Everything you need to know for compliant contracting of AV Freelancers.

How to Find AV Freelance Talent in a Competitive Market

Posted by Gabe Solomon on Dec 15, 2023 8:00:00 AM

The market for talented freelancers is more competitive than ever before. The best and most skilled freelance talent is in high demand and what was already a competitive industry has turned into one that’s beyond challenging for live event companies. If you want to work with top freelancers, you need to understand what will attract them and make them want to work with you.

At Mertzcrew, we understand what live event production requires and we’ve created an AV freelancer management solution that can help your live event company succeed. Your goal is to create a mutually beneficial business relationship with the most valuable talent available to ensure that your live events are as spectacular as your clients want them to be. Here’s our guide to how to find freelancers in a time of high market demand and intense competition. 

Great vs. Good: Who Should You Contract?

When you look for a freelance audio-visual technician, you may be thinking about several factors including expertise and cost. A lot of live event companies make mistakes when engaging freelancers, so here’s what you need to know about how to find talent that’s suited to your needs.

What’s the Difference Between a Great Freelancer and a Good One?

Let’s start with the difference between a great freelancer and a good freelancer. A great freelancer is an independent contractor but they’re not in a position of needing to look for work in most cases. Why? Because they’re already fully booked! That doesn’t mean you can’t approach them or work with them for future events, but it does mean you’ll need to use different tactics than you would for a good freelancer.

A good freelancer is someone who has enough experience to provide you with what you need for a successful event. They won’t have the same experience and expertise as a great freelancer, but they’re going to be skilled enough to be worth contracting. A good freelancer may turn into a great freelancer with time.

The takeaway here is that in many cases, you’ll be better off contracting good freelancers and developing relationships with them than you will be trying to attract great freelancers in a competitive market

How to Cultivate Relationships with Freelancers

If you want to work with great freelancers, you’ll need to build relationships with them first. They’re unlikely to have immediate availability and may be unwilling to contract with you until they know more about your company and what it’s like to be on your crew. You can and should cultivate relationships with freelancers with an eye toward contracting them in the future.

The best AV companies understand that it’s worthwhile to identify freelancers who are a good fit for their company culture and contract with them for future events. The more you work with them, the more they’ll be able to hone their skills and learn how your team likes to execute live events. 

Here are a few specific pointers to help you cultivate relationships and build a pool of reliable and skilled AV techs to work with you on future events:

  • Don’t skimp on pay. Freelancers must pay all of their own payroll taxes and insurance. Their rates are high for a reason and you should remember that they’re responsible for overhead costs that you would pay if you used full-time employees to do the same work.
  • Make communication a priority. Using freelancer management software like Mertzcrew means that you’ll have centralized communication that keeps everybody in your crew in the loop during live events. You’ll minimize the risk of misunderstandings and keep your events running smoothly, while also letting freelancers know that you’ll communicate when it matters.
  • Put time into training freelancers. You may not be able to work with great freelancers every time, but good freelancers can turn into great ones. When you find someone who’s got enough skill and experience to work for you while benefiting from additional training, you can provide it by contracting them again. Someone who’s on the rise as a freelancer can turn into a fantastic freelancer—and someone who’s in your talent pool instead of your competitor’s.
  • Create a company culture that welcomes freelancers. Freelancers might appreciate the flexibility of working for themselves, but they also love it when live event companies make them feel welcome. When you let them know they’re an important part of the team, they’ll want to work for you again. A perk of this approach is that you’ll encourage the freelancers you engage to share ideas that can transform your live events into memorable experiences that will wow your clients.
  • Respect freelancers. This one should go without saying but it’s important. Many freelancers choose to work for themselves because they want the flexibility to take jobs they like. You’ll need to respect their choices and be flexible with freelancers if you want them to work with your company on an ongoing basis.

This type of cultivation means that you’ll be helping good freelancers grow into great ones—and when they reach that level, you’ll have a solid and ongoing relationship with them to ensure that you can work with them again.

Where Do You Find Valuable Freelancers?

In a limited market, it can be difficult to find the right audiovisual freelancers for your live events. There are several ways to go about it, including the following:

  • Get referrals. Your employees or some of the freelancers you work with may know skilled freelancers from other jobs. Referrals are a cost-effective way to find the freelancers you need since you won’t have to spend time or money identifying and contracting them.
  • Use freelancer management software. Mertzcrew’s clients get access to our extensive database of skilled AV tech freelancers. That means if you’re planning a live event in a new city or a larger-than-usual event near home, you can use our database to identify and contract the best freelancers available.
  • Build relationships. As we’ve mentioned, one of the best ways to be sure that you’ll have the AV freelance talent you need is to cultivate relationships with freelancers, so they’ll want to work with you in the future.

One of the most important things that you can do as a live event company is to build and maintain good relationships with the freelancers who work your events. Doing so will eliminate much of the stress, time, and money involved in finding the right freelancers.

Why Is It Challenging to Find Great Freelancers in the Market Right Now?

In a competitive market, it’s difficult for everybody to find and contract the best people. There are several factors that can make it challenging to find and engage great freelancers.

The first factor is that as of 2023, unemployment numbers are low. Most people who want a job have one. Freelancers may be booked for months, making scheduling them challenging. You’ll need to make your offers enticing and worthwhile to attract the best freelancers.

Another factor is that great freelancers are in a position to pick plum assignments, working only on the events they want to work on. You’ll need to keep that in mind, because if you’re not offering competitive pay and a positive experience, they’ll take their skills elsewhere.

The key thing to remember is that freelancers have flexibility that employees don’t. They’re in demand and thus, in a position to charge what they want and contract only with the best live event companies. Your job is to make your company as attractive as possible, and that may mean increasing your prices and spending some of your marketing budget to attract AV freelancers.

How Can You Attract and Retain AV Freelance Talent in a Competitive Market?

There are some tactics you can use to attract AV freelance talent and retain it, so you can be sure that you have access to the talent you need, when you need it:

  • Remember that you need skilled AV techs more than they need you. They’re in demand and you’re not, and it’s important to have the right mindset.
  • As inflation and costs rise, so will freelancer rates. You may need to increase your prices to keep up with freelancers’ expectations.
  • Allocate some of your marketing budget to attracting and contracting freelancers. This tactic is related to your recognition that freelancers are in demand.
  • Cultivate a pool of reliable, vetted freelancers that you know can do the quality work you want and who match your company’s values.
  • Use AV freelancer management software to ensure compliance and facilitate communication between you and your freelancers.
  • Treat freelancers with respect and make sure they know that they’re an important part of your team. Building connections increases the likelihood of freelancers wanting to work with you again. 

In a competitive market, it’s your job to differentiate yourself from your competitors, something that will help you attract potential clients and skilled, reliable freelancers at the same time. 

Find AV Freelance Talent with Mertzcrew

When the market is competitive and access to the best AV freelancers is limited, you’ll need to put resources into differentiating your company from the competition and making it as attractive as possible to freelancers. You’ll need to pay fair rates, respect freelancers, and do the work of cultivating relationships with them. Using crew management software can help you to maintain those relationships and always have access to a diverse pool of talented AV techs.

Are you looking for freelancer management software to help you attract and engage the best AV freelancer talent? Mertzcrew is the solution you need! Click here to read about the data-backed benefits of working with freelancers—and then, set up your free demo!

Topics: Contracting AV Techs, AV Techs, AV Teams