Who Buys What?
Every freelancer should understand his or her industry, and that means first understanding who their customers are. A customer is someone who makes a purchase. It may also be the end user of whatever it is we sell, but not always.
For instance in the voice over & dubbing world, there are many types of agencies that don’t use a voice actor’s services but instead resell it to the end user (or to another intermediary). At the same time, some end users – such as a company wishing to produce a promotional video – do not want to work directly with voice actors and are therefore not my customers. I sometimes do work with the end user though, which usually implies better margins (no middlemen, more leeway during negotiations…), really interesting work (because I have a direct impact) and the possibility to be recommended in case everything went well.
Being able to list customer types for a given activity may seem simple at first, but the rules aren’t usually set in stone and it may be necessary to contact and ask certain end users of our products and services how they purchase it.
Again, in the voice world, video-games are a typical example of this; we find massive companies that cast and record internally (a friend of mine worked on Battlefield 4 directly at DICE’s office in Stockholm), very small developers whose budget doesn’t allow for professional voice artists, middle-sized projects that outsource the whole thing to agencies, etc.
Another key element is that a deep study of one’s industry’s supply chain followed by moving beyond the obvious may lead to uncovering lesser-known buyers. Needless to say, it’s much easier to acquire new customers when we’re the only ones talking to them compared to competing with 50 other freelancers all targeting the same job offer.