Welcome, Evan France, a full-time freelance videographer and photographer. He moved from California to Boone and needed to find work. After searching and pitching, he landed 2 retainer clients. He specializes in automobile and outdoor videos. When not shooting content, you can find him reselling hot-ticket thrift items online – which could be a whole other video!
Evan’s website: Evanfrance.com
What Evan’s YouTube: youtube.com/@evanfrancemedia
Follow Evan on Instagram (@evanfrancemedia): instagram.com/evanfrancemedia
Follow Evan on TikTok (@evanfrancemedia): tiktok.com/@evanfrancemedia
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[00:00:00.250] – Seth
My buddy Evan here is a videographer and full time videographer and photographer. He just moved here from California just a couple of months ago. And so as a full time freelancer, you need to catch some gigs, right? So he went around, pitched a bunch of places, and he was able to land at least two. And he has some upcoming gigs, too, at least two retainer clients and shooting video of automotive and outdoor products, that’s his forte. But when he is not shooting video, you could find him reselling hot ticketed items online. So we can get into that later, but that’s a whole nother video, probably.
[00:00:39.550] – Evan France
Thanks for being here, Evan. How are you doing? Thanks, Seth. I appreciate being here. It’s been great getting to chat with you, preparing for this interview, but yeah, doing well.
[00:00:53.760] – Seth
All right, let’s get to it. So tell us about your freelance business and how you earn a consistent income doing it.
[00:01:03.490] – Evan France
Yeah, so I got my start about six years ago. It started with just reaching out to brands, like on Amazon, just sending cold emails. Me and my buddies had just gotten cameras. We’re like, hey, we should just see if we can get a brand to respond to one of our emails, and we’ll make content for them. That was our base idea. It was in high school. We were super new to everything creative, but we were like, hey, let’s see if we can maybe make some money off of this. And we probably sent, like, 100 emails, but then one small Amazon outdoor brand responded, and they’re like, yeah, we’ll just send you some. I think it was a hammock brand. They sent me and my buddies, like, six hammocks, and we thought we had won the lottery. We were ecstatic. Looking back now, I realized that that brand got a sweet deal because we provided them with a full length commercial and a bunch of photos and all this stuff. But that’s what you do when you’re just getting started, and that really jump started all of it and really opened our eyes to be like, oh, wow, we can make money doing this.
[00:02:09.020] – Evan France
And from then on, I just wanted to keep doing that as much as possible. And so I was part time all the way through school, so through high school and then college, and then just in the last year and a half, I’ve been full time, and that’s been just a huge blessing, and I’ve loved that so much. And so what my business really is right now and still trying to distill it down and trying to get into a niche is I like to say that I provide video and photo or marketing media for small businesses. And so whether it’s an online brand, I really like outdoor brands or automotive brands. They’ll send me their product, and then I’ll advertise it, shoot photos, maybe shoot little Instagram reel and provide that for them. And that’s been just an absolute blast to do that as a job. And then I’ve done a handful of other things and I’ll touch on this later on in terms of advice, but I’ve also shot weddings, I still shoot events, and I have a traditional film background. That’s what I went to school for. And so I do work on sets at times and reconnect with those film colleagues as much as possible.
[00:03:20.610] – Evan France
But yeah, that’s kind of the current business. The goal, and we can dive into this deeper a little bit later, is to be full time photographer and videographer for a set number of automotive clients and outdoor clients. And so the goal in the next five years is to build deep relationships with clients, to not sacrifice any quality when working with them and really to just build deep bonds with them so that they feel valued and I can continue to work for them month after month, year after year, instead of just kind of jumping.
[00:03:59.280] – Seth
Well, that’s perfect.
[00:03:59.980] – Evan France
And you live in a great place.
[00:04:01.140] – Seth
You live in the high country with mountains and outdoors. So I think you’ll have, hopefully, fingers crossed, an easy time catching those clients.
[00:04:08.570] – Evan France
[00:04:09.040] – Seth
So that’s great. Thanks for explaining all that. What has been your biggest challenge in your business, the freelancing business thus far, and how have you overcome that?
[00:04:23.250] – Evan France
Yeah, I would say that the biggest challenge is, and I feel like a lot of people would probably resonate with this as a creator, is to distill and figure out what my niche is going to be. Because if you don’t know this already, you really don’t want to be a jack of all trades and trying to jump around and do a bunch of different things because then you’re never going to get better at one genre or a couple of genres of photography or videography. And so I think that that’s a great strategy, starting out to figure out what you love. But really, I know what I love to do, but sometimes that isn’t going to be the most profitable thing that month, that day, whatever. And so it’s really about figuring out and this has been the biggest challenge over the last year and a half as I’ve moved into full time. Because when you become full time, you are really committing to making this a business and making this your life, right when it’s a side hustle. You’re a student still. You have some, I would say buffer. You have some room to pivot.
[00:05:30.290] – Evan France
You don’t have to work every single day sometimes, but when it’s full time, you’re trying to make full time income off of your own self employment. And so that raises stakes in a lot of ways. And so you don’t necessarily want to just be jumping around to a bunch of different gigs that maybe don’t all connect or help build your brand because then you’re not progressing or setting yourself up for success. In the future. And so that’s where I’ve struggled and I’m continuing to work through is, okay, what do I love to do and how can I potentially, if I want to get paid for that in the future in terms of the creative space? And so I found that I love automotive content, I love adventure content. So how can I help to market brands in those genres and make that a sustainable business model and then acknowledging the fact that I’m not going to be there tomorrow, I’m not going to just jump right into that unless I get super lucky, sustainable clients even maybe this year. And so what steps can I take right now to continue to live full time off of my self employment but then get to that point as soon as possible, if that makes sense.
[00:06:41.650] – Evan France
And so it’s just really having this focus direction when you’re actually building this and treating it as a business because I’ve had trouble with that in the past too. Is actually seeing myself as a business owner, even though there’s no storefront, there’s no maybe rent or whatever. Treating myself as a business owner, treating my business, my photography, my videography as a business, whether that’s finances, whether that’s whatever it is and actually being professional with myself, Because I think the worst thing that you can do is minimizing your skills, minimizing what you’re doing and being like, oh, it is just like a side hustle. And it might be. But if you are making consistent money off of what you’re doing and what you’re passionate about, you’re running a business whether you like it or not. And so it’s really important to treat it as such. And when I started doing that in the last year and a half, that’s.
[00:07:36.520] – Seth
Really changing because the freelancer income is up and down. Some months are double pay, next month half pay. So it’s got to even out. So making those retainer clients is important. What advice would you give somebody just starting out? And what gear would you recommend for somebody who wants to start shooting video or photography? But since you’re really focusing on video, what advice would you give somebody starting out?
[00:08:05.130] – Evan France
Yeah, I think that really starting out. You’ll hear this a lot, especially if you’re creative. You’ll hear this online and stuff is like you’ll see this really well produced YouTube video and it’s all well shot. They got an expensive camera and stuff and they’re telling you you don’t need gear. And it’s kind of funny, like to laugh at the irony. But what they are really trying to get at is the fact that we all start somewhere. No one starts with a red camera or like a $5,000 mirrorless camera sitting in their hands. I mean, maybe some people do. I’m sure they do. But really what you need to acknowledge is that it’s a skill, it’s a trade that you’re going to develop. There’s no really skipping over that. I mean, there are some people that just kind of slap presets on photos, download transitions or templates from a website and try to just kind of fake it till you make it. But when it comes to actually wanting to develop this skill of creativity, I would recommend that the best camera that you have is the one that you have on you the most consistently.
[00:09:13.130] – Evan France
And I personally shoot actually a lot of my YouTube videos and behind the scenes content on my phone. And most people have $1,000 phone with an amazing camera on it. And you probably hear this a lot and you’re like, I want one of the cool cameras. And well, maybe you can’t afford that right now. And the worst thing that you could do is put yourself in some debt just trying to get like, a cool camera and you don’t have the skills to use it, right? There’s a reason why there’s a price gap and why someone would pay $5,000 for a camera because they can utilize it to its maximum potential. But when you’re just getting started out, you don’t need to maximize a $5,000 camera, nor could you. And so what I recommend and you’re not getting paid enough to justify that purchase. And so what I would recommend is just start off with the camera that you have. Go to a thrift store, find a little point and shoot. Use your iPhone, your Android, whatever. Cameras on phones are amazing. Borrow from someone. If you’re really desperate to try your dream camera, you can always rent online.
[00:10:15.200] – Evan France
It’s not crazy expensive. And just get your hands on something. Whatever you can do to just spend the least amount of money possible just to get out and go shooting is the most important thing. But yeah, I would buy used. My first cameras were all used second hand. The first three I think I would buy off of ebay. And so I recommend just trying to buy used, pre owned and think about how much money am I spending on this and how long is it going to take me to start getting money back. So if you don’t have any skills whatsoever and you’re just trying to learn it, don’t spend any money on a camera. If you’ve already shot some photos and stuff and you want to just take it to the next level, maybe even start getting paid, then yeah, you can maybe explore with like 100, $200 or something like that. Take this all a grain of salt, like everyone’s in different financial positions, and maybe you can afford it. But what I’m always trying to harp on is there will always be better and more gear to buy. I struggle with this and I have a lot of gear that a lot of people would want.
[00:11:16.410] – Evan France
And so never think that you’re going to just like, oh, once I get this piece of gear, then my photos will look like this, that’s a dangerous trap to go down. And so I recommend just use what you have already. Shoot a bunch of stuff on your phone. There’s some great teachers that just shoot iPhone videography, iPhone photography, and how to utilize just the basics of camera work. But with your iPhone, like, you don’t need a DSLR or mirrorless camera or some high, really high quality camera in order to learn those things. In fact, you shouldn’t. And so you use your camera, get out and shoot. And then if you’re looking to expand and get more lighting or get more audio or something like that, then that’s where I would utilize YouTube and just look up best camera, best lighting, best audio equipment for beginners. And there’s a lot of great resources out there, especially like Amazon. You can buy some cheap stuff out.
[00:12:12.440] – Seth
There because you have this level for gear, but you have this level for skill, and you need your skill to match. So I get that dynamic. You could have all the gear in the world, not the skill. So that’s important. What are you most proud of in your career thus far?
[00:12:34.370] – Evan France
Oh, man, that’s a good question. Honestly, and I try to remind myself of this every day, it’s just an amazing blessing that I have that as a high school student. Six years ago, I just decided to start shooting stuff and sent those emails and got past that awkward hump of getting a bunch of nodes and mostly just unresponsive because that built in me really a lot of resilience to be able to cold email, cold call, and just be bold in my pursuit of jobs. And that’s really paid off. And I’m just super thankful that I’m even able to be self employed. It’s allowed me to do a lot of stuff that I wouldn’t have been able to if I was working a more traditional gig. And so honestly, I’m just proud of my high school self for taking that jump. I guess a more specific example is I shot some marketing content for my alma mater, biola University out in California. I worked for them while I was a student and then a little bit afterwards, and I didn’t know that this was happening. My boss didn’t either, because we just produced the content and then we send it to the marketing team.
[00:13:50.170] – Evan France
But the marketing team made a full size billboard of one of my photos in Orange County. And so that was a really cool moment where I was just driving down, I didn’t get notified by anyone else, and I said like, oh my goodness, that’s my photo on a full size road along a busy street. And so I got a photo with it and that’s like a great memory and like an unexpected achievement that I wasn’t necessarily aiming for.
[00:14:16.690] – Seth
Can I get my Instagram put onto that? As a freelancer, you spend a lot of time working. I mean, it could be hours and hours.
[00:14:27.100] – Evan France
[00:14:27.350] – Seth
So how do you maintain a work life balance to where you’re working enough for the income, but also being able to spend enough time with your family?
[00:14:38.490] – Evan France
Yeah, absolutely. Well, I really like to make sure that I’m cultivating and making time for my other passions. I’ve been kind of a big advocate for this, especially during film school. There’s definitely a temptation to just dedicate your whole life, especially during film school, to just pursue every single gig, every single student film, and just lay your life down at the altar of film, for a lack of a better phrase. And I’ve always enjoyed outdoor activities and sports like climbing and hiking and running and that kind of stuff. And so I never really wanted to lose that for the sake of creativity. And that’s where the outdoor marketing kind of came together, is that I was able to still go and shoot stuff outside, but I was still making money. So I was making money, but also doing the things that I like to do. But then I quickly realized that working for a client while being outdoors isn’t the same as just like, going outside on a hike with friends. And so I’m really adamant about trying to separate those two things and not try to blow the lines. And so to give you specific examples, like my wife and I love to climb, so we subscribe to our climbing gym.
[00:15:58.470] – Evan France
That keeps us active. I find that when I’m active and consistently exercising, that helps my creativity like crazy, helps me to stay focused and get my work done a lot quicker. You’ll hear that a lot. But that’s helped me and that’s also just helped me to keep more of a work life balance in that we have an activity scheduled in our calendars that I’m not doing any creative work for. And so we’re going at this time, we leave, we get out of the house, out of the office, and that helps to create that separation in a practical sense. I do have my office at home, and so that can be definitely a temptation to kind of sneak some more hours into the day when maybe it shouldn’t be. And so I try to subscribe to a nine to five ish schedule. So my wife works a nine to five job. And so I have found that there’s a reason why a lot of companies use that schedule and I think there’s a lot of benefit to it. And so we get up at the same time and I drop her off at work and then I come back here or I’ll go on a shoot and that kind of thing.
[00:17:07.210] – Evan France
And I try to structure my days from nine to five because once I pick her up, then we try to use that for more of our life activities climbing, getting outside, reconnecting. And that’s helped me a lot, is I used to be like, oh, no, I want to be free of the nine to five. And I get the intent by that, like, you want to be self employed. But in terms of the actual hour block and that structure, it’s actually kind of great. And I found a lot of benefit from it having a consistent sleep schedule because of it not working super late in the night. It happens. I do it. But trying for the most part on the normal days with normal workload, trying.
[00:17:43.750] – Seth
To do nine to five has been that’s great tips. Yeah, you could work 12 hours a day later in the night, but I guess it’s when you’re most productive, but you also think about when you’re most creative and kind of find that balance. So that makes sense. Only a few more questions here.
[00:17:59.640] – Evan France
If you had to go back and.
[00:18:01.070] – Seth
Do it all again, would you do anything different? And if you would, what would it be?
[00:18:09.210] – Evan France
Yeah, so I was reflecting on this a lot because I feel like I did kind of go back well, I kind of reset. I didn’t necessarily go back. I didn’t say this before, but I’m originally from California. We just moved out here to Boone in November. And so I was doing full time work with some clients out in California, and I didn’t have my business set up in a way where I could necessarily continue. A lot of those clients work while moving or moving out to a new place. And so I knew that it would kind of be a reset. And so when I got out here, I was really forced to take a step back and to look at what I was doing and ask myself the question is, like, okay, if I truly want to make this sustainable, if I truly want to continue doing this work, then I have to actually create a business model and I have to actually create goals for myself in terms of where I want to be in 2345 years instead of just kind of hopping around to whatever, chasing kind of gigs and clients whenever they would come up and try to get ahead of that and produce more consistency and frequency in my job.
[00:19:19.250] – Evan France
And so that mindset took a long time to learn, and so I would go back and try to give myself that wisdom. But I’m really glad with the lessons that I’ve learned in the past. The other thing, too is really sorry, let me rewind. There’s so many examples of when I was working with a client that I was just more focused on the money that was getting paid than the actual product I was producing, which is hard to say, but there’s definitely times where I would take on a gig that I wasn’t passionate about, and I was just doing it for the extra $100. The extra whatever. And I wasn’t thinking about how if I put in the work now and if I give them a product that’s above and beyond and try to put my best work into this. And this didn’t happen every time, but there’s a few where I would just get lazy and I’m just like giving them the bare minimum. I didn’t think about how they could be a returning client and I would just kind of get the paycheck and dip and I wasn’t as focused on building good relationships with brands as much as just giving them whatever they needed and then just being like, okay, thanks.
[00:20:31.930] – Evan France
Reach out if you need more, but not really engaging with them. And so that’s definitely something I’d go back and do, is put it all out there and engage with the brands I’m working with. Being overly thankful that they even wanted to work with me in the first place and treating them as such instead of just being like, okay, I’m glad you’re giving me this money, and I’m just going to give you what isn’t in our contract, but just going over above and beyond and making myself the first name that comes to mind in their head when they think of.
[00:21:07.190] – Seth
Maintaining consistent relationships with your clients so they become consistent. I mean, that’s kind of the name of the game, kind of a speed round. What resources or YouTube videos, what do you subscribe to or pay for to stay up to date on industry happenings and just staying on top of your craft?
[00:21:29.390] – Evan France
Yeah, a couple of workshops helped me out a lot. There were some really specific photography business things that I wanted to know about people from my industry that are much more successful. I wanted to know more about that. And there’s not many resources online that go in depth into how an adventure photographer or automotive photographer is running their business. And I found that some online photography workshops helped a ton with that. So in 2020, I got Alex Strolls and we can maybe link this later. Alex Stroll is an amazing photographer and I got his workshop called the Adventure Pro Workshop and that really helped me a ton. He gave us so many details about how to write invoices and how to engage with clients, how to pitch clients consistently, how to build pitch decks, all this kind of stuff that was all kind of foreign to me because I was just kind of doing it by the seat of my pants, and I didn’t know there was much structure to it. And then I also love Aaron Brimhall, who’s an amazing automotive photographer, his workshop as well. He goes into more depth on how to shoot for really high end car brands and what he does when he’s approaching those gigs and then editing as well.
[00:22:45.560] – Evan France
So just finding a I would say this, if you have like a favorite photographer or videographer that has a pretty good online social following, I’m sure they have some workshop or resources online. So I would just kind of do some digging, go to maybe one of those workshop hosting sites, and I’m sure you can find some really good resources. And the great thing is that they’re only like three to 12 hours of content instead of paying for a college class that’s never going to go as specific into that genre as you want. And so those resources have been huge. I consistently digest YouTube videos of my favorite creators. There’s some I’ll follow some film photographers, a lot of point of view automotive photographers. So they’ll wear a camera on their chest and they’ll show the entirety of a photo shoot. That gives me a lot of really cool creative ideas. And then the other one I would say is Colin and Samir. They do creator support podcast and create a lot of awesome content surrounding the creator economy, which they’ve coined. And all of their stuff is awesome. I subscribe to it weekly.
[00:23:57.410] – Seth
Nice stuff. So go check all that out. We’ll have those Linked as best as we can. How can people learn more? Or, I guess, how or where do they go to learn more about you, Evan?
[00:24:11.570] – Evan France
Yeah, I post most of my behind the scenes and some of the content that I’m shooting on Instagram. I would say that’s where the most people are, even though it’s not a lot. And then I’ve started posting more consistently on TikTok and YouTube shorts. And then I also have a YouTube channel that I’ll be posting more photography and videography related content on. And that’s all at Evan France Media for you. And there’ll be links as well.
[00:24:43.390] – Seth
Evan, that’s the end of this. I appreciate you chatting. If anybody’s still listening or catch this later, this full interview and video and podcast and transcript form will be on Seth Kingdon. That’s S-E-T-H kingdon. Kingdon.com. You can check that out. But Evan, thank you so much for being here. Best of luck to you. Hope you land at least two more, maybe multiple more clients in the months to come.
[00:25:09.970] – Evan France
[00:25:10.500] – Seth
Cool, man. Take it easy. Thanks.