How to Work as a Freelance Artist

  • Despite the economic downturn, some art sectors, like fashion and marketing, are thriving.
  • A freelance artist is someone who works short-term gigs, usually on a contractual basis.
  • Aspiring freelancers should have a website and market themselves on social media.
  • As more companies turn to freelance artists, be sure you know your rights as a contractor.

Freelancing in 2020 was a roller coaster, to say the least. As businesses and clients reevaluated their finances, many contracts and freelance opportunities came to a standstill, which led to many workers being laid off, getting their hours reduced, or having their positions eliminated entirely.  Industries like advertising and journalism have kept hiring freelancers during the pandemic.

But being a freelance artist isn’t all bad. Fortunately, the gig economy has remained relatively stable compared to more traditional industries, such as retail and marketing. This unexpected stronghold has seen some growth as more individuals take their careers into their own hands.

Even during these challenging times, many freelance artists are thriving. Industries such as advertising, journalism, and design — for which independent and contract artists inarguably serve as backbones — have kept hiring freelancers. Self-employed artists may continue to experience economic highs and lows as the economy begins to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. With that said, here’s a look at what being a freelancer means and how you can craft a stable career as an independent artist.

So What Is a Freelance Artist?

“A true gig job or gig worker job is … something short term [in which] they’re freelancing or they’re doing something on the side,” explains Paul Nichols, executive director of the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the University of Texas at Dallas. “A lot of these types of jobs are jobs that people can cycle in and out of very quickly based on their schedule or their own needs.”

Simply put, being a freelancer is exactly what it sounds like — you choose what to work on and set your own hours. You’re essentially your own boss. Freelance artists and independent contractors can move from role to role while avoiding the hassles of conventional, salaried jobs. This sense of flexibility and entrepreneurship appears to be flourishing amid the pandemic. To become a freelancer, you must find your niche, whether that’s writing, designing, or producing small art pieces. You need to identify what your biggest strengths are so you can tap into those skill sets and the relevant markets. Once you’ve figured out your niche, it’s time to start advertising your services. Freelancers can use any avenue to market themselves, such as local directories and social media. The goal is to show others what you have to offer — and why you’re worth hiring.

As your marketing efforts gain traction, begin building up your client base. The strength of an artist’s client base often determines whether they’ll succeed or fail in a competitive market. If the work is of good quality, satisfied customers can help strengthen your reputation through word of mouth, shout-outs, and referrals. In the mix of marketing and building up a client base, any freelancer worth their weight will want to establish themselves as a legitimate business or entity. Doing this not only allows you to market your services as an actual business but also lets you keep your finances and legal paperwork separate from your assets.

In today’s struggling job market, industries such as design and writing have benefited greatly from the gig economy. Freelancers have filled and will continue to fill roles that many companies view as either short-term gigs or long-term partnerships.

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