I have to start out by saying, I love what I do for a living. I run a video production company, which means I decide where I work, when to work, how much to work each day, and how much vacation time I should have. I mostly work locally, but get paid to travel around the world and film too. Plus, I love videography and it can pay really well.
That pretty much sums up the American/Millenial dream, right?
When I’m on social media, I post the best parts about my job: editing on a laptop on the balcony outside my office, shooting a new commercial in an all white studio, the latest piece of video equipment we ordered, travelling around the world…
It is all really awesome stuff, but there is a cost to the awesome.
Since I started this company two and a half years ago, it has been a roller coaster. It started out to shooting free videos, which led to paid videos, which led to higher paying videos. Eventually I worked in a co-working space instead of home, then my own office, then hired my first employee. Along the way some months are more fruitful and some months are dryer.
The past month has been really dry.
I have to continue getting work to keep the doors open. How? I can only film so many free videos, but the bills need to be paid. I start calling people, I email companies, I Google every agency in Denver and ride my bike downtown to litterally go door-to-door knoking, looking for someone to work with us. Sometimes people will want to hear more, so we go out for coffee, we brainstorm ideas, things start looking up, then I hear them say the things I fear the most:
“We decided to go with someone else.”
“You know what, we don’t have any video needs right now, but we’ll be sure to let you know when we do.”
Or the worst, they littlerally stop responding all together.
It has been an awful few weeks, to say the least. Rejection is terrible. It’s hard not to take it personally. These are my skills, my prices, my art, my liveleyhood. And you don’t think it’s valuable. What does that say about me?
Then you start asking yourself the dark and awful questions:
Should I lower my prices?
Am I not at the calibar that I think I am?
Is this going to be the end?
When you’re at a typical nine-to-five, these fears don’t ever creep in. I know because I had one. There are different challenges, but the fear of getting bills paid is not a regular reoccuring one. All-in-all, I love my job. I think it’s the best job in the whole world. But I also have to be honest, it’s months like this one, the one I’m in now, that are painful. They hurt. You have to have really thick skin and not take “no” personally, because 98% of the people you pitch to are going to say that to you for different reasons. Yout have to be future minded, pig-headed, disciplined, determined, and a relentlessly annoying leaky faucet to people you admire and respect. They will tell you to stop contacting them and they’re not interested. They will say they’re good. But the 101st time you send them an interesting article, they will email you back and say, “Ok, fine. Let’s start a project together.”
While I ask those dreaded questions, I know we won’t have to shut our doors. I know because I’ve been here time and time again. This is nothing new. I have a vision of growing a team of filmmakers who passionately pursue filming videos with integrity. We are on our way there and this is just part of the journey. But sometimes people look back on hardships and glamorize them. They don’t remember how bad and painful it was. I know because I feel it today. I felt it yesterday. But who knows what tomorrow holds?
If you want to run your own business and pursue your passions, I’m excited for you! Just remember, you will hit a point where you will be rejected on a regular basis. Unless you have thick skin and pig-headed determination, you will be suffocated by the opnions and desires of others. Stay strong, believe in what you do, and don’t quit! Annoy the hell out of people till they see the value you see in yourself.