wait until someone requests your resume to realize it’s outdated and you have to scramble to update it.

The same goes for any industry directories in which you’re listed.  Be sure to highlight any special training, such as industry safety courses, that you’ve completed.

Be honest about your union membership or lack thereof.  I’ve gotten jobs at the last minute because the person who was initially hired lied about being in the union.

That’s a bridge burned for him because the producer was angry at being lied to and will never consider hiring him again.

If you’re not yet in a union, concentrate your job search on non-union jobs rather than lying about your union status to go after union work.

  1. Ask people you work for if you can use them as references.

References are essential in our industry, as in others.  Potential employers want to know that you are highly recommended by others, and the higher the recommendation, the better.

If you’ve done a good job, most people are happy to recommend you to their colleagues.  If you’re relatively new in your career, recommendations are especially important, as they can compensate for the fact that you don’t yet have much experience.

If someone I know or have at least heard of has recommended you, I can rest assured that you’re competent.  No one wants to hire a dud.

  1. Never let up on marketing yourself.

You’ll notice in our industry that the people who are relentless marketers and networkers are the ones who work the most and get the best jobs.

As freelancers, we’re in business for ourselves, and marketing must be a part of any business that hopes to succeed.  There are many ways to market yourself, from social media to emails, videos, and even snail mail.

Whatever means you choose, be consistent.  Don’t wait until you’re out of work to keep in touch with your contacts, and sending out a group text message blast when you’re desperate for work isn’t marketing.

Marketing isn’t a fun task, but at least we have the internet today.  When I started my career, we had to make phone calls, which required much more effort than sending out emails.

  1. Commit to attending at least one networking event a month.

Nothing has done more for my career than attending networking events.  It’s a great way to keep up with what’s going on and stay in touch with your peers.

Going to events also increases your visibility in the industry.  I always enjoyed the social interaction, but even shy types can usually find one or two people to talk to without feeling overwhelmed.

After the event, take the initiative to follow up with a few people.  I’ve gotten jobs this way, because people often get asked for recommendations or get calls for jobs they can’t accept.

If they’ve just seen you and spoken to you, you may well be the person they recommend.

Always be sure to thank anyone who recommends you.  They’re gold to your career and can help you not only get work, but rise to the next level.

  1. Join a trade organization.

Even if you’re on a union roster or availability list, you can get additional exposure and expand your contacts by joining a trade organization.

Trade organizations often have benefits that make it worth the expense of joining, such as seminars, events, and additional listings.

For example, I’ve gotten numerous jobs in Arizona through the Arizona Production Association (APA.)  I also made many industry contacts by serving on their board and on committees.

Trade organization can be even more beneficial if you’re just starting your career, as it gives you the chance to network with working professionals.

  1. Volunteer.

There’s no better way to be seen as a leader than volunteering to serve on a board or committee.  You’ll be seen as someone who’s willing to step up and be of service to our industry, which is the sign of a leader.

You’ll also build your skills and confidence, setting you apart from your peers and enhancing your career.   Volunteering is also personally rewarding.

  1. Your peers are a great asset to your career.

If you view your peers as cut-throat competition for available jobs, you’re looking at things the wrong way.  Your peers are an asset, not the enemy.

At the same level in their careers, your colleagues are a prime source of jobs and information.  They may bring you on a job they’re doing or vice versa.  It’s happened to me many times.

Cultivate relationships with your industry peers, as you have great deal to offer each other.

  1. Act professional when you do get hired so they’ll hire you again.

Many people in our industry, including those at the top, have been brought down by behaving unprofessionally on set.  As I write this, there are three separate incidents being reported in the trade papers about the firings of three high-profile men for inappropriate behavior on set.

And that’s just this week.  This list gets longer by the day.

No one on set should ever have cause to say you acted inappropriately.  That means no off-color jokes or comments that could be misconstrued.

Practice proper set etiquette at all times and be considerate of everyone.  Be easy to work with and professional so everyone wants to work with you, and you’ll get hired again and again.

  1. Go to work prepared.

Read the call sheet, be ready for the day’s work, and be an asset to your department, not an albatross.

If there’s exterior work, night work, or wet work, bring the clothes you’ll need.  I always kept an extra sun hat and rain gear in the trunk of my car.

Wear comfortable shoes and have the supplies you need on hand.

Find some suggestions for set must-haves here.


Getting work as a freelancer can be challenging when starting your career, but it gets easier over time.  People remember the great job you did when you worked for them before, and they hire you again and recommend you to more people.

That should be the primary goal for every freelancer.




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