One Fundamental Thing You Need to Know About Your Illustration Business

There are a few things I find myself very often reminding other artists about their marketing.

Before you think of me as some old nag, this kind of stuff is always on my head because, through always seeking to make Red Lemon Club a more useful place, it’s what I do!

No matter what kind of creative awesomeness you bring to the world, be it illustration or dinky little vinyl toys, the following one thing is really important if you want to actively engage potential buyers and clients. I will deliver it in question form:

What would a very specific group of people want to hire me more than anyone else for?

Read that a couple more times – it can take a while to get your head round it properly – you should ask yourself this question every damn day.

Haha. I got you there, because this question actually opens up two other key questions that are built into the first:

1. What exactly is it that makes you more valuable than anyone else?

2. Who exactly needs this value the most?

Your target market is not ‘anyone who wants to pay for my illustration‘. No it isn’t. Not even if everyone in the world DOES want to hire you. You need to be taking responsibility for who you serve, and this means narrowing your focus right down.

Write down your answers. If you don’t know what they are, this is prime time to work out what those answers can be. Brainstorm. Get them down. You need to know these, even if you’re moving towards these as goals.

Sure, a bit of healthy competition is a good thing. But there is a lot you can do, *cough* especially beyond the art itself *hint* *cough* (service, additional expertise that is helpful to prospects, your personal experiences, the contacts you have, what you’re passionate about, your values, etc) that will make you are more valuable option to clients. Be the most valuable.

This is obviously really hard to do. To be valuable to everyone. Yet this is what most of us are trying to be. Much easier to be valuable to just one person. Then expand from there to two people, then ten, then fifty.

Do not try and become a millionaire with your art by trying to be valuable to millions to start.

The size of our playing field is about to quadruple. Are you ready to play?

Alex has just launched a course on exactly how to bring ideal illustration clients into your business and grow your illustration career. Read more on ‘How to Get Illustration Clients‘ here.



  1. Thanks Alex. I’m not an Illustrator but this rule still applies to me. I’ve been a graphic designer for years and I am now trying to single out what I like doing – which is currently branding and website design. And I agree, that we need to focus on what makes us different and more appealing to a certain client base. That’s what makes this industry so interesting and challenging.

  2. What are the emotional forces that led to your clients hiring you in the past? Sometimes people are buying something different from you than what you think you’re selling them. Finding out what your “jobs to be done” are is indeed a helpful exercise.

    • Hi Ben,

      That could be the case, though in my view that’s rare if you have a distinct product and you present it with clarity. Make it easier for you and the client by having a narrowly presented skill.

  3. In illustration, the reason a client wants your art (and not someone else’s ) is usually your own unique signature style. Even an excellent illustrator at the top of their craft can only rarely substitute for a similarly skilled colleague, because their illustration style is one of a kind. Such is my personal experience. Some illustrators are ‘jack of all trades’ but unless they’ve been in the field for years, they usually have a harder time finding work.

    • But what if a prospect likes three styles that would be equally suitable for the project they have in mind. What extra value can you bring that would help with their decision to hire you over the other two?

      • Good point, that happens too. If I were the client here, I probably would choose the artist whose work I generally like best, who is easiest to reach, and whose all over impression and communication seems the most professional.

Leave a Reply to Alex Mathers Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *