The Business of Calligraphy: Pricing & Freelancing for Lettering Artists | Molly Suber Thorpe | Skillshare

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The Business of Calligraphy: Pricing & Freelancing for Lettering Artists

teacher avatar Molly Suber Thorpe, Calligrapher & Designer

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      The Business of Calligraphy


    • 2.

      My Mission


    • 3.

      Before We Begin...


    • 4.

      Setting Your Rates


    • 5.

      Policies & Fees


    • 6.

      Project Scheduling


    • 7.

      Payment Terms


    • 8.

      Materials Allowance & Shipping


    • 9.

      Rush Fees


    • 10.

      Cancellation Fees


    • 11.

      Coordination Fees


    • 12.

      Specialty Supply Fees


    • 13.

      Add on Fees


    • 14.

      Your Policy Document


    • 15.

      Giving Discounts


    • 16.

      Discounts Are Donations


    • 17.

      (Gently) Educating Clients


    • 18.

      Standing Your Ground


    • 19.

      Working for Free (Gasp!)


    • 20.

      Working for Friends & Family


    • 21.

      Portfolio & Branding Tips


    • 22.

      Affordable Advertising


    • 23.

      Networking for Introverts


    • 24.

      Commercial vs. Non-commercial Work


    • 25.

      Pricing for Logos


    • 26.

      Know Your (Copy)rights!


    • 27.

      Being A Freelancer


    • 28.

      Feeling Discouraged?


    • 29.

      Tackling Creator’s Block


    • 30.

      Additional Resources


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About This Class

Are you a calligrapher or lettering artist trying to navigate the world of freelancing? Confused about pricing? Struggling to set solid company policies? Frustrated that your business is stagnating?

This class, presented in a relaxed, conversational format, will help you navigate the best business practices and pricing strategies for your freelance business.

I'm sharing the hard-earned insights I've gained over the past 10 years, to answer the most frequently asked questions I get about owning a calligraphy business. Whether you’re starting out in creative freelancing, transitioning from a different profession, or running a lettering business that just needs a boost, you will benefit from the concrete advice offered in this class.

➤  Topics covered include:

+ Pricing: How to set competitive rates for yourself so that you earn a living wage

+ Discounts: When (and how!) to give discounts 

+ Working for free: When to do work for free, and the pitfalls to watch out for

+ Commercial work: Why you should charge more to design a logo than a wedding invitation

+ Marketing: How to advertise in affordable and even free ways 

+ Your rights: How to navigate copyright licensing and know your rights!


Find The Calligrapher’s Business Handbook from sellers worldwide on my website.


➤  More resources:

+ My calligraphy & freelancing books

+ My Procreate brush packs

+ Follow my Instagram and tag me in your projects: @mollysuberthorpe

+ Other Skillshare classes: 

+ Visit my other website, – a massive online resource guide for lettering artists and creative freelancers, with 1,000+ recommended supplies, books, online classes, and helpful links.


Free Practice Sheets & Brushes

My Lettering Toolkit is a library of free downloads – from calligraphy practice sheets to Procreate brushes – that expands every month. Subscribe to my mailing list to get lifetime access, plus updates to your inbox about my live events, new classes, and products every Saturday.

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Molly Suber Thorpe

Calligrapher & Designer

Top Teacher

I design custom lettering for brands and individuals, Procreate brushes for artists, fonts for designers, and freelancing tools for creatives. I’m the author of four books for lettering artists and teach the craft both online and in person.



I’m lucky to have worked with some awesome clients over the years, including Google Arts & Culture, Martha Stewart, Fendi, and Michael Kors. My work and words have been featured in such publications as The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal, Martha Stewart Weddings, LA Times, and Buzzfeed.

I love connecting with my students so please please share your projects with me. If you do so on Instagram, tag me with @mollysuberthorpe so I’m sure to see it!&nb... See full profile

Level: All Levels

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1. The Business of Calligraphy: Welcome. I am Marlowe [inaudible] , a calligrapher, graphic designer teacher and author, who started my own calligraphy company about 10 years ago. It hasn't been an easy ride. There have been lots of bumps along the way, but each of those bumps have taught me some important lessons that have helped me improve my company. In this video, I'm going to share answers to the most frequently asked questions that I get about starting a hand lettering business. How to set prices for your work, how and when to charge add-on fees for certain types of services, why you should charge more to design a logo then a wedding invitation, when it's okay to work for free or to give discounts, how to advertise in affordable and even free ways, why you own the copyright to your work, and why it's important to advocate for your own intellectual property rights, and how to deal with some common client issues. I'll also give you some little bonus pep talks about freelancing and creative ruts and why you deserve to earn a living wage. By the end of this class, you should have more confidence in your own business practices, and pricing and set up and you'll be able to proceed with greater confidence. Certainly, this class is going to give you a really good foundation for launching your business or taking your current business to the next level. 2. My Mission: In 2017, I published a book called The Calligrapher's Business Handbook. I wrote it to address the incredible number of business related questions I was getting from industry peers and students. What struck me then was just how many people had the exact same questions and just how many of those questions had already been addressed within more unified creative industries, such as that of graphic design. I made it my mission then to strengthen international calligraphy community through this business handbook, through a free resource site that I launched called and through this very class. I went to school for graphic design and I started my career as a graphic designer at a design firm. That experience, it taught me a lot about the business side of creative work. I was forced to understand the importance of client contracts, intellectual property rights, setting specific expectations for my clients, and perhaps most importantly, valuing my own creative skill set just as any professional values their professional skill set. It quickly became clear to me that a lot of the lessons I learned from being a graphic designer, which I applied to my own business, are not common knowledge among a lot of calligraphers. This is through no fault of your own. It's because a lot of us, myself included, start doing calligraphy as a creative outlet, as a hobby, perhaps never even considering turning it into a business. Sharing business tips and resources that have helped me craft my thriving calligraphy company could in turn help you craft one which solidifies the market and standardizes good business practices across the board. 3. Before We Begin...: Just a quick note about the order in which you can watch these videos. I have recorded them as frequently asked questions in a sequence that I believe makes sense when taken as a whole. However, each video is standalone. If there's a particular question or topic that you want to see right away, feel free to jump directly to it. I've tried to make the video titles pretty self - explanatory, so that that should be easy for you. 4. Setting Your Rates: Now, let's talk about pricing. This is a very tricky subject and it's one that's going to vary a lot from person to person, place to place, and product to product. But I'm just going to give some really bare bones advice about how to find the pricing that's right for you, and how I found my own pricing. Hopefully that's going to give you some guidance and framework for setting your own rates. First and foremost, you're probably somewhat familiar at this point with the pricing of the calligraphers, either in your geographic area or who offer similar styles and have similar target audience to you. I want to caution you that's not where you should start with setting your own rates. It's not necessarily wise to look at the rates of someone else and just try to apply them to you, and try to get those rates to create a living wage for yourself. You really need to do it the other way around. Here's the living wage that I need. How much do I need to charge to get there? I'm going to bet you that it's actually going to average out to something that is in the realm of where you live. But It's important to know why you're charging what you're charging, as opposed to just charging what other people charge because you think that's the only thing the market will bear. First, I want you to start by, let's just take the most bread and butter basic item that calligraphers do, which is envelope addressing. Our industry dictates that this is really a flat-rate item. We don't charge by the hour, while addressing, we charge by the envelope. That's the case for most items. Place cards, a manuscript of vows, we don't usually charge by the number of hours it takes us to do it. But that means that we have to sneakily figure out what our hourly rate is, how long it takes us to do those items, and therefore, how much we have to charge per item to add up to the hourly rate that we want. Here's how I have gone about doing that. Get yourself a stack of good white crisp envelopes and your favorite nib and pen and black ink, and sit down and calligraph a list of addresses for one hour or a couple of hours. Essentially, you're trying to figure out how many envelopes you can comfortably address in an hour. Not in a rushed way, not without any breaks, you should still get up and walk around the room and stretch your hand like you will in your normal day-to-day work life as a calligrapher. So comfortably, how many can you do in an hour? Let's say hypothetically that you can do 20. This is really going to vary a lot calligrapher to calligrapher, based on how flourished your designs are. But let's just stick to the basic number of 20 because I think that a lot of calligraphers can do about 20 per hour. You have that number. We're setting it aside. Now, I want you to ask yourself what your income goal is per month. This will be only something that you can really answer, but it should be based on your market of where you live and what you think you're worth. It should not be how much you think you can probably earn as a calligrapher, because that might actually be lower than what you really need. So really give yourself an actual realistic income goal. Then, I want you to divide that by four to get the weekly goal, and then again by 30. The reason I say 30 is this, you're going to be working more than 30 hours per week, but the work you're going to be doing in that additional time is communication with clients, uploading pictures to your own website, doing a lot of the unpaid, nitty-gritty business side of your company. So if we're lucky, about 30 hours of our time per week is actually spent doing the calligraphy and doing the job. Let's just throw that out there as a number that I have come to feel is relatively normal if you have a booked schedule. You're taking your monthly goal, you're dividing by four to get your weekly goal, and then you're dividing by 30 to get the hourly payment that you'll get for the time that you're actually working. Because we're calling the the rest of the work that you're doing unpaid, so that we can get the payment out of the flat-rate for each product. Let's say you want to make $4,800 per month pre-tax, for the United States pre-tax. That's $1,200 a week. I want you-all to be earning at least that much as calligraphers, so just bear with me here. If this sounds daunting, bear with me. That's 1,200 per week that's dividing by 30, giving you $40 per worked hour doing calligraphy. Now if you remember to take the number that we had a second ago of 20 envelopes per hour, and if we're averaging about $40 per hour in that 30-hour work week, which of course, doesn't include the unpaid time that we're putting toward our business, then that would come out to two dollars per envelope. But that's really low. I'm going to tell you scheduling never works out perfectly. There will be slumps, there will be way extra work that you have to do for client communication, and not every order will be crisp-white envelopes with perfect black ink using your favorite nib. I want you to take whatever number you just reached. We just reached two dollars per envelope. Then I want you to literally double it, four dollars per envelope. That is actually a very standard rate in the United States for a single envelope address, even black ink on white paper. It's very standard to see 4.50 or five dollars as envelope address prices. In fact, some calligraphers will even charged 4.50 or five, and then an additional rate for extra flourishing or white ink on black paper. If that sounds daunting to you, I promise you, you can get away with charging this if your talent is getting up to par. We're doubling that two dollars and making it four dollars per envelope. That's a pretty reasonable rate that's going to cushion you for the hours that aren't going to be paid for actually doing the calligraphy, all the client communication for a job. Let's say you have a job that has 100 envelopes in it. Now that's going to be a $400 job. If your hourly rate, as we discussed, was $40, that means that you're getting paid for 10 hours of work. I think that that's pretty reasonable, given that you're going to have to be doing client communication, and go into the post office, and doing all sorts of other things that are not the actual calligraphy related to that order. Actually, even just checking all the envelopes at the end for errors and the natural slowing down that we do as we progress through an order. You can do the same exact procedure that I just said for place cards and escort cards, and all sorts of other things and just really start to get a sense as you're working, of how long things take you. Because it's so easy for time to just fly by and have no sense of time whatsoever, when we are absorbed in a creative pursuit. But you are charging for your time, even if you're charging a flat rate, and so you need to get a good sense of what amount of time is taken up by each item. For all other types of items like big manuscripts or menu boards or things like that. Of course, this is really difficult as well. The first bit of advice I'm going to say to you is that if you have no idea what price of something should be, and if you're a beginner, if you're new to the calligraphy market, then I'm going to tell you that probably whatever your first instinctual price is, is too low. I'm going to tell you probably whatever you think you should charge, it's going to have to be higher than that in my opinion. For these one-offs, as I call them, like a menu board or something you can't just sit around and whip off and calculate how many you can do in an hour because they're going to each take way more than one hour, I want you to first be aware of that. Really, really think about how many hours something is going to take you, and then it will always even take you longer than that, I promise. Then there will be client communication, and then you might make a mistake. Really add sometimes double what your gut instinct tells you. Only time will tell in your business and your own workflow, whether that pricing works for you. I'll tell you a little bit about my own pricing journey, if you will, that when I started about 10 years ago, pricing my envelope addressing in the Los Angeles market, I was charging, I think 2.50 or 2.75 per envelope. I really didn't have any basis for that. I had no idea what I was doing, but I saw that some calligraphers were charging more than that, and I figured I'm not even that good yet. I guess I'm just going to charge way less. That's how I built my business. Well, I heard through the grapevine, if you will, that some considered me the cheap calligraphy option. Honestly, that's not the position that you want to be in. That's not the reputation that you want to be building. So if you want to have a lower rate, which is understandable, than calligraphers who have a lot more experience than you do, that's fine, but don't praise yourself so far below the market price and below what you can earn a living wage as, that people will really think of you as too cheap, so cheap that you must not even be that good. So charge a living wage, charge a competitive rate, even if it's a bit lower than the average in your area, and know why you're charging it. Then when you get all the prices for those most common items, make yourself a price sheet. Even if you don't share it publicly, keep it in your desk, because when I get to talking more about doing work for free and for discounts, I'm going to be telling you refer to your own price sheet rather than giving emotional pricing. You want to set standards for yourself that you're going to adhere to. So write them down, print them out, stick them to your desk, and price your projects accordingly. 5. Policies & Fees: Before starting a job, not after, it's really important that you communicate with your client all of your most important company policies. This is crucial because it eliminates any potential confusion down the road, and if the client in the unfortunate circumstance were to breach some policies in your agreement, then you'll have the opportunity to go to them and say, "Sorry, but I told you up front that I don't work like that." In my view, the most important of your policies should be stated upfront in the very first communications that you have with them, possibly, even in the text of the body of the first e-mail, once you find out what the job parameters are. The two most important policies for me that I share upfront are my payment terms and my cancellation policies, and sometimes also my rush fee depending on whether I know in advance if it's going to be a rush order. So it's up to you to determine the best policies for your company and your workflow. But that said, I figure that I'll share with you the policies that have worked for me, and that I've had to tweak over the years based on various client experiences that I've had. 6. Project Scheduling: So number one is project scheduling. For my own workflow, I like to make sure that most of the projects begin on a certain date and that they're scheduled over a very set period in my calendar. I make it clear to my clients that if they need to provide me with materials like, let's say envelopes, that they have to have sent them or delivered them to me prior to that start date. That if they don't and if there's a delay, then it can also delay and push back the end date of the project. I can no longer guarantee that their project will be finished by the deadline. In fact, if I can't, then maybe it will even incur a rush fee so that I can finish on time. 7. Payment Terms: Next about our payment terms, I always require deposits upfront from my clients before work begins, this is absolutely crucial for me. Generally, I require a non-refundable 50 percent deposit upfront with very few exceptions. If there's a vendor that I've worked with a lot, and who I trust, sometimes they'll just pay me after the job, but I really never do this with new clients and rarely do it in general. The balance payment for the remainder of an order is due upon project completion, but before I hand over the finished product, whether that's physical item or a digital file, doesn't matter. For example, I calligraph a number of plays cards, I get a 50 percent deposit before booking the order, and then it gets the remaining 50 percent before giving them back to the client. Naturally, this is so that I don't have to chase my clients to get the final payment. Again, I'm really not very lenient about this, I just make it so clear up front that the balance payment is due upon project completion and prior to me sending the final product. I very rarely have issues with this though with my clients, and I think that the reason is just because I'm so direct about it from the start. So don't be afraid to just really lay down the law about this. I've met calligraphers who really struggle to get deposits. My advice to them is always that in your very, very first communication about the job, explain your policy and even one very brief polite sentence like, before work begins, I will require a deposit of X percent non-refundable, and then the balance payment will be due upon project completion and before I return or send you the finished product. If the scope of the job changes while you're working, be sure to adjust the balance payment accordingly. For example, if you are calligraphing 100 envelopes, and you're charging $4 per envelope for a total of $400, then you're 50 percent deposit upfront will be $200. You get the client's address list and then you realize actually there are 110 names on it, so ten extra envelopes, $40 extra of work. What I do is I just take that additional amount and I add it to the balance invoice. I'm always sure to give my clients a heads up. I just like right when I noticed that there are more names, I'll drop them in email and just say that I noticed that the list is a little bit longer and I'll be adding an additional $40 to the balance payment. Likewise, if the job is less work than initially quoted, you can also make an adjustment of the balance, like let's say that there are 90 names on the list instead of a 100, then I might deduct $40 from the balance payment. Now, this can be tricky because if the job gets reduced by half or more, and therefore it gets reduced to a point where the total becomes less than the deposit that was already paid, it's important to make clear to your client that they will not get any money back. Deposits really should be nonrefundable, period. 8. Materials Allowance & Shipping: Lots of questions that I've gotten over the years from students and peers are about, how to handle getting paper from my clients? For example, do I require extra paper? If so, how much? The answer is, yes, I always require extra, and generally, I require an additional 20 percent materials allowance on top of the final quantity required. For example, if it's an order of 100 envelopes, then I'll require a minimum of 120 blank envelopes. This is actually pretty standard. I haven't really had any push back from clients about this. Of course, for other types of jobs let's say manuscripts, sometimes I provide the paper. This is just because I know that I am going to purchase paper that will work best for the calligraphy, and for my ink, rather than having to discuss with my client what paper to purchase for calligraphy. In that instance, I just add the price of the paper right onto the balance invoice, or even the invoice up front if I happen to know the cost from the start. I do also always ask my clients up front what type of paper their project will use if applicable. That's important because you need to make sure that you don't accept any job where, it's going to be writing on a surface that you can't do calligraphy or lettering on. I'm always open to having clients talk to me about their papers, even send me samples, especially if they haven't printed the item yet. Like if it's envelopes and they need to print the return addresses on them or something. I have always been comfortable to do like a free consultation about what paper to choose because it benefits me in the long run for the job. I am also always sure to specify up front who is in charge of paying shipping fees. Really important not to forget that when you're first communicating. Usually it's the client who pays up front. If I have to pay, then I just have them reimburse me on that final balance due invoice. 9. Rush Fees: Another extremely important policy the all calligraphers should have written down in their policy document is the rush fee. It's very common for all creative freelancers to include a rush fee of, let's say, about 50 percent on top of the quoted price of an order. If the order is a crazy huge rush, sometimes it can even be 75 or a 100 percent on top of the quoted rate. Now, the length of time that constitutes a rush for you is really under your discretion. But if you're ever doing work for a client that requires you to work really late into the night and push other projects aside to prioritize one client over the rest, having been cut in line, then that constitutes a rush in my book. 10. Cancellation Fees: Hand-in-hand with rushed fees or cancellation fees and remember that the deposit that you should have gotten before the job began was non-refundable. For starters, make sure to specify to all of your clients if they cancel an order after the deposit is paid, it really doesn't matter at what point in the job the cancellation happens. They will not get their deposit back. I would actually go so far as to say that if more than 50 percent of the work of the job has been completed, meaning if I've done work beyond what the deposit paid me to do, then the client is liable for that remaining amount. In fact, if I've completed the job and then they cancel it, they're liable for the whole amount. 11. Coordination Fees: Another type of fee that some calligraphers will charge, creative freelancers in general, in fact, is a coordination fee, and that just means charging either a flat or an hourly rate to communicate and coordinate with other vendors, like to be the go-between in order to complete a job on behalf of your client. For example, if you're working with a manufacturer, rubber stamp manufacturers say, or a printer to create a custom product that your calligraphy is going to go on, then you may feel entitled to charge for the time spent doing that coordination, very reasonable, since it's obviously not covered in the pricing of the calligraphy and lettering design itself. Generally, I don't charge coordination fees if it's a type of coordinating that I do very frequently with a vendor I use a lot and where I know it's going to be a quick process like just uploading files to a printer that I use all the time. But again, this is under your discretion and it's nice to have that stated as a policy so that you can draw on it if need be. If the coordination process is very involved, I do always charge by the hour rather than a flat rate because there's just absolutely no way of knowing how long and drawn out a process that can be. 12. Specialty Supply Fees: I will mention one thing I call the specialty supply fee, which really is that if you have to source special supplies for a particular job, something out of the ordinary in a normal lettering artists toolkit, then it's reasonable to pass that expense onto your clients. For example, if you need to invest in a special shellac spray to coat the seashell place cards that you made for your client, then you shouldn't have to absorb the cost of that item. 13. Add on Fees: Almost all of the calligraphers that I know charge some add-on fees for certain services. It just depends which ones they have, and how much they charge, and honestly how much they choose to enforce them. Two really common fees are the setup fee and the minimum order fee. A setup fee is a one time fee that is charged per order, and it generally is meant to account for the time that it takes to prepare to sit down and do a project. No matter what the size is, if you are calligraphing 10 please cards or 100 envelopes, setting up your desk takes the exact same amount of time for both jobs. Setting up your tools, cleaning your nibs, mixing your ink, etc. Some calligraphers also consider a setup fee to account for the investment and the basic supplies that they use on a day-to-day basis, to keep their studios stocked with black ink and their favorite nibs. Standard industry setup fees are roughly $30-$100, but it really depends on your market, and honestly what type of job it is. Like if it's done in your studio or on location, and obviously jobs done on location are going to require a much higher setup fee. To give you a very concrete example, if you decide to charge a setup fee of $45, which is not that uncommon for let's say, an ink on paper job done in your studio, then someone ordering 10 please cards from you, only 10, would have to pay for the 10 please cards plus the $45 setup fee added to their invoice. Someone ordering 100 envelopes would also have to pay for the 100 envelopes plus just that $45 fee. It's important to note that this fee will get added on to every order, even by the same customer in a short time span. Let's say that that customer with 100 envelopes comes back to you two weeks later with 25 more envelopes. Hypothetically, you would charge them again that same $45 fee because it's the same amount of work for you to sit down and prepare to start that project. The minimum order fee is a little bit different. Some calligraphers will charge both minimum and setup fees, but it can be a little bit tricky. I really just have a minimum order fee. This is a fee to make sure that you always get paid for the time that you put into a project. This means that since we, lettering artists, often charge flat rates for the services that we offer, or for loss of the services. If a client orders only a small handful of a certain type of item, then it is sometimes possible that it won't actually add up to the amount of time that it takes us to complete the job. For example, if someone orders just 10 envelopes from you for a small set of birthday party invitations, and let's say you charge $4 per envelope, that's $40, and that's actually less than what a lot of people have settled on for their hourly rate. The problem is that, that $40 isn't going to actually cover the amount of time it takes. It's definitely going to take you more than an hour to do those 10 envelopes. Remember that there's always that overhead time, like communicating with the client, packing the order for delivery, go into the post-office, checking for corrections when you're done, etc. This is why it's such a good idea to have that minimum order fee. You might say, for example, that no matter how small a job is, you'll never do it for fewer than a three-hour fee. That sounds very reasonable to me. In fact, lots of people have strict policies that they will always charge by the half-day or by the day, so that will be like four or eight-hour increments. When you add up the time to talk to the client, set up your stuff, do the job, package the order, check for mistakes, really even for the smallest job, that's easily three hours of work. Take whatever hourly rate you have, one that you decided on when you were setting up your flat rates, and multiply it by at least three, in my opinion, that's the minimum. Let's say you settle on a minimum order fee of $150. In that case, if someone comes to you with those 10 envelopes, your company policy states that you will charge 150 minimum regardless of the fact that each individual envelope would normally be $4 each. If a client comes to you with 40 envelopes at $4 each, that's $160, which means that since it exceeds the minimum order amount, the minimum order doesn't apply, and therefore, you're just charging the client $160. 14. Your Policy Document: So once you have all of these policies in place, then compile them into a really neat, tidy document, possibly branded with your logo, that would be best that you can e-mail as an attachment to your clients and then I said, paste into initial email communications the absolute most important policies that are going to apply to that job, just to be 500 percent sure that there isn't going to be any confusion down the road. 15. Giving Discounts: When is it okay to work for free or give big, big discounts? Most creative freelancers will say 'Never' with very few exceptions. I tend to agree with that, but I do think that this is a big and important question. It's really important for our industry and therefore, it's important that we expand on it, and you really understand why you're saying 'No' when you do and you can say it with confidence and that when you say 'Yes' to a discount or a free job, you really know what you're getting into. If you send a new client a response to a price quote inquiry and they come back and they say to you 'What? Surely this is such an easy thing for you to do, you are a lettering artists. This must just come naturally. How long can it really take? Can you just whip this up for me for free? Well, obviously here the answer is "No" big resounding "No" and when people are that rude, it should be easy to say "No." If you haven't actually had the privilege of receiving such a rude response, congratulations, you are in the minority, because most professional creative freelancers of all stripes have gotten many such responses. The tricky part actually comes when people are really genuinely nice about it. This would include clients who respond by saying they genuinely didn't know that a lettering project would be this much, and they ask you if there's any wiggle room in your rates. I can sympathize with this. I can really understand how when a lettering artists does something so beautiful that they make it look easy, some people genuinely don't know how much it might cost. That said, it is not your job as a professional creative freelancer to sacrifice the income that you have worked too hard to calculate and earn, simply based on the fact that someone can't afford your services or didn't understand how much work goes into your creations. In these instances you have a lot of options. In my mind, the least desirable of all of those options is to reduce your price. The least desirable. Depending on the job requests, you might go back to the client and let's say, offer up some suggestions of ways that the job parameters could change to become less expensive. For example, the customer wants place cards and they want black paper with white ink, and you happen to be a calligrapher who charges an extra fee for light ink on dark paper. You might just say, well, if you reverse that combination, black ink on white, I can reduce the price a little bit. If the job is an invitation design, you might want to say, well, rather than have the entire thing in calligraphy, what if we just put the names in calligraphy and then all the rest in a digital font? That depends on your skill set and graphic design, but it might be a viable option to reduce their price and make both people happy. Let's say someone wants a mirror seating chart for their wedding. That's actually a project lots of people are shocked by how much it costs. Offering up an alternative, like escort cards on paper or like a paper sign, rather than going on location, something like that to adjust the parameters and meet them halfway. That can be helpful. Now of course, alterations to the job parameters can't always be made. In that case, rather than giving someone a flat discount if the job is one that you really want to do or could provide you a really nice chunk of income, then consider throwing in one of your add-on services for free rather than like an overall flat discount. For example, if you're addressing a whole wedding invitation suite of envelopes, then you might consider offering to stuff them or stamp and stuff them at no charge like an added service. Maybe say, I can do the custom ink color for free, some sort of added service or bonus service like that? Yes, you'd be spending a little bit more time, but at the same time you would be standing up for your integrity and the rates that you really think are fair and reasonable for you. The client does generally then feel like they're getting a bonus and sometimes it works out not all the time though, honestly. Whatever you do, my advice is don't give a discount or free services, at least at first and never do a job for free, just because the client asks once. Always get back to them with either a polite or firm 'No' or some options for adjusting the project to meet them halfway or work into a happy medium. Also very important, when you give someone a discount, make sure that they know that they're getting a discount. First and foremost, it's important that people understand that you're doing them a favor. This is not because you feel you need to be showered with thanks, but the worst is to give someone a discount, do this generous thing for them, and not have them appreciate that you've given them a rate that you don't give to everybody else. Every client that you have represents potential future new clients, because if this client is happy with you, they'll recommend you to friends. That's just how it works. It's the best free advertising. So you don't want that person to say to their friends and family and coworkers, "look at this amazing calligraphy I got, and it was so cheap, this is what I paid for it." Because maybe then that friend or family or co-workers is going to come to you expecting the exact same price. What you would really like if you're going to give a discount, is for that person to go to their friends and say, "look at this amazing calligraphy that I got. The calligrapher was really generous to give me a discount, so I'm not sure what price that they would charge you, but I highly recommend them. They're wonderful. You should totally reach out to them." 16. Discounts Are Donations: Let's say that you're at the very beginning of your career and you're trying to build up your portfolio. You're really trying to get clients, and network, and get some beautiful photography for your website. A client emails you with an amazing sounding job. You just know that it's going to be beautiful, and it's something you can do, and it'll be fun, and an amazing portfolio piece. But the client just really isn't going for your price at all. Maybe they'll start their email by saying that they don't even have much of a budget. That's very common. Now you're in the position of asking yourself, if I give a partial discount for this job, and this is how you have to think of it, if I give a partial discount for this job, I am donating some of my time. Think of it that way. What am I going to get out of it? Will it make up for the price difference? Is there's a barter in it for me? Just like, maybe; I'm going to get a lot of good photos. Maybe there will be a true resounding, yes, inside of you. That, yes if I donate some of my time for this project, I'm going to get a lot out of it and it will be worth it for me. I can't tell you to staunchly stand your ground and never give discounts, especially early in your career. I know how important it is to build up a client base, and honestly how difficult that can be, but I know how important getting good work for your portfolio is. All I can tell you is don't give discounts, just willy-nilly. You will get filled with resentment. You will be really irritable and bitter that you agreed to do a job for much less than your worth. It'll eat away your sense of self-worth and devalue your own sense of yourself as an artist. That's not very good for starting out your career, where we already have enough imposter-syndrome stuff going on with us. Don't put yourself in a position where you're not earning the income that you should be, just because you didn't push back to questions like, can you please reduce your rate? 17. (Gently) Educating Clients: Depending on the tone of the client uses when they're asking you for this discount. You may also want to consider just gently educating them about really what goes into the project. Honestly, most people have never commissioned custom lettering before. The majority of the people who reach out to you for quote requests, this will be their first time commissioning custom calligraphy. Really truly, they don't know what goes into doing your job. This is part of why I'm making this video, part of why I wrote my book. Lots of people know what goes into designing a website. They absolutely can't do it. It makes sense that it costs a lot of money. Addressing envelopes. We haven't yet gotten to the point where a lot of people really understand why that can obviously cost as much as designing a website if it's a huge order. This is why it can be really helpful to just gently educate clients about what goes into doing our job. I've actually had some pretty good results on this front before. When I explain, for example, all of the work that's done by hand for every single item, even those that eventually get digitized and sent to a printer. How they still go through many handmade drafts, which I scan and clean up in Photoshop and send to the client for approval so that they can make edits and send back to me, and I'll send back to them more proofs and sometimes make more edits and then coordinate with the printer. This is very important. A very important part of what we do is to educate clients about what goes into our job and why our pricing is what it is. Don't waste your time doing this if the person seemed completely dismissive from the start. But you can actually have some really good results when you draw to people's attention what they're really paying for. Very often, when I give a really brief, polite explanation, clients understand, and they say, "Okay, wow, I am getting something really personalized, even more, personalized than I thought. Something custom. Something really high-quality with a lot of personal attention. This person seems to want to listen to me and hear what I really want. They seem very professional. Obviously, it takes a lot of talent for them to do what they do. Telling that I don't have because then I would be doing it myself. I'm happy to pay them for that." That's not all the time. But again, it's sometimes. 18. Standing Your Ground: It can be nerve-wracking to send an e-mail where you push back against the client on pricing, especially when you're at the beginning of your career with your business, you're looking for new clients, you're maybe struggling financially. I really get that. I genuinely do. I have actually been there. Remember though, that when you're beginning your business, when you're crafting your new business, you're also crafting your reputation, and you're also learning what it's like to work for clients on lettering jobs, gathering experience on how to handle tricky situations. A client who doesn't understand your pricing or needs some gentle nudging and education is not actually someone I would consider a tricky client. This is something you're going to encounter all the time, so you need to set a standard for yourself of how you're going to deal with it rather than respond with emotional pricing. Emotional pricing is your enemy. Don't let yourself go there. This is why you set yourself a price sheet. You're going to stick to it. You're not going to just respond in the heat of the moment because you feel bad saying no or bad pushing back. Don't just say, I'll lower my rate is one time and I just get this discount this one time. You need to override that emotional pricing with your rational braining and you need to say, no, I really should try pushing back. Because I need experienced with this, it's going to happen all the time, and honestly, I don't want to be filled with bitter resentment while I'm doing this job because I'm not getting paid enough for it. 19. Working for Free (Gasp!): [MUSIC] Now, let's say you get an email that says, "Hi, I am such and such person, from such and such magazine or blog. I absolutely love your work and really want you to donate some free custom calligraphy for this article that we're doing or this photo shoot that we're doing. We can't pay you for it, but you're going to get amazing exposure. Trust us, it's going to be just all over the place. This would be all over the internet or whatever in print. We're going to credit you for it, this is really going to help your career." Okay, if you're just starting out, you'll probably want to leap on this and send back, this big, huge resounding yes email, and honestly, I'm not going to tell you not to do that. I can't tell you not to do that because publicity is very nice and it's good for bragging rights and a lot of things, but I'm going to tell you, I'm going to warn you, that such emails, which you may start to get quite often are usually not what they seem. Be warned that there's no real way to guarantee that even if you make a free piece of artwork or multiple pieces for a project like this. First of all, there's no guarantee it will even be in the publication or in the photo shoot or the blog post, in which case, you'll get absolutely nothing from it. If it's in a magazine, there's no guarantee that you won't just be credited in a five-point light gray font in the very back of the magazine, where people will have to search extremely hard to find out the credit of this tiny little piece that's in the corner of a photo and part of the magazine. If it gets published, you do of course, have something to boast about and you should be really proud that someone wanted to use your calligraphy for a project like this but before you say yes, sit back and ask yourself if you have the time and energy to do this job, this donation, remember and whether you'll find it fulfilling, how beneficial the publication could be to your career, whether it will be beautiful honestly, whether it's something you would want to put then into your own portfolio, whether you'd get a portfolio piece out of it. Or whether you're just going to feel a resentment that you've given away your time for free to a publication who really, honestly you think could have paid you. Let's be real. The majority of publications can actually afford to pay something they just know that they don't have to, because most artists will just say yes. So asking follow-up questions can help you get a really good grasp on the legitimacy of the offer and whether or not you think it's true that there is really zero money in their budget. 20. Working for Friends & Family: Now comes the age-old question of how to charge your friends and family. I think that this question is best answered by telling you what I do personally. There's lots of disagreement about this. It's really, really tricky situation for lots of creatives not just lettering artists. I know plenty of people who have the policy that they just flat out don't do free work for anyone, not even family, and that's it, period. Honestly, I mostly respect that. For my very close family, I do work for free. My closest best friends and the entire world of which there's very, very small, handful, I'll do work for free. To my extended family, I'll give some discounts, sometimes considerable ones but it really depends. But I do charge them. I've never had a family member being disgruntled by it, but everybody is different. To friends outside of my closest circle, I will also always charge full price, I don't give discounts. To friends of friends or referrals from close friends, full price, no questions asked. I don't even think twice about that because you're getting into a really slippery slope when you start discounting for friends of friends, because it's the same phenomenon I discussed a second ago about how when you give one person a discount and then they're going to go tell their friends and their friends and their friends that you're giving discounts, you're suddenly potentially going to be swarmed with people all of them are expecting discounts, and then your calendar is just going to be booked with jobs that aren't earning you a living wage. 21. Portfolio & Branding Tips: In terms of a portfolio, let's first talk about website portfolios. You will need a website that's not already clear Instagram, even though it's extremely popular is not really enough to cut it. When you're seeking the higher budget clients or the bigger commercial types of jobs even if they find you on Instagram, seek out your website just for the legitimacy to read more about you. Make sure that you get really beautiful, high-quality photography of every project that you do. When you're working on a project that's going to be really beautiful, spare some time at the end before you have to package it up and send it away so that you can shoot it and use those photos in your portfolio and your social media because your portfolio is like your number 1 advertising tool, whether that's your website or your social media account like Instagram. Get on SkillShare. There are some really amazing classes about smart phone photography and product photography. Even if you're a beginner, if you're not well versed in these skills, you should really try to add it to your toolkit or hire a professional photographer. If you don't have a good camera, local camera stores will rent them to you really affordably and it's definitely worth it. Here's like my main rule of thumb. Eight really good pictures in your portfolio is far better than a portfolio of 15 or 20 pictures with some excellent ones, some mediocre ones, some okay ones sort of a hodgepodge. Anybody who looks at a portfolio and sees a pretty mediocre picture, will remember that picture more than they'll remember the good ones and that really sucks, but it's true. Don't ever let any bad photos, even if the work itself is good, don't let bad photos be in your portfolio. It does you no favor us at all, it negatively impacts the impression that people get of your business and I hate that, but it's true. The photography itself is very important. Over time, your portfolio will be curated. As you get better pictures, you can start phasing out the older ones and that's just normal. But don't think that quantity is better than quality. Quality is way more important. On that same note, if you're going to be focusing on top-notch photography, focus on top-notch branding in general, that's not necessarily free, but it's an investment that will just keep working for you over and over and over. A very cohesive brand, beautiful brand identity, meaning like a great logo and just simple color palette, clean. It can be minimalist, It doesn't matter, but just something cohesive that speaks to you as an artist. That someone can see and they at least get a sense of who you are and what your aesthetic is. That will keep working for you. Even if you have to invest money in a graphic designer for help creating that identity, or take some classes here on SkillShare about making a logo. It's really a worthwhile investment much more than like boosting some posts on Facebook. Business cards are still a thing. We are in a business of hand made art and a tactile, beautiful handmade item, like a business card, even if its letter press printed or just beautifully printed, this will represent you as an artist as well. Make sure that your business cards are good and make sure that you have some 22. Affordable Advertising: Are there affordable and even free ways to advertise your small lettering business? Yes. There are so many ways to advertise and promote your business without spending much or any money. So I'm going to go over some of my favorites, but actually in my book I cover even more and also paid options. So best kind of advertising that there is, is word of mouth. There's nothing like a referral from a happy customer. Happy clients will talk about you to all of their friends and family. Those people will remember you and they'll believe their friend way more than they'll believe google searches, right? So start to think of every client that you have as potentially dozens of future clients or even repeat clients down the road. In fact, repeat clients are the best kind of clients to have. So I probably don't even have to tell you this, but you should not even be worried about going overboard on politeness and amazing customers service. Your communication skills are extremely important, especially as a freelancer and a small business where you are the face of your company and your company is you. You are your company and your company is you. So when a project culminates with a really happy client, it's inevitable that the client's going to tell their friends about you and it could result in one or more jobs without you even having to spend any extra time or money. So in that case, when the client is happy, ask them to write you a brief testimonial or a referral of some kind, just like a reference on that you can have on file or if you have testimonials on your website, add it to that. They really do help a lot of people connect to you as a freelancer and it can actually help people genuinely make the decision to hire you. As your skills progress and when you find yourself with some free time on your hands and you're sick of just doing drills, make some finished sample pieces for your portfolio such as some address envelopes, some place cards quotes or things like that. Package these up a few at a time and send them over to local stationery shops, wedding planners, event planners. If you're in an area with like small publications that have artsy stuff or wedding stuff or event planning stuff, send them a few, or any company that is on your dream bucket list to work with someday. You can do this spontaneously and include a nice little handwritten note nothing over the top. Just about how much you admire their work or their services and that if they're ever in need of calligraphy, you would love to be on their go-to list of vendors. Do not say anything like "I'd be happy to give you a discount." No. That's not even professional sounding. You just want to say, I'd love to be one of your go-to vendors and work with you someday. Ad-ons to your Instagram accounts such as Linktree or Linkinprofile. These are services that allow you to turn the link that's in your Instagram profile into a list of other links. That's really helpful as a great marketing tool because then you can really let people visit a number of your other sites or landing pages around the internet with one click, you can send them to a specific blog post, your Pinterest board, as well as your portfolio and your contact page, all with one click. Many of them have free accounts or extremely affordable premium monthly rates. So check those out as well. One thing that I'll mention is that Pinterest does serve as an amazing way to market your own work. In the sense that, yes, you can do a paid Pinterest ads, but that's not actually what I'm talking about. You can actually pin your own work to Pinterest and then using properly researched keywords and really good captions and using their function, which sometimes you actually need to search for this. Not everybody knows that this is possible. When you upload an image to Pinterest say, from your computer, you can even link it to a web page where you can adjust the link of a pin that you're making. So you can make Pins of your own work, link back to your website. The more that you pin and the more followers that you get and then re-pins, it's possible that one of your pins will go viral and then a lot of people will be led to your website. That happened to me once and it was really bizarre because I was just suddenly being deluged with requests for the exact same item and I was thinking, "What happened? Why did this happen suddenly?" Pinterest, one of my images went viral on Pinterest, and it's not too crazy hard to do so I do recommend that you investigate that. Pinterest is also a lot of fun for inspiration, so check that out. I do recommend having separate social media accounts like a business Facebook and a business Instagram separate from your personal ones. Keep them open to the public. Don't make them private because then people really can't discover you. Also cross marketing is easier than ever now, meaning that if you make one post on Instagram, you can quite easily share it to Facebook and Twitter and even Pinterest and promote the same image and caption on a number of platforms. There are also amazingly helpful tools out right now to help you manage your social media accounts and setup posts in advance so that you don't have to spend time in the middle of every day composing your captions. I've compiled a ton of resources like that also over on the [inaudible] file. So you can check out that site for suggestions on all sorts of social media marketing and organizational tools. 23. Networking for Introverts: A lot of people talk about networking and that's definitely really important. I'm an introvert, I hate networking, I hate large groups of people, I like to sit at home with my cat, and part of why I worked for myself and work from homes because I don't like being in groups of people. What does networking mean for me and for a lot of people like me who don't want to go to networking parties and cocktail parties in their area that hosts small businesses, sole proprietorships and stuff like that. For me, here's what it means. I go to a cafe and I noticed that they have blank chalkboard menu or a chalkboard menu obviously drawn by one of their employees or something. I'll look out my business card and I'll say, "hey, is your manager here, I'd love to chat with her, see if I can help out with these menu boards" or something like that. Give the manager my business card or leave it for the manager. I've gotten many jobs like that. It really, really does work. Even if they don't hire you on the spot, it really, really does work. You see a place that might need calligraphy, you tell them about yourself. Networking can also mean just networking with other peers. It doesn't have to mean people who are going to hire you. It's people who are going to inspire you. Like keep you going. Joining a calligraphy guild is an extremely great way to do that. They're just basically fun clubs of calligraphers who love to chat about calligraphy and learn calligraphy together. Bringing cool teachers from around the world and talk shop all the time. It's incredible fun. If you think that there's not a calligraphy guild in your area, you're probably wrong. I've actually compiled with Joy Deneen, who's an amazing calligrapher, a list of pretty much every calligraphy guild in the world that we've found and put it on this website right here. You can go and check that out and find a calligraphy guild or club near you. That site, by the way, thanks to Joy, it also has lists of calligraphy scholarships that you can get and museums that have calligraphy. Just like places you go for inspiration and to get involved in the global calligraphy community. Networking can also be done online, of course, for example, with Instagram, you can obviously follow and comment on and message with other calligraphers. This doesn't mean that you have to ask them for things, but sometimes you might want to reach out to a calligrapher you admire and ask for a critique of your website. "Hey, I just posted my new portfolio, I'd love to hear your critique of it" something like that. No guarantee that they'll even have the time at that moment, but no harm in trying and that's also a great networking tool. 24. Commercial vs. Non-commercial Work: All custom art commissions can be divided between commercial and non-commercial projects. Another way to phrase that, is that artistic work that your client will profit from, his commercial work, and artistic work that your client will not profit from is noncommercial work. For most calligraphers and lettering artists, non-commercial work is their bread and butter. Examples include place cards, manuscripts, wedding invitations, monograms, personal stationary, an image for their wall that contains their favorite song lyric, anything like that, that they're just going to use for themselves or send out to friends as an invitation. But they're not going to actually sell to make money from. All of these items are custom commissioned by your client from you. However, the understanding is that they will not turn around and sell them for a profit, and they won't use them in any way that would indirectly earn them a profit either. What do I mean then by commercial work? Examples of that include advertisements, calligraphy that will be used in ads, book cover designs or even just titled designs, greeting cards, patent designs like for wrapping paper or fabric, and logo designs. All of these are items that your client is commissioning from you, and that they will apply to something, whether it's a book cover, or their product, or signage, or ads, or what have you, which will then earn them more money. But it's not money that you're going to see. That would be royalties. Royalties are a little unusual in the lettering arts community. Usually people will just have like a flat fee, or the full buyout of the rights to use a commercial item. So just think of it this way. When you do a commercial project, you are selling a piece of artwork to your client that your client will hypothetically be earning money from, or will be trying to earn money from, and you won't see any of that money. If probably you already come to this conclusion, you've been following along with me that, what does this mean? Commercial Artwork commissions should have a premium charge for them. Just because it takes you the same amount of time to design a book cover title as it does to design the names for a wedding invitation, doesn't mean you should charge the same amount because the destined to use so completely different. Technically the copyright that your client will be purchasing in order to be able to use that item for profit, means that you should be earning more money to design something for them, that is a profit-making design. 25. Pricing for Logos: Now let's put ourselves in the position of a company that has gone to a lettering artist or a calligrapher to commission a logo for their brand. We, the company are not interested in buying only a couple rights for the logo. What's the point of having a logo if our company is legally required to credit the designer every single time the logo appears, a little asterisk by the logo and then designed by, that never happens, right? What's the point if it can only appear in certain markets or it can appear only in print and not on the web? What's the point if we can't slap it on any product or advertisement, or if there's a time limit when our allowed use for the logo is going to expire? What's the point of a logo design if we have to go back to the designer to pay extra for a particular application of that logo design? That would be no good, for a small company, for a large company, no company wants to do that. That is why you should charge a premium for all commercial work, especially logo designs, no matter the size of the company, the expectation is always going to be that that company, for a logo, will be granted full and complete licensing rights so they can use it however they want to increase the profits of their company. Profits, which by the way, as I say, you'll never see in the form of royalties and usages where you'll almost never be credited. You can put it in your portfolio, in fact you need to make clear to the company before you do the design that you will be including it in your portfolio so you can credit yourself before it. But there's no expectation that that company is going to credit you and that you'll ever see any of the profits if it happens to be the most successful logo ever. When pricing out a logo design, you need to consider for a moment the added value that you are giving to a company when you sell them the right to make money from your art, the added value of never having to pay you a dime of the money that they're going to earn from your work, the added value of never having a credit you for your work. In other words, they're not only buying the time that you spend making the logo and the amount of time that it took you to get the talent to be able to design that logo, they're buying the right to make money off of you, basically. That is a right that they need to pay extra for. Now, what are we talking about? How much money should we specifically charge for a logo? This is a much tougher question to answer, but I'm really going to try because we need to start talking numbers in this calligraphy community because it's really important that we understand how much we are undercharging. I'm on a mission to get us all to earn the money that we deserve for this. The 2014 edition of the Graphic Artists Guild Handbook for Pricing and Ethical Guidelines, which is a really good book, and you should get it if you don't have it, says that between $1,000 and $5,000 is a competitive price range for a hand letter logo type design for an individual person, not even for a company, that's for an individual person's logo. For companies, prices for hand letter logos are listed in this book anywhere from $2,500 to $30,000 based on that company's size and scale. Side note, we are not saying that one freelance lettering artist is necessarily ever going to get that $30,000 price, maybe, I'm not saying it's impossible, but I'm not saying that that's the norm either. I hope you understand, but 2500 is a really reasonable minimum amount for you to charge for a company to design their logo. That's really normal. If you try to charge that to accompany and they tell you that you're insane, if you take nothing else from this class, I want you to feel confident in understanding that they are the ones who are out of touch with the market and not you. $2500 for a logo is not unreasonable and it's not easy to get either, which is unfortunate, and that's why I'm on my soapbox about this because we should be able to get that price the way even a freelance graphic designer with good standing could, or definitely a graphic design firm could. In fact, that's very, very low for a firm with multiple people. But even a junior designer could generally get rates like that, so why can't you? You are a lettering artist, you might not think of yourself as a graphic designer, but when you make something that will be used in graphic design applications, you are a graphic designer. Let's say that you don't have the skills yet to digitize that design to be a really versatile logo and you have to get the help of a graphic designer to deliver a file to this client that's really a logo vector, clean, polished file. That's fine. You and that designer together can command the price that a real graphic designer should. Just because you might consider yourself a hobbyist, doesn't mean that you should price yourself like a hobbyist, especially when a company is coming to you for a profit making project. I get very angry about this because so many lettering artists are taken advantage of by companies who know that if they went to a graphic design firm, they would pay 9, 10,12,000 for something that a lettering artist is charging for 4,500 for. Please try to take that away from this class if it's the only thing that you take away. You are a graphic designer if you make something that is graphic design and a logo is graphic design. 26. Know Your (Copy)rights!: The subject of intellectual property rights and copyright is obviously a very complex one. I think that's part of the reason that many artists don't focus too much on the nuances of these laws. However, whatever these laws are, wherever you may be, it's extremely important to understand them if for no other reason than to know when to sell them or when someone is violating them. When is someone violating your rights? I'm not an attorney. I am not here to give you legal advice, but I have for the sake of my business made myself well-versed in what my own rights are, because it's important to me when I read job contracts that I am presented by companies, to fully understand what rights I'm giving up, what rights I'm retaining, and whether I think that's fair for the money I'm getting or just in general. You might think that to understand complex legal subtleties is a necessity to advocate for your own legal rights, but it's really not true. The good news I have to share for you is that the vast majority of artists in the world, the majority of you watching, live in a country where the law says that you own 100 percent of the copyright of the work that you create. To not own the copyright of the work that you create, would have to mean that you have explicitly sold it or given it away for free. That's pretty cool, right? You own it by default unless you sell it or give it away. If you live in one of those countries, then you as an artist are subject to some pretty friendly copyright laws. It doesn't mean every country has the exact same ones, but in general, the laws are on your side as an artist. I highly suggest that wherever you live, you acquaint yourself with your country's artistic copyright laws. To understand your legal rights to your own work is crucial, and it's also crucial that you advocate for them. What's a copyright? A copyright is actually many rights. It's a single word that means a plurality of things. It's like a menu. One copyright is a bundle of rights. This bundle, it contains rights to where your item, your copyrighted design can be used, for how long, in what applications. They can print or only on web or only in books, and only in this magazine one time, two times. There's actually endless combinations of these rights that can be created and then sold. Those are called Licensing Deals. I'm not getting into real depth here with Licensing Deals, that's kind of another beast, but I just want you to understand that you own the copyright. You can sell it or you can choose to give it away or you can sell parts of it or you can give away parts of it, and you can retain the rest. What's the most important right that you should retain? It's the right for you to take authorship of the artwork and have it in your portfolio. If you haven't ever been presented with a job proposal or a contract from a company asking you to give away 100 percent of your copyright, including the ability or the right to claim yourself as the creator of the design, then I'm very glad. Because these are horrifying types of contracts, in my opinion. They deny artists the ability to even put their own artwork in their portfolios. They allow companies to pretend that they actually are the original designer and just wipe the artist's name off the map. Not every company that buys full licensing rights is evil I'm not saying that, but some companies have very disadvantageous contracts that they present to sole artists. Unless you advocate for your rights, you may just sign away your right to ever even claim that you designed that piece. You can't even advance your business by bragging that you made this cool logo or book cover because you sold away the right to do so. This is why it is so incredibly crucial to read contracts with a magnifying glass four times. I cannot emphasize that enough. When in doubt, write out again very clearly "I retain the right in this project to put it in my portfolio, to remain the author of it, to brag about it." Most companies have no problem with that, really truly, and it's a very rare case where you're really going to be in deep water, but this should be something you are really adamant about, because we all need to advocate for each other and make our whole calligraphy community much stronger, standing up for ourselves in this regard and stop being taken advantage of by companies that think that we just don't know our rights. The point I want to leave you with is to remember that no client of yours ever has the right to use your work in any way, unless you give them or sell them those rights, either before or after you create the work for them. Just as a side note, if you are looking to move into a more commercial lettering side of your business. There's so much to say on that subject and so much nuance in the difference between commercial and personal work, and the nuance honestly of how licensing rights get bought out and how you should approach that with a client. That I'm not getting into in this class, but I get into in extreme, minute detail in my book. If that is something that you're interested in, my book might be the resource that you're looking for, for that. 27. Being A Freelancer: Now for just a little note about freelancing and being a freelancer. It may or may not surprise you that I actually get asked a lot, whether I have a goal of expanding beyond being a freelancer, whether freelancing is just a stepping stone for me to some "lofty your goals" like owning a company with employees. The short answer is no. It actually took me a little while to come to terms with saying that because I had put an odd pressure on myself as if being a freelancer wasn't enough. By far in a way, the best aspect of my job for me, is that I'm my own boss and I'm not anyone else's boss. I don't think I'm really cut out to be a boss honestly, and that's okay. At least I know that about myself. This of course, has a lot of pros and cons, because being a solo freelancer means I have to wear every single hat, not just that of design, and that does have stresses. But I wouldn't have it any other way. I can create my own schedule. I have the privilege of making business decisions, knowing that they affect me and me alone. That's not to say that I don't hire other professionals to help me, like an accountant or an SEO Guru. But it is to say that I'm very happy not to grow my business outside of what I can personally manage. That doesn't mean that there is a cap on what my company can produce and therefore to the income that I can receive. But the freedom that freelancing has given me, honestly, it's supersedes all of that. 28. Feeling Discouraged?: Now, I want to address those of you who feel like you are stuck in a rut. You've tried a lot of this advice and it hasn't worked, that you've been pursuing your creative business for quite a while and it's just not going as you think it should. You haven't got to nearly as far, as you feel like your talent should have got to you. First of all, I get it. Not only is it really difficult to advertise one's self as an individual, but it's especially difficult in this era of social media, and this booming calligraphy market. My advice whenever I'm asked by budding calligrapher or frustrated calligraphy business owner about how to get your name out there? How to get more noticed? How to get more clients? My advice is pretty much always the same. I know it's a cliche, but it's also the honest truth. It's remember why you started. You started calligraphy because you love doing it, presumably. Because it was an outlet for you, because you found that you were really good at it. Because it helped you through another job, that maybe you hated it or was especially stressful. When you're feeling down about your business not getting the attention that you would like or the type of clients that you want, try to channel that enjoyment that you had in the art form from back when you started doing it. Talent and honed skill do get noticed, seriously. It can be slow, but it will happen. When you're feeling low, practice, improve. It's one of the only things that you have complete control over in this career as a lettering artist and you should enjoy doing it at least most of the time. It's okay if you hate doing it sometimes, but most of the time. Or you wouldn't have chosen this path to begin with. Practice a lot. Get as good as you possibly can. Then practice some more. Share your polished artwork with the world and slowly you will gather the momentum and the admirers and the clients that you deserve. Some other more practical day-to-day advice is to stop looking at social media, specifically of other calligraphers and littering artists. Not forever, but just for a little while, a little hiatus. It's always nice to know what's happening in our industry, to stay up to date, to network with others, love doing what we do. But honestly, if you find that you're feeling inhibited or stressed or frankly resentful by the inevitable comparisons that come in your head when you're looking at others work, stop looking for a little while and just take a break and take a breather. I do it all the time by the way. When I'm working on a huge project, I cannot even be bombarded by other images. My cat is being so cute. It just can't be bombarded by other images that way. I don't want you to think that this only happens to people just starting their careers. This happens to me, it happens to tons of professional artists and writers and creative freelancers in general, who I know. I actually do this type of social media detox frequently, when I'm working on large projects, like I said, that require lots of creative output. Being inundated with other awesome, great creative talent can actually stunt my creativity. It can stifle me a little bit, and honestly it occupies too much of my mental space. I'm not trying to suggest that detoxing from social media is automatically going to boost your income or something. It's not a magic pill. There's no magic solution. But I am saying that for most of us when we get discouraged about our business, it has a ripple effect into our creativity as well. This industry, our creativity needs to be inextricably linked to our business. Maybe when we get into this slump, we become less productive, we become less experimental and creative with our work. We don't feel like waking up in the morning, and picking up a pen just for the fun of it. You need to find a way to just reboot and clear out your mental space, get back to a pure creative zone. This is an incredibly helpful tool, because when you're energized, you output work that shows it. Your passion for art is going to be the driving force of your business, and that's what's going to give you a leg up and help you take that next step in your business. 29. Tackling Creator’s Block: One more thing. One silver lining in not having the number of clients that you wish that you had is that you can devote more time to honing your talent and getting better and better at calligraphy, you can devote more time to creating cool pieces that you can then spend more time photographing for a cooler portfolio. Get out your books and fire up your Skillshare membership, join a local guild, take some more classes, do whatever it takes to keep yourself from feeling stagnant. Set really small goals for yourself like making one piece of art a day. Don't get caught up in some idea like I need to produce some amazing art to put on Instagram. Remember that it's okay to make ugly calligraphy. That's what is required to get better and to practice. Professional calligraphers make ugly calligraphy every single day. The beautiful pieces, the energy, the business, all of that, it can come when your creative spark is back. But being in a creative dead zone, it's the worst and I really, really get it. When you get your creative spark back, you will start creating pieces that make you say, "Wow, I want to share that with the world." But you can't pressure yourself into making pieces like that. In short, this is not a race, your business is not a race. You need to set yourself up for a long-term career happiness so take care of yourself, cherish your creative energy, and just continue challenging yourself to produce the best art that you can. You can also comment in the forum below. It'd be really cool if we got a lot of people making little community on here of questions, whether they are positive, negative. "Hey, I am in a creative slump, or hey, would you like to take a look at my web portfolio and tell me what you think?" I think that that's a valuable type of community to have. 30. Additional Resources: I hope that you've gotten a lot out of this class and that if you have a new business, you've gotten a lot of the tools that you've been looking for, for starting it. If you are already a business owner, that you feel rejuvenated and excited to take the next steps for your company. You've heard me mention my book a few times throughout this class, but I wanted to just share with you some topics in my book that we didn't cover in these videos, and they include lots of tips and resources for naming and branding and marketing your business, tips for photographing your work and making a compelling portfolio, advice on when and how to raise your rates when the time comes, a list of the components of a good invoice, even fill in the blank sample texts for laying out your company policies, a list of the components of a strong contract, a chart with the actual average rates that American calligraphers charge for their services, as well as real-world example pricing for commercial lettering jobs, I have to give a shout out to Carla Hagen the calligrapher for really compiling that survey, she did an amazing job, extremely in-depth and specific explanations of licensing rights, including the difference between exclusive and non-exclusive rights, which I've touched on, but didn't even go nearly as in-depth as I do in the book, and much more in-depth information about the nuance of what work-for-hire agreements mean and then how to break up those copyright bundles. If you're interested, it's available as an e-book. You can get it from Amazon, Kindle, iBooks or Nook, and you can also get a print edition on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and lots and lots of other places. Right here I've given you the link to a bunch of places where you can find it. Also you can follow my Instagram and you can tag me with questions or your work. I would love to see it, I would love to see who's participating in this class and get a sense of the community that we're building here. Like I said, please participate in the forum, and get involved, and ask any questions and try to answer the questions of your peers.