Friday, July 14, 2006

Freelancing 101: "But, Ma..."

A good question for anyone interested in Freelancing to ask would be, "How do I get started?"

Excellent question, but first ask yourself, "Why do I want to be a freelance Artist (Cartoonist, Illustrator, Fill in the blank with your desire )" This question is important because, like so many things in life, Freelancing is difficult. Oh sure, the work is, well, work, but there's more. There's life, and people, and...

Well, let's make a list of the difficulties;

1) Dealing with clients is not easy.
2) Getting clients to pay you is not always easy.
3) Getting vlients to pay you what you're worth is near impossible.
4) Telling your Mother that you are sitting around drawing funny pictures, for Free, is- well, the words 'Ay yay yay' come to mind. Or 'Oy vay', or 'Ayo Rama', or just about any favorite expletive that comes to mind and immediately makes you roll your eyes upward.

"Hold on", you say. "What do you mean 'free'? Aren't we getting paid to work?"

More excellent questions!

I say 'free' because to get started in this business, you basically need a portfolio. A resume helps, but it is your portfolio that gets you noticed, and gets you work. Beyond that, though, you also need to establish a reputation for reliability, among other things. You may have a great portfolio put together in art school, but clients want to know that they can work with you, and that means you need a paying job before you can get a paying job.

So you work for free. Find a client, any client, willing to let you work for free. Now, looking at the ads in my local paper, I know I wouldn't pay for that crap. Bad drawing, Bad ads, bad design. Do some small jobs that allow you to not only get your work out there, but get you drawing for someone else. If you can't even get free work, then give yourself jobs, like creating your own holiday cards or something. Build up a better portfolio, until you can get someone else to work with you.

All this means that you sit around, drawing funny pictures... for free. And your friends and family look at you like you just soiled your pants, and shake their heads, and wonder where you went wrong. And THAT is one of the hardest obstacles to Freelancing, or Self-Publishing, or any other endeavor in which you have to work your butt off before any payback occurs.

So, ask yourself again, "Why do you want to Freelance?" And if the answer is, "Because that's what I really want to do", then, go. Get started. And don't let anyone stop you, because if you work hard enough, and long enough, it will hopefully, eventually pay off.

Once you get that first paying job, you're off like a rocket!

But it never gets any easier. Remember that.

But it does get a heck of a lot more rewarding, when you see your work out there, and when you have some money in the bank that says, not only can you pay some bills, but that someone out there believes in you, and your work.

And THAT is what I'm talking about :0)

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