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I’ve always loved this Harlan Ellison video and just stumbled across it again recently. It applies just as equally to illustrators as it does to writers.

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So, you’ve wrapped up on your first illustration assignment and are ready to get paid. Congrats—that’s a big first step! But now you’re wondering how your payment will come in from your clients once your invoice is processed. Not to worry—it’s pretty straight forward.

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For illustrators, taxes work a bit differently than from those working regular 9–5 jobs. You’re essentially your own small business owner and need to treat your taxes as such. Let’s take a look at some essential things illustrators should know about taxes.

Who doesn’t love getting paid? It allows you to do all the things you enjoy like eating, wearing clothes, and not dying in the streets. So it’s a huge bummer when your payment is slowed down because you forgot some vital information on your invoice. You can solve that by making sure to include the following information on every illustration invoice you send out:

Pricing your work is one of the most stressful things to do in the business of illustration. Asking for too much money may cause the client to walk away, but asking for too little will leave a lot of cash on the table that could have been yours. So, how does an illustrator determine an appropriate fee for each assignment? Let’s examine the criteria you can use to help decide a fair and honest payment.

While it may seem like simply creating art in your bedroom, when you begin your career as an illustrator, you’re actually starting your own business. One of the things you’ll need to be aware of are the startup costs for getting yourself up and running. The good news, though, is an illustration career has a very low overhead. You don’t need employees, transportation, or retail space like a lot of other businesses. All you need is a website, some materials to work with, and a few hundred promotional mailers. (OK, you might need a little bit more than that, but not much more.) Here’s a basic list of what the average illustrator needs to start their business and the associated costs: