There are 4 things I’ve blown off doing this afternoon/evening that were marked on my calendar. That’s a problem. A calendar should be a sacred thing. Something shouldn’t go on your calendar if it can move. Once you put it on your calendar you execute whatever it is no matter what.
It stems from me not doing my weekly review this past Sunday or the Sunday before then for that matter.
The first thing on my calendar for this afternoon was to do my weekly review, even though it’s not Sunday. I know that the weekly review is my way of getting organized mentally and digitally for the upcoming week. Without it…not much gets done. I’m lost. There are too many uncompleted tasks sitting in the tool I use to organize everything. My calendar is as strong as a wet paper towel.
Okay, so what’s a weekly review? Without going too far into the weeds, I roughly follow the “Getting Things Done” method of productivity/organization. And the tool I use to organize it all is called OmniFocus. I have both the desktop and mobile version because I’m a psycho.
There several dozen half-written and probably twice as many fully-written but never published blog posts scattered across my computer, laptop, Google Drive and various Moleskins. They contain thoughts I’ve had on many post production-related topics that I’ve worked countless hours on. And they’re just sitting there in digital purgatory.
“It’s not good enough.”
“Someone could say that you don’t mention ______ method/shortcut/etc.”
“You aren’t really an expert. Who are you to give advice?”
I could think of endless reasons not to ship each one of them.
Today I was watching some random YouTube video from this guy another YouTube guy I routinely watch recommended. His production quality was low. He knew it. But he said something that struck a nerve with me.
It’s been awhile since I’ve just sat down and written. I’m through with my third cup of bad Keurig coffee, this export from Media Composer has another 20 minutes and a blank page is in front of me so why not give this a shot?
I’ve been “gone” from Edit Video Faster officially since February 12th. Since then I:
Started a practice of learning a new language (Vietnamese) and
Been working my tail off seemingly 25 hours a day with freelance work.
Life just has. not. stopped. I’m sure you can relate.
#Freelancelife has been ever-consuming. I try to squeeze in an hour here and there. Go out for happy hour or dinner with friends then head to my iMac when I get back to make a quick revision and let something export overnight. This isn’t me complaining or whining. Quite the opposite. It’s kinda fun in a weird way.
Over the past 2ish months I’ve started a handful of small projects and, more importantly, two really big projects. The first large project is a massive training course in the healthcare field. Approximately 80-100 1-minute videos. Phew… FWIW I’m working in Premiere. This was my call and it’s odd to say that I choose Premiere over Media Composer. Why? Let’s admit it. Premiere still handles mixed media a lot better than MC, or at least it’s easier to get it in the NLE so you can begin cutting right away. My client is sending me all sorts of images, GIFs, .mpeg2s, .mp4s, .mp3s, etc. Everything is a different size or frame rate. Premiere just lets me edit. ::ducks under desks::
For this project I have to deliver a handful of videos each week. I’m maybe 25-30% done at the time of this writing.
The other big project is a comedy show! Which I don’t know how much I can talk about! So I’m just going to say that I have six episodes to cut along with all the marketing material. Currently one and a half episodes have been cut and we want to launch in early May. ?
In the coming weeks I’ll also be working on getting an LLC for my freelance business (which EVF will probably ultimately rest under). That’ll be an adventure in itself; or at least I’ve convinced myself that it will be. I’m thinking of writing a post on my process of getting an LLC. Would something like that interest you to read?
The next several weeks are going to be how the previous weeks were. Jam-packed with freelance work and life. Which is fun and interesting and TBH thrills me to be in the middle of. I just wish I had more hours in the day to commit to my other projects like this one or new projects I want to pursue. I’m attempting to figure it out though, as we all are.
I’m still unsure if or when I’ll be back with any regularly scheduled content here on EVF but I’m always here for you if you need anything.
I’ve been writing for my friends over at ScreenLight for…well…a long time. It’s been over two years and in the Internet world that’s a really long time. Over that time I’ve been able to stockpile a bunch of writings that I want to share with you today. 23 of them to be exact.
The posts range from Media Composer tips to the Pomodoro Technique for time management to Apps for Editors and so much more. I’ve broken them up into a couple of categories. At the very top are a few of my favorites and ones I think you should definitely read.
There are 10,000 posts like “The Top-8 Ways to Tackle Your New Year’s Resolutions” streaming through your social media timelines and inboxes right now. This post is not one of them. This short post is to tell you that you can do whatever you want to do and give you a quick tip on succeeding in whatever goals you have whenever you have them.
Quick Update: Phew. I’ve been on the road the past few days and I’m so glad to be back at home and back on my normal schedule consisting of 5:00am alarm clocks instead of 3:30am alarm clocks. Last week I started building my first product for EVF and finished it up this week. There’s just some testing to do and some other things to get setup on the backend. More on all this next week. Until then let’s talk about something that can often be overlooked but has the potential to return huge results.
This morning I was racking my brain on some ways I could deliver exceptional, unexpected customer service for this awesome client I’m finishing up with. I thought I could share them with you and get your thoughts as well. Some I’ve done, some I’ve been on the receiving end of and some I just thought of.
Providing exceptional customer service, especially when it is unexpected, is a sure-fire way for a client to remember you. Most of the time we’re worried about hitting our deadlines. This is vitally important as well but don’t forget about treating the client better than they expect. Not only will they be pleased but also they’ll be more apt to work with you in the future and recommend you to their friends. Now let’s get to the list. #4 is my favorite!
What’s your favorite way to provide exceptional, unexpected customer service? Photo courtesy of Dogancan Ozturan via Unsplash
Monday night was the season premiere of Castle. It’s right up there with The Walking Dead for me. They are interchangeable as my #1 and #2 favorite shows. Last night I couldn’t wait for the Season 7 premiere as Season 6 ended in a cliffhanger. After the show I was left questioning how one poorly constructed montage had completely destroyed the credibility of many of the relationships the main character had built with other central characters.
Note #1: This will contain many spoilers.
Note #2: You don’t need to be a fan of the show to read this post. What I’m going to get into will go beyond the reach of the show and I’m merely using it as an example.
I’ve been married to my wife for nearly two and a half wonderful years. I’ve been married to my NLE, Avid Media Composer, for twice that. What I’ve learned over that time is that the two relationships are fairly similar. I’m going to explain to you how lessons learned through your significant other directly relate to how you should work with your NLE.
How’s your relationship with your NLE? Photo by Christopher Michel on Wikimedia Commons
Learn and Observe
In any relationship there is a learning curve. A man or woman never writes a user’s manual for himself or herself. That’s where you have an advantage with your NLE. Everything you need to know about it is right in front of you!
When I began editing on Avid Media Composer I had zero idea of what I was doing. None. I sat there for hours trying to figure out why I couldn’t click a clip in the timeline and move it (this was pre-Smart Tool). Then one day digging around my edit bay I found the software manual. I took it home and after a couple weeks had read the entire thing. This didn’t mean I knew everything about it but it did give me a huge heads up because I knew what it could and couldn’t do.
Growing up I hated reading. I hated reading worse than broccoli and flossing. Somehow over the past 6ish years I have fallen in love with it though. I’m still a slow reader but I’m usually reading at least two books at all times. My most recent endeavor is Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. It’s not a book about tuning engines. It’s “an inquiry into values.” I’m only ~50 pages into it but already really digging it (a term that’s been stuck in my head because it’s in every other paragraph in the other book I’m reading). The other night I came across a few pages that focus on focus and an idea struck me. I realized this is something I’ve been slacking on and thought we could try out an experiment together in the edit bay to see if it helps us edit video faster.
It’s 8:30pm on Tuesday night and up until about 30 minutes ago there was a different post scheduled to go out tomorrow, my regular posting day. Like many nights I found myself winding down with a few minutes of Twittering while watching the Nats game. That was until I saw an interesting retweet:
If you're giving it away for free why should anyone pay you? You're not doing work for free, you're getting used for nothin'
Normally I’d just move on hoping for a new tweet from @CuteEmergency or @OhMyCorgi. But today was different. I felt compelled to respond because something happened earlier today that proved why working for free pays off.
Proving why working for free pays off
A new small business was in the process of getting their storefront setup last winter. I have a somewhat selfish interest in seeing them succeed because I like what they do and the people there (who I didn’t know at first). I felt they could use the video medium in some of there marketing efforts so I offered them my services, 100% pro bono (aka for free or literally, “for the public good”).
I spent an hour talking with them about what they need and sketched out some ideas before deciding on one. I came back the next week and shot a video for them, which took less than two hours. They were in no rush so I took my time editing it. I spent maybe 10 hours editing it from my couch over the course of a few weeks in my spare time (there’s a lot more spare time during the baseball offseason). I delivered a fairly good-looking product IMO and they were very pleased.
Since then we’ve stayed in contact and I’ve reaped some non-monetary rewards from them as well. I spent ~13 hours doing work for free for a company in need and they were sincerely thankful for it. Maybe one day they’ll ask me back to do work for them again. I believe they would not ask for it to be free, even though I might do it for free again. Regardless, something much better happened.
I got a call this morning from them saying they referred me to a separate (and much larger) business. The gig is worth significantly more than a few 13-hour projects for a small business.
Photo courtesy of Unsplash by Pavel Voinov
Why work for free?
Note: This section would become a grammatical train wreck if I don’t make it a list.
Reel material – For anyone without a ton of non-school projects, this is important even if you don’t put much importance on a reel (I have a ton to say about the value of reels in a future post). Not only is the reel material useful but the real life interactions with clients gives you experience you can’t get in school. Just curious, any recent college grads out there reading this? Could you use more non-school projects on your reel?
Try new things – Whenever I work for free I make sure to try out crazy shot angles and weird editing techniques. Most importantly I have fun with it. I can’t always enjoy the moment when time is tight and tensions are high during a shoot or when I’m in the editing bay for a paying client. I can do that with free work though. I hone my skills and experiment to better know what I can or cannot do when I’m doing a project for money.
It feels good – Don’t undervalue this. It feels good to open up the world of video to a new person/company. It feels good to offer your services with no strings attached. It feels good because of point #4 below.
They are thankful – I’m always a welcomed guest/patron for those that I do free work for. If I did bad work, I might not be so welcomed. But I strive to give them grade A work. Not only are they thankful but we usually become friends too. Also, you tend to get discounts/free goodies on occasion in return (I can’t count the amount of free beers I’ve had and free baseball games I’ve been to in return for doing various forms of free work).
No taxes or paperwork – Do I need to say more about this?
Referrals and future work – This is the most important one but the one you should worry about the least. Remember, you did this with no strings attached. Hopefully you’ll do future work for them. If they ask you to do it for free, you can if you want to reap any of the benefits above. Or you could tell them no. Or you could ask if they would pay you… Do not expect them to ever give you future work or refer you. You will only be let down if you do and they don’t do it. I’ve done free work and gotten future paid work from them. I’ve done free work and gotten referrals. I’ve been asked to work again for free. And I’ve also never heard from them again.
For the record, I have my day job from working for free. I taught Tae-Kwon-Do for many years for free at a free school my dad and I ran. Nearly a decade later I got a call from a man who we used to train. There was a need to create a video department at the company he was at. I’ve been running that video department now for a year and a half.
When I don’t work for free
Medium-Large Companies – They can probably afford it and if they can’t they are probably desperate (see the next bullet). If they get it for free they will expect it for free in the future from you or someone else and that is bad for the industry. Imagine you work for a medium or large company and you got something for them for free. Isn’t your boss going to expect that the next time they want that same thing? What are you going to tell your boss? If you tell them, “we have to pay them now,” don’t you see them saying, “can’t you find someone else who will do it for free?”
Non-chill and/or desperate people – The success of the video should not make or break the company.
When I’m approached by them – If I’m approached about doing work by them I usually give them my rates. A third party telling me that they could use my help is different though. I must approach them about doing work. I’ve gone into projects with the intention of doing it for free then they ask me how much.
When it’s not fun
When it costs me money (outside of some minor expenses like gas or lunch)
When it doesn’t improve any situation – This can be social or my skillset. If I don’t find these people likeable and/or my skillset doesn’t improve, I’m not doing it. Example: If the people are borderline likeable and they want a talking head and for me to use some vertical b-roll their nephew shot, I’m not doing it.
When I can’t use them as a reference
When I can’t use the work or part of the work as an example of work I’ve done
When it’s not convenient – I will not work unless the timing is convenient for me. If I have a lot going on at home or at work, it’ll have to wait. They should understand and if they don’t, then they aren’t getting my free work.
Decide for yourself
You can easily get taken advantage of working for free. I hope this never happens to you but it can. It’s happened to me and that’s why I have such strict rules about when I choose to work for free. But working for free is really beneficial. You get to try new techniques, make new friends, get demo material and it feels really good.
You have to decide for yourself though. What’s your stance? Do you work for free? Why or why not?
If you think someone could benefit from this post do them a favor and share it! Make sure to sign up at the bottom of the page to receive email notifications when I come out with new posts. Most weeks I publish an in-depth post like this one on Wednesday and a quick video tutorial on Friday on my YouTube channel.