Who likes reading "failure-stories"? Everyone of ourse! It just so happens that I have one for you today. It could be titled “A Freelance Illustrator - My Ineffective Way to Financial Independence” (not very catchy, I know).
The story takes place about 5 years ago, when I earned a Master’s diploma in architecture and could finally start to develop my illustrator’s career. I had knowledge about design, drawing skills, tons of energy and... a business plan! What could go wrong? Well, pretty much everything.
My business plan looked more or less like this (don’t try this at home!):
1. An illustrator needs an online portfolio. But wait… I already have a well-developed portfolio on DeviantArt, hurray!
2. Writing a blog is a great way to present yourself to your watchers and potential clients. Naturally hundreds of people would wait impatiently for every new post (because they have absolutely nothing else to do) and I’d surely earn some money of it (there are many professional bloggers, right?).
3. Now the most important point: I should join a team of awesome, experienced and enterprising people. They would create a super-popular product (a game/book/music CD/whatsoever), and hire me for making illustrations. Well, “hire” may be not the most precise word, as I would have to work on a profit share basis, but that’s ok! This super project would surely be my springboard to success, make me recognizable and... bring me money.
4. And one more brilliant thought from me at that time: Even if I won’t be earning serious money, that’s fine, because I love drawing sooo much.
However, there were a few small bugs in my elaborate plan:
1. If you want to do something professionally, you have to make an impression of a professional. While DeviantArt is a great (and highly addictive) platform for social networking with other art lovers, it’s not the best place to show yourself and your works to potential clients. Let’s be honest, all these emoticons (which I love) and a little bit chaotic interface don’t make a great impression at first sight.
TIP: Make your own website and/or create an online portfolio on www.behance.net . Behance is a great place to present your projects and resume in a professional way and I got many good job offers from people who found my works there https://www.behance.net/ElwiraPawlikowska .
2. Most of the people earning money through blogs are those who write about… earning money through blogs. Maybe I’m exaggerating, but in case of illustrators it doesn’t really work anyway. However an idea of running a blog to let your watchers know you better is still fine! Who knows, maybe they will be keen to support you in your future endeavours?
3. I could write a whole dissertation about absurdity of working on a profit share basis (unless we’re talking about gigantic, well established publishers). First of all, if someone is unable to collect money for an illustrator, he/she won’t be able to run the project and the marketing process in order to make the product popular. Marketing a product requires strong entrepreneurial abilities and people with such abilities are able to gain some money to pay an illustrator for the job, trust me (or not, the choice is yours J )! So, by “working” on profit-share basis for a group of enthusiasts (yes, yes, it applies even to those super-experienced guys who have been developing discussed project since high school) you are going to achieve neither glory nor decent money. To discourage you even more I’ll mention, that (based on my own experience) many such projects are NEVER EVER PUBLISHED. Eventually they are printed on demand and thus, they reach only friends and families of creators (which means no new fans, as your mom already knows that you’re brilliant J).
A SUPER IMPORTANT TIP: If you want to expand your portfolio, focus on your own projects. Illustrations attracting most clients to me are my personal works:
4. There is no rule saying that you are entitled to monetary compensation only if you hate your job. Unless you want to live with your parents for the rest of your (or their) life, you just have to earn money from what you’re doing. Good luck!
PS: Right now I'm doing fine J
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