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Career Advice for Creatives

Career Advice for Creatives

If you’ve been searching for career progression advice, we are sure you have come across the articles that say ‘speak to your manager’, ‘tell your higher ups about your goals’, ‘ask your company about opportunities for growth’, which is all well and good if you’re a contracted employee, but what about freelancers?

When you’re self-employed, like so many creatives are – this advice can fall a bit flat. The good news? There are still plenty of ways for creatives to progress their career.

Identify Your Goals

Before you seek out career advice, first you need to know what your career goals are. Career progression in creative fields doesn’t look the same as it does in the corporate world, so it’s important that you know what progression/success means to you. Maybe there is a particular team you want to work with, or maybe you want a healthier work life balance, where you work less but earn more, or maybe you have a passion project you want to get off the ground. Progression and success in the creative world will look different to everyone, so only once you have worked out what success means to you, will you be able to start career progression planning.

Update Your Portfolio

This is essentially the creatives version of ‘update your cv’. And look, you might need to do that too, but more often than not when it comes to landing a creative job, or booking high paying clients, it comes down to your portfolio. Too often as creatives, we can let our portfolio fall by the wayside. We polish it up at the beginning of our careers and then it lays abandoned as life and work gets in the way. Your portfolio should reflect the most recent, most relevant and the best examples of your work.

Reach Out

Now that your portfolio is in check, it’s time to start reaching out. Start with your existing network to see if they have any leads that can help you achieve your goals. If not, it’s time to start cold emailing. Reach out to potential clients, agencies, companies etc. that you dream of working with. Make sure you are contacting people who you think will find value in what you have to offer, or whose values align with your own. If the idea of cold emailing terrifies you beyond belief (completely understandable) have a read of Esther’s Screenhub article which is full of handy tips. The next paragraph will help too.

Let Someone Else Tell You No

One of the hard truths of being a creative is that you will be rejected, and you will be rejected, and you will be rejected. But we promise, it’s not a bad thing, just a part of life. The important thing is to make sure you let other people tell you no and you don’t beat them to the punch. Creatives can be overly self-critical, often thinking that their work isn’t good enough, or they aren’t qualified enough etc etc. This leads to self-rejection, where you decide your work isn’t good enough, without letting someone give you a chance.

Don’t think your script is good enough for a Netflix feature? Well, let Netflix tell you that. Don’t make the assumption, or the fear, that they won’t like it stop you from pitching in the first place. You never know what will happen if you just give yourself the chance.

Find Your People

Like we’ve just mentioned, self-doubt and being overly critical of your work can be common traits amongst creatives. That’s why it is important to surround yourself with people who will support, encourage and challenge you. Having people in your corner that you can turn to when times are tough (or you need some tough love) can be hugely beneficial to progressing your career. Keep people in your corner who will not only lift you up, but hold you accountable to your goals and ambitions. Freelancing can be a lonely and challenging road, but it can also be hugely rewarding if we remember that we don’t need to do it alone.


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