#033: How to Adapt Your Freelance Business to a Rapidly Shifting Marketplace, with Tristan Kneschke

Summary:

In this interview, you'll hear why Tristan made critical changes to his business with the economic downturn. And you'll discover how he made these shifts and why they've paid off.

The freelance marketplace has become more competitive.

But just because there are more freelancers than ever before doesn't mean you have to succumb to competitive pressure. Not if you make key adjustments in how you position yourself ... and what services (and value) you deliver.

In this week's show you'll hear from someone who's done this successfully. His name is Tristan Kneschke and his company is Exit Editorial, a post-production company that does video editing and color grading services.

Tristan specializes fashion and beauty and has worked with brands such as Victoria’s Secret, Bath and Body Works, Google, Pepsi, Nike, Amazon and Colgate.

In this interview, you'll hear why Tristan made critical changes to his business with the economic downturn. And you'll discover how he made these shifts and why they've paid off.

The notes that follow are a very basic, unedited summary of the show. There’s a lot more detail in the audio version. You can listen to the show using the audio player below. Or you can subscribe in iTunes or Stitcher to get this show delivered straight to the Podcasts app on your smart phone, tablet or iPod.

Tell us about your business

Tristan Kneschke’s company is Exit Editorial. It’s a post-production company that does video editing and color grading services. He specializes fashion and beauty and has worked with brands such as Victoria’s Secret, Bath and Body Works, Google, Pepsi, Nike, Amazon and Colgate. He likes the fashion and beauty area because it’s artier and edgier.

He works with agencies, post-production houses and some individual directors.

Walk us through the chances you made to your business when the recession hit a few years ago

Before the recession, premium editing and color shops were charging in the realm of $1500 an hour—partly because the necessary equipment was so expensive. Their clients were willing to pay these amounts because they had large budgets. When the recession hit, those budgets shrank. At the same time, people were starting to move from film to digital and new, less expensive equipment and software was coming onto the market.

This created the opportunity for Tristan to offer color grading services at a lower price than the premium shops while still making a hefty profit. He set up his own home system and started to offer color services in addition to his editing services.

How did you land the color grading work?

Tristan kept himself open to changes in the industry. He didn’t abandon his editing work when he moved into color grading. Instead, he found that the services complemented and often fed into each other.

clicktotweetWhen you follow the flow of a changing industry, you’ll find new freelance opportunities.

Most of color grading work came through Tristan’s existing clients. He also received referrals from other editors who didn’t do color grading work.

How did you position yourself as a trusted expert?

Video technology was changing, but not everyone was willing to change with it. Tristan kept on top of client needs and provided services to smooth out their rough spots.

He found many of his clients couldn’t afford the services of large premium color houses but didn’t want to invest in their own color grading systems. So Tristan did it for them by developing his own system.

Tristan is also flexible in how he delivers these services. He can work out of his home studio or a client site. He’ll even ship all his equipment to a client site to do the work there if necessary.

You say freelancers are brands. Tell us more about that idea

Your brand is about the type of work you do and the content you create. Tristan specializes in color grading in the fashion and beauty area. When people have a fashion project, they go to him because it requires different sensibilities than a car project or fast food project.

clicktotweetThe intersection of a specific audience or industry and a specific type of project can be extremely powerful.

If you can position yourself at that intersection, you can become THE go-to person.

You want to be able to say, “I’m the guy you call when _________ needs ________.”

Tristan has also used writing to establish himself an industry leader in his area. Through his blog, he’s demonstrated his passion for what he does. He provides more than just “how to” information. He shares insights.

You mentioned professionalism as a competitive advantage. Can you speak more to that?

Lots of people don’t go above and beyond in their work. But clients want more from you. As freelancers, we’re exposed to many different clients and systems. If you can make recommendations that will save clients time or money, they’ll value you for it.

Tristan is in the people business. He doesn’t just push buttons. People don’t know how to describe what they want. Part of his job is to take, “I want it to look like that” into technical specifications.

Where can listeners learn more about you?

You’ll find Tristan’s blog and samples of his work on his website, Exit Editorial.

You can also reach him on Twitter: @Exit_Edit


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  • Scotsman2012

    Dear Ed,
    I am a former small business owner and would like to learn more about how to prosper in the copywriting business. I have a wide variety of interests and passions, writing being one of them. However all of that is useless without proper guidance and advice from a "been there, done that" professional like you. Perhaps we can discuss my options?
    David Scott Cook

    • edgandia

      Hi David -- I have tons of free advice on the many options for writers at http://www.b2blauncher.com. Check it when you get a chance. Lots of actionable ideas.

  • Nice podcast!

    Freelancers do feel the pressure to specialize. If I could go back in time to 2008, I would have chosen 1-3 niches and focused on them instead of being a generalist and writing on a variety of subjects. However, the experience helped me to think about who I want to work with and what I want to write. I like ghostwriting eBooks and case studies and would like to ghostwrite books, too.

    It's been one month since I've updated my blog and like the idea of providing insights vs. information. This may be why I've been feeling burned out from writing my own content. I haven't pushed the envelope and may have been to rigid with my blog posts.

    • edgandia

      That's great insight, Amandah. And I agree that most of the time you have to try many different things until your niche or specialty finds YOU.