Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Freelancer's corner: pounding the pavement

Summer can be terrifying for a freelancer, when most of the work dries up for the three months of summer vacation. But now the school buses are rolling again, symphonies and chamber series are mailing their season brochures, and everything's going to be OK. Fall is filled with possibilities, but everyone is on the prowl, so you've got to get yourself organized and fast!

In your August arsenal:

1. A clear, succinct email soliciting work. Keep it short, and tailor to the kind of job (playing, teaching) you're looking for.  Something like:

Hi ____________,

My name is your name and I’m a local instrument you play.

I just wanted to reach out and let you know that should you ever need a your service offering that I’m available and would love to play.

I have performed with group, group and group around the area and would to love the opportunity to work together sometime.

For your convenience, I’ve attached my resume and/or recording/website.

Thanks for your time and I hope to hear from you soon!

2. The phone numbers (yes, really) and email addresses for all local band/orchestra/choir directors, personnel managers, and music teacher/instrument-specific organizations.

3. A calendar with reminders of when you'll email all of your aforementioned people, resend emails, and then start calling. (Suggest resending emails after two weeks with no response, then waiting another week before calling.)

4. Your calculator, laptop, and some great sources for figuring out your finances so you know how much work you need to make it until Nutcracker season.

Some of my favorite financial gurus:

Kristen Wong and her new book, Get Money, which is written from her perspective as a freelance writer.

This succinct outline of what you need to do to be a grown-up from Nerd Wallet:

Startup Musician is not solely about finances, but he's got some straightforward, helpful blog posts on the topic of budgeting as well as how to book gigs:

Arguably, you should be trying to piece together work all summer. But if you're new to town, or haven't been able to make contact with people over the summer (a common problem where I live!), it's not too late to get started. Keep a record of your communications and make a plan to follow up on a specific date with people who say "no for now", "get back to me on X date", or just didn't answer.

If you're just starting out, this will consume a fair amount of your energy right now; be sure to maintain a practice routine to stay in shape so that when you get a gig, you sound amazing. If you're feeling pretty settled in your community and your work, think of at least three new contacts you can reach out to, because work doesn't always remain plentiful from one season to the next.

Happy hunting!

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