6 ideas for creative professionals to start their new year

by Manojna Yeluri 

As the new year kicks in, we want to share a few ways to help you introduce a little more professionalism and organisation into your creative career. While many of you might already be familiar with these suggestions, we urge you to continue the conversation on developing a cleaner, leaner creative community, by sharing your tips and pointers – believe us, there are people out there (including us) who would be grateful to learn more.

  1. Reflect, Resolve, and Reset

The beauty of the start of a calendar year, is that it offers us the opportunity to justify sitting down, examining, and re-evaluating the most important parts of our lives. Rewind to the start of 2017 and make a list of the big wins of the year, as well as the big losses. Do you see a pattern? Are there certain areas that you think you need to focus more energy on this year, and if so, why?

Once you have a better idea of the reasons for your successes and failures, you might have a clearer understanding of where you ought to be investing your time, energy, and money. For example, did you feel unreasonably underpaid for a lot of your work? Do you think that happened because of poor negotiating skills, unclear terms, unfair dealings with the opposite side, or ridiculous industry standards? The answer to something like this (and it could be a combination of two or more) might urge you to consider hiring a manager or representative, a lawyer and/or be more engaged in community initiatives that revolve around your creative industry.

Don’t dwell on the highs and lows of the past year, but use them as a way to assess your current strengths, weaknesses, and priorities for the current year.

(PS: We actually have a great downloadable activity sheet to help you dig deeper – you can access it, by signing up for our free email course, the ‘DIY Creative Legal Starter Kit’.)

  1. Connect and build your network

Networking has gotten a lot of flak lately, because a lot of people assume that it is superficial and forced. So, how about we replace that word with connecting and relating to people in your community? The creative scene, no matter what discipline, is often small, tight-knit, and localised. Connecting doesn’t have to always involve an agenda or plan – the best motivator is just simple curiosity. Let your curiosity guide you when you try to decide on which events to attend and who to hang out with. Trust us, everything starts to fall in place after that first conversation and experience. Use social media to connect, but don’t go overboard. Focus on your work – the networking is to help showcase you and connect you to people who might help you do more, by managing, sponsoring, or collaborating with you.

  1. Personalise your financial and legal templates

Most creative professionals are prone to working independently or as freelancers. This means that the responsibility of looking after invoices, investments, agreements, licensing – all that falls on the same person who is actually engaged in creating the work. There are a ton of templates for financial planning and agreements available online and free for use – use them, but make sure you personalise them to your industry experience. For example, let’s say you’re working with a client to design a series of illustrations. An agreement template you use will probably have a clause that grants your client with all the rights in the illustrations, but what if that’s not what you agreed on? That’s where you tweak the template.

(If you want to learn more about how to personalise your own agreements and contracts from templates or just create them from scratch, sign up for our free email course.)

4. Breathe and relax

We mean it.

  1. Remember that this is the creative business

Create, collaborate, and connect but remember that if you’re trying to make a career out of your creative endeavours, then you’re officially an entrepreneur. You represent yourself and your work, so be smart when you manage deals, enter into partnerships, and create content. Keep your focus on revenue, investments, sustainability, and integrity – you might find managing all this a bit overwhelming, so spare some time to think about hiring a manager, seeking representation with an agent, accessing legal and publishing help, hiring a publicist. On the other hand, you can also invest in learning a few tricks of the trade through specialised courses in schools or online.

  1. Watch your health

Seriously – this is actually a big one and honestly, not focussing on this pretty much devalues everything else mentioned earlier. With deadlines looming, peer pressure, and financial goals constantly dominating our lives, our bodies and minds have begun to take a real beating. Physical injuries, exhaustion, burnout, anxiety, substance abuse – these are all very real problems that mess with our lives and those of the ones, we work and live with. So, make it a priority to check in with yourself, to see how you’re doing and to remind yourself that no matter what happens, your health comes first.

Six easy things to help you get started this new year, and we would love to hear your additions to the list. 

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