I have been working as a freelance illustrator 3 years now. It started as a hobby, now it is my side job besides the day job in marketing field. I have always been interested in and passionate about fashion industry and fashion illustration as a kid but never pursued it seriously until much later in my life. Around my mid-twenties, I started drawing again and making video tutorials on social media. This has led to few commission works then increased to steady flow of individuals and bloggers who wanted to have custom illustrations done. Besides being a nice supplemental income to a student, I have absolutely enjoyed working with them. This made me realize that doing something that I truly love and enjoy while getting paid was the right path forward and I started on my journey towards building a small business that involved my passion.
What were the biggest initial hurdles to building your business and how did you overcome them?
Nothing worth having ever comes easy, I guess. It was hard and challenging to build engaged audience through social media that would stay with you for a long time. It was the balance between having high growth of followers and having the right kind of followers that would stay with you long time. My approach was based on the latter, therefore growth was slower than otherwise could have been but I think it was the right way for the long run. I thought at the time my drawings weren’t that great and the way I posted them had a lot of technical side of improvements that could be made. So it was a lot of learning on the marketing and technical side of things such as video editing techniques and lighting setups to make the end user experiment better. In general, just looking at things from a someone who is interested in this field and what I would like to see was the key. I didn’t change my core fashion illustration style but I did change the way I presented them on social media sites or should I say the art of selling yourself – a content that has high resolution, bright, colorful, interesting, different than other illustrator’s work, easy in the eye, elegant and sparkling, things that my audience want to see and want, and most of all a good art. During that time what I really wanted was to become better at drawing and just concentrated on content creation every day. When you spend 5000 hours practicing on anything, you definitely will see a positive result.
Did you ever deal with contention from your family and friends concerning your entrepreneurial pursuits?
How did you handle it? What would you do differently in hindsight?
Luckily, I never had any contention from my family and friends. Everyone was quite supportive and encouraged my pursuit. I am and will always be grateful for that.
What would you say was the single most influential factor in your business success?
Hard work. In the beginning, I used to do work every day to make my drawings and social media following better, not on making money off it. I would often do custom illustrations for free for companies or designers and would say this is what I do and if you are interested in output, I would love to collaborate in your next project. This was my way of getting noticed and establish a client bases. Naturally, you would see a lot of denials but eventually it helps you better yourself and get a reputation in the field.
What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started as an entrepreneur?
The importance of skills other than your core which in my case was the drawing. It is very important to concentrate on developing yourself on those skills that would be supplementary in any field such as networking, business ethics and general business skills such as marketing and management. Few of the courses I took in college and people I’ve met along the way helped much made the learning curve less painful but still you fail and learn your own way.
What advice would you give to an upcoming young and old entrepreneur locally and internationally?
Don’t follow the trend but make the trend. Keep an open mind and be flexible while working toward something you’re truly passionate about. The outcome is generally very much related to how much effort you put into it therefore you would also want to be enjoying your journey.