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How to Become a Freelance Videographer

written by: Andrea Smith•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 6/27/2011

Tips on how to start your a career as a freelance videographer.

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    Starting with your own video camera you can become the master of your own financial destiny as a self employed freelancer.

    Weddings, birthday parties, business commercials and special events are the usual jobs for freelance videographers. The perils of freelancing can be treacherous if you don't have the right tools to get started.

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    Starting Out

    The basic setup to begin with is a good digital video camera. Most likely that’s what you’ll start with, because if this is your first foray into freelancing, professional technique is vital, and the better the camera the easier it will be. Look around for good deals, because your first camera will likely be your last for a while, so make sure it’s in good condition. Next will be your Lavalier microphones, these work well and are easier to handle than big boom microphones. Finally you'll need your own editing software (which is why it's good to have a Mac).

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    Building a portfolio

    If you’re aspiring to do this for a profession be sure that you have a strong portfolio of existing work. Playing with different lenses and getting to know different styles of shooting will benefit your development in this area as well. Another thought to consider is creating your own production, often in the freelancing field you’ll have the opportunity to create your own piece that you can pitch for production.

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    It is a great opportunity to have work you’re proud of ready for pitching. Pitching a piece requires a general attachment to your work; this is where the salesman in you takes over! Your primary tool is revenue; producers supply the money so you have to convince them that their investment will be worth it. This requires prior research. Producers are smart, they will not release any funds for something they don’t have any faith in. You should know the company you are pitching to inside and out, find out what else they’ve produced and what the return on investment was. Truth be told, very few documentaries pitched by first time videographers ever get produced, so be certain you have a fresh Idea that will draw in a wide audience and generate enough cash flow to compensate for expenses. It often makes more sense to pitch an idea first before investing any time or your own money into a project that may never get off the ground.

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    Dont Forget...

    Experience earns you money, but time is what helps develop your talent, so take your time and experiment.

    You can start by working as a production assistant to learn the ropes if you don’t have a camera.

    Videographers don’t always have steady work, but by offering other services during holidays and weddings, you can increase your experience and increase your cash flow. In the meantime, you are saving money for your next big gig, or building your portfolio with smaller non-profit activities.