In part I of our series on How to Make Money with Blender, we covered what you will need to get started. Once you are confident about your skills and your portfolio is rocking, what are the next steps? Read on to learn about your possible career paths...
Yes, there's always the office job. Whether it be at a production studio, ad agency, or a game company, these are all great options and they offer a consistent paycheck with benefits and many other perks. For one, you won't have to hit the streets looking for work as your employer will do that for you, leaving you to focus on your job with no distractions. Also, it is worth noting that an employer will handle the less fun aspects of work like your taxes. As an employee, you will gain exposure to the creative industry quickly and have an opportunity to learn from more experienced artists. You will be a part of a team and work alongside other creatives. For bouncing around inspiration and riding on a wave of creative energy, there is nothing like it. If you enjoy working collaboratively, this is an environment in which you will flourish. The one pitfall to this avenue is finding a business that utilizes Blender. While growing, Blender is not widely used in the industry yet and it is not unlikely that your future boss has not even heard of it. Your best bet is to do your homework. Snoop around the forums a bit and you can quickly find companies that are working with and embracing Blender. Finding that a challenge? You can take the path less traveled and introduce a potential employer to Blender.
"There are many companies who won't insist on you using a particular software package as long as you get the work done and the result is compatible with their creative pipeline. Make sure your employer knows that Blender will cost them absolutely nothing, even for commercial purposes," -Jonathan Williamson
Don't forget to wow them with the past projects that have utilized Blender and you might be a shoe-in.
The Bottom Line
An office job is the right choice if you value stability, enjoy working in a team and want to be a part of something that is bigger than you. Remember: you can always go freelance in the future if you ever get bored of the dress code.
Freelance Blender Artist
If a 9-5 isn't your cup of tea, there's always the freelance route. While freelancing can be extremely fulfilling, there are also some disadvantages to it. First off, you need to find work for yourself. You can do this by many different avenues and there is a ton of information out there on how to find freelance work. Since we're all Blenderheads here, let's talk about the Blender community opportunities for freelancers.
The Blender Network is probably one of the best-known freelance websites especially for Blender 3D artists, developers, and trainers. It is a great site to find Blender-specific jobs and a great place to join if you want to work with Blender in a freelance capacity. At 50 euros a year, it's a small price to pay to get in front of a lot of serious employers.
You are probably familiar with Blenderartists, but what some of you might not know is that there is a Paid Jobs section on the site. If you're looking for freelance work, make sure you check this board often.
The Pitfalls of Freelancing
While being your own boss and working in pyjamas all day can sound like a dream, brace yourself for what may be a pretty rough ride. Demanding clients, late payments, promises of projects withdrawn. Sounds stressful? Welcome to the world of freelancing. (Check out some real-life stories if you don't believe me.) As a freelancer, you become a mini-company with all its departments and functions condensed into one person: you. That means if you don't find new clients, land projects, fill out tax forms, respond to emails, issue invoices, update your showreel, read contract terms and do the actual work you are being paid to do, no one else will (unless you hire them). And that is perhaps the decisive point: as a freelancer, being a great artist is not enough. You will need to be a great artist as well as an entrepreneur, which are two very, very different skillsets. Be honest with yourself: is it in your nature to go out there and sell your skills? Do you like to network, promote yourself, make calls? Are you good at negotiating and dealing with people? Does the idea of building your own, personal brand sound like a fun challenge? If you answered no to these questions, the world of freelancing is not closed to you, but you will have a tougher time at it. But if you are ready to be your own boss and have the business savviness to pull it off, embarking on a freelancing path might be one of the most fulfilling and exciting experiences of your life.
Start Small and Smart
The beauty is that you can start freelancing alongside your current day job or while still in school (if you are currently employed at a studio, make sure you are not breaking their exclusivity clause!). That is a luxury reserved for a few professions, and digital art is perfectly suited for it. You can test the waters with a few small projects and slowly grow your business, as opposed to diving in at the deep end.
The Bottom Line
If you are a risk-taker with great negotiation skills, a strong sense of self-discipline, and an entrepreneurial streak, you should consider taking the plunge. Just have a plan B in case things don't work out and make sure you know a local coffee shop with a good wi-fi connection in case you start to miss human interaction.
In recent years, working together while apart has been a rising trend in work arrangements. CG Cookie, for one, operates a remote team with members spread across two continents. As part of a remote team, you are likely to keep the benefits of being an employee like a steady paycheck and lots of headaches removed, while still being able to work in your pajamas and maintaining your sense of freedom. If you can find a company with this structure, this may be the winning formula.
Use your Network
These days, we all have a huge network of people we know, whether this is online or offline - don't be afraid to utilize this network to find work. Tell your friends and family that you're looking for a full-time job or freelance work, give them the link to your portfolio and ask them to give it to anyone they think might be able to utilize your skills.
Even if you have no client contacts to begin with and nobody knows about your business, we all have an existing social network. I’m not talking about Facebook, but a physical network of family and friends. Start with them and tell them you need their help! -Chris McFall
You never know what opportunities may be out there if you don't ask.