Now for what everyone wants to know of course which is how to make money with sound design. I can’t tell you the best way, but I can share what works for me. Take these gems and tweak them to work for you.
1. Don’t Be a Snob Work with any Budget
If a client has a budget of $72.00, don’t blow them off, work with them. Most people work for free trying to come up and others don’t work at all when they cling to a specific price point. I’ve done work for free, lots of it.
I didn’t ask for credit or anything. I just wanted to be a part of the process. I’ve found that the best connections I have in this industry are those I’ve built with.
2. Say Yes! and Accept Any Gig
This is where I make the most money
There will be times when you’ll be offered projects you’re not passionate about. Rather than rolling your eyes or trying to convince the client otherwise… just do the damn project.
Beating the dead horse (expanding on point #1)
What’s the worst that could happen? You get some experience, some money, another connection, and someone who can vouch for your skills? Doesn’t sound too bad IMO.
My first projects as a sound designer (field recordist) weren’t too exciting. I wanted to dive into video games but had to settle for supplying nature sounds to a fancy hotel. The pay per project wasn’t much $47.00-$60.00 for my time.
It was easy, so I took on 40+ sub-contracts through the same client.
Estimating…each project took 2-3 hours between recording, editing, and finalizing. Doing the math, I collectively made $2,950. That’s over 100 working hours between all contracted gigs.
It might sound like too much, too little, but we easily spend the same amount of time engaging in nonproductive activities. Some of us spend hours diddling on Facebook, not making a dime. All in all, this wasn’t too bad.
The bottom line, saying “yes” keeps you working.
3. Build Your Sound FX or Sound Library
Setup an online store, and drive traffic to it. Creating a website is extremely easy these days. All you need is a host, a theme, and WordPress. You could be up in running in 30 minutes, no coding experience is needed.
Again, that’s 30 minutes to get the site up.
You’ll spend at least 5 hours a week tweaking and monetizing the site. I can hear the moaning and groaning now, but it’s a business, treat it like one.
The upside to having a site is the ability to do business 24/7. You won’t have to find people, they’ll be able to find you (easily).
This is done by using social media and understanding how to rank in search engines. Very easy to do these days when you have something of value.
4. Have A Payment Processor
Without a payment processor, it’ll be rough getting paid. Clients can use check or MO, but why should they? Have a Paypal or something similar available.
This is crucial for working with clients online. If it’s too hard to pay for your service, the customer will go somewhere else.
The two payment processors I use are Paypal & Square.
5. Connect & Familiarize Yourself With The Industry
I can’t stress the importance of this enough. Music production and sound design are a little different Read my post how to get your music in video games. This will give you some insight into how different things can be.
Aside from that, you want to connect and build relationships with other professionals as with any industry.
Often times sound designers like myself get overwhelmed and we wind passing work to others in order to get the project complete. This is what led to me working with JoWood and Take2 as well as a few other gaming companies.
The tips above are exactly what I do to make a good living as a sound designer. Accept projects, deliver, get paid for it, very simple concept.
In the next post, I’ll cover where to find clients who pay