It has been almost a year since I decided to turn my illustration hobby into a “business”, and for many reasons, it was the right choice. I put business in quotes because I believe I still have lots to learn, but at least I know the direction I’m going. Here is where I am right now…
I fully believe that my work is strong and I have a recognizable style. Creating the artwork will always be the part of this that will give me the most comfort. For now, I am mostly creating stuff that I like. As I have read, most creatives are in the same boat, so I am not alone in this thought. I have also gotten very good at working during odd times of the day. For now, I don’t feel like I need to go at it like a 9-5 job. I can do something else during the day and still be prodcutive. I tend to work well in the morning and late at night. I’m usually out of it from 2 to 6.
I have realized that meeting people is ESSENTIAL as a creative. I have been lucky enough over the past year to do three festivals and do some work for people that I found or found me. I still believe I have a lot more to do. Since it is the most difficult part for me, I really have to force myself. I know I have a strong web presence and I am comfortable with my work, but people need to know I exist. Posting stuff on Facebook or Twitter or portfolio sites like Behance is nice, but it is not going to bring me the kind of jobs that I will need to make this “business” a business. If nothing else, I need to know what people think of my work and where I might fit in. Networking always seems so messy to me because people tend to say a lot when they are networking, but action doesn’t always take place. That will be frustrating for me.
Since having a business requires money, mistakes can hurt more. I know the saying goes “it takes money to make money”, but I’m not at a point where I can mortgage my house to try and get a business off the ground. With that said…I know I need to make mistakes. At this early stage, my mistakes will teach me more than my successes. A perfect example…I started with WAY too much product. I thought it was important to have a variety of stuff, but at the end of the day, it was more important to have stuff I knew I could sell. Those products will probably end up as stuff I give away, but now, I know how to focus my energies if and when I decide to make more product.
This is another tough one for me. When selling my posters, I should have started off higher. If I knew I had something that would sell, I should have priced it accordingly. In the end, it was nice to just get my stuff out there, but pricing will become more critical as I get further along. The one thing about pricing that has been tough have been my illustration jobs. So far, I have done work for friends, family, and a couple people I have met along the way. I have not had any problems so the prices I have charged have felt right. There will come a day, though, where I will need to spell out more specifically what it is that I do and how much each part of the process will cost. I am not there yet. I am just starting out so the money is nice. As I become more established, though, quoting proces will be difficult.
The question remains…can I get back to Illustrator soon?