Sunday Mailbag

August 12th, 2012 | Posted in Mailbag

Q: How far do you feel a freelancer has to wade into the murky waters of online social media? What do you view as wasting time, and what actually shows results?

A: A pertinent question in this day and age.

Personally I have found social media like Facebook and Twitter do little or nothing for my bottom line with respect to freelancing. By “bottom line” I mean the only thing that counts . . . putting jobs on the board. I have not gotten even one single, real job directly from my social media presence. That includes LinkedIn. I may be abnormal in that regard (I am certainly abnormal in other regards), so perhaps others find it a great source of work. I do not.

That said, I do not think social media is something a freelancer can ignore. My website, and to a lesser extent this blog, has resulted in numerous “real” jobs (those being the kind a client pays a professional-level fee for, as opposed to the hundreds of “Puh-LEEEEZ draw my caricature for free!” or “I can’t pay you much, but think of the EXPOSURE!” types of “jobs”) via web searches and referrals. Social media is gradually becoming like a mini-internet in and of itself, and having a strong presence there early might pay dividends down the road. I don’t do a lot with Twitter, other than to tweet when I have a new blog post up, but on Facebook I have both an art page and a company page, which really needs to be redone. It’s free to set these things up (the basic ones, anyway) so why not?

At thing point I would establish a Facebook/LinkedIn/Twitter identity as a freelancer, but concentrate any real time and effort into building a strong general web presence and online portfolio. As with any internet endeavor, you have to drive traffic to it yourself, by getting your URL in front of potential clients. The best way to do that these days is still the old fashioned direct mail postcard.

Thanks to Seth Wilks¬¨‚Ć for the question. If you have a question you want answered for the mailbag about cartooning, illustration, MAD Magazine, caricature or similar,¬¨‚Će-mail me¬¨‚Ćand I’ll try and answer it here!



  1. mike says:

    just a couple thoughts:
    1. I resubscribed to mad magazine (hardcopy!) after a looooong lag because of YOUR social media presence. Call it secondary effect, but it pays. and i probably won’t renew.
    2. You should have a more visible social media presence and it might lead to direct return. But don’t forget the secondary and tertiary effects in the mean time. (see 1 and 3).
    3. if you had a more visible presence, or at least a great rep, you wouldn’t have suffered the booth assignment experience you did at comicon – and might have been treated as the comic royalty that you are.
    Best regards,

    • Tom says:

      Actually what you are describing, Mike, is how effective social media is to direct contact with CONSUMERS, which I absolutely agree with. Through Facebook and Twitter I have sold a great many copies of my self-published book. As you say, my social media presence directly contributed to your resubscribing to MAD (thanks, sorry hear you are not going to renew 🙁 ) However, promoting freelancing is not making contact with consumers but with producers, publishers and media creators who I want to hire me to do art for their media content. At this point in time, social media is not very effective for that type of contact.

      I disagree that a better Facebook page would have garnered me any different treatment at Comic-Con . . . not that I deserved any different treatment than any other creator or artist. Let’s face it, comics and comic creators, with the exception of a few of the real giants in the industry, have taken a distant, back-of-the-bus seat to movies, TV and gaming in the grand scheme of Comic-Con.

  2. Cliff Roth says:

    I would add that a strong Google Plus presence will directly effect search results (at least in Google). I know I have been far more successful getting work there than I ever have through any other ‘social media’ site. Granted, for the most part, I sell directly to the consumer. Though I am slowly changing that.


New profile pic courtesy of my self-caricature for the Scott Maiko penned article “Gotcha! Mug Shots of Common (but Despicable) Criminals” from MAD 550

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