Sunday, August 16, 2015

pbeach's 22 practical tips and opinions from 25+ years of successful, pro freelance design and illustration.

Freelancing can be described as "Controlled Worry 24x7x365". This blog... rather a mini manifesto if you will, is all about success and survival in the freelance trenches, baby. Hard-earned lessons and experiences [and mistakes!] applicable to multiple creative disciplines. [things that I wish someone had told me when I was first starting out!] 

Not everything here will apply or be relatable. Hopefully you'll gain insight, inspiration and info. Fair warning: a long read but well worth it, I assure you. ;-) 

[Be sure to review the helpful links in the right-hand column!] >

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1. Let's begin with simple, common sense stuff. [and ultimately, perhaps the most critical part of your business success] Freelance creative... design and illustration is brutally competitive and requires more than talent to succeed.

 SERVICE. GREAT, fast service is KEY, KEY, KEY.

 COMMUNICATION. Return phone calls and emails promptly... polite, respectful, quick responses to a clients' needs. Great communication skills are SO important... and SO lacking in today's business world - sharpening this skill alone will set you apart from and above your competition.

>>> and while we're on the subject of communication: use spellcheck in your emails - there's nothing less professional to a client than misspelled words

 During a project, develop the habit of sending out a "Just checkin' in"/progress-update email first thing in the morning - open with a little light humor, inquire about them on a personal level *; this communication effectively puts them at ease that you're on-track with their project and keeps them off your back during the day while you're busy creating that masterpiece... a win-win.

* Find out something personal about the client - a hobby?... do they have kids?... what do they like to do?... something that will additionally link them to you on a personal level so, as your relationship develops, you can tap into this knowledge in your subsequent chats.

 BEND OVER BACKWARDS FOR A CLIENT. Service, service, service, baby! [have I mentioned “service” enough?] - like it or not, whether you agree or not, I tell my clients [my best clients, which frankly I can count on only a couple fingers]: no day is sacred in my studio... I am available for you 7 days a week if necessary [subject to change depending on what personal/financial stage of life you find yourself in, right? ;-)]

 PROJECT A POSITIVE, CAN-DO ATTITUDE NO MATTER WHAT YOUR EMOTIONS. I can't begin to tell you how many times I've had a client on the phone, either discussing a potential project or one in-progress, and been emotionally down on that particular day - invariably, I'll mistakenly allow those negative emotions to creep into my voice and 9.9 times out of 10, they'll quickly sense it and comment: "You OK with this project?"... you don't seem too enthused", etc. - fake it if you have to but ALWAYS project the best attitude possible towards a client.

 NEVER LET 'EM SEE YOU SWEAT. [when speaking with an CD/AD, your various enthusiastic replies] "You ask if I can match that style?"... "You want it by Thursday morning?"... "You want me to revise panels 2, 3, 4, 8 and 9 for the 7th time?"... "You want me to stand on my head, spin around and whistle Dixie while simultaneously juggling 5 flaming bowling pins AND retouching a clearly inferior, low-res composite image, magically transforming it to annual report-quality?" To which you reply: 
"Absolutely, positively, guaranteed!... I can't WAIT to dive in!!... consider it done!!!... you can TOTALLY count on me!!!!" ... then, slowly hang up the phone and start sweating profusely. You'll get it done. ;-)

 BE ON TIME with preliminary and final submissions!

 KNOW YOUR CLIENT/KNOW THEIR BUSINESS, prospective or otherwise.

 PROFESSIONALISM in every aspect of your business.

 Make each client feel that they are the most important part of your business. [frankly, as a one-man/one-woman operation, they are!]

>>> TWO KEY THINGS... laser-etched in granite, to keep in mind: 
1. Your sole goal and mission in life as a freelance artist is to make an art director look good to his or her boss, period - check the ego at the door. 
2. You're in business to land and keep clients... think long-term: some artists go in for the quick $$ kill on the first job - the big picture: consistently fair, honest, market-value fees - you want that client to be there down the road when you need the work to pay that utility bill before it gets cut off!

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2. Bidding Sites. the  UpworkElance, Guru, 99Designs, iFreelance, Freelancer, DesignCrowd, CrowdSpring, etc. models are terribly flawed - bottom-line, often-sealed [unless you pay a fee], blind bidding is a mistake in SO many ways.

Reason 1: you may be one of 50... 100+ or more “professionals” [I use the term VERY loosely] bidding on the same project.

Reason 2: Essentially it's a "Race to the bottom". We're talking third world wages.

Reason 3: the absolute WORST time to be anywhere near these sites is during a recession, where employers KNOW creatives are desperate and easy prey for acceptance of sub-standard fees - where the numbers of creatives looking for work... any work... is especially high - where the odds are virtually 100% in favor of the employer.

Reason 4: to top if off, there are fees: for example, Elance deducts a service charge between 6.75% and 8.75% - Guru freelancers pay "a 5% or 10% project fee"... Guru freelancers can also purchase a Guru membership/subscription fee "to receive privileged access to projects and employers." Because insists that you get paid through them, they are able to double dip - not only do they get your sign-up fee, but they also keep a portion of every payment you receive. iFreelance charges a membership fee [4.69 - 9.00/mo]...

... certainly not efficient, productive use of your time and limited marketing budget.

Frankly, these sites are a joke.

An excellent related article for you: Upwork vs Freelancer: Why It’s a Battle YOU Won’t Win

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3. Sourcebooks. Don't be fooled into buying a page/package in one of the creative sourcebooks, digital or conventional.

 Think about it - in a sourcebook, you are adrift in a mindless sea of incredibly-talented creatives, page after page - essentially side-by-side with hundreds of your closest competitors - a misdirected waste of your valuable and scarce money; combined with the fact that publishers charge 2K-3K+ for packages [Serbin/Directory of Illustration and Workbook ] - smart, efficient marketing it is not...

... for substantially less you can join a professional organization, pay for inclusion on some killer referral sites that will return you REAL hits and work - and have enough left over to print a set of quarterly postcards, buy a respectable laptop and dinner for 4 at your favorite restaurant.

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4. Due Diligence

As for "One-stop promo/marketing services sites" [for example: Agency Access: Marketing & Consulting Services for Artists] Information is so easily attained through a bit of time and effort [online and conventionally], why pay these high fees?

There’s no substitute for doing your own due diligence. Who knows you and your business better than you? Who works longer hours than you? There’s no magic wand… you can’t just sit back and magically grow your business by throwing $$’s at a service…

… hard work, long hours, sacrifice of a night out or a weekend date, sweat, worry, direct emails, follow-up emails, phone calls. Fighting the urge to send an email and actually making the effort to speak to someone. 

You have to want something so bad it hurts. 

Tap inward for self-motivation. Blindly competitive - always believing your competition has packed it in for the evening and gone to bed, so you’re gonna spend an extra two and half hours until 1:17am researching art directors within various agencies, yet another online directory you can list on, etc., etc.

You want something bad enough you’ll find a way to make it happen. No one’s gonna hand it to you.

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5. Referral sites. [on the obvious assumption you already have a viable, professional web site]

Determine your online referral site ad budget - some of my best referral sites are free and some are fee-based and definitely worth paying for... WELL worth the investment.

My best referral site: Graphic Artists Guild Member Portfolios. Easily and without doubt my best referral site for many years... by far... accounting for nearly 23% of total hits to the site [GAG directory inclusion is worth the membership fee alone]

Totals/top 4 performers...

699 hits/22.7%
196 hits/6.3%
36 hits/1.1%

A small sampling of honorable mentions in no particular order: [criteria changes but aside from Communication Arts Creative Hotlist, I believe most if not all of these are free to list]

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6. Reps.
 I had an East Coast-based rep for the better part of 11 years...

[another one - West Coast-based - for only one year because she coerced me, against my strong better judgment, into taking a page in a sourcebook [Graphic Artists Guild Directory of Illustration] for 2K+ that resulted in ZERO calls or work. Her whole claim-to-fame was talking an artist into a sourcebook page, sitting back and doing nothing. Shame on me, right?!]

... Molly was a seasoned and sharp businesswoman, a great friend to this day, a daily confidant, supportive and caring in every way and brought me high-end projects.

How did I land the rep? [this directly relates to my #8 tip: Find your niche]:

I approached her with samples of my work, which at the time were almost 100% technical/informational/instruction-assembly B&W lineart [now THAT's a narrow niche!] - not a common discipline for reps and most importantly, a niche that no one in her collection remotely covered.

She had a killer stable of amazingly talented artists and no initial desire whatsoever for anyone new.

She began: "Hmmm... I have to be honest with you, I'm not looking for anyone right now and I just don't think there's enough money there." I convinced her that indeed there was good potential; she finally agreed to rep me on a "trial" basis; as luck would have it, the very next week Cuisinart called her looking for an illustrator to illustrate a product manual full of technical lineart. Bingo, baby!... and a wonderful professional relationship began.

Soon after that, one of her illustrators had just finished a logo for Fafnir, a division of The Torrington Company [now Timken] - the art director was frustrated over unsuccessfully trying to find an illustrator to work on a huge project converting 40+ years of existing engineering/mechanical/assembly drawings, diagrams, charts, graphs, etc. into a series of digitally-produced catalogs - she said: "I have just the guy for you!"... guess what?... the first purchase order [of several] was for 50K [!!] I kid you not. Long-term over the better part of a year... AND... it allowed plenty of time for add'l freelance projects. Niche.

Reps are a wonderful and perhaps a necessary evil, especially when you're just starting out in a career [though most reps rightfully prefer an artist with "some" time-in-grade and self-promotion experience under their belt].

Reps look for style and a well-developed visual vocabulary in a portfolio. Someone that is unique and highly-skilled - ideally, an illustrator that has gone through the process of soliciting work, portfolio development, performed self-marketing, competitions, billing and bookkeeping etc. is going to appreciate what a rep provides to them more than an illustrator who has never had to experience how much work is involved.

Attributes they look for: personality, professionalism, loyalty, dedication-to-craft and PASSION!.

They handle all the initial client contacts/price negotiations, marketing, promotion and PR - but a heads-up: do NOT make the mistake as I once did of relying solely on a rep - you have to run your business as if the rep does not exist - if they come in with work, great... if not, shame on you if you have not been marketing on your own.

I'm guessing a rep experience is only bad if you don't perform your due diligence - check out the rep BEFORE you approach them:

 Obviously, make darn sure your portfolio is truly ready for primetime and the professional world before even thinking about approaching a rep.

 Email a few of the artists in their stable... ask them their opinion of the rep, their experiences, are they happy?, any negatives?, etc., etc.

 What is the commission percentage?

 Respectfully ask the artist if they'd be willing to provide a copy of their contract for you to review, if one exists.

 How are tax withholding's handled?

 Does the artist routinely interface directly with the client or does the rep act as a buffer? [major red flag]

 Does the artist invoice the client directly or does the rep do the invoicing and then pay the artist? [potential red flag: how do you REALLY know what the rep charged the client? - I only say this because it happened to a friend and fellow illustrator]

 and if the rep pays the artist, what are the net terms?... i.e. the rep pays the artist only when she gets paid by the client? [potential red flag - ask yourself: can you afford to wait min. 45-60-90++ days to get paid?... I know I can't!]

I was fortunate - I spoke directly with the client at all times during the project after she initially brought in the project and worked out the fees - I invoiced the client directly and paid her when I was paid... and I had no contract - I suspect this type of relationship may indeed be quite rare.

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7. Join a professional organization and become a part of their community. The professional benefits to you are enormous.

I've been a member of both the Graphic Artists Guild and the AIGA off and on since the early 80's; 
my experience with the two suggests this: both offer community through network, forums, conferences, seminars, job/portfolio postings, newsletters, health/industry discount options, etc, etc...

... when money became especially tight [when is it not??!!], I had to choose the single best organization that I personally would most benefit from - and chose the G.A.G.

It's my opinion that what sets the G.A.G. apart is it's legendary dedication to the advocacy of an artist's professional and legal rights. [to which I have accessed and used, from their various contract and agreement docs to emails/calls to pro bono industry-related lawyers with legal questions]

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Graphic Artists Guild.

Initiation/Application fee: 30.00 - Professional Member: 200.00 - Associate Member: 170.00 - students: 75.00

>> with a Guild membership, you belong to a global creative community that tirelessly supports and advocates for artists rights - benefits include:

 Industry discounts [ADBASE - Theispot - Allworth Press, sourcebooks, magazines, etc... hotels, car rentals, credit unions...]

 Health insurance discounts [The Guild recently affiliated with the United States Federation of Small Business which means that Guild membership will now have access to group rates on health insurance plans in 28 states]

 Professional development [Artist to Artist Hotline - Job Referral Systems & Promotional Services - JOBline news]

 Advocacy and access to a wealth of industry-related legal knowledge [Grievance Committee - Legal Referral Network Pre-Paid Legal services - Contract Monitor with sample contracts and related docs]

 Informational services [Guild News - Local Newsletters]

 The great and very useful "Pricing and Ethical Guidelines" book

 and of course their proven online Member Portfolio directory

As I've mentioned, for many years their portfolio directory has routinely produced more hits to the site [ and jobs! ] than any other referral site by far. Heck, the benefits of the online directory are truly worth the cost of the membership alone; the other benefits are gravy after the referral hits from their directory.

[ Graphic Artists Guild | Portfolios ]

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• Contributing [student] $50/year

• Supporting [junior designer] $150/year

• Sustaining [pro designer] $250/year

• Leader [top of your profession] $500/year

... each with varied benefits and opportunities.

[ AIGA | Join! ]

Good luck in your organization analysis!

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8. [Illustrators] Find your niche and market the devil out of it. An illustrator today making ANY kind of a respectable living [surviving?... making the rent... paying most of the bills perhaps?] is working within a niche; as you well know, pure commissioned illustration is a vacant shell of what it used to be.

Within the broad category of "illustration" - viable, commercial subcategories/niches that come to mind might include:
 architectural illustration
 children's book illustration
 fashion illustration
 medical/scientific illustration
 product illustration
 technical illustration [my specialty.1]
 informational/instructional illustration [my specialty.2]

... perhaps editorial... BUT... within the general "editorial" category, niches may include very specific/narrow industry trade pubs, whereby your imagery is geared to a small, key audience and subject matter, etc., etc. - maybe you can think of more - you get my drift.

SUMMARY: any illustration sub category that cannot be covered by stock!!!

>>> an additional bonus of a narrow niche specialization: once you determine the unique set of keywords and phrases that describe that niche for search engines, you'll invariably come up higher in the rankings because of the more specific nature of those details. [vs the generic "illustration"]

>>> speaking of stock:
 the IPA - Illustrators Partnership of America has an incredible library of related articles on the effects of stock houses on the illustration industry [click the IPA link in the right-hand column... go to > Topics > Stock]

It's safe to say that the majority of rookie ADs wouldn't know how to commission [or think to hire?] an actual freelance illustrator to save their life - they may crack open a stock CD or visit the multitude of stock illustration sites and base their campaign on the stock imagery gathered. [I have some fun stories on how using royalty-free imagery has come back to bite and embarrass a client when they discovered their competition using the same material!! - a serious and satisfying "I told you so" situation - what can I say?, I warned them!]

Note: see Tip #6 above: 
Reps. [landing one relates to "niche"]

>>> Survival and success for an illustrator today depends on finding that special niche, period and amen.

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9. An artist first. Ideally, a fine arts background or sensitivity to the masters and their techniques, then a mastery of the computer for art and illustration - the computer is nothing more than a wonderful, glorious tool and ONLY a tool ... synonymous to an airbrush, paintbrush or pastels - the operator still needs a complete understanding of spatial concepts, light, form, layout, color, design, perspective, etc., etc. Bottom line: raw yet studied conventional art talent/appreciation first - the computer will exploit and explode that talent beyond your wildest dreams.

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10. Marketing knowledge, or the willingness and aptitude [and above all, the PENCHANT, PASSION and DESIRE!!] to promote is a HUGE plus - there are a lot of talented artists out there who don't really have a solid clue as to how to promote and market those talents properly - reversely, there are marginal artists who are aggressive, driven and persistent... good at multiple forms of conventional and online promotion... and, they get the work - the ideal, obviously, is to be talented AND savvy in marketing.

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11. Single style vs. multiple styles? Hoo boy, tricky question - several schools of thought and opinions at work here:

Single style

Some profess concentrating on a unique, consistent style and I cannot disagree… BUT… only to a degree.

easily recognized and identifiable to ADs that want to base their campaign on a specific look&feel.


  this desirable style can be hot and trendy for a period of time and either a. fall out of favor b. be copied ad nauseum to point of stale insignificance [I guarantee you can think of trendy styles that are routinely copied – when I had a rep I can’t tell you how many times an agency AD would call and request that I copy a specific "in" style - and did I do it?... copy the style? - let's see... rent, food, utilities, kids... hmmm... yes.]

  the danger of the style becoming downright boring and limiting for you [??] - finding yourself pigeon-holed, churning out same-o/same-o stuff

Multiple styles

Advantages: multiple styles/multiple ADs – simple math, folks - the more art buyer tastes you can fulfill, the more looks/styles in your skill set, the more projects.


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12. Testimonials/references. I've found these to be a valuable marketing tool. Serves to validate you as a worthy and competent professional and provides assurance to potential clients.

As far as collecting testimonials, timing is everything: wait until the end of a successful project and respectfully ask your happy client if they wouldn't mind providing a testimonial - give 'em some hints perhaps: what are some of the benefits, attributes and talents you brought to their creative table, what it's like to work with you, how do they value your services, would they work with you again... and why, etc. Honestly, I've never once had a single client decline the request.

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13. Invoicing. I obviously can't speak for all of you but if I had to wait even 30 days for an invoice to be paid, my rent would be late, my internet would be cut off, the pantry would be empty and most probably I'd be quickly heading out of business!!! [TRUST me, I've been there, more than a few times!] Each prospective/new client gets an intro letter/agreement [to which they must sign] - it explains what I bring to the creative table: the project and cost benefits of a particular discipline, my expectations and reference needs, average project cost/timeframe... and only one payment term, that reads as follows:

. . .

Payment term [50% advance / 50% net 0] and notes: 

1. [your name here] requires an advance payment equal to 50% of the project estimate, due upon project initiation - the remainder is due, net 0, upon email/FTP delivery of final files;

2. The project is entered into the studio workload queue once email confirmation of the online transaction has been received - usually quite quickly [you also receive an email receipt] – once the project has begun, the advance is non-refundable;

3. As collateral I offer my 25+ year multi-industry experience, extensive portfolio, client testimonials and respectable Fortune 500/Promo 100-based client work list, which effectively establishes sufficient proof of professionalism and worthiness of advance trust;

4. Method of payment is to be a secure online transaction* [AMEX-VISA-MC-PayPal] through my web site;

Notes: [this is optional... some may feel this is TMI - perhaps to be articulated verbally rather than in writing]

 [your name here] is a one-man operation - this advance is my life blood and absolutely essential to my survival;

 As you know, a freelancer routinely experiences extreme highs and lows in workload; hence the increased need for consistent, reliable receivings – I therefore must respectfully require this one term;

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Now I realize you may not offer 25+ years as collateral, but if you're not firm on prompt payment with SOME form of an advance - if you don't portray yourself as a confident, proficient, creative professional worthy of market-value fees to be paid in a VERY timely manner, a client will step all over you... and the next illustrator behind you.

>>> Negotiate your fees and present your terms from strength [even if it's only perceived and you haven't had a project in a month!!!]

Often enough, a prospective client may predictably whine about this term - if you calmly and professionally state your case... the talents, skill set, benefits and positives, unique offerings and industry experience you bring to the table and reasons behind your term[s], they will most always relent - and if they don't, it's a blatant red flag and you don't want them as a client anyway!

14. LinkedIn. #1 pro networking site. Free. Respected and long-established [2003]. LinkedIn has been an extremely valuable marketing tool for me since 2007. Highly recommend.

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15. Postcards. As wonderful as online marketing is, conventional direct-mail still works - consider developing a set of four postcards each year and mail one per quarter. Just a few places to start your pricing research:

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16. Email marketing.

Yes, cold email works - I've had decent results the few times I've allowed full brainpower and attention to a mini campaign. It's important to note the key characteristics of those emails:

1. The emails featured a narrow niche speciality [big surprise, right?] within my overall skill set and were targeted towards an equally-narrow short list of potentials that have a need for this specialty.

2. Extensive due diligence is performed in advance – exhaustive analysis of industry-related sourcebooks, directories and search engine results. If you're lucky, you're able to secure an art buyer/art director/contact name from a sourcebook... oftentimes, not so easy.

3. Once the list of potential agencies was secured, then a visit to each site - drilling down to locate the creative director/art director. An email never goes out dead-cold, not without a valid, qualified contact name who's job [partially] in life is to hire someone like me.

4. The emails contain a small, web-prepared set of imagery from the portfolio - embedded [vs. attached].

5. I included a Return Receipt required - a lot of folks don't click on a Read Receipt – many do. I wait a few days and then call them directly, respectfully inquire whether they received my email, if they had any comments, did they like what they saw, could they identify a need, etc., etc.

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Another email marketing option

FWIW, for a short time, I worked as a freelance creative director for a small growing company here in Miami and I’ll tell you what’s been a wonderfully successful marketing tool for them related to this subject…

[successful also because the contact lists were painstakingly prepared and targeted specifically to a niche segment within an industry]

… for these folks, I USE to use Constant Contact but now use a few others with some clients. Constant Contact has effectively over-engineered their templates to death.

One of the major concerns in email marketing is the goal of having the messaging and imagery display properly, as you designed it, within various email apps and across OS platforms. A daunting task. All email clients have extensive back-ends to ideally control display, some more kludgy than others Hence the need to use a highly-rated, proven email client service. [vs. launching a campaign from the client side, building the email from within, say, Outlook]

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17. SEO. Read-up on web developer/search engine analysis sites [I know... BORING!!!!!!... but you will not regret the research time spent]… analyze and improve your search engine optimization - there are sites that explain the Google algorithms... how it analyzes a web page, what it likes and doesn't like - try to understand how the top search engine models find and rank sites... what to do, what not to do. Latest: Google's recent search rankings are now based on quality mobile-friendly websites, with solid content; the days of gaming through meta tag SEO are essentially dead.

. . .

>>> a start: Google Algorithms - Google Site and Link Analysis

Google looks at factors such as the following:

 The length of domain registration
 Domain ownership changes
 WHOIS data and physical address information
 C-Class IP information
 Keyword and non-keyword domains
 The discovery date of new domains/pages
 Document change frequency and the amount of change
 The number of linked internal documents
 Link anchor text
 Link discovery date
 Link changes and deletions
 External link growth patterns
 The authority of external links
 Link quality ratios
 The distribution of links
 The lifespan of links
 Link patterns [ new vs old and old vs new ] Anchor text variety

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>>> Robots.txt
 file: Important! - used by web owners and webmasters to signify to spider/spam-bots and search engines not to crawl or index certain files and directories. The Robots.txt file is a command file that most creditable search-bots will obey and check for on entry to your website URL.

Here's my robots.txt file: - notice that access to the Graphics folder [among others] is blocked [ Disallow: /Graphics/ ] - this'll serve to prevent most/reputable image search bots from securing and indexing your site's imagery...

… and speaking of your site’s imagery: technical illustrator James Provost posted an insightful, helpful article on his TECHNICAL site: “How to Protect Your Images with Metadata”. I was quickly able to follow his direction and updated all the graphics on my site in less than 20 minutes.

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18. Link popularity/reciprocal links.
 Secure quality inbound links. Make sure the links are directly related to our industry... VERY important. Heads-up: Google has adjusted and refined their Page Rank algorithm many times in the last few years; they favor links [ideally, strong one-way inbound links] pointed back to your site from respectable, reputable sites that are directly related to, in our case, the creative industry-related illustration/graphic design/creative industry sites of "highly relevant related content"... vs. random, no-relation link swap sites.

Google Link Popularity Analysis Tool - only looks at Google links and the pages associated with those links. The reports show PageRank data, internal and external link counts, anchor text weights, class C IP reporting and much more.

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19. External links. For what it's worth and some may strongly disagree: I am passionately against any external links of any kind on a portfolio site - of the philosophy that you do not want to give a prospective client any option whatsoever to leave your site, even if the code will open the page above or below yours...

... think about it: if you had a client in front of you in your studio would you then show them easy ways to leave?... usher them out the door?... encourage them to visit another studio? You have a captive audience, keep it that way.

Detractors may respond [this was actually posted as a response in an illustration site forum]: "I think it's healthy competition. I like the idea of supporting other illustrators and sending traffic their way." ...

... to which I reply:"HUH???!!!"... when an AD is on your site, they have already made the choice to be there - why give them an easy option to leave? Healthy competition?... noble but naive. I need to pay my bills - no way I purposely choose to divert a potential client's attention away from the possibility of paying those bills.

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20. Search engine submission. Consider paying for a "Priority Submit" service whereby they submit your site on a regular basis to, say, the entire Inktomi network - for 49.00 it's certainly worth considering []... it's worked for me.

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21. Trackers. Insert free stat tracker code on your index page [and subsequent pages if necessary] and analyze the heck out of the results on a daily basis - VERY informative and useful ...
 what are your best performing referral sites?
 what keywords and phrases are people using to find you?
 what pages are getting hit the most?
 where are your visitors coming from?
 what search engines?... browsers?... screen resolutions?, etc., etc.
... you can further tweak your site, your code and your online marketing strategies accordingly, based on the analysis.

Some free trackers include: - the code is invisible the page - the code is invisible the page - an extensible, self-hosted website analytics program [single site license: 30.00]

Additionally, all ISP's provide a section within your account/control panel which you can access and extensively analyze stats... essentially the same stats, give or take, that the above links provide. I visit my ISP control panel often - here's what they provide:

When: - Monthly history - Days of month - Days of week - Hours
Who/Countries: - Full list
Hosts: - Full list - Last visit - Unresolved IP Address
Authenticated users: - Full list - Last visit
Robots/Spiders visitors: - Full list - Last visit
Navigation: - Visits duration - File type - Downloads - Full list
Viewed: - Full list - Entry - Exit
Operating Systems: - Versions - Unknown
Browsers: - Versions - Unknown
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22. Have fun!!! "Don't worry... be happy." Life lesson here gang: do yourself [and your loved ones] a huge favor - make a conscious effort to notice, embrace and celebrate the smallest and most insignificant things that life presents to you each day - we're on this earth for the briefest fractional moment - it all goes by in 1/4 of the blink of an eye.

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FWIW, it's been a sincere pleasure. After so many years in the industry, it feels good to give back... thanks for indulging me.

Take good care and I wish you massive success, personally and professionally, beyond your wildest imagination!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

- Peter Beach ;-) | LinkedIn

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© Peter Beach / pbeach! - All Rights Reserved under any and all U.S. and international copyright laws to which the work is subject.


Sharon McGill said...

Wow, this is great information! Thanks so much for sharing your experience and wisdom--definitely useful to those of us just starting out (or trying to start out) in the biz.

Anna Bron said...

thanks for taking the time to share this! one of the most useful articles I've encountered on freelancing. I wish I read this sooner, so I could avoid all the hell of bidding websites :S

What are your thoughts on massive database websites with huge fees to access the info, like Agency Access?

izworld said...

Wow, this is great information! Thanks so much for sharing your experience and wisdom.

search engine optimization philippines said...

This blog was informative and I find a lot of worthy points here regarding web design. Your tips was really incredible and I am impressed with your knowledge. Thank you.


danesh said...

Hi Peter,
Thank you so much for this information, can't tell you how much this means to me, and how eye opening and probably life changing this will be. I sat on my sofa, not noticing hot the room is and there's no air conditioner, and immersed myself in your tips. I copied everything by hand into my sketchbook, and plan to read them again and again and again. I really am taking them to heart, I've been freelancing now for only 2 years full time, and realized how much more I really have to learn!! Its incredible. All your tips make a lot of sense and I'm sure when put into application they will make a huge change. Again, thank you so much, and I wish I could offer something in return! I feel like i've already taken too much! Thank you so much from the very bottom of my heart, this is a great thing that you've done!
Best Regards,

emma lana said...

Thank you for sharing valuable information. Nice post. I enjoyed reading this post.
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Dan Burrows said...

Great information here, thank you very much for sharing. I'm trying to break into the industry myself, and this is really valuable stuff. So thanks!

Kevin Russell said...

Hello Peter,

Thank you for the great tips and information, definitely a help to getting myself more situated in the freelance world. I've already dealt with some things..cough elance..cough. Definitely a big eye opener to assess where I am currently and what I need to do to get where I would like to be.


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and i think illustrator can help for web desinging and i'm looking also Wordpress Courses i was planning
to learn more about wordpress also. but anyways i will keep update your site for more free informative post. thanks for this post it helps me a lot.