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Level Up Your Income

Lesson 24 from: Make Things Make Money: The Business of Illustration and Lettering

Dina Rodriguez

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Lesson Info

24. Level Up Your Income

Lesson Info

Level Up Your Income

I don't want you guys to have dry spells, right? I want you to be able to have other additional revenue streams. So that way, if the clients stop calling, you don't just like totally freak out. So, how do we do that? Well, we need to diversify your income. Yeah, if I'm gonna use stock graphics, I'm gonna use the cheesiest ones they got, baby. That's what I want your face to look like when you look at your bank account, all right? Be like, "Oh my God!" Remember when you thought $20 was a lot of money? Wait until you actually get like $1,000, $10,000, $20,000. Yeah, right? Okay so, why do you need to do more than client work? Well, you need to always keep working. Even if you don't have any clients, you still need to work. To maintain your skills, right? And your bank account. You wanna make sure you can always pay rent. No one likes being able to have to borrow money from a loved one, or a family member. Like, I'm 28, I shouldn't be borrowing money from my mom. You know what I mean? I'm...

almost 30. Okay, so you wanna keep your skills fresh. If you take a break, you take a week, a month off. Every day you're not drawing, you're getting worse. So you have to make sure your skills are fresh. And it's important, you have to work hard now, so you don't have to work as much later. So you can do things, like during your lulls, you can work on ways to promote yourself through passion projects. That passion project can be a concentration of deliberate practice, on how to improve your skills. But in a way where you're still able to advertise yourself online. So that way your social media channels don't go completely dark with artwork. And we can create products. Who says we can't? We have the skills, man, to create all these beautiful things that people want to buy. T-shirts, mugs, eBooks, they want to learn from you. How can you start selling those things properly, so you can make money? You can also try new ventures and creative outlets. You have a lot of experience. Who's to say you can't also do commissions? Instead of client work. Who's to say that you can't start doing consultation? You can still do ways that still build your brand, but maybe it's a different kind of service. Maybe that brings you out of your comfort zone. Maybe you want to be a CreativeLive teacher. Maybe you wanna start teaching on other platforms. Or maybe you wanna do tutorials. There's all these different ways you can keep the work a-going, a-chug-a-luggin'. While still getting noticed by your presence, and your audience, and making money in your bank account. Now, let's briefly talk about personalized commissions. 'Cause I know a lot of people here ... It's nice to do personalized commissions, right? Now, a personal commission versus a commercial one. A commercial one is something someone can make money off of. Like a t-shirt, or you're doing it to create brand awareness. It's always a business that's attached to it. But a personalized commission, that's something you're making for the average person. Something that they can emotionally connect to. Now there are a couple differences when it comes to pricing, based on commercial work. But how do you price for commissions? So, same thing. You have your expenses, you have your hourly rate. Now how do you charge on value, if there's no visibility, if there's no client. Well, you charge on emotional value. How do you do that, all right? All right, let's get into it. So emotional value. Now the difference between design and art, is one is subjective and one is objective. When you're making a personalized commission, "Hey, tell me your story, I wanna make something that's made for you." Now depending on the emotional, and how you feel when you see it, that will decide on how much you charge. Now, if you're making something really really personal ... I'm gonna use this guy name Noah, as an example. Forget his last name at the time. He makes these insanely beautiful, large large large scale canvases. And what he'll do, let me walk you through it. You fill out a questionnaire, he interviews you. And he finds out, what did you want to be when you were a kid. We all like to be nostalgic. Did you wanna be a cowboy? Did you want to be an astronaut, a firefighter? He learns about you. And he has this very, easily recognizable style. So he'll interview you and he will tailor this huge canvas, in acrylic or oil. Spends hundreds of hours making this personalized commission. But you're not paying for it yet. Let me walk you through it. Just to give you an idea of where I'm going with this, he sells these paintings for $10,000. Now how can he charge that much? Well, he's making something that has a lot of emotional value. So think about this. How are we proving our worth? Remember case studies, right? Our process, how we present ourselves online. Same thing, but for commercial use. Now, think of the way how he presents these paintings to people. So what he'll do, he'll interview 10 people. "What is your story, how can I make this to tailor what you want?" He goes ahead, and just works on 10 pieces. He buys a gallery space. Makes these huge paintings, he hangs them up. He invites all 10 people to come. He doesn't present the work, he just lets it speak for itself, because that's what art should do. If you have to explain the meaning behind an art piece, you didn't do a very good job. Especially if it's for you. If you don't get it, that's the whole point, you just missed your entire target demographic. So the cool thing about what Noah does, is people walk in. No matter what, if the person buys their own painting or not, all of paintings always get sold. Because you go up there ... Listen to the psychology behind this, okay? You have these 10 people, you're looking at your childhood dream come true in the coolest illustrative style you ever seen. That's gonna make you feel something. It's just like when you see a sad movie. There's a vibe in the place. Everyone's crying up. Some people get that experience from church. There's a certain vibe when you're having a spiritual connection with someone. So when you're able to feed off of other people's energy, that's emotional value. So you're feeling it, your heartstrings are getting tugged. Now whether or not you're looking at your painting, or somebody else's, you still can appreciate where it came from, because that feeling everyone's sharing. Now, some people might be like, "Oh, $10,000, oh wow. That's a lot of money. $10,000, okay! I can't afford that, I really appreciate your work, I'm gonna peace out." But, someone in there, easily can leave with three or four paintings, because he connects. Maybe he also wanted to be an astronaut, at one point. But he gave the story of a cowboy. Now, he's able to charge $10, because he's established his value on his website, and he's charging based on emotional value. He's creating an entire scene. And also, it's an expense, right? To rent out that gallery. You gotta include that in your price, and I think you should, 'cause that's a really amazing way to present something. So you have to think about that. The more you can charge, the better you have to present yourself. So you have to think about that. Now if someone's thinking ... Something ... Let's think of something that's not so crazy, that's not a $10,000 project. What if they just want you ... I'll use my own example. A highlighter poster. Maybe they want to have them and their wife's names. They just got married, they want to have this beautiful little piece of artwork that goes above their bed. Their marital bed. Just to be like, "Oh, we love each other." Some people get monograms and stuff at their wedding. So that's a certain amount of emotional value, that they can share. Now how I'd present that? If they're local, who's to say I can't go ahead and make something tangible, and then present it to them in their house? That's gonna have more emotional value, than if I just sent you a .png over Skype, or an email. That's how you have to think. Now, it can be really hard to charge for this type of thing, but you have to think of it in terms of this. Design, the pricing is based on the value you can offer to the client. Art, people can only buy what they think it's worth. That's why you can go to a festival down the street, and buy a painting for $10. Or you can go into a gallery and pay $10,000. What's the difference? The presentation. The value that's perceived by that person, and the emotional value, and the connection they feel to that piece.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Make Things Make Money Keynote
Make Things Money Money Resource Guide

Ratings and Reviews


Wow! This class was fantastic! Dina did a great job at providing relevant information that I can use right away. I was particularly impressed at how she was able to explain licensing and royalties, she really broke it down into easy to understand pieces. I think this course would be a great foundation for any artist/freelancer but I liked the focus on lettering and illustration. Creative Live must convince Dina to provide more classes!

Elizabeth Matzen

This class is full of excellent information, and Dina did a great job covering everything from building a webpage to working with clients. She has a engaging delivery style, presented the information in a succinct and well-organized manner, and the pace of the course was perfect - not too slow! I highly recommend this course to anyone who wants to start or boost their creative business - great info!

Sharnika Blacker

Awesome class! Inspired and excited to improve my business with the processes and knowledge gained. Thank you Dina!!

Student Work