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Three Quick Ideas of Bringing in Income Off Cartooning During COVID

Getting some cash during quarantine is extremely doable.

“Have you seen my mask?” I ask as I reach for my car keys. “I need to go pick up some groceries,” I mumble to myself. “Maybe it’s in my car?”

Then I realize I’m talking to myself, and I have my mask on. How embarrassing.

Welcome to 2020. If there were ever a year with changes, I’d have to say this one is it. I mean, if 2021 can top it, that would be something.

Like all things going on in this world, change is happening with professions during all of this. It’s true in, I believe, almost every category.

Money is tight for a lot of us. That’s the case with the arts, especially—actors, musicians, dancers, and others.

So, let’s talk about cartooning…

If you’re a cartoonist and are either trying to do it full-time or part-time, we’re a bit luckier than some other careers in the arts. Why? We don’t have to show our faces.

Of course, it’s not true in every category.

Caricature artists have taken a significant hit creating live caricatures. Comic Cons are a huge financial opportunity for many cartoonists and illustrators, and those are, well, you know. They all went virtual this year. 

BUT, even if you’re a caricature artist or rely on Cons, there are still some things you can do these days to bring in some income.

I’ll talk about three opportunities to consider for your cartooning. These are things I’ve done that work – all of which have happened during quarantine (except for number three – that was years ago).

Some of it may not be practical for you, and a lot of it is just pure marketing. However, this may get you thinking of a few things you can do. 

I hope that a lightbulb will flicker on and inspire you to get your financial situation figured out and generate some ideas for your future.

1. Explore Tech Companies for Opportunities

One industry that hasn’t taken a major blow due to the economy is the tech industry—especially computer-based stuff.

I’ve stumbled upon companies that use comics, images, illustrations, and creative writing. If I feel like my work could potentially fit in there, too, I might scope them out, investigate further, send them an email (or apply), and see what happens.

You’d be surprised by the response you might get. A quick, “Hi. Hello. I’m a cartoonist, here’s a link to my portfolio, and I can do this, and that for your company, bla, bla, bla…” can open a lot of doors.

Also, consider being a graphic design gig or blog writer for them. Then, introduce your work and show whoever’s in charge, your potential with your comics.

I’d have a good idea of what you can bring to the table with your cartooning before approaching them. Then, go for it!

I write and create comics for a WordPress company because I know a bit about WordPress, they used comic images, and I discovered that I could incorporate my comics with writing.

This actively looking was my exact approach. The WordPress company seemed like a good fit. Now, I produce work for them and make good money doing it (along with my other cartooning work).

Anyway, if you see a tech company that you MIGHT fit in with and could offer some good ideas to (comics with their marketing emails, perhaps?), then contact them. Even non-tech companies are okay to use this approach with. Just be specific and have a game plan of what you can contribute.

2. Have an Interest? Check into It!

I like trains. Yes, nerdy as it is, I’m a massive advocate of rail travel. I’ll be hopping on a train this upcoming weekend.

So what?

Since I liked trains so much, I reached out to our national rail network and pitched them the idea of creating a travel blog for them with cartoons and illustrations that they would sponsor.

They got back and like that idea.

You see what I did there? I have an interest (trains) and I found a way that I could possibly use cartooning with that subject (a cartoon travel vlog).

If you have an idea or interest, think to yourself, “Who or what company is best to contact about pitching creating cartoons for them?”

Time will tell if this gig works out, but the main thing is taking some action and getting some traction — like train TRACK-tion. Get it? Okay, sorry…

3. Enhance Your Cartooning with a Shitty Job

Look, you don’t need the most glamourous job while pursuing cartooning. Keep the mantra: This is only temporary, and its funding my comics.

I’ve worked in customer service, delivery, shelf stocking, and sales. They…sucked.

BUT, all of these gigs functioned well with cartooning. Why?

There were a few factors.

One was the hours. For example, when I used to stock shelves years ago, I worked from 5 AM until noon. That left the rest of the afternoon to work on cartoons.

Also, they were “throwaway jobs” – as I called them. In other words, I could go home afterward and not think about it. It was a meaningless job that I didn’t have to put much effort into. I could then use that energy for cartooning.

In other words, find SOMETHING that might work well with your hours, and for what you need financially doesn’t require you to think about it when it’s over. If you can afford it, try to use this time to develop your work and reach for your bigger goals (book deal, comic series, etc.). 

If you need to suck it up and get a crappy temporary job, just do it. Take what you can from the gigs and use that down the road. My job as a tech support operator brought forth probably hundreds of gag comic ideas from all of the nonsense I put up with.

You might get inspired by a lot of it. I’m developing a book based on all the shitty gigs I used to have.

So, though doing this doesn’t actually bring in money as a cartoonist, you hopefully can see how it can. The work you do during this time can lead to big things — maybe sooner than later. It’s how I got my start.

Drawing in the Money

 COVID-19 may be a golden opportunity for you. 

Of course, it’s horrible. I wish the disease would’ve never come around. I know people that have gotten sick, and it’s not pretty. But, use this time valuably.

Whether it be scoping out a tech company, trying to approach an area of interest and showing them a unique idea, or taking a crummy job to financially get by and use this time to create something amazing — just take advantage of this opportunity.

Now, where did I put my mask?

What are you doing these days for income as a cartoonist? Any of these ideas sound good? Let us know in the comments!

Comments

  1. Kodi says:

    Hi Nate,
    Love this post!
    The tech company gigs route has been something I’ve been pondering too these last few weeks.
    Can you share any insights on how you research and find these small to mid sized companies that can use freelance cartoonists/Illustrators?

    1. Nathanael Fakes says:

      Hi Kodi! The current company I’m working with I discovered through a company called FlexJobs (www.flexjobs.com). They hire freelancers, contractors, employees, etc. for numerous gigs that are all remote. Usually a lot of tech jobs there. I’ll browse through them, checkout their websites, and see if there’s any potential for comics (or in my case, writing, too). Really, even Indeed or other job boards have tech jobs to that are open to new possibilities with comics or creative illustrations.

      Sometimes I’ll use Google also and just see what I can find. Google is more for a niche industry (e.g. train travel) and dig and dig until you find some contact info. Even reaching out to a companies support team can get you access to the main contact person you need to reach.

      Hope this helps!

  2. rudy lopez says:

    Thank for the info that was a good read. My question is when you say tech company do they have to be a publication or just a company in general like a headphone company ?

    1. Nathanael Fakes says:

      Hi Rudy. In my case, they were an actual company — not a publication. That being said, any tech blogs (or relevant blogs) that just write about content are worth exploring, too. I wouldn’t rule anything out if you see potential there.

  3. Simeon says:

    hey Nate, thanks for these tips. i was thinking of starting to earn something with my comics to help pay for my future studies; and looks like your blog shown me a good place to start. once again, thanks! and love the comics you post on Insta

    1. Nathanael Fakes says:

      Very cool! Thank you. Keep me posted on how everything is going. What’s your IG handle? I’ll check out your work.

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