Here’s the second installment in the series where we’re going to be dealing in details and stuff you’re going to need to get set up and start looking for prospects and hitting them hard. First thing you’re going to need is a book keeping system. You can do this with physical files or on your laptop or pda if you have one. Get a physical green folder and mark it “Income” and a red folder marking it “Expenses”. Also you’ll want to keep a log of your creating and marketing time slots because you’ll need to keep track of your time. If you want you can keep track of all this electronically using your laptop or pda. I integrate all three methods in synchronization but I can tell you sometimes technology will let you down . . . so don’t be lazy, keep physical records for backup. Plus we still live in a society where we get paper receipts and invoices for transactions. You don’t want to blow up and have the I.R.S. (sick face) at your door while all you have is your hands full of crashed equipment and no records. Next thing you’re going to want to do is get some EXTREMELY CRUCIAL BOOKS which I’m going to tell you which ones to buy. You may find other books outside of the list I give you here but these are the absolute MUST BUYS here. Since a lot of you may not get to sit down and have a cup of coffee with established artists in our industry you can do the next best thing and read what they have to say and how they got there. Here is the list you need to get asap.
This book is must-have-numero-uno for any artist. It’s your starting point. I’ve been buying this series for 3 years now and have gotten a LOT of business from it. This book contains listings of book publishers, art galleries, gift card and merchandise companies, and much more. In these listings you’ll see a description of each contact, names, phone numbers, email addresses, what they look for, etc. What I did was highlight each and every company I felt would do business with me (I’m ambitious so I damn near highlighted every one). The lists you build from this book determine your mailing lists for postcard direct mailing (which we’ll get more into later) and your e-mail lists. There’s section under each listing called “First Contact Terms” which is self explanatory. They give instructions on how to contact them but I pretty much contacted them how I wanted. If a company lists their email address, which most of ‘em do, then say first contact them with a disc submission . . . I’d still email them. I’m like this, if you don’t want to be contacted then don’t list your contact info. “Mr. Art Director you need to do business with me and you’re going to find out how good I am one way or another so deal with it!” Use ALL contact info these companies supply. They won’t know about you unless you hit them air, land, and sea. Besides the listings this book also has some useful tips in the industry as a whole period. Also check the names of actual people in these listings on social media sites like “LinkedIn” and try to learn about them and possibly develop a relationship with them. I know they probably don’t want me telling you that but hey, business is business and sometimes it takes that kind of go-getterness. I’ve marked this book up and down on every page with notes and dating to show who I’ve contacted in when. You’ll want to keep track of your contact with these companies so you don’t overload art directors. And don’t worry about competition. Different companies look for different stuff. You’re to create your own market out of books like this by going after companies that look for the type of art you do. GET this book . . . don’t make me have to come after you, the link is right above.
Here’s another ABSOLUTELY essential book you need to pick up if you haven’t yet. I have this book and still find myself going through it once in a while just to refresh my knowledge and make sure I’m not slacking in any areas. Michael Fleishman doesn’t just preach at you, he walks you through practically every aspect of the business. You’re going to need to know how to approach your market, how to reach them, how to connect with them, how to budget your promotional campaigns and Michael lays it all out in simplistic form. If it wasn’t for this book I would have made years of mistakes (especially with contracts) and wouldn’t have been able to find my my was as quickly in this business. This book has every contract and template you’re going to need in your dealings with clients. I’m talking about proposal write up sheets, budget sheets, time sheets, down to the actual contracts. From really finding your definitive style to damn near EVERY single piece of paperwork involved in a transaction between you and a client, this book has it all.
This is the 3rd MUST HAVE book in starting out freelancing in the art world. It covers all aspects of freelancing as a business and goes into detail on every aspect. Any artist who takes what they do seriously either has this book or has been recommended this by somebody who already has it. Cameron Foote walks you through the process of executing transactions seamlessly in a way the other books don’t. It helps you make decisions based on what kind of business you’re trying to run. This book helps you choose which avenues to pursue regarding approaching agencies, magazine publishers, publishing companies and HOW to approach them. How to write a inquiry letter, what dialogue to use in conveying your interest, what kind of business practices are the most useful in dealing with your market, and anything else you would need launching your art career is in this book. Get it for your library starting out, you’ll be glad you did.
There are more book recommendations . . .
But I don’t want to overload you yet. These three are the foundation of starting out and give you a precise understanding of what you’ll need in the beginning. These are the 3 I started out with. I’ll be covering many subjects in these books myself and what’s worked for me so don’t worry. I’m not just going to tell you to buy these books then send you off without telling you what’s worked for me. My next installment is going to deal with how I used direct marketing campaigns, email soliciting, and the internet to gain new business relationships. Remember no two journeys to success are identical but I do believe that many key points ARE the same especially in this business and can translate from one niche to the next. So in the meantime before I post the next installment in this how-to series buy the books, get reading, and get your highlighter out. Mark keypoints in these books you know you’ll come back to. I did this when I bought these books and I still go back to them. Stay tuned for part 3!