Using Video to be Heard
I just want to quickly point out that the very notion that I’m typing this rather than filming it is ironic, but let’s pretend I never told you that.
TL:DR (Too Long, Didn’t Read): Video is the current king of content consumption in the expressive mediums. Utilising both the professional and personal aspects of it for your brand and business is key to getting more clients, networking and finding your audience.
When it comes to freelance videography, your reel (and positive word of mouth) is your lifeblood. After all, it’s how you get jobs in the first place. It used to be case where only a small minority 'hit it big' by being in the right place, at the right time, with the right people.
They produced quality content for a client, who later built a successful business and hired he/she on as Head of Creative Development. Or an up and coming rap artist signed a major record deal and he wants his high school best friend, who also so happens to be a self-proclaimed director – to be his music video producer. These are type of stories that freelance filmmakers are hoping of landing through nothing but chance.
I won’t go into this in a lot of detail otherwise I’ll be writing an essay, but social media has changed the game for video creators and they all should be taking advantage of this free opportunity. Many are! Aputure Tech, Retrospec Films and Skytography are utilising the social and fun aspect of these platforms to promote their professional work. These are relatively small companies/individuals, but their impact is huge.
Gary Vaynerchuk often remarks “document, don’t create.” What he means is, rather than churn out amazing works of cinematography once every other month, you should be documenting the process along the way. It can be anything from filmmaking tips, behind the scenes, your story up until this point, anything that expresses you as a person or business beyond your work.
The best place to document is YouTube and – as a gateway drug to this – Instagram. YouTube can be the hub of your content; the masterpieces, the indie films, the branded content AND your vlogs, informative work, gear reviews.
But Instagram is the networking event and your page is your digital business card. Nike may not be hanging out there, but the Head of Marketing is – get the idea?
So for example: make sure your Instagram has snippets of your reel, personal work you’ve done, behind the scenes pictures of yourself, camera gear setups, everything to do your style of filmmaking. Then find your clients within your niche – and DM [Direct Message] them asking if they want some killer content from you.
Best of all, it’s all free to do this! It just requires you to carve out some time to do it every day. Check out this video from Gary Vee about hitting people up in the DM.
NOTE: Even after saying all of this, you shouldn’t be judging it's worth by the number of calls you get from brands and clients wanting you to make content for them. That’s great of course, but that’s the bonus of going all in on your passion, what you love doing. That’s why you started making videos, remember?
And hey, if nothing else, documenting your process is an awesome digital diary, a way for yourself, friends and family to look back and watch how far you’ve progressed and what you did to get there. How amazing would it be for your children and grandchildren to be able to watch your talent and skill develop over time?
It’s not just the medium of video you can utilise to have your voice, brand or business heard. Not everyone has what it takes to crush it on video. Nerves, stumbled speech, worried about your looks – whatever it is there’s no point dwelling on it and trying to improve a weakness when you should just play to your strengths.
I'm just using video as an example as this post is focused around aspiring filmmakers and videographers that want an extra push in getting the ball rolling. Other industries may be better suited to podcasting, or the written word. Just find what you’re most comfortable with producing content consistently, and run with it.
Most importantly, one can’t expect to get excited about their own career path, to then fall in line with the rest of the herd and expect to stand out. If you’re serious about this, you have the take the risk by being the wolf and running in the opposite direction.
I want an inspirational case study! Ok, ok, fine. Casey Neistat – the famous YouTube vlogger - has 9.4 million subscribers (love or hate him, he's making serious bank from producing ‘amateur’ videos online) actually started in the branded content sphere long before that was even a phrase. Nike came to him to produce content exactly in the style of Casey’s early ‘films’ and still do this day, it’s one of the most watched commercials ever put out by Nike.
That’s a big deal because he didn't rely on show reels. He just made the kind of content he wanted, in his style, documenting the process that likely explained his thinking behind his unique style, and that led him to working with the biggest brands in the world.
So get out there and create, but share the process along the way if for no one else but yourself.