Getting More Color Grading Work Is Easy – If You Work At It!
If you’re like me, there are certain points of the year where you get a little slow and you start thinking:
‘What can I do to land more work?’
The truth of the matter is, you shouldn’t wait until you’re slow to starting thinking that!
With that said, when you get a little slow that’s a perfect time to run a full court press on trying to secure more work.
Here is the thing – to land more work you actually have to work to get it! I know lots of people in postproduction that think work comes from the sky and just lands in their lap!
Well, that may happen if you’re very lucky, but in my experience the amount of new work you land is directly tied to the work you put in to try to get it!
Some of you may be in larger facilities with dedicated sales folks. I’ve even written about sales strategies here on Mixing Light. But what do you do if you’re a one-person shop? Are there ways to drum up more work without having to spend a ton of money to do so?
My feeling is out of the box non-traditional thinking about sales can be as or more effective than traditional sales.
In this Insight, I want to share some ideas that have been working for me recently and hopefully you’ll use them or modify them to pick up more work.
Be Your Community Expert
Ever been to a user group meeting or an event sponsored by industry association?
Everyone will tell you networking at these events is a must and that you should get out at least once or twice or a month to attend these events.
While I’m not knocking friendly networking opportunities, in my experience, for picking up work merely attending these events is not a great (or efficient) way to actually pickup new work.
Think about it. Why do people attend these events?
Probably because they’ve been told (like all of us have) that these types events are a great way to network, but they’re also there to see a presentation because on some level, the topic for the event is interesting to them and they’re looking for guidance.
So why don’t you be the guiding hand and do some presentations?
User groups and association events are always looking for people to give presentations, especially ones that focus on craft. Granted these are usually no-pay or low pay situations, but in my experience giving presentations provides quite a few sales-type benefits:
- Increases your personal & company brand recognition – By simply getting up in front of others by definition gives you more visibility, but having the ‘guts’ to present (especially if you do it well) starts to build your reputation as an expert, and the more you present the more you develop that reputation.
- Allows you to show off your creative skills – Button pushing demos are a dime a dozen at user groups, and most of the time the presenters from big companies in the industry are really just there to sell people something. Making a presentation about creativity and technique can really make you stand out, and user groups love creative presentations!
- Allows you to assert technical abilities – A lot of what we do as colorists, and finishers is very technical. The ability to take highly technical concepts e.g. ACES or calibration and explain these things in clear & concise ways further builds confidence in you the individual and your company’s services.
- Let’s you stay current on trends & client concerns – Presenting & answering questions from people gives you a great idea of what challenges potential clients are facing in the real-world. Think about a presentation as market research that arms you with potential solutions to problems clients might be facing.
When you combine these things together, you have powerful sale tools – expertise & trust.
I would say that on average I land a 10-15 jobs a year through presentations.
Team Mixing Light in our separate grading careers have used this method to land new work, but I understand public speaking and the confidence to do so is not for everyone.
That being said… almost every colorist, editor and producer I know has the ability to present in front of people – we do it every day with clients & co-workers!
Being a good presenter just takes some organization and some practice. Don’t be afraid to try it!
Get Happy – As In Happy Hour!
The one thing that the annual NAB/IBC Colorist Mixer (produced by Team Mixing Light with our buddies at the International Colorist Academy) has taught me is that people like to get together, have a few drinks and just chat.
The problem I have with more formal networking events – open houses, education days, etc. is that there is pressure from all angles to network, sell, and walk away at the end of the event feeling like you have quantifiable data that you’ve been successful in networking in some way.
One thing we’ve started doing at my facility is monthly happy hours.
At first we announced the happy hours with an evite or an email, but they’ve become so regular (first Thursday of the month) that we don’t even need to do that anymore.
Each month we probably have about 30-40 people come over – there are regulars, but each time probably 40% are new.
The majority of these people are industry folks and friends from around town, but we also get folks who are friends of friends coming by, that tangentially have something to do with the work we do – entertainment lawyers, musicians, etc.
We usually provide some drinks & snacks, but we also ask people to bring what they like (btw this is a great way to build a good liquor cabinet at the office!)
Ok, so how do these happy hours translate into landing more work?
- Capability demos – At almost every happy hour that we do someone on our team ends up showing off some cool technique or workflow. Just last week using Josh Petok’s awesome look reverse engineering technique I was able to land a job from someone who wanted to replicate a very specific look, but was on a very tight budget. Additionally, showing potential clients what you can do without the pressure of a paid session builds, you guessed it, confidence in your/the facilities capabilities.
- Creative discussions – The look of Fury Road, Interstellar, True Detective, the new Stella Artois ads were just some of the creative discussions that were had at our last happy hour. Opening the door to potential clients on your creative process can be a very valuable sales tool. More to the point, when a potential client understands how you might attack their project from a creative standpoint it helps them build trust in what you do.
- Artist connections – I know that I’m not the perfect guy for a lot of projects, but maybe someone on staff with me is a perfect fit for a potential client’s project. Or maybe someone I’ve done color work with needs audio work and has never met one of the mixers we have – these client connections to not only other artists in your facility, but other artists that are just hanging out is a great way to build good will. I’ve found that even if someone doesn’t work with you now, they tend to not forget how the connection was made.
If you’re not a partier/drinker you can also port this idea to some other social event.
There is a graphics company down the street from my company that does monthly bowling outings that are pretty well attended.
Sure, they can’t do some of the technology demo stuff at the bowling alley, but the social aspects and discussions are just as lively as they are at our happy hours.
I would say in the past year we’ve landed 8-10 big ticket jobs the came directly from contacts made at these happy hours.