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Finding Work

Discussion in 'Puppet News' started by mrhogg, Mar 28, 2008.

  1. Toasty

    Toasty New Member


    This idea was the basis for my suggestion to create a 30 (or 60) second commercial to sell YOUR product, using the very skills you are selling (puppets, design, Flash).

    Feature well done ad spots selling yourself on your demo DVD, and get them into the hands of agencies or even businesses you think might have a product or service to sell that your unique brand of ad skills and solutions would fit well with. Start with local, small businesses with smaller budgets and work up to build your portfolio of real Hoggworks clients. Keep the day job to pay the bills, and keep the Hoggworks client work (and scope of each project) at a controllable amount that does not require you to add manpower beyond yourself for awhile.

    After a year or 3 of small jobs, you might have enough client work in the can to send out a new self-promo DVD to larger agencies and larger, more national businesses. At this point, talent representation makes a lot of sense, too, especially if you do not want to spend a good chunk of your time continuing to market yourself, or if you are having trouble contacting the right creative agencies on a national level.

    The trick is always going to be not growing too fast, though. And by that I mean it is very very easy to not want to pass up opportunity for work that may come your way, even when the scale of that work is far beyond the abilities and time you might have at that moment. The minute you lose track of what YOU are worth (per hour) and what that rate needs to be in order to be profitable, then the control of the business and your ability to maintain direction and do quality work will suffer. Billing and all the paperwork that comes with any growing business is also something that can quickly spiral out of hand if you grow too quickly.

    I don't mean to go an and on about this aspect, but I think it is important stuf to consider, if you haven't already done so, while forming your initial business plan for a new venture. And it will also effect how you market yourself in the beginning---especially in those early months (and years) when business is not generating enough to live on its own, and you have to hold a "day job" to make ends meet. This makes time management in the new business AND SOLID FOCUS all the more critical.

    I have a habit of making things complex in my mind before I even begin a project. And sometimes this complexity will actually desuade me from even delving into it. In recent months, I've tried to apply a principle that I try to impart in my design work, but that sometimes eludes my thought process when it comes to puppetry and production planning---Keep It Simple.

    I think this is especially true of advertising. It is easy for creative people to get bogged down in all the things that technolgy can do and we lose sight of the end goal. Focus and simplicity are almost always going to be more convincing in advertising. When selling Hoggworks, this concept should apply as well.

    And it should all be considered when formulating your business plan.

    Best of luck to you in all of this.
  2. mrhogg

    mrhogg New Member

    Hey Toasty,

    I appreciate your detailed, thoughtful post.

    I'm probably going to go longer than 60 seconds, and it'll end up being much more than just an assemblage of stuff I've already done. I can do better, now, and I want to sell people on that, rather than what's already happened (without ignoring the old stuff, obviously). The demo reel will be a short film, essentially, with a very condensed run-down of the services Hoggworks can offer while showing the very things we can offer. It will not only be a demo reel but an educational experience, as I'm going to be integrating a lot of things I've been wanting to integrate not only into my puppet-build processes, but also my set building, and the like.

    (I'm still working out the specific idea, and the flow, but have a good idea at this point of what it will look/feel like)

    As far as your other advice goes, I agree absolutely that you have to have a measured, responsible growth; that makes a lot of sense. I, too, have a tendency to overcomplicate things, which is something I very much struggle to keep in check, but that speaks well of my (and your) ability to conceptualize, I think.

    What I disagree with is the idea of aiming small for the first little while. Aim for things you can accomplish, certainly, and aim for things just outside your comfort zone (I don't like doing the same things twice), but still within a manageable realm. When I did the Capital One commercial, they offered the whole thing to me. This would've been much better for my wallet, but I only had confidence in the puppetry side of things, not the "real" filming side of things, so I passed on it. This was a rare case of my being a reasonable person (motivated largely by my desire to have my work looked fondly upon; if I had taken on the whole thing, and it didn't go well -- which was a definite possibility -- then the whole production would've been hurt. by taking just the puppets, I could guarantee that what I was offering would be top-notch).

    I think you should be aiming high from the start. If you take a couple years where you're only approaching the little guys, that's all you're going to get. You'll get to be seen as someone who does work for the little guys. The big agencies (of all kinds) are the ones that aim for the big clients from the start. They don't necessarily get them for a while, but the tone you set at the beginning stays with you, and if you're acting like that's where you're content (intentionally or otherwise), that's all you're going to offer. I mean, for puppet video things, in many ways I'm competing with Henson, right? They have an impossibly long shadow, and even though there are great companies out there doing puppet work aside from Henson, and most people probably can't afford Henson, if you're big enough to afford them, who are you going to go with: a company who positions themselves as creators of these giant wonderful experiences, or someone who's been making car commercials for years? Now, much of this depends on the way you approach the work you're doing. If you're making those commercials like low-budget commercials, then that's how they'll be received, and if you make 'em like they're high-budget, and really something fantastic, then you're more likely to be able to cross-over.

    I'm perhaps making too big of a fuss about that one point, but I think it's important to hit upon: the way you initially choose to present yourself to the world is how the world will interpret you. There's a reason, after all, that all those self-help gurus who offer no greater wisdom than "You can do it!" are paid $10,000 a day:

    They charge $10,000 a day, and people figure that if they're charging it, they must be worth it. So they pay.

    I'm going to approach agencies of multiple levels at the same time. I'm going to send my package to medium-sized agencies in the ad industry, and large ones. I'm going to send it to the largest agencies in the world, to production studios everywhere. I'm not going to approach the littlest guys, and I won't be going to local businesses in town, to see if they need anything. They won't, and even if they do, they won't have the budget for it to become a big thing. I'm going to present myself as a person who is ready and able to work with the largest firms out there, because if I do that, then that's how they'll view me. (Now, it obviously doesn't do you good if you tell people you can provide a service that you can't; I happen to believe that I can provide that service on that level, and I think I've got a track record for it)

    If a big agency came across a Hoggworks full of little-guy stuff, they might say, hey, that's like what we need for our campaign, but the next part, where they say "let's go find a professional who can make us that, only better," would be where I'd lose business.

    I'm probably sounding like an overly vain, cocky sonofagun. I can't really apologize for that, because I suppose I somewhat am. You have to be if you're a creative, right? You have to think that your product is something people will want to give up their time and money to look at. You're not just asking people to put a puppet in their commercial, movie, or advertisement, you're asking people to give up a small portion of their life to view it. You don't tend to view it like that, but that's what happening. When I watch a TV show I like, I'm making a deal: I give them X hours of my very finite consciousness in exchange for those X hours to be full of enjoyment. That's the deal. That's the trade. If I'm cocky enough to believe that I convince a person of that, if I'm cocky enough to believe that it's true, that my creative output is worth that, then why limit myself to smaller clients?

    I decided on a whim to make an entire television show in his basement, of a level of visual quality to match professionally produced television, with a budget of whatever was left in my bank account after my bills were paid. I made that show, and it was seven hours long. It looked professional. For me to then limit myself to the little dogs, to NOT be over-ambitious, doesn't fit. It doesn't work.

    I don't want to sound like I'm not appreciating the comment, and the spirit in which it was intended. I am, and I do. And I agree with all of the parts of what you say that I'm not directly responding to, because what fun is it to respond to something you agree with? :)

    Also, gosh, I look like an arrogant jerk, I bet. Apologies for that; I'm actually a pretty humble, even-handed guy, but if I can't work myself up to believing that I can accomplish what I set out to do, how can I convince anyone else?

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