Maybe because in our minds we’re creatives first and freelancers second, many of us don’t start out treating our illustration careers like a business. We don’t have a plan—other than being happy that anyone wants to hire us for anything—and we certainly don’t have financial goals—other than being thrilled to pay our mortgage and have food to eat.
While this approach will work for some, the rest of us benefit from creating focus, setting goals, and announcing to ourselves and everyone else that this illustration career is a business and will always be treated as such, not just at tax time.
Yes, you’re here to make rad art and to make those creative dreams come true. But you know what? You’re also here to make money, pay your bills, create the financial existence you dream of, and start planning for retirement.
Here are 5 simple ways to start taking your illustration career seriously right now:
Build a portfolio site that is simple and clean in design to showcase your work. Include professional details such as projects you’ve worked on, clients you’ve worked with, and a short bio with picture.
Ditch your provider email address and switch to an email address @yourdomain.com instead. You can even do this through G Suite so it functions just like your existing Gmail account but looks 100% more professional when you’re giving your email address to clients.
Set solid financial goals for one month, one year, five years, and ten years. Watch your inner hustle perk up when you set those goals and start working towards them. Don’t be stuck earning the bare minimum when you can do so much better.
Write a simple business plan including short term and long terms goals along with action items you’ll need to check off to reach those goals.
Schedule a monthly goal check-in with yourself. Set aside 30 minutes at the end of each month to check on your financial goals and your overall career goals. Are you on track? If not, what can you improve to get back on track? Or have your goals changed along the way?
Creativity will always come first but you won’t get far with it unless you’re also focusing on business as a close second. Freelance illustration is a challenging but rewarding career that you can dominate with some planning and focus.