Finally, I have my website up and running with 20 images in my portfolio. It has taken nearly six months to do the work and set everything up. This however, is only the first step in any illustrators business endeavours. Now comes the harder stuff (in my personal view anyway) The practise of marketing and gaining contacts who will also hopefully be commissioners too.It is well known that artists inn general are not the best at this part of the business. It does require creativity, but marketing/gaining commissions , is fraught with potential pain and despair, alongside the occasional fruitful, happy occasion. Knock backs and refusal to acknowledge you and your work are common place. One reason why so many illustrators prioritise looking for an agent who will help with most of the leg work, and help promote you. I myself have applied for a few in the past with other styles of illustration, and so I am used to rejection. However, I do also remain positive as I believe there is a good market for my work. its just a case of finding a good match. Anyway the focus for this post is what my plans are for marketing and gaining commissioners, and i hope that my way of going about this will offer insight for anyone else in the same boat. One of my first jobs was to register with the Association of Illustrators, I have been with them before for other style, and know too well how important they are for a multitude of reasons. A subscription offers a 20 image portfolio on their site. (Here is mine: https://theaoi.com/folios/john-hogan-childrens-book-illustration/) Not to mention, as part of their membership another free 10 image portfolio with the Directory of Illustration which is an American version and international too.) The AOI are there to offer support and guidance for illustrators and offer a comprehensive business overview and advice, both legal and rudimentary, including a Illustrators code of conduct. The AOI validates you and your work within a professional framework. I cant recommend it more, its membership is invaluable for any illustrator. Once signed up there is access to other marketing and gaining contacts. For the legal side of the business , apart from the online information, there are publications to purchase for a reduced fee.. One of the main ones is the illustrators guide to law and business practise, which is very useful.
One of my marketing plans is to (in the new year) send postcards to as many potential commissioners as I can. I will be printing a selected piece of artwork from my portfolio, onto a 5×7 postcard double sided to include my website and contact details. I will be sending out 50 at a time to all the contacts that I have found through some of the literature supplied by the AOI, The AOI offer (for a small fee) a directory of over 300 contacts (names and addresses) within the industry, including publishers and literary agents amongst other potential clients.
Outside of the AOI I have also purchased another essential publication which offers another host of possible contacts within the industry. Over 300 in fact. apart from excellent general advice to the professional illustrator.
Alongside these publications I am also signing up for membership of bikini lists.https://www.bikinilists.com/ with a potential market place of over 65,000 this is the go to platform for contacts within the creative industries. It isn’t cheap, but Its well worth the outlay.
the service offers automation of email sending which takes out a lot of the donkey work.
So if people don’t know you are there, they don’t know what you do, and you want this, so it has to be an important part of your marketing strategy. The second phase in my marketing near future plans, is marketing through social media. We all understand how important social media is in any marketing strategy. On my website I have placed links to all my social media accounts. I belong to 7 altogether but I will be signing up to more as i go forward.Social media marketing is very time consuming, but has huge potential rewards.I also plan to fully utilise my you tube channel by making and uploading process and information videos in the new year. So as you can see there is a lot of work to do, aside from actually continuing to develop my portfolio, its going to be hard work , with a lot of pain and rejection, but this is all part of promoting yourself to your best ability, its just a case of knowing how and where to do it, and so I hope what I have shared here may help you in this regard.