Category Archives: Marketing & Promoting Yourself

3 Things You MUST Do When You Finish An Illustration Project

#1 Ask For Feedback

Why Do This?

…Because it’s a great way to continually improve the way you work with clients.

…Because feedback and testimonials from real clients are a great marketing tool.

#2 Keep Your Financial Records Up To Date

Why Do This?

…Because it helps you see whether you’re on track to achieve your financial goals.

…Because it eases the admin stress come tax return time, and instead makes it a breeze to do.

#3 Update Your Portfolio

Why Do This?

…Because your illustration portfolio should reflect your latest & greatest work.

…Because every completed project and satisfied client is a great marketing opportunity, and adds to the potential for more work 😉

And Finally…

To help improve your paperwork, we put together this template for you to begin to create your own (online) Client & Job Database….

4 Things to Ask When A Prospective Client First Contacts You

#1 How Did You hear About My Work?

Why ask this?

…because it gives you feedback on which of your marketing activities are working.

…because it helps you figure out where to focus your future marketing efforts.

 

#2 What Final Output Are You Looking For?

Why ask this?

…because it enables you to review your own business goals and decide if this is a good fit.

…because it gives you clarity on what’s being asked and what’s expected.

#3 What’s the Deadline & Work Schedule?

Why ask this?

…because it enables you to manage your own schedule.

…because it gives you an additional criterion to decide if this is going to work for you.

#4 Is This the Best Fit for My Business/Me?

Why ask this?

…because ultimately, you do have a choice, and it’s always good to recognise that.

…because sometimes a job just isn’t the best thing for you or your business.

Four Ways to Get A Headstart on Your Illustration Business Each Year

At the end of each year, with the festive season in full swing, it can be hard to concentrate on your business and move the needle much further until the new year ‘lull’ comes round.

But if you can find a few quiet moments to begin thinking about the coming new year, you’ll be able to get back into the swing of things much more smoothly when the festivities are over, and focus on what matters most to grow your illustration business each year.

Here are 4 of our top recommendations to help you do this…

1. Review Your Biggest Lessons of the Past Year

Has it been the year you wanted? If not, why not? What didn’t work so well? What did?

There are a lot of ways to conduct an annual review, we like to keep it simple. Grab a pen and make 3 lists, as follows:

  1. What are you going to KEEP doing? (Because it worked well and it’s worth continuing with).
  2. What are you going to STOP doing? (Because it didn’t work well, never has and likely never will…if you’re truly honest!).
  3. What are you going to START doing? (Because you have a feeling it could work well for you and it’s worth a try).

This gives you a very simple action list that lets you (a) Review what’s happened (b) Clear the decks and (c) Re-focus your efforts on what matters.

2. Make a Plan for the Coming Year

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”

“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”

“I don’t much care where –”

“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”

~ Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland  

If you’re typically a ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ type illustrator, and it’s not been working out so well for you thus far, perhaps now is a good time to try something new…

Creative people and plans don’t often play well together, but there’s a strategic planning tool that Lea has developed that works well because it’s not a long-winded 30-page business plan, but a simple 1-page plan.

The crux of a good plan is this: Know what you’re aiming for…

What do you really want to be illustrating and who do you really want to be illustrating it for?

Until you really get clear on this, anything else you do for your illustration business is pretty pointless.

3. (Re)Focus Your Brand

It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that your work will do all the talking when it comes to your personal/professional brand – and sometimes it can – but if you interact on social media, attend networking events and generally perform other activities to market your business (which you should be doing!), then honing your brand for all these activities can really help.

Consider the following questions:

  • What do you and your brand stand for?
  • Are you and your work instantly recognisable?
  • What sets you apart? Why should someone work with you and not another illustrator?
  • Do ALL of your marketing activities present a cohesive and accurate representation of your brand?

If your work looks the same/similar to fellow illustrators, your brand – how you (re)present your work across all different channels and media (including you, as the illustrator) – can set you apart.

How well does your brand currently work for you? What can you do next year to improve it?

4. Create a Promotional Calendar

I’m sure we’ve all done this (I know I have)…you work on a lovely new promo mailer and send it out.

Then, several months later you think ‘Ooh, I haven’t sent out a mailer in a while’, so you create a new one and send it out. There’s no set schedule, it happens when it happens.

Creating a Promotional Calendar in advance can help you plan this into your schedule so you know what’s coming up, and can incorporate it into your workload.

The biggest benefit of doing this is that you will have an ongoing stream of marketing activities happening – to a plan – rather than the sporadic, ‘market when you need more clients’ type of approach so many creatives default to.

Why You Are the Best Illustration Agent You’ll Ever Have

If you’re struggling to get work and clients for your illustration business, it can be easy to think that the magic bullet lies in securing an agent.

After all, imagine having someone work on behalf of your business to actually bring you work on an ongoing basis, leaving you to focus purely on the bit you love…illustration!

But there are a number of reasons that going it alone can be the best approach in the long term…

No-one Is More Invested Than You

No-one is more passionate about what you do than…you! No-one is (or should be) more invested in your success than you.

No-one is going to be as thorough, as passionate, as dedicated to your success as you are…

But if fear and self doubt are holding you back, you must find a way to get through this because if you don’t believe in yourself, why should anyone else?

And if it’s lack of skills, know-how or someone to get answers from, we can help you with that too 🙂

Your Vested Interests Are Your Own

When you take control to run and market your own business, the only vested interests you have to worry about are your own.

There are no shareholders, partners or directors for you (or your agent) to keep happy, no irrelevant-to-you sales targets to hit, your interests are purely your own.

You do not have to do things a certain way just to keep X, Y or Z happy, you can do things the way you want to – you are your own boss, your vested interests are quite rightly in your own success.

You Can Stay Agile, Flexible and Adaptable

The nature of work is changing fast, and it’s only going to get faster.

As an illustrator – especially if you work in the digital medium – you now have all sorts of global opportunities open to you, no longer restricted by regional (or any other) borders.

The key – and challenge – of course is to find a way to identify and then take advantage of them – that’s what skilling up and self empowerment is all about.

And as soon as you do skill up, you can leverage these online tools, platforms and networks to reach people, clients and projects you’d never have been able to reach on your own before.

Not only can you reach them, they’re actively out there looking for (illustrators like) you.

Self Empowerment Above All Else

When you empower yourself with the skills you need – the marketing, the business building, the creative skills and more – no-one can take this away from you.

Becoming reliant on someone else for your success – an agent, a single client or even an employer – can erode your confidence, your self belief and your own ability to take control of your future and opportunities.

It can erode your belief in the fact that You. Are. (Good) Enough.

Empowering yourself – and arming yourself with the tools, resources, networks and contacts – to make a success of your illustration business and career, is life affirming.

You are the best agent you’ll ever have. Believe it.

Are You Making These 5 Small But Vital Mistakes On Your Illustration Portfolio Website?

There are a number of obvious, small yet possibly business-limiting mistakes which are prevalent on a number of portfolio websites we review…

#1 No (or Hard to Find) Contact Details

Would you believe that many websites make it impossible to find the contact details on them? They’re either simply not there or the details are buried deep within the website somewhere and unlikely to be easily found.

How will potential clients and art directors get in touch if they like your work, and want to hire you?

While some visitors may like your work enough to be motivated to spend a while searching your site for them, you want to make it as EASY as possible.

ACTION: Open up your website now! Are your contact details easy and obvious to find from every single page? If not, make them so!

#2 Too Small Thumbnails

If the thumbnail photos for your portfolio gallery are too small, it makes it really tricky to see your work, and pick something which might stand out or be of interest to a potential client.

Not only that, it can be visually overwhelming to be faced with an entire screen of tiny thumbnails, which can then lead to visitors clicking away from your site because they just don’t know where to go.

ACTION: Open up your website now! Are your thumbnails large enough for visitors to get a clear idea of what that piece of work actually is? If not, increase the size of your thumbnails.

#3 No Photo

If you are selling yourself as a professional service provider, you MUST have a photo of yourself up there somewhere.

It doesn’t need to be a glossy, staged and professionally-shot photo but it does need to show you as a friendly, approachable, professional human being who can be trusted with someone’s hard-earned pennies.

People work with people, so show yourself and who you are instead of hiding behind an avatar or no image of yourself at all.

ACTION: Open up your website now! Is there a photo of yourself or something that will give prospective clients a visual of exactly who they’ll be hiring and working with?

#4 No Mailing List

It’s the #1 rule of marketing yourself online…build a mailing list.

The reason being is that while it’s great that people come to your website in the first place, you need to give them a way to stay up-to-date with what you’re doing, and stay present in their minds should any suitable potential projects crop up.

It might feel like just one extra thing you don’t have time to do, but smarter creative marketers know that an online mailing list is a relatively quick, easy and cost effective way of keeping in touch with potential clients who are interested in hiring you.

ACTION: Check out mailing list providers such as AWeber or Mailchimp – and plan the sending out of a regular e-newsletter into your marketing strategy soon!

#5 Splash Pages

While they may look pretty, when clicks and getting people to take action on the web are at a premium, why force visitors to make that one, unnecessary extra click just to get to the main part of your website?

ACTION: Open up your website now! Are you forcing visitors to take unnecessary extra steps and actions just to get to the main content of your website (your portfolio)? If so, streamline the experience and remove any barriers.