4 Best Ways to Deal with the Lows of Freelance Film Production
Freelance film production can be rewarding, but it also has its share of lows, and those lows can be difficult to take if we’re not prepared. Freelancing offers a lot of freedom, but it can sometimes be a bumpy ride.
(This post may contain affiliate links, which means, at no cost to you, I make a small amount of money if you buy something using these links. I only link to products I use and believe in, and it helps cover the expenses of running this blog.)
Having had my share of lows working as an industry freelancer, I'm sharing four of the most challenging lows I experienced, and some solutions.
Here are four of the lows we face as freelancers and some ways to deal with them:
There’s no way around the fact that not having a job when we want one can be scary and frustrating, but that’s part of being a freelancer. That’s why it’s essential to keep up your contacts and networking when you’re working.
People shouldn’t only hear from you when you’re looking for a job. It’s a big help to line up your next job while you’ve still got one, too.
I don’t know anyone who works in freelance film production who isn’t unemployed now and then. Keep up your contacts and networking, and the next job will come your way more quickly than you think.
One of the great things about our industry is that things can change in an instant. You could get a call in the next five minutes for a job that will change your fortunes for the better for years.
It’s happened to me many times, but I had laid the groundwork by keeping up with my connections, showing up for industry events, and networking.
- Financial stress
If you’re in financial distress every time a job ends, it’s time to re-evaluate your finances.
We must live within our means as freelancers and save money when we’re working so we’re not struggling during the downtimes. That may mean getting a roommate or moving to a smaller, less expensive place.
I had a roommate for years when I was starting out, and it saved me a lot of money and financial stress when I wasn’t working.
I always had another revenue stream, too, which I highly recommend for freelancers, especially in our industry. I never wanted to have only one income stream in our unpredictable business, so I always had some money coming in from at least one other source.
You already have another potential revenue stream if you have a website or blog. You can become an affiliate for products you believe in and earn a commission if someone makes a purchase using your links.
Michelle Schroeder-Gardner has an excellent free affiliate marketing ebook that I recommend and have used for my blog and website. Many of us in the industry already have websites and blogs, so why not turn them into an additional revenue stream?
You can find Michelle’s free affiliate marketing ebook here.
Are you an expert in something others want to learn? Consider creating an online course.
You can build your email list and create a landing page in ConvertKit, the email program I use for this blog, and for the free giveaway product I offer to new subscribers.
You can use ConvertKit for free if you have under one thousand subscribers, and it's designed for creators. It's a smart move for anyone with a website or blog to be building an email subscriber list.
Some people design printable templates using a design program like Canva, which they then sell.
It can be a good additional income stream if you enjoy design, and I know Canva is easy to use, as I use it for all the graphics on this blog.
You have endless possibilities for additional income streams with the internet, which is highly beneficial for freelancers.
- Job burnout
We work some brutally long hours in our industry for weeks on end, so it’s no surprise that the job burnout rate for film freelancers is high. Job burnout can compromise our health and our careers.
The constant stress and fatigue take their toll, so it helps to be able to give ourselves the time to recuperate between jobs. Our industry is known for its work-life imbalance, but we need to take care of ourselves physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Practicing mindfulness, yoga, fitness, and meditation can all help us get back on track, as can surrounding ourselves with supportive people.
There are great jobs that remind us why we want to work in this industry, and there are other jobs that make us want to leave it.
Choosing our jobs wisely makes all the difference.
- Feeling that we’re making no progress
There’s a difference between a series of jobs and a career. We go from job to job in freelance film production, but sometimes it may feel like we’re not making progress.
If you’re not already a union member, it may be time to join so you can access a broader range of jobs and work with top people in your field.
Joining a union is something you should evaluate carefully, as it is a considerable financial investment. However, there are many benefits to joining a union, such as healthcare and pension contributions.
Even if you’re not sure you want to join a union, you should still be saving call sheets and paycheck stubs. If you decide to join someday, you’ll need verification of your work history.
Joining a union can change your career trajectory, but it may not be worth the cost if you plan to stay in a market where union jobs are scarce.
Everyone’s situation is different, but if you’re feeling stuck in your career, it’s time to look at ways you can progress. Expanding your contacts and networking will help you meet more people and broaden your network.
Make yourself stand out from the crowd by volunteering to help out at an event or serve on a committee. I made loads of new contacts this way and found people see you in a different, more positive light when you’re willing to be of service in the industry.
It will boost your confidence level, too.
The progress we make in our freelance film production careers is ultimately up to us.
How we handle the obstacles and unpredictability of freelancing determines whether we’re stressed and miserable or enjoying the ride.
We’ll all experience some lows in our careers, but they need not derail us if we’re prepared.