Updated: Nov 01, 2018
Knowing how to start a career in audio for games can be a hard lesson to learn, especially if you’re stuck doing free work for exposure and experience. Especially when most job openings require experience to even apply, especially at entry level!
This catch-22 isn’t going to catch you though, not after knowing this. This article will break down how you can start your audio freelance career.
If you're just starting out and need some experience without working for free, you might like this article on How To Get Game Dev Experience as an Audio Freelancer.
If you worked for free already, don’t sweat it. The task at hand now is to get some value back from the hard work that you handed over at no cost.
As for the work you've done for free so far, you may be able to ask for the price of the project to not be disclosed and use that work for testimonials. This way you can cover the fact you did it for free and focus on the quality of your work.
You can also ask for referrals to paid clients, again, ask for the price of your work to not be disclosed.
The best thing you can do with those you've worked for free with is to keep in touch with them and not to end the relationship poorly. Word of mouth is quick to build and can be faster to destroy.
An alternative to working for free is doing audio redesigns.
Getting your talent noticed can be extremely hard in such an overwhelming landscape of talent, and that might not be your only competitor.
When trying to get noticed on social media for your work, you're also competing against everyone someone follows or subscribes to and they don’t even have to be in your niche.
If you did want to learn more about how to really dive into building a following and community around your work, you might want to save this article on getting noticed as a creative for after this one.
Depending on how you like to work, you may want to take a specific path to get work.
The three main trees are Freelance (contract work), in-house (part/full-time), and entrepreneurship (which is pretty much the same as freelance).
Freelance: As a freelancer, you can choose your hours to work, you can have more leverage in negotiating pay, and you can be more independent & take on multiple projects at once if you wanted to.
In-House: Working in-house can be more secure, reliable and engaging compared to freelancing. Being surrounded by others can really help with inspiration, motivation and can present an opportunity to learn new things faster.
Entrepreneurship: As an entrepreneur, you may do the same work as a freelancer but you may take it to another level. This could mean starting your own business and creating your own products and services. You can also take on larger client projects and outsource work (hiring others).
The first thing you’ll want to do is define your ideal client. After all, there is a finite amount of time and energy you can expend at any given time. You’ll want to decide who you want to work for up front.
Some things to consider when you’re choosing a type of client:
The list can go on as it really comes down to what you are looking for in a job. Don’t forget the people you’ll be working with, you should actually like them if you want to have a good time working with them.
You’ll also want to watch out for people who you don’t want to work for. This can be clients that don’t read/listen to your communication, don’t respect your time, or don’t accept your expertise.
Now for the big question of how to start charging money. It can be a really intimidating task if you’ve been working for free or haven't even landed a gig yet.
The budget is probably one of the first things you should be talking about as there is no sense in wasting both you and your client’s time. At least that’s the case when business is clearly the topic at hand (you see their job opening or they come to you).
In the case of networking and building relationships, your first move should be made to get to know the person and their project.
Basically, if you’re reaching out to someone who hasn’t clearly stated they are looking to hire, you should build rapport first, without the expectation of getting work.
Now, when the conversation turns to rates/budge, charge according to how much money the client will make from your work, even if it’s slightly out of their budget. - They can change it if you show how much value this will bring to them.
Some things that you should account for when determining a quote:
There are plenty of reasons why you would increase the price of a project and one of the most important is based on the client's budget.
You can do the same project for two vastly different prices, depending on how much value it will bring them specifically.
Once you start getting paid for your work, you might want to learn how to charge more for your talent. Thanks for reading, I hope you found this helpful!