5 Tips for Making Money as a Freelance Illustrator

Here are a few tips that I’ve learned while being a freelancer. Hopefully, they’ll help you make a little bit extra.

Keep Looking for Work
I know this seems obvious, but it’s easy to overlook. When I first started freelancing, I relied too heavily on a single client or a single job. This always led to downtime in between jobs. My strategy now is to look for next week’s work this week. This strategy may take time to get rolling, but it helps keep the jobs constantly flowing in.

Take on Jobs that You’re Good At
Sometimes it’s nice to challenge myself with something new, but for the most part I’m on the look out for jobs that are easy for me. It makes it simpler to quote a price, and you know you can complete them with very little stress or problems. As an artist, I always try to play to my strengths on paying gigs and work on my weaknesses in my free time.

Sound Billing Practices
Another freelancer once told me, “It’s all about the invoice”. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the artistic side of things, but remember you’re doing the job to get paid. Try to stay consistent and be professional with your billing, record keeping and prices. Clients are only human. They’ll forget to pay a bill or misplace your project quote, so be organized and send out reminders. Set up business practices that make sure you get paid. I usually like to get half upfront and get the final balance before I send out the print ready artwork.

Experiment with New Ways to Find Work
The industry doesn’t stand still, so neither should you. Go out and read magazines, forums and blogs to see what other artists are doing to get work. Take their suggestions and see if they’ll work for you. I’ve tried sending out postcard mailers and have never gotten great results. But, I still like to experiment every so often with a new mailer. I’ve tried a few of the freelancer job sites out there. Some have worked and some haven’t. My point is that things change. Maybe, your artwork gets better, your website is more professional or your style is suddenly trendy. What didn’t work for you in the past may be successful for you in the future.

Create Additional Revenue Sources
There are only so many hours in the day to work. Let your artwork work for you. Sell stock art, sell prints or get royalties from an illustrated book. Whatever your plan is, experimenting with a good way to get passive or residual income can really help fortify your annual salary. Companies like iStockphoto have really made it easy to jump into the world of stock art. I know it has worked out well for me.

This post was written on IllustrationInfo.com. Content copyright 2008 Cory Thoman.

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  1. 09/07/04

    Topic of your article is very interesting, i have bookmarked your blog