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If being a freelance artist is one of your goals, surely there are some questions that you constantly ask yourself. How to be successful? How to generate good income?
The first thing you should know is that it is possible to have a thriving freelance artist career and to achieve it you must take into account these 13 requirements and put them into practice.
Among other things, you should increase your online presence and learn to run your business. You will find all the information here.
1. Choose a Specific Skill (and Stick To It)
The world in which you develop as an artist, in terms of modalities, techniques, styles, formats, and conceptualities is very wide.
As artists specialize, it is easier for them to find their own lucrative market niche.
A good way to validate a niche market is to analyze data and trends from your potential clients before starting out.
If you want to dedicate yourself exclusively to being a freelance artist it is important that you find your site and specify what your market niche will be, where you can develop professionally with more affinity and profitability.
As soon as you have specified what your market niche will be in which you are going to develop, you must promote your personal brand at all levels; showing your work, letting yourself be seen, maintaining contacts, interacting with other artists, attending exhibitions and anything else you can think of.
Of course, the skill you choose should be something you enjoy. When you find the balance between what you are passionate about and what is profitable, you will have no problem dedicating hours of work to your projects.
2. Have a Portfolio
The portfolio will often be the trigger for a client to decide to work with a freelancer.
A good personal brand will capture the attention of the potential client and the portfolio will end up making them fall in love with your work.
Portfolios have always been used among creatives.
Before the internet, designers and artists had to make physical work portfolios and display them during job interviews.
In the digital age, potential clients want to see the digital portfolio beforehand and from there decide if it fits what they are looking for.
Your portfolio should bring together some of the projects and work completed throughout your career and it is recommended to show between 10 or 15 pieces.
Generally, those projects that are more successful or carried out in large companies are included and are a sample of professional skills.
The freelance portfolio gives a potential client a real test of what you can do and there are two types of recommended portfolios that you can create.
And a Portfolio Website too
The freelance portfolio is one of the most important tools in customer acquisition.
Many times it will make the first impression on the client and although the portfolio should help you get new clients, it will also be key in your personal brand.
You can create your own website; show your work there, explain who you are and what you do 24/7.
For this, you can use a website builder such as Wix which is suitable even for the average joe that has no experience in building a website (and affordable too).
Or WordPress.org (free) which is for the individuals wanting more hands on and the ability to blog too. It does however require hosting (think of it like a house for your portfolio website), such as Bluehost which is affordable and recommended by WordPress.
By using this option you can give your portfolio website a custom name which will make you look much more professional.
It will also make your clients feel more confident, increasing your credibility which is an important aspect when it comes to attracting more clients and new projects.
If you do not have the time or skill to create your own website, you can try a specialized platform to create portfolios. In general, this type of website consists of creating a profile and posting the work you have done.
When necessary you can share your portfolio link so other people can see it. There are also many other freelance artists like you on those platforms, so this option is also ideal if you want to meet other people in your niche.
These websites are popular options among freelance artists and each one offers different advantages that can benefit you more than others.
3. Keep Up To Date
Another key to achieving success in your career as a freelance artist is to keep your knowledge always up to date.
The good thing about being a freelancer is that you do not need a degree to find jobs, but clients always want to hire the best-trained freelancer, so if you want to stand out try to keep learning about your industry and related topics.
Currently, there are many online study platforms where you can take courses to improve your skills and learn new things.
In general, online course platforms offer a certificate of approval for each course you complete, so you can attach these certificates to your portfolio or CV and thus you will generate more trust among clients.
Apart from studying, you can also have a mentor to guide you not only on issues related to your ability but in your career in general.
It’s always good to get a little help and have someone to turn to when you have a question or need advice related to your work, it will make everything easier.
Listening to the experiences of other colleagues is something as necessary as studying on your own.
4. Learn to Run a Business
You can handle your freelance career as if it were a business and businesses have growth plans.
Not only about goals but financially. If you do not learn how to manage your incomes, your business will not see satisfactory results even if you work hard.
Think about what your direction will be and what your goals will be.
Where do you want to go? What goal would you like to achieve in a certain amount of time?
Having that clear will keep you motivated and will drive you to work and improve yourself.
For example, one of your goals may be to earn a certain amount of money at the end of the month, work with a certain number of clients or get to work with a specific prestigious client.
As you find jobs and participate in projects you will see how you will improve your skills.
For that reason it is necessary that you constantly reevaluate yourself so that you define what things you should continue to improve or so that you congratulate yourself for having done a good job.
Acknowledging your accomplishments and shortcomings will help you stay focused and organized.
To keep your freelance career running smoothly, you can create an organization system so that you keep everything in order and do not overlook anything.
A rookie mistake is being messy with clients and pending work, but if you want to start a thriving freelance artist career, you must treat your own work in a professional and respectful manner.
5. Good Communication Skills
Good communication with potential and existing clients is crucial to keep jobs coming.
When you talk to any of your clients, make them feel unique and special, especially when you send them a proposal.
Here it is ideal to do a little research about the company before writing to them, so they will feel that you really care about them.
In order to understand what your client needs, you must ask all the necessary questions.
Do not be afraid to ask questions, because you need answers to give the customer exactly what they want.
When you talk to any client, no matter how big or small, rejoice sincerely, focus on the conversation, add value and make them feel unique and important.
Stay in touch with your customers and use the gift of opportunity.
When the project ends and some time has passed, it is a good idea to reconnect with that client, sincerely being interested through an email or some mention on social networks.
Showing closeness and sincere interest is an excellent way for customers to keep remembering you and for them to become loyal customers.
Clients who already know you are more likely to purchase your services. After having done a job for them, they are very likely to think of you again when they need something else.
Guarantee them a good experience before, during and after carrying out a project for them and they will surely come back to you in the next opportunity.
6. Network and Market
Being a freelance artist is complicated.
Content creators must stick together, forming networks that support and help them in their creative processes, especially when they experience an issue with some work or when finding new jobs becomes difficult.
For this is that networks exist. There are work communities where you will find other freelancers who work in your same niche.
Having a network will also benefit your brand marketing, which is super important to reach new customers.
The good news is that you are not alone in the process of learning how to sell your services, but a network can also help to promote you.
Being part of a network will allow you to meet experienced people who can help you in many aspects of your business.
For example, contacts lead to sales and approximately 35% of freelancers find new job opportunities through their professional contacts.
Being surrounded by the right people, freelancers who work in the same niche and share your goals, will connect you to other people who need your services.
Having a good network allows you to more easily reach people who like what you do because your colleagues can recommend your work or connect you with clients that they cannot work with at the moment.
Platforms like Instagram, Behance, Dribbble, LinkedIn, and Facebook are crucial for meeting other colleagues in your niche.
On LinkedIn you can write articles of interest for others to share and support each other, and on Facebook you can join groups where you will find other artists.
There they share valuable information, events, answer questions and even publish job offers.
Do not see other freelancers as just a competition, but as a group of people who can support you because you both have the same goal.
7. Time Management Skills
Although being a freelancer has many advantages, it also implies taking on responsibilities directly related to the fulfillment of the job. Knowing how to manage time is essential.
It is well known that to be successful, a freelancer must perform several tasks at the same time: get clients, provide them with excellent service, develop and deliver projects on time, invoice them and, when finished, start over.
The key is understanding how to manage the time you spend on workflow and your well-being.
Therefore, it is advisable to make a fair balance between your commitments and your free time.
Do not forget that no matter how creative and good a professional you are, no client will be happy with your work if you do not respect the established times.
Plan and prioritize your tasks, make a list that includes all the obligations you have to perform then you must determine its level of importance and urgency.
Remember that your goal is to complete the delivery of all projects, and do it on time.
You also need to meet your schedules. When ordering tasks according to their priority, it is time to know the amount of time you will spend on each of them. When you are a freelancer, time is precious.
Defining how to manage time is a fundamental task. So if you extend yourself more than necessary in a single project, you will harm the development and delivery of the others.
Another thing as important as establishing a work schedule is to respect your rest time.
If you want to be a productive freelancer, you need to disconnect from work from time to time.
You can take 20 or 30 minute breaks, go for a walk, breathe fresh air, and prepare to pick up the pace.
Also, do not forget to sleep, only then will you generate new energy and feel more creative and, of course, much more productive.
8. Set up Rates
Determining the fee you will charge for your services is confusing at the beginning, but do not let that stop you from getting started.
When you join a job platform and start to gain experience, you will see what is the work rate that best suits you and how much you need to charge for the service you offer.
Remember that to establish your work rate you must take several things into account: the salary you expect to earn, the time you must invest in your work, the materials or equipment you will need to perform the work and other subsequent expenses such as taxes or commissions.
9. Basic Legality and Finances Knowledge
One of the downsides to working as a freelancer is how unstable some jobs can be.
To avoid having such problems, you can create contracts or agreements with your clients, but for that you need to have knowledge of legality and finances.
You do not have to be an expert in this area, but you do need to know how to handle it so that no one takes advantage of you.
Some freelance platforms allow you to create contracts with your clients where the type of work and earnings are specified, but in case you have a job outside the platform, you should create that contract yourself.
Specify there what service you will be performing, how long you will perform it and how much and how you should be paid. This way you will avoid misunderstandings and everything will flow safely.
Like any other income-generating activity, if you are a freelancer you will also have to pay taxes. This might be a bit confusing because if you previously were working for a company, they took charge of that.
But now that you are an independent worker, you need to do your taxes by yourself. Of course you can hire someone to help you, but you still should know how this works.
When you are a freelancer, you probably will not have a stable income, so it is difficult to calculate how much you should pay.
Most likely, when you start your career as a freelancer, you will generate income greater than $ 400 per year.
When you exceed that amount, you are considered self-employed and besides from paying your regular taxes, you will have to pay a tax of 15.3% for being self-employed.
What you can do is set aside a certain amount of money from each payment and thus gather the amount of what you may have to pay in taxes.
Your first year as a freelancer will be a test, since you will hardly be able to predict the total of what you owe.
The best thing you can do to avoid problems is to roughly estimate your tax rate and save money based on that. You are better off making a mistake collecting more rather than owing.
10. Persistence and Patience
To prosper in your freelance artist career you must be very persistent. You surely will achieve your goal but it takes more time to some than to others.
Make sure to constantly practice your skills to be better in your specialized skill and little by little you will see how your career improves and you become more expert in your area.
Over time you will gain more clients and recognition, you just have to be patient and work constantly to reach your goal.
Many freelancers are initially discouraged because job offers are slow to arrive or because the success they envisioned does not come as soon as they hoped.
It is not only necessary to be constant but also patient. With the passage of time, those things will come that will boost you more in your freelance career, such as experience, confidence and a good reputation.
11. Self Discipline
One of the most attractive things about being a freelancer is having your own schedule, being your own boss, deciding when you work and when you do not.
However, if you do not have self discipline, those things that you consider advantages can harm you a lot.
Certainly there are many people who choose to be freelancers to have more flexibility with their schedules, but it is very necessary to have the character and the discipline not to sabotage your own rhythm of work.
In fact, consistency is key to starting a thriving freelance artist career. You can be very talented at what you do, but if you do not have the discipline to get the most out of your abilities, you will not get anywhere.
12. A Financial Fallback
Going from having a stable job to working as a freelancer requires preparation, especially since the first weeks you will have to work hard to find your first jobs.
To begin with, you can dedicate several hours a day to your freelance work, like a side job, before leaving your stable job. This will give you more security and you will not be left in an uncertain financial situation.
Another very useful recommendation is that before dedicating yourself completely to freelance work, you gather enough money to sustain yourself for 6 months. That way you will be calmer and more focused during your job search.
In any case, keeping broad savings is always an excellent idea when freelancing, as some jobs or clients tend to be fickle.
Regardless of whether you want to start your freelance artist career or another project, you should always have a financial fallback for contingencies.
Reinventing yourself professionally and starting a freelance career takes time. With what money are you going to live while your project grows or you get your first clients?
When you decide to dedicate yourself full time to your freelance career, you will have savings that will allow you to dedicate yourself 100% to your project to generate income before your financial fallback is over.
13. Valuing Yourself
Something that unfortunately happens a lot when you are freelance, is that there will be clients who will underestimate your work or who consider that you do not deserve what you charge for doing a job.
Here it is important not only that you charge the enough amount for your work but that you are firm in the prices you set.
It is fine to give slight discounts and that is part of every business, but do not allow a client to not respect your work and the prices you set. In fact, the respect for your work must start with you.
Value what you do, estimate your abilities, recognize that you are good at what you do.
You Can Live from What You Are Passionate About
The point of all these requirements is not to overwhelm you or make you feel that it is too difficult to be a freelance artist, but to understand that it is a job that requires effort, just like any other job.
But above all, the objective of this is that you understand that it is possible to start a thriving freelance artist career.
If you follow all these recommendations and take the time to specialize in an area, to increase your online presence, to understand how finances work when you have an independent business. You are surely sooner rather than later will start to see the result of all your effort.
There are a lot of freelance artists out there who now live off what they are passionate about and you can too.