Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The secret to my success?

I recently got an email from a guy who asked how I was successful in freelancing full-time. As readers of this blog know, I am not, but it did give me a chance to put some thoughts down in writing. Here is the gist of it, at least in my experience.

I pick up work on a somewhat regular basis, but not a lot of it, I'm usually just working on one job at a time, and it's all different stuff. Last year I did a lot of freelance flash illustration, this year it's some comic work. All of my jobs I get are done through networking. I routinely send friendly emails to people I know that are in position to hire me, recommend me or at least keep me in mind. Sometimes it works, most of the time I get no response. It's a constant struggle and even projects I work on that are just pitches often go nowhere, even when I work with an established professional with a known name. Publishers are pinching their pennies and it's harder for everyone. Also, every so often I get a random email from other professionals who have seen my stuff, or were recommended to me by a friend. There is no right way to go about it, I wish I knew the secret so I could freelance full-time myself. Sorry I couldn't be more helpful, but I would suggest to just network as much as possible and don't hesitate to send out emails to anyone, I've cold-emailed lots of people, and sometimes they get back to me.

Now, in my case, it's important to note that I also have an extremely low self-image about my work. It's flattering when writer A, who has books out with Image or Boom or another publisher emails me about working with them, but I always think they assume I work for free (which is sometimes the case) and they want me because of that and not because they like my stuff. In reality I assume it's a mix of the two, the work is good enough, and I work for free, or at least it seems that way.

- Ryan


Dan C said...

You've made some good points here, Ryan. This may be old hat to anyone visiting this blog, but if you haven't already checked out Caleb Monroe's website, you might want to take a look. He has lots of good tips on breaking into/staying in comics, and the same applies to freelance illustration. Anyway, if anyone's interested...

Thanks again for the Abe Sapien sketch and all the great comics, Ryan. Great job all around.


rory said...

Dammit man! You're good enough, talented enough, and darn it, people like you!!

Kidding aside, your post is why I've tried to have a full-time job; I'm horrible at net-working, have drawing esteem issues as well, and left to my own devices, would probably sit at home on the couch all day.....wow, look how I took a post about you and made it about me......damn self-centered drawer people....:)

mattcrap said...

It's ALL ABOUT NETWORKING!!! I owe every bit of what i've accomplished to comments and questions aimed at folks who were (at one time) total strangers!

I do alot of cold emailing too. Some guys are impressed with the tenacity or appreciate "the hustle" but you're right, most never get back to you. Some I'm oka with ignoring me, and some I'm not. Everybody has the right to ignore an email if they want too, but when you've got an open dialogue with someone who's starting out in the industry and you support their work and spread the word (as much as one person can) and then once the other person reaches a certain level, they STOP that dialogue? That's jacked up.

ryan cody said...

Dan - thanks for the link, I'll look it over.

Rory - I wish you did more stuff personally. I enjoy the comfort the full time job gives, but I don't know if I can put 100% into comics when I'm always worried about not having the time to put in.

Matt - Yeah, I have been lucky with creators I know for the most part, as well as small press publishers. No real problems at all either way.