The Freelance Diaries: Supplementing Your Income
Again, as 2014 comes to an end this week, I'm so grateful when I look back and realize, "wow, I get to do what I love for a living". When most people think of Illustration or Hand Lettering as a profession, they picture the starving artist. They picture someone who gets maybe one or two jobs here and there and will never pay of their astronomical amount of student loans. Okay, now this mental picture is actually really accurate for a huge chunk of Illustrators out there. But it doesn't have to be that way. Not everyone can snag work full time, but what we can do is supplement our income in a way that utilizes our skills. This is an important business move as a freelance creative no matter what level you're at. If you're working full time - good for you - you should still consider supplementing your income so you can earn a living even when you can't work (hello, we all need a little break some time). If you only snag a couple freelance gigs a year and work a day job, supplementing your income in a new way could be the tipping point for going completely freelance.
So I'm going to let you in on some cool information. Here are three ways you can start supplementing your income as a freelance Illustrator, Hand Letterer, Calligrapher, Designer, Photographer (you get the picture) TODAY.
1. Sell your original artwork
Use the power of the internet to sell your artwork. These days, it's obviously nice to be represented by a gallery but it's not necessary to make money. Set up an online shop either on your own or through a platform like Etsy or Ebay and offer your original artwork for sale. Be sure to do extensive research on price points to make sure that you maintain the value of your artwork. Selling your work directly to the consumer will bypass that 25-50% you'd have to hand over to a gallery with every sale. Because your work is original, the price point should be higher and you might sell a smaller quantity throughout the year. That's okay because it's supplemental anyways. If you eventually are spending all your time selling your work, shipping, and managing your online shop, you should consider the option of doing that full time and quitting freelancing. But you can cross that bridge when you get there.
2. Sell a digital product
Instead of selling original artwork, consider selling a digital product in your online shop AND on other websites. For example, I sell fonts, stock artwork, and various texture illustrations not only in my online shop but also through Creative Market and a slew of font distribution companies like MyFonts. Selling a digital product is a fantastic way to do things because a.) you spend no time on logistics b.) you can maximize your profit by utilizing multiple selling platforms, similar to selling your products in stores all over the world, c.) There is little to no overhead cost, and d.) you don't have to purchase any inventory (just devote your time to development).
3. Become an affiliate
You guys know how I'm pretty open about my love for Squarespace? It's true. I'm a die-hard fan of their beautiful products. Want to know what's even better? I'm sponsored by them. That means that every time someone signs up for their website using my affiliate link, they'll reward me. It's an awesome situation because not only does it support a company that I love to thrive and continue to put newer and better products on the market, but it supports my little hand lettering and modern calligraphy business and my ability to keep doing what I love. Win, win. Consider teaming up with a company that you relate to. Perhaps you have a small advertisement for them on your website and every time a visitor uses that link to buy something, you get a reward. You can feel great about yourself because you are supporting a company that you genuinely love and you're recommending that company to others. You can also feel good because you can pay your rent each month. My bit of advice: be really selective on these sorts of things. You don't want to annoy your followers with advertisements all over your website your over selling a product. Notice how I literally only have two buttons on my side bar to promote companies? There's a reason for that.
So there you have it - a few ways to start supplementing your income right now as a freelance creative. You guys may think that it's always sunshines and rainbows over here in Molly Jacques land, but that's not the case. The freelance world is renowned to bring feast or famine and I'm no exception. I've equipped myself with a system that makes up for months of famine and just adds to the feast. PLEASE keep in mind: just because I call these techniques "supplement", that doesn't mean you should create crappy products. Seriously, you guys. Make sure that whatever you put out there, that you're proud of it. Make sure you're selling something that is original and has a purpose. Something that means something to not only YOU but also your target audience.
Maybe you've known this trick and you've been practicing it for years. If so, do you have any other helpful tips to add? Maybe you're that person who wants to leave your day job to work full time as a freelancer. Did you find this helpful? Comment below to share your thoughts.
All my best,