I’m Hiring a Video Marketing Apprentice

We are a video marketing agency based out of Charleston, SC. We specialize in producing high quality, consistent video content that communicates our customers’ authentic brand to their audience. We provide a full branding package, putting our clients in front of their audience on all social media channels.

Our core belief is that everybody has a unique story to tell. By understanding and communicating this story through video, you’ll build an audience of true, raving fans that will support you.

**We regularly use subcontractors, but this is our first in-house hire. This is the perfect opportunity to get in on the ground floor of something exciting and new in the marketing/video industry. You get to help create this role as you grow into it. I’m interested in helping you use this role as a platform to discover and develop your strengths and passions, and if it’s a good fit, grow into a full-time paid role over the course of several months.**

We’re growing aggressively and I am looking to bring on a new team member to join us in this process. I will train you and allow you to work in all parts of the business including marketing, sales, and video production. You’ll work inside a growing video business and learn the process of booking and delivering high quality work. This is a fantastic opportunity for somebody with some filming/editing experience who wants to get into the business side of things.

You will be trained and coached on our processes and systems to help you become more efficient and effective at what you do.

Filming & editing experience preferred, not required. Figure-it-Out Mentality required.

We’re looking for someone who’s competent, organized, eager to learn, and excited to take ownership of their work.

This role is perfect for you if you are:

  • Young and want some industry experience.
  • Hungry to learn the craft AND the business of video production.
  • Excited to take ownership of video projects and business tasks.
  • Independent & organized.
  • Coachable & receptive to feedback.
  • Focused on creating results.
  • Have some basic knowledge of filming and editing but haven’t had enough projects to really show your skill.

This role is NOT for you if you:

  • Dislike constructive criticism.
  • Don’t like figuring things out on your own.

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Sales email outreach
  • Responding to incoming leads
  • Storyboarding, scheduling, & pre-production
  • Filming assistance and second-shooting on larger projects
  • Video editing

Why work with me?

  • I’m happy to introduce you to key players & mentors in the Charleston video production & startup industries.
  • You get an intimate look at ALL facets of the business including marketing, sales, and production.
  • You’ll get to take ownership of tasks and learn the process of making a client happy from start to finish by actually doing it.
  • You’ll get to show off everything you do on your personal portfolio.

Time, Pay, Location:

This is a part-time, project-based role. Pay is commensurate with experience. Must live in or near Charleston, SC. Mostly remote work, except for days when there is a filming location. 10-20 hrs/week.

How to Apply:

Record a video no longer than 2 minutes of yourself answering the following two questions:

  1. Why do you want this opportunity?
  2. What will you do that most other applicants won’t?

Video quality does not matter. Email video to simon@realsimon.com with a subject line “I’m ready” by August 30th, 2018.

 

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Numbers and Lessons from my First Year in Business

Numbers and Lessons from my First Year in Business

I was inspired to write this post after reading Andrew Askins’ recent article. In the post, Andrew shares a detailed overview of his company’s financial data including revenue, expenses, salaries, and more.

As Andrew puts it, “People resonate with that kind of openness and realism… We wanted to inspire the next wave of entrepreneurs and just felt like it was the right thing to do.”

Money is this touchy subject that most people feel uncomfortable talking or asking about. But there’s power in demystifying financials and opening up about the one thing that’s on everyone’s mind.

When you look at a successful entrepreneur, it’s easy to wonder what goes on behind closed doors that you don’t know about. It’s easy to separate the unknown in their business from the known in your business, and put that unknown factor up on a pedestal. But when you reveal what’s behind those doors, you see that we’re all fighting our own version of that same ceaseless battle; trying to create more monthly income than monthly expenses. And sometimes we fail. And that’s OK.

Money is at the heart of every business. Revenue, profit, and cash flow are perhaps the most reliable measures of actual success in the marketplace. Maybe if we talked about money more, entrepreneurship would become more concrete and attainable.

In July 2017 I stepped into an entirely new industry with absolutely zero experience. In one year, I’ve booked more work than I can handle alone, planted the seeds of a half-decent portfolio, and created enough monthly income to survive and invest back into my business.

In this post, I’ll share my monthly revenue and expenses, and I’ll talk about a couple of the major lessons I’ve learned in Year One of this crazy adventure. I’m hoping that my transparency will show young creatives or entrepreneurs that with a little bit of time, persistence, and work, it is possible to start at zero and create something valuable. And maybe it will inspire someone to go for that thing they’ve been wanting to go for.

I’m a little nervous to share these numbers. As I write this sentence, I feel the urge to first qualify why they aren’t as large as they could be, how I plan to grow them, and how I need to keep more comprehensive/detailed financial data… But enough of that. Take a look:

Month

Revenue

July 2017

$0

August 2017

$0

September 2017

$300

October 2017

$1,650

November 2017

$150

December 2017

$875

January 2018

$3,500

February 2018

$3,200

March 2018

$3,233

April 2018

$1,625

May 2018

$4,983

June 2018

$6,000

The figures in the Revenue column represent money actually collected in that month. As you can see, the first 6 months were pretty rough. It was extremely difficult to sell jobs without a portfolio or experience. And when I did sell jobs, it was for a mere $100-$200. So I did a lot of cheap and free videos to practice, and I picked up a restaurant job on the side to cover my basic living expenses.

I barely stayed afloat for the first 6 months. I started out with over $50,000 in debt from student loans and my previously failed business, so I did anything I could to cut expenses. I actually rented out my apartment to save money and stayed on the couch for free for almost 2 months until I got kicked out (or, was asked to leave). After that, I bounced around from couch to couch for another couple months, driving around town with all my belongings packed into my car. It was miserable, uncomfortable, and embarrassing.

I also didn’t create an LLC until last week.

*Please don’t take legal advice from me because I am (clearly) not a lawyer. Although this is a nice little disclaimer, don’t you think?*

I know many will scoff at this. I’m a huge proponent of creating a business in real life before creating a business on paper. I’ve started my fair share of LLCs in the past that never saw a penny, like many would-be entrepreneurs, but this time I was determined to turn my “business” into a “business” before officially calling it a “business.”

I see so many young entrepreneurs spend time, money, and energy getting an LLC and other insignificant details in order before doing the only thing that matters in the beginning: generating cash flow. The legal details are easy. Making your very first sale is hard. Before you have your first sale, if you’re focusing on anything else but landing it, you’re avoiding the vital hard thing and pointing in the wrong direction. If you’re not careful, you’ll find yourself with nothing more but a neat little certificate to call yourself an “entrepreneur.”

It didn’t make financial sense for me to register an LLC that early either. It costs roughly $125 to register a business in South Carolina, and for the first year I immediately invested every single penny I earned strictly according to this hierarchy:

  1. Basic living expenses (rent, food, gas, etc.)
  2. Project costs that directly drive income (equipment or labor)
  3. Better camera equipment

Filing for an LLC didn’t (and frankly still doesn’t) fall into any of those categories. Plus, it felt good to fly under the radar not pay the government for doing nothing (even though they’ll still take their cut in April. Bastards.)

This leads me to the first major lesson I learned:

Sell beyond your capabilities

You live on a line.

Below that line is a set of projects which are within your domain of experience.

Pursuing and completing these projects is comfortable and easy because you’ve already proven you can do them well.

Above that line is all of the projects outside your experience. These projects are difficult and confusing and create hesitation because there is a real possibility of failure.

Growing yourself and your business happens when you reach above that line and commit to doing more than you know you can handle. All the growth I’ve had in the past 12 months came from the moments where I was truly challenged and questioned my ability to make it out.

Expenses

Month

Revenue

Expenses

July 2017

$0

August 2017

$0

September 2017

$300

October 2017

$1,650

November 2017

$150

December 2017

$875

January 2018

$3,500

-$2,393

February 2018

$3,200

-$3,357

March 2018

$3,233

-$3,292

April 2018

$1,625

-$3,648

May 2018

$4,983

-$5,908

June 2018

$6,000

-$5,528

I don’t have data for the first six months because I didn’t keep track of it.

This data also doesn’t show the full picture because any additional income I made from my restaurant job is not reflected in the revenue. Plus, there isn’t any separation between personal and business expenses for this first year.

I believe keeping detailed financial records has massively contributed to the growth of my revenue. Rather than having a vague goal of “End the month with a positive balance in my bank account,” I can now accurately predict what I’ll make and spend each month which gives me the ability to set ambitious but realistic goals.

Now for the second major lesson:

The angels are in the details

“The devil is in the details,” as the saying goes. To me, this means something like: if you don’t pay attention to all of the minor details, you’re bound to miss something vital which will hurt you more than you expect.

The other side of this is just as true. If you start paying attention to all of the minor details, you’re bound to find little keys that will boost your progress more than you think.

Knowing the exact state of your financials is the first step towards molding them into what you want them to be.

This is a powerful principle that is true across more domains than just finance. It means that if you spend the time to organize some part life so that it can be clearly observed, underlying patterns will become apparent and you’ll find yourself with the power and the responsibility to put the pieces where you want them to go, one by one.

I struggle with details but I also realize it’s nothing you can’t train yourself to keep up with. There are useful software tools abound. You just have to commit and stick with one because the benefits are delayed.

My financial system currently consists of these tools:

Wave – For tracking actual expenses & income by linking to my bank account. I also use it to send invoices and collect payments online.

Google Sheets – For manually tracking high level numbers each month.

Finally:

Build, don’t run

There’s a big difference between running a business and building a business. When you run your business, you’re operating inside of it. You’re creating proposals, making sales, finishing projects, and keeping the cash flow going. If you spend all your time working on things inside your business, you leave no time for building your business.

Each of these things require entirely different visions and skillsets. I don’t want to do the work in my business forever, so I need to build systems and processes for everything I do that somebody else could plug into without ruining the whole thing. It takes a lot of meta thinking, organization, and patience. As you push prospects through your sales funnel or push projects towards completion, it’s so important to document everything and keep track of the process from start to finish. It’s a messy process because those processes are always in need of improvement, so once you systematize your first thing, it’s immediately ready for improvement. Queue the patience.

This is something I’m new to exploring, and it’s rapidly changing the way I interact with my business. Here are two books I recommend on the subject:

The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber

Built to Sell by John Warrillo

Thanks for reading!

-Simon

 

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Quandaries of an Aspiring Filmmaker

Quandaries of an Aspiring Filmmaker

I’ve spent the past half year “getting my name out there” as a video producer.

What does that look like?

Square One

You start with a cheap camera. A Rebel T6i. You begin to notice details and styles in movies and videos that were invisible to you before. You notice the cuts. You stop, rewind, and watch them again. You think about how they got that shot to look the way it looks and you wonder how many takes it took before they got it right. You wonder how many people are working behind the scenes. You discover what a Red Camera is.

You find content creators, filmmakers, and producers that you admire. You look at their portfolios, you watch their vlogs, and you consume their content. You dive deep and notice that each of them has a unique style.

You get sick of consuming and decide to start creating. The first video you make feels like a cheesy school project. So do the next 10. But you keep creating them. It’s fun. You learn about shooting, editing, cutting, and simple transitions.

Your videos aren’t good enough to display professionally, so you wonder what your still empty portfolio could become. You imagine professional videos, good lighting, crisp colors, and quality audio. You picture the projects you could do, the footage you could shoot, and the stories you could tell.

If only someone would give you a shot.

Photo by Alex wong on Unsplash

You start pitching. You ask all your friends if they need any videos. You pitch video ideas to every new person you meet. You find that everyone needs videos.

Weeks later, one person is interested in your pitch. She says:

Can you send me an email with some of your work?

Your stomach sinks. You swallow your pride and promptly follow up with some of recent cheesy school project videos.

You don’t hear back.

Later, another person is interested. She tells you she has a budget of a couple hundred dollars for the video. It’s not much, but you do it. You put a lot of effort into it. You prepare well, shoot with great attention detail, and edit for days. She doesn’t know what you’re doing and neither do you.

She likes the video! It’s better than what she could have created on her own. You make $200.

Square Two

Six months go by. You’ve upgraded to a better camera, a better microphone, a couple tripods, and a lighting setup. You’ve done more projects than you can count, some for thousands of dollars. Your portfolio resembles the one you once imagined. There are interviews, testimonials, promo videos, and all sorts of projects that look professional. Your cheesy school project videos are hidden safely on your 2TB external hard drive.

You still pitch often. People sometimes reach out to you through a mutual connection to ask for video work. Your stomach sits firmly where it belongs as you send them your Vimeo profile. They ask you for promos, testimonials, commercials, real estate videos, and the like. They say:

That Five Loaves video you did is similar to what we are looking for.

By now, you understand your camera and your editing software on a deeper level, and you see how the two dance with each other in a way they never did before. You’ve been exposed to a wider breadth of your camera’s capabilities.

You’ve connected with mentors and industry professionals. You see their process, their creations, and the resources that go into making them happen. You look at their portfolios. You consume their content. You notice their unique styles.

You see that it is possible to create so much more than the professional promo videos you once dreamed of and have now created. You imagine the films you could create, the footage you could capture, and the stories you could tell.

Square one.

This is the quandary of the aspiring filmmaker.

Like attracts like. A portfolio of nothing will attract nothing. A portfolio full of testimonial videos, promo videos, and real estate videos will attract testimonial videos, promo videos, and real estate videos.

How, then, can you create something new when you’ve boxed yourself into the style of your past?

The ideal portfolio in your head is like a carrot on a stick, extending itself beyond where you happen to be. Evolving into what you choose to be means deliberately extending that vision beyond your current capabilities.

Your portfolio follows what your vision drives you to create. The process of creating those professional-looking videos you imagined at the start is what gave you the experiences, perspectives, and tools which were the seeds of a more mature vision; one that extends yet farther beyond your current portfolio.

Photo by Jon Flobrant on Unsplash

You’ve exposed yourself to people with unique creative styles, and you’ve explored and interacted with them on a deep level. You use this new knowledge to decide what you want to create. It’s bigger, better, more complicated, and more meaningful than what you’ve been creating. But it only exists in your mind, not in your portfolio, so nobody will believe in your ability to do it.

So you start pitching. Again. But this time you are more careful. You don’t want to add more promo videos and real estate videos to your portfolio. You don’t just take any work you can find. You’re more selective about taking on projects that allow you to express yourself creatively and fully — projects that will be the foundation of your new, more deliberately-created portfolio.

Now, when people ask you for work, it is mostly distracting. You do these jobs for income and practice, but you stop adding them to your portfolio. You begin the process of sacrificing the old to make room for the new.

Choose what you want to create. Then find and do those projects. People will want the old. To do the new, you might have to work for free or very little money again. It is not a step down; rather, it is a noble step upward.

Think and speak in terms of the projects you aspire to create, not of the ones you have created in the past. Tell potential clients your vision. At first they will mostly turn you down, just like they did before. But to keep pushing that vision is to be the driver of your own creative process, in the present and in the future. No man can creatively express himself completely if he is bending fit the will of another man.

“I don’t build in order to have clients. I have clients in order to build.”

— Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead

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Attitude Is Not Enough

Attitude Is Not Enough

I saw this quote by Oprah today:

“The greatest discovery of all time is that a person can change their future by merely changing their attitude.”

I don’t like this quote. It is true that changing your attitude will change your future. But attitude isn’t enough, and quotes like this make it seem like it is. I particularly don’t think the word “merely” is used well here.

Choosing a certain attitude is like planting a seed. It contains potential which can be brought to life over time. However, you can’t merely plant a seed and expect to have a forest one day. You need to plant the seed in a good spot with good soil and access to plenty of sunlight, then water it. Every day. If you want to take it to the next level, keep planting new seeds and watering the old ones every day.

Change your attitude, but don’t stop there. Cultivate it every day. Don’t sit at home with a positive attitude and expect good things to happen. Allow your positive attitude to drive you to make decisions about more than just your attitude.

Do you want a small plant or do you want an entire forest? Attitude is merely the beginning. Don’t forget to be consistent.

 

Photo by Evan Kirby on Unsplash

 

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Ask For What You Want

Ask For What You Want

Ask for what you want. Most of the time, the answer will be no. Ask anyways. People who seem out-of-reach are only an email, text, phone-call, or social media direct message away.

You talk yourself out of asking because it’s less difficult than asking. When you ask, knowing the answer will probably be no, then you are willingly doing something with a high likelihood of failure. That’s not fun. But is it worth it?

Possible outcomes if you ask:

  1. They say no. You end up exactly where you started.
  2. They say nothing. You end up exactly where you started.
  3. They say yes! You get what you want.

Nobody will get angry at you for asking for what you want. At the very least, asking the question is an expression of self-confidence which will feel good. If the likelihood that you will get what you want is extremely low, asking might even feel exhilarating.

Possible outcomes if you don’t ask:

  1. You end up exactly where you started.

Send the email. Make the pitch. Ask. Take it from Steve Jobs.

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

 

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Thoughts on Admiring Greatness

Thoughts on Admiring Greatness

I recently watched a video about Tom Brady who is arguably the greatest NFL quarterback of all time. At 40 years old, he doesn’t seem to be slowing down like many have predicted. Brady is easy to hate. Just ask anyone who isn’t a New England fan.

The easy thing to do is resent people who are more successful than you are. Attributing their success to luck, inborn talent, or some other advantage they have that you don’t is easy because everything but their shining moments are hidden to you. But when you peek behind-the-scenes, you see that people who are truly great are that way because they are willing to prepare better and more consistently than everyone else. You see that there is no special advantage or talent. There is just the constant willingness to spend more hours doing boring work.

In the video, Brady reveals his obsession with watching game film. He has spent tens of thousands of hours absorbing every aspect of the game from formations to body language. His eyes catch nuances most people miss, and the new knowledge taps into his deep intuitive understanding of the game.

Dominating your field at the highest level requires preparation at the highest level. Preparing at the highest level means putting in more boring work than anyone else. It means practicing the fundamentals until they become muscle-memory, then practicing some more. It means shaping your routine and your life around the perfection of your craft. It means committing to more discipline than normal.

To resent greatness is to admit defeat before running the race.

To admire greatness is to understand that mastery is created, not given. Anyone can create it with enough time, humility, and discipline.

 

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