The tips you need to read to get your dream creative career…
It’s the holy grail that every creative person dreams of, yet hardly any creative graduate or professional manages to do it. Yep. You know exactly what I am talking about, just like I know what’s in your head right now (after all, it’s why you clicked on this article, right?).
And that is the new-age-old question of ‘how do I build my ideal creative career?’ The answer should be simple, really – yet it isn’t. Sadly.
Luckily, through my experience of helping nearly 2000 creative enthuasists get where they want to be over these past few years through various groundbreaking initiatives which I have launched, I have come to realise that there are some common ‘undiagnosed’ causes and pitfalls as to why millions of people up and down the country fail to make a living out of doing what they love.
And I’ll reveal it to you right now…
1. Most of the time, Schools, Colleges and Universities fails to educate creative students of how the creative industries and sectors really work, and rarely do they make students aware of what options and routes they have as a graduate and what creative career choices are available.
2. Creators spend way too much time working on their creativity, and focus less on how they can sell their creations, so often – they lack the skills and knowledge required to succeed, so they need to work on their time management skills and focus on other areas, too.
3. They want instant gratification. They want to open a YouTube account and get 1MIL subscribers, or play Reading Festival in their first year of being a recording artist. It just doesn’t work that way.
4. They’re not willing to take risks, i.e. take out a loan to support their business (and it is a business).
5. They don’t view their creations as a business and wonder why they can’t sell it.
6. They think that creative industries are different other industries when they’re not.
7. And they think that higher education will give them that holy grail, when actually, it’s often the complete opposite that translates to success.
8. They don’t have a logical, rational roadmap of how to get to where they want to be.
9. And even worse, sometimes, they don’t even know what they want to do, or where they want to be. An example of this, is I hear music graduates at my events telling me all the time that they want to ‘work in the music industry,’ but that’s like saying ‘I want to be a sports’ person.’ What do you want to be? A footballer? A football manager? You get the point.
So going back to my first point on how education often fails to educate people on how the creative industries really operate, an obvious example of this is the following:
– Every year, 4000 fashion designers graduate from University, yet there are only 500 new jobs created for this discipline in the UK.
– 3500 either have to change career (which they don’t want to do because they just spent £9000 a year studying fashion design).
– Or they have to set up their own label, but they weren’t taught business skills in their fashion design degree, so the chances of failure are higher than average.
If fashion design students were made aware of this reality (and that is that they have a 12.5% chance of getting a job as a fashion designer), then they probably wouldn’t bother going to University. Or they’d find another way instead. But this is NOT what happens.
And I have found through working across multiple different industries, that it doesn’t matter whether you’re a musician, a blogger, a fashion designer or an artist. The obstacles and challenges are virtually the same, and funnily enough, so are the mindsets of the people these sectors attract (myself included).
So the first place to start is to work out exactly what you want and to go from there (which I’ll explain in a minute).
So what are the options for enthusiasts that want to build their desired creative career? I have broken it down to four simple options.
1. Work for a ‘creative’ company (a record label, a fashion house, a film studio, an art gallery, etc).
2. Go self-employed (become a session player, a make up artist, a camera operator, a voiceover artist or compere, a freelance writer, etc)
3. Become a ‘creator’ (a musician that makes and sells records, a fashion designer that makes and sells clothes, an artist that makes and sells art, etc)
4. Start a company in the creative industries (a record label, a fashion house, an art gallery, etc).
How To Get A Job Working For A ‘Creative’ Company
Creative companies operate the same way as any other company, but there are less of them. In order to land your ideal creative career working for a company, specify which sector you want to go into (for example marketing, artist management, production, PR, curation, editorial, etc).
If you can’t get your foot in the door, gain experience by volunteering, or work for a smaller/unrelated company in a similar job role (so for example, if you can’t get a job as the Marketing Assistant at Sony, try getting that same job elsewhere, but supplement your expertise through networking and blogging to prove you have an interest and understanding of your desired industry, so that when you go back to them in the future, they’ll take you more seriously).
Or start a venture to bump up your CV and demonstrate that you now have skills in those areas, but before you do that, take a look at some job specs to get an idea of what companies are actually looking for, so you can fit right in. Not enough people do this!
And people fool themselves to believe that a generalistic degree such as ‘music’ will give them the skills they need, when actually someone with a more niche discipline such as marketing would have a much higher chance of landing a marketing position at Sony.
But regardless of which route you take, as I mentioned a moment ago, it is important to establish and demonstrate authority and PASSION in your desired area. You can do this by networking, writing blogs, making videos, and so on.
Going self-employed for your creative career often requires a completely different strategy to employment, but not always…
For example, being a freelance artist manager WITHOUT experience will make it harder to win work. In this case, I suggest gaining experience in an artist management firm first, and building up your reputation first.
And once again, if an artist management firm won’t hire you, volunteer, work for a smaller/unrelated company to gain the skills you need so you can transfer it back to an artist management firm, or start a venture just so you can gain some experience (so for example, find a local artist you can manage to just get the experience and put it on your CV), and then take that experience back to employment to get the ‘real’ experience and successes you need before eventually going freelance – because then you’ll have the repertoire to pull it off.
HOWEVER. There is a flip side. Certain job types tend to be mostly, or only freelance.
For example, camera operators and make up artists normally work only as freelancers, because there are very few permanent opportunities.
So my advice is to have a normal job on the side (ideally within the industry or sector you want to get into, because it’ll give you credibility, contacts and experience), and volunteer, network hard, and a treat your ‘side business’ as a real business. Gain credibility and establish yourself as an expert in your field through blogging, social media, networking and volunteering to build your portfolio before eventually making that transition to full time (once the pennies start rolling in).
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Become A Creator
Becoming a ‘creator’ is similar to being self-employed. To do this, you HAVE TO treat your creations like a business. And in the early days, it is important to spin as many ‘creative’ plates as you can to expand your reach, build your portfolio, gain experience and find ways to make money.
So for example, if you’re an artist, you may want to do wedding gigs to bring some income in, or collaborate with as many artists as possible get your name out there, or co-write for TV adverts to build some traction.
And aim small first! Too many people want instant gratification. Find ways to make small amounts of money from your creations and build it up over time, and keep a job too so you can continue providing for yourself whilst you build that creative career.
And accept that you may need cash to succeed. You might need a Prince’s Trust Grant, or a start-up loan to invest in areas which will help you get you name out there, such as supporting reputable bands on tour, or advertising your music to journalists and on Facebook to draw fans in and convert your efforts to sales.
But most importantly, network, network, network!
What are your tips for achieving your creative career? Let us know in the comments below…
Guest article by George Taylor of Creative Industry Hub