Category Archives: Freelance

Filemail: Large-File Transfer Made Pretty Darn Easy

Most everyone I know who works with video or photos is always on the hunt for an easy way to share or transfer them.  Tough part is, unless you’re sending a REALLY low-resolution video, most video files are fairly large — too large to simply attach in an ordinary e-mail.

There are a ton of websites that allow you to send large files, and I’ve tried several. And with most, there are positives and negatives. Some are paid, many of the free ones are riddled with ads that make navigating the site confusing, and others may limit your file sizes to only a few hundred Megabytes.

Filemail is one I found recently that seems the most intuitive and user-friendly.

It’s free, but upgradable to Premium service for only $4 monthly.  The free version allows transfer of files up to 2 Gb.  Premium service ups your allowable file size to a whopping 10 Gb. It also allows you to upload multiple files, which is huge for photo-sharing with friends or family, because now all (or most of) your photos can be sent at once. There’s even a Corporate upgrade. You can compare the various plans here.
But even if you’re not interested in a paid membership, Filemail is still an easy to use and VERY convenient free service for the once-in-awhile large file sharer who doesn’t have his/her own FTP site.

How to Find Freelance Partners

I’m a big fan of Nick Bertke, whose professional handle is Pogo. He’s a VJ/producer who creates songs using music and sounds from films like Disney’s Alice in Wonderland. Recently, Pogo hosted a contest inviting people to provide video to accompany a song called “Mellow Brick Road,” which uses audio from The Wizard of Oz.  Here’s the winning entry, by a guy named Reed Gauthier:

As a freelance producer of audio and video, I do a fair amount of solo work. But I also have a circle of partners I work with: voice people, singers, animators, graphic designers, etc. And a common question I’m asked is “How do you meet these people?”

Well, it’s pretty easy, actually. I reach out and introduce myself. I sent an e-mail to the animator of the above video, saying “I’m a fan. Congrats,” along with a short introduction of myself, and telling him how I’m always on the lookout for freelance partners. I don’t know the guy even slightly, and we may never end up working together. But now that a connection has been initiated, there’s an opportunity — a door instead of a wall. That door may not open, but a wall NEVER will.

It’s SO easy to make connections in the digital world. Isn’t it worth a few minutes of your time to reach out to someone in your field, even if only to say, “I’m a fan. I enjoy your work?”

Believing in Your Fee

Great story I’d heard before, but was reminded of while reading The Simple Dollar, a new blog I discovered recently:

A French woman, upon seeing Picasso in a Parisian restaurant, approached the great master and insisted that he put down his coffee and make a quick sketch of her. Graciously, Picasso obliged. When he was done, she took the drawing, put it in her handbag, and then pulled out her billfold.

“How much do I owe you?” she asked.

“$5,000,” was Picasso’s reply.

“$5,000? But it took you only three minutes!” she exclaimed.

“No,” Picasso answered. “It took me all my life.”

Picasso was always good for a quote that carried some impact, wasn’t he?

People with talent didn’t just come out of the box that way. Just because something appears easy doesn’t mean it is, or that the journey was. It takes years of education, years of practice, years of prior failure.

Pricing my services is probably my biggest ongoing challenge as a small business owner. In advertising production, many clients only have the perspective of seeing the finished 30-second TV spot, or hearing the 60-second radio commercial.  Far less often do they see the hours spent drawing animation artwork, editing and enhancing audio or video, searching for the right read, the right voice, the right take, and writing and rewriting copy to ensure that their advertising message is unique and salient and remarkable. That stuff not only takes time to execute, but it also takes time to learn to do, and get good at. And that’s what your clients are paying a premium for.

Very often prospective clients hesitate, hem, and haw when they inquire about my rates for voiceover, production, animation, etc., because to them it “seems expensive for just a 30-second TV spot.” All the more often, I find myself turning away business when that happens, rather than trying to justify my fee. As much as I hate to pass up work, I know that a client who dithers on price right out of the gate doesn’t value my time. And the client who doesn’t value my time ends up being the one who demands the most of it, usually amidst a constant debate as to why they shouldn’t have to pay me for it. I find that time is much better spent honing my skills, networking, and building my business in an effort to find better-quality clients who enjoy being involved in the creative process, and who appreciate what goes into it.

Don’t devalue yourself, your work, or your time just because others might not see the value in it.

Good luck!

My Creative Homeless Shelter

One of the most valuable lessons of my career is one I learned when I was in college, interning for Michael Coleman at WZLX in Boston:  Keep everything.

I have archives with all my old scripts, and most of the stuff I’ve produced is still on file someplace (I’ve changed computers several times over the years, so I’ve lost some stuff, unfortunately). Why? Because you just never know when something will come in handy.

On the Plane – Danke Schoen Parody

I’m of the opinion that there’s no such thing as a wasted idea. Clients have sometimes rejected my ideas for commercials over the years. When I was writing and producing bits and parodies for Daily Comedy Network, submissions would sometimes not get picked up. Hey, let’s face it: You won’t hit the mark every time. But, you can still turn that rejection into a positive.

http://www.poptent.net/getplayer/17354

Whenever a concept or a spot, or script gets kicked back, I still keep it, per that valuable lesson I learned back in 1992. That piece immediately gets moved to a special folder I have on my computer, named “Homeless Shelter.” It’s where all my ideas live which haven’t yet found “homes.” I keep them well-fed. I visit them frequently; check in, see how they’re doing. And sometimes I can re-purpose one of them for a new project that comes up.

Portly Boy – Parody of Lonely Boy by Andrew Gold

For me, coming up with the initial idea — the jumping-off point — is usually the most difficult part of the creative process. So I’ll often visit the Shelter first, to see if any ideas can be recycled for the project I’m working on, but secondly, because even if I can’t re-use the ideas there, they often will be great thought-starters to spark something new.

http://www.poptent.net/getplayer/17168

The pieces I’ve posted here all currently reside in my Homeless Shelter.  They’re all pieces which have previously been rejected for whatever reason but which I still use as creative inspiration. I invite you to watch, listen, and most importantly, consider creating a “Homeless Shelter” archive of your own, where you can begin to amass a cache of ideas to draw from, as well.

Working Together, Living Apart: Chapter 2 – The Remote Studio

About six weeks ago, my wife Kelly started her new job in Tucson, Arizona, leaving me to contend with winter back in Maine. Well, a few days ago, I decided I needed a break, so I packed a bag and flew out for a visit. I’m now writing this post from the apartment we’ve dubbed “Slaterville West.”

True to winter’s form, a Nor’easter prevented me from flying back to Maine on my regularly scheduled departure date, leaving me stuck here in Tucson for a few more days. With projects due back home. So it’s been a great opportunity to set up our remote studio and take it on a little test flight. Frankly, I’m amazed at what technology enables us to do.

In addition to my computer and related audio and video editing software — all of which I already had — I’ve invested in two tools that have enabled me to complete all the work I otherwise would have had to push back. The first is a USB-powered Samson C01U microphone. It provides studio-quality sound with only the most minor enhancement needed, and is an absolute steal at about a hundred bucks.

The second: GotoMyPC.com. For an annual fee of $100, I’m able to access my main (or Maine) computer from anywhere, at any time. It’s quite literally like looking through a window into my home office. All my files, programs, e-mail, everything is accessible, usable, and transferable in both directions. Pretty awesome. It was easy to purchase, and easy to install. In fact, with the one radio spot and one TV spot I’m producing this week, both the mic and GotoMyPC will have paid for themselves.

(The view from my AZ computer to my ME computer via gotomypc.com)

As my wife and I prepare to make our permanent move west, there will likely be a lot of travel back and forth between Maine and Arizona over the next six months. I’d had some initial concerns about missing work opportunities due to the technical restrictions that working remotely might present. But it seems like every day there’s a new bit of software, a new equipment upgrade, or a new application that allows us to keep right on going with our lives, no matter where our lives may lead.

So while my travel plans may leave me in warmer climes for a few more days, I must admit, I’m kind of torn. While I’m thrilled that I won’t HAVE to miss any more work, I also won’t GET to miss any, either.

Working Together… Living Apart

Today, Slater’s Garage changed in a pretty significant way.  Kelly Slater (my partner in life and in business) just packed up the car and departed from Maine to start a new job in Arizona.  This is a WELCOMED move – one we’ve been dreaming about, plotting, and planning for a long time, and we’re incredibly excited about the opportunities that moving to a larger (and warmer-weather) media market will bring.

The job offer and subsequent relocation happened very quickly, and during winter in northern New England, which means that for now, it’s not really practical for the rest of the family to make the move.  Our two kids still have to finish college come spring, and listing and selling our house in Maine may take awhile, so the rest of us stayed behind, while Kelly establishes “Slaterville West.”

Like many self-employed people, Kelly and I work pretty closely together.  I brainstorm with her about clients, we co-write many radio and TV scripts, and when we need a female voice for a spot, she’s almost exclusively my go-to person.  Notwithstanding the personal aspect of being apart, this move will also change the way we work.

In addition to my usual posts about media, ads and audio I also plan to share with you some of the facets of being a married couple who works together, but lives apart.  We believe it CAN be done effectively, especially with the availability and simplicity of digital communication, e-mail, phone, Skype, and related applications.

Will there be challenges?  Of course.  Mistakes made?  I expect a few.  But there are other families who’ve made such a dynamic work, and I’m interested in meeting them, and learning what I can from them about better ways to do business together, while living apart.

Keep watching the blog, and we’ll share what we learn along the way!

Crowdsourcing Pros & Cons… and Thanks

Thanks to Michelle Goodman, a freelance writer, blogger, and author of a couple great books about freelancing, for the article she wrote for entrepreneur.com this week.  She and I spoke at length about the burgeoning Crowdsourcing trend in audio, video and design – the (mostly) pros, and (not as many) cons…

Clipped from: www.entrepreneur.com by clp.ly

If you’re a Freelancer in these lines of work, I urge you to check out the above article, as well as the rest of Michelle’s stuff… There’s lots to learn out there, particularly for those younger and new-to-the-game, and Michelle’s a great resource.

And if you’re a Brand in search of design and multimedia services, consider us freelancers!  We’re a uniquely creative breed, and we can usually deliver a superior product at a considerably lower cost than the big agencies.