FreeWheelin’ – The Start

July 14, 2021| Freewheelin'|12 Minutes|By Mike Tesselaar

Hi there, my name is Mike Tesselaar (short: MiTe) and I’ll be taking you with me on my adventure as a fulltime freelancer in the FreeWheelin’ blog series! To get to know me better, I have a bit of backstory for you.

Backstory

About two weeks ago, I decided to quit my office job as a Sales Engineer. A big jump, and one I didn’t see coming until a few months in the past. But I’ll come back to this a little further down.

 

Study and photography spark

I originally studied Technical Business Engineering where I learned to improve processes all across the business. Interesting, and definitely something I was good at, yet I couldn’t find my place like others could. During internships at places and professions I always lost motivation about three months in. I blamed the nature of internships at the time and hoped for better times.

For my thesis I decided to move to Melbourne (Australia) for 5 months, never knowing I would be away from home for 13. After finishing my thesis and graduating, I decided to stay and work/travel. I was in Australia with a one-year visa anyway, right? After spending 11 months in Australia I took a flight to New Zealand to continue my travels.

New Zealand is where my “photography spark” started. After meeting a Swede (Isak), who was carrying a fullframe camera, I got really interested in the science behind of it. I still remember him saying a prime lens doesn’t zoom and has a fast aperture. Man, I had no clue whatsoever. Although I always had a camera (beginner APS-C model) which I used during travels, I never intensively used it and rarely took it of the automatic modes. I always had a way of framing things and finding compositions but that’s all there was.
Something I was good at, however, was dronephotography, which I did for more than a year by this point in time. So Isak and I decided to learn from eachother and make our New Zealand travel into a photography trip.

Coming home

After 13 months of traveling I returned home. No study, no job, barely any money left in the bank. And to top it off, the COVID-19 lockdown started one week after my arrival… Coming down from my travel high was extremely hard and my enthusiasm was smashed into pieces. I couldn’t even see my friends to get me through it.

In the months after I looked for a job that fitted my study, which I found eventually. One thing was certain, I still wanted to grow and look around whilst working. So I took a job for 20 hours a week. In the remaining time I started another study for Web Design and a course for Freelance Photography. After a while I locked in a 28 hour contract and started doing some marketing and photography for my aforementioned job, as well as revamping their website. At this time, I started to notice these activities were the only ones keeping me exited and actually gave me energy instead of coming home tired.

Start of Mite Visuals

I ended up starting Mite Visuals in September 2020 after a small number of events. A few months prior, my dronephotography of The Netherlands in lockdown was highlighted by the local newspaper. This created a small domino-effect. Eventually, a local tourism board contacted me for drone images, but they needed me to be a company to be able to buy legally. This project was worth the trouble, so I started Mite Visuals.

I still wasn’t convinced I should be running a business (not even to start about fulltime) and was pretty insecure about it. Surely my pictures were good, and I knew a lot about business because of my studies, yet I couldn’t imagine a future yet.

About half a year later, I was doing photoshoots for local authorities, started filming some projects, illustrated logo designs, created a 3D-tour and reached 1.000+ followers on platforms like Instagram, 500px, Skypixel and Agora. I learned quick due to my interests, and my reputation as photographer, or visualizer as I like to call it, started to expand. Not enough to keep me busy all day, or to make enough money, but enough to build a strong basis. By this time, I already had my website online (which I was able to design myself due to the study) and launched a print store too. I gained more and more experience and confidence.

By the spring of 2021 I bumped into some issues. Working 28 hours a week on the office (where I couldn’t find my place) and having enough time for projects and development of my company turned out to be harder and harder. I had to make a choice. As I was still living at home, and having no other obligations, I decided it was time to make a move. Throw myself into the deep for a while, maybe a year or so, and evaluate afterwards to see if I reached the potential. If you never try, you’ll never know.

So I stated fulltime FreeWheelin’ at the start of July 2021. All caught up now, right?

What’s next?

Currently I’m experimenting, following online courses and trying to get in touch with companies for the time to come. I’ve had the wish to go back to do travel photography since I came back home, much like I did in New Zealand (only paid this time around). This will be something I’ll be actively searching for to fill in part of my time. Moreover, I really enjoy making some artwork. I might find a way to sell these when my name gets out there more.

I don’t expect my company to take off within months but I hope I can build it to be lasting and profitable. So I can be the best me you’ll ever see.

 

Freewheelin’

Finally, I would like to share some of my progressions throughout the months or even years by making this personal blog. I hope to be able to inspire you with my “road to”: my progression, roadblocks, successes and things I’ve learned. To me, writing about this helps me a lot to calm the mind. I really hope you can learn from it too.

Overview

I finished my first weeks as freelancer. The amount of work wasn’t to much, but I finally got some time to relax and enjoy the summer, being able to put some thoughts into process. It feels good to have some time on my hands. Hardest change so far is to create for myself instead of for someone else. Like this blog, or a set of photo’s not related to a project. I have to get used to think and create before people ask, or just for myself to grow.

With the money earned last month, I was able to extend my lens range with a 70-200 F4 of Canon. Can’t express how happy I am with it, as I like to have zooming range and always came in short.

To make sure I still have an income, I’ll be working in hospitality for 2 days in a week on freelance basis. When work starts to get busy, I can easily quit this way.

Successes:

After spending more than a year on DJI’s (world largest drone manufacturer) community website Skypixel, I received “creator status”. This means I get special assignments and get additional exposure by official DJI mediums like Instagram and potentially even campaigns. To further my career in dronephotography, this means the world to me. I hope this is the start of more collaborations and ambassador opportunities.

Moreover, I’ve been in touch with several family members that work in webdesign or design in general. As design and visuals like photography often go hand-in-hand, we’ll help eachother find potential clients by doing our own work.

Roadblocks:

Obviously there are going to be roadblocks. The main struggle right now is to get myself and my name out there, getting assignments and learning new things. Also, the summer creates a small gap in the activities of many companies. I hope this clears up a bit after a month or two.

Upcoming:

Upcoming month I’ll be actively searching for job opportunities and throwing my name around locally. I’ll keep working on my online appearance and keep creating different things to see what works and sticks around. A promo video for my own work is also on the table to create.

Wish me luck and hope to talk to you soon again!

Cheers, Mike