Self Promotion, whats the most effective method?
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  1. #1
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    Self Promotion, whats the most effective method?

    Self-Promotion... its a funny old game, and its something I need to do VERY soon when I get the money! You see I want to start a business in freelance illustration, just part time for now side by side another rubbish PT job to pay the bills, and need some advice from the pros here Ive seen the postcards, the leaflets, the CD's, the websites etc, ads in yellow pages n' all which ppl send out, but WHICH is the most effective one from a professionals point of view?

    Which method have people wasted money and effort on and got nothing from? Which method was really expensive but worth every penny? I know that knocking on doors with my portfolio, and cold calling agencies is the cheapest and best thing to do first off for a noob like me, but in terms of distributing and getting my name around after that, any suggestions?

    All I have is my website, business cards, and an enhanced listing on yell.com so far. My folio is in shreds atm, as it was in an A1 case before. Do you think its probably better to have a smaller folio like A3 for easier transportation purposes, as I can imagine clunking a huge A1 folio around offices is not very practical, or maybe I should have both a small and large version?

    Any advice would be very appreciated, and thanked

    Peace

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    Well for starters, this is what your website looks like when I open it in both opera and firefox:
    <!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN">
    <html>
    <head>
    <!-- TemplateBeginEditable name="doctitle" -->
    <title>Untitled Document</title>
    <!-- TemplateEndEditable -->
    <meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=iso-8859-1">
    <link href="../style.css" rel="stylesheet" type="text/css">
    <link href="../Style.css" rel="stylesheet" type="text/css">
    <link href="../style.css" rel="stylesheet" type="text/css">
    <link href="../style.css" rel="stylesheet" type="text/css">
    <style type="text/css">
    <!--
    @import url(../style.css);
    -->
    </style>
    <!-- TemplateBeginEditable name="head" --><!-- TemplateEndEditable -->

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  3. #3
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    I used a computer arts guide to make the website in Macromedia Dreamweaver MX for IE because I am rubbish at webdesign and its better than geocities. I dont even know anything about opera and firefox so sorry for any folks using that, but i believe the majority use IE im afraid including me, so theres nout I can do to fix it im afraid.

    Cheers for the quick response though, id have never know that otherwords.

    Peace

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    Now this is a good thread so I thought I would raise it to the top again. Any other freelancers out there got any advice? Now is the time to share.

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    afaik, puddnhead/kev llewellyn is a master of self-promotion. cant any of the admins ask him to put some worthy advice in here?

    i mean... we got a master around here - why not ask him

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    one very effective way would be to make 98% of your competition look like shit in what you do, and post on those boards where itīs at.
    easy as that.

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    Pale: Cheers, hope we have some freelancers here who will notice
    Gekitsu: Hehe, we will see.
    Dan v.D.: I COULD do that, but the competition is HOT in the UK, and the establishled illustrators and everone who knows them, already know that they rock! And so dissing them on a forum board would seem slightly childish, pathetic and low, not to mention pointless.

    Anyway, I was thinking of maybe producing a tiny mini-folio, like a thing that folds out like a fan to cool you down, but on each page is a dif image etc and it would be held together with a small thing in a corner. These could just be flung about and sent to anyone, but because its a bit dif, maybe it would get the right attention and not just chucked in the bin.. hmmmm.

    Peace

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    Well for starting out it's fairly basic I imagine.

    For the record: I'm not a freelancer, although I've recently started getting a few small assignments.

    So im speaking from prediction, not experience. In my eyes the easiest way to get a good freelancing career going is: Know people.

    Use your connections to get assignments and get as much exposure as possible. I've seen it work for plenty people in my class who did freelance work(although not neccesarily related to illustration) during their study.

    Sorry if im stating the obvious.

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    hey absolutely didnīt mean dissing them but pwning them with your work.

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    business cards with different samples of your art on each... business cards are snazzy beyond talk... give them frequently.

    they may be collectors items some day.

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    I would fix your page to work with firefox and opera. Almost everyone I know uses firefox.

    | Myspace | FLICKR The hype is real.
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    Wouldn't it be more helpful if some freelancers gave advice about:

    • Portfolio organization, size, quality, appearance,
    • The usefullness of cold calls.
    • E-mail and web design stratagies
    • How they got thier mailing list started.
    • What type of mailing they do and to whom.
    • The usefullnes of putting your art in the various art annuals vs. the cost.
    • Does entering contests get you anywhere?
    • Does doing freework for exposure help you or are you just getting screwed?


    In order to get work you have to get a AD to look at your work, take you seriously, and choose you over the other highly talented artists that are clamoring for his attention.

    No offence intended but advise like "well ya gotta know people" is about as helpful and obvious as saying "fire is hot and water is wet."

    I think what people are looking for, myself included, from this thread is specifics of how people get work on a daily basis not obvious generalizations.
    If anyone has information like that please share.

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    Nikos: Easier said than done m8, you cant just "know" people, thats just impossible unless you are some kind of celebrity round ere lol.

    Dan v.D.: np

    Elvisr8r: Interesting Idea, only problem is it costs around Ģ100 for 500 double sided business cards, and full colour cards could be very expensive, but great suggestions anyway, especially the collectable point, could be something creative directors might pin to their notice boards lol!

    TagHeuer: I am an illustrator, not a webdesigner, I am sorry if some ppl use firefox or whatever, but I use and made my site for IE as a webdesign NOOB, and everyone I know uses IE, so not much I can do im afraid.

    Mr Pale: Very valid points m8, my first plan is to go see the AD's and CD's of agencies, and see if any luck comes my way because you never know, they might just have something for me on that day! But seriously, the points you have raised are very important, especially about entering artwork into stuff like annuals which could be expensive and lead to nothing!, and also about portfolio sizes etc.

    P.S. Has anyone used portfolio websites, such as the Association Of Illustrators in the UK?

    Peace

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    Cocofuppa, I think a more valid question would be how many art directors use those porfolio sites. My guess would be pretty few. I've visited them and it seams the rank amatures are side by side with the (rare) professional. If I was an art director.... wait technically I am, I wouldn't bother wading throught that.

    As for the rest of my questions, how about a few freelancers chime in and give us some opinions.

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    Wouldn't it be more helpful if some freelancers gave advice about:
    Ok, I'll bite.
    WARNING: I'm going to drop stuff here that I don't have time to link, so you're going to have to do your own googling.
    Portfolio organization, size, quality, appearance,
    I'm a big fan of those cheap Itoya Pro-folios. Buy a couple 9x12s, print out a nice customised spine, and fill 'em up with ink jet prints. Less is more. You can get work starting out with ten or twelve (GOOD!) pieces. If you have the least bit of doubt about a piece, leave it out. Keep your books neat and clean. If they start to look worn, replace them.
    The usefullness of cold calls.
    Cold calls are great for getting or confirming contact info. Call the main number of a company and ask to speak to the art department. Tell whoever you get that you are an illustrator and would like their submission guidelines. Ask who you should send samples to (get correct spelling!). If they are local, ask what their drop off policy is. Be polite and business like. If you are shy and nervous about cold calling you don't even have to give your name.
    E-mail and web design stratagies
    Unsolicited E-mail: DON'T DO IT! Do you like being spammed? Neither do ADs. Especially never send unsolicited image attachments. Most company mail systems will automatically block them anyway.
    Web design: Again, keep it simple and professional, with the focus on the art. Make sure your site works on all browsers and cross-platform (almost any AD working in print media will be using a Mac). Be aware that many companies don't have Flash installed on their systems.

    Gotta go, more later (hopefully).

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    Elwell: Well ive just googled the Iyota Portfolio cases, and they seem very attractive! I recently had to use a very cheap similar item that was for reports when i was meeting my first potential client a while back to show some different styles I could do, and the response was very good. BUT those Iyota cases look even better and CHEAP, in fact I think I may even try to get a hold of some!

    Talking of cold calls, would you say that It would be more helpful to arrange a time to meet the creative or art director of agencies on the phone, or just go around knocking on doors to arrange a meet, so that they can meet you face to face?

    Im just about to send off the Inland Revenue SE Registration forms, so this is all becoming very real now lol!

    Anyway, thanks for the response dude appreciated, anyone else?

    EDIT: I just thought of this, does anyone think that AD's and CD's are bothered about seeing "original" artwork rather than prints or a bit of both?
    The reason I ask is that I have many A1 original pieces of artwork that would need digitally photographed if they were to be printed for a small A4 folio.

    Peace

    Last edited by Cocofuppa; September 6th, 2004 at 04:25 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cocofuppa
    Talking of cold calls, would you say that It would be more helpful to arrange a time to meet the creative or art director of agencies on the phone, or just go around knocking on doors to arrange a meet, so that they can meet you face to face?
    I don't know how things are over there, but in the US getting an unsolicited meeting with an AD is nearly impossible. Pretty much everything is drop-offs. On those rare occasions when you do get an actual appointment, treat it like gold: ask questions, get feedback, and always try to get names of other people who migh be interested in you. Your chance of getting another sitdown with someone is much greater if you can call them and say "(so-and-so) thought you might like to see my work."
    I would never just show up with a portfolio expecting to meet someone. You do hear stories about people doing that successfully, but that was another time.
    I just thought of this, does anyone think that AD's and CD's are bothered about seeing "original" artwork rather than prints or a bit of both?
    The reason I ask is that I have many A1 original pieces of artwork that would need digitally photographed if they were to be printed for a small A4 folio.
    Always show prints, not originals. It's just too risky. Also, you want to have multiple copies of your book. If you actually do get a meeting with someone you can bring along an original or two as a little something extra.

    Last edited by Elwell; September 7th, 2004 at 01:35 AM.
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    Continuing with Mr. Pale's questions...
    How they got thier mailing list started.
    Well, I'm repped, so it's been a long time since I actively compiled my own list. The expensive but easy way is to buy a list from Showcase's Labels To Go or Langerman Lists (although I hear Langerman is going out of business). You're only supposed to use each list you buy once, but... There's also Adbase, which is even more expensive but allows unlimited use of their database for a year.
    The cheap but hard way is to make your own. An afternoon spent with a notebook at a big newsstand can get you a good start on magazine clients. Same thing at a bookstore for publishers. Ad agencies are trickier, but the yellow pages are actually a good place to start. Use my cold call instructions to get names of AD's. Same goes any time you see a company you'd like to work for; call 'em up and find out who to send stuff to.
    What type of mailing they do and to whom
    Again, it's been a while since I've done this myself. The most common mailers are standard 4x5 postcards, with an image and the artist's name (and/or URL) on the front and detailed contact info on the back. Most people I know use Modern Postcard, but there are a bunch of companies that do inexpensive small run printing (make sure they provide a proof for approval!). As for to whom, smaller, targeted mailings are probably more efficient than carpet bombing.
    The usefullnes of putting your art in the various art annuals vs. the cost.
    I assume you mean directories like Showcase/Workbook/RSVP/Altpick etc? The cost is really high (a couple of grand at least) but they are the easiest way to get your work in front of huge numbers of clients. When it pays off it can pay off big, but sometimes it doesn't pay off at all. The web has made the directories less important than they used to be. In general I think people just starting out are better off putting their money into mailers and a good site.
    Does entering contests get you anywhere?
    Anything with a printed book (Society of Illustrators, American Illustration, Comminication Arts, Spectrum) is definitely worth it. Budgeting a few hundred bucks in entry and hanging/publication fees a year could potentially be the equivalent of thousands of dollars worth of advertising. Assuming you get in, that is.
    Does doing freework for exposure help you or are you just getting screwed?
    Doing work for little or no money only makes sense if it's something you really enjoy/believe in and/or you think it will help build and strengthen your portfolio. Also, if you're not getting paid make sure you are retaining all rights to the work, and get everything in writing. Anybody who agrees to work-for-hire/all rights grabs/non disclosure etc. for no money might as well just bend over and spread 'em.

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    Another great reply Elwell, much appreciated for you taking the time to write these essays of yours! Ive just thought of another question, its kinda off the topic from self-promo, but I might as well ask it anyway. How do you go about creating legitimate invoices for your own company, is it certain software you have to buy combined with some sort of legal paperwork?

    Anyway I think I have a clear idea of what Im going to do now, get 2 small A4 portfolios produced(replica artwork) and get a leaflet printed promting my artwork, so that when(if) I leave a creative director after showing the folio to, they can look back at the leaflet to refresh their memories of my work. Now the task begins, I need to create a leaflet with a difference

    Oragami... hmmmmmmm...

    P.S. Any more freelancers care to share their stories?

    Peace

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    My portfolio is in A4 size, and I don't show it in person that often. The size makes it possiblle for me to print and send the portfolio via ordinary mail. Then I call them and ask them what they think about the whole shubang. Or I had called them before and asked if they'd like to see the portfolio.

    I also send flyers for my website, and most recently I've done a e-mail campaign (pretty useless, noone replies to e-mails it seems (maybe my work sucks .

    The most important tips would be to call those people, and if possible go visit them. Remember that they buy your art , but also they buy you. A nicely executed assignment leads hopefully to extra work, and If they got a face and voice to add to that think you have a better chance of "replays".

    And also important for all freelancers, get money for your work. In Sweden there
    a lot of under-payment going on, and if freelancers accept that the whole market will go down (and I like cash

    My work as a tattooer www.gallontattoos.wordpress.com
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  21. #21
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    Elwell, thanks for the help. Hey, you hit on something. You have representation. A few questions about that if you don't mind sharing?
    1. How much of a percentage does your rep get of your income?
    2. Does he bring in more work than you could bring in yourself?
    3. How are you represented? Also how are you represented as opposed to the other artist he might rep?
    4. Does your rep negotiate fees for you? Does he get you higher fees for you than you could get for yourself?
    5. And last would you recommend representation to a noob? If so, how should we go about getting a rep?


    By the way thanks again for the great information you've shared. Hopefully the other freelancers on the board will be willing to share there experiences as well.

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    It's been mentioned to death, but I'd just cast another vote for a good website. Keep it simple, and it can be the easiest and fastest way of getting samples of your work seen by many. I've been working mostly in graphic design lately, and not much on a freelance basis, but I got very good results from having a simple, easy to use website. I also developed some letterhead and business cards that had a similar design as my website, and I got quite a few comments on the whole package in interviews.

    And most of the comments were something along the lines of "It's refreshing to see a good clean web portfolio design without too much useless crap." People tend to try too hard with designing their websites (I did it too and went through a bunch of bad designs) and I finally just chopped it down to something very simple and clean, and that was it.

    It's a little different now than it was when I was actively looking for jobs, and recently I've been starting to transform it more into a sketchblog of sorts, but have a look: http://www.roboticblue.com. For a while it was just the blue squares for navigation (plus a web design category) and images would appear to the right, very similar to how it looks now, but without the background shapes. It's super simple to navigate, and potential employers appreciate that when they're trying to go through tons of resumes and websites.

    Oh, and one more thing about websites... Spend the money to get a real domain name and hosting. No pop-ups, no banner ads, non of that crap. It looks very unprofessional.

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    Helix7, it might get mentioned to death, but its the one thing that many people forget a lot when designing things! I try to keep all my stationary, website, any promo stuff I design all similar and simple with the same colour scheme and layout. Im not a Graphic Designer by a long shot, but when I do have to do any, I always keep simplicity in mind. Simple, solid, structured, well balanced, cheap, effective!

    "It's refreshing to see a good clean web portfolio design without too much useless crap."

    Im glad to see that people actually say that, because thats what im aiming for, a non-bs shite that does the job with no bells or whistles on top. Anything else is just decoration.

    Can anyone reccomend a good host and domain registering site for .coms at all?, because when I checked my free .cjb.net registered site, Its now got popup ads there outwith my control.

    Peace

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cocofuppa
    Can anyone reccomend a good host and domain registering site for .coms at all?, because when I checked my free .cjb.net registered site, Its now got popup ads there outwith my control.
    I've been hosted by WestHost for about 4 years now, and I've been totally happy with them. Hostica is known for being pretty cheap (they have plans starting at $1/month), but I can't say that I know much about them. A former roommate of mine has used them and I've never heard him complain.

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