Sharing light on my freelancing experience (so far!)
My name is Hannah-Michelle, you can call me Han. I am a freelance illustrator and I’m starting this blog to share what I’m learning as I ride the wave, baby. Recently, someone reached out via Instagram to chat about illustration, as she didn't know anyone in her offline life to talk shop with. There were a few topics that came up that totally blindsided me. I hadn’t really stopped and assessed how I contact art directors, or how I track my finances. Processing all that shone a light on the level of isolation that can underpin freelancing, especially if like me, you don’t use a co-working space. I’d pretty much never spoken about this stuff with other illustrators before. It’s cool to be kind, so if I have any useful information that might help someone in a similar position to me, that's good enough of a reason for me to share. I’m operating outside the highlight reel in this space, so I’m totally open to topic suggestions. Drop me a DM on Instagram if there is anything you’d like me to do a deep dive on, or even just to chat!
A lil' more about me, stranger
I’ve been illustrating on and off for a few years since university, but its only in the last year that I've slowly woven my intentions into a sustainable routine. I got super sick over a period of about 6 months in 2018. It was truly gnarly and at its worst I couldn't even walk. Looking back, I don’t think there was a distinct moment of zen-like clarity during that time, but I estimate something clicked in-between Love Island binge sessions and sleeping for 18 hours a day. That’s not to say that I suddenly developed an otherworldly understanding of the nuances of freelancing, but it lit a fire under my butt in a way that coasting around my early 20s had not. In the past year, I’ve been lucky enough to work with some rad companies like Girlboss, Curbed and Polyester alongside my day jobs and I also run my own Etsy store too.
Why a blog, baby?
I’ve always loved exploring blogs. I actually used to have a blog years ago sharing all the naff tat I thrifted from charity shops (charity shops rock, I was just 14 and had odd taste in clothes). If you Google me hard enough you’ll find it because I can't find my password to delete the damn thing.I was excited by the idea of sharing my freelance journey, but my grammar isn’t perfect and there's still so much that I need to grapple with before I ‘legitimise’ myself internally as an illustrator. But since I realised that illustration is a pretty isolated pursuit, I've given myself the permission to share this experience with you and have some dang fun.
Some topics I'm going to share with ya:
✿ How I contact art directors, specifically I’m going to share the spreadsheet system I use. Yep, you read that right. A groovy free spreadsheet!
✿ How I manage my time and the importance of carving out a routine (my morning routine 2k19). I know being freelance is totally righteous but I have to create some sort of order, if only for my own sanity. This applies to side hustlers, part-timers and all-in people!
✿ How I sell my illustration/art online (specifically through Etsy and how that might change).
✿ How I manage my freaking moe! Inc. another groovy spreadsheet.
✿ How I am setting goals and what I've learned so far. Psst..creating a new illustration for each post is a part of my new goal!
I'll be back
I’ve done a wedge of research and spoken with a tonne of illustrators at different stages in their careers. The bad news is, there is no roadmap for freelance illustration. There isn’t an exact number of art directors to email before you power drive straight into the stratosphere of regular commissions. However, the good news is you have me, 3 coffees in, waving some notes scribbled on the back of a receipt at you (lol?)
I’ll be back with more soon, but for now I’d like to summarise with a simple haiku:
All of this to say,
I’m no expert, but I share.
Please stick around, yes?