Here is the second part of my blog series on life as a freelance illustrator and the various different skill sets necessary to make it a success.
This part is the worst for me as my maths skills are incredibly basic. In the last six months I have started using a rather brilliant software program which tracks all my expenditures and income and it's called Quickbooks. I cannot recommend this highly enough - there are other companies who make software like this too but this is the one that I use. Quickbooks has an app on your phone too, so if like me you like using apps to connect with your main computer, it's very useful when it reminds you 'hey, you spent X this week, was that business or pleasure' - you log that in and it summarises what you owe the tax man at the end of the financial year so there are no surprises! You can even connect it to HMRC (for UK folks, pretty sure there is a USA version of this too) in order to do your tax return. Pretty thrilling stuff. Top Tip: Keep all your receipts and track everything you spend on your business as these can be written off against tax (in the UK), yay!
• Legal assistant/Contract mediator
Be prepared to compose detailed contracts for your clients who don't have their own. There are many templates online to help with this, but it is important that the legal wording ('legalese') is correct so as to protect you and your client in the event of a job going sour or having to be cancelled. If you are unsure then get onto google and have a search around. There are many free templates out there. Top Tip: Never work without a contract.
Writing in a way that engages people and keeps their attention is VERY hard. Writing about your artwork and yourself can be tricky but also an opportunity to tell a story. Stories get people interested. The idea behind it is to inspire people to buy your product, service or artwork. Be sure to check all your spelling and better still, ask a friend who you know will give you honest feedback on your writing. Top Tip: Seek out other artists you like and see how they have written about themselves, is it in the third person, or more personal? Take inspiration from people you admire and would like to emulate.
• Customer Service/PR/Secretary/Public Face
Answering emails and being the face of your business is an important part of keeping it afloat. Being able to communicate clearly and politely is an incredibly useful skill and essential when dealing with clients, especially those who have not commissioned artwork before as they might need a lot of guidance in the process. If you are going to take your work to any conventions or art fairs, then people skills are even more vital here which can be challenging for some people who are not gregarious by nature. Be engaged with your customers, stand at your table as much as you can and ask them if you can help them, without being pushy (it's a tricky old balance!). Top Tip: Don't sit at your table playing with your phone or reading a book, be alert and aware of your surroundings and engage people in conversation.
In the final part next week I will be covering product photography, graphic design and content creation.