Here are some tips I hope will be useful for handling the initial email from prospective clients! I highly recommend joining a professional illustration association, discussing with mentors and peers plus reading other resources to best equip yourself with knowledge in this area too. You will also discover the method that works best for you over time.
1. Identify the sender.
Take note of the name, position, company, organization etc. Is there background information provided? (credentials, company history, nature of business etc.). Do some additional research for more context and see if they have worked with other illustrators in the past.
Is the email addressed to your name? Seems like a silly question but sometimes generic request for proposals utilize a standard email "Dear Sir/Madam..." in which case I would consider up to your discretion to reply if interested as it is not a personal inquiry.
3. Project Theme
Consider this information with your interests, values, and business direction. Will this opporuntiy get you closer to where you want to be?
Check to see if the below information is provided.
- Licence required (nature of use, duration of use, distribution region, distributor,)?
- Number and size of illustrations?
- Specify full colour, black and white or lineart?
- Artwork complexity? (spot, vingette, scene, spread)
- Did they mention budget?
If you feel you need more information before proceeding further, kindly explain to the prospective client that it would greatly help you get a better understanding of their needs and pinpoint what services you can provide through additional details. The information above is also essential to crafting an accurate and fair quotation for both parties.
Is the timeline for the project feasible? Can you propose alternatives? Perhaps take initiative and let them know how much time you need - break it down to each phase of work. Be sure to account for client feedback and note that certain steps only proceed "upon client review/approval" etc.
6. Reply Email
Send a reply with the considerations of the above steps. Even if the initial engagement was through social media, I think it is best practice to direct the conversation back to email. It is more professional and easier to track subsequent discussions plus attachments.
From here on while you wait excitedly or nervously for the reply remember to:
- Stay polite and professional
- Be diligent and timely in correspondences
- Think before you act for clear communication
- If things are off, consult others and have confidence in your decision
- Be a representative of a fair illustration industry
Thank you so much for reading till the end and I sincerely wish you all the best on your illustration journey! I would love to hear your tips too. Come say hi on instagram: @natalie.illustration