Make Things Make Money: The Business of Illustration and Lettering

 

Lesson Info

Choosing Your Demographic

Alright, so. We learned how to make things. Right? We're posting our work, we're starting to see a little momentum online. Okay, but how do we start attracting clients? That's the money maker! Yes, you can make products, you can do all these things, but nothing will pay you quite as much as client work. You do work and you can start charging a thousand, 2,000, 3,000, cause you have to keep in mind what you're making has selling power. Right? And they are hiring you to make money off of you. So you're no longer a commodity. You're an investment. If I were to tell you, you're gonna spend 100 dollars, let's just super low ball price, ah, screw it, we're not doing low ball prices, we're doing high prices. 1,000 dollars to do a graphic for a t-shirt. I want you to be able to make 25,000 dollars off that t-shirt. If I were to tell you, hey 1,000 dollars, I'll give you 25, would you make that deal? 100 percent you would make that deal. This is the power of client work. Alright so how do we at...

tract them? Well, we have to figure out who we're trying to attract? So how do we choose a demographic? Because we can actually sell more once we start we start to target exactly who we want to be working with. So this is how you can break it down. What kind of services do you want to offer? And what kind of businesses would value those services the most? Now this is why it's important that you create a niche. Cause once you establish the industry, the medium of what you're trying to sell, then you can figure out who wants to buy it. Right? So we have to think of the industry, the size and the location of the companies that would value your services. Now, for me, that's B to C. So I want to go ahead, and that's business to consumer. I'm gonna start using marketing terms here. So I wanna work with companies that wanna sell to normal people. I don't wanna work with companies that wanna sell to other businesses. So that's the kind of industry that I wanna be apart of. And the size, normally it's about a medium size or small boutique agencies. Those are the ones that have a pretty good budget. Right? And they allow me that creative freedom that I need to do my job properly. And as far as industries, I like to stay in the apparel, advertising and education spectrums. I love to teach. As you can see. So if I can go ahead and help you promote your brand that teaches other people, that's something that aligns with my core values as a designer. So yes, I would love to work with you. That would bring me joy. And it would help me pay my bills. Advertising. I think lettering specifically, is a great way to advertise. Because everything needs words. But how can we attract clients more by custom making those words? So that way I can use business psychology to put you into a trance with my lettering. Versus just using Helvetica New. Now, when thinking of location, it can be something a little bit smaller. Like maybe you only wanna work in your home town, or maybe you're by a really big city like Chicago, New York, Los Angeles. Then you could probably just stay within your local community of the kind of businesses that you want to target. Or maybe you're like me and you're like, screw it! I want two continents. (giggles) So for me, I'm gonna be attracting the United States and the UK. Mostly because of budget. The money system is pretty similar there. And everyone speaks English. Which makes communication a lot easier. So think about this. As I'm saying this, write down what kind of businesses that you wanna work for. When it comes to the industry, the size and the location. Now, these might be different kinds of businesses, depending on what kind of services you offer. But let's try to use the example of one service. So maybe you wanna focus on just logo design. What companies or agencies would value that the most? And what does that company look like to you? So once we figure out what kind of businesses, we start to ask ourselves, well who could afford me? Right? Cause I don't wanna work with the kind of businesses that want me to turn our these 50 dollar logos. I want you to be able to pay me properly. So I can feel good doing your work and I can pay my bills and I'm not starving. Right? So, are you looking to target the average Joe? Right? Maybe you're doing products? Or maybe you're wanting to work with start-up businesses that maybe their budget's only about 500 dollars. That's fine. That's a great place to start. But maybe you're a little bit more experienced in the freelance business. Maybe you wanna be targeting larger agencies that can start to pay 10,000 dollars and plus. Now you can get 10,000 dollars for an illustration. Just because most people won't think oh, those are web design prices. No. If you're working with a really large company and you're designing the cover of a book, that's definitely worth 10 grand. Especially when you add up the usage rights and the royalties at the end of it. Right? And again, who are the decision makers? So, it's one thing to target a company, but you want to target the exact person that's trying to hire you. So think about that. Is it a business owner that's contacting you? A marketing manager? An art director? A creative director? Think about it. And if all of those apply wite them all down. So when we're thinking about who are these decision makers, let's break it down. Age, gender, and the position. Then discover their interests by what websites they visit. Because again we're just trying to find a way to feel like our clients, like we're talking to them personally. Like we're having a one on one conversation. That's always the kind of copy you wanna build. You never wanna go ahead and make it seem like you're talking to a big group of people. You wanna make it very personal. Like if you're text messaging your friend. That kind of vocabulary. Right? And again, we have to think about who we're talking to so we know what kind of language to use. If we're targeting art directors then we can start to use high fidelity industry terms. But if I'm talking to a normal business person, they're really good about their business, they know their brand, but they might not know what the word "kerning" means. Or they don't know the difference between vector or raster. You wanna be able to talk to people in a way that they can understand. And that doesn't make them feel stupid. So if you are targeting more designers, then you know you can use a little bit more of the vocabulary. But if you want everyone to understand, then I like to make my website content what I like to call "mom proof". Right? So like, if my mom can read my content, she can understand it, then I know I'm in pretty good standing with people understanding all the things that are coming out of my mouth. Okay, so. For me, the typical budget for a client is usually starting about one K to 6,000. So I have to make sure, okay, does the size and structure and type of business that I'm looking for, can they afford it? Yes, so I know I'm in a good standing. What about the decision makers? Well, for me, they're art directors. I don't usually work with the creative director or the marketing managers too often. It's sprinkled in there with a couple small businesses, but I've reached the point in my career where I'm not really taking on those kinds of jobs anymore. So typically, these art directors are anywhere from 30 to 50. They're a little bit older. They've earned the title of art director. They're not someone who just got out of design school and they think they can be a decision maker. No, these are people who have lived through it. They have the experience so I can have these high fidelity conversations with them. I can go ahead and feel comfortable taking their input because hey, you know what you're talking about. You're an art director. You've been in the design industry for years now. So we can have a little bit more specific conversations. I can talk to you about spacing, size, bold, no seraphs. But someone else, I have to do a little bit more of education. I have to explain to you what those terms mean before you can decide on what you want. So I know that those conversations will take longer. So when I'm budgeting later when I'm doing the proposal, I know to add a couple more hours. Right? Starting to make a little more sense? And these are the interests. So this is the most important part of choosing your demographic. The business, that's kind of a general area. What the position is? Okay, that's one thing. But what do they like? Where can I find them? Where can I connect with them? Not only in the type of blogs they read, but what kind of social media platforms are they on? Right? We just talked about social media? We wanna make sure that the presence is that we're putting all our time and effort in are actually gonna pay off in the long run. Right? SO for me, their interests are normally entrepreneurship. Right? Everybody wants to kind of climb that corporate ladder? They're really into marketing and design. Obviously. So I know, they're probably on sites like Smashing Magazine. Right? Because Smashing Magazine has a little bit of everything. They have the tech column, they have new updates with designers, and we have Mashable. And then Social Triggers. Which is a marketing website for email. So, by doing a little research at these kinds of people, I can go ahead and target them better. Now I know you might be asking well, how the hell do I figure out these people's interests? You stalk them on social media. That's how you find out. So, you go ahead, you find a business. So find the kind of business you wanna work in. What kind of social media platform tells you businesses? LinkedIn. Use LinkedIn. Find who are the decision makers. And then follow them. What social media platforms are they on? If you're working with art directors, are they on Twitter, are they on Facebook? Find them and connect. Now, when you're choosing your demographic, this goes hand in hand with social media because you can start to make connections with them. Think of it like this, when I say a little light stalking, I don't mean like you should just harass them on the internet. I mean things like, hey they posted something online. Like it. Or hey, they asked a question. Answer the question. Just engage them in a normal way. And then they'll start to notice you. Hey, I'm seeing a pattern here. This person's connecting with me. Now, think of that client. That art director. Who would I rather hire? These people are both really, really talented. Both great portfolios. But I kinda know this person. But I've never met this person. Who are you more likely to hire? Right? So this is why it's powerful. If you know how to target and you know what social media platforms are the best for targeting, you're already in a really good place to start making the money that you see yourself in the future. Now, I wanna hear from you guys. What kind of businesses can afford you? And what kind of decision makers do you think you should be reaching out to? Let's pass the microphone around. And I also wanna hear from you guys online as well. I do cultural story telling with images. Cool. So, I'm thinking I don't know where in the NGO, but non-profits and NGO's would be a good start. But I don't know. Okay. I don't know who to reach there. Well, for you, I'd probably do something more like a marketing manager. Because typically, non-profits and bigger corporations, they don't have an in-house studio. They usually hire out to other agencies. So it might be your best interest to reach out to whoever's in charge of marketing. 'Cause marketing is more than just content. It's images and then how to make a difference with that marketing, right? So go ahead and do the research, find a couple marketing companies that are specific, that either work with non-profits or even agencies that do a lot of non-profit work. Right? And then start to do a little light stalking. See who's in charge there. See what social media platforms they're on. And just start to engage with them on a regular basis. And also, this is setting you up for how to talk on your website, how to present yourself at networking events. Just how to promote yourself in general. What about you? I have my demographic for the design work that I'm doing now but, I'm yet to discover the demographic for the work that I want to sell. Oh Okay. So for illustration? So let's talk about it. You want me to help you figure it out? You wanna do it right now? No I'm not ready! You're like, no I'm not ready! Alright, well, anybody else? Does anyone have an idea? Oh she's got the microphone so I'll let you go first. Okay. My demographic is a little different cause I guess I'm going towards people instead of businesses. Yeah, so consumers, great. But I do know that they love, I know what publishers they love to read. So anything having to do with spirituality, metaphysical. Hay House or Lou Ellen. They're the kind of people who kinda go to Burning Man and they're really into yoga and you know, stuff like that. Yeah, so for those of you that are looking for the B to C customers. People that are customers more than clients. All these things still apply just instead of businesses, just replace the word business with people. Right? So and that way you just won't be using LinkedIn. You'll probably just go ahead and finding influencers of brands. Right? And try to figure out how they're talking and what social media platforms they're on. Cause they're kinda like the famous people of products, right? I was pretty much just gonna kinda say the same thing that she did. My customer base is primarily the average Joe consumer. And my work kind of varies anywhere from like tattoo design to custom request for specific signs or lettering. And then personal projects tend to be more like current events and social justice oriented that end up being picked up by people that the message resonates with them. So trying to translate, especially like the social justice kind of work, I've done some things, but it's all kind of been for non-profits with really small budgets. So trying to figure out like, who your marketing director is or who your arts director is, trying to figure out how to translate that. Okay, alright let's think about it for a second. Okay so first of all, just off the bat, just to give you a little tid bit. If you're doing that kind of work where it's very news related, you could go on stock sites very easily. And then sell your illustrations. And just make money over night. That'd be a great passive income generator for you. Okay, so how do we try to find a demographic if we're selling to the average Joe? Okay. So instead of businesses, let's think of people. What kind of people need your services? Are you doing personalized commissions? Are you making products? How can you attract those people? So lets use calendars. People who have calendars are typically pretty organized people. Because they have a life to organize. Maybe they have kids. Maybe they're moms. To better schedule themselves. Or maybe they're just those kinds of people who just love lists. And bulletins and they're just the kind of person that need a tangible way to understand how to work in their day. So, go ahead and try to backward engineer those people. What kind of websites sell those products already? Now, if I google this website, what kind of blogs have talked about that website or their products. Now we're starting to see general interest, right? We start to work backwards. Now, when you think of "who can afford me?" there are obviously different price tiers. If you're more of an affordable calender service, or if you're a little bit more high-end. Maybe you're using things like embossing and gold foil that's making your stuff look a little more elegant. So your target demographic is changing to people who can afford you. So no longer are you relying on people who just have that normal income, maybe something that's starting at like 15,000 a year to the 25 to 30. And maybe you're gonna go start selling to middle class. Or even high-end class. Now depending on who you're trying to target can directly affect how you talk about yourself. Right? You could start using the words "affordable" versus "elegant". Right? To try to make that message and make them feel like okay this is the service, this is the illustrator for me. Does that make it a little bit more clear? Awesome. So Zoie said, I think I wanna target indie authors for book covers that would need sci-fi like fantasy illustrations and still have some of the small lettering fun of the author name and title and such. Yeah. That's awesome. Is that a good-- Mhmm. Yeah, because think of it like this. You can go to different book blogs. Right? You're getting their interests, you're understanding how to talk to them. And then you're getting really specific on the genre of book. That's even better. You're asking why do I like book design? Well, I really like sci-fi. Well, maybe you should just be doing sci-fi So that sounds like a really good track to me. And when you're talking to that potential client on your website, maybe have a lot of examples of exactly what you want. The sci-fi cover books. Maybe you should even be writing articles on how to design a sci-fi character. Or how to design a book cover. Or how to repurpose your title graphic and fit it on the spine of a book. Right? Because then it really can effect the way that you talk about yourself. Stephanie says, "I'm interested in high-end book illustration" She has a lot of other interests too, but that's-- That's a good one. Well, that high-end. I mean, that's a key word right there. Right? 'Cause someone who's looking for something that's a little more elegant, I'm gonna be more attracted to you. And I'm gonna know, hey, you're using the word high-end a lot in your website. So I know I don't really have that much money so I probably can't afford you. So I'm not gonna bother you. I'm probably gonna go with somebody else. Which is good. 'Cause you don't get to waste your time with somebody who can't afford you. That's the whole point, right? We're trying to create a process where we're working with the kind of clients we wanna work with and we're not wasting time with the ones that aren't maybe ready to work for us or unfortunately don't have the budget to be able to afford us quite yet. But hey, remember there's always someone better and worse than you that maybe they could afford, right?

Do you have a passion for drawing and dream of turning it into your next full-time gig? Hand lettering artist and commercial illustrator Dina Rodriguez will show you how to create a career doing what you love. Dina shares lessons learned from her path to becoming a successful freelance artist–so you can grow your business without wasting your time or resources trying to get there.


In this class, Dina covers: 
  • Honing your craft through passion projects and social media 
  • How to attract clients through your online presence 
  • Three ways to make money for your business: Commercial Work , Commissions, and Products 
  • Creating a process that will get you the job every time 
  • How to charge what you're worth
She’ll provide detailed strategies, new ways to repurpose your work, and talk about planning for the future. After this class, you’ll know how to create a successful career and skip all that nasty trial-and-error.

 
 
 
 

Reviews

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  • Awesome class! Inspired and excited to improve my business with the processes and knowledge gained. Thank you Dina!!