If there is one thing I wish I could just beam into someones understanding is not to expect anything in terms of freelancing. More so, don’t expect anything to just suddenly be the thing that changes everything! Even the person who seems to become an overnight sensation didn’t just pick up a pencil, and the most amazing illustrations or comics come flying out.
Doing something that is successful, is great. It really makes you feel like it was worth it. Take Kool Aid Gets Fired, my comic. I did that 4 years ago, and it’ still doing well. A local comic store has probably sold close to 70 copies. For a mini comic, that’s actually pretty amazing. Add to other stores that sell it and when I do conventions, I’ve sold quite a lot of copies. All the reviews of it have been very favorable, save for one.
It even got written up in Pop Candy, an online column that’s part of USA Today. This translated into about 480 visits to my site, and 7 sales. But that’s fine. I haven’t gotten any jobs because of Kool Aid. But that’s fine as well.
I’m working on a Kickstarter Project. Our goal was first $1500. We got that in 3 days, so expanded the scope of the project, and in the end, we needed $2,250, and ended up raising over $4,300. Not bad.
Each time I have a success, it makes me feel great. But I don’t have any expectations that it’s the one thing that will suddenly open the flood gates to never having to fight for work, or better clients.
I do hear some illustrator friends talk about how frustrating it is that something they did, which still gets lots of attention, hasn’t brought in any additional work by catching someone’s eye. Yeah, that happens. With the Kickstarter, a few friends would suggest that maybe they could do something like that, only what they wanted was to basically get paid to draw. Kickstarter doesn’t work that way. You need a clear focused goal. Not just, I want money to do my webcomic/blog/take pictures and post them.
The fact is, you should be doing all that stuff because you want to. That you can’t go a day without drawing/writing/taking photos. Sometimes you have too, but the desire should be there.
In some ways, you shouldn’t have any expectations of what you will get from doing something, other then what you are doing. If you are writing a novel, you do want it published. But your expectations should be just to end up with a novel when you are finished. When i do an illustration, that’s all I’m going for. Same with a comic. Yes, sometimes I have flights of fancy. But I don’t ever think, Man this is the Graphic Novel that is going to change the format for ever. Why I might even get a Pulitzer Prize!
Heck I don’t even think, people are really going to love this! I just think, Wow! I wrote and drew a whole Graphic Novel! That’s amazing in and of it’s self, considering how often people fail to do anything.
They say it takes about 12 years, as a freelancer, to get to the point where you can call the shots on what kind of projects you want to work on, or pitch your idea’s for your own projects. Along the way, they estimate 80% of people taking this road in life, give up at some point, because it’s just to frustrating.
I keep that in mind when after finishing some huge project, suddenly find myself with nothing to do. At that point, my expectations are to simply keep drawing and pushing my talent and skills to the next level.