Pursuing a creative career sometimes invites unsolicited disdain, cautions and criticism from the people in your life.
“Make sure you have a back-up plan!”
“You know that only a small percentage of people actually make it in that career field, right?”
“But don’t you want a real job?”
Yet creative people likely find true professional happiness only if they do something that flexes their creative muscles daily. And to dissuade a creative person from seeking such a career isn’t successful if that person won’t be happy in a mundane career.
Not every artist starves
Creative careers aren’t all about starving artists. In fact, there are some mainstream jobs that let you be creative while you still earn a steady paycheck.
The point is that options abound, even within creative career circles.
Demonstrate your talent
Job seekers in creative fields need to demonstrate their talent to woo potential employers or clients. That means visual artists should have a portfolio, writers must have writing samples ready, and musicians or voice talent should have sample recordings.
These should all be updated frequently as your skills and experience evolve to accurately portray a creative person’s abilities and talent.
Don’t think because you’re creative that you don’t need an up-dated resume. Resumes give potential employers or clients a quick scan at your experience, schooling and accolades.
To expose or not expose
One great debate among creative professionals is whether it’s worth it to work “for exposure,” meaning, for no pay on a “tryout” basis. While exposure of your talents to the right people can spur a career turning point, people should be paid for the work they do.
It boils down to whether you think your time and effort are worth being paid for. If you don’t think you so, there’s a good chance you aren’t ready to professionally enter the creative market.
Of course, doing work pro bono for charity is different. Do it for free because you believe in the cause. If a career-changing person stumbles upon your work, it’s simply good fortune.
Network, network, network
”Networking” might make you think of professionals in business suits exchanging business cards and having stifled conversations. But it doesn’t always have to be that way. For creative folks, networking might mean attending the events of other creatives and getting to know people in the community.
People want to hire people whose work they already admire or who come highly recommended by someone they trust. Many fantastic opportunities begin with someone saying to a friend, “Oh hey, I know this person who …” Within the creative community, many of the best positions aren’t even advertised.
Get better at what you do
You may have an innate talent for what you do, but additional education will only help you create a career you’ll love. Take classes, attend lectures and workshops, and pursue knowledge from people who already do what you hope one day to also do.
Rehearse, revise and continually pursue advanced knowledge – not just to impress potential employers and clients, but to help make you improve and accentuate your talents, innate or otherwise.
Sing your own praises
Don’t be afraid to let everyone know how good you are at what you do by acting as your own promotion agent. Learn to self-promote while you pursue your creative career. A well-designed website showcasing your talents can go a long way to impress the right people.
For example, if you’re a writer, contact local book stores and libraries to introduce yourself and ask about book promotions. Do all the things you would pay someone else to do for you if your career was in full swing.
The hustle never ends
You may have heard other creative people refer to their “hustle,” because that’s what you need to pursue a creative career. You can be amazingly talented and have a lot of passion for what you do, but you also have to commit the necessary time and effort into your career.