About 8 hours into a 17.5-hour car ride (one way), we had run out of all the superficial to talk about. So, I asked Caleb Copeland how in the world he got started in the film industry. See, we didn’t know each other when we decided to take this wild opportunity to drive to Nebraska and hunt turkeys with no other real plans. No place to hunt, no place to sleep, and a heard full of optimism (which may not be the smartest approach). See the full-length video here on our facebook page. Give the page a like too while you’re there!
As we continued talking about his start, we got into the nooks and crannies that every entrepreneur goes through. Turns out, it’s very similar to how we all start into anything new- full of fear and self-doubt. But as with anything, if it doesn’t scare you a little, it’s probably not important enough!
Caleb is considered one of the VERY BEST in the business of outdoor videography and photography. He is an outdoor filmmaker with almost 9 years in Television and hunting content experience. He has worked on some of the best show and biggest names in the outdoor business including Jeff Foxworthy, Lee and Tiffany Lakosky, as well as country music singer Craig Morgan and John Dudley of Nock On TV. He is also the host of the Redneck Tech podcast, which focuses on how to get better at creating outdoor related content as well as running your own production company. Being outside and creating compelling content in the hunting world is what he lives for. On this fist of many guest blogs, Caleb opens up a little bit about how he got started. Read on…
Caleb Copeland – Copeland Creative
I assume most of you out there were a lot like me when you went to college. You had no idea what you wanted to do for a living once college life was over. I was playing baseball throughout my college days, and that was the only thing I focused on. A business degree seemed logical for me since I knew that would be diverse enough to do just about anything, but when I signed up for business school, it was intending to work for someone else. I hadn’t thought of owning my own, but here we are.
Right out of college, I worked in IT for a company called Kingdom Technology. I was not at all qualified (that is going to be a common theme). I did that for about two years until a new owner came into the mix, and we just didn’t get along. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. I reached out to a friend of a friend about a hunting show idea that I had from watching lots of outdoor content, and he loved the idea. During this entire time in college and while I worked in IT, I had been filming some hunts and traveling around trying to get some experience. I did this for about three years in total just to try and get my name out there. I spent literally three years learning the business before I ever charged anyone. I used it as a way to network and sharpen those skills, and thank God I did.
The show idea I had got picked up by a production company, and low and behold, they wanted to hire me to help on the project. I was going to get to film outdoor tv! I couldn’t believe it! This was a dream job. So I went to work for a big outdoor production house. I learned more in 3 months there then I did in 3 years of doing it on my own. There is something to be said for people that are good at what they do and taking the time to teach and mold you. I think the reason I learned so quickly was that I loved it, I was teachable, and I was willing to make mistakes and learn from them.
The Big Break
After being there for 5 years and learning everything I needed to know on the technical side of production and also learning what not to do in business (this is a whole other story), I decided I wanted to do my own thing. I saw a need for more web-based content, content creation, social media marketing, and things outside the scope of TV, so I made the leap of faith that all entrepreneurs must take. It scared me to death to leave a salaried job that I loved, with several guys that I still miss to this day, but it’s the best move I ever made. I am blessed to have awesome clients, do what I love, create content I am passionate about, and make a dang good living doing it.
The Secret Sauce
If you ask me what the secret sauce is to running your own business, I would have to say there are two things. The first is being good at everything, not just great at one or two skills. I can run a camera, edit, produce, take photos, etc. I am good at all aspects of my company, so I get more work that way. No matter what the business venture is, work to be good at all aspects of it, and if you aren’t, hire someone who is. Hire someone smarter than you. The first thing that sets businesses apart now is communication. Do not be the company or person no one can get on the phone. Don’t be the company that takes 3-4 days to reply to an email, does not answer their phone, or reply to a text. Be the company your clients can always get in touch with. Make yourself available, it will pay you back in dividends.
My name is Caleb Copeland, and I own and operate Copeland Creative. We are a full-service production house based out of Dahlonega, GA, but we travel all over the world to create content. We are by no means the biggest or the best….but give us a little time and we will surprise you.
As you all can see here, there are a few themes that run through this that we can all take away. Answer the phone. Be available. Always be learning how to do more. Push yourself out of your comfort zone. Spend time sharpening your saw or working on your craft. Have a vision and a goal of where you want to be and work like hell, sometimes for free, to get there.
This is one of many AMAZING entrepreneur stories that we are all connected to. Want to share yours? Please reach out and let me know!
GO, DO, and GROW!