If you follow along with my adventures on social media, you might have seen me mention my trip to Palm Springs last week, to attend Alt Summit (a conference for creative entrepreneurs) and meet up with some of my very favorite creative friends. As part of the conference, I was also able to lead a roundtable on a topic I'm really passionate about- how to find work as a newly launched creative professional. Pursuing your passions full-time can be scary, especially if you also need it to provide a living (which, hello, is most of us.)
I personally believe there are a million reasons (most of which we're taught our whole lives) to live safely and sanely and follow a clear-cut path in life- and there are WAYY fewer, but ultimately more important reasons to follow your gut + pursue the life you want to live. We get one life! Who wants to look back and think coulda/woulda/shoulda? Who wants to spend their time doing unfulfilling work? Or worse, pursuing nothing? Not me. I believe we're all put here for a reason + for a purpose- and I want to give my all to pursuing that.
I love to create, I love to be busy, I love to be independent. When it finally clicked for me HOW I wanted to meld all of those things (taking really fun photos for a living!), I knew I had to clear the noise and the doubt telling me I could fail, and Just. Figure. It. Out.
But here's the thing- the downside to having no rules is... there are no rules! There's no clear path to achieving your goals (financial freedom, peer recognition, or just the ability to treat yoself at Starbucks whenever you damn well please). Over time, I developed a rhythm of working habits, that looking back on, clearly helped me to not just grow my business, but also create a foundation. I still have rough days (and ok, sometimes weeks) where I think "what if this is as far as I can go?" or "what if the work dries up in three months?" but having a system that helped me along in the beginning, is still comforting now, further down the road. I hope by sharing them, I can help you too. :)
FAKE IT TILL YOU MAKE IT
Represent the brand image you want people to see. Keep your website + social media fresh and current and feeling cohesive. If you use a distinct color palette on one, use it on the other. Is your "about me" and bio clear + concise? If someone knew nothing about you or your services/business/blog, would they be able to easily understand what you do after reading your "about me" or services or bio? (They should.) Remember- the first place brands + prospective clients look to learn more about you is your website + social media (usually they go from one to the other)! Make it appealing + professional + clear.
SIGN UP FOR APPS + SERVICES
While there are a million and one out there (and many are pretty... worthless), there ARE a few hidden gems. When you're first starting out and looking for paid work (instead of "free stuff" or "exchanges"), this is a great way to get paying jobs. Be selective but take the time to check some of them out (some list the available jobs for you to peruse, others send you emails with jobs that match what your description). Also, I can say that some of the BEST brand relationships I've had, have started after meeting through content creation/advertising/influencer services. It's like datings apps, but in the working world- no one wants to admit they met their partner "on an app", but if that many people use them, they've gotta be working for someone! Don't worry, as you grow, you will get more unique + specific-to-you opportunities. But using apps + services in the beginning, is a great way to get going. (A few that I have used and enjoyed are: PopPays (an app), Collectively, and Obviously Studio (the latter two are both sent by email.)
BE OPEN TO JOBS, EVEN IF THEY AREN'T "DREAM OFFERS"
I believe strongly in having a brand vision + being clear on the direction you want to go. If you aren't clear, it can be easy to spread yourself in too many directions, diluting your efforts. BUT. Buuuuuut if you hold too firmly to only doing the kind of work, for the kind of pay, in the kind of way that you envision, you can miss out on some really great opportunities. People want to hire you when they see what you have done. Sometimes, the only way to get that experience is to be open to doing work, and lots of it. I myself did "full-time work" long before it was "full-time pay." Even if you can't devote FULL-time hours to your path right now (maybe you have a "day" job or other responsibilities), it's important to get as much work and experience as you can. Doing the work helps you hone your skills, meet potential clients, and just get BETTER, which is ultimately what you want to be.
If you are approached to do work that you feel is outside of your ideal pay or niche, ask yourself: Would this allow me to improve a skill set? Could I create work I would be proud to share on my portfolio/blog? If the answer is yes, it may be worth taking it on. Bonus: Again, some of the best client relationships I've ever had, have come from being flexible on my pay or work in the beginning. Once we established a good partnership, I was able to raise my rates and/or do more work in line with what I envisioned. Be selective but keep an open-mind! The more your skills improve, the more offers you will have, and the closer you will be to your "dream work."
Don't worry, there's more! In PART TWO, I'll share my personal *favorite* tip for finding work when you're first embarking on your creative professional path, how to pitch yourself, and the rest of this list! I'll also link to the worksheet I shared at Alt, so you can download and print a copy for yourself if you'd like. :) In the meantime.... here's a free photo download for you!! Good things come to those who... read really long blog posts. Haha.