Blake Drummond, a New Jersey native and long-time Manhattan resident, spent most of his career putting out fires in the high-stress, detail-oriented, get-it-done-yesterday world of TV production (30 ROCK, UGLY BETTY, WHITE COLLAR). When his last job got cancelled (MADE IN JERSEY), he seized the opportunity to become his own boss, and that begat Diagonal Media (DGNL), the content creation company he now runs in NYC. The offerings: branded video production, original web series, graphic design, website content and blogging, social media, and more.
However, the devil offered one more fork in the road before Blake was finally free at last: his entrepreneurial dream vs. a full-time job. A maddening choice. Yep, here’s yet another door opening: a producer called him with a job offer for a production gig on a new network show, with all the sweet honey that comes with it: steady salary, health bennies, 401(k), and union stuffings. He thought about it, all right, but all the security in the world did not make Blake feel secure, so instead he took the road not taken.
How Blake built a client base and gathered experience: volunteering. He bought a camera and checked out Craigslist. Before long, he had gigs: a volunteer choir in Midtown, band promo videos, audition tapes for piano recitals at Juilliard, a wedding shoot in Connecticut ($250, including editing). He had a mentor too – cameraman and video editor Ed Caraballo – who shared some mad skills.
Suddenly, Blake was in demand, and not just because he was good, and he was. It was also because video had exploded onto social media. Every businessperson learned quickly: include video in your marketing mix or get left in the dust.
From here, the story moves faster, so try to keep up: Blake travels for jobs in Vegas and France. He’s pitching series and documentaries. He’s hiring subcontractors to help him with the work overload.
It’s only with this momentum that he can now have a clearer vision of how his company can grow: content creation. This includes brand awareness, vlogs, animation, graphics, viral videos, tweets, Pinterest, LinkedIn posts, Facebook Live, and 360-degree tour videos.
What he’s generating: “bespoke” content (Blake loves that word, “bespoke,” which means anything commissioned to a particular specification, tailored to the taste of the client). The ultimate goal: delivering recognition and eyeballs; in short, bringing it.
Does he miss the old 9-5? Are you freaking kidding? He makes his own schedules, works from home or remotely, and spends more time with his boyfriend, who is a graphic designer and also involved in the biz. Sure, it’s endless work, but a more enriching reward, and a much higher quality of life.
Some entrepreneurial words of wisdom shared by Blake:
Have faith. Blake knows that if he didn’t have the faith to keep on going, he would have failed. This cannot be emphasized enough.
Trust yourself, and trust in the vision. Other people share the vision when you talk about it and communicate it to people.
Don’t run your business alone. At a certain point, you have to start delegating and diversifying. You have to reach out and ask for help. If someone can help you grow your business, be open to a plan that benefits both of you. More people, more connections -- it’s all about networking.
Opportunity presents itself. It can come out of nowhere, and often be immediate. And, in most cases, the opportunity is actually better than the one that may have escaped your grasp. It’s more than just “when one door closes, another opens;” it’s a more fabulous door.