Publishing your own comic costs money. For most people, that’s the biggest obstacle. For some, it’s the only thing standing between themselves and a successful comic book.
You can’t make any money from your book until it’s published, but in order to publish, you need money.
The good news is that there are ways to leverage the same skills and creativity that you used to make your comic book to raise the capital to publish it. You can make money with drawing skills.
Use freelance illustration gigs to fund your comic book
Comics are a big deal right now. Interest in comic book characters and animated features is soaring. And it’s not just movies, tv, and books.
Organizations that don’t have anything to do with the entertainment or comic book industries are starting to see the possibilities of using comics to market their products and services and communicate with customers or employees.
This creates a demand for comic illustrators, and there are freelance opportunities if you know where to look.
Where to look
- Small businesses
- Charitable organizations
- Local and national clubs
- Large corporations
You probably won’t see jobs like this advertised all that often. Chances are, you’ll have to approach prospects with the idea.
I’ve approached lots of businesses and other organizations that have never considered using comic art, but as soon as I explain how they can benefit and show them a couple of art samples, they start to see how it could work for them.
You will get some rejection, but don’t let that stop you. Just move on to the next prospect.
I’ve yet to come across anyone who thought I was crazy for suggesting the idea. Usually, if they aren’t interested, it’s for reasons that have nothing to do with you or with the idea.
How to get started
Start with your contacts.
Ask colleagues, family and friends if the place where they work might benefit from comic book art, and if so, ask for a contact name and telephone number or e-mail address. Pay that person a visit. If it’s not an imposition, have your contact with the connection pave the way by mentioning the idea.
- Does a family member work for a company that publishes an in-house newsletter? Suggest one of your drawings or cartoons to be included.
- Do you shop at a local convenience store that could use a fun brochure with their weekly specials? Draw one up for them every weekend.
- How about a small business that suffers from a dull web page? There’s nothing like some colorful illustrations to brighten up a screen.
Businesses look for novel ways to present their ideas, and many want to be seen as fun and engaging, not as stuffy corporate drones. Those are the kinds of places to approach with your portfolio.
Again, comic art may not be on their radar, but once they see it they may recognize it for an awesome story telling medium that can be used for both brand promotion and education.
Flyers and brochures are natural fits for comic book art. Colorful drawings that tell a story are way more interesting than a typical boring brochure.
Both writer and artist are needed for these projects, because they are full comic books, but they’re geared toward promotion of an idea – the story the organization wants to tell.
For example, if a government agency or non-profit wants to promote an anti-bullying message to kids, what better way to reach them than through a comic book handed out through schools?
Commission drawings are one of a kind, personalized pieces made to order for the customer. Characters who normally wouldn’t appear together in their comic books can be drawn to the specifications of the buyer. Where else might you find a drawing of Superman flying alongside Scooby Doo instead of Krypto?!?
People love to see their family and friends drawn with or as their favorite comic book or cartoon characters. This is a popular type of commission drawing that makes a great gift for birthdays, Christmas, or even weddings.
How much should you charge?
This is a question that baffles freelancers. It shouldn’t.
A freelance job in comics is the same as in any other field. You need to estimate the time it will take you to do a job and decide on a satisfactory hourly rate for your time. You must also take into account what clients might be willing to pay.
Take that number, estimate how many hours the job will take, multiply, and there’s your rate for the job. You’ll charge by the job, not by the hour. The hourly rate is just a way to help estimate the fee.
If you’re a beginner with few portfolio samples and no paid jobs under your belt, you might start quite low. In that case, you might decide $12 per hour is acceptable. A four hour job, therefore, should charge at around $50.00. As you gain experience and your portfolio grows, so will the amount of money you’ll be able to demand.
In the future, a four hour job may pay $500.00. It’s best to be realistic when setting your rates. If you’re not getting any interest, it may be that you’re overestimating what potential clients are willing to pay. But once you find the rate that works, you’ll be on your way to raising the money for your own comic book.
Doing freelance work helps hone your skills and teaches you how to meet a deadline – two things that will serve you well in your comic book career.