Guest Post – How To Find Freelance Illustration Work – Part One
Unless you’re already a well-known illustrator it can be tough to find work that allows you to earn a living, even with a solid portfolio and professional attitude – in this article I’m going to assume you already have those basics covered. Promoting ourselves is something we need to learn the same way we learn to draw: with a lot of trial and error attempts because no single way works for everyone. There is no clear path to become established. There are, however, a few basic approaches that everyone can rely on.
There are two ways to get illustration jobs: Those that find and contact you (passive) and those that you find and contact (active).
In this first part I’ll talk about how potential clients can discover you. Later, I’ll publish Part Two which will be about the reverse: how you can actively seek out and contact potential clients.
How to make potential clients find and contact you
Pave the way
It goes without saying that your work should be present both online in your own professional looking website or blog, as well as printed in good quality for portfolio reviews at conventions or meetings with clients.
Since internet users have the shortest attention span of any species, it is especially important that they’re able to contact you instantly. Have your e-mail address, a link to your e-mail form, or a contact form on every page of your online portfolio. Make sure that visitors can get straight to viewing your work, ideally with less than one click, and that your online gallery is easy to leaf through, without any brain effort. Your website design should be simple, too. Look at it on different devices: old and new Windows and Mac systems, smartphones and tablets, to make sure it looks good on them all.
To make your website easier to find for the search engines, make sure it’s HTML-based (no Flash!) thus easy to read for search engine crawlers. If you’re new to this, look up SEO basics on how to optimize your site for Google and others. Ideally your template comes with a preinstalled SEO gadget that makes things even simpler.
If you’re using a predesigned theme or template, make sure the code is clean (some free WordPress templates have been discovered to have malicious code!)
Offline, get into the habit of carrying your business card with you at all times – you never know whom you’re going to meet. I keep them in my handbag in a small, lightweight business card case.
In my physical portfolio, a leatherbound A4 sized book with clear bags, I put A4 prints of my work that I order from an online photo service since they offer the best quality A4 prints at the lowest prices.