Wondering how to start an illustrators business? We take you step-by-step from start to success.
Differentiation: Developing a Personal Style
Many talented artists set out to launch an illustrator business based on the misguided belief that artistic skill will be enough to create a profitable business. But unfortunately, the only way your startup will succeed is if you are able to differentiate your services from other illustrators who are already active in the marketplace.
To differentiate yourself, you will need to develop a distinctive style. While producing a broad range of styles is fine for art school students, professional illustrators quickly discover that the commercial marketplace responds to illustrators who incorporate unique stylistic elements in their work.
Although personal skills and preferences are determining factors, it can be helpful to survey your competitors before you settle on the specific style you will leverage in your business. If possible, adopt a style that sets your business apart and exploits gaps in the marketplace.
Marketing Your Illustrator Business
Marketing skill is a prerequisite for profit-minded professional illustrators. Business won't magically appear on your doorstep. Many successful illustrators spend as much time marketing their companies and attracting new clients as they do in the studio.
A high quality portfolio is the cornerstone of an effective illustrator marketing strategy. Specifically, your portfolio should feature examples from successful commercial projects and pieces that highlight your commercial style.
Now more than ever, it's critical to make sure your portfolio is available in both print and online formats. Since many businesses and advertising pros use the Internet to locate illustrators, your business website will need to include an extensive virtual portfolio and be optimized with keywords that target potential clients at both the regional and national levels.
Tips for Creating a Work-from-Home Studio
Most startup illustrators launch their businesses from their homes. While leasing commercial office space is always a possibility, it's simply more practical and cost-effective to create a studio space in your home, at least for now.
It's important to find a dedicated space for your in-home studio. Shared space never works -- before long, you will be overwhelmed by the distractions and disruptions that are an unavoidable part of family life.
Dedicated space also has the advantage of tax deductibility. Talk with your tax preparer before you invest in your studio to make sure it qualifies for a home office deduction on your annual income tax return.
Successful Business Plans for Illustrators Businesses
If you've done your homework, you already know that writing a business plan is the most critical thing you can do for your company.
Although it might seem like an unnecessary formality, your illustrators company's business plan is a document that will shape your goals and strategies on a go-forward basis.
Furthermore, a good business plan will help you avoid key startup mistakes. Lacking a solid business plan, many startups find themselves rudderless and incapable of executing consistent decision making processes, while committed business planners rely on their plans to guide all of their decision making and short-term planning efforts.
Don't Ignore Competitors
Prior to launching an illustrators business in your area, it's a smart move to see how many competitors you have. We've provided the link below to help you get a list of local competitors near you. After following the link, enter your city, state and zip code to get a list of illustrators businesses in your area.
Is the local market large enough to support another illustrators business? If not, you had better be sure that you are doing things much better than the competition.
Talk to People Who Are Already in the Business
If you want to open an illustrators business it's a smart move to learn as much as you can from somebody who is already in the business. It's very unlikely that the local competition will talk to you. It'd be crazy for them to teach you the business.
Thankfully, an owner of a an illustrators business in another town will be much more likely to talk with you, once they realize that you are not going to directly compete with them in their community. In fact, they are often very willing to share startup advice with you. If you are persistent, you can find a business mentor who is willing to help you out.
How does one go about finding an illustrators business founder that lives outside of your area?
No problem! Just use the link below and try a random city/state or zipcode. Then start dialing for advice until you are successful.
Acquisitions vs. Startups
There is a lot of debate about whether it's better to start a new illustrators business or acquire an illustrators business on the business-for-sale marketplace.
Both ownership strategies have their benefits and drawbacks. For first-time business owners, it makes more sense to buy an existing illustrators business than to attempt to build one from the ground up.
An acquired illustrators business is a known quantity; a startup is less certain because its forecasts depend on estimated outcomes. If you're diligent about finding the right acquisition prospect, you may be able to leverage a business buying strategy to rapidly propel yourself into a position of industry leadership.
Franchising May Be a Better Way to Go
Franchising won't ensure that with certainty that you will be successful but it will make starting a business much easier.
Before you consider starting an illustrators business, you would be wise to determine whether there are good franchise opportunities available that might make sense for you.
The link below gives you access to our franchise directory so you can see if there's a franchise opportunity for you. You might even find something that points you in a completely different direction.
These additional resources regarding starting a business may be of interest to you.
If you already are in business and came here to learn about growing an existing illustrators business, these resources will come in handy:
If you sell to illustrators businesses, you're in the wrong place. Try these resources instead:
If you are interested in starting a different kind of business, please browse our directory of guides below.