You want to grow? You want to develop? In my opinion, if you’re a freelancer working in esports, you are a sole trader business. So you need to look at everything you do as a business, especially in regards to four areas: Market Research, Networking, Investment and Value
You need to know what’s going well in esports, what’s on the horizon and what’s over saturated. To give an example: I saw a gap in the mobile esports markets, one I am confident will continue to grow substantially in the next couple of years. So I would be looking for work in those areas as more mainstream talent will have difficulty transitioning as the games are still looked down upon by the broader esports viewership. We all get into the craft, driven by our respective love for a particular title, but they can often be bottlenecked and unsustainable for a full-time career, unless you are the 1%. Being prepared to pick up new games and/or roles can make your more versatile and open up opportunities you didn’t even consider in the past.
I hate this term, but it’s a reality of the job. Every job, event, interaction is an opportunity to connect with someone for a mutually beneficial relationship. This can help with your ‘market research’ and opens up opportunities to move closer and closer to the front of their minds when they’re looking for someone to fulfil a particular role. These take years to grow and I find it’s an overlooked part for most of the newer members of the industry.
This isn’t about money. It’s about time, dedication and effort. It’s about self-developing and putting effort into yourself. I always question: Why would anyone choose to invest in me (time, money, opportunities) if I won’t invest in myself? Seek out resources, even if you have to pay for them. You can pull a lot of information from established industries that you can transfer skills to: project management, people management, organisation, media skills. Develop yourself and it shows to anyone you’re asking to throw you a bone, that you take yourself seriously, they should too.
Lastly, and most importantly. You are providing a service. What can you do to add more value to your service? Is it that extra 20 hours of preparation? Is it helping others on the same project with advice or ideas? Is it bringing your colleagues a coffee when you get through the door? There can be a lot on offer in the right places. If you want more pay, more responsibility, more opportunities; push the boundaries, but make sure you fill the gap you created and that’s how your progress.
Should I work for free?
In short, no. But it’s a little more nuanced than that.
You need to be able to justify charging clients for your service. When starting out, providing VODs or showreels of your work can prove your abilities and give confidence that you’re not coming in blind. While we all need money to survive, sometimes opportunities provide more compensation than most people acknowledge. Every role is another piece of evidence to justify your worth, another opportunity to have your name announced by social circles previously untouched. To add to this, every person you work with provides an opportunity to learn from them.
How do I increase my rates?
If you want to increase your rates, you need to make sure that you are delivering value for your client. Once you can prove that, you can begin to push out your rates and then fill the gap you’ve created between your original value, and new targeted value.
Know your client
Industry veterans who move into talent acquisition roles will be more level headed than non-endemics, or those who are operating their first gig. This works both ways with the more greener tournament operators. They can have too much money than they know what to do with, in which case your rates are inflated. This is great for short term and recurring gigs with that particular client, but can be poor for the long term as you can get a false sense of what the general market will pay.
On the other hand, some of these greener tournament operators can be opportunistic and under value your worth. In these instances, you need to reflect on the external value of the job and be prepared to walk way if you feel you’re being taken advantage of.
When in doubt…
Ask. As time goes by, more and more broadcast professionals are created, all with their own unique experiences and insight. Those I know and speak to are more than willing to advise or help out newer talent, providing they show that they take themselves seriously and are not there to waste time. Seeking out more experienced broadcasters in your region, or genre of titles can provide you with a soft assessment of whether your “asking price” is on-par for your experience/ability/reach, or whether you need to re-evaluate. A lot of this is subjective, so shop around to find yourself a consensus.
My DM’s are usually open, whether I can help you or not always as obvious.
Tridd can be contacted via his account: @_Tridd