How to Become a Successful Freelance Artist

Successful artist and guest author Noah Bradley shares tips for artists who want to sell their work as freelancers.



“Moat” by artist Noah Bradley


It takes a lot of luck to be a successful freelance artist. And it takes a lot of hard work and persistence to be lucky.

Here are 6 actions you can start taking today that will help you to have a successful, fulfilling career as a freelance artist:

1.  Work hard. Work really hard. Really, really, really hard. This career is not for the half-hearted. It takes a tremendous amount of effort and devotion to succeed.

2.  Keep at it. I know plenty of people who could have been great, but simply gave up too soon. Success is never overnight and rarely comes as quickly as we might like. You might be doing great work but just need to keep trying a little bit longer to find success.

3.  Get your work in front of the right people. Far too many people create great work but never show it to people. Sadly, art directors cannot magically find you if they don’t know who you are. So make sure they do. Get your work in front of their eyes. Put it online in every place you can and send personal emails to the clients you really want to work with. Do the leg work to put your work out there.


Our Grasp of Heaven

“Our Grasp of Heaven” by artist Noah Bradley


4.  Network like crazy. Networking seems sort of scary to most of us. It’s a weird, sleazy-sounding activity that we’d much rather avoid. But it’s not all that bad. Networking is just making friends. Go to conventions, local meet-ups, and classes and start to connect with your fellow artists. These connections will be mutually beneficial and are essential for maintaining a successful career.

5.  Do the work you love. As you begin to get work you’ll soon find yourself wrapped up in commissions, never doing work for yourself. Make the time to do personal work. These will be your chances to do work that you’re truly passionate about and will most advance your career. Even though I’ve done plenty of work to fill a portfolio with, half of my work that I show is still personal work.

6.  Be a pleasure to work with. Be on time, be polite, be professional, and communicate clearly. An artist who is fun to work with gets a lot more work than an obnoxious artist. Be a nice person and nice things will happen to you.


The Burdens of Triumph

“The Burdens of Triumph” by artist Noah Bradley


I won’t say that it’s an easy path to take. But being a freelance artist has been immensely enjoyable for me thus far. The freedom to travel the world while doing work I love is a gift I wouldn’t easily part with. If you decide to pursue a freelance career I wish you the best of luck and hope you enjoy it at least half as much as I have.


Learn more about this topic by visiting the author’s website, The Art of Freelancing.


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  1. Really gorgeous work…and great tips! Thanks!

  2. Thanks, Jessica! Glad you enjoyed it. 🙂

  3. Thank you for sharing your tips!

  4. When in doubt, always refer to rule #1 here.

  5. Great Tips Noah! I have a saying that I coined and had tattooed on my arm that fits with your article well.

    Dream. Fail. Succeed. Repeat.

    Kind of sums it all up for me : )

    Sam Bernal
    [email protected]

  6. Clear, concise, straight to the point.

    And there’s so much truth in this phrase: “Far too many people create great work but never show it to people.”. Us artists seem to be a little bit light-headed in regards to marketing our artwork / services.

  7. Awesome tips/reminders. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Brilliant advice, as always. Q2 is the hardest, but just have to keep repeating, repeating, repeating!

  9. Great tips that I’ll be sure to use this summer!

  10. All 6 tips are fantastic! I believe doing the work you love makes the ‘working hard’ and ‘keeping at it’ parts much easier and much more rewarding overall. Thank you, Noah!

  11. Yes, you must advertise just like any other biz. Make yourself known.

  12. Great data. This describes me. I am not a herd animal. I don’t hang with too many artists.
    I look for new people who will buy art. I avoid openings, I go before the opening or after.
    There are a few times I make an exception.
    I send real mail every quarter of the year. I carry my postcards all the time. I put more than one
    image on the postcard. I coach artists on solid business practice.
    I do the basics of business. I have shows in people’s homes.

  13. Thanks for the great tips, Noah!

  14. Five of the six points are just what I needed & I am so thankful to you for lighting my way. I have spent my life teaching students while my work relegated to second stage.
    I will pick up using you six points.
    Many thanks again!

  15. Thank you for the article. Great easy to follow tips. I might add continuing to challenge yourself and keep learning. There is always something you don’t know.

  16. Thank you Noah for sharing your wonderful insight! The tips are true to the last one & I would know. My experience with two social networking sites only began after realizing it’s the quickest way for me to start becoming known. As a participant in the #TwitterArtExhibit L.A. 2013, I started my 1st time there @AdrianaJGarces. Not only did my Artwork get more exposure, I made many pleasant relationships along the way! Thank you also, Carolyn, for having Noah on as guest blogger!

  17. Thank you for your great tips Noah,

    and – your artwork is superb and stunning. The way you use the light and the golden/brown colors

    remind me of Rembrandt.

    Cheerio, Hartmut 🙂

  18. Yey, Noah. You have really developed a vast repetroire of skills. I’m very glad for you.

  19. I really like your concise, realistic, yet still positive approach to your advice! Us artists who are only starting out really need sound advice as well as encouragement that yes, we can succeed! I need to get past the ‘starving artist’ notion and get onto to realistic HARD WORK. Great post! =)

  20. Great post; thanks for sharing!

  21. Great tips!
    I think a lot of artists now-a-days focus most (if not all) of their efforts on marketing themselves online (if at all) and forget about the importance of creating personal local relationships. It’s so important that we actually get out of the studio and plan/take part of local events that’ll give us the opportunity to meet other artists and art enthusiasts! So many things can come from getting to know people and putting yourself out there physically.
    It’s something I’ve definitely trying to do more of myself. 🙂
    Thank you for this article!

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