There is a common conundrum that faces many of us when we are just starting out in a new direction, and it’s typically something like this:
How do you get booked to do a show when you don’t have material to show them; but, then, how do you get material to show them without getting booked?
My guest on episode #113, Michael “Spaz” McGoorty of The Pure Zeppelin Experience and Casey ‘N’ Spaz Comedy, advises to take every opportunity you can–big or small–even if it doesn’t at first seem to really line up, and I agree!! After a few early milestones, it can be tempting to start turning down small opportunities before you’re firmly in a position to. So, here’s some food for thought: That smaller opportunity you may be snubbing your nose at now could have lead to something bigger and better. So, you don’t want to start turning these down too hastily or too soon. Further, when each opportunity comes, do the absolute best you can. Try to always bring your A-game, because you never know who may be watching and ready to get involved in supporting you–in whichever way that support may need to manifest for you.
On another tip, you may have to get creative on how you put material together. Take a good look around you and use any and all equipment, locations, and other resources you have available to you. Sometimes, for example, you can create a fantastic photo shoot just with the random stuff you have around the house. Or, you can organize your own art expo at a local business. It’s time to not just put on those thinking caps, but open them up to creative ways to use what you already have available.
And, in the early stages of building a portfolio and public presence, you may need to become a Swiss Army knife of skills–learning to do some of the gritty work on your own–like editing your own promo videos and organizing your own events. But, the internet is full of spaces like Pinterest and YouTube with great DIY ideas and info!!! (Just try not to jeopardize quality too much.)
Lastly, don’t be too shy to dip into your network and resources. I’ve found that, more often than not, people are more than willing to help you, if you are just willing to ask. Does anyone in your family or close circle own an office, restaurant, or other space that you can borrow for a couple of hours for a photo shoot, meeting, presentation, or whatever…?? Can you barter services with a family friend who owns a signage company to create some banners for you? Do you know someone with a podcast who you would make a great guest for? Are there friends who would be willing to try your service for free, so you can gain feedback and testimonials? These are just a couple of ideas, and you should spend a few minutes brainstorming what your network and resources are. It almost certainly will pay back the time in dividends!
Getting yourself out there and booked/contracted can be very tricky and frustrating when you are just first getting started. People can be hesitant to hire someone with very little work to show. But, I hope some of these tips above will help you all curve your way around those obstacles!!
BONUS TIP: When you are looking for early contract work (building websites, photography jobs, etc…), head to Craig’s List and look under “gigs.” You can even set up filter alerts, which will send emails to your inbox when someone posts for a gig you’d be interested in. So simple!!