Whether freelancing is your full-time gig or side hustle, it is a hard way to earn a buck.

Andy Cox has been a location scout freelancer since he graduated from East Carolina University 20 years ago. He is one of about six location scouts in Charlotte. His job is to find a private home or business for the location of a TV commercial or print ad. Production companies and photographers hire him for his expertise in locating the perfect backdrop for their work.

Cox has done occasional work for television shows and movies like “Talladega Nights” and “Homeland”, but his niche is in TV commercials. His most notable clients are CPI Security (yes, he’s met Luke), Bojangles’, and the two hospital systems.

Cox has managed his freelance business using these three tricks:

(1) Persevere through the tough times.

Cox has been patient in building his business. He also believes in what he does.

“When I first started, I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to get enough work,” Cox said. “I’d get a call here, a call there. I persevered; I stuck with it. By six months in, I was getting enough work that I knew I’d make it.”

Cox uses his perseverance to find new locations. Although he has more than 100 sites in his files, he is always on the lookout for another place for his clients to shoot an ad. He makes “cold calls” at private homes and businesses – introducing himself and explaining to people what he does and how their home or business might be a suitable location for a commercial or print ad.

Filming outside Gem Theater in Kannapolis

He likes the face-to-face interaction, handing them a business card and looking them in the eye.

“They sense that I am not there for any other reason than what I say I am there for,” Cox said.

(2) Focus on what you do well.

Cox overcame occupational burnout that came early in his career. He slowed his work significantly for a few years.

“I learned to temper my frustrations, put less pressure on myself, and it has paid off,” Cox said.

He is focused on doing what he does well, better.

(3) Build your network.

When Cox first started, Boulevard Films gave him his first freelance job with a Bojangles’ commercial, but he knew he could not rely on one company to supply him with work all month long. He had to meet more people through networking.

“Every field networks differently,” he said. “Knowing what that is will help you get your name out, meet people and get you recommended for other jobs.”

Filming in downtown Asheville

If you work behind the scenes and on your own, networking may have to be more intentional through meet-up groups, classes, entrepreneur organizations, or online supports.

Photos: Andy Cox