How to find clients as a freelance illustrator/artist
Before I start, I just want to say that this is purely based on how I find clients, there are SO many blog posts out there already about this topic, but I feel like they all cover similar approaches and at the end of the day, different techniques work for different people.
So I’m going to share the main ways that I’ve found clients since I started out, and I definitely need to explore new ideas when it comes to finding clients, but so far I’ve had a reliable and steady flow of clients from these sources that have left me too busy to need to find new opportunities.
Don’t be generic, do a bit of background research into the person/company you’re contacting so that you can mention something more personal in your reply such as a recent event that they have experienced or something that appeals to you about them and why you want to work with them.
This is one I’d recommend for those just starting out in the industry, and to pick your jobs carefully. There are way too many job opportunities on here, and plenty of other websites of course, that offer little to no money, and I’m someone who advises against taking these types of jobs. Essentially, if you’re proactively looking for clients, you’re probably good enough to get paid, even if it’s just the equivalent of minimum wage, you’re still putting in the hours.
It’s easy to let people pressure you into feeling like you don’t deserve to be paid, but I can assure you that you do, and devaluing yourself only devalues everyone else in the industry and what we do which makes it that bit more difficult to pursue a full time creative career that will support you financially. I am going to write a blog post soon where I’ll talk about other reasons behind why it’s important to get paid that aren’t about the money.
It does take a fair bit of digging through posts, but there are some really awesome job posts on here too, and quite a few well established companies post their job offers on there. I started out getting a fair amount of paid work from DeviantArt (most of which I will never, ever share haha!), there’s also a huge variety of job types and a ton of postings on a daily basis so it’s worth checking back everyday. DeviantArt was actually the place where I found the posting for The Alinick Chronicles (the children’s book series that I’m working on) which I’m still illustrating over two years later and will be doing so for the foreseeable future.
I can’t say exactly how many of my clients come from Twitter itself, but I get a lot of people who contact me through Twitter or email me and already follow me on Twitter, and most of my website views are also directed through my Twitter account so it obviously plays a big part in clients finding me online.
All freelancers use their Twitter differently, some are really personal on it and share their whole lives, some share only business related content. I try and have a mix of both, I don’t share too much of my personal life, I never really share how I’m personally feeling unless it’s related to running my business and I feel like others could offer advice. Even though it’s highly business focused I still try and make sure everything that I post gets my personality across. This is all related to your personal brand and how you want people to perceive you and your business online.
In regards to actually finding work through Twitter, it’s obviously important to use hashtags when tagging any work that you do post, when you do this, make sure you’re thinking through the mind of a client and what hashtags might appeal to them if they’re looking for someone who does what you do. You can also use Twitter’s search bar in the top right to search the content of people’s tweets, again it’s important to think about what the client might tweet if they are looking for a freelancer to work with.
I have also got some great friends on Twitter who I know both in real life and who I have met through client projects, when they see a job that might appeal to me they will always recommend me to that person which is always helpful and Twitter is a great place for it!
Directly emailing an art director or a head of department at a company you’d like to work with, in my opinion seems a lot more daunting than it actually is, and can also be a lot more rewarding than people think! I also don’t think it’s ever too early on in your creative career to use this approach, as some art directors are very interested in working with artists who are just starting out. Some people would also recommend phone calls instead of emails, however I’ve never personally called anyone just out of personal preference.
Here’s a few emailing tips that have worked for me, although I know these don’t work for everyone!:
Choose a relevant subject title - I’d avoid doing something too out there because it’ll just look like spam, all capitals are a definite no for example. Something simple like ‘ I am interested in working with you’ usually works for me!
Keep it short - Some people like to write a fair sized email about who they are, what they do and what they’re interested in etc. But the people reading these emails are short for time, so what I usually do is let them know my name and what I do, which can easily be covered in one sentence. I also write another sentence or two at a push mentioning something more personal about their company, for example, why I want to work with them, making sure to also include where to find my work underneath.
Lastly, don’t attach images, your email will more than likely end up in their junk/spam folder.
The majority of the time you won’t get a reply, but I can assure you that if they like your work they will keep you on record and contact you when they require your particular skill or style. It’s worth contacting them again maybe 3-6 months down the line if you have worked on new projects or added new work to your portfolio, this way you can give them a little update and remind them of who you are and what you do.
I hope this been helpful! I wanted to try and give an insight on how to I actually find clients, not just ways that I contact them. Next week I’m going to write about how you can attract clients to you, and ways that will also help to build your reputation when a client comes across your website.
Thanks for reading!