Becoming a freelance artist is one thing: succeeding is another!
Yes, freelancing is hard work – but it’s also a rewarding and highly enjoyable way to make a living. And, with more people now working from home than ever before, it’s a great time to pursue your dream.
This post may have affiliate links, meaning we earn a small commission on purchases through the links (at no extra cost to you). This does not change our opinion but does help support the site. Thank you!
Here’s a straight-up guide to becoming a successful freelance artist.
What is a freelance artist?
A freelance artist is a self-employed artist who offers services to many different clients. He or she might create art from several different mediums, depending on where their talents lie.
Like any independent contractor, a freelance artist may create pieces to sell on their own, or they may be commissioned by a client to complete a specific project. However, they’re more likely to work on an ad hoc basis rather than for a steady employer.
How to become a freelance artist
Are you a painter, a photographer, sculptor, calligrapher, or designer? Honestly assess your skills and decide whether you can create a career out of them. A good way to do this is to compare your work with other artists in the same field. Are your skills comparable? Better? Do other people praise your work? This will help you figure out if your skills will be in demand.
- Set a work schedule.
Becoming your own boss doesn’t mean you get to sleep in every day and work when you feel like it. One of the best ways to keep yourself accountable is to create a schedule. Think about how many hours a day you’ll need to work, and how much time you’ll be able to allocate to seeking out clients. Decide what time you’ll start working each day and what time you’ll stop. Also think about other commitments you’ll need to make time for: family, meals, chores, and so on.
Think of your freelancing as a 9-5 job: this will help to keep procrastination at bay and your productivity on track.
- Actively search for work
As any freelancer will tell you, much of their time is spent looking for new clients and getting projects booked in. You will need to schedule in time for client-seeking even while you’re working on a piece. You don’t want to finish a project and then suddenly find you have no income for a time because you haven’t lined up a new client!
Schedule some time into each day to seek work. Use social media platforms such as Linkedin, Facebook, online forums, job boards, and anywhere else that will keep you in the public eye.
- Think about pricing
While there’s no definite salary for any freelancer, some sources say that freelance artists can earn around $44,000 per year.. Of course, this figure will depend on how much you create, where you work, competition, demand, and so on.
A good way to figure out how much you can make is to check out what other artists in your local area are charging. You should aim to be as competitive as possible with pricing, while also making enough to cover your expenses.
Talk to a fellow artist who has been freelancing in a similar field for some time. He or she should be able to help you figure out a fair rate to charge. Remember to factor in the number of hours you put into a project and the costs of materials and any travel involved!
- Keep yourself inspired
Learn from other artists as much as possible. Join Facebook groups, follow artists’ pages, trawl Instagram. Go to museums and galleries. Read books and magazines.
Your mentor can also help keep you inspired and motivated.
Who hires freelance artists and what for?
If you have creative skills, you’ll be in hot demand by various industries and businesses. A few examples include:
TV networks are often looking for different artists to help them develop their brand. Visual artists may be hired to work on shows, print media and website imagery.
The publishing world is always searching for multimedia artists. If you have skills in document formatting, you could be highly desirable to a media outlet or publishing company. Important skills can include design and layout for magazines, books, brochures, posters, or infographics.
Demand for quality website design is increasing constantly. Business owners are always in need of artists to design, implement and update their websites. Check out freelance job pages for postings.
Where to get work as a freelance artist
There are dozens of freelance websites out there now which makes it possible for any level or type of artist to find work. These sites provide a platform for clients to advertise opportunities and for freelancers to apply.
You can also create a profile that describes your skills, services, availability, rates, and your previous work. Clients can contact you directly when looking for a specific skillset, or you can browse for job postings yourself.
Many sites also take care of invoicing and payments, although this usually involves a fee.
While freelance sites are competitive, they’re one of the easiest ways to get work. When you can prove your worth, you’ll have a better chance of standing out amongst other freelancers.
Some of the main freelancing sites include:
How to market yourself as a freelance artist
When it comes to marketing yourself, an up-to-date portfolio is absolutely crucial. Your portfolio is the ‘evidence’ of your career to date, and it’s what you’ll show potential clients every time you apply for a project, or even just while networking.
Your portfolio should contain all your best work, and preferably finished pieces. It should also be properly organized in some way so that it looks professional. You may choose to organize it by categories, dates or subject matter: whatever it takes to show off the skills you have.
You’ll also need to promote yourself – all the time! The internet is your most powerful tool for getting your name out there, so use it to your full advantage. Head to forums, build a Facebook profile and interact with your followers, post your work on art sites, chat with other artists and share their work. Be social. Be everywhere. The point is that you want to get noticed! Being too modest – or shy – can mean missing out on a great opportunity.
How to put “freelance artist” on your resume
Everyone needs a resume they can send to potential clients or job offers. This is where many freelance artists get stuck. While it can be difficult to explain what you do on paper, you certainly don’t want your freelancing to look like an employment gap.
Come up with a way to present your “job title” on your resume that makes it easy for your future employers to understand. Be sure to include all work you’ve done as an artist: paid and unpaid, side hustles, and any other projects that demonstrate your skills as an independent contractor. Consider your specific role as an artist and your accomplishments on each project you’ve completed.
As an overview, your resume should show:
- How long you’ve been freelancing
- Your most important work to date
- Your strengths or areas of expertise
- Awards or other achievements
Remember to list your freelance projects in chronological order (most recent to oldest), just as you would on any other resume.
How to use social media
Social media is one of your greatest tools for building an online presence. Nearly all of your potential clients will look online to hire the skills they need,, so it’s important that your profile stands out.
- Platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are essential for building brand awareness. Posting your work regularly will get people seeing what you’re creating.
- Instagram is designed for visual media so it’s ideal for artists. Instagram for Business allows you to add information to your profile and also gain insights on your stories, posts, and followers. You can also add extra information about your business to your profile. Use hashtags to grow your niche and attract followers.
- A Facebook profile will not only allow you to post images and build a following. You can also use Ads Manager to customize analytics and target segments of your audience for higher conversion rates. Or, you can create a Facebook group rather than just a usual business page and interact with your followers more personally.
- Pinterest is also a fantastic visual platform which allows you to post images to an audience. Followers can then pin’ your images, which puts your work in front of even more people
- Whichever platform you use, the key is to engage with your fans and followers regularly and keep them interested.
How to impress your clients
The first thing you must do to get clients interested is to talk to them! Get in touch, make small talk and start building a relationship.
Be sure to research your potential client ahead of meeting them. Find out what they do and what their business is about. Your client will be impressed that you’ve paid attention to their specific needs.
A welcome package is a good way to get a new client interested. This can include information about who you are, what you do, and how you can help them – along with a rate.