If you had told me 10 years ago that I would change my career in my 40s to become a freelance illustrator, I would have said: whaaaaattt Back then, I was working as a doctor in Spain. After spending time on my Ph.D. in Barcelona and New Zealand, I moved to Scotland to continue with my research as a postdoc.
While the reasons why I made the decision are complex and perhaps difficult to understand, I wanted to talk about what helped me in this career transition towards working as a freelance illustrator. Full disclosure, I am by no means an expert or a career advisor, and I am just at the beginning of this exciting illustration journey. One thing to remember is that it is not a one-size-fits-all. This is my personal experience, and I hope that these tips are helpful if you are thinking about making a career move into illustration.
I made sure to get as much information as possible about other careers outside academia and illustration in particular. I attended career fairs and workshops. By far, one of the things that helped me the most was to talk to people about their experiences, especially transitioning from academia or changing careers later in life. This gave me the opportunity to meet amazing people, such as Amanda Prowse (medical writer), Jill Calder (freelance illustrator), Mhairi Towler (founder of the animation company Vivomotion), and Carla Brown (founder of Game Dr). They were all very generous sharing their experience with me. I also found the story of the illustrator Lisa Congdon really inspiring (and recommend her books Art Inc and Find your artistic voice). I took a course about freelance illustration organised by the Association of Illustrators (AOI) and that gave me enough knowledge to understand the basics of what working as an illustrator really meant.
This will not only get you practical experience and opportunities to build your portfolio, but you will also experience first-hand what it means to work as an illustrator and decide if it is for you. I volunteered for two student publications, got experience with briefs, deadlines and started to understand that being a freelance illustrator is not only drawing all the time. It also involves, as any other job, a lot of admin. I know that everyone says that you should not work for free, but you could find charities or student organisations to collaborate with. In my case, as I was not able to go into art school, this was the only way that I could get experience and enter the illustration market.
If you follow up on that interest and create wonderful art for them, clients will no doubt preserve your name on the list of trustworthy and enthusiastic freelancers that they can contact when the need arises again.
With brands now having the opportunity to reach a mass audience through social media, email marketing is arguably more important than ever before. Curated lists ensure that companies can talk directly to potential customers, through controlled and customised messaging. To ensure the brand's identity is conveyed across all forms of communication, many design agencies and creative freelancers are finding their niche in specifically designing for email platforms. For designers with a penchant for digital, this could be a sidestep into the career of your dreams.
When pricing up a project, you have to consider whether a fixed price or hourly rate would be more suitable. Fixed priced jobs are for those projects which are relatively straightforward, and you can confidently guess how long the work will take. But if you come across a project that has too many unknowns and is too vague, it's wise to suggest an hourly rate. You'll find more advice in our article How to set your freelance rates.
Keeping track of all your income can be more difficult than if you were a traditional employee, in which case you'd get a single W-2 form for reporting purposes. As a freelancer, you're likely to get numerous 1099-NEC forms, (1099-MISC in prior years) one from each of your clients. If you receive payments through online payment services such as PayPal, you might receive a 1099-K. Payers will also send these forms to the IRS to report your income.
For most people, the ultimate goal when you file your taxes is to reduce your liability to the lowest allowable amount. As a freelancer, you'll likely have more business expenses than a typical employee, and you can take a number of tax deductions not commonly allowed as a regular employee. However, you're only allowed to take deductions that are ordinary and necessary for the operation of your business.
Since most freelancers work from home, the home office deduction can apply. The IRS allows you to take a deduction for many expenses ranging from rent to utilities for the portions of your home that you use as an office.
As with all freelance expenses, these deductions need to directly relate to your business. For example, a class on gardening skills would not typically be considered ordinary or necessary if you're a computer programmer nor would education that trains you for a new career.
One of the downsides of being a freelancer is that you don't have an employer to buy you equipment and supplies, like a computer or a printer. However, if you need those items to perform your job, they're usually allowed as a deductible expense. Similarly, any other items or materials you need for your business can qualify for a deduction.
These stats bode well for writers who are interested in starting remote or freelance work. So, as freelance work becomes increasingly popular, you might be wondering how to become a successful freelance writer.
As a freelance writer, you can choose the topics you write about. However, instead of casting your net wide and writing about anything that comes across your desk, consider diving deeper into a certain subject.
By networking with other writers, you can stay up-to-date on the latest news and trends in your niche. Plus, you can share and learn information on how to be successful as a freelance writer. The best person to ask for advice is someone who has walked the road you want to walk.
Once you choose a niche and start posting online, people will begin to recognize your name. Additionally, these things can also improve your SEO and give you more credibility, so your name shows up when companies search \"small business freelance writers.\";
Take the advice now and make sure you research how to negotiate freelance wages. Look up the average hourly rate, rate per word, or rate per project. List out the pros and cons of the pricing structure and decide what you want to charge.
To create a brand, make sure you choose a niche, pick a social media persona, and have a unique writing style that sets you apart from other freelance writers. Additionally, it's critical you remain consistent with both voice and design across your website and social media platforms to create a memorable brand.;
In some ways, freelancing can seem like a battle happening within your Calendar. As a freelancer, you have a million things to do, and your Calendar dictates that you only have a certain amount of time to accomplish all of your freelancing goals. It can be challenging to find the time to freelance successfully. Try implementing a few of the 15 ways to increase your freelancing success.
Pitching new clients is a crucial part of earning new business. Without pitching, many freelance careers would have never gotten off the ground. However, many new freelancers are nervous to start constantly pitching because it can be hard to receive rejections continuously. Although it is usually uncomfortable, pitching often is one great way to improve your freelancing career. You never know until you ask, so it is essential just to send the pitch and hope for the best. You will win some and lose some, but it is worth the effort in the end.
Any freelancing involves a lot of work. If you are determined to be a successful freelancer, then you need to be ready to work hard to achieve that dream. Without hard work, it is just improbable to happen. To do the job, you need to make time for it. Set aside time each day, week, or month to work on your freelancing. Remember, you will get out what you put into the business, so be honest about what you want out of your freelance career and set aside the appropriate amount of time.
Okay, this one is obvious, but it is worth mentioning. Some freelancers think that success will come with little to no effort on your part. Freelancing is not a get quick rich scheme, but it can be a way to improve your life, follow a passion, or increase your income. To achieve success, you will need to put in the work.
Do not think of other freelancers as your competition; think of them as potential allies. Many job leads and tips can come through a close network of freelancers in the same area. It is tempting to try and ignore the other freelancers in your space, but it is better to work with them and share success.
In a similar vein, do not let freelancing ruin your physical or mental health. Although you may feel that you need to work yourself to the brink of exhaustion, that is not the best way to freelance. Remember to take care of yourself. Without a happy mind and a healthy body, it can be challenging to perform at your best. By taking care of yourself, you will likely be able to complete your freelancing duties even more effectively.
I know a lot of artists and creatives struggle with seeing their work (which most of the time evolved out of a beloved hobby) as a business, and treating it as one. Changing my attitude towards my work as an artist is my goal for 2017. This blog will show my (hopefully smooth, but who am I kidding) transition from freelance illustration to creative business.
As a foundation for future blog posts on the business side of being a work-at-home illustrator, I'll be sharing the six stages of my artist life until now, from first sales to comic books, from freelance illustration to si