Make your presence known
It’s an easy misconception to think that once you start making stuff, the right jobs will magically come knocking on your door. And hey, sometimes they do. But for the most part when you’re starting out, your presence in the industry isn’t yet known. You have to become your own marketing and PR person.
You have to take steps to make yourself visible by putting your work out there – whether you’re emailing potential clients examples of your work, posting it on social media, creating a profile on a freelancing website, or one of the other plethora of options out there. So many creatives get frustrated that clients aren’t reaching out to them, but have they really reached out to that many people? Have they been sharing their work on a consistent basis?
The slow build
It’s a numbers game, and at first you have to send a lot of beacons into the unknown to get a bite. Sometimes it can feel like they’re going straight into the abyss, never to be heard from again. Don’t take it personally, all creatives go through this in the beginning. I sent dozens of emails with examples of my illustration work to art directors over a period of months before I got my first commission. But the magic is, the first project leads to the next, which leads to the next, and so on. Until eventually the project requests start coming into your inbox on the regular.
This works best when you’re sharing your work in more than just one spot. I was cold emailing art directors, I was posting my illustrations on Instagram and Facebook, I was following art directors on Instagram in hopes they would see my work and maybe follow me back, I had an updated portfolio site showcasing my work that I always linked to, I had a profile on a freelancing website, I had a LinkedIn profile, and I was applying to tonnes of freelance gigs. The work you get at first might not be your dream project, but it’ll eventually lead to that. The sooner you show your work to the world, the sooner you can start the career building process.