So You Think You Can Freelance Part 1: New Clients
I'm so new to the world of blogging but I want to share some of my thoughts on getting new clients when it comes to podcast editing/production. I have been working as a freelancer for a little over a year now, and I think I've learned quite a lot through the process. There are a couple ways you can go about finding new clients but, at least when I was first trying to get into the industry, a lot of the advice I got was "word of mouth, word of mouth, word of mouth!"
There's no doubt that word of mouth is a great way to find clients, but that's so unhelpful and daunting when you're first starting out -- how am I supposed to find clients when nobody knows what I'm capable of!? Maybe you're not even experienced enough to feel comfortable vouching for your own skills. (Let's chat about that imposter syndrome later). This is generally where internships come in handy, but, if you're like me and trying to get into the industry as a recent college graduate, it can be tricky to find internships that don't require college credit.
What you need, pal, is a mentor.
Now this is a bad example because I did take an internship through my graduate school program at Belmont (studying audio engineering), and therefore could slip in with college credit. Still, I basically got my start by connecting to Clark Buckner of Relationary Marketing (a podcast marketing company here in Nashville, TN) at that internship, and working for him as a contract podcast editor. Contract work is a great, low-stakes way to build up your resumé/portfolio.
What you can do right now:
Quick, go google podcast production companies in your area! There are probably a bunch and if there's not, this is the COVID era, buddy! Find some podcast companies you're interested in that might be doing remote work. Find the networks that make your favorite shows, look up companies that focus on your favorite type of content (Do you like comedic podcasts? Do you want to tell stories? Work B2B?)
Email them and offer your help! Now this part isn't my strong suit, but I would suggest telling them a little bit about your background, what led you to podcasting, what you want to learn, and how you can be helpful in the meantime while you're learning.
Okay, so now go find a mentor who will walk you through their workflow. Hop on a zoom call and have them do a sped-up version of their editing process. Have them tell you about what plug-ins they use, how they set up compression, how they choose which "ums" to leave in or take out, how they fix problems like zoom stutters or clipping. No matter what you do, make sure you have concrete requests and questions for your mentor. Try not to ask for their time without being clear about what you need.
See if your mentor can help you find some contract work -- maybe they've been approached by folks who need an editor at a lower price point than they can match, maybe they have an idea of Facebook groups, job boards, or other places where folks might be in need of editors. Maybe they have a project or two they need help with.
A Couple Places I've Found Clients and Gigs
So, ideally, you've got a connection or two in podcasting who can help you network. But if we're starting from scratch, here are a couple places I've found clients and gigs that might help get you started. Quick tip: go to your college (or high school, or any academic institution you have a connection to) on LinkedIn, go to alumni, and search for "podcast" and relevant key words to see if you have any easy connections you can draw from. You can usually assume that podcasters like to talk so, as long as you're polite, you can bet they'll probably be down to chat.
AngelList -- search "podcast" or "media" or whatever you want. This site is basically a job board for Startups. The huge pro of that for someone first getting into podcasting is that these groups are growing and they're not necessarily looking for an expert -- they're down for you to grow alongside them. Listings on AngelList are sometimes listed as "internships" even though you won't be learning from a supervisor or anything -- they just mean they can't sign up to pay you right now. Know your worth -- if you're looking for an unpaid opportunity just to get something in your portfolio, that's cool, but don't work for free if you don't need to. Also, keep in mind the actual definition of an unpaid internship...you should be the one getting the most out of it.
Facebook groups and podcasting meet ups -- ok, so don't go meet up right now. But there are probably ten relevant facebook groups that you could join for networking. Search "[city name] Podcasters" or look for subgroups like "Women Working in Podcasting." There are more general audio groups you could join, too, if you're looking for more broad freelance gigs.
Fiverr -- Fiverr takes a certain kind of worker and I am not that kind of worker, so I can't really speak to it. Still, it's certainly a mainstay of the gig economy and worth some consideration.
Next up, I'm gonna be giving some tips for questions to ask potential clients (and to consider, yourself) to see if you're a good fit. Subscribe if you wanna!