Do great work. Get paid what you’re worth.

Learn to apply simple and practical principles to get organized, grow your business, and stay true to your art. The missing manual for every creative freelancer.

  • 70-page online book
  • Digital access to this title in the Holloway Reader
  • Downloadable PDF for personal offline use
Length: 70 pages
Edition: e1.0.0
Last Updated: 2021-02-11
Language: English
ISBN (Holloway.com):
ISBN (print):

Art for Money

Up Your Freelance Game and Get Paid What You’re Worth

by Michael Ardelean

Art for Money is a small and mighty volume that covers the essentials every creative freelancers needs to know about making a living and growing their business—in under 100 pages.

You might be a photographer, engineer, writer, designer, makeup artist, or any kind of freelance worker, contractor, or consultant. Or maybe you have a company job but dream of working for yourself. Chances are you’re interested in creating and a little unsure about billing, proposals, calendar management, how to set up an LLC—and if you can do it all yourself. Have you ever wished creatives like you had a coach, companion, or career center to turn to? The ten short chapters of this book are for you.

Michael Ardelean packs 13 years of creative and business experience into this short book, distilling everything he’s learned about thriving financially as an artist. Art for Money will teach you:

  • The benefits of freelancing
  • How to know if establishing a business is right for you, and how to do it
  • How to price your work
  • How not to feel guilty about charging what you’re worth
  • How to write a professional proposal
  • How to build fantastic client relationships—and what to do when relationships are difficult
  • How to get paid on time
  • How to network and grow your business

Art for Money is approachable, actionable, and written for creatives by a creative who’s seen it all. You’ve already figured out how to be great at what you do. If you’re ready to become financially successful, too, the time you spend with this small book might be the best investment you’ve ever made in yourself.

I reached out to Mike for help… Then he sent over the book you’re about to read. After that, my income tripled.” —Angela Fink, an early reader

Rachel JepsenEditor
Cody ComrieIllustrator

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Featured Reviews

I didn't know what a scope of work was until 2013. I wish I would have had this book in 2003.
Michael Carney (Creative Director, The Black Keys)
As creative entrepreneurs, we don’t create to make money. We nurture our art because there is simply nothing else we’d ever do. Period. Through Mike’s storied experiences and successes, he reshapes the narrative of the freelancer, putting us in the driver’s seat.
Angela Fink (Creative Director at Search for Space)
If you want to stop worrying about money and stay focused on your work, read this book.
Harrison Boyce (Director and Photographer)
Michael’s insight was the kick in the pants I needed to take my business to the next level. He made me reevaluate how I was thinking about finances and the value of my work. And the format makes it fun and easy to read.
Jen B. Peters (Illustrator and Graphic Designer)
I’m all creative and almost no business, so I found Art For Money to be an easy-to-follow guide and reference when taking on any new client or project. It’s great to have this at my fingertips when I’m in doubt. It’s like having a partner who’s constantly making sure I get the full potential out of my work.
Cody Comrie (Designer and Artist)
No BS, I’m a little jealous that everyone will have the cheat codes to lessons that took me ten years to learn.
Anthony Yamamoto (Founder, AKY Creative)
Art for Money is the Porsche 911 of self improvement books. Lightweight, good looking, easy to drive, and fast as shit.
Jordi Hays (Founder, hirelikewise.com)
I’m a co-founder of a design agency with 40 employees—and still read this book annually to brush up. It holds up every time!
Ben Bator (Chief Innovation Officer, Lafayette American)
This book covers many topics, but the message about building confidence in your value—that alone is worth the purchase.
Matt Miller (Photographer)
People don’t talk about the business side of art. I would’ve killed to have this info when I started my film company.
Andrew Jackson (Director)
★★★★★ Simple, concise and really easy to put into practice. You can tell a lot of intention went into writing and editing this book. Where other "Freelance" guides are long winded and filled with fluff, Art for Money gets straight to the point.
Matthew Jung (Amazon reviewer)
★★★★★ Must read for freelancers!! Highly recommend this quick read to anyone who is looking for guidance in the world of freelancing. As a freelancer myself, I found some parts very triggering but very relatable. The tone the author set was very straight to the point and I will be referring to this book for future projects.
Huseyin E. (Amazon reviewer)
★★★★★ Fast track years of painful experience with simple truths. After 15 years in the industry, with 5 years of operating my own creative agency, this touched on so many hard lessons learned over the years in a refreshing to-the-point, conversational manner with just the right amount of human stories and incredibly helpful specific examples (e.g. operating agreements, SOWs, invoices) and a quick black belt in verbal judo for communicating effectively. If I had to sum it up in once sentence: No one knows what they’re doing, so you prob should. Here’s the basics, which is 80% of it.
Scott P. (Amazon reviewer)
★★★★★ Changed the way I look at work. This book really opened my eyes and changed my perspective on how to charge for work, how to think about work, and how to actually work. Highly recommended for anyone self employed, freelancing, thinking about freelancing, or thinking about quitting a bad boss. This guy’s a genius!
(Amazon reviewer)
★★★★★ Great read and insight for anyone in a creative profession. Myself, being all creative and almost no business, found ‘Art For Money’ to be an easy to follow guide and reference when taking on any new client or project. It’s great to have something at my fingertips when I’m in doubt, to give me insight on the best path forward. It’s like having a partner that can get the full potential out of my work.
(Amazon reviewer)
★★★★★ So useful! Glad I found this book. ... The author provides genuine advice and tips, backed up by real world examples, that are applicable to anyone who creates a form of art. I will definitely be leaving this book on my desk to return to at different points in my freelance journey.
Jackie (Amazon reviewer)

About the Author

Michael Ardelean
Michael Ardelean has always worked at the intersection of art and money. Having grown up bored and broke in suburban Detroit, Michael knew how to get a lot out of a little—streamlining processes and shaking off the baggage of life is his guiding philosophy. His first career, as a pro BMX biker, inspired him to share this outlook and his strategies with others struggling to design a comfortable life around their passion. He moved into merchandising, with a VP role at Alternative Apparel, followed by several years managing a design studio. Michael then began helping creative freelancers with the business end of their work as a consultant. Today, he runs his own recruiting firm, Intro, with the goal of improving organizations (like Madhappy and Buck Mason) by empowering individuals. His passion is advocating for artists of all kinds by helping them make their unique talents financially viable.

Table of Contents

My Mess Is My Message
Release Your Guilt
The Benefits of Freelancing
Price Your Work
Determining Target Revenue
Determining Retail Value
Creating Your Quote
Should You Just Bill Hourly?
Offering Discounts
Writing a Good Proposal
Touch Points
Phases of Work
Pricing Structure
Scope Your Work
Final Fees
Client Contact
Create Your Contract
Proposal Checklist
Doing The Job
Set Alerts and Deliver Early
Stay Organized: Systems, Tools, Apps
Get Your Money
Forming an Entity
Banking, Collecting, and Saving
Client Relationships
When to Fire a Client
Network Like Hell
Build Your Team
The Last Word
Reading List

Does this sound like you?

Why do I see so many creatives, frankly less talented than I, making far more money? Shouldn’t I be compensated according to the quality of my work?
I love creating but I really wish the business side ran itself. If I wanted to do paperwork, I’d be an accountant. Can I just have my cake and eat it too?
I actually enjoy running my freelance business, but I feel like I’m not getting as many clients as I should. How can I build a bigger client base?
Every time I deliver a great project, I’m certain I’ll be landing a repeat client for life. Then they never call again. What am I doing wrong?
I have no idea what to charge for my creative work. I have trouble making ends meet, but I had just accepted that as part of being creative. How do I determine what I’m worth, and how do I convey that to my clients?
Is there a way to earn more money without compromising the quality of my work or having to take on clients I hate?
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