Guide

How to Land Celebrity Clients as a Freelancer

In the last six years as a freelance graphic designer, I have worked with celebrities such as Morgan Wallen, Gas Monkey Garage, and Blackberry Smoke on different design and marketing projects. In this post, I'm going to cover how you can start finding opportunities to work with celebrities. This will boost the visibility of your own freelance business, create killer case studies, and attract celebrities to work with you organically.

How to Land Celebrity Clients as a Freelancer

In the last six years as a freelance graphic designer, I have worked with celebrities such as Morgan Wallen, Gas Monkey Garage, and Blackberry Smoke on different design and marketing projects.

In this post, I'm going to cover how you can start finding opportunities to work with celebrities. That will boost the visibility of your own freelance business, help you create killer case studies, and attract celebrities to work with you organically.

The First Method: Cold Outreach and Research

The first method to start getting celebrity clients in your freelance business or service business is cold outreach and research. You can start by going online and looking for the managers, personal assistants, or anybody directly connected to the celebrity you want to work with. In my experience,

I find it's best to go on LinkedIn and find the management company or the company the celebrity you're targeting works with or works for. Find people who are directly working with that celebrity on a day-to-day basis. 

A screenshot of Blig Louds Linkedin Profile
Looking at Big Louds Linkedin company page To see who manages musicians, etc.

You're never going to really find the information to directly contact that celebrity. Even if you could, they're probably getting thousands of emails a day from different companies, freelancers, and people just like you who want to work with them. So, the best thing you can do is find a tour manager if you want to work with a musician, or if you want to work with a big YouTuber or celebrity, go and find who manages them and contact them directly.

Before you start contacting anybody, you should think of a legitimate reason why you should be contacting them, besides just reaching out and saying, "Hey, I want to work with you."

That doesn't really provide any substance to your outreach. What I like to do personally is I live right down the road from a giant concert venue that major artists like Morgan Wallen, Blackberry Smoke, and other bands go to during the summer for different events.

I go and look at the roster of different artists that are going to be singing or performing at the venue weeks ahead of time. Then, I reach out individually to each manager of those bands or whoever's performing there, and I say, "Hey, I see that you're coming to this venue. I provide specialized services doing illustrated posters and illustrated merch. Do you guys have any special offerings that you're going to be providing at this show or this event?"

SPAC 2024 Event Lineup List
Event Line Up Of My Local Event Venue

Right there, I have a clear call to action. When I email either the tour manager, manager, merch person, or personal assistant, I'm not just reaching out with nothing to offer. I'm reaching out with a problem they may be facing that I can solve for them, which I know for a fact I've solved for other people.

This is the best way to go about cold outreach because you don't want to land in their inbox without a clear call to action for them to answer. So now that you have your game plan here, you have a reason to reach out to them, and you have a way to find them by doing research. You need to go out and actually find their contact information.

The preferred method I like to use for this is to go on LinkedIn. I will find the company that is managing the artist or the celebrity I'm reaching out to, and I will go through and find their LinkedIn page, the company LinkedIn page. I will go through and find the appropriate people that I have to reach out to. So, if I'm reaching out, for instance, to a musician and I want to do merch for them, what I'll do is I will go and find the record company that is managing them.

Then I'll go through and find who the tour manager is or who the direct manager for that artist is. After that, I will go to their company website and see if I can find their email there. Nine times out of ten, record labels and different celebrity-endorsed companies will probably have the contact info right on the website.

But if they don't, what you can do is go and find them on LinkedIn and either shoot them a message on LinkedIn or take their name and go to hunter.io.

Plug their name in along with the URL address of the record label company or the company that they work for, and you should be able to find, nine times out of ten, a match for their email that isn't going to bounce or something close to the potential email that they are actually using.

When you go to reach out to them, make sure you're genuine, that you're offering help, and that you're not coming from a place of, "Hey, you're a celebrity. I want to make money off of you," because we all know that doesn't work.

People like to work with people who know and understand their problems. If you are going to reach out to people using this cold outreach method, make sure to do it from a place of genuine interest and wanting to help, but also sell yourself when you're doing it, and don't make your emails too long. If you reach out and don't happen to get a response, don't worry.

That is typically normal when you're doing cold outreach. Oftentimes, you're going to have to send out 100 emails before you even get one response, and that's just how the game goes. It's a numbers game all through and through.

What I recommend instead of just doing one and done is over the next two weeks, reach out two more times. This can be you reaching out on a Monday, and then your second email is either on a Thursday or Friday. Then, from that Thursday or Friday, you wait another week until the end of the two-week period, and you email them again.

This gives you enough time that you're hitting their inbox at different periods, but you're also going to catch them if they're coming out of a busy period with emails at the bottom of their inbox. This way, you can go and work the system to your advantage.

The Second Method: Build a Strong Personal Brand

The second method is going to be a more passive method. It's going to be to create a strong personal brand online, whether you're posting on Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, or any of the social media platforms. Start posting the results of your service. So, if you're a graphic designer or an illustrator, put your work up there so people can see that you illustrate posters or that you design logos.

By doing this, you'll start creating a name for yourself online that potential celebrities or people connected to celebrities, such as tour managers, can go and see your work and find you. This is both how I got hired by Morgan Wallen and Blackberry Smoke – the tour managers for both of their tours went and saw my work on Instagram and then went to my website and directly contacted me.

Illustrated Posters For Morgan Wallens 2022 Dangerous Tour
A set of illustrated posters I designed for Morgan Wallens 2022 Dangerous Tour

The secret to this is that all the work I post online is geotagged. So, whenever I go and make a post on Instagram, Behance, or any website that I'm showing my work on, I make sure to tag the city that I'm in. So, when these tour managers are looking for people last minute while on the road, they're going to be looking by region.

If they have a concert going on in your downtown or they have some kind of event, they might look up, "New York City graphic designers and illustrators," and that's how they can find your work. That is how it's worked for me when I've posted work through my personal brand.

But on top of doing this by having strong geotags on your work when you're posting online, you're going to get more local business because oftentimes, people go into Google. They search "freelance graphic designer," "freelance illustrator near me," or they do the town that they're in plus whatever person they're looking for.

Regardless of whether you're going to be working with celebrity clients or working with more local clients, this is a great strategy for you to start getting more clients into your service-based business. 

The last thing I'm going to note here is that quality attracts quality. So, go ahead, create great work, post it online, geotag it, start building a personal brand, and people of high influence will see how great your work is.

Over time, they will start to contact you, and you can start adding them onto your website, your portfolio, and start building a name for yourself through these high-level companies and high-level celebrities that are contacting you.

Method Three: Using Job Boards

The third method is going to be using job boards. You can use creative job boards such as Behance or Dribbble to find celebrity companies or companies that are connected to celebrities that are hiring for freelancer contract positions.

For myself, this is how I got to work with Gas Monkey Garage, which used to be on the Discovery Channel, because they were looking for somebody who was specifically going to help them with merchandise design. They actually posted on a job board instead of contacting somebody or working through a design agency.

Image of Behance Job Board
Behance Job Board

This is one way that if you have a keen eye and you know what you're looking for, you can find people on job boards that are either connected to celebrities or the celebrities' companies themselves that you can start working with.

Now, even if you're not looking for celebrities and you're just getting started as a freelancer, it's still good to go out there and look at job boards once a week, twice a week if you're lacking clients or looking for new clients, because you can comb through the results and find high-quality clients or stuff to fill in your calendar.

Beyond just industry-specific job boards, you can also go on LinkedIn and Glassdoor and find companies that are connected to these celebrities that you can apply to on a contract basis. Or if they're hiring full-time, you can still send in your portfolio and resume and see if they want somebody to fill in the gap until they have a full-time employee.

As you're going through these job boards, also look for agencies that may be in the entertainment industry or they may be working in niche industries that are connected to the celebrities that you want to work with.

So, for instance, if you wanted to work specifically with George Clooney or Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, or anybody who may be a part of the liquor industry, you can go and work with an agency that specializes in liquor and bottle design, label design, advertising, or commercials for alcohol. 

You can always work your way backward – reverse engineer like, "Okay, if I work with this agency, and they have worked with celebrities in the past, there's a chance they're going to work with more celebrities in the future."

That's a way to reverse engineer through job boards that yes, you're not directly reaching out to that celebrity, but you'll work with an agency that will give you more work that will also put you in the path of future celebrities that they're going to work with, that you'll get a hand in working with individually as well.

Leveraging Your Celebrity Work

So, along with all of this, how can you leverage celebrity work once you start working with celebrities.

The best way you can do this is to start creating case studies that you put on your website. For myself, the work I've done with Morgan Wallen, Gas Monkey Garage, Blackberry Smoke, and a couple of other celebrities, I put it all on my website for people to see, and it's a call to action.

If a potential celebrity wants to work with me or hears of me and they go check out my website, they'll say, "Hey, this guy has already worked with celebrities like this. He knows how to be discreet. He knows how to work with people on our caliber. Let's reach out to them."

Examples of case studies
Examples of my case studies

Once you do the work, show it and find a way to leverage it. While you're leveraging the work, you can use any of the three methods I've covered so far in this guide – such as cold outreach. In your cold outreach emails, just show prior examples of celebrity work you've done. When you're applying to contract positions or freelance positions, again, show prior celebrity work you've done.

The beauty of working with celebrities and them having a big name is that you can build on top of the name they have already built for themselves, and it will help you elevate both the freelance business you're running or the service business you're offering and offer higher-quality services that you can charge more for in the long run.

So don't forget that once you've completed the work, use it to get more celebrity work in the long run. Just don't let it sit and rot on your hard drive. Use it to get more work in the long run.

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