What you will learn with this Book

SOLO is written for people who believe in creative living on their own terms. It will focus on people who want a sustainable career, mixing freelance work with creating and selling their own art. My promise is that diving in to the tactics and strategies of this book will help you find a clearer vision to strike out your own path.

How to get started with freelancing

The opportunities for running your own creative business have never been more optimal and the book gives concrete examples and ideas for what your next step could be, no matter where you are in your creative career.

How to gain new clients and create several income streams

In the book I give some ideas for how to create several income streams as a side hustle or be scaled to cover all your expenses. Like the writer who makes money teaching. The craftsperson who uses Instagram as a webshop. The artist who sells prints on Etsy or runs a succesful Patreon page.

How to handle the business side of things

The down and dirty of taxes, accounts, productivity, social media, self discipline, the creative process and mindset, all of it learned the hard way through my twenty years of experience as a freelancer.

What tools, tactics and templates you can use to sustain you over the long haul.

The so called “steady jobs” are a thing of the past. It is time to take control of your own destiny, ownership of your career and your future.

What readers say about SOLO

Take it from your fellow freelancers!

I really enjoyed this book and learned quite a bit from it. Palle relates his experiences like an older brother looking over a younger sibling’s shoulder giving advice. I really like how he shares his own experiences on how he navigates the problems of being a freelance creative. I appreciate how thorough he tries to educate the reader. I’ll reread this again and again, so that’s the highest recommendation I can give.

Kevin Deitz, production assistant / cartoonist, Austin, Texas

I loved this book, it has flooded this last week with inspiration and stimulating advice. It is absolutely packed with very good ideas and fantastic templates and the writing flows beautifully. I love the artwork . It feels perfectly structured. I will treasure it and consult it often!

Enrico Vattani, diplomat/ artist / director, Tokyo, Japan

Sample Chapters

Browse sample chapters from the book below!

The Good Freelancer

Above are my ten commandments for anyone attempting to make a living as a creative freelancer. Let’s go through them one by one:

Keep your deadlines
Accountability is the no. 1 thing clients are after. Talent is on the list, sure, but waaay down. If what you hand in isn’t your best work, chances are they won’t notice. But if you don’t deliver on the agreed time – You bet they will notice! Reliability is crucial for a freelancer.

If for some reason you can’t keep your deadlines – call! Most editors and clients are reasonable people who understand if your kid is sick or something made it impossible to make your deadline. Give a heads up if things look tight, ask if your deadline can be postponed. It usually can. Do not stick your head in the sand, dodging phone calls and ignoring e-mail s.

If you get overwhelmed or strained on a project, bringing in another freelancer to help out is often a good solution. You could have someone in your network help out or take over the job completely, if the client agrees. Usually what they’re after is getting the job done and if you can’t deliver, bringing in someone who you vouch for is the next best thing, hopefully ensuring that the client will still call you another time.

Be easy to work with

Nobody likes a primadonna who rolls his eyes every time there are a few changes to a project. Clients can be a pain, not knowing what they want and not understanding how you work. You have to be lenient, flexible and forthcoming. If they keep moving the goal posts or change things on a whim, you are perfectly entitled to bill for the extra workload. But if you agreed to the terms and messed something up, you have to own it.

I once had to redraw almost all illustrations I did for a book, because I had consistently drawn people with shoes on. Problem was that everyone needed to be depicted barefoot – nothing in the brief from the editor about that. I charged for the extra changes and the publisher was forthcoming. In another case I’d drawn the wrong people in several illustrations and this was totally my own fault. I had read through the brief too quickly and messed up the names of John and Jack. So I had to redraw on my own time, owning up to the responsibility.

Keep in touch

Out of sight, out of mind. This is especially true for us freelancers who don’t bump into our clients at the water cooler. Keeping in touch with your network is a long-term sales tactic. 

Nowadays it’s easy to stay in touch via social media. When I’ve met someone through some professional capacity I usually add them on Facebook, thereby increasing the chances they’ll remember me in the future. They might see something I post – and vice versa. It can be a great source of research or a way to break the ice when you meet somebody in person. And I still believe that face time (the activity, not the app) is the best way to connect with other people.

Something as old school as sending a physical Christmas card has proven a great way to let clients know I appreciated working with them. A lot of people like the extra effort of a postcard, believe it or not!

Know your visiting hours

Some editors like that you pop by for a cup of coffee. But you don’t want to outstay your welcome. I myself can be a chatterbox, so even though I recommend face time or even calling people on the phone once in awhile, I try to remind myself to have an agenda. Jot down a few notes before getting on the phone and wrap it up when the issue you called about is resolved. You need to find your own balance between personal and business.

Put in the work

In the words of artist Molly Crabapple: “Remember that most people who try to be artists are kind of lazy. Just by busting your ass, you’re probably good enough to put yourself forward, so why not try?”

You will undoubtedly experience periods of time when no clients are calling and you worry about where next months rent is going to come from. Don’t sit around waiting for clients to call, biting your nails and worrying. Why not use the opportunity to make some headway in your own projects? It will sharpen your skill set and help keep anxiety at bay.

Never work for free … Or maybe do work for free

Especially early in your career you will meet truly charming people who want you on board for their exciting projects – unpaid projects, that is. They will tell you of the great opportunities for long-term jobs and the amazing exposure you will get. Er, no. Ninety percent of these offers are bullshit that won’t pay the bills now or ever. As it turns out, it’s almost impossible to convert a low-paying client into a high-paying one. Getting you foot in the door will only result in achy toes.

I’m sure there are some circumstances where working for free can have long-term benefits but I’d be very skeptical of these charlatans. Asking someone to work for free is just not professional and you want to work with professionals, if you want to be one yourself. If on the other hand you get a chance to work with someone you admire or can see it as a learning experience, go right ahead. Especially in the early years you need to keep an open mind and give clients the benefit of the doubt. Just be aware of the ones who want to sucker you into working for free.

Keep track of your time

As a freelance artist you can easily end up spending all your waking hours huddled over your work. And you can just as easily end up goofing of all day not getting anything done, betting yourself up all the while. You need some kind of structure – especially if you want to keep the aforementioned deadlines. Decide when and how you’re going to work on any given project, set up some boundaries and keep the appointments you make with yourself.

Being your own boss requires a great deal of discipline and the calendar and the to-do list are among your most important tools.

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket

If you only have one major client, your small business is very vulnerable to the changes of your industry. Keep several sources of income, so if a client decides to try something new, you still have ways of getting food on the table.

This goes for your personal projects as well. If you bet everything you have on that one novel, that one exhibition or album, you could end up taking a devastating blow to your confidence if it fails to deliver the success you’d hoped for. Once you send in that novel to the publisher, start writing the next one! That way when the rejection letter comes (and it will, trust me) you’re already so far into your next project that it doesn’t crush your soul. Keeping that flame of confidence alive is crucial in order to thrive as an artist. Keeping multiple projects going is the best defense against rejection and failure.

Show up

Woody Allen is quoted of saying: “Eighty percent of success is showing up.” He’s not all wrong!

It’s easy to fiddle away at our art in the comfort of our own studio. That modesty you pride yourself in having can just as soon make you invisible. If you want to make a living from your craft, you have to flaunt it. You have to look up and say hello to strangers, let the world know what you’re up to. Yes, you can do that on Instagram but if you really want to pivot, you have to put on pants and go meet people in person.

If you don’t show up to the party, no one’s going to invite you to dance.

Say yes. And no!

Early in your career you can’t afford to say no a lot. You need the experience and you need something to put on your resume. Just be aware that whatever you do most of, you will get more of. In time you need to choose more wisely between offers – at least if you have a goal in mind of what you want to be doing long term.

Once you’ve got the basic needs taken care of, it’s perfectly fine to turn down work you really don’t want to be doing. Especially if you can pass it off to someone in your network who would appreciate the work. Pay it forward.

About the Author

Palle Schmidt, writer, illustrator and comic book artist living in Copenhagen, Denmark, with his wife and two daughters.

Schmidt has no formal education but started his career writing and drawing for the Danish roleplaying magazine “Fønix” and later became one of the editors. He wrote numerous scenarios for Danish RPG conventions, and received several awards for his work in this media.

He was first published with the comic book “Night of the Long Faces” in 1999, a semi-biographical look at desperate nightlife, and the hard-boiled detective roleplaying game “Fusion” in 2000. He since published two more books in the series, a short graphic novel in the same setting, several movie scripts and YA novels, all in the crime/thriller genre.

In 2011 his graphic novel “The Devil’s Concubine” was released in the US from IDW Publishing. In 2012 he completed a 1-year education in screenwriting at the National Film School of Denmark. He was the artist on “Thomas Alsop“, a monthly book from BOOM! Studios with writer Chris Miskiewicz, dubbed Best Mini-Series of 2014 by USA Today. He teaches comics at ComicsForBeginners.com and blogs at palleschmidt.com.

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