How to Become a Freelance Artist (With Jobs and Tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published May 21, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Freelancing is a popular choice for many individuals who want to earn an income. It's particularly attractive to professionals who value independence and freedom, such as artists. Learning more about how to be a freelance artist can help you determine whether to pursue this role. In this article, we discuss what a freelance artist is, review how to become a freelance artist, explore what they do, and discover the advantages of this role.

What is a freelance artist?

Becoming a freelance artist is similar to being self-employed. Creative professionals who choose to work as freelancers make use of their artistic skills to provide products or services to their clients. They often accept short-term projects that allow them to set their own schedule and workload relative to their needs and preferences. There are two types of freelancers, those who work to add to their income from regular employment, and those who freelance full-time.

Related: Freelance vs. Self Employed Work: What's the Difference?

How to become a freelance artist

Here are the steps you can take if you are interested in learning how to become a freelance artist:

1. Find your niche

Many successful freelance artists focus their efforts on a specific style or art form. Determining and limiting the scope of your work can make branding easier, which may cause more people to recognize your creations. Focusing on a particular field, such as writing, drawing, or painting, can help you develop your skills further. It may also reduce operational costs by reducing the amount you spend on materials compared to artists offering a broad range of services. Considering your strengths as an artist can help you choose the type of art that you enjoy making the most.

2. Know your market

This can allow you to focus your resources on marketing to a small group of people instead of a broader audience, so you can save money on advertising. It's also easier to determine your brand and decide on your services when you have a target market in mind. Knowing your clients' demographic information, interests, and reasons for purchasing your art can help you refine your business model to more easily achieve your goals. Aside from individuals, media and events companies, non-profit organizations, and businesses often hire freelance artists.

Related: How to Write a Freelance Resume (Template and Example)

3. Create a simple business plan

A business plan is a guide to achieving your objectives as a freelance artist. It's a written document that contains your goals and other key information about the freelancing business, including:

  • Market research that includes data about your target market

  • List of products and services, including pricing structure

  • List of expenses

  • Relevant policies, such as those on processing returns and refunds

  • Strategies to help you reach your goals

4. Assess the competition

To get an idea of the best way to start your freelancing career, you can investigate what your competitors are doing. This can help you determine competitive prices for your products and services. You can research how they communicate with the public, the content and tone of their social media posts, and the overall look of their website and other online accounts. This can help you gain valuable insight into your target market and learn effective marketing strategies.

5. Set up a dedicated workspace

Choose a space where you can work comfortably and without distractions, considering factors such as the size of the room, lighting, and ventilation. It's important for this space to meet your specific artistic needs. This can mean it has enough room for your tools and equipment, the conditions in your chosen space are conducive to working on your art, and it's separate from high-traffic areas at home, such as the dining and living room.

6. Set up a business

You may choose to register a business as a legal entity with the proper agencies. This can help attract more clients by making you appear more credible and professional. It can also allow you to keep the finances and paperwork of the business separate from your personal affairs, so it's easier to determine if you're making a profit as a freelance artist.

7. Advertise your work

The success of your freelancing business can depend on the effectiveness of your marketing strategies. When the number of your clients increases, usually so does your profit. There are many ways to advertise your work, including:

  • Sign up for local directories and job boards. Not all consumers are online, so you can expand your reach by taking advantage of offline marketing platforms.

  • Use social media marketing. You can create social media accounts where you can show your work, interact with prospective clients, and advertise your services.

  • Invest in paid online advertisements. You may benefit most if these target your preferred market.

  • Participate in local art fairs and conventions. This is a great way to market and sell your artwork and also connect with other artists in your area.

  • Partner with local businesses. You can give discounts for your services to establishments in your area or work in exchange for allowing you to sell or advertise your art in their space.

8. Have an online presence

You can create your own website or a social media account for your freelance business. Creating an online space can allow you to host your online portfolio, where you can showcase your work and attract more clients. It can also help you connect with your target market, especially with social media accounts that allow you to respond to comments and inquiries easily.

9. Build your client base

Your success as a freelancer largely depends on your initial performance. You can try to turn your first customers into recurring clients by meeting their expectations, providing quality work, and adhering to deadlines. They may be crucial to the growth of the business because they can help you reach more people through their positive feedback and referrals.

10. Do volunteer work

Providing your services for free and donating your artwork to benefit worthwhile causes can help you connect with more people, improve your reputation, and effectively advertise your work. These efforts also allow you to build goodwill with the community, which is important for any freelance artist. For instance, if you're a painter, you can create several pieces to be sold for a cause. If you're a digital artist, you can create promotional materials for a charity event.

What do freelance artists do?

Freelance artists have a diverse set of skills that may enable them to find work in many industries. The following are some of the jobs available for these professionals:

  • Wedding photographer and videographer: The wedding industry has many creative professionals, and two of the popular services they provide are photography and videography. These involve taking pictures and videos and editing raw material to create a curated piece for their clients.

  • Multimedia specialist: This job entails creating content for various media platforms and working with other creative individuals, such as illustrators, animators, and video editors, on projects. It requires skill in visual design and knowledge in areas that may include video editing, website design, and even animation.

  • Product designer: This role involves designing products according to a company's specifications and creating corresponding print or digital illustrations to serve as references. Product designers usually have a degree in industrial design or engineering, and have a high level of creativity and imagination.

  • Graphic designer: Graphic designers create visual content to communicate their client's ideas to consumers. The content depends on the company's needs, and may range from a business card, logo, or product label to more complex designs such as brochures, posters, and website layouts.

  • Art teacher: Many creative professionals supplement their income by freelancing as art teachers. They share their knowledge and techniques in areas such as painting, sculpting, and drawing to interested individuals through in-person classes or online sessions.

  • Illustrator: An illustrator creates two-dimensional visual representations of ideas or concepts. The content of their work depends on the needs of their client, and may include book or product illustrations, art for greeting cards, editorial cartoons, and storyboards for various media.

  • Portraitist: This refers to an artist who specializes in creating visual representations of people. A freelance portraitist may be a photographer, painter, or a sketch artist commissioned by a client to produce a portrait of a specific subject.

Related: A Beginner's Guide to Freelance Jobs

Advantages of working as a freelance artist

Freelance artists typically enjoy the following advantages over professionals working in a corporate environment:

  • Independence: As a freelance artist, you're self-employed and not subject to the policies of a company or employer.

  • Control: You can choose which projects to take and which clients to work with. You also have the freedom to decide when to work.

  • Flexibility: You're not required to work on a schedule, unlike professionals with an office job. You can schedule your workload to accommodate your needs and preferences.

  • Growth: Freelancing may allow you to develop as an artist because you can work on a wide variety of projects. This is unlike conventional employment, where you usually have a designated position with a defined set of responsibilities, leaving little room for growth.

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