The Freelancer Career Trend

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If you would have told me 10 years ago that I’d be making a living as a full time freelance artist, I wouldn’t have believed you!  But when the economy tanked and I was laid off from part time jobs that were not high paying nor fulfilling my dreams of being an artist (what I went to college for and have aspired to doing as a career since 7th grade!), I realized it was time to go for it!  And now, with so many free and inexpensive options to find freelance work online, it’s easier than ever to be your own boss and either make a full time career out of being a freelancer or earn extra income aside from your “regular job”. Artists and designers make for perfect freelancing opportunities as we can work with clients from around the world without leaving home as long as we have good internet and cell phone plans, photo editing programs, scanners, cameras and other related art making materials.  Interactions and artwork can all be done via email and phone so no need for either artist or client to leave the comfort of their homes to get and receive work.  For me, I’m a member of many free online job sites and I apply for work daily.  Here’s a link to one of my online job portfolios to give you an idea of how they work: http://www.peopleperhour.com/freelancer/lauren/freelance-artist-illustrator-graphi/70136  I also make full use of social networking, emailing my own newsletters, word of mouth and attending and participating in arts events. But it’s not just artists that can make their own careers…there are some really clever opportunities out there for everyone!  Certain job sites post  requests for people to do household chores, repair work, courier service and other physical labor jobs.  One very creative way to earn a living is by simply driving!  You’ve probably heard of UBER by now.  It’s an app that allows you to locate a ride from just about anywhere.  It finds a driver near by to take you to your destination for a lot less money than a taxi.  I tried it for the 1st time in NYC a few weeks ago and it worked very well!  Drivers use their own vehicles and work their own schedules, so if you have a car, enjoy driving and need extra income, this could be perfect for you!  Here’s a link with some testimonials and more info. so you can DriveWithUber if you’re interested in using or offering this service.  There are so many creative ways to find self employment…and offering house calls is another option that provides convenience, especially for those that don’t drive or are unable to!  I know people that offer in-house visits to cut hair, do accounting and book-keeping, take care of pets, help plan parties and more!  All you need is a specialized skill, a valid driver’s license & car (of course) & some business cards and website and you’re on your way!  And now there are so many free, great websites that allow you to build your own pages through relatively easy to use templates so you can get started ASAP!  I use a few of these but my favorite is Weebly.  For an example, here’s the link to my own Weebly Fine Art Site: http://laurencurtisart.weebly.com  So, start thinking about how you could earn income (legally 😉 ) and get a business plan together!  I hope this blog has sparked some ideas for you and please share information with us by leaving comments about your own freelance projects and keep the trend going!

For free or not for free?

OK, so rarely do I rant in my blogs but I’ve noticed an increasing trend in the world of the freelance artist/designer that is quite disturbing, particularly on art job sites….you know, the ones where you search through bazillions of jobs that match your key words and skills and bid against literally hundreds of other artists, many who completely undersell themselves thus undermining the value of our work??  You know what I mean, artists, right?  I’m sure other fields of employment deal with this too, but being an artist I can only speak from my own experiences.

Now I have gotten some great freelance work from these sites and am very grateful for them but two things really aggravate the hell out of me:

1. The “Under Value-er”...as referred to above, these are the people who are willing to do hours of art/design work for pennies and severely under sell everyone thus under valuing what we artists do!  Some of the “people” bidding under this guise on the freelance sites are actually graphic design companies who outsource their work to designers, and most likely pay them poverty wages for the work they do…the companies  get so many jobs due to their extremely low prices so I guess they can afford to do this as it’s quantity not necessarily quality for the most part (I’ve seen complaints & not-so-great reviews posted).  I’m sure a lot of the work they do is satisfactory or even good for the client who doesn’t know much about design or marketing and just wants a computer generated, typical and slick-looking image, but choosing an artist with art education and unique creativity for a bit more money can only be a benefit to a business.  Sadly some people don’t realize this and go for the cheap fix.  Luckily a few of the job sites actually prevent this from happening by not allowing the freelancer to bid below a certain price, thus keeping the competition fair but unfortunately not many sites do this.

2. The “Free Sampler”…to me, one of the most annoying offenders on the freelance job sites!  Now would you go into a store and take a shirt and say “I’m going to wear this for a while then decide if I like it enough to pay for it?”  Or would you go into a restaurant and expect them to give you free food samples to decide if you want to pay to eat there?  I think not!  So why do so many potential art/design clients ask us artists to do FREE WORK SAMPLES especially when we’ve already provided them with our portfolios, resumes and relevant past work samples so they can see the quality and style of our work??!!  What’s to stop them from stealing our ideas from the rough sketches they require without signing a contract with us or securing any deposit money?  And then they argue with you when you politely say this is not the way things are done….I mean why are artists expected to spend their time, energy and creativity creating free samples with no guarantee of pay and when it’s already too easy to rip off our work given how we must post it on so many sites on the internet, etc., that to just be expected to hand over free samples…no matter how “simple and easy” the client says the work will be,  is beyond me!  What other employee is expected to work for free in other fields unless it’s a volunteer position?  Artists pay for their education, art and computer supplies, marketing supplies and our time and creativity are valuable as well.  When you hire us to design a company logo, don’t you want the best image that will be successful for your brand?  Why is this an area where people think spending $20 on an image that will forever represent their company and that they can reproduce and make money off of endlessly is not worth more than a few dollars??  Now this is not always the case but I see it all too often on every freelance site I am on, which is many.

There is art EVERYWHERE!  It’s in advertising for every product…it’s in the design of the product itself!  Art is in media, publishing, advertising…it’s in the menu from the restaurant, it’s the pattern design on your clothes, it’s the covers on your books, it decorates homes and businesses, it moves us & teaches us history and culture in galleries and museums, it’s on the websites people look at…it is literally everywhere and very important so PLEASE….don’t under value art and the artists that create it!  Rant ended.  Thanks for reading and for understanding!  Feel free to comment with any of your art related rants and experiences here….we can all learn from each other and make the art community a stronger place!