Neil Gaiman – Make Good Art

by on August 10, 2016 · 0 comments

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neil reading
Working as a freelancer is becoming more and more common in today’s global economy, and finding success as a freelancer is an ongoing journey.

We explored this topic through the experiences of one of literature’s top freelance authors, Neil Gaiman. Neil is an English author who has written novels, comics, children’s books, graphic novels and films.

No matter where you are on your path to success, the lessons shared by Gaiman in his 2012 commencement speech “Make Good Art” are rules to live by.

What We Covered in Make Good Art:

In our class on Neil Gaiman’s Make Good Art commencement speech we explored the freelance journey from start to finish. Neil helped us to identify the problems of failure and the problems of success. Most importantly, he reinforced that we should all be out there, making good art, the art only we can make. We specifically covered:

  • When starting it is normal not to know what you are doing
  • Once you know what you want to create – just do it
  • Be prepared to deal with the problems of failure
  • If you are making mistakes it means you are moving forward
  • Make the designs ONLY you can
  • Neil Gaiman’s “secret freelancer knowledge”

In today’s post we will be looking at Neil Gaiman’s “secret freelancer knowledge” in more detail. Members of the Expand2Web Experts Group who are interested in watching the entire class can view the recorded session here: If you are interested in joining the E2W Experts Group please see the conclusion of this post for more information.

Secret Freelancer Knowledge:

Neil’s speech was so chock full of advice and wisdom that it is hard to boil it down to one practical piece of advice. However, the secret knowledge shared near the end of his speech gives every freelancer a blueprint for success.

People keep working, in a freelance world, and more and more of today’s world is freelance, because their work is good, and because they are easy to get along with, and because they deliver the work on time.
– Neil Gaiman.

People Keep Working in a Freelance World for the Following Reasons:

  • Their work is good
  • They are easy to get along with
  • They deliver the work on time
Secret Freelancer Knowledge: Neil then explained the real magic. You don’t even need all three. Two out of three is fine.

The Best Advice Neil Gaiman Ever Got, and Ignored:

Neil also passed along the best advice he received, that he didn’t follow. The advice came from Stephen King during the height of Neil’s success with his comic book Sandman.

This is really great. You should enjoy it.
– Stephen King.

Neil unfortunately did not take his advice. He spent the next 15 years working hard and producing amazing projects, but didn’t take the time to stop and smell the roses.

Instead I worried about it. I worried about the next deadline, the next idea, the next story. . . . It’s been an amazing ride. But there were parts of the ride I missed
– Neil Gaiman.

Learning this lesson early in your freelancing path will help to make the journey to success that much more enjoyable and rewarding.

Further Down The Rabbit Hole:

down rabbit neil
Neil Gaiman’s Website
Make Good Art Commencement Speech Video
Make Good Art Commencement Speech Text
Make Good Art by Neil Gaiman (Book)


Moving down your path to freelancing success can be difficult. Arming yourself with the wisdom shared by Neil Gaiman in “Make Good Art” will help you to succeed while retaining your sanity and passion.

The world of internet freelancing can be hard to navigate. Enjoy the journey by joining the Expand2Web Experts group and gain instant access to our library of previous classes by clicking here:

Already an Expand2Web Member?  We’d love to hear what topics you’d like to explore next!

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Don is an entrepreneur based in Silicon Valley. He founded Expand2Web and is the publisher of the Expand2Web Blog, and the GetFiveStars Customer Feedback and Reviews service.

Don has written 313 articles on Expand2Web

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