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Entries in Business (3)

8:00AM

10 thoughts on working for free in exchange for “exposure.”

A multi-billion dollar company wants my friend to do free work for them in exchange for exposure.

The company makes billions of dollars a year and wants to pay him zero dollars for the honor of working with them. This kind of thing often drives me crazy.

A lot of companies are doing that these days. “We won’t pay you for your designs, writing, photos, code, INSERT SKILL HERE, but it will be great exposure for you.”

The challenge is that sometimes it makes sense to do some free work. It’s not a black and white issue, there’s a whole lot of gray.

Here are 10 things you need to keep in mind.

1. If someone asks you to work for free because it will be great exposure, ask them to specify what that means. If they can’t, don’t. Don’t let “great exposure” be code for “we won’t pay you anything.” Click To Tweet

2. Exposure that can’t be detailed or explained is fake exposure. Here’s the difference: Real exposure = “We have a mailing list of 100,000 people and will send an email to everyone on March 9th with links to your site or social platforms.” Fake exposure = “Our people will love your work and will definitely check you out.” Get specific or don’t expect anything valuable.

3. It’s on you to make sure they deliver on the exposure. Don’t wait for the company to send out the email or post about your work. Do your best to be persistent without pestering.

4. Exposure comes in a lot of shapes and sizes. In addition to a new audience finding out about you, working with the right clients can legitimize you. If you need to build up your resume, the ability to say, “I worked with Apple” has real value.

5. If you’re going to be shy about using the street cred that exposure gives you, don’t bother doing the work for free. Exposure you don’t cash in on is useless.

6. Dear companies who take advantage of the free model, I just came up with a new idea. Here it is, “You get what you pay for.” When you demand someone work for free, don’t be surprised if the work isn’t amazing. If you wouldn’t work for free, why do you expect other people to?

7. Play the system. In some industries, to get your foot in the door you have to work a free internship. If that’s the case and you want the job bad enough, play the system. I would have loved to be paid for every speaking gig I did when I was starting out, but guess what? I wasn’t good enough to get paid. I had to earn that. That wasn’t failure, that’s how that process works.

8. Beware the free client. The most difficult and demanding clients I have ever worked with are the ones who wanted me to work for free or at a grossly reduced rate. I know that doesn’t make any sense, but I promise it’s true.

9. Volunteer for free when you want to. That’s ultimately what I dislike about this whole game, it removes your ability to be generous. Donate your time. Give your skills and talents to causes you’re passionate about. But don’t let someone force you to.

10. Joy is pretty amazing form of currency too. I still do some free work just because it’s fun. In the grind to build a business, don’t forget to smile.

Should you work for free? No. But also yes.

Do you deserve to be paid more for what you do?

Maybe, if you’re great at what you do.

To get great, read my New York Times Bestselling, worth $1,000 but on sale for only $15 book, Do Over.

Considering it took me 18 years of employment to write, that’s practically free.

But maybe I needed the exposure.

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Written by Jon Acuff
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8:00AM

You've Landed Your First Video Job

You’re fresh out of school. You’ve been waiting for this moment for four years, and now it’s happened: you’ve landed your first corporate client. What next? Here are some tips to help you kick things off.

Build your brand

By brand we mean how your company appears from the outside, and what it stands for. A strong brand makes you look credible and helps to create a memorable business that people want to be connected to. Pick a name that stands out, and is related to what you, in particular, offer. Using your own name as a brand is more personable but will potentially attract smaller clients. Also, consider the simplicity of the name: is it easy to remember the corresponding url or twitter handle?

Developing a visual identity is just as important, get a great logo and share it everywhere. Think about corresponding design elements (color, typography, shapes). Finally, a tagline goes hand in hand with your logo and is your promise to your audience - can you explain what you are and what you do in about 7 words?

Promote yourself

When you’re first starting out, you can’t just sit around and hope people will come to you. You need to build a credible online presence.

First, get your website set up. No html or java experience? Fear not. Companies such as Wordpress, Wix, or Squarespace offer stylish and easy-to-use pre-packaged sites.

Next, get your Facebook and Twitter (and other social platforms) presence going, and make sure you post to them regularly. Even if it’s just a “Hey, see what we just did for our latest client!”, or “Check out the new service we’re offering”. This way, clients are always being reminded you’re there and can watch you develop.

Finally, word of mouth is always the best advertising. Every time you deliver a project and see a smile on your client’s face, ask them if they know anyone who might need your services and encourage them to recommend you.

For a few more tips, check out 5 keys to growing your freelance business.

Get your business incorporated

This might sound like a boring bit of admin, but protecting yourself as an individual, or as a husband/wife/parent is critical. When you’re incorporated, if someone sues you for professional reasons, they will be suing the business, and your personal assets will be protected. As a small business owner, you are subject to some of the laws and tax regulations that apply to large corporations. In addition to incorporation, make sure you check out the tax obligations in your location.

Pick your software

While your expertise and comfort levels might guide your software decisions, your budget will also come into play. FCPX (Mac only) is a flat $300 fee, while both Adobe’s Creative Cloud and Avid Media Composer are available on a $50/month subscription plan. Keep in mind that some programs are Windows only (including DVD Architect, pretty much the last prosumer DVD authoring program).

To work out what you need and the best way of buying it, sit down and make a road map of the type of services you’re planning to offer in the first twelve months of your business. Then list the applications you’ll need to do each service. For example:

Jan – April:
Web file creation – Sorenson Squeeze, $X
DVD authoring – DVD Architect, $X
May:
3D animation – Cinema 4D, $X

You may decide that you won’t offer all services right off the bat, as they’ll require more cash up front on software. Update and refer to your roadmap regularly to prepare for the next phase of your business.

Storage

It’s crucial to choose the right storage platforms for the work that you’ll be cutting. Many new editors think, “I’ll just get a large system drive and edit off that!”. Bad idea. You should never have media on the same drive as your OS: if your hard drive is damaged, you’ll lose all your files. G-Raid Technology and La Cie are excellent starting places; they have a range of drives covering a selection of interfaces.

The demo

There is a slight difference between demo reels and a showreel, and both are important. A showreel showcases the range of work that you’ve done and is edited in a snappy, creative way. A demo reel shows the work you can do in more detail and with longer segments, giving clients a clearer understanding of your style of editing. Your demo reels will help potential clients decide if you’re the right fit for the post production on their next job. If you’re an editor that works on different types of productions, make sure you have demos that show each genre.

Manage client expectations

As soon as the project begins, you need to establish some guidelines to ensure things stay on track. Without these, you’ll be surprised at how quickly things can unravel. Develop a timeline and agree on a communication schedule (with all key stakeholders!) and milestone reviews  – this way the the client can leave you to do your work, knowing they’ll be brought in at critical junctures. Finally, once you’ve set attainable deadlines, stick to them. Never over promise and then under deliver – this is a sure recipe for disappointment all round.

Quoting and billing

Consider charging per project instead of per hour. This gives the client peace of mind around the project budget but also, if you work quickly and efficiently, means you don’t risk devaluing your expertise on an hourly rate. A Statement of Work shows that all parties have agreed upon the deliverables and the project price (and anything outside of that will increase the price of the project).

When billing, consider using invoicing software to give you a professional look and make sure everything is calculated correctly. Freshbooks or Xero will help track your clients and the amount of money you are owed. Make sure to include a due date and full details of your preferred payment method on every invoice you send.

Golden rule

Lastly, the most important thing to remember is never work for free. Your time is valuable. A credit in someone’s movie or TV show doesn’t pay your rent, or the lease on your equipment. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you feel you deserve. You might lose a few clients, but the ones you deliver for in exchange for a fair price, will be clients for life!

Kevin P McAuliffe is a three-time North American ProMax award-winning editor and has been a media composer editor for over 18 years. He is a senior editor at Extreme Reach Toronto, whose current clients include Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros. Pictures, Walt Disney Pictures and E1 Entertainment. Kevin can also be found helping out on Avid Community in the Media Composer and Symphony Get Started Fast forums.

(Article Posted by Wipster)

8:00AM

Lessons from Squarespace

How did the founder of a comparatively tiny company turn around to make millions and a lasting product? Finding the right people, adapting, and building internally.

Anthony Casalena built the first version of Squarespace because he wanted a better personal website for himself. It’s a common enough story. Drew Houston famously wrote Dropbox’s first line of code on a bus when he realized he left his thumb drive at home. But very few founders have taken Casalena’s path.

While he's run the company for a decade, he didn’t start focusing on explosive growth until six years in. When he did, the company quickly became the first choice for hundreds of thousands of layman web developers, and it snagged a rare brass ring—this year’s buzzy Super Bowl ad that kicked off a new chapter in the company’s history and attracted hordes of new users. Recently, it announced a new fundraise of $40 million to scale even more, bringing its total amount raised to $78.5 million.

So how did Casalena do it? How did he take a company once dwarfed by competitors like Wordpress and Drupal and make it the growing, aspirational brand to watch while continuing to lead development? In this exclusive First Round Review interview, Casalena explains how he achieved every technical founder’s dream.

Get Lost in a Niche

In 2004, there were very few legitimate options for people who wanted to build their own websites without coding. And those that did exist deeply bothered Casalena with their negligence to detail, GeoCities and Blogger among them.

"None of the products out there took style or design into account—which doesn’t work when you’re trying to build your personal identity online," he says. "Your website is where your ideas live. It reflects who you are. And all there was out there were these geeky, bargain-bin sort of services charging $2.99 a month for clunky experiences. So when I started Squarespace, I just wanted to make a site for myself. I never thought it would be a business."

When he started sharing the platform with family and friends, he soon realized he wasn’t the only one stymied by the lack of options in the space. More and more people asked if they could use the tools he had built to create their own sites, giving him the momentum he needed to run a cashflow positive service for three years on his own. Eventually, he was bringing in around $1.5 million a year.

What made the difference for Casalena was his drive to be detailed. When you’re engrossed enough in any area or topic, you develop taste that sets you apart from the crowd, he says. As someone who had taught himself to program from age 15, he knew there had to be a better way to do things, and he pursued that idea at the expense of "getting a real job" without the certainty of a payday.

Six years into the company, this same attention to detail—the kind that you have inherently when you’re building a product for yourself—is what drove Casalena to make the changes he needed to revitalize the company, rise to the top of a new field of competitors, and truly realize his vision to provide a simple, stylish web publishing platform. Hiring was his first stop.

...Read the full article here.

[Image: Flickr user inUse Consulting]