19 January 2013


Buenos tardes, sports fans. 

Sound mixers are a techie group, by definition. Our jobs only exist due to audio technology.  We bury ourselves in acoustics and electronics, we learn to perceive the world a decibel at a time. We hold fuzzy sticks aloft.

We must also be business people. As most of us are freelance, we become our own employers. Business acumen may come more easily to some than others, and it can become a trial by fire, lurching from one awkward negotiation to the next, until we get our sea legs and can converse as easily about invoice terms as we can about hypercardioid pickup patterns.

Where am I supposed to point the fiery end?

Part of those growing pains is transitioning from being eagerly available and saying yes to anyone who calls to becoming more discerning, and saying no when it's appropriate. There may be any number of reasons to say no: unrealistic client demands; low pay; you're feeling bloated and gassy and a heavy gear bag pressing on your abdomen isn't going to do anyone any favors.

But the most important reason is you. As your own boss, it's up to you to make sure you're adequately compensated and treated fairly. Occasionally this means saying no to available work, which at first feels completely at odds with freelancing, but over time contributes to your overall professionalism. When you do show up on a set, you're prepared and confident.

This is what I got when I entered "confident" on google image search.

The blog Work Made For Hire has a great post about learning how to say no. I had to learn myself, and while there were a scary couple of months (I swear I opened my checkbook one day and a tumbleweed rolled out), it was worth it. Yes, I work fewer days, but those days pay better, and are more on my terms, where I feel comfortable:

“No” is one of the best tools a freelancer has to protect herself and make sure she’s in control of her career.
“No” to a low paying job is “Yes” to your value as an artist or freelancer.
“No” to a client’s outrageous demand is “Yes” to your professionalism and self-respect.
“No” to a volunteer project you honestly don’t have time for is “Yes” to time necessary to relax and rejuvenate so you have the mental and physical energy to do all the other things you’ve said, “Yes” to.
“No” can help you avoid getting distracted by gigs that don’t serve your goals or that make you feel trapped.
Every time you say “No” to a request, you are saying, “Yes” to something else.

Remember, sometimes you just have to vote nope:

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