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Succeeding as a Freelancer

Ande Schurr.
One year ago, Ande Schurr started writing about freelancing and interviewing successful freelance


One year ago, Ande Schurr started writing about freelancing and interviewing successful freelancers for The Big Idea. In this post Ande shares what drives him and how he maintains a steady stream of work.

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My series is called 'How Freelancers Can Succeed' and this question has guided every word I've written and question I've asked. I've come at it from the perspective of business success deliberately. I feel that this is often what is left out of the equation when a person wishes to turn their passion into a financially viable lifestyle.

I write because I think I - and those whom I interview - have something to offer the freelance community, that being, how we can apply certain principles to achieve a successful business result. I want to detail here more about my process and what I do to maintain a steady stream of work throughout the year; perhaps your situation is not too different from mine.

Behind any success I believe there must be a great drive in that person; a reason for putting in such effort. This great desire was palpable and unmistakable in Weta Workshop's Richard Taylor, when I interviewed him at the NZ Body Art Awards earlier in the month. He told me that he is always trying to find some excuse on the weekends to visit the workshop. His dedication to his work is extremely rare, as are his results, and to compare ourselves with him is not sensible.

Of course, I don’t compare myself to Richard or other great freelancer success stories but I have had my own small successes that give me the fuel to keep writing these posts. I feel sometimes it is not my place to tell you what to do. No one ever tells me if I've overstepped the mark so I just have to be careful that any authority I claim about business does come from practice. The test is, if I write from an empty place of the hypothetical or theoretical then you will be left unsatisfied when you read my words.

To put it bluntly, I am living proof, as a newer freelancer, that the laws and principles available to people like you and me, if followed correctly, will bring results.

I work nearly all the time. Currently TV commercials fill most of my weeks. Next month there will be more documentaries, early next year it will be feature films. I would work every single day if I could. Why? Don't I have a life outside of film? I could if I wanted to but why? Why would I sacrifice this important time when I should be dedicating more time to bettering myself and my craft? Holidays are nice but I don't need a rest from work. When I sleep I rest! When I socialise with friends after work, that is my leisure time.

What drives me is my dream of having my house paid off; being able to travel around the world; being able to invest in independent films that need to be made but don't attract funding. So even if my goals are a little removed from strictly sound recording, they don't take away any of the passion I feel for it because sound is allowing me to have the life I want.

In my first year as a freelancer, before I took on a business coach and without applying the principles, I earned a mere $15,000. Fast forward to now - having studied with entrepreneur David Samuel, having studied sound with Mike Westgate, having gained an understanding of our industry through working on local and international productions as a sound recordist -

my income is much more substantial.

I don't think money is the most important thing in life. I only mention money because it is measurable. I think the most important thing in life is who you are as a person, and the quality of your conduct with other people. This is where it gets interesting.

My business coach has always maintained that the essence of success is the quality of your character. Interestingly, I've been commissioned to write a new module on 'freelance business' for the South Seas film school curriculum that I will base on this premise. Its implications are profound. It means that if you work on the principles of "taking full responsibility for your actions" and "correct conduct with all people" - along with the success laws you will find in Think and Grow Rich - you can get a flood of business. Of course these statements need to be studied carefully and applied before a result will show.

The times I have quiet patches in the year sharply remind me that I have neglected some aspect of the principles of success. However I can say that when I follow them, the resulting flow of work never ceases to amaze me. Most blame the quiet patches on the market place. I try not to and look at myself instead.

Written by

Ande Schurr

27 Oct 2010

Corporate video producer and production sound recordist now based in Singapore after a 15-year career in New Zealand. Video clients incl. universities, tech startups, medical clinics and business consulting agencies. Sound clients incl. Netflix, Discovery, BBC, National Geo.