Pretty much summed it up.
Good portfolio and website is key obviously, below is an excerpt from Phillip Blooms Blog who if you don't know is a great cinematographer. Read through all of these very carefully, they are on point especially #2 and #9.
1: So, number one is: There are no top ten steps, and if someone tells you otherwise they are talking bollocks. There are COUNTLESS things you need to do to succeed. I will go through some of them based on personal experience.
2: The work will not come to you. Getting the big break while sitting around waiting is about as likely as winning the lottery. No matter how well your student film from film school was received, Adidas is NOT going to call you up to make their next spot. You will need to put in a lot of hard graft. Getting your name out there may never happen. I know countless talented directors and writers who are not doing what they should be doing, as there simply is not enough work in that field to support their families. They make corporate films, anything to bring in the money.
3: Donít be a snob. Very little is beneath you. Even though you shot some fancy short film on the Epic last week, if someone offers you a gig to film a corporate event then unless you are rolling in cash take it. Why? Itís money. Money pays the bills, rather important. Also this client may be giving you a crappy job today, but next week may offer you something super cool. Act like the job is beneath you, and that 1 week in the Seychelles they were going to offer will go to someone else with less attitude.
4: ALWAYS give every single job your everything. Look at those wedding filmmakers. A potentially soul-destroying way of making a living in this business due to repetition and the damn hard work needed. But by making every one better than the last, your reputation will grow as will your skills as a filmmaker. Anyone can go and shoot a beauty film of the Alps. Not everyone can make a small, dull wedding into a beautiful film. That is talent and much of that can be learned. This can be applied to anything! Make that corporate film of the manufacture of ball cocks for toilets the greatest thing ever. Make it Paul Thomas Anderson good! Well, as good as a corporate film of ball cocks for toilets can be!
You see, one of my favourite challenges in filming 17 years for news was not making long form docs, or travelling the world. It was making something of nothing. Given a story with NO pictures, come up with a treatment on the day, film it, edit it and get it out by 5pm that day. Now that was tough but enormously satisfying. Another example is there is a lobby in the Westminster offices of the broadcasters in London. Itís not especially sexy. Large frosted daylight windows, tungsten light, a fair bit of space. The problem is, it is used around 9 times a day on the program. You can see package after package go out with the SAME background. Why? Lack of imagination and creativity. My biggest challenge was to be told to do an interview in this incredibly overused location, and my challenge to myself was to make it unique. Is it possible? Yep. Lighting, camera position and much more. Compress the background using the 2/3″ lens by positioning the camera a long way off. Use the daylight to bring in a nice blue-ish background whilst lighting for tungsten. There were hundreds of ways of making things look different. You just have to make an effort and think! I always said that the day I am no longer challenged by my job is the day I leave. The moment I leave my lights in the car and stick a camera light on the top of the camera is the moment I need to change jobs. Always put 100% into every job you do. That is what being a professional is.
5: Donít do it all yourself, find a good team to work with. Whether itís other cameramen, a good soundo, good editors. You name it, find a team you trust. You most likely wonít be able to use them a lot of the time. Often itís just you, but ask their opinions on stuff. Find them and use them. A team you can trust is worth its weight in gold.
6: You WILL fuck up. Guaranteed. Accept it. Fucking up whilst in a staff job is better since, unless itís pretty serious, you will still have a job. Fucking up as a freelance is tougher, as your client will need to be forgiving. Ideally you already have a relationship with them and they will understand. Donít blame someone else. Take responsibility. Itís your mistake and you wonít make it again. Thatís the great things about fuck ups. I fucked up SO many times in my news career. Mute sound, wrong colour, crossing the line, forgetting to hit record, handing over a blank tape and recording over the rushes. You name it and I have done it. But you know what? I only do each mistake once. The only way you will learn is by making mistakes, admitting them, and learning from them. Donít go though life thinking you are perfect and never make mistakes. That doesnít happen in the real world. Donít make excuses. You fucked up. Take the blame and move on. I still fuck up to this day.
7: Love your job. Absolutely essential! Do you hate filming? Then do something different. I am lucky enough to be doing what I love. I never believed this was possible growing up with a father who hated his job. I assumed that was what was expected. I never realised you could do something you loved and get paid. This is a wonderful creative career, and if you are making money in it they you are damn lucky! Embrace that!
8:If you are not getting creative satisfaction out of the work that pays, your bread and butter, what is stopping you making something that fires you up in your own free time? A huge amount of work on my site under films is just that. Personal films done to fulfill my creative urges. Doing these will make you happy and maybe you can bring some of that creativity into your mundane work? Trust me, without these personal outlets I would have felt stifled.
9: You donít need a Red. You donít need an Alexa, you donít need a C300. Any camera will do, to a degree. Donít listen to the chattering masses on the internet who say you MUST film on X camera as your Y camera is shit. X camera has .5 stops more dynamic range and Y camera has more noise than camera X, using camera Y would be INSANE! That is nonsense. Yes, some cameras will make your life easier and some will make your life harder. I donít subscribe to the idea of using the shittiest camera you have because you are an artist and you can make anything shine. Nonsense. Use the best camera you have access to. The camera is NOT the most important thing. You and your ideas are. But donít be a camera martyr and say ďmy work is what is important hence, not the camera, I shall film this on my iPad!Ē Donít be silly now!!
10: An expensive camera wonít make you a better cameraman. It will make you more broke! Want to upgrade your T2i to a Scarlet? Why? Skills are learnt with lesser tools. Not expensive ones.
11: Learn how to do EVERYTHING. Learn how to produce, to direct, to edit, to shoot, to do graphics etc . Why? It gives you a greater appreciation of what everyone does. Donít do it all, but knowing what is needed to do a certain job will make what you do better.
12: If you really have no talent at all yet still enjoy shooting for fun, keep at it. Eventually you will get better, and if it makes YOU happy who gives a crap what the critics say?