Here’s the problem.
There’s no comprehensive system specifically made for freelancers in the creative industry. You can find courses on illustration, motion design and character animation taught by industry heroes, but when it comes to freelancing the resources available are either generic (how to write an invoice, how to negotiate contracts) or a hodge podge of bite-sized, shiny ideas to try (value based pricing, building a social media following, starting a blog).
Folks spend thousands of dollars to give themselves the best education in their craft, but what’s the use if you can’t convert that into consistent, well-paid client work?
There’s a huge gap between technical skills and the ability to turn those skills into money.
Worse, there are no good resources bridging this gap because there’s way more money in making scalable, technical courses than there is in taking on the labor- and time-intensive work of bringing an individual’s artistic and business skills up to standards required by clients willing to pay market rate.
This twelve week mentorship is my contribution to bridging that gap.
I created this mentorship to systematically convert your creative skills into a reliable flow of quality clients who will pay good money for your creative ideas.
No more running around like a freelancing headless chicken, pecking at this new idea and that–you’re going to focus and thrive using this simple approach:
Only pay for enough technical education so your work is good enough to win clients who pay market rate. Then use paid client work to fund the development of your personal creative vision.
The stronger your personal creative vision, the more clients will come to you for solutions than other freelancers in your industry.
This is the approach I’ve been honing since I left my studio job in 2015 to freelance full time. Remotely.
I worked for over two and a half years at a small animation studio in Brooklyn, drawing and animating corporate cartoons. At the same time, I took a lot of very informative but expensive classes both online and in-person for perspective, color theory and motion design.
I quickly noticed a mismatch.
The stuff I was learning in those classes was geared toward my becoming the most proficient artist I could be, and the implicit bargain was that by becoming more proficient I was somehow going to be successful in my industry.
No one was willing to burst this bubble–we just assumed doing lots of practice projects and getting on portfolio platforms like Behance or Artstation would somehow magically allow us to make a living.
My day-to-day reality working at the studio was totally different.
The work we were putting out was pretty average. I had very little experience in animation and learned After Effects and Illustrator on the job–I was hardly the most proficient artist I could be. But that didn’t deter clients, large and small, from paying thousands of dollars for our studio to make their content.
It dawned on me that clients weren’t interested in our skills as artists–they were far more interested in getting their projects done quickly, done well and on budget. Speed was more important than beauty for almost all the clients who came through our doors.
In the evenings, after work, those client criteria were tossed out the window as I worked through courses I’d enrolled in. All my technical courses were concerned about how to make the most striking compositions, the smoothest scene transitions and the most beautiful color keys.
I was struck by this disparity.
The client world I functioned in during the day was concerned with speed and budget. The “craft” world I dove into in the evenings was only concerned with technical proficiency and beauty.
This mismatch is the gap between technical proficiency and the reality of paid client work. I could improve my craft and aim for beauty, but this proficiency alone was not valuable currency in the client world. My day job taught me speed and what real world clients actually wanted.
Armed with this insight and not much else, I jumped ship into freelance waters.
To be clear, I had zero clients when I started freelancing (um, not recommended). But orienting my portfolio toward the client criteria of speed, consistency and budget, I was flooded with work straight away. I made as much money as a full time, remote freelancer in the first six months as I did a whole year at my studio job.
I worked with brands like Cisco, PepsiCo and Al Jazeera English within months of starting to freelance. I stopped taking expensive courses to skill up, focusing instead on delivering the best work I could within the client’s budget and schedule.
Slowly, I built my client base. Within my second and third years of freelancing, I was doing title sequences for the International Center of Photography and broadcast animations for National Geographic and I started to structure my time so that most of the year, I was doing personal work.
This personal work started to reveal my own creative ideas, which I took and carefully nurtured, away from the pressures of client work. Eventually those ideas grew strong enough for me to offer my clients as original ideas to solve their creative problems. This led to work with Carnegie New York, Netflix and the Wall Street Journal–this was work shaped by my personal creative vision rather than just client demands.
You can build your client base and eventually get them to pay for work you actually want to do, too. Everyone’s journey to this point will be different, and that’s where the mentorship comes in. In twelve weeks, I’m going to share with you, straight to your inbox, detailed steps to put my approach into practice and we are going to work together to get your portfolio, service and pitch in place.
By the end of the mentorship, you’ll be pitching to clients and landing work. More importantly, you’ll have a schedule that breaks down exactly what you need to do in a given day to hit the goals you’ve identified to move you forward.
Here’s how the twelve weeks will break down:
Developing Your Personal Creative Vision
Weeks 11-12: Getting Paid for Your Personal Vision
Throughout the twelve weeks, we will be scheduling six one-hour calls together. These calls are designed to answer any questions that come up in the previous two weeks’ mentorship content, whether from the content itself or from your own freelance work.
This mentorship is practical, and all the components of my approach come from my own hard-won experience as a remote freelancer with dozens of projects across multiple clients in various industries successfully completed over the years.
Here’s a recap:
A complete freelancing system, designed for creatives like you. Six one-hour, 1:1 calls. Five assignments with personalized feedback. Twelve weeks of accountability to get your client and personal work where it needs to be.
I’m a full time freelancer working remotely from New York. I paint and I develop creative projects with folks at Netflix, WSJ, Nat Geo, etc. Get an in-depth sense of my freelance philosophy through the essays on this site.