Today we’re discussing two topics vital to any freelancers success: getting your work recognized and how much to charge for it.
The first step in becoming a successful artist of any kind is to simply to get noticed. No biggie, right?! You can be an amazing artist, but if no one ever sees your work, you won't go very far with it.
So, here are my top tips on getting your work noticed in the industry!
Share your work. When it comes time to show off your work, a surprising amount of emotions can arise. It can feel intimidating and scary, but it’s also common to feel like you need to ’sit’ on your best work. Because, what if someone copies you? Or what if a company won’t license your work because it’s already ‘out there’?
I personally believe it’s better to take the risk in order to simply get it out there. If you don’t put it out there, no one will know it exists! If someone copies it, you can put your lawyer on them. If a company won’t license the pattern that’s already been shown, you can make some more. The key is to start building your brand and your signature style.
Focus on showing off your signature style. Being consistent in your work, the style of your work and the way you present it goes a long way. You’ll have a much better chance at landing work when a client can see your style through everything you share. It builds trust and let’s them know what they’re going to expect by bringing you on as a designer.
Build your brand and following. In a booming field of designers, having ‘the whole package’ is becoming increasingly important. Try to have some professional bio pictures taken, have a personable about page, work on sharing great content that engages your audience and your following will continue to grow, grow, grow.
Launch yourself! Announce your mission and go after it. Contact blogs and magazines in hopes of a mention, enter contests and continue to make new work to share on a consistent basis.
Build a portfolio and share it, share it, share it! I like to keep an updated list of ‘dream clients’ who I keep informed of new work and opportunities.
Easier said than done, right? Don’t forget that this stuff takes time. A lot of time! Just think - every single successful person out there started at zero. Zero skills, zero knowledge, zero followers. It takes time to grow and a lot of effort to put yourself out there BUT in the end it can be so (so!) worth it.
So, you’ve gotten your work noticed. Now what?
Number one question of all time is - how much do I charge? Though the answer will always depend on the specifics of the project, there are a couple of guidelines that I’m happy to share with you.
For starters, there are two ways to sell your work:
1) Sell it outright: selling your work outright means that you sell the piece of artwork for a fixed fee, entirely. You get a lump sum of money all up front, but you lose the rights to your work and won’t be able to use it again for any purpose or in any other industry. The kicker is that your name won’t be attached to it, either.
For these reasons, I don’t typically work this way, especially if it’s a piece that I would consider to be my signature style. However, if it’s not a particular piece that I feel expands my brand, it could be a great time to sell it!
Typically, patterns and artwork sell for anywhere between $250 - $1500 (and beyond, depending on how big your brand is). The factors that should go into deciding what to charge include how detailed the piece is, how big your brand is and what the project is.
2) License it: On the other hand, licensing gives you a percentage of wholesale sales, which, in the long run could be much more lucrative. It also allows you to maintain the copyrights, license the same designs in different industries (typically) and keep your name or brand name on it. I call that a win, win, win. Industry standards for licensing agreements generally range from 4-7% of wholesale sales, which usually get paid out quarterly.
In my experience, about 90% of offers for licensing are offered to the artist. Meaning, you would get presented with the offer and a contract that states what percentage they’re offering and any other guidelines for the project.
I always suggest reviewing your contracts with a lawyer, just to make sure you know exactly what you’re signing. You should also know that all contracts are negotiable! If you see something you don’t like, or would like to ask for more compensation, put it in writing and ask for it. Just remember that if they license several designers they are likely to stick to their initial offering so as to be fair.
The other 10% of the time, companies will ask me to give them a quote for a project. Before ever giving a quote, I ask lots of questions, do lots of research on the company and make sure I know exactly what the project entails.
If ever in doubt, consider having an open conversation with the client and see if they would be willing to share with you how other artists have worked with them in the past. Being up front and honest can go a long way in building a relationship with you licensors!