Excerpt: Gamal Hennessy on how to find clients as a freelance creator

The author of ‘The Business of Independent Comic Book Publishing’ shares advice from the book, which is currently up on Kickstarter.

Today we are pleased to present an excerpt from The Business of Freelance Comic Book Publishing by attorney, author and business consultant Gamal Hennessy. This is a follow-up to his previous book on working in the industry, The Business of Independent Comic Book Publishing.

The new book aims to “help its readers develop a business model for their services, leverage the assets they offer to the industry, and transform their skill, time, and creativity into financial gain.” It’s currently up on Kickstarter, and very close to reaching its goal.

How Do You Find Clients As A Freelance Creator?

By Gamal Hennessy

This is a modified excerpt from a book I’m working on called The Business of Freelance Comic Book Publishing. It looks at the basis of forming good business relationships with your clients. While this can’t be taken as legal or financial advice, it can help you find the right customer for your services.

Who is the Right Client for Your Work?

A client is defined as anyone who receives a service from a professional in return for payment. As a freelance comic creator (FCC), your client could be anyone from a parent who wants a commission of their child’s favorite character to an international conglomerate who hires you to develop the next phase of a billion-dollar franchise.

When you consider all the potential emerging, independent, creator-driven, and conglomerate clients you can see there is a lot of work available. But there may be tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of other FCC around the world trying to secure work, with more freelancers joining the competition every year. Competition is fierce. The FCC who excels at finding clients can thrive. The ones that don’t will struggle.

One of the keys to finding clients is understanding the difference between the right client for your services and the wrong one. You only have a limited amount of time and energy to find clients, so you have to be efficient and intentional. It does you no good to spend weeks, months or years chasing down a prospect only to discover that they are not the right client for you. The best thing you can do for you and your clients is to focus on the right group and ignore everyone else.

But who is the right client for your services? You can figure this out by matching your brand identity to the profile of your potential client. This post will help you define your brand identity, understand your potential client and offer some suggestions for identifying the right opportunities for your business.

What is Your Brand Identity?

As an FCC, you are selling yourself in the form of time, skill, and creative vision. When a client hires you, they will have certain expectations about what you offer and what the experience will be like working with you. For our purposes, your brand identity is the proposal or promise that you make to your clients about your work with them. This is more than your logo or your slogan. It is the message behind your logo designed to trigger the positive associations that can lead to being hired. It is a summary of the qualities that make you an asset to a publisher.

There are desirable universal and personal qualities you can strive to include in your brand identity. Universal qualities that almost every FCC client is looking for include creativity, flexibility, punctuality, and professionalism. Your personal qualities will be individual to you and the services you offer. For example, a writer who specializes in comedy stories will probably include wit and humor into their brand. An editor who manages projects from start to finish might add an extensive roster of creative talent and time management to their brand.

What is the Profile of Your Potential Client?

The more clients you have the more money you can potentially make, but that doesn’t mean your long-term goal should be to work with every client who crosses your path. Every potential client is not the right client for you. Not everyone wants the services you offer. Not everyone can pay your rate. Not everyone will work well with you on a creative level. Your ability to decline offers from the wrong clients is just as important as your ability to find clients.

How Do You Match Your Brand with the Right Client?

Once you know what your brand offers and what type of clients make sense for you, the process of filtering clients becomes easier to manage. As you review postings on job boards, proposals from publishers, and develop your marketing, you’ll be able to differentiate who will probably work and who won’t.

In the beginning, you might not have the luxury of rejecting every poor fit because you need to build your skills, experience and reputation as an FCC. You might need to trade micromanaging bosses of your day job for micromanaging clients. The situation will shift if and when you gain mastery of your craft and your reputation as a professional. As comic icon, Neal Adams once said “You can gain more leverage and power when your work is so good that it can’t be rejected.”

Identifying the right client isn’t an exact science. There will be times when a promising client turns out to be a nightmare once the work begins. There is also a chance that a questionable client turns into a great working relationship. In order to hedge your bets against a mismatch, it is often useful to begin your relationship with a small or short-term engagement, so both sides can feel each other out without a long-term commitment up front.

Have fun with your comic.


One thought on “Excerpt: Gamal Hennessy on how to find clients as a freelance creator”

  1. Looks fantastic…….keep going my good wishes for it….
    like to know more. If there is…..

    Thank you,

    Sarath P Weeraratne

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