My name is Marcos Rocha and I am a Freelance Cinematographer based in the Bay Area of California. It took me a couple of years before I went full time on my business starting in January of 2019. I am still a one person operation, but I often hire other freelancers like myself for certain projects. As I am moving into higher budget Video Projects, I can afford to hire help. My plan is to eventually have 1 or 2 employees that can help me Edit and Film.
I started making videos back in 2014 as a way to bring attention to my blog. Talking to the camera was super hard, but I kept at it because I liked the technical aspect of making videos. Eventually, I decided I liked the video making more than I liked writing, so I gave up on my blog. From there, I focused on making vlogs on YouTube. Eventually, I transitioned into making tutorials about filmmaking because I had a passion for the technical side of Video Creation. Around that time, I google searched Video Production businesses in my local area and I found that most were Wedding Filmmakers. I reached out to a handful of them to see if they needed help with Editing or Filming. One of them took me on as a part time editor and that was my first paid job doing Video. This gave me the confidence to look for more work elsewhere and I slowly landed more jobs with other local Wedding Filmmakers. Craigslist was another great resource to landing my first paid gigs.
All the meanwhile, I had full time jobs while I was freelancing on the side. My YouTube channel also started growing because I consistently released videos. However, the income I get from YouTube has never been substantial to make a living from. In 2019, about 10% of my Income came from YouTube, about 20% from filming Weddings, and about 70% from Corporate Video work. This year (2020), I am giving up Weddings and I am specializing in Corporate work only.
A lot of my best ideas come when I am meditating. I also write 20 minutes every day as a way to get my thoughts out. James Altucher also recommends writing 10 ideas a day and I have implemented that as well. Sometimes, I just have to make a video regardless of how I feel. I never rely on Inspiration because it’s almost never there. You have to “force” inspiration to happen by showing up.
I almost exclusively focus on YouTube content creation because that’s all the time I have for. I do post some BTS photos on my Instagram, but it is not my priority.
I’ve always been afraid of what my family would think of me. I was scared they would see my YouTube videos and then they would make fun of me when they saw me in person. I was not as scared of the general public because I knew I would probably not meet them in person. The voice in my head that said “who the heck are you to create” was really loud in the beginning. I pushed through it and I constantly told myself I would master this skill even though I might suck it at right now. There’s this book called It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want to Be by Paul Arden that I would highly recommend to anyone doing Creative work.
I built my brand because of 3 things:
Another thing I would add is Networking. If you want to bring in new business, then you must know more people who can help you in your journey. A lot of Creators stay in their little bubble and it might work for them, but I had to build lots of connections with potential clients and people like myself.
It took me about 4 years to make a full time living as a Video Creator. The idea of making a living as a filmmaker seemed impossible when I first got started. I didn’t know anybody in the industry and I had no clients. I didn’t let myself fixate too much on how hard this was going to be. I focused on what I could do everyday to get closer to where I wanted to be.
If you want to get into content creation, then start creating content today. Don’t wait for permission from anyone.
Start making crappy stuff and don’t share it with anyone if you don’t want to. Put yourself on a schedule and make things. Do not let yourself off the slack because you don’t feel like it. Creating is fun when you are doing it, but it can also be frustrating and hard work. If you really love something, you will push on even when you feel like you don't know what you are doing.
My main income does not come from YouTube, it comes from doing Videos for clients. I never relied on YouTube to be my main source of income, I just used it as a way to grow my portfolio. I would show potential clients my YouTube channel as a way to get them to know me - and I still do it. I’ve gotten picked over other Video Creators because of my YouTube channel, especially now that I have substantial followers. The money I make from YouTube has been a cushion from having to take a day job if there’s no client work coming in. I had money saved up when I quit my day job and I had also built a client base. I would recommend that you do the same before you ever quit a day job. You have to have money saved up and you have to be getting consistent work/money from Creating your art.
To grow my channel, I focused on the videos that were getting traction. For me, that was Final Cut Pro X tutorials. Whenever I publish(ed) a tutorial on FCPX, it does so much better than my gear review videos. Somehow my FCPX tutorials rank very well on YouTube and I’ve seen that a huge part of my subscribers have come from them. I didn’t expect this was going to happen at first, I just experimented with all types of videos until I found out what was getting traction.
I tried collaborating with smaller channels than myself, but that didn’t work for them or me. It is hard to guess what will work because it is different for everyone. I do look at keyword research by using TubeBuddy, but there’s never a guarantee that my video will rank high. For example, Final Cut Pro X Tutorials is a really competitive keyword, yet I tend to rank high for it because of my past videos. The YouTube algorithm is changing constantly and what worked today might not work tomorrow.
For the most part, I do not accept money to review a product. Usually, they send me the product for free and if I like it, I will review it. If I don’t like it, I mail it back. I do take paid sponsorships when it’s software - usually by an upfront payment or a commission on sales.