Be Your Own Boss: Freelancing Tips & Tricks


Every year at the CTN Animation Expo I give a workshop on the business side of freelancing for artists. I’ve finally recorded it as a 2-hour webinar, which launched today at

I did my best to share what I know about promoting yourself and pricing your work. Topics include:

  • The Pro’s and Con’s of Freelancing
  • How To Stand Out As A Freelancer
  • Getting Started As A Freelancer
  • Building A Marketing Machine
  • Tips For Making Your Website Work For You
  • Ways To Find Prospects and Leads
  • Tips For Effective Cold Calling
  • Ways To Promote Yourself Effectively
  • How Much Should You Charge?
  • Tips For Talking To Clients About Money
  • Tips For Negotiating Effectively
  • Spotting Bad Clients
  • Professional Practices That Will Help You Stand Out


The 2-hour webinar is broken up into 7 mini-sessions to make the info easier to digest. Cost is only $10 for one month of on-demand access to the whole thing. There’s also a lot of other terrific courses being offered on the site. I’m honored to be in such esteemed company.

Free Finger Puppet Business Cards

A couple of weeks ago I announced my new finger-puppet business cards. I designed them to serve several functions:

  • To demonstrate my abilities as a character desginer;
  • To stand out and be a good conversation starter at networking events;
  • To display not just my contact info but list past clients and quotes/endorsements from satisfied art directors.

So far the cards have been a big hit. I’ve received a lot of positive feedback. It’s fun to watch grown professionals turn silly for a moment as they put their fingers through the little holes and move the character’s “legs”. Several people have asked to have one of each. So I’ve decided to offer them for free through my blog.

If you’d like to own a set, just send your name and address to me at and I’ll drop all three in the mail to you. No charge. My treat as a small thank-you for reading this blog. (Be sure to write “business cards” in the subject line of your email).

Another way to get the cards is to sign up for my mailing list. It’s a quick and easy way to keep up on my latest projects. Every month or two I send out a short promotional email showcasing my latest work, and I also mail out a postcard about once a year (I should do it more often but, well, I don’t). When you fill out the form just write “business cards” in the comments line and I’ll mail ’em to ya.

The cards are totally free with no strings attached. But if at some point you happen to need a freelance character designer/illustrator, I hope the cards will serve as a reminder that I’m out there and available.

New Business Cards

Recently I came across a terrific article about business cards from the ProFreelancing blog. According to the author most business cards are largely a waste of money. People will quickly lose interest in you and your work if all they have to remember you by is your contact info. It’s even worse at a networking event where everyone is collecting business cards by the fist full. If your card doesn’t pull “extra duty”, it won’t stand out and will likely wind up in the trash.

Fortunately the article gave me some great tips for making my business cards more effective. In a couple of weeks I’ll be traveling to a “freelance fair” for a major toy/game manufacturer, and decided it was high time I made up some new cards using the author’s advice. (i.e. use both sides of the card, give a clear description of what I do, list some of my past clients, through in a couple of quotes from satisfied clients, etc.)

But I wanted to go one step further and do something creative and unexpected. Recently I met a creative director who’s business card is actually a tiny sketchbook with her contact info on the front cover. I really liked that idea, and wanted to come up with my own fun little gimmick to help make me and my business cards more memorable.

Since I specialize in character design, I thought it would be fun if each card was its own character. I also want to get more work in toys, games, and other children’s markets, so I wanted to the cards to appeal to our “inner child”. I doodled up some quick little characters from the waist up, then decided to punch finger holes in each card for legs.

At the very least it should make a nice conversation piece, and will hopefully make a more lasting impression at a networking event.

The front of the card is the character displaying a short message and my website. The back of each card (not shown) contains a quote from a satisfied client, my contact info, and a list of some of my more prominent past clients.

I know some consider it amateurish for an illustrator to put actual artwork on his/her business card. Many successful artists I’ve met in the past keep their business cards surprisingly simple and plain. However, in this case I’m hoping that (a) the novelty of the idea and (b) the “big name” clients I’ve got listed on the back of the card will make it clear that I am a professional despite the fact that I’ve put artwork on the cards.

Marketing Mentor


Marketing Mentor is an excellent website and blog for freelancers run by Ilise Benun, a consultant who specializes in helping creative professionals do a better job of marketing themselves. Her blog posts are short, direct, and very helpful. For a sample, check out her recent posts “What does it take to be your own boss?” and “Hourly rates and salaries”.

Last year Benun teamed up with Peleg Top to present four excellent webinars through HOW Magazine (which you can still view online, for a fee). Benun also offers some very helpful resources for sale on her website. Her mp3 entitled Interpersonal Skills for Introverts really helped me do a better job at networking at some recent events, and I’m currently getting a lot out of her book The Art of Self Promotion.

If you are strapped for cash her website also offers plenty of free resources worth checking out and an email newsletter, Quick Tips, that always delivers helpful insights about self-promotion.

I don’t meant to sound like a commercial for Marketing Mentor (no, I’m not getting paid to write this.) I’m just genuinely impressed and I want to help spread the news.

Re-Post: Making The Most Of Your Website

I originally posted this on my blog back in August. However, my blog traffic has increased five-fold since then and I’m guessing most of you haven’t seen it. So, an encore…

For a freelancer, a website is an essential marketing tool. It proudly displays your work to potential clients 24/7. It trumpets your accomplishments to art directors all over the world. Most will not even consider hiring you if you don’t have a website.

But not all websites are created equal.

There are some little extra touches that can go a long way in making sure your website pushes you up on the hiring list. Some of these tips I’ve just recently learned myself. I’m planning to completely redo my website to take full advantage of them.

Put your contact info at the top.
Make sure your email and phone number appear on your header, so that they are readily visible on every page. It’s not that uncommon for an art director to print out samples from two or three artists to show to the boss and/or the hiring committee for a project. If they are having a tough time deciding which artist to call, having your contact info at the top of the page might push you over the edge, especially if the art director is busy and doesn’t want to take time to look up the contact info for the other artists.Read More