If you’re a creative type who’s working in a job where you have to stick to a lot of professional parameters, it’s natural to feel a little dissatisfied. The job market is full of highly creative individuals whose heads are bursting with ideas, who have no real outlet to exercise them. In a world where technology skills date much faster than anything remotely creative, creative minds like yours might be searching frantically for a way to progress in a career that allows you to put your big imagination to good use. Here are some of the best tips on developing a creative career…
Collaboration is a Stepping Stone Between Education and Industry
Traditionally, formal education has been all about the individual. The motions are centered around assessing students as individuals, who are studying individual subjects, paying individual fees and taking exams for an individual grade. In this post-digital age, this kind of model doesn’t really serve graduates all that well as they enter the workplace. The complexity of creative projects, the timelines involved, and the feverish pace of innovation, means that you can only fulfill your full potential in a cross-disciplinary environment, where you’re exposed to more than one set of skills. Try networking on LinkedIn or another social network, finding people in a similar discipline to you, and coming up with ideas for a collaborative project that you’ll both take to fairly well. The experience you’ll gain here will be invaluable later, whatever creative niche you’re getting into.
Entrepreneurship is Future-Proof
Another great way to accelerate your creative career is trying your hand at entrepreneurship. If you’re sending out resumes and portfolios to different companies, begging for an unpaid internship, then you’re on the back foot. By doing this, you’ll effectively mark yourself as an exploitable asset, and attract the attention of employers who won’t take you anywhere. Instead, try to get a taste of the start-up culture, and being at the head of your own entrepreneurial project. Whether you freelance like most creatives or start a business with a few close associates, there’s a huge amount of value in this kind of experience. You’ll learn how creative tasks fit into the global business arena, how a business works in general, and it will force you to find new, experimental ways around the challenges you’re faced with.
Get out of your Comfort Zone
You may be excellent at a specific creative niche, but if you stick to this for too long it can stifle your potential for success. Yes, it’s good to have a speciality in the modern job market, but it’s also essential to actively broaden your skillset wherever possible. If you’re a graphic designer and you love coming up with magazine structures, then try your hand at creating a corporate logo. If you’re all about logos, then try using a magazine maker program. Embracing new challenges that take you out of your comfort zone is one of the most fool-proof ways to broaden your creative palate, and fine-tune essential workplace skills. If you’re serious about earning a living through some kind of creative skill, then you’ll need to get out of your comfort zone sooner or later!
Going back to the point about entrepreneurship, if you’re trying to advance a creative career through freelancing, you need to make sure you’re pricing your services competitively. Although you may see this as a stepping stone, actually making a profit can be a huge motivator, and will help you develop strict professional standards. You may feel that it will be easier to get clients if you offer low prices, but this can end up chasing away new business, rather than attracting it. Consider the time you spend on your work, any overhead costs, and the pricing models of other creative freelancers in your niche. Getting your pricing at a sweet spot can have all kinds of benefits, so don’t brush over this step in the process!
Apply Counterfactual Thinking
Time for a little psychology lesson! Making time for counterfactual thinking, basically asking “what would it be like if…” has been shown to improve creative thinking over short periods of time. Try it out now, by thinking of events that have already happened, and coming up with different outcomes by changing facts and details. Be sure to alternate between an additive mindset (adding elements to the scenario) and a subtractive mindset (taking elements away from the scenario). If you’re a history buff, you can have hours of fun with this! The more you do this, the more naturally you’ll begin to take different perspectives on problems you’ll face in a professional environment. The next time you’re having to do some creative problem solving, look at the situation in a different light, adding and taking away different “what ifs”. You’ll be surprised how much this can help.
Build your Portfolio, and Get Testimonials
Creative careers lack a lot of the concrete boundaries that characterize other kinds of career path. When you’re freelancing, for example, a lot of prospective clients won’t be concerned with qualifications. They’ll simply want to see the kind of work you’ve done in the past, and judge whether or not it’s the right fit for their needs. Therefore, if you know you’re good at what you do, and you can demonstrate this with a well-presented portfolio and glowing client testimonials, you’ll be helping yourself towards success in a big way. To start off, you may need to do a lot of unpaid work. Fortunately, in this digital age, this is easier to get than ever before. Just find some kind of platform that exhibits the kind of work you’d like to get paid for, contact the owner or admin, and offer to carry out some kind of project for free. While you should aim for variety, we recommend targeting unpaid jobs that you know you’ll love. A genuine passion for the work will do a lot for its overall quality, and even if it’s not in a lucrative niche, can go a long way in convincing prospective clients.