It’s a strange time at the moment. For some illustrators, it’s business as usual, with new jobs still coming in. For others, commissions have slowed down or they’re taking a break to consider their next step. Some people are feeling unproductive and some are feeling more motivated than ever. It’s different for everyone, but lots of us are feeling a bit lost at sea.
If you have more spare time than usual and you are looking for some structure, the AOI have created a two week plan to help you focus your energy. The goals of the #StayInReachOut Two Week Plan are:
- To develop your online presence and self promotion, to help you attract more commissions.
- To grow your knowledge around business essentials like copyright, finances and contracts.
- To focus on your plan for when life goes back to normal, using the spare time you have now to set yourself up for future success.
By taking this time to research, refocus and reach out, we feel confident that the illustration industry will come out the other side of this, stronger than before.
There is a #StayInReachOut pdf calendar available for you to download, with hyperlinks to all the resources you’ll need. Check back in on this resource page daily, for detailed instructions on each days task. You are welcome to start this plan at anytime, and complete it at your own pace!
[hidden title = "Download the #StayInReachOut Two Week Plan"]
Click HERE to download the #StayInReachOut Two Week Plan
[hidden title = "Monday - Update and spring clean your website"]
Today’s focus is your website. Whether it needs updating, curating or a complete redesign, today is a good day to start!
With everyone trapped at home and surfing the internet, it’s important that your online portfolio is in good shape. Your website is a reflection of your business, so use this time to make it look as professional and slick as possible!
Now is great time to make all those little changes to your website that you’ve been putting off. Use the tips in the resource below as your checklist.
Looking to build a new website? AOI Members receive a 20% discount on Squarespace’s annual subscription plan.
If you would like feedback on your online portfolio and advice on how to develop it further, you can also check out our 1-1 portfolio consultations.
For some further reading check out the articles below, featuring insights from illustrators Sam Taylor, Claudine O’Sullivan, Niki Groom and Josh McKenna.
Driving Business – The Importance of a Great Website, Part 1
Driving Business – The Importance of a Great Website, Part 2
[hidden title = "Tuesday - Scrub up on your licensing and copyright knowledge"]
As illustrators, the copyright in our work is our most valuable possession. We make money by licensing this right out to clients. This is how the illustration industry functions.
For clients who don’t regularly work with illustrators, copyright and licensing can be new concepts! Some clients may ask you to work on a day rate, or suggest a copyright assignment. It’s important that illustrators push back on this, and explain why a licence is a better option for both parties.
To be able to communicate this to your clients in a confident, professional and positive way – you will need to make sure you are an expert! Today’s task is to scrub up on your copyright and licensing knowledge, using the AOI resources below.
What is Copyright?
Writing a Licence
How to Licence Illustration *Note this is a public resource, that includes a downloadable pdf that you can share directly with clients.
[hidden title = "Wednesday - Build your list of contacts"]
Today’s focus is building your list of commissioner contacts, so that you can start reaching out to potential new clients. We know it’s a strange time at the moment, but companies are still commissioning illustration and they want to hear from you!
Take the time today to really focus on the area/areas of the industry you want to be working in. Make a list of 5-10 dream clients that you think would be a great fit for your work. When looking for commissioners names and titles, LinkedIn is a great resource. Start by searching for a company’s ‘Art Director’ or ‘Creative Director’.
Its OK to contact a companies general email address. However when looking for specific contact details, many illustrators invest in directories. The AOI have directories for editorial, publishing and advertising clients available through our shop. We also offer a members discount on a more extensive directory package, available through Bikini Lists.
Make sure to also check out our GDPR resource below, so you can feel confident when reaching out to new contacts!
AOI Members Discount – Bikini Lists
GDPR – An Introduction
[hidden title = "Thursday - Sort out your social media and self promo"]
Today’s task is to make a plan for your social media and other forms of self promotion. As it’s difficult to send physical mail outs to commissioners at the moment, it’s worth allocating some extra time to reaching out online.
As an illustrator you are a business, and businesses need a considered social media presence to promote their brand. Using the resources below, make a plan for your social media content over the next few weeks. When it comes to posting, consistency is key. Take the stress out of social media by taking the time to think ahead.
Note that self promotion doesn’t need to stop at social media. There are plenty of other online platforms you could consider, such as blogs, folio sites and media outlets. Use today to think outside of the box, and put together a refreshed plan for promoting your business!
[hidden title = "Friday - Get on top of your finances"]
It’s important to be realistic about your money at the moment, so the task today is to get on top of your business’ finances. When it comes to bookkeeping, it can be easy to stick your head in the sand. However the resources below are designed to make managing your finances clearer, so that you can know where to start.
The AOI have partnered with three accountancy firms, RS Accountancy, Ward Williams Creative and Weedens. If you would like further guidance on your finances, each of these accountancy firms offer a free 1 hour consultation to AOI Members.
5 tips to Managing Finances as an Illustrator
10 tips for Accounting
Tax & VAT
Exclusive AOI Discount – Free Consultation with an Accountant
[hidden title = "Monday - Connect with other illustrators"]
Illustrators are actually pretty great at working from home and working on their own! However, now more than ever, people are looking to reach out and support their communities online. Whether it’s to ask for advice, or just have a friendly natter with fellow illustrators, there are lots of platforms available for you to join.
Allocate some time today to researching online groups, events and activities that you’d like to take part in. Make sure to check out the AOI events page. As part of our new ‘Spotlight On’ series, we will be running weekly lunchtime chats with inspiring illustrators.
If you’re interested in reaching out to illustrators in your local area (so that you can look forward to real life meetings in the future), check out our AOI Meet Ups groups, led by fantastic regional volunteer members.
AOI Events Page
AOI Meet Ups
[hidden title = "Tuesday - Get to grips with contracts"]
If you are having a quiet patch at the moment, your time doesn’t need to be wasted. Use today to learn more about contracts, so that you can negotiate yourself a better deal when it comes to future jobs.
Big or small, all illustration jobs should have a contract. Read the resources below for a recap on why contracts are important and for some ‘boilerplate’ terms that you need to know.
The AOI have a template contract called the ‘The Illustrator Commissioner Agreement’. This agreement is free for AOI Members to download and send to clients. Spend some extra time today reading through the terms and conditions in ‘The Illustrator Commissioner Agreement’, to get a better understanding of what a fair contract should look like.
What is a Contract?
Boilerplate Clauses in Illustration Contracts
The Illustrator Commissioner Agreement
[hidden title = "Wednesday - Plan your awards applications"]
Competitions, Awards and Prizes are a great way to increase exposure and gain recognition of your work, but lots of us are guilty of letting those deadlines sneak past!
Today, research illustration awards you are interested in applying for over the next 12 months. Make a note in your calendar of what month their applications usually open, and mark any deadlines that are already available online. Bear in mind, some upcoming competitions may be affected by the spread of the corona virus, so keep an eye out for any date changes.
Always make sure you read through the terms and conditions of a competition thoroughly. If you are unsure about any terms, contact the AOI help desk for further advice.
There are many illustration competitions available online, from worldwide awards to smaller prizes for different specialisms. Below are some of the main annual awards to get your research started.
V&A Illustration Awards, The V&A Museum
The Book Illustration Competition, House of Illustration
World Illustration Awards, The Association of Illustrators
Competitions, Awards and Prizes
Interviews with WIA2020 Winners
[hidden title = "Thursday - Know what to do if a job goes wrong"]
While most commissions go smoothly, it’s normal to come across the occasional obstacle. Today’s focus is learning what to do if a job goes south. Read through the resources below to help you feel more confident in handling tricky situations, like late payment, copyright infringement and going to law.
And remember, there’s no need to panic should something go wrong. The AOI are always here to offer advice through our 1-1 helpdesk, so don’t be afraid to reach out for support.
Chasing Late Payments
Going to Law
1-1 AOI Helpdesk (email [email protected])
[hidden title = "Friday - Begin your business plan"]
We hope that you are feeling focussed and recharged after almost completing this two-week plan. After investing some time each day into setting your goals, targeting your output and building your knowledge, you are in a strong position to start developing your business plan.
To help you begin, Creative Industries Consultant Alison Branagan has prepared an introduction to business planning in the AOI resource below. This resource is aimed at beginners and includes an Action Planner and a Mind Map pdf that you can print at home.
Some of you may have a business plan in place already, which is brilliant. But now is a great time to reassess your current practices and refocus your aims.
While it’s important for us to plan for the coming months, your business plan should also focus on your ambitions for the future. Utilise this time to set your goals and nurture your illustration business.
Alison Branagan also offers 1-1 Business Planning Consultations, which can be done over Skype. You can book a consultation through the AOI shop.
Business Plan Guide
1-1 Business Planning Consultation
Well done for completing your #StayInReachOut Two Week Plan!
The AOI have plenty more resources that you can incorporate into your quarantine schedule! Check out our Make the Most out of your Membership page for more info.