o you have a passion for drawing and dream of turning it into your next full-time gig? I’ve been in the business of illustration and lettering for the past five years, and now I want to share my story to help creatives like you build a career doing what you love most.
Sign up now for my very first class on Creative Live on the business of illustration and hand lettering where I share four phases to help you reach full-time freelance success without wasting your time or resources trying to get there.
In this class, we’ll start by finding ways to discover your passion and build an audience through your online brand. Then you’ll learn how to attract clients, create a process for delivering quality work, and to charge what you’re worth. Finally, we’ll wrap up with ideas on how you can make more money with your art with licensing, products, and passive income.
I’m providing detailed strategies, new ways to repurpose your work, and how you can plan for the future, so every year is better than the last. After this class, you’ll know how to create a successful career and skip all that nasty trial-and-error.
THE FOUR PHASES OF FULL-TIME FREELANCE
I want to give you a preview of my class so you can start learning how to go out on your own and make money from your passion. I can’t tell you how important it is to educating yourself, so you don’t ruin your passion before you even start.
I’ve been there. I’ve failed. I’ve lost money. I’ve let fear prevent me from doing what I love. I want to share my story and lessons learned, so you don’t have to learn things the hard way like I did. I want to give you the advice I wish I had when I first started. To answer the question, “now what?” for illustrators and letterers that are unsure how to take the next leap in their freelance career.
PHASE 1: HONE YOUR CRAFT
Before you can become a freelance success story, you need to spend dedicated time to understand your craft and find your voice before you try to make money from it. This includes daily deliberate practice, self-education, and old-fashioned hard work. Whatever your focus is, you need to explore it thoroughly and fall in love with the process of making.
Let people watch you grow till you have the social proof that your work is hireable.
During this first exploratory phase, you should be creating passion projects to get your start till you find what niche of illustration makes you the happiest. These side projects are also a gateway to getting noticed on social media.
You can begin building an audience from day one without having a website, portfolio, or any experience. Let people watch you grow till you have the social proof that your work is hireable.
In my class, I show exactly what kind of social media platforms you need to be focusing on, how often you need to post, and how you can start reaching out to potential clients to make real connections for the future.
PHASE 3: CREATE YOUR ONLINE BRAND
Once you’ve been creating for a while and found your niche, it’s time to brand yourself. I don’t mean creating your first business cards and logo design, but rather establishing yourself as a professional in the industry. This includes creating a demographic of people that need your services, finding your value proposition, and crafting your online presence.
When choosing your demographic, you need to discover the type of businesses that will find your services the most useful. I’m talking more than just guessing the age, gender, and location of your clientele but figuring out who is hiring you and how you can solve their unique problems.
When designing your website you need to sell the crap out of yourself.
By deciding who you want to target you can easily attract the kind of clients you want to work with on your website, so your content can speak directly to them. The more you can narrow down your creative niche, industry, and sales model, the more clients you’ll get on your production schedule.
When designing your website you need to prove your worth, show off your best work with case studies, and sell the crap out of yourself. This can be a bit challenging for artists, but in my class, I teach you exactly the kind of content you need on each page of your site in order for you to land big clients. No guesswork, just proven tactics that get your inbox flooding with customers that want to work with your specifically.
PHASE 3: WIN HIGH PAYING CLIENTS
Even though you have your website up and running, doesn’t mean you’re ready to work with clients yet. You need to develop a set production process for how you will deliver great custom artwork along with an onboarding process that takes the client down your sales funnel from initial contact to that first deposit payment. Not to mention you have to figure out what you’re worth and how much you can realistically charge for the value of your work.
Let’s start with how you plan to sell to clients after they land on your website. You have an interested potential customer, they read you’re engaging about page, they’re digging your work, and they’re ready to contact you to get the ball rolling on their project. What do you do first?
For my lettering business, my onboarding process starts with an in-depth questionnaire that leads into a deeper consultation where I ask every possible question imaginable so I can fully understand my client’s goals. Then I gently move from the quote to the proposal and into the project planning phase.
From there I focus on making my clients happy with an organized process that has landed me a 98% success rate for my clients. That means out of 100 clients, 98 of them are over the moon with their project and come back to work with me again on new and exciting projects.
In this class, I give you a detailed look on how to navigate your process while giving you access to my questionnaire, proposal, and rate calculator so we can share in the success that the illustration business can bring to your yearly income.
PHASE 4: DIVERSIFYING YOUR INCOME
In this last stage of your freelance career, you should have a few client projects under your belt. But what do you do once the client leads run out? Because they will. Every single successful freelancer I know has experienced the occasional dry spell where they have to do more than client work to keep afloat.
Just because you don’t have client work, doesn’t mean you have the day off.
Making money outside of client work is a must in this business. That way you can stay picky on the clients you do choose to work with while consistently showing up to your desk to improve your skills. Just because you don’t have client work, doesn’t mean you have the day off.
You can create digital products that only cost your time to make and give you the ability to make money in your sleep. You can repurpose old work like taking unused concepts and selling them on stock sites or create new assets that can make designers workload a little lighter with graphic bundles and fonts.
In this class, I show you how to start making digital and tangible products like shirts and posters that covers everything from promoting to pricing. I’ll show you how to launch your first product and create hype around your brand.
But the real gold nugget of this segment is all about licensing. Most designers only charge a design fee for work but what about the usage rights? The rights of your artwork is the selling power, so why would you give that away for free? By charging for usage rights, you can quickly turn a 2k illustration job into a 6k gig by understanding how to charge for commercial rights and royalties.
Make money from your art today
Make money from your art today
By the end of this class, students will be able to run their illustration business making a consistent income doing what they love most. You won’t reach your career goals by thinking about freelance success or even reading this article. You can only move forward if you know how, and put in the work every day to make it happen.