How Do You Earn a Living as an Artist?
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Hey, Hooligans! This past week I published a new comic page, a new webcomic review, I finished my 2nd book (following the Kickstarter) and I got it off to the printer! (Waiting on delivery now.) :D

Woohooligan vol 2: Laugh It Forward by woohooligan

This morning I got a new comment on this old journal I wrote in 2011 about how to earn more commissions. In the seven years since then I've not really pursued commissions for myself, but it's still really nice to hear people enjoy the article. :aww:

Melinda McGill is a Hungarian illustrator who loves sci-fi and fantasy, and joined DeviantArt just two months ago, so she's just a babe. ;P



Beautiful work! :la:

She asks:
I don't know how to get started, I have my skills, I used to work on commissions full time previously, but I still feel a bit insecure. I made the choice to stop doing digital art, I enjoy traditional art so muck better, I wish I could earn a living drawing and painting exclusively that way. Is that possible? Do you have any advice where to start? What goals to work at, what opportunities to take, what doors to knock on?

I wrote this out in a reply to her, but it occurred to me that it might be useful for a lot of others as well, so I decided to make this journal for all of you, to share what I've learned in the last few years.

Is it possible to earn a living making traditional art commissions? I'm pretty sure I've seen people doing it, so I'd say yes. Personally I've opted to focus on making books, prints and similar products that I can sell to multiple fans -- that way what might have been a fairly expensive commission can be enjoyed by a bunch of fans and it becomes very inexpensive for them each individually. Just something to consider as you think about how you want to earn your living.

I set a goal to replace my disability income during 2016 and fell flat on my face. ;P By the end of the year I had achieved 4% of that goal. It was really hard on me, but I didn't give up, and I've found some really great resources since then. (Five years after the original commission journal.)

My best advice is start a newsletter. It's going to be awkward and uncomfortable at first -- you won't know what to say, you'll be afraid of rejection, etc. But if you push yourself through that awkward learning curve and learn to talk to your newsletter subscribers like any other friend, it will help you grow your audience. Set a schedule for it. I do mine every week -- you might choose 2-weeks or monthly -- however you prefer, just so you know when your next one will go out, and be consistent sending it out.

Most of your newsletters should be providing something to your subscribers, like in my case mostly jokes. I also give links to funny, important or inspiring news... I share a fair amount of science news. After having developed a rapport with them and proved that you're giving them good stuff, then they'll appreciate when you occasionally say "hey, I'm offering commissions" or whatever it is you need to sell, because they know you and they know you didn't just get them on your list to constantly advertise to them.

Speaking of getting people on your list... also look up how to create a landing page for your newsletter signup. I had a newsletter for a year before I figured this out (or that I should send consistent updates). Several of the mailing list providers like MailChimp offer some basic landing page features, and there are also third-party landing page providers like LeadPages, or you can design it yourself on your own site.

You should also have your signup form on your personal website or your blog (Sumo has some tools to help with that), but make a separate landing page you can send people to in your email (in your signature is great), or written on a cocktail napkin, etc. A page that tells visitors what they're going to get after they enter their name and email address. Offer them something extra they'll enjoy for free -- a tutorial, a book you made, etc. (mine is my first ebook of cartoons) and let them know you'll send them art or tips or whatever (in my case jokes) in each newsletter and that they can unsubscribe any time.

My landing page is here in case you're curious (it's not perfect):


Try out different landing pages periodically to see if you can improve on it -- try and find a way to measure the effectiveness of the page, like, how many people sign up? 1% of visitors? 5%? That's a huge gap by the way, and I wouldn't expect more than 5% -- I've heard of 10%, but that's exceptionally rare.

I'm also enrolled in several marketing courses from Tyler James (Vogel) who produces the ComixLaunch podcast, which is about publishing comics through Kickstarter. He also has a ListLaunch course that's specifically about building your mailing list / newsletter. The podcast and the courses are both very good. :nod:

If you're like me, that $400 price tag was the reason I never enrolled before. The reason I did eventually enroll is because he changed his pricing and he offered a deal at the time I could get in for $40/mo (and because it was new, he waived the setup fee). You can see that in the enrollment options for ComixLaunch ... I'm not finding it for ListLaunch, so you might want to contact Tyler about that. You can also find him on Twitter.

Also check out Russell Nohelty. I recommend his book Sell Your Soul: How to Build Your Creative Career. I read a ton of marketing books and most of them are utter garbage, but this one had a ton of useful info in it. He also used to publish a blog / podcast called the Business of Art, which you can still check out the archives for good stuff there... and here's a Facebook group he runs for writers and artists

Russell also offers at least one premium course (like the courses I'm in with Tyler James), but I haven't enrolled in his course yet, so I can't really vouch for it/them -- but I assume it's very good, like the value I've gotten from his book and other resources.

Okay, I feel like I've given you a lot to think about. Feel free to ask questions in the comments, or send me a note if there's anything else I might be able to help you with! :D

Sam
Recommended Journals
Commissions 2019 CLOSED
Rules: - you may only buy up to 3 com's at a time - i will start on the commission once money or points are received - i will take my time on this commission, please do not rush me unless its been awhile and i may of forgot. -i have rights to deny you (mainly if i cannot draw the character or not comfortable drawing it) - digital references only -you can ask about other types of commissions if i missed any - some commissions have options (if you want a sketchy commission the price is lowered) Feral: Fullbody feral Sketchy lines + detailed shading 16$ Fully liked + detailed shading 20$ Anthro:Fullbody Anthro Sketchy + detailed sh
Genos: VR Tails and Wolf marks 7/13
Updates: Offer on these Very Rare Tailed Kids, one has an Uncommon mark and a Modifier. Art samples are only ideas, if you want 'Design Approval' ready files, let me know there is an extra cost. 1) (Female - Vayron - Puller - Healthy) F: Lisse Coat T: Bear Ears, Kitsune Tail, Feline Eyes P: Snowflake Dappled Flaxen Ash with Bloodmark G: Ash+nSwf/nBm/nDp/nFl 2) (Male - Vayron - Runner - Healthy) F: Lisse Coat T: Long Ears, Whip Tail, Feline Eyes P: Oriental Freckled Coin G: Coi+Or/Fr Breeding: https://www.deviantart.com/comments/1/804026225/4751851237 1) (Male - Vayron - Puller - Healthy) F: Lisse Coat T: Draco Ears, Tailless, Fe
DRAW-MY-SONA contest 2 [$200 prize - CLOSED]
edit: I have to put this out there for only extending it twice I guess but^ -- I previously did a draw-my-sona/draw-my-oc contest with $200 in prizes .. aND GUESS WHAT I'm doin it again this spring current ending date (MOST LIKELY will be subject to change/extension later on): February 28, 2019 now MAY 31, 2019  RULES/DISCLAIMERS 1. draw them correctly, it's not hard if you put a lil effort into it 2. no begging or guilt-tripping for the win 3. no copying other artists nor tracing. don't copy/heavily reference other things for this 4. you will be allowing me to use the art even if you don't win/place. please know this!! any art o
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