Money and Time Investment for illustrators

How do you decide what to spend your money on? I don’t mean your wants and day-to-day living. No, I’m asking about how you decide on what to invest in and how you know which of those investments are going to make you money. A problem arises in that most people don’t realise that their own time is actually an investment too, and it’s the same as spending money. The next problem arises when it’s not as cost-effective to be spending time instead of money. For example if you’re an illustrator, who gets paid more: you or your accountant? If your accountant is going to charge you £500 to fill in a few forms and look over your books, fair enough. It might only take them an hour to do it and that’s not bad for an hours work. But what if you decide to do your tax return and books yourself… It might take you 2-3 hours to do and there’s also the risk of making a mistake or forgetting something. Although that’s not the point, if you take that time and use it to do 2 quick spot editorial jobs @ £300 each instead, you’ve actually been paid more than your accountant for the time it would have taken you to do their job. By letting them work on your behalf, you’re £100 up and you’ve increased your assets. Those two editorial spots could also be re-licensed and bring you in additional income at a later date. So it’s win-win.

Now moving on to how this applies to me. I promote, market, design and optimise for people and I’ve been doing it for a long time now. I try not to do jobs that I know other people can do better and in a more cost-effective way than me. So I have an accountant and if I need an illustrator I’ll hire one. Looking at illustrators in general though, I don’t understand why so many of them insist on creating their own website and marketing themselves. Don’t get me wrong, some of them are really good at it, but I think there’s a bit of confusion… Your own time isn’t free, especially when you have a valued talent, like being an illustrator. So essentially you’re not saving money by doing your own promotion via various free Social Networks as it’s costing you a tidy penny in time. That time could be better spent investing in new work for your portfolio. You need to remember being an illustrator is like running any other business and you need to be smart with regards to what you invest your time and money in. Free isn’t free when it means you don’t have time left to do what makes you money and no one wants to be making less than they can. Do what you do best and the income will follow.

Darren Di Lieto

Darren Di Lieto is the founder and editor of The Little Chimp Society. He created the LCS in 2005 as an illustration news portal to promote the illustrators and artists who bring joy to our everyday lives. Since then the LCS has grown into a publisher, hosting provider and events organiser.