Although I've been commission painting pretty consistently since 2010, it's only been 4 months since I started doing it exclusively and I thought it might be a good time to reflect on what I've learned so far.
Certainly my biggest mistake going in was scheduling myself to go to two conventions in February. This set me back almost two weeks even though I was able to get some work done on the large Malifaux project while at Templecon. I really shouldn't have done this as I'm only just now completely caught up from that misstep. Aside from being a little behind for a month, this has left me in the dark in terms of learning what my capabilities really are in terms of scheduling work. I have a feeling that I can schedule myself a little more work per month than I've been doing. The fact that I was able to so quickly catch up on the work I had fallen behind on was encouraging. Still, I don't know if that was because I was pushing myself with long hours and no days off until it was done or because I just had more time available than I thought. Perhaps I should time myself better in the future.
Something else I've learned is that there's a lot more time involved in logistics than I thought. The e-mails, packing and shipping, supply runs... this all takes time and when you are responsible for everything all of those tasks take time away from painting. These are the things that I just didn't think about previously.
You never know where you work is going to come from. I've gotten huge projects by posting short comments on Reddit and Boardgamegeek. Not pitches, mind you - just short responses to people looking for painters with a link to my site. At some point I'm going to do some specific marketing related blog posts for those looking to do this kind of work, because I find it really interesting, but also because I see a lot of people who want to do this kind of work but clearly have no idea about how to market themselves.
Probably the most important thing that I've learned (or maybe "confirmed" is a better word) is that I LOVE building and painting minis. It would be nearly impossible to do this if I didn't and it just makes me happy to know that, at least for now, I can make ends meet doing the thing that I love. I haven't been this happy in a long time.