Okay…I admit it. I am super proud of this one. This is for the MuseHub.biz website I just recently did an interview with. It’s an awesome new directory service for freelance writers and artists and it’s growing fast. (And no, Lauren didn’t ask me to write that, I just dig her site.) Continue reading
A few years ago I became friends with Lauren Tharp of LittleZotz Writing. I didn’t know she was a freelance writer, only that she was the significant other of my incredibly talented artist buddy Ramiro. When I did find out about her occupation, I was mildly interested simply because I wanted to get to know her. Little did I know exactly how invaluable it is for an artist to know a good freelance writer, or how mutually beneficial our friendship would prove to be over the years.
Here are a few reasons why you really need a good freelance writer in your life too!
1. They know formal and proper ways of dealing with hellish clients.
We both have them, but artists might not always be as practiced in making articulate written communications with clients, debating over important points in the contract, renegotiating, and so on. Your writer buddy may have had to do this a thousand times over, even early or mid-career. The next time you have no idea how to politely tackle a rough client and avoid burning your bridges (or getting screwed) ask your writer friend for help!
2. They believe a freelancer should actually be…you know…PAID FOR WORKING.
Artists are prone to have their work severely undervalued or valued at nothing at all. People will often stare blankly when you suggest they should pay $20 for that print on $5 archival rag paper that you spent 10 hours carving on a $3 linoleum block. Worse, this doesn’t just come from prospective clients. I have heard plenty of artists speak as if they were ashamed to ask for payment.
Your writer buddy is working in an industry that is at least slightly more inclined to pay them for working. Their clients are used to the concept of paying by the word or the article, and most people seem to realize that journalists, editors, novel writers, ghost writers, script writers and the like are supposed to be paid for their work. Sometimes when you as an artist are tempted to give your hard work away or ashamed to ask for more than a few pennies (or deviantART points), your writer friend can remind you that YOU DESERVE TO BE PAID FOR WORKING.
3.They know people who constantly need art assets for their articles and books. Heck, they might even need art themselves.
This is great because your friend is a trustworthy client you resonate with, who you know won’t cheat you. (See #2.) They, in turn, don’t have to hook up with an artist they don’t know and possibly get burned. You both win big time. By the same token, if they point you towards one of their business acquaintances, you’re dealing with a potential client who has to some extent been vetted by your friend. Having a little knowledge beforehand is always preferable to approaching clients out of the blue.
Incidentally, you might need a writer someday! Wouldn’t you rather have someone you know and trust?
4. They know people in tons of disciplines because they have to constantly interview people and write articles about diverse subject matter.
They might even write an article about you someday! Connections and referrals are essential to your life as a freelancer, so here again you can both help each other out handsomely by pooling your knowledge and your networks. Both of you increase your reach, and you may end up getting more exposure while your friend gets more things to write about, and hence more work and a richer portfolio.
5. They’re always having to learn website and SEO skills to maintain their online presence.
The discussions you can have together about this can be absolutely invaluable to your art presence on the web. In my case, my friend is great at SEO and I have a bit more experience in web design and coding. We give each other advice and help all the time, when it’d cost money for us to be coached by other experts. Better, since we’re friends we can solve each other’s problems and help each other while in the midst of the fun conversations we actually want to be having. (Retro gaming! Nail Polish! Cat stories! …okay I found your coding problem. Surreal Japanese movies!)
6. If you’re up late working alone, chances are they are too. Encourage each other and keep each other company!
It’s so much better with a friend at your side. And trust me, having a friend to share all the ups and downs of freelancing with (the dreadful hours, the never-ending cycle of learning new programs and tools, the agonizing process of actually getting your money and then fulfilling tax and bookkeeping obligations…) may well be the thing that keeps you sane through your next project.
To summarize, I believe Artist/Writer is a beautiful and beneficially symbiotic friendship.
I formed my friendship without having a clue how useful it would end up being to my career. But if you’re interested in making new friends, you can’t do better than a writer, except possibly “Rich Art-Appreciating Fellow with Rich Art-Appreciating Friends.” And if you do meet that rich fellow, introduce him to your wonderful writer friend! They’d probably love to do an article on him or help him ghostwrite his latest Rich-People Novel.
As of early this morning, I have a Patreon page! It was all unfamiliar to me, so I’ll share what I learned while setting up.
Keep in mind, I just learned about Patreon yesterday. I’d seen it once or twice before but I didn’t understand the mechanics. Well, I stayed up all night until my eyes bled, reading over everything and carefully combing through other creator pages. Here’s what I gleaned:
- A Creator sets up a system where supporters (Patrons) can pay them for the work they release.
Creators can get paid by the creation (in my case, per comic page) or monthly, if they make several creations a month.
- Patrons can select a pledge option, like “$1 per comic page.” Then, if a Creator releases a new comic page and marks it as a “paid” work, the patron will be billed their $1 at the first of the month, or $3 if the Creator made 3 pages within that month, and so on. If the Creator made no “paid” work, Patrons are charged nothing for that month.
Monthly Pledges: If a Patron has pledged “$1 per month,” they will be charged $1, once a month, and so on with other amounts.
A Patron can select a monthly cap on pledges, so if a Creator releases 10 comic pages in one month but the Patron has a cap of $5 per month, they are only charged $5.
A Patron can cancel their pledge at any time before the first of the month and they will not be charged for that month. (Patreon states they are only interested in collecting pledges from people who actually want to support the artist, so no one is under any obligation to fulfill their pledge.)
A Creator can release a piece of work as “free” and everyone can see and enjoy it without paying any pledges.
Lastly, a Creator can also be a Patron, and pledge to support other Creators.
[Admittedly, I have not even tried to go into the fine points of payment, account setup, and so on, but I was able to figure everything out from Patreon’s FAQ. They can explain it better than I can!]
So, after I read all that stuff, I decided it seemed pretty reasonable, at least worth a try. I had considered Kickstarter before, but there were some things that I didn’t like about the model. Mainly, I was wary that so much depended on getting people to pledge money and make good on their payments. Artists using a Kickstarter understandably have to be pushing for it constantly or they could be in real financial trouble! They might also find themselves obligated to fulfill rewards that they have no way of realistically meeting.
With this system, people can give you a small amount of money one time, they can set a cap, or they can cancel before paying you at all. I prefer that as someone who has to pinch pennies myself. Better, they’re not paying you for a huge project you may or may not even be able to accomplish. They are only paying you for the work you have really done, and they are only paying you in order to give you some support. You can certainly give them rewards for this, but you aren’t contractually obligated to complete some huge, grand endeavor.
You may notice that I didn’t include my art projects or simple illustrations in the creations I chose to be paid for. I made it solely for comics since I am already being paid for all the exhibition and freelance/commission pieces I make. (I know, when in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would say THAT.)
But anyway, since comics is the only thing I still do without any expectation of payment, I realize that it often has to take a backseat to my other art projects. “Well, that’s kind of a shame” I thought, so I’ve made this page in order to get support as I muddle my way through my currently unpaid comic projects. Anything I do normally get paid for (my personal art projects, freelance work, etc) will not go on Patreon as a “paid” work but you will probably get to see it as my friend looking at my feed!
Do you have a Patreon Creator or Patron page? Please feel free to share it, I’d love to find some new friends. If you’ve had any experiences with Patreon, bad or good, I’d love to hear about those too.
And after you set up your patreon page, head over to The Muse’s Library for this fabulous tutorial on how to run your page, including tips on scheduling and reward fulfillment, and even templates for patreon share buttons and banners!
I don’t think I’ve mentioned it on here, but I’m doing 3 illustrations for Lauren Tharp’s upcoming book on ghostwriting. This cute ghostie is by Sandra Kang, I’ll be posting some teaser ghosts in a couple of weeks.
In the meantime, feel free to check out Lauren’s post on the book or look at any of her other awesome freelancing advice…she frequently helps me out with freelancing dilemmas and her site is chock-full of info on the subject.