Freelance Friday 05: Print Marketing

Hey everyone! This week and next, I’m responding to a comment from illustrator Robin French on offline methods of finding freelance work. That got me thinking a bit, because I don’t know of any offline venues for job listings…I think the offline side of it falls squarely into the making-jobs-come-to-you side of things, rather than the going-out-and-finding-existing-jobs side. This side of things takes time (so I think hunting out jobs is a necessary part of most freelancers early years), but is of course incredibly important.

(What do you think? Do you agree that the offline elements of job “hunting” are more like “connection/interest-building” hopefully resulting in future jobs, or can you think of avenues I’m missing? Answers on a postcard! Or, y’know, in the comments section.)

So when it comes to offline marketing/networking/presence-building, I’m dividing that down a bit. Today I’ll ponder Print Marketing; next week I’ll ruminate on Networking, and then I’ll either launch into a longish Contracts series, or delay that a week and do a post on Conventions/exhibitions/events, whichever there’s more interest in (cast your votes!).


Options I can think of for offline, print-based marketing are promotional mailers, flyers (at appropriate venues), and adverts (magazines, conference booklets, etc). Promo mailers are the only one of those that I have any experience with. Anyone have any experience with the other two that they can share?

 On promo mailers:

I’ll be frank: I’ve done a few of these, but not with the consistency I should, and without any particular results (I plan to do these more routinely though, so hopefully that will change!). That said, here’s a few dubiously-qualified thoughts!

Something special:

-There are plenty of articles in art mags on thinking outside of the box, and creating something special that will stand out. I love beautiful printed matter, so this is attractive to me, and I think is something that should be done now and then, especially because you can potentially get some online promotion out of it too by posting some good photos of your beautiful piece of print design and spreading them around to illustration news sites, etc. Looking at packs like this one by Meg Hunt or this one from Swink gets me all fired up to design something beautiful.

-But, time and money are considerations, and there’s a danger here of delaying and delaying because your schedule’s swamped and you want to be able to put 100% into it to really make an impact. In that case, it helps to remember that the majority of promos that cross ADs desks are simple postcards using a strong image already in the artist’s portfolio. I aim to start sending more of these, as 6 months down the line I can always send that gorgeous promo, but I’ll have sent something in the meantime. In the end it is, after all, the art that counts, and if they have a job you’re a good fit for, they’ll be able to tell from a postcard too.

-A good compromise can be something in between, that’s not as time-consuming as a box full of hand screenprinted goods, but has a bit of extra polish – perhaps 3 postcards that fit together as one image, or an oversize postcard. This post from Laura Wood has some great tips from her clean and professional mailer, including a very clever self-addressed, stamped response card ADs can send back.


-I think something like six months is a decent amount of time for no one to feel you’re spamming them, so a couple of rounds of postcards a year could be a good routine, with something special every few rounds. Including a response card as mentioned above in the Laura Wood link also means those who don’t want to see more from you can easily let you know.

Mailing list:

-Be selective, and always be keeping an eye out for ADs, editors, etc. who you might want to add to your mailing list. Keep separate lists if you work in multiple areas, so you’re not sending cheesecake pinups to childrens art imprints!

-Keep an eye out for who other illustrators are doing work for. For example, you may see pieces by an illustrator whose work has some sympathy with yours that were commissioned by an angling or finance magazine that you’d never have heard of otherwise – yet now you know they exist, and most importantly, that they commission your sort of illustration. So that’s an editor worth adding to your list.

-The current Writers and Artists yearbook is also a good idea to look up contacts and submission guidelines.

Useful links:

-Giuseppe Castellano, an Art Director and Penguin, regularly tweets invaluable information for illustrators, including lots on submissions and promos.

-Hire An Illustrator do regular mailings of postcard packs for their members to their mailing list for very reasonable prices, which is a very simple option.

-Computer Arts have lots of articles online on creating various kinds of promo materials.

Thanks for reading! See you next week for Networking 🙂


4 thoughts on “Freelance Friday 05: Print Marketing

    1. sally Post author

      Thanks Angie! Enjoying looking round your site. Your login access licensing gallery seems like a brilliant idea!

  1. Vicki Paull (@Wikivic)

    I’ve been pondering how to produce some better physical promo items lately, as so far I’ve only ever done business cards and postcards, so I’ve bookmarked some links for the future (suffering the ol’ time constraints right now ^^; )

    Great read though – very helpful! 🙂

    1. sally Post author

      Yeah, it’s tough to get them done and out there when you’re really busy and want them to look great. I need to start being willing to do more simple postcards rather than just waiting to do something more thought-out. There’s some super inspiring stuff out there for those though! 🙂

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