How to Book Your Dream Calligraphy Clients! A 5-Step Guide

This was written with calligraphers in mind, but could easily apply to a variety of creative industries, as the same principles will apply! Enjoy!

One of the most common questions I get asked when I post about extra-cool projects or working for bigger brands is simple: How?! There is a long answer (lots of hard work over several years and crying into many glasses of wine, for starters) and then, there are a couple of shorter ones. Below, I’ve broken down the “long story short” of it all - the main things you need to be conscious of in order to get the attention of the people you really want to work for. After all, not all freelance gigs are created equal!

  1. Hire Yourself

    Okay so you’re probably thinking “Um…what?” Let me explain - if you don’t have clients coming to you just yet, you pretty much have to pretend that you do. In order to attract your dream clients, you need to show them what you have to offer. To be successful working freelance, you simply have to be a person of action. Waiting around to be handed your dream projects is just not going to happen, babe! So, one of the best things you can do to inspire others to hire you, is to hire yourself first. Give yourself an assignment, or a “job” that you would love to do, and then just do it! For example - if you want to design wedding invitations, come up with a fictional couple (or use one of your favourites - I usually do Jay Gatsby & Daisy Buchanan) & an aesthetic for their fictional wedding (basically dream up their wedding scenario - a winter wedding in a castle, an elopement in Europe - literally anything you want!). Then, design, execute & document a gorgeous invitation suite that will stop people in their tracks (or rather, stop them mid-scroll). Photograph parts of your process as well as the final product, then share it on social media and on your website. Most people don’t know that they want something until they see it, and then they go from not knowing it existed to feeling like they need it.

  2. Be Easy To Find

    Okay so there is a lot to this part - but I’ll try to keep it simple. Once you’ve put some dream-client worthy work out there and your name has begun to circulate, potential clients will start to seek you out. But there will still be the other potential clients out there who haven’t heard of you just yet, but are looking for someone who does the kind of work you want to do. So, you need to be coming up in the searches they’re conducting! Most people don’t go past the first page of Google when they’re looking for something. You want to get your website SEO (Search Engine Optimization) on point, so that you climb the ranks of Google and show up at the top! This is done by making sure your website & copywriting are rich in keywords (the words that your prospective clients are using to search for you) and relevant content. You could either hire a professional to get your SEO in shape, or you can do it yourself - I would tell you how here, but this would go from a blog post to a novel pretty quickly. There are many free resources online where you can find out “how to SEO”! (Also - I may or may not be re-launching my calligraphy business class to include a section on this, so if you want me to keep you posted on that, you’ll have the chance at the end of this post!)

  3. Have A Stand-Out Style

    Going back to the whole “Hire Yourself” concept - when creating your example work (or portfolio), you should have the following question in the back of your mind: “Why would the client hire me for this, and not someone else?” Which sounds a tiny bit harsh as an inner dialogue, but it’s not meant to make you think negative things about yourself! It’s meant to make you pose the question what sets my work apart? Highly successful freelancers are not successful because they do what everyone else is doing - they are successful because they do what no one else is doing yet. They have their own voice, their own style, and they offer something unique and exclusive. Keep that question in mind when you’re creating, and you’ll be beating people away with a stick in no time.

  4. Say No

    A little bit counterintuitive, yeah? But believe it or not, knowing when to say “No” is one of the most powerful things you can do to land your dream clients. When you turn down projects that you’re not excited about, or that don’t align with your style, you’re left with more time and energy to pursue the creative projects that you really want. That, and you don’t have something sub-par that you didn’t particularly care for associated with your name forever on the internet (ahem, I’m speaking from experience). Another thing successful freelancers do: They offer only the products/services that they are amazing at - not a hundred different things they are just pretty good at. Of course, it can be hard to say No to things in the early stages of your career when you’re not exactly raking in the cash - but as you stabilize your workflow, being selective with your clients is imperative if you want to establish yourself as an expert in your chosen field!

  5. Be An Ally

    This is usually the first thing I talk about because it is so, so important - Community over Competition. As calligraphy increases in popularity, I can almost guarantee that you won’t be the only calligrapher in your area. There will be other calligraphers & lettering artists who will be considered for the jobs you might want. Instead of feeling competitive or jealous or lowering your prices to make sure you get the job - be on the same team as them, celebrate their successes, and get on the same page when it comes to pricing. I honestly can’t tell you how many times having a trusted network of peers has benefitted me, and them. By having a friendly relationship with your “competitors” you will open up doors to yourself that you maybe wouldn’t have had access to if you were to go it alone. They might get an inquiry for a project that they are not excited about, but you would be, and they’ll pass it along to you - and vice versa. As the saying goes:

    If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.

    Bonus Tip: Just Throw It Out Into The Universe

    One of the beautifully creepy things about social media is that you never know who is watching. There is no harm in just being completely transparent and telling the world exactly what kind of project and client you want. Create a post on Instagram showcasing what exactly you want to do and who exactly you want to do it for! And not just that - be bold, and tag that dream client in the post! You could very well catch their attention enough to end up working with them, or the attention of a similar client. You just never know unless you try. What’s the worst that could happen? - You don’t book that client. But by not trying, you also don’t book that client. So you might as well try, right? I’ll say it again - you have to be a person of action. Ask the universe outright for what you want, and who knows - it just might happen.


Thank you for reading, babes! I hope you found this blog post to be helpful - If you did, it would mean the world to me if you could share it on Pinterest!

(Like, I would send you a box of chicken nuggets as a thank you, if I could)

To share on Pinterest, just hover over the photo below and click on the little Save button!


Who are the Dream Clients that I’ve worked for, you ask?

To name a few: Dior, Chanel, Aston Martin, Glenfiddich, L’Oréal, David’s Tea, Pandora, Urban Outfitters, Lululemon, and more!

PS. My turn to put something out into the Universe - would love to add a wine or champagne brand to that list! (I’m looking at you, Veuve & Moet ;) #goals)

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Which Calligraphy Style Are You?

Does the title of this blog post sound like one of those cheesy Buzzfeed quizzes like “What 90’s Rom-Com Are You?” or “Which Backstreet Boy Will You Marry?”

FABULOUS, because that’s exactly what it’s supposed to sound like! In honour of my upcoming Intermediate Calligraphy online course, I thought it would be fun to put together a little Personality Quiz, Someday style. If you’re dying to know What Calligraphy Style You Are (Are you modern, or more tradish?! Are you on the minimalist side, or are you extra fancy?!) Then take a peek at this quiz to find out!

While this quiz is just for fun, your personality truly does have so much to do with discovering your style. What makes you you is always what makes your style yours. I can’t wait to share this course with you lovelies (and it’s almost ready, I promise) but I hope this little quiz will keep you entertained in the meantime!

And please share your results with the universe, I would love to see!

XO,

Jodi


Thank you for reading, babes! I hope you found this blog post to be helpful - If you did, it would mean the world to me if you could share it on Pinterest!

(Like, I would send you a box of chicken nuggets as a thank you, if I could)

To share on Pinterest, just hover over the photo below and click on the little Save button!

Calligraphy Pricing Pep Talk

Alright babe, it’s time to get down to business here and talk about one of the most anxiety-inducing topics in the girl-boss universe: Pricing. Pricing can be a mysterious grey area for a lot of people, but thankfully, calligraphers and artists all over are becoming more and more open about pricing. Being transparent about what you charge helps to create an industry standard, which then elevates the community, and allows us all to be compensated fairly. Hence why I’ve published my base pricing & rates, which you can check out here. I used to keep my prices under wraps only because custom projects vary in price so much, I didn’t want to give clients an expectation that, for example, ALL place cards will cost $2.00 each (since there are now so many different types of place cards - paper, marble, agate, etc, and the processes are all so different). However, for all the ranting I do about pricing, it felt like time to be transparent and provide a resource for my fellow calligraphy ladybosses out there.

There is a lot of confusion out there about how to price your work, and unfortunately often a lot of pricing variation from one calligrapher to the next. That is a result of conflicting information, as well as the simple fact that for whatever reason, we tend to feel badly charging “too much”. The issue there is the word “feel” - it leads to what is known as Emotional Pricing. The only way to pay yourself fairly is to completely remove the emotional part of it. This requires a shift in mindset, and removing yourself from the equation. When I first started out and had no money, I would think about what I could afford, and feel bad charging anything more than that. Well, not everyone is in the position that I was (burning through their savings because they just prematurely quit their not-particularly-well-paying-anyways graphic design job to pursue the fairly instable world of freelance) - some people are lawyers, or marketing professionals, or chefs, or whatever, and what they can afford is very different from what I could have at the time. Calligraphy has definitely become more mainstream in recent years, but it is still a luxury service. I hate saying this because it might sound mean, but there will be some budgets that calligraphy just doesn’t fit into, and that isn’t your fault. (But it is a great reason to start teaching calligraphy, because maybe you will have people who don’t want to alot $500-1000 of their wedding budget to calligraphy, but are willing to attend a $100 workshop so they can DIY it!).

You will come across people who don’t understand what you do and why it costs what it costs. It’ll be hard not to compromise in the beginning when you don’t feel like you should be turning down work, but the thing is that as long as creatives agree to work for cheaper rates, the cycle of artists being underpaid and undervalued will just continue. It’s kind of like a responsibility we all have to each other not to compromise, and to understand and stand by our worth. For every person who wants you to work for free (you can’t pay your bills with “exposure”!) or ludicrously cheap, there will be someone else who totally appreciates your work and is more than willing to compensate you fairly.

I could honestly go on about this topic until the end of time, but nobody wants to read a 300 page blog post. So instead, here are my main tips for pricing your work with confidence:

  1. Practice until you would hire yourself

    One thing I do regret from when I first started booking calligraphy gigs, is that I probably should have waited a little longer until I was at a higher skill level. Not only would I have avoided a few mishaps (that turned into excellent learning experiences, at least) I would probably have felt a lot more confident charging appropriate prices. I wasn’t charging enough for a long time, and part of that was not knowing better, but also not feeling like I had a right to charge more. In order to prevent that pesky old impostor syndrome from creeping up on you and preventing you from charging high enough prices - ask yourself, would you hire you you? Or better yet, would you hire you to do the calligraphy for your best friend’s wedding? We tend to want the absolute best for the people closest to us, so if you don’t think your skills are good enough for your bestie, it might be best to keep working at them until you feel completely confident in your abilities.

  2. Do your research

    Like in any industry, standard prices and salaries will vary based on the area you live in. An important part of determining your prices should be doing local research and finding out what the going rates are where you’re located. (Bonus points if you become friends with the other calligraphers in your city and form a badass girl gang). You want to be on par with other local calligraphers, even if they are more experienced than you. I think I speak for all established calligraphers when I say that I would rather lose a job to someone because the client prefers their style to mine, than because their price is lower.

  3. Put together a Pricing Structure

    You may have heard me talk about this before, but I am a huge proponent of having a pricing structure instead of using an hourly rate for everything. I feel strongly that charging by the hour should be reserved for very select circumstances. In my opinion and experience, it is much better to have set base prices for all of the services you offer, and develop a kind of sliding scale to accommodate custom requests. So for example, for seating charts: I charge a base design fee, and then a rate per name, a rate per table number, as well as travel and materials fees if applicable. I would say most seating charts take me between 5-6 hours, but depending on the circumstances they can take me less, or more. If they take me less time, then I penalize myself by charging by the hour. If they take me more time, I penalize the client by charging by the hour. So, I completely eliminate that issue by using a tried and true pricing structure. (I go into a lot more detail about this in my Calligraphy Business Course)

  4. Keep Score

    As you start to send out your quotes and book clients, you should always keep track of how many inquiries you get compared to how many people actually book or not. Sometimes people don’t book for other reasons, but price is usually the culprit for a booking slipping through the cracks. By keeping track of this ratio, you can get a sense for if your pricing structure is appropriate - as a general rule of thumb, if 10 out of 10 people are booking you, your prices are too low. If only 5 out of 10 people are booking you, your prices may be a little too high.


Thank you for reading, babes! I hope you found this blog post to be helpful - If you did, it would mean the world to me if you could share it on Pinterest!

(Like, I would send you a box of chicken nuggets as a thank you, if I could)

To share on Pinterest, just hover over the photo below and click on the little Save button!


Need a little more guidance?

The Calligraphy Business Bible is the resource that I wish I had when I first started my calligraphy business! In the course, I tell you how I got started, how to carve out a niche and build your clientele, and all about pricing, workflow and policies.

The Someday Art Babe Challenge! A Calligraphy Practice Challenge

Okay so, I know I started this whole Someday Art Club thing, got everyone all excited and then DISAPPEARED from the face of the earth. The Wedding Season rush of August and September pretty much consumed my life - but now that it’s almost October and I have some pumpkin-spice flavoured caffeine coursing through my veins, it’s time to get back on track!

So, in order to do that, I am launching an Instagram Lettering Challenge! Partially inspired by #Inktober, and partially inspired by my old calligraphy practice sheets that I came across while packing for my recent move - I came up with the Art Babe Challenge, aka The Someday ABC’s - a weekly lettering practice challenge meant for both beginners & experienced artists alike!

I’M EXCITED. I hope you are too.

 Calligraphy Practice; November 2015

Calligraphy Practice; November 2015

 Calligraphy Practice; September 2018

Calligraphy Practice; September 2018

A little back-story for you: When I first learned calligraphy, my teacher (the wonderful and amazing Joy Deneen) would have us do this great exercise to practice words. You pick a Category (So for example - Cities) and you fill an entire page with an alphabetical list of cities, with one for every letter of the alphabet (So like - Athens, Barcelona, Chicago, and so on). Despite my earlier mention of pumpskin spice, I’m not exactly the most basic person, so I would get REALLY specific when doing my Alphabets…. As you can see by the alphabetical list of Lana Del Rey song titles (at one point I even did Quentin Tarantino movie characters). As much as practicing things like days of the week, colours, and individual letters, is fun and very useful - there’s something about getting weirdly specific about things you’re SUPER into that makes practice just that much more enjoyable (which means you’re that much more likely to actually do it!). Not only is practicing words that make you happy a fabulous self-care exercise, it allows you to truly enjoy taking the time to practice your craft & develop your own unique style.

Since I’ve been so crazy busy working on seating charts & other wedding signage since May, there are two things I’ve been MAJORLY missing in my life - actually practicing calligraphy, and doing calligraphy for FUN. This challenge is going to force me (and hopefully you) to do BOTH. 

SO, here’s how it works:

1. Sign up here:

2. Check your email! I will send out a new Alphabet Category every week, for 4 weeks, starting on October 3rd*. Your challenge is to use that prompt to practice your calligraphy/lettering by writing a word for every letter of the alphabet. So for example - one week, I might tell you to pick a favourite musician, and letter their song titles in Alphabetical order. You would end up with something like this:

ABCImage5.jpg

You can use any medium and tool you want! Nib and Ink, Brush Pen, Paintbrush, Pen, iPad/Apple Pencil - whatever you’re most comfortable with!

3. Share your work on Instagram! Use the hashtag #SomedayABC and TAG me in it so I can see your work! (I will be reposting my favourite pieces in my stories!) This is a great way to hold yourself accountable for your practice AND see who else is into the same oddly specific things that you’re into! (Like, you know, semi-obscure movie references)

*

via GIPHY

4. That’s pretty much it! Enjoy the process, see your work improve and help encourage others along the way by engaging with their work! Also, hang on to the Alphabet practice pages that you do during these 4 weeks, and try doing them again a few months from now to see how your skills improve and how your style evolves! My teacher encouraged us to keep all of our practice sheets, and I’m so glad that I did since it allows me to look back at how far I’ve come and feel good about the difference that practice and experience has made.

I’ll be sending out 4 different prompts, which will be a surprise until the day they go out, so get excited! Also…I’m not saying there are going to be giveaways and freebies, but I’m not NOT saying that, either ;) So pull up a chair and your favourite autumnal beverage, and let’s get after it!

XO

Jodi

 From Left to Right - Lana Del Rey Song Title Alphabet done in 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018

From Left to Right - Lana Del Rey Song Title Alphabet done in 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018