Saturday, December 3, 2011

My No-Fail Marketing Strategy for Freelancers!

© Holly DeWolf

Recently I was asked by copywriter, editor and Certified Professional Resume Writer, Kirsten Fischer to contribute to an article for . She needed my input on her 5 No-Fail Marketing Strategies for Freelancers. I was all to happy to oblige since I contributed to her first book, Creatively Self-Employed: How Writers And  Artists Deal With Career Ups and Downs. Along with my input, the very knowledgeable marketing mentor, Ilise Benum added her thoughts as well. 

When it comes to marketing, I believe you need to be clear, concise and interject realism into your strategy. I discussed it simply here: 

"Be clear about your intentions and simply ask for what you want."

Ask for what you want.
No matter what techniques you use to market yourself and your business, it’s important to be 
clear about what you want. When Holly DeWolf, an illustrator and author of Breaking Into 
Freelance Illustration: The Guide for Artists, Designers and Illustrators, wanted to secure a 
publisher for a book, she asked a friend for advice. "I came up with an idea, wrote the proposal, wrote a sample chapter, and then I asked them to have a look at my work through my query letter. I had a book deal three weeks later," she notes.

Although publishing a book may not be that simple, DeWolf's point rings true: Be clear about 
your intentions and simply ask for what you want. If that's a new client, connect with them and then ask the prospect to review your portfolio or to set up a meeting. If you want to network with other creative professionals, ask questions about the group before you sign up. It's all about putting your intentions out there and being direct, whether through promotional mailers, email lists, or your website. You need that kind of initiative as a freelancer, because no one else is going to toot your horn for you!

"Promotion is basically your own form of show and tell with a permission-marketing twist," 
DeWolf says. "In a nutshell, you create your own opportunities by asking for them."

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Boy, Your Industry Sure Is Confusing!

Ever have someone who is not in the illustration industry get confused about what you do?

Recently I heard this:

"I'm confused about the illustration industry... everyone works alone, everyone spends a lot of time online, no one seems to have a full University Degree in it and it's hard to get paid. Is freelance always seen as free? Don't you get lonely working at home? And why is it so hard to find work as an illustrator?"

After hearing that and having a lengthy discussion, I then had to jot it down for a post. Not only did this make me chuckle a bit but this made me ask questions as well. Looking at your industry from someone else's point of view was odd but very enlightening. 

I can see how it would be confusing. 

From an outsiders point of view, it seems like a very different and often times insecure industry. Finding work is hard. Getting paid is harder. On top of that, there is a lot work we do daily that we do not get paid for at all. We network all day. We problem solve. We generate ideas 24/7. We work typically alone. There seems to be a lot obstacles to get past in order to get work. Our schools don't exactly prepare all of us for business. We create images for clients in hopes of getting paid and paid fairly. The competition is huge. Many illustrators seem ill prepared for the work world. Clients often seem difficult. It is a constant learning curve. 

Come to think of it,  we spend a huge amount of time and energy as illustrators. It's more than a job, it's like a well loved creative relationship that needs nurturing, time, effort and lots of attention. I applaud those as well as myself who work in it. 

It's not for the weak. It's not for the impatient. And it is certainly not for those not dedicated to it. 

That is one way of looking at it but there are great things about it too. 

I was asked why I do this every day. My simple answer? Because it's so damn interesting. I need to make stuff. I want to make stuff. As an illustrator, everything is incredibly fascinating wouldn't you agree? Another is the need to create... and to create something either for a client or for myself. The need to creatively grow. The need to do it myself and be my own boss. There is also a huge need to learn daily. Participating in a an endless process is a huge illustration turn on. Basically, it's my creative habit that I grew up with that I want to continue doing for a long, long time to come.