As a freelancer or someone looking to get their first full time position in the audio industry, job searching seems like a never-ending road. 

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Over the years I have developed a few ways to search that have helped streamline the whole process.

Straight away I will say that I don’t think you should ever have to pay to get access to job opportunities. There are sites out there that have a subscription model, when you pay you can apply. Unfair but just my opinion, I will run through some of the free ways to find opportunities.

Google’s exact phrase match

One of my favourite and most successful methods is using Google’s exact phrase match. This simply means when searching in Google put your search phrase in quotation marks, so ”Sound Designer” for example, this will pick up “Sound Designer” wanted, “Sound Designer” job etc… When you first do this there will be a lot of results and mainly stuff that is pointless to your goal, but you can immediately trim this down by searching for results from the last month only under the ‘Tools’ tab. Take some time to search the results, this may seem laborious but once you’re on top of a certain search phrase you only need to look at the results (a few pages) from the last 24 hours if you check daily.  Over the course of a month you will be surprised how many opportunities arise.

If you wanted to you can also turn this search into a Google alert, but you will probably want to tweak the search phrase a little to prevent an over-flowing inbox.

Sites for freelance jobs

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I’m sure many of you are aware of sites where clients post jobs and freelancers pitch for them. Many of these require upfront payment (we know what we think about that), but over the years I’ve had good success getting work via Upwork. Now I am in no way affiliated with them but as a system for getting work I think it’s great. 

The free account is all you need and they take a small fee when you get paid, the hard bit is getting your first few jobs. 

That’s a whole article in itself, luckily plenty of people have covered this, here’s an example of one article (there are many out there).  I’ve a number of clients that I gained via Upwork who are now regulars outside of the Upwork system.

Work for free…Yes or Not?

There’s a big question that’s always popping up “Is it ok to work for free?” My direct answer to this is yes, but it’s a yes with a number of clauses. Whether you’re just finishing a university degree or a few years into your career, that’s a lot of time and finances you’ve invested, don’t undervalue this. 

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First of all working for free should be 100% initiated by you. For example if a client comes to you and says:

“I like your work, we have this great project but no budget. Can you do it for free?” – “No” is the answer.

This also applies, in my opinion, with internships. Now I don’t mean getting a full salary whilst on an internship, but at the very least you should be getting your travel expenses covered. If the company has enough of a workload to be able to take on an intern, then believe me they have enough money to cover your costs. Working for free is acceptable when you have sought out a project that you really like the look of and pitched yourself offering to work for free. You would generally do this when the project is of a standard that will boost your portfolio, I have done this previously and still do. 

Try on Kickstarter!

On the topic of finding cool projects to pitch yourself to, I like to keep my eye on Kickstarter. I regularly check what animation projects are looking for funding, I contact the ones that really excite me and try to open a dialogue.

To conclude…

So in summary, keeping on top of your searches will turn a massive chore into a fifteen-minute exercise.

– Fine tune your search terms over time to really optimise your results.

– Don’t just rely on one search method, keep going with several methods/platforms to maximise your chances.

Stick at it, sometime you feel like the end is out of reach, but a positive attitude will go a long way.

There will be more to come in the next article where we cover routes into the industry! 


If you have any questions please visit Groundbird/feedback for more details. Or put in my email feedback@groundbird.tvwhich ever option you feel will yield the least amount of spam;)

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Andy Thomson

Andy Thomson

Sound Designer/ Career Service Advisor at GroundBIRD
Andy is a Sheffield based sound designer.  Having managed music licensing companies, been at the head of record labels and toured with theatre shows he now runs GroundBIRD, a studio producing sound design for animation.  With wide ranging experiences across the audio industry he has a real passion for helping others get a start and dishing out advice, whether you want it or not...
Andy Thomson


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