The drought.

May 8, 2007

To be fair, the main thing that has preoccupied my mind ever since I got back from my trip is this: work. More specifically, the lack of work on my plate. Well, more accurately, the lack of paid work on my plate. I won’t say I get a ton of work– but I do get a fair amount usually, enough to manage well. Except before I left home, I mailed out 200+ postcards. Usually I get some kind of bite, or else I hear from one of my regular clients. It’s been close to a month since I last had paid work– I got my last check last week, and now I’m spending my time hoping for some job to spring up.

Does this happen to you? I know some of you have day-jobs, which is a blessing and a curse. Me, I don’t– not because I don’t want one, but because I rarely find a decent one in my area, art related or not.  I’ve been lately hitting the job searches online, but it’s so far come up with nothing. So the time I do have I spend working on personal work– which is good, except it doesn’t pay, so I have an inherent amount of guilt welling up when I do so.

What do you do when the workload gets light? How do you let it not get to you? I am trying to shush the internal voice that likes to tell me this is a sign– but I don’t know, it feels awfully daunting no matter how much I try not to let it get to me. Are there other self-promotional ideas I can test out? Any other ways to get the word out? I am tempted to try the whole ‘self-promo item’ mailing… Although it does get a little pricey.  I would send out postcards, except I already did! (seems redundant, huh?) Any suggestions you may have would be great (or, if you know someone who needs an illustrator, hint hint! :D)

Ah well, I am grateful enough just to have time to work on my own artwork. But I just hope that this drought ends soon.


6 Responses to “The drought.”

  1. sugar said

    take all the energy you have and double up. don’t waste a second worrying and don’t waste time looking for “real jobs”. never simply wait for replies. send a friendly reminder email. “hope you received my postcard”…scout for new clients. never give up.

    harness all you worry into action.

    it helps. then you really feel you have done all you can.
    and good things inevitably will happen.

    i promise.


  2. graphismo said

    The thing is that your work is unique and pretty great. I think that everyone has theirs ups and downs and that’s the big challenge of this profession… if you create personal work that you love and it’s strong, it should definetly lead to other stuff…
    I have taken an Ad at the Directory of Illustration and on Create Magazine, which translates into a lot of money. The Directory has not led to any new clients, but reminded some old ones thata I exsted… I might have a lead with Create, but not usre…Right now, I am bound by a contract with them.. But I think that Art Directors prefer postcards…and if they like them…they will keep them, but sometimes the style is not relevant to their current assignment…
    Day jobs might bring stability, but they also can get on the way… keep plugging away and I am sure that the work will come…
    Reminding your clients of your existence is definetly a good thing!

  3. lehel said

    I’m in the same situation right now. i haven’t got any paid jobs since long weeks, altho I’m in the freelance business only since a half a year, but I’ve put alot of effort in self promotion. I’m trying to contact some reps but its harder to get one than i thought it would be.
    well, life has its ups and downs, hopefully you will get some positive answers soon. I really like your style.

  4. Stan Shaw said

    I’m going through the same thing right now. I agree that reminding clients that you are still around is a good/the best idea. Designers get busy with doing day to day stuff and can forget about you, even if they like your work. I send out reminders and let people know what I’m up to including nothing. Sometimes I’ll send out experimental stuff I’m doing and ask a few clients what they are working on to see if I can fit into that project, or get an idea of what they will be workiing on later.
    I like to think that working hard at getting paid gigs translates into getting them. Oddly, whenever I REALLY plan a vacation with my wife, I start to get work. We go on vacation in two weeks and I have two clients calling about my avalability.

  5. Astrid said

    Hi Meg

    By the time you get this, you’re probably busy again, right? I’m only in my second year of business, and can’t give really “old” advice, but I’ll try:

    Yes, I experience it too sometimes. Like right now, this week I didn’t get any jobs yet, and I started out just enjoying the day with a friend, like vacation, just doing the bare minimum, and catching up with sleep. Yay, but I have to pull myself together again.

    My rescue plan consists of several remedies:

    I have this list of things I want to do, dream projects, dream customers, contests, research, trying new techniques, finding new markets etc. I always update it when I find something new, and I (should) do things from it when I have time.

    Last week, I got to know a really cool illustrator in Switzerland, We exchanged ideas and tips, and she said she used to make wide-spread mailings, but has stopped. She’s now only mailing about 10 individual pieces at a time, to very selected and researched customers, where she knows she might be a fit. She then creates a very memorable, fun piece, something they can keep and will certainly remember. She got an 80% response rate out of that. I’m totally going to try this out! Normal research for normal marketing with just postcards to a wide number of possible prospects gives you about 1% of success estimate. 1% vs. 80%?? I’d say the extra expenses of a specialty mailing would be worth it (they’re probably still lower than the postcard mailing costs).

    I just did a mailing of 500 cards, for my title=”PotatoMammaDesign birthday contest”>company’s birthday contest, and NO NEW customer. I got a lot of nice networking out of it, but no new jobs.

    Same for christmas cards, mailing of 500, hardly any replies, 5 to be exact. Customized, selected marketing seems the way to go, you’ll stand out from the crowd!

    If you dont’ have any goals of what you do with your down times, i suggest you make a list of things you’d love to accomplish within this year. I’m sure you’ll be busy in no time =) And sooner or later, these projects may well turn into new customer interest too.

    Another thing I do is a newsletter. Everyone who is/was interested in my work (and asks for the newsletter) will be updated, and won’t forget me. Every 2 months or so. You’re right, if you don’t talk to anyone in a while they’ll forget. You can also make a blog that’s on your website, and use it as “news” section, then make an RSS feed available. Some people prefer to stay in touch like that. But it’s not that widespread yet.

    Another tip I would give you: Your website is great, but where is your contact information?? If you do have a prospect, they’ll really have to look where to get in touch with you, they might give up before finding your info – that would be a shame! So add your email and contact info on the website, as well as on your blog here.

    Currently I’m reading a book on how to boost your website (ISBN 3-8266-1586-7), that gives you extra power in the ranking of search engines. It seems awesome. Use the time and read too, if you like doing such stuff.

    Good luck!

  6. Astrid said

    ps: when work is low, it’s not a sign that no one is interested in your work, or that you should get a day job. It’s a sign that you have to hang in there, and to keep trying to find the ones that ARE interested in your work. They are out there, your work is cool =)


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