I am often asked, “How do you get your freelance jobs?” My response usually is, “I ask for them or someone recruits me for them.” This leads to a series of questions around how I ask for jobs or how people know to recruit me. Somehow, despite my introverted nature and shy tendencies, I have become fearless when it comes to freelancing. This is how I do it.
Just Ask—the Worst They Can Do is Say No
The idea of networking used to give me hives. As it turns out, networking is talking to people in the industry, being pleasant, and letting it be known that you are available for work. My perspective of being a freelancer means I must take a more proactive role in getting freelance gigs. I have to go digging for them and tell my prospective clients that I want the job they have open.
This leads me to my first big point: Just ask. Go to the publisher you have always wanted to work with and ask them if they have any freelance gigs available or if they keep a pool of freelancers on file for when the gigs are available. The worst they can do is say no. Thank them and move on. Or not. You can stay and talk with them about their product. Just be aware that asking will often get you told “no” or “not right now” and that’s OK. There are other companies out there.
If you keep coming back and you are pleasant in your demeanor, eventually, they might say, “Yes.”
Holes Are Opportunities
Sometimes, you have to make your own opportunities to get a freelance job. I do this by listening to what is big in the industry or what direction the RPG industry is moving in and see if I can leverage that. Forward thinking is a good thing. For example, I listened to a publisher at GenCon talk about how PDF was the next big wave of publication. From there, I thought about a company I wanted to work with and looked at what their PDF product line was like. Then, I looked to see what they did not have. In this case, a series of PDF settings—small products they could put out in-between their large hardcopy products. Then I met with the publisher and pitched him the idea of including such smaller products with lower overhead and a higher profit margin.
This is just one example of how you, as a freelancer, can make your own opportunities in this industry. Look at the games you play, what you wish you could have as a gamer, and do your research. Chances are, you could start a whole new revenue stream for you and for the company you contact.
You Don’t Have to Fail for Me to Succeed
You ever hear that saying, “What goes around, comes around?” It basically means that you will get back what you put out in the world. This is something I believe. Thus, I have a “share the love” policy. If I can help someone else succeed, someday they will help me succeed. I do not consider being a freelancer to be a competition. There is not only one. You don’t have to lose for me to win. Because game design is often a collaborative effort, I want as many people I know and like to work with me as I can. If I can give you some good advice, I will. If I can give you a heads up on a call for submissions, I will. This industry is small and most people will remember a good turn and repay that effort in a similar manner.
You are not going to like everyone you work with or are a peer to. Expecting that is setting yourself up to fail. However, politeness and courtesy go a very long way. Treat your peers the way you want to be treated…and share the love. You will enjoy what you get back in the long run.
Do you have any thoughts on this article or questions on how to go about “just asking” or “sharing the love?” Comment and I will do the best I can to answer you.