If you’ve worked in the world of freelance video production for more than a few years then you know what a nightmare it can be to get new clients. Luckily the days of having to mail out DVD copies of your reel are over, as everything has moved online, but getting new work can still be a challenge.
I had the chance to talk to two video creators—Jeremiah Warren and Kyle Roberts—who are using YouTube as a means of gaining exposure and attracting new clients. They shared their personal stories and offered up some tips for freelancers looking to grow their client base on YouTube. Read on to learn more.
Meet Jeremiah Warren
Jeremiah Warren uploaded his first video to YouTube in June of 2009 for a video contest. He told me, “The first time someone reached out to me was in November of 2009. I shot high speed footage (slow motion) of toy cars being blown up with firecrackers and set it to Ode to Joy. It got about 200,000 views and was featured on YouTube, Digg and several other popular websites (and also tweeted by Ashton Kutcher). A popular Digg power user asked me if I’d be interested in doing a similar video for a website he had, and in exchange he’d promote the video on Digg.”
While Jeremiah didn’t end up collaborating on a project with the Digg user, he has been contacted by a huge variety of people and companies since. He told me, “As of this interview I’ve been contacted 23 times by people that have seen my work online and were interested in possibly hiring me. I’ve been approached by a popular custom t-shirt printing company, a law firm that handles employee training for a very large utility company, several web app companies, a community for gun owners, a book author/speaker, eBook author, a company that was in the Green Energy field, and others.” While he hasn’t ended up working with all of them, he tells me that he has gotten a good amount of jobs via YouTube.
Meet Kyle Roberts
Kyle Roberts is a stop motion extraordinaire. He started uploading videos to YouTube mainly as a way to share school projects with his friends. However, once he started doing stop motion he tells me, “I quickly realized that it wasn’t just my friends watching anymore. People all around the world are actually watching this.” Once he understood that there was a real market for stop motion, he really began to hone in on that niche and clients starting coming to him.
Kyle tells me, “David Nghiem, lead singer of ‘The Nghiems,’ contacted me after seeing “Battle of the Bonds,” which of course was featured by hundreds of blogs all around the world.” Kyle worked with The Nghiems to create a video game-inspired video for their song ‘Dum Dum Dah Dah.’ He tells me, “I’m very proud of the Nghiems music video, but I was shocked with the overwhelming response we got on it. I believe it was #17 most favorite in the world the day after we posted it to YouTube and within that next month over 30 bands all over the US had contacted me to direct a music video for them. At this point I had to of course raise my price, and also pick and choose which bands I had time to do a video for.”
Tips and Advice
I asked Kyle and Jeremiah what advice they had for creators looking to gain exposure and find clients via YouTube. I’ve compiled their advice into a list of five tips:
Choose a niche that people find interesting
As Kyle explained above, he really started getting into the whole stop motion thing when he realized that there was a niche for it. People were watching his videos so he knew there was an audience and he went forward with it. He says, “Although I strongly believe having a wide range of expertise in video, design, animation, etc. is important, the biggest piece of advice I can give is to stick with a niche and try to perfect it.”
Jeremiah offers similar advice. He says, “You need to have interesting content. You can’t just upload any video and expect people to start calling you with job offers. Make videos around a topic that people find interesting. In my case, I like to explain ideas, events, or historical figures. I’ve also done videos that relate to technology and photography.”
Choose a niche that YOU find interesting
Sure, you can decide to make videos about a certain niche because you know there’s an audience for the content, but if you yourself aren’t actually interested in the content you’re going to be miserable. Why slave away through hours and hours of shooting, editing or animating if you’re not enjoying yourself? Choose something you think is fun and then clients that like your style and want something related will come to you.
Jeremiah told me, “I basically got into this for exposure and for the money, but you really have to enjoy doing what you do first, and then the exposure and money will (hopefully) follow.” Kyle says, “Just be creative, have fun with your videos! If you keep at it, you will attract some clients.”
Understand that it takes time
As you probably noticed from Kyle and Jeremiah’s stories, it took time before potential clients started reaching out to them. You’ll have to put the time in if you want to see results. Jeremiah told me, “You will have to put a lot of time into this, just like you would with anything you hope to succeed in one day.”
Your videos won’t promote themselves and while some YouTubers luck out, get discovered on Reddit and go viral, you’ll probably have to put a little work into promoting yourself if you want to be discovered by potential clients. Jeremiah suggests picking a topic that you can send in to popular blogs. He says, “Pick a topic that relates to several popular blogs so that you can submit it to the blog as a news tip (and hopefully at least one blog will post it!).”
Kyle points out the importance of engaging your audience and keeping that audience around by uploading content on a regular basis. Your audience will help generate buzz in the online community, leading to more exposure and, of course, the likelihood that a potential new client will see your videos.
Maintain a good relationship with your clients
Finally, once you start getting clients via YouTube, maintain a good relationship with these clients. It’s likely that the videos that you created for them are now on YouTube. If they had a pleasant experience working with you then they’ll be all the more likely to refer new clients to you who may have reached out to ask them who made that amazing video for them!
Have you gotten clients for video work via YouTube? We’d love to hear your story! Feel free to leave a comment below!
Image credit: patrimonio designs limited via Shutterstock.com
Megan O’Neill is the resident web video enthusiast here at Social Times. Megan covers everything from the latest viral videos to online video news and tips, and has a passion for bizarre, original and revolutionary content and ideas.