Last week we chatted about ways to work towards becoming a freelance script reader. Great! But how do you become a freelance script reader and how do you make it a success?
NETWORK – always. Make friends and contacts at events and online. Be there for them and they’ll be there for you, both through your learning process and when you finally take the plunge and become a freelance script reader.
WORK FOR FREE – get those reports written and gain that feedback. Volunteer, skill swap. Fill your resumé with lots of evidence that you are learning and doing and, importantly, doing it well!
CREATE A BRAND – Think up a name that you can be known for and try to apply it to your online presence. Make some business cards to hand out when you network. Have links on the business cards to your website and social media profiles.
CREATE AN ONLINE PRESENCE – social media, forums, blogs. Get involved. Make a website with a blog. Describe what you can offer, and display your experience and endorsements that you gained through working for free. Keep your website updated with relevant information on your services and most importantly, have a contact page! No need for an expensive website with a million different services. Start small and work your way up. Platforms these days like Blogger and WordPress offer much more than just blogging templates. Not tech-savvy? Use a drag and drop website. Once you’re happy with a platform, consider getting your own domain, such as a .co.uk or a .com – or both.
START SMALL – You can’t just give up the day job right way. I spent years working my way up to it, first learning and volunteering in the evenings and on weekends, then eventually I took a part-time job to “test the waters”; doing freelance work half the week and paid work the rest of the week. When I lost my part-time job through restructuring, I decided it was time to give it a go full time. Everyone will be different, with different circumstances. I supplement my income with art and crafts, and I never lose sight of the fact that I may one day need another part-time job or full-time job.
DON’T BE AFRAID – If I hadn’t made my Writesofluid screenwriting blog I wouldn’t have met Lucy. If I hadn’t asked Lucy (Bang2Write) if she’d consider doing a script reading course, I wouldn’t have kick-started my freelance career as a script reader. If I had let my social anxiety stop me going to said course, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to impress Lucy and make contacts/further opportunities. If I hadn’t swallowed my fear and delved into volunteering my script reading, I wouldn’t have filled my resumé with valuable experience and I wouldn’t have gained endorsements to put on my website when I got it going. I’m not gonna lie. When I got my first proper script reading enquiry from a paying client I was TERRIFIED. I was even scared to open the email. Don’t be scared. Just do it!
KNOW YOUR BOUNDARIES – When you first start out you can feel really pressured to work all hours and take on every job. You can also feel pressured to do the best job possible, which takes a lot of time. Sometimes, there may even be impatient or disgruntled writers emailing you about reports. The best thing to do is to keep calm and know your boundaries. Set a standard turnaround time so you know you always have a certain amount of time from receipt of payment and script to completion. State your services on your website and stick to them – if you don’t offer calls or in-person consultations, then don’t feel pressured into doing them.
PRICE FAIRLY – Start out with lower prices to reflect your inexperience, but don’t price yourself silly. Be honest and approachable, have a good website and blog and always be prepared to show sample reports. Writers will put faith in you as you do them – and all that networking and online presence will have helped along with your increasing resumé and endorsements. Over time, as you gain experience, you can gradually start to charge more.
KEEP ACCOUNTS – Anything to do with your freelance business should go into accounts – even if it’s just a simple chart detailing incoming and outgoing. Accountable things can include PayPal fees, domain fees, books (education), TV/Movies (education), events (networking and training), travel, sustenance (food and drink eaten whilst working), and even a portion of bills connected to the space you work in at home. Check out HMRC website or phone their staff – they’re very helpful! And of course don’t forget to register for self-assessment.
BELIEVE IN YOURSELF – Ultimately, it’s up to you to make it work; to be brave enough to do the learning and the doing and everything in-between. There will be times when you think you’re not doing enough, or not doing good enough, but as long as you have walked the walk and talked the talk and had good feedback, then you’re definitely doing good no matter what your anxieties are telling you. Go for it!
Going to a gathering can really help with many of the above tips; particularly networking. Check out 10 great reasons to go to the London Screenwriters’ Festival and use my special discount code: SOFLUID-16X to get a £23 discount!