We had the good fortune of connecting with Brian Levin and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Brian, what is the most important factor behind your success?
One of the things that I’m most proud of is that I’ve been able to be successful without doing any marketing. All of my success is word of mouth and repeat clients. I believe that being a valuable asset to your clients is an important part of retaining clients. Finding a good vendor is hard when you are client side, so if you do find a good vendor, you stick with them.
I have a few brand specific things I do with clients that I believe is helpful, these are all very small but I believe it helps differentiate me from other vendors. First, when I write emails I always include the name of the job we are doing in the subject line and use two “//” to separate the job from the subject heading. This way it makes that job or that email easily searchable. Next, when I send client drafts for review, I always include a few bullet points explaining the changes both as a reminder of what they had asked for in their feedback, but also to set expectations. If you overpromise and underdeliver, clients tend to be unhappy, but if you are up front about what you can deliver and make it clear that that promise has been kept in this next draft, clients tend to be more understanding of the process of revisions.
Finally, I try to put clients on the phone or Zoom more than on email, instead of bouncing around 100 emails, I try to schedule a call to go over important details. You can be a lot more conversational on a call and not feel like you are misreading the tone of an email. Sometimes when a client says “this is bad” in an email but then explains why it’s bad on a call, you realize the solution is as simple as swapping this shot and not needing to rethink you entire scene.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I began as a filmmaker in college in Chicago and for many years I was spending most of my time as a cinematographer. After finding work in post production and eventually in motion graphics, I discovered that I had a passion for editing and pursued that career path instead.
After a handful of changes in life and career, moving to Los Angeles, and starting my own post production business, I’m not successfully servicing clients as an editor and loving every minute of it. Though my business is very client-centric, I do enjoy the ability to be making creative choices day in and day out, and always try to find ways to bring my own editing sensibilities into the work that I do.
Getting here was not easy, many false starts and nearly a decade of dwindling freelance work never gave me the confidence to be fully freelance until I was left without a choice and without a full time job. However, once I began really pushing ahead with my existing clients and asking for more work, the doors opened and I continue to work with many of my day 1 clients to this day.
One thing I’ve learned is that business and creativity do not always merge, and that’s okay. Sometimes you do have to run the business, and sometimes you have to step away from the business and be a creative. Balancing the two is extremely complicated as it requires two totally different mindsets, and while it’s not easy to operate in both roles, I’m learning daily how to balance.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I’d take a friend to Disneyland, how many people get an entire Disney theme park less than an hour away from their home?!
Definitely going on hikes almost daily, I like challenging hikes, so Wildwood, Wisdom Tree and Runyon are on the list, but you also have to do the ocean hikes for the views, and the Angeles National Forest hikes for the trees (and the shade on hotter days).
I’ve taken plenty of visitors to all of the overlooks at golden hour, Griffith Observatory, Santa Monica Pier, Venice Beach, the Walk of Fame.
Foodwise I don’t know… I come from Chicago, I come from a food town and unfortunately for me Los Angeles can’t compete.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I have a wealth of past experiences that I draw upon, there isn’t one singular person who has sculpted my thoughts on business. I find inspiration in all of my prior experiences both good and bad, and use those to help make hopefully positive changes to my success.