a girl who creates
Laying it all out
August 26th, 2007

I thought I’d lay my promotion process out to help answer the numerous emails I receive a week asking about it. This post took me several days to write since I only had time to work on it in between saves on projects I’m working on. It’s gonna be a long one, but a good one!

Postcards:
I do postcard promotions every 3 months, and yes, they do work. My latest one hit at the end of July and has yielded 3 jobs so far and lots of looks on my website:

And here’s my postcard for my Junk A Doodle work. This is the first separate postcard I’ve sent out for that style:

My best response postcard to date was this one. I got tons of work from it.

Client List:
Research, research, research!! Know who you are sending to and make sure you want to spend your money promoting to them. Spend days if not weeks doing it. I recently went through my mailing list (over 300 names) and researched every company making sure I had the correct address, seeing if they had new submission guidelines on their site and double checking their style to see if mine would fit with their’s. I cleaned out about 20-30 names, so I saved myself a good about of money right there.

I also have 2 list going. One for my overall styles and a separate one for my Junk A Doodles style (since it’s not specifically related to the children’s market).

Who I use and why I use them:
I get my postcards printed and mailed through USPS/Premium postcards. I will never go back to getting postcards printed 500 at a time. I do this for a few reasons.
The biggest ones being, I don’t have to see 500 postcards laying around and then start nit-picking the images used and then hate the postcard thus never sending
it out (this happened to my very first batch). I also don’t like to go through and print labels, buy stamps, and sit there and stick them on one at a time. My time could be much better spent.

There has been a lot of talk about USPS postcards and the saturation levels they print out. I sometimes have issues with them and sometimes don’t. You need to send a sample to yourself first to see what your potential clients will get. I usually send 4-5 postcards to myself at one time. All with different color adjustments so I can then see which level is the best. That way I can send them right out instead of trying several times to get the color right. This could delay your mailing for weeks depending on how many times you go back and forth. I say test it in one swoop.

Email list:

I try and send out an email monthly. It’s usually short and sweet and I send it to people who have signed up on my website or to people I have worked with directly or have shown interest in my work (I have 150 people on my list that grows monthly). I don’t spam any one and have a explanation at the bottom of my email that says why I’m sending them the email and how they can be removed from the list. Since I’ve been sending one out, no one’s removed themselves from the list.

I used to send out plain text emails with an image attached but this year have switch over to Your Mailing List Provider That way I can send out an HTML email with no images attached.

Website:
I try to redesign or do a major portfolio update when I send out a new mailer. I try to do it more often but I sometimes get too busy or don’t have any new pieces to show yet since they haven’t been published. I have 2 websites for my illustration work:

holliconger.com
junkadoodles.com

A lot of people ask me if I design it or if I have someone do it. I design and code it myself. I mostly code by hand since it’s easier and quicker for me, but I do use Adobe GoLive for my image maps and anything tricky I might run into.

Website Stats:
I am a stats junkie. I look at my stats probably 20 times a day. I track 8 websites. I see who’s visiting, who’s linking to me, etc. I make notes and analyze them. Some people choose to track all the pages on their site. I only track the homepage. The stat program I use is Stat Counter.

Domains:
Now I showed my geekiness a while back when I mentioned the number of domains I have. Nearly all of them have to do with my business in one way or another or I’m saving them for a idea I want to execute in the future. Here are a few that are forwarded to my main sites:

hollyconger.com
hollieconger.com
holieconger.com
picturebookartist.com
foundobjectillustration.com
dimensionalillustrator.com
nashvilleillustrator.com

Portfolio Sites:
Yes, spend the money. Even if you can only afford to advertise on one site. Do it to test it.

I have a paid listing on the following sites:

childrenillustrators.com
theispot.com
folioplanet.com

These sites have done really well and have paid for themselves every year I’ve been listed. I did have a paid portfolio with portfolios.com and although it did pay for itself that year, I didn’t get any new job from it about 5 months after being listed (7 months with no activity).

Back Up Plans:
Now a lot of people starting out can’t do this, and I understand, but it is something you should think about and budget for. Have more than one workstations. At the moment I have 2 main ones. I have a desktop and a laptop. I have a large wacom tablet and scanner for my desktop and a smaller tablet and scanner for my laptop that are dsmall enough for my laptop bag. I keep all my work on a portable harddrive and switch between the two. I used to use my ipod but I switched over to a smartdisk firelite.

Now, why should you have more than one workstation? Deadlines!! I have had deadlines due and my computer have problems. Software, hardware, harddrive, you name it. If I have a problem on one, I switch to the other workstation, make my deadline and then figure out the problem with the other one when I have time.

Time:
The all important question I get asked is how do you find the time to do all this?

I plan my week out on Sunday night. I write a list of all the deadlines I have, what promotion stuff I need to do and other business things I want to accomplish that week. I plan my day out mentally the night before. I keep a calendar by my desk and with every new assignment I write down when sketches are due and when finals are due. I also have a wonderful daughter who allows me to work. Some days she doesn’t and I just know I have to work late that night or get up early in the morning, but most of the time she does. She loves to spend hours digging though all my junk I collect for my junk a doodle pieces while I get some computer work done.

Know your time limits and restrictions and know when to say no to work. I’ve recently turned down some projects from pretty big clients (one was the Department of Defense if you can believe that?!). I know what I do and don’t have the time for and what I can and can’t draw well and what jobs in general will stress me out. I’m the only one that controls my business so I want it stress-free as much as possible. I want it to continue to be fun for me:)

Well, that’s it but I’m sure not everything to answer the questions out there. Hopefully you’ve gotten some ideas though.

category: junk-a-doodles, promotion

7 Responses to “Laying it all out”

  • Christie Stokes
    June 18th, 2010 at 3:59 am

    Thanks so much Holli! This page will certainly be helpful to me in the future. I am planning on becoming an illustrator. Hopefully for children’s books. I also like the blog post on how you became an illustrator. Keep up the good work! I love your illustrations especially the junk-a-doodles :)

  • Sarah Dzek
    June 23rd, 2010 at 6:01 pm

    I have found your illustration, and articles to be very inspiring. As an emerging illustrator, I appreciate how you share your trials and errors, (as well as many success!) I will think of you often when I need a motivational boost. Good luck!

  • Jeff
    July 11th, 2010 at 2:16 pm

    Hey Holli….Great advice and information!I have been researching on how to jump-start my career as an freelance illustrator and it’s rare to find someone willing to share their journey and process,which leaves a lot of guessing.Thanks and keep on being creative and having fun!

  • Annetta Killian
    September 8th, 2010 at 6:39 pm

    Hi Holli, I want to thank you so much for being so open and helpful about your working process. I am an aspiring illustrator and have read your journal, “One Girl’s Journey to Doing What She Loves.” It is very inspiring. I wanted to tell you how much I appreciate your advice!

  • Mary Rojas
    September 9th, 2010 at 4:48 pm

    Hi Holli,
    I’ve been peeking at your website for months now and love how fun and creative you are with your work. Your junk-a-doodles are awesome!! I too am one of Maggies illustrators and have been trying to get a website going for over a year now. Thanks for all the info you’ve shared. You have been very inspiring to me.

  • Paul Weiner
    January 2nd, 2011 at 4:29 pm

    Hi Holli,
    I found your illustration suggestions quite useful. I have been using some of your suggestions and thought I would brush-up on some new ideas which you certainly go over.
    thanks for the valuable suggestions and have a fine New Year,

    Paul

  • Angela Charles
    October 19th, 2011 at 1:33 am

    Hi Holli, I really enjoyed your website and all of your creations. Thank you so much for putting how to info on your site for artists. I remember the day when people were so hush hush about their success. But God made a big earth for everyone to have their share. Thanks again, many many blessings to your future pursuits!