Turning Your Creativity Into a Career

by Hope Hanson
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Maybe you’d like to turn your creativity into a career but comments about starving artists make you a little nervous. In reality, it’s possible to make a living while making art. Here are some ideas I gathered from career artists:

Whether you’re a drama student trying to figure out what to do after graduation or a professional thinking about making a career change, you can do something artistic with your life.

Find out how to channel your creative skills into a rewarding career.

Getting Started

While there are many paths to developing a creative career, the first steps are often similar. A strong foundation will help you navigate your way to success.

Use these strategies:

  1. Identify your goals. Figure out what kind of art you’re passionate about. You may be drawn to painting, sculpting, acting, or writing.
  2. Do your research. There are some creative careers that pay well if you want to do something more traditional, becoming an architect or a marketing director. On the other hand, your prospects will probably be more limited if you want to carve penguins out of gourds. Think about your target audience and what skills you’ll need to develop.
  3. Create a portfolio. Organize and promote your work. Put together samples that you can post on social media and show to potential clients.
  4. Get a part time or second job. You may need supplemental income at least temporarily. Look for a position related to your artistic interests or consider work that will leave you with enough time and energy to pursue your main objectives.
  5. Plan an exit strategy. Some artists are content with a very small audience while others begin looking for another line of work. You may want to give yourself a few years to succeed on your own terms before considering alternative options.

Working for Yourself

More than 40% of creative workers are self-employed, according to the Arts Council. Consider freelancing or starting your own business.

Follow these tips:

  1. Budget carefully. How will you deal with startup costs and fluctuating income? Monitor your cash flow and build up your savings.
  2. Track your time. Without a boss expecting to see you from 9 to 5, you’ll need to take charge of your own schedule. Block out time for your most important priorities and give yourself enough days off to avoid burnout.
  3. Acquire business skills. Even if you hire an accountant and other professionals, it helps to understand the basics of financial management and customer service. Take courses at a local community college or study online.
  4. Share moral support. Network with other artists. Enjoy opportunities to collaborate and learn from each other. Make introductions and provide referrals.

Revising Your Current Position

Smart companies value creative employees because they overcome challenges and spot promising opportunities. Regardless of your job title, you’ll be an asset if you approach your work like an artist.

Consider these ideas:

  1. Focus on innovation. Develop new ideas for increasing quality and saving time. Ask your coworkers for feedback and bring your proposals to your boss.
  2. Produce content. Your company probably has a website and Facebook page that they’d like to update more often. Volunteer to write articles, conduct interviews, or take photos.
  3. Launch your brand. Pay attention to your own personal brand too. Cultivate ideas from colleagues and products you admire while cultivating your own authenticity.
  4. Redecorate your space. Use your work environment to make a creative statement.  Form a creative committee at your company. Beautify your own work space. Choose colors that make you feel upbeat and productive.

Find work that engages your talents and imagination. Use your art to earn a living or take a creative approach to whatever career you choose.

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