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FREELANCING

Applying to creative freelance jobs? Here's how to stand out

Tiphaine Bruel
September 2, 2020
September 2, 2020

It's hard enough to make a living as a creative, so make sure to set yourself up for success: follow our guide to crafting a memorable job application

COVID-19 UK FINANCIAL SUPPORT

Are you getting all the help available to you?

As creative practitioners, we are aware it can be difficult to navigate between financial
options available depending on your status. Make sure you are getting all the financial help
available to you by using the table below.
We will keep on updating it with new resources to always provide the most up-to-date financial support info for you!

* If you have another employment paid through PAYE your employer may be able to get support using the Job Retention Scheme.

COVID-19 UK FINANCIAL SUPPORT

Are you getting all the help available to you?

As creative practitioners, we are aware it can be difficult to navigate between financial
options available depending on your status. Make sure you are getting all the financial help
available to you by using the table below.
We will keep on updating it with new resources to always provide the most up-to-date financial support info for you!

* If you have another employment paid through PAYE your employer may be able to get support using the Job Retention Scheme.

© Drunk and Slip

The Creators

The Creative

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Universal Credit (1)

You may be able to get Universal Credit if:
• you’re on a low income or out of work
• you’re 18 or over (there are some exceptions if you’re 16 to 17)
• you’re under State Pension age
• you and your partner have £16,000 or less in savings between you
• you live in the UK

MORE INFO

COVID-19 Job Retention Scheme (3)

If you have employees, you can claim for 80% of their wages plus any employer National Insurance and pension contributions, if you have put them on furlough because of coronavirus. If you have an other employment paid through PAYE your employer may be able to get support using the Job Retention Scheme.

MORE INFO



Claim back Statutory Sick Pay paid to employees due to coronavirus (3)

The repayment will cover up to 2 weeks starting from the first day of sickness, if an employee is unable to work because they either: have coronavirus, cannot work because they are self-isolating at home or are shielding in line with public health guidance.

MORE INFO

HMRC’s Time To Pay (5)

You can claim if you’re a self-employed individual or a member of a partnership and you:
• have submitted your Self Assessment tax return for the tax year 2018 to 2019
• traded in the tax year 2019 to 2020
• are trading when you apply, or would be except for coronavirus
• intend to continue to trade in the tax year 2020 to 2021
• have lost trading pro ts due to coronavirus
• your trading profits must also be no more than £50,000 and more than half of your total income

MORE INFO

Small Business Grant Fund (SBGF) & Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund (RHLGF) (7)

Small Business Grant Fund Eligibility:
• Businesses with a property that on the 11 March 2020 were eligible for Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR) Scheme.
• Businesses which on 11 March 2020 were eligible for relief under the Rural Rate Relief
• Scheme are also eligible for this scheme.
Eligible recipients will receive one grant per property.

Hospitality and Leisure Grand Fund Eligibility:
• Properties which on the 11 March 2020 had a rateable value of less than £51,000 and would have been eligible for a discount under the business rates
• Expanded Retail Discount Scheme had that scheme been in force are eligible for the grant.
• Charities which would otherwise meet this criteria but whose bill for 11 March had been reduced to nil by a local discretionary award should still be considered to be eligible for the RHL grant.
• Recipients will receive one grant per eligible property

No need to do anything you’ll be contacted by HRMC if you’re eligible

MORE INFO

Council Tax Reduction (2)

You could be eligible if you’re on a low income or claim benefits. Your bill could be reduced by up to 100%. You can apply if you own your home, rent, are unemployed or working.

MORE INFO

HRMC income support scheme (4)

You can claim if you’re a self-employed individual or a member of a partnership and you:
• have submitted your Self Assessment tax return for the tax year 2018 to 2019
• traded in the tax year 2019 to 2020
• are trading when you apply, or would be except for coronavirus
• intend to continue to trade in the tax year2020 to 2021
• have lost trading profits due to coronavirus

You will need to confirm to HMRC that your business has been adversely affected by coronavirus. HMRC will as usual use a risk based approach to compliance.

Your trading profits must also be no more than £50,000 and more than half of your total income for either:
• the tax year 2018 to 2019
• the average of the tax years 2016 to 2017, 2017 to 2018, and 2018 to 2019

MORE INFO

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (6)

You’re eligible if:
• your business is based in the UK
• your business has an annual turnover of up to £45 million
• your business has a borrowing proposal which the lender would consider viable, if not for the coronavirus pandemic
• you can self-certify that your business has been adversely impacted by coronavirus

MORE INFO

Creative industry-specific Grants & Funds (8)

We've compiled a list of grants and prizes available to UK residents, which you can filter by creative industry, to make sure you're seeing grants that are relevant to your practice. We'll be doing our best to keep this list up-to-date with the latest grants and initiatives to support creatives around the UK. All grants listed are open for applications and are automatically removed after the deadline. 

If you are feeling anxious, wondering what the coronavirus crisis means for your practice, feel free to reach out to us at any time.

We’re not experts, but we’re happy to share our knowledge and to try to help you stay optimistic during these tough times. You can contact us from our website chat or on any social media.

MORE INFO

Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) (9)

The scheme helps small and medium-sized businesses to borrow between £2,000 and up to 25% of their turnover. The maximum loan available is £50,000. The government guarantees 100% of the loan and there won’t be any fees or interest to pay for the first 12 months. After 12 months the interest rate will be 2.5% a year.
You can apply for a loan if your business:
• is based in the UK was established before 1 March 2020
• has been adversely impacted by the coronavirus

MORE INFO

Universal Credit (1)

You may be able to get Universal Credit if:
• you’re on a low income or out of work
• you’re 18 or over (there are some exceptions if you’re 16 to 17)
• you’re under State Pension age
• you and your partner have £16,000 or less in savings between you
• you live in the UK

MORE INFO

Council Tax Reduction (2)

You could be eligible if you’re on a low income or claim benefits. Your bill could be reduced by up to 100%. You can apply if you own your home, rent, are unemployed or working.

MORE INFO

COVID-19 Job Retention Scheme (3)

If you have employees, you can claim for 80% of their wages plus any employer National Insurance and pension contributions, if you have put them on furlough because of coronavirus. If you have an other employment paid through PAYE your employer may be able to get support using the Job Retention Scheme.

MORE INFO



Claim back Statutory Sick Pay paid to employees due to coronavirus (3)

The repayment will cover up to 2 weeks starting from the first day of sickness, if an employee is unable to work because they either: have coronavirus, cannot work because they are self-isolating at home or are shielding in line with public health guidance.

MORE INFO

HRMC income support scheme (4)

You can claim if you’re a self-employed individual or a member of a partnership and you:
• have submitted your Self Assessment tax return for the tax year 2018 to 2019
• traded in the tax year 2019 to 2020
• are trading when you apply, or would be except for coronavirus
• intend to continue to trade in the tax year2020 to 2021
• have lost trading profits due to coronavirus

You will need to confirm to HMRC that your business has been adversely affected by coronavirus. HMRC will as usual use a risk based approach to compliance.

Your trading profits must also be no more than £50,000 and more than half of your total income for either:
• the tax year 2018 to 2019
• the average of the tax years 2016 to 2017, 2017 to 2018, and 2018 to 2019

MORE INFO

HMRC’s Time To Pay (5)

You can claim if you’re a self-employed individual or a member of a partnership and you:
• have submitted your Self Assessment tax return for the tax year 2018 to 2019
• traded in the tax year 2019 to 2020
• are trading when you apply, or would be except for coronavirus
• intend to continue to trade in the tax year 2020 to 2021
• have lost trading pro ts due to coronavirus
• your trading profits must also be no more than £50,000 and more than half of your total income

MORE INFO

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (6)

You’re eligible if:
• your business is based in the UK
• your business has an annual turnover of up to £45 million
• your business has a borrowing proposal which the lender would consider viable, if not for the coronavirus pandemic
• you can self-certify that your business has been adversely impacted by coronavirus

MORE INFO

Small Business Grant Fund (SBGF) & Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund (RHLGF) (7)

Small Business Grant Fund Eligibility:
• Businesses with a property that on the 11 March 2020 were eligible for Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR) Scheme.
• Businesses which on 11 March 2020 were eligible for relief under the Rural Rate Relief
• Scheme are also eligible for this scheme.
Eligible recipients will receive one grant per property.

Hospitality and Leisure Grand Fund Eligibility:
• Properties which on the 11 March 2020 had a rateable value of less than £51,000 and would have been eligible for a discount under the business rates
• Expanded Retail Discount Scheme had that scheme been in force are eligible for the grant.
• Charities which would otherwise meet this criteria but whose bill for 11 March had been reduced to nil by a local discretionary award should still be considered to be eligible for the RHL grant.
• Recipients will receive one grant per eligible property

No need to do anything you’ll be contacted by HRMC if you’re eligible

MORE INFO

Creative industry-specific Grants & Funds (8)

We've compiled a list of grants and prizes available to UK residents, which you can filter by creative industry, to make sure you're seeing grants that are relevant to your practice. We'll be doing our best to keep this list up-to-date with the latest grants and initiatives to support creatives around the UK. All grants listed are open for applications and are automatically removed after the deadline. 

If you are feeling anxious, wondering what the coronavirus crisis means for your practice, feel free to reach out to us at any time.

We’re not experts, but we’re happy to share our knowledge and to try to help you stay optimistic during these tough times. You can contact us from our website chat or on any social media.

MORE INFO

Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) (9)

The scheme helps small and medium-sized businesses to borrow between £2,000 and up to 25% of their turnover. The maximum loan available is £50,000. The government guarantees 100% of the loan and there won’t be any fees or interest to pay for the first 12 months. After 12 months the interest rate will be 2.5% a year.
You can apply for a loan if your business:
• is based in the UK was established before 1 March 2020
• has been adversely impacted by the coronavirus

MORE INFO

It’s not easy to make a living as a creative freelancer. The most difficult part? Finding the work, and then actually getting the job. As a creative freelancer, you start to send out messages in mass to anyone you can find, which might help you reach more potential clients. However, the reality when doing so, is that your initial point of contact is generic, and well, forgettable.


When we started SSSHAKE Productions back in 2016, we soon realised that screening profiles to find the right creative for our clients was both time consuming and just, a pain in the ass - plain and simple. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn't for a lack of quality in the applications we were receiving (we've always received amazing profiles from the community). But, the problem we were facing can be summarised in two words: generic applications. It felt as if most creatives were simply copy pasting the exact same message to all their potential clients (and probably rightly so!), with no reflection on the specific brief they received. As we started getting busier with more projects, we naturally started selecting people who were sending “quality applications” and not necessarily the best creative for the job. So what makes a quality application, you might ask? Here are our two cents on the matter:


Step 1: Make it personal

We work with entrepreneurs and creatives who are deeply passionate about their ideas and need help bringing their stories to life. So when applying to a job, always start by understanding who the client is, what their product or services are, what their idea is, and what it is they want to achieve. Remember that you're applying to work on someone's project or company, someone's baby, so it's really important you show you're listening. Use your past experience and interests to show that you not only understand the brief and the client's needs, but also that you're passionate about the subject. At the end of the day, we're all human, and we'll feel closer and more connected to someone who took the time to understand us. Consistently, applications with a personal message written specifically for the brief stand out from the rest.


“Mohamed seemed easy-going, but professional. But really, I decided to work with him, because he had previous experience in a similar subject field, having studied science. So, he had a particular interest in this specific project, compared to other applicants, and I prefer to work with people who are passionate about the project and its subject matter.“ Roman, Director of Co Writer


We've found that 90% of the jobs on the SSSHAKE platform were matched with creatives who had a genuine and direct interest in the project's subject field.


Step 2: Make it specific

Another common mistake is to send your entire website when applying to a job. From our experience, the vast majority of creatives will send out their entire portfolios. Your potential client is then left to their own means to dig through your entire website to find examples of your work that resonate with their project and needs. This is incredibly time-consuming, and after having gone through just a few applications, they're already ready to stop. So, please, for the benefit of both yourself and your potential clients, send specific examples of work that correspond to the brief, instead of your entire portfolio. Including specific work reinforces that you've understood your potential client's needs and expectations, and makes you, as a creative, but most importantly, as a human, more memorable. And if you've followed Step 1, it really shouldn't take too long, but will make your application more specific, and much stronger. You know your work. Your potential client doesn't. So just make both your lives easier and show them what they want to see.  


"After looking at all the applications, I decided to pre-select five candidates that included visual references to their work in their applications and showed the most interest in the project. It was really helpful to see the work of all my pre-selected freelancers at once, which helped me decide to work with Stephanie. Her application was really friendly and her portfolio matched the style I was looking for perfectly." Nicolas, Art Director


We found that 80% of applications on our platform without relevant examples of previous work were rejected because of a “lack of information”.


Step 3: Make it professional

Make sure to make it personal, but keep it professional. Check for any typos, broken links, etc. Remember that you're the specialist in your creative field, so be confident in your skills and the value you bring to the table. So, take the time to answer potential questions the client might have before they even ask, in regards to your experience, your rate, your equipment, or your creative process. If you have little experience but feel strongly about the project, communicate it in your message, and reflect it in your rate. On the other hand, if you have a lot of experience and quote a rate higher than average, take the time to explain the added value you're going to bring to the project. Be cautious of your overall application and keep in mind that the client doesn’t know you so the clearer you are, the better it comes across, and the more likely your potential client will give you the attention you deserve.


“When we received Jackie's application, we knew she would be the perfect match for the project - and we weren't disappointed! We needed a DOP to capture interviews for a fundraising video, and straight away, she told us that she had additional equipment for B-roll that she could bring on the day. She also mentioned her experience as a director, which eased our apprehensions in regards to the interviewees not being professional actors. So we knew she would be able to make them feel comfortable in front of the camera.” Valentine, SSSHAKE Productions



While it might feel like following these steps in writing your application makes your search for work more time-consuming, in reality, each application you send is that much more impactful, and your chances of actually getting that job are much higher. From the data we collected, quality over quantity seems to work! Let's illustrate this: if you were to send out ten generic copy-pasted applications, you might get one out of the ten jobs. But if you spend a few extra minutes to craft the perfect application for five different jobs, you might end up getting two out of the five. We'll let you decide what's worth your time.


You know your creative field and you know your work, so often, it doesn’t take more than a couple extra minutes to put together an outstanding, quality application that's going to set you apart from the pack.

Ready to join the SSSHAKE creative community?



It’s not easy to make a living as a creative freelancer. The most difficult part? Finding the work, and then actually getting the job. As a creative freelancer, you start to send out messages in mass to anyone you can find, which might help you reach more potential clients. However, the reality when doing so, is that your initial point of contact is generic, and well, forgettable.


When we started SSSHAKE Productions back in 2016, we soon realised that screening profiles to find the right creative for our clients was both time consuming and just, a pain in the ass - plain and simple. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn't for a lack of quality in the applications we were receiving (we've always received amazing profiles from the community). But, the problem we were facing can be summarised in two words: generic applications. It felt as if most creatives were simply copy pasting the exact same message to all their potential clients (and probably rightly so!), with no reflection on the specific brief they received. As we started getting busier with more projects, we naturally started selecting people who were sending “quality applications” and not necessarily the best creative for the job. So what makes a quality application, you might ask? Here are our two cents on the matter:


Step 1: Make it personal

We work with entrepreneurs and creatives who are deeply passionate about their ideas and need help bringing their stories to life. So when applying to a job, always start by understanding who the client is, what their product or services are, what their idea is, and what it is they want to achieve. Remember that you're applying to work on someone's project or company, someone's baby, so it's really important you show you're listening. Use your past experience and interests to show that you not only understand the brief and the client's needs, but also that you're passionate about the subject. At the end of the day, we're all human, and we'll feel closer and more connected to someone who took the time to understand us. Consistently, applications with a personal message written specifically for the brief stand out from the rest.


“Mohamed seemed easy-going, but professional. But really, I decided to work with him, because he had previous experience in a similar subject field, having studied science. So, he had a particular interest in this specific project, compared to other applicants, and I prefer to work with people who are passionate about the project and its subject matter.“ Roman, Director of Co Writer


We've found that 90% of the jobs on the SSSHAKE platform were matched with creatives who had a genuine and direct interest in the project's subject field.


Step 2: Make it specific

Another common mistake is to send your entire website when applying to a job. From our experience, the vast majority of creatives will send out their entire portfolios. Your potential client is then left to their own means to dig through your entire website to find examples of your work that resonate with their project and needs. This is incredibly time-consuming, and after having gone through just a few applications, they're already ready to stop. So, please, for the benefit of both yourself and your potential clients, send specific examples of work that correspond to the brief, instead of your entire portfolio. Including specific work reinforces that you've understood your potential client's needs and expectations, and makes you, as a creative, but most importantly, as a human, more memorable. And if you've followed Step 1, it really shouldn't take too long, but will make your application more specific, and much stronger. You know your work. Your potential client doesn't. So just make both your lives easier and show them what they want to see.  


"After looking at all the applications, I decided to pre-select five candidates that included visual references to their work in their applications and showed the most interest in the project. It was really helpful to see the work of all my pre-selected freelancers at once, which helped me decide to work with Stephanie. Her application was really friendly and her portfolio matched the style I was looking for perfectly." Nicolas, Art Director


We found that 80% of applications on our platform without relevant examples of previous work were rejected because of a “lack of information”.


Step 3: Make it professional

Make sure to make it personal, but keep it professional. Check for any typos, broken links, etc. Remember that you're the specialist in your creative field, so be confident in your skills and the value you bring to the table. So, take the time to answer potential questions the client might have before they even ask, in regards to your experience, your rate, your equipment, or your creative process. If you have little experience but feel strongly about the project, communicate it in your message, and reflect it in your rate. On the other hand, if you have a lot of experience and quote a rate higher than average, take the time to explain the added value you're going to bring to the project. Be cautious of your overall application and keep in mind that the client doesn’t know you so the clearer you are, the better it comes across, and the more likely your potential client will give you the attention you deserve.


“When we received Jackie's application, we knew she would be the perfect match for the project - and we weren't disappointed! We needed a DOP to capture interviews for a fundraising video, and straight away, she told us that she had additional equipment for B-roll that she could bring on the day. She also mentioned her experience as a director, which eased our apprehensions in regards to the interviewees not being professional actors. So we knew she would be able to make them feel comfortable in front of the camera.” Valentine, SSSHAKE Productions



While it might feel like following these steps in writing your application makes your search for work more time-consuming, in reality, each application you send is that much more impactful, and your chances of actually getting that job are much higher. From the data we collected, quality over quantity seems to work! Let's illustrate this: if you were to send out ten generic copy-pasted applications, you might get one out of the ten jobs. But if you spend a few extra minutes to craft the perfect application for five different jobs, you might end up getting two out of the five. We'll let you decide what's worth your time.


You know your creative field and you know your work, so often, it doesn’t take more than a couple extra minutes to put together an outstanding, quality application that's going to set you apart from the pack.

Ready to join the SSSHAKE creative community?



A green house with clothes hanging on its doorframe and windows, parked motorcycles outside and the photographer’s shadow in the Dominican Republic
A mother calling her child from outside their home in the Dominican Republic during COVID-19
A pack of cigarettes and a lighted by the edge of a pool in the Dominican Republic during COVID-19
Hands holding a cup of coffee and a cigarette, with the body of a policeman in the background and a child sitting with an umbrella covering his face
A light brown dog on a black seat in the Dominican Republic during COVID-19
Two people crossing a residential street in the Dominican Republic, with a mountain at the end of the road
A man crossing a main road overlooking the ocean, lined with tall palm trees in the Dominican Republic during COVID-19
A man wearing red in the middle of a vast blue ocean in the Dominican Republic during COVID-19
A man on a parked motorcycle, looking straight into the camera, waving, in front of a truck in the Dominican Republic.
A person on their terrace behind a metal gate with a flock of pigeons in front of their house in the Dominican Republic
An abstract view of a yellow building and blue satellite dishes in the Dominican Republic during COVID-19
The entrance to an emergency room with two men around motorcycles in front of the building and a man sat on a bench waiting during COVID-19
A member from a private police force in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, from the back, dressed in military style clothing during COVID-19
A deformed shadow of a person smoking a cigarette and taking a selfie in the Dominican Republic during COVID-19
A yellow corridor with a staircase barred off by emergency tape and a printed sign reading “Atencion" about COVID-19 in the Dominican Republic
View from above of a yellow shopping basket filled with packaged food in the Dominican Republic during COVID-19
View from the top of thirteen dominoes on a ledge, with leaves coming out from behind the railing in the Dominican Republic during COVID-19
Blue and white wall with window in the middle, and a red and yellow fire hydrant below the window in the Dominican Republic
An old tyre with an empty water bottle in the middle, in a green garden, with a sign reading “No tired basura”, translating to “Don't throw trash”
A street in the Dominican Republic showing a row of colourful shops and homes and telephone lines taking over the sky
A white house with a terracotta roof, with palm trees moving in the wind in the background in the Dominican Republic
A fire truck marked “Bomberos" parked on the side of the road with a guy on a motorcycle passing by on its right
The front of a yellow house in the Dominican Republic, with a white door and one white window
View from above of a hand wearing a black glove, smoking a cigarette in the Dominican Republic during the COVID-19 crisis
View of the sky from the window of a plane going to the Dominican Republic

BOOKS

MOVIES

And finally, if you can, donate, sign and share - it can go a long way. Here are links to relevant charities and petitions (donating if you can, or signing and sharing petitions is great immediate help).

BLACK LIVES MATTER, TODAY AND ALWAYS.

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