How To Fail Hard

How To Fail Hard. Lessons learned on my first Kickstarter, and self-publishing
How To Fail Hard. Lessons learned on my first Kickstarter, and self-publishing

This summer I successfully launched my first Kickstarter campaign. I also made many, M A N Y mistakes along the way. These mistakes cost me hundreds of dollars and a lot of time wasted. I don’t know about you, but I get discouraged very easily and deal a lot with Imposter Syndrome, the feeling that you doubt your accomplishments or feel yourself a fraud. Yes, Imposter Syndrome is very real. So these mistakes started to derail me! And yet, I know how important these mistakes are to the learning process. Let me describe few of the mistakes so you can understand what I was dealing with.

First, I did not know the difference in digital art formats and how to prepare digital art for printing. I am talking about knowing pixels, DPI, CMYK vs. RGB, margins and bleeds, etc. When I originally did the artwork for the book, it was formatted incorrectly (72 DPI, not nearly enough for printing!). This meant I had to spend hours going back and reworking a lot of the artwork for the book. HOURS! That nearly killed me, at least, killed my ego.

Second, because I was unaware of this, I began paying the processing fees to the publishers when submitting my work, only for the work to get rejected because of these formatting issues. I ended up having to pay fees twice, several times in some instances. Now, the project was costing me time and money.

Third, I wanted to avoid learning Adobe InDesign so I went with an easier software to format my book into ePub and PDF files. Big mistake! I ended up having to pay a formatting fee for that software, and eventually ended up having to pay for InDesign and learn it anyway. So more time and money!

Fourth, I applied for the wrong copyright (in my defense, the online application says children’s books applied for Single Application). I then had to pay again for the different application. Again, more money.

Are you getting the gist yet? Talk about a learning curve! But in all seriousness, I am very grateful that I learned these lessons on my first publishing project. I learned how to correctly format illustrations for future picture book projects. I learned InDesign, which is a very marketable skill for freelancers, digital artists, graphic designers, and anyone in publishing. I learned a little something about copyrights. And I learned how valuable my time is! Oh. My. Gosh. So valuable. All of these experiences and skills learned will benefit my current and future illustration or publishing projects.

I could have allowed those mistakes, failures and losses to derail me from my goal of getting my first book in the hands of readers. Instead, I realize that each failure and mistake was a huge learning opportunity. These mistakes are essential to the creative learning process.

Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm – Winston Churchill

Successful people don’t fear failure, but understand that it’s necessary to learn and grow from – Robert Kiyosaki

Here are two specific lessons I learned through this experience about the creative process.

1. Redefining Creativity

I used to think creativity was what you do, and usually meant for the right side of the brain. For instance, musicians do music, they are creative. Artists do art, they are creative. Writers write, that is creative. But a mathematician is not creative. Or a computer engineer is not creative. So wrong! Creativity is simply the process of creating something, and I found that the more you chase what makes you curious, the more creative you become. Therefore, to me, creativity is not a thing you do, but an action of pursuing your curiosity. You can be creative in any field as long as you are curious!

If our creativity is rooted in our curiosity, you should view every experience as an experiment. An experiment is simply testing a hypothesis to see if it is true or false; in life that means whether it fails or succeeds. How does this apply here? I experimented with lifestyle blogging in my early twenties, and found in fact that I strongly disliked it. That hypothesis was proven false, that I would enjoy lifestyle blogging. With my art, I experimented with watercolors and found that I couldn’t keep up with it. Eventually, after experimenting with different mediums, I found the one that does work best for me- my good ol’ iPad and digital art. I found that I really enjoy blogging about my art and writing process. But it took several years to come to these conclusions! Creativity is pursuing your curiosity, and life should be viewed as a series of experiments leading towards your success. This way, you don’t take your failures personally, but as a stepping stone to your next success.

2. Embrace the learning curve

The learning curve is defined as “the rate of a person’s progress in gaining new experience and learning new skills.” Since it is a curve, there is really no point of ever “arriving”. The goal here is to continually be growing on this curve by gaining new experiences and learning. Enough is never enough. This requires a level of hunger. You have to be hungry to know more and grow more. This is opposite of conventional education, that teaches us once we have a degree or diploma than we know what there is to know in that field or subject. The degree provides a false confidence in your knowledge. With that mode of thinking, we kill our curiosity and hunger to grow and know more. Instead of reaching for the degrees, reach for growing on the learning curve. And allow yourself to go at your own pace on the learning curve.

Making mistakes can be disheartening, but you are always making advances if you learn from them. My hope is that you find what makes you curious, what keeps you hungry, and that you continue to grow!

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How to Become An Author By Self-Publishing Your First Book

Are you an aspiring author? Are your queries getting rejected? Are you considering self-publishing?

How to Become An Author By Self-Publishing: Tips For Your First Book

I wrote my first children’s book manuscript in college, around 2010. It was a cooky rhyme scheme book that didn’t rhyme very well. After some time, I dropped my efforts with the book. I returned to my writing in 2016, digging up my old manuscript and re-writing it from every different angle, point-of-view, and voice possible. I ditched the rhyme scheme. I queried agents. I attended conferences and workshops. I leveraged my network and made connections. I learned to handle rejection had a book and I wanted others to read it. I was ready to buck the system and go with self-publishing. I started researching other children’s books that were self-published. Some research questions I had included:

  • What other children’s books were self-published, and how successful were they?
  • How are self-published books marketed?
  • What was the best platform to self-publish?
  • What were the costs and how could I finance them?

All this research led me to launch my book with a Kickstarter campaign that successfully served as a marketing and branding tool, as well as a means to finance the first print run of my book.

In this post, I am sharing with you my best practices and lessons learned for self-publishing your first book, launching your book with Kickstarter, and marketing for self-published authors.

These are all my experiences, insights, failures and successes and I truly hope they are of help to you, aspiring author! Let’s dive in and get to the nitty-gritty.

self-publishing for the first time_ how not to regret it.

Self-Publishing for the First Time? How not to regret it.

You have a manuscript you have written. You have mildly revised it, some friend or relative has looked over it, maybe it has made its rounds in your critique group. You now feel ready to share it with the world! You start querying literary agents and are confuzzled when you are continually rejected. So instead, you are just going to make it happen and self-publish that masterpiece.

Pump the breaks and hold the phone! Before you self-publish your first book, I want you to consider all of the following. Here is my best advice for first-time authors considering self-publishing.

  1. Have a great manuscript. This is where I first went wrong. I look back at my early writing in college and recognize it was just not good. Sure, it had “potential”, but there is a gap between potential and profit, and that gap is called hard work. A lot of writers want to spill the whole story without developing it, the movement, characters, plot, voice, etc. Especially with picture books (which I happen to write). Because picture books are only 32 pages, writers think they can write their best draft the first time around. Just not true! Even Matt de la Peña revised his award-winning children’s book 70 times. As I’ve seen in other author interviews with Jonathan Roth and Deborah Schaumberg, the revision process can span several years. Make sure your priority is first an excellent manuscript. That may mean hiring an editor, which you can find through various resources such as Writer’s Digest, SCBWI, or even freelancers on Upwork or Fiverr.
  2. Know your reader and identify your audience. So you had your friend or relative read the book and they loved it? Well, the likelihood is they are not your ideal reader. I took this into consideration with my picture book. Sure, kids read picture books. But really, parents make the purchasing decisions and parent’s (or educators) read to children and talk with them about the book. Ultimately, parent’s are my audience, too. What do they care about? What do they want to teach their children? How can I meet those needs with my book? Know your audience, and give them what they want.
  3. Know how best to reach them. Now that I knew my audience, what was the best way to reach them? And could I reach them by self-publishing? This is really important to know because it allows you to consider whether you can make your book available solely as an eBook (which may be a good option for nonfiction or resource books), as a paperback, a hardcover, or a board book. It also allows you to consider whether you can reach your reader online through platforms like Amazon or Goodreads, or will you need a different marketing strategy. For example, since my book is a self-published picture book, I knew I needed to connect directly with parents and educators to best reach my reader, kids ages 2-6. This meant I didn’t have to promote an eBook so heavily (which has a fairly low cost of production), but rather the physical copies of the book.
  4. Know what platforms you will use. The next step is to research what is the best platform to self-publish your book. There are so many ways to self-publish today! You can go with Amazon, IngramSpark, Blurb, Lulu, and various hybrid publishers out there. What works best for you? Ultimately, I always recommend setting up on Amazon, in addition to any other platforms you want to publish on. Nowadays, a presence on Amazon is simply necessary. It is the largest marketplace for books. Think of it this way, a bookstore is limited to the foot-traffic it gets on any given day. It’s also limited to the 100,000 or so titles it can hold on its bookshelves at a time. Amazon has neither of these limitations and also has a higher profit margin potential. I also chose to publish with IngramSpark, which I believe is the most bookstore-friendly self-publishing platform available.

In sum, I want to make sure that you are publishing a work that you are proud of! It’s not just some quick sloppy story you put together in one night. There is so much to consider when publishing a book, at some point you just have to do it! So keep it simple and be sure these four things: it’s a great manuscript, you know your reader, you know how to reach them, and you know how you will self-publish.

launch your book with a kickstarter for first time authors

Launch Your Book with a Kickstarter Campaign

As part of my research, I looked into other books that were self-published. I wanted to know how they did it, how did they market it, and what were some of the best practices out there for books in my genre, which is children’s picture books for ages 2-6. This led me to a few publishing projects that were successfully launched with Kickstarter: Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls, which is the most funded publishing project on Kickstarter, and Bravery Magazine. In looking at these projects, it gave me a sense of how I could self-publish my book in a why that cash-flowed it upfront, and also served as a marketing tool. I found Kickstarter to be a great solution for my first published book, and here is why.

Self-publishing a book comes at a cost. Some expenses include an editor, graphic designer for a book cover, ISBN, copyright, fees that platforms charge for self-publishing, not mention the cost of an illustrator if it’s a picture book. The costs could range anywhere from a few hundred dollars to several thousand. Can all of these costs come out of your own wallet? If so, that is great! I know many self-published authors that have self-funded their books and received a full return on their investment from the book sales. It’s very possible! Veronica Goodman is one such author who successfully self-published her first picture book, E is for Economics, and made a return on investment within a matter of months.

But if you are like me and don’t have the money to spare, then Kickstarter is an option to consider for crowdfunding your book. In essence, people are pre-ordering your book and committing the funds upfront (called “Pledges” or “Rewards”). You receive the money when the campaign ends, and with that, you can cash flow your book costs and printing orders. In terms of costs, Kickstarter is a wonderful tool!

In addition, it serves as a marketing tool and an online footprint for your book. Think of it this way, most of us are not social influencers and do not have a large online platform. So, even if I were to google your name, you may not be the first result in my browser. Why does this matter? If people search your title or your name, they want to find YOU and not the doppelganger living in Seattle or Topeka. At least, that was my case. Now, when I google my name Ariel Mendez (which there are many out there, believe it or not), my Kickstarter is on the first page of Google searches. That is great for any press, media, schools, or others searching for me or my book! Also, a successful Kickstarter campaign can be used to pitch to local media outlets to get coverage on your book. You can use it as a selling point for blog tours, or any other form of press you can get for your book. In all forms, Kickstarter helps with the promotion of your self-published book!

Kickstarting a book is not the only way to do it, obviously, but I see it more as a way to finance your project and pre-market your book to build a sense of urgency with pre-sales. With that being said, set your Kickstarter funding goal low, but only low enough that you can fulfill the orders that are placed.

marketing for self-published authors 5 tips to start promoting now

Marketing Lessons for Self-Published Authors

How on earth can you write a book, publish a book, and market a book all at the same time? It seems impossible!

Many writers self-publish their book and expect bells and whistles but are disappointed when the book is not flying off the shelf or selling out. I was speaking with a friend of mine, a fellow writer and bibliophile. She was working on her manuscript but was disappointed that there was no “buy-in”, or in other words, that people seemed disinterested. My heart sank when she told me this, but I think many writers have that same feeling and expectation. Writers anticipate “buy-in” even before the manuscript is complete or revised. I will admit I am guilty of this! But in truth, unless you already have an audience such as social media influencers and bloggers, if you are one of the plebians and common folk of social media like me, then you have some work to do before you can expect any “buy-in”.

Marketing self-published books fall on your shoulders as a self-published author. Here are my top tips to promote your self-published book for first-time authors:

  1. Leverage your relationships. You already have people who want to read your book, even if they are just friends and family. Sell to your first audience, your lifelong supporters, and advocates! Your friends, family, colleagues, and other relationships.
  2. Build hype. Encourage your friends and family to share your book. Build a “Book Launch Team” on Facebook, which is essentially a Facebook group where you are facilitating and incentivizing the sharing of your book. Invite as many people as you can, share tweetable or images that can circulate easily, link everything back to your book, hold contests, and get the word buzzing about your book. It is beneficial for you, and exciting for everyone who is participating.
  3. Share often. People want to buy our book. Believe it! Though, some people may not have the money right away, or they are on vacation, or simply forgot to buy it right then and there. Don’t be afraid to share often your book and remind people! You can share directly, as in simply asking or telling upfront to buy the book, or you can share indirectly by simply posting images of you typing, reading or doing some other activity on your book.
  4. Host a Book Launch Party. This is a great opportunity to work with other small businesses in your area. You can ask a local bookstore to host for you, or a local retailer if it is in the same industry as your book.
  5. Leverage your local businesses. For instance, a cookbook release may be able to host a Cooking Class Book Launch Party at a local retailer like William Sonoma, Sur La Table, or local culinary schools. A book about pets or animals can co-host an animal adoption event at the county adoption center or retailers such as Petsmart or veterinary clinic. This is an opportunity to be a champion of local business! That is a huge advantage you have over larger authors who don’t have access to your local community.

I don’t pretend to be a best-seller or a big name in the publishing industry. At the same time, I want you to publish a book you are proud of and give your best marketing effort. May these tips be helpful to you! May your first self-published book be successful!

Tips From An Author On Successful Self-Publishing

Veronica Goodman is the author of the debut picture book, E is for Economics, and the subsequent book, L is for Law. Veronica and I first met on Instagram, where I learned she leads a local picture book club. I met Veronica in person at one of the meetings, along with other local writers and authors. Veronica has successfully self-published her children’s book. Now we get to hear about her self-publishing journey. Thanks for sharing, Veronica!

Tips From An Author on Successful Self-Publishing | An Interview With Author Veronica Goodman | www.arielmendez.com

Tips From An Author on Successful Self-Publishing | An Interview With Author Veronica Goodman | http://www.arielmendez.com

Q: Let’s start by learning a little bit more about you. What is a day like in the life of an author?

Veronica: Before writing children’s books, I worked as an economist and in management consulting. I live in the Washington, D.C. area with my husband, daughter, and beloved cat, Galileo. If you’d ask my two-year old daughter what my job is, she would enthusiastically say that it’s her. My days are split between caring for my daughter and working on the books, be it marketing and writing, and all of the little things that life entails in between.

Q: When did you first decide to write a picture book? What inspired the book?

Veronica: It might be cliché but E is for Economics is really the embodiment of the Toni Morrison quote: “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” I searched for a fun picture book about economics for toddlers for my daughter, but I couldn’t find one. So I decided to just write my own. My background is in economics, and I wanted to be able to share that with my daughter, especially because she’s such a bookworm. I also tried to keep it entertaining for the adults reading, too.

Q: Tell us about your writing journey. What was the writing and editing process like?

Veronica: I tend to turn over ideas in my head for a while before I sit down to write. Once I do though, I’m a firm believer in just getting words on the page (or Word doc, in my case) to have something to edit. From there, writing is a very iterative process for me. Once I think a draft is in a good place, I often share it with my husband who I’m lucky to say is a brilliant editor. Going forward, I’ve realized the benefit of meeting other writers and learning from them, which is why I created the local picture book club and got involved in other groups. Lastly, I think if you don’t have talented editors around that you can tap for free help, you should absolutely seek out a professional editor.

Q: What motivated you to self-publish instead of traditionally publish? What self-publishing platforms did you use?

Veronica: It was a difficult decision, but I read just about every resource you could find online, be it from SCBWI or others, on how to choose which path to pursue. For E is for Economics, I felt that I had a strategy for how to reach the market for the book, particularly with my background in the field of economics. A lot of my research suggested if you know how to reach your audience, self-publishing might be a better approach.

That said, self-publishing requires you to be very entrepreneurial. I’ve lost track of the hours I’ve spent doing outreach and marketing. The release of E is for Economics has informed my plans for L is for Law. I am also working on some new projects for the future, and I wouldn’t rule out working with a traditional publisher for a project where I thought that would be the best fit.

In terms of the platforms and distributors, I contracted with my fabulous illustrator, Nicole Jones Sturk, through UpWork. And I used two Print on Demand (POD) providers, IngramSpark for the hardcover and CreateSpace for the softcover.

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Q: What have you enjoyed about self-publishing? Is there anything you would do differently?

Veronica: The best part is the short time to market. For E is for Economics, the whole process took about six months from coming up with the idea to release date. I also enjoyed the control over the final product since I had a very distinct vision for what the book should look like in its final form. I have no regrets. I’ve learned a ton over the past year and I’ve had a blast.

Q: What advice would you give to the writer who has a finished manuscript and is considering traditional vs. self-publishing?

Veronica: Do your homework and accept that each path has its challenges. It’s important to consider your skills and goals, and the particular manuscript in front of you. I can really only speak to self-publishing at this point. It might be a good option for you if you’re willing to accept more risk, you know your defined audience and how to reach them, and you can do a lot of the heavy lifting for finding the illustrator (unless you are one!) and marketing the book.

That is great advice! Veronica Goodman’s upcoming picture book, L is for Law, will release on September 4,2018. Books are available on Amazon or by visiting her website at veronicagoodman.com.

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Here are the three key takeaways from my interview with Veronica Goodman on self-publishing:

1. Research. Veronica researched her audience, how to reach them, the different self-publishing platforms, pros and cons of self-publishing vs. traditional publishing, and so on. Do your research before publishing to fully understand if this is the right path for you.

2. Entrepreneurial. As Jonathan Roth said, being an author is like being a small business. Veronica invested time into not only writing and planning the book, but into marketing and outreach as well. She took stock of her network and was not afraid to sell her book.

3. Connect. Veronica and I connected through the book club she started and through Instagram. She also mentions joining other groups, SCBWI, and the importance of finding other authors.

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Insights on the Book Publishing Process

Deborah Schaumberg is the author of the debut young adults’ novel, The Tombs, published by Harper Collins imprint HarperTeen.

I first met Deborah at our local Kidlit Night. I am so happy I got to know her and watch her publishing journey unfold! I was greatly inspired by her book launch, and seeing Deborah busy at work with author visits and a blog tour.

Now we get the chance to learn more about Deborah and her writing journey.  Thanks for taking the time for us, Deborah!

Insights On The Book Publishing Process, revision process, writing a novel, how to get published
Insights On The Book Publishing Process | Interview With Author Deborah Schaumberg  | The Tombs| http://www.arielmendez.com

Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself. What is a day like in the life of an author?

Deborah: Hello, so happy to share! One of the things I love about being a writer is the flexibility to work at any odd hour I please. I kind of juggle my schedule from day to day. That being said, when I am into a good flow, I set my alarm for 5:30am every morning and sit down to write for at least two hours – after coffee of course! My thoughts are clearest when I first wake up. Since there’s no such thing as a ‘typical day’ for me, I can tell you that in addition to writing, I try to squeeze in running, gardening, yoga, time with kids/family/dogs. Definitely not enough hours in the day!

Q: At one of the Kidlit Nights, you told me that you hired an editor before you even had a literary agent. I thought that was genius! Tell us about the book publishing process with your novel, The Tombs. How long does it take to write a book draft? What was the novel revision process like? How long does it take to publish a book?

Deborah: Writing The Tombs was quite a long journey! I had the idea mulling about my head for years before I put pen to paper, but once I began, it took me about three years to complete. At that point, I sent it out to agents…and got a bunch of rejections. Then I met Dan Lazar of Writers House at an SCBWI [Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators] conference and he asked to read it. He sent me some very detailed feedback and said, “if you find yourself with a strong revision down the line, I’d be happy to take another look.” This was when I hired Laura Bard from Children’s Book Insider to help me edit my manuscript according to Dan’s notes. It took me nine months! I could have had another child! But it worked, and Dan signed me on as a client. Yay! Then we did more revisions (eighteen months worth) until we agreed it was ready to go out on submission. It sold to HarperTeen and I worked with editor Kristen Pettit on MORE revisions! She is brilliant and helped me fine-tune the whole thing. The revision process, although long, was actually amazing. I loved brainstorming with professionals in the publishing industry to create my best work possible. Twelve months later Kristen decided it was ready for market…whew!

Q: At the beginning of my writing journey, late 2016, I dealt a lot with Imposter Syndrome, this feeling that I was fraud and not a real writer. Did you ever struggle with this, or self-doubt, or some kind of fear? How did you overcome it?

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Insights On The Book Publishing Process | Interview With Author Deborah Schaumberg  | The Tombs| http://www.arielmendez.com

Deborah: YES! I have a feeling most new authors struggle with Imposter Syndrome and self-doubt. I still do.

I think what gets me through, is reminding myself how hard I’ve worked to get my book published. Also, my husband and two teen daughters are so supportive and proud of me…I’m a real writer in their eyes! And do not let any negative reviews get to you. I re-read good reviews when I start to question myself – especially ones from strangers.

Q: What are some of the challenges you face on the business and practical side of authorship?

Deborah: One thing that took me by surprise is how much of a social media presence authors need. For someone who hasn’t been involved in that world, I had to learn how to best use a few key platforms. My favorite is Instagram because of its visual and teens love it. It’s important for me to manage my time well though, so I don’t end up spending hours online instead of writing!

Since this is my first book and it came out in late February, I have not yet dealt with all the tax stuff related to being an author.  One more thing to figure out.

Q: What advice would you give to someone starting out their writing journey?

Deborah: The two things I would tell aspiring writers are –

Write the book that makes your heart sing. The path to writing the best book you can is to infuse it with your passion.

Writing takes devotion – I try to sit and work even when I don’t feel like it, or when the words aren’t flowing. Don’t give up – be committed to following your dream.

Thank you so much, Deborah! I hope that your inspirational author journey continues to encourage and give life to other writers just starting out. Deborah Schaumberg’s book, The Tombs, is a historical fiction young adult’s novel and is available on her website, on Amazon, or at your local bookstore.

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Here are three key takeaways from my interview with Deborah on the book publishing process:

  1. Revisions take time! It took Deborah a few years to draft her novel. It was then revised by an editor. It was then revised by an agent. It was then revised by the publisher. Revisions take time, but they are also essential for getting your best book out there!
  2. Be committed and devoted to writing. As Deborah explained, the writing process is long, as well as the revision process. We all get Imposter Syndrome. Don’t give up!
  3. “Write the book that makes your heart sing”. The book publishing process is long and challenging, but writing and infusing your passion makes it all worth it!
Insights On The Book Publishing Process, revision process, writing a novel, how to get published
Insights On The Book Publishing Process | Interview With Author Deborah Schaumberg  | The Tombs| http://www.arielmendez.com

If you enjoyed reading this interview with Deborah Schaumberg, and would like to learn more about writing, publishing, and the creative journey, check out the following interviews:

How To Become A Freelance Artist: An Interview with Artist Joana Raimundo

What I’ve Learned from Being a Published Author: An Interview with Jonathan Roth

If you would like to receive more tips on all things writing, publishing, and the creative journey sign up for my blog!

How To Become A Freelance Artist

Joana Raimundo is an illustrator based in Portugal. We first connected on Facebook through the Creative Lady Collective, which goes to show how online social networking is a great tool!

Now we have the chance to learn more about Joana, her creative journey in freelance illustrating, and how to become a freelance artist.  Thanks for taking the time for us, Joana!

How To Become a Freelance Artist
How To Become A Freelance Artist | Interview with Artist Joana Raimundo | http://www.arielmendez.com

Tell us a little bit about yourself. What is a day like in the life of a freelancer?

how to become a freelance artist with joana raimundo
Artist Joana Raimundo | How To Become A Freelance Artist

Joana: First of all, thank you for the invitation! I’m currently based in my hometown Alcobaça, which stands in a valley right between the beach and the mountain crest and I can’t say I have a routine. This is the best and the tricky part of freelancing. On one hand, you have this opportunity of working in all kinds of different projects – I usually do illustration, but also graphics and web design. On the other, there’s this flexible schedule that you can juggle to have a more balanced way of living.

So it really depends on what there is to do every day. I usually work from home because that’s where most of my tools are, but if what I need to do doesn’t require any of those, then I like to work outside. The library is one of my favorite places, it helps me stay focused. Still, I tend to be less productive in the morning, so I usually compensate at night (fewer distractions).

Did you always have a freelance illustrating business and graphic design? At what point did you decide to begin working as a freelance illustrator?  

Joana: Not exactly, it took a while to develop the whole freelance thing. After finishing my studies I worked in communication studios, so the freelance part started with small projects in my free time and all in collaboration with friends. I started doing illustrated posters for parties, then I was invited to illustrate kids’ books, eventually, word got out on the street and more people started to contact me. Then, 2 years ago, I felt that I needed to reset on a professional level so I decided to take a leap of faith and turn the hobby into my full-time job.

What inspires your work? How do you stay creative? What are your favorite projects to work on?

joana raimundo freelance illustrator
Artist Joana Raimundo | How To Become A Freelance Artist

Joana: A little bit of everything, really – music, movies, books, stuff I see, conversations I have with my friends. Sometimes I take notes of crazy dreams I have, too. When I feel blocked I like to browse through my favorite artists’ work. But my favorite projects are the ones related to music (album covers, posters, merch) and collaborations with my friends.

I recently had the chance to do animation for a friend’s short movie so that one got a special place in my heart 🙂

What are some of the challenges you face as a creative freelancer?

Joana: So far, the same as everyone else – to keep focused when working from home, dealing with the completely unpredictable income and learning to sell your work.

What advice would you give to someone starting out their artist or freelance journey?

Joana: I’d say work hard and do your best if that’s what you really love. Remember that, and if you come to realize that freelancing is not for you, that it’s taking all the joy out of your art, don’t let it take you down! It’s ok, you can always keep doing it for yourself, on your own time and on your own rules.

how to become a freelance artist- do what you really love
How To Become A Freelance Artist | Interview With Artist Joana Raimundo | http://www.arielmendez.com

Thank you so much, Joana! I got so much out of this interview! You can view Joana’s portfolio on her website, or follow along with her everyday artist journey on social media @joana.ray.

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How to Become a Freelance Artist

Here are three key takeaways from our interview with artist Joana on how to become a freelance illustrator (or a freelancer in general):

  1. Build your foundation first. This means improving your skills, getting your name out there, accepting projects and building a solid portfolio. Joana started taking projects, building her portfolio, and meeting new clients through friends before she took the leap to full-time freelancing.
  2. Give yourself time. Joana said it took a while before she jumped into full-time freelancing. It takes time to not only learn your craft and improve your skills, but it also takes time to learn how to run your business as a freelancer which includes things such as selling your work and managing a variable income.
  3. “Work hard and do your best if that’s what you really love”. This is absolutely the best advice Joana gives! If in the end, freelancing is taking away the joy and love of what you do, don’t let it.
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How To Become A Freelance Artist | Interview With Artist Joana Raimundo | http://www.arielmendez.com

If you enjoyed reading this interview with Joana Raimundo, and would like to learn more about writing, publishing, and the creative journey, check out the following interviews:

What I’ve Learned from Being a Published Author: An Interview with Jonathan Roth

Insights on the Book Publishing Process: An Interview with Author Deborah Schuamberg

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