wise elephant, making it happen

Note for Freelance Creatives: Make Work Happen

By Jason Moriber • Nov 3rd, 2009 • Category: Strategy & Planning, Thinkering

Freelance creative professionals increasingly ask me these two questions:

1.    Is there any work “out there?”
2.    Is that work for me?

The answer to both is no, not right now, and maybe not for a while, if ever. There is no work “out there” for anyone anymore in the way it used to be. There is no low hanging fruit; there is no regular gig. If you keep asking these questions then there is no work for you.

So, what are you going to do about that? You’re going to do your best to make work happen.

A creative career used to be illustrated as a mildly sloping uphill path towards success. Now, the creative career landscape is a field of lumps, a mogul skiers paradise. Each job is its own little battle and is probably disconnected from the next potential gig, and often disconnected from your past. You have to bring new tools to this landscape in order to succeed.

Here are some steps to make work happen:
-    Display your passion
-    Connect, Reconnect, Connect…
-    Be positively aggressive
-    Take the work
-    Make a brand new bag

Display your passion:
Show the world what interests you the most about what you do. Don’t craft your marketing messages to cater to a common denominator, show what you are truly passionate about. Push your messages further.

Connect, Reconnect:
Are you connecting with new contacts? Reconnecting with former clients? The simplest way is by email, whether its personal or as a group-focused newsletter, but do it! The market won’t know what you’re doing unless you tell them. Tell them now.

Be positively aggressive:
Don ‘t be afraid of reaching out to potential clients, any type of client. Express how you can help them in the most positive manner. Don’t say, “I can do better.” Say, “I think this would create new opportunities.” What do you have to lose? Pitch new ideas to new markets.

Take the work:
If a gig is offered to you, take it. If it’s for less than your typical rate, still take it. Chalk it up as a marketing expense. It’s a cost of getting yourself into a new market. If a potential gig is for a different type of work than you typically do, put on your producer hat and build a team that can accomplish the task. Take the work.

Make a brand new bag:
The only person who defines what you do is you. No one “out there” is going to get mad if you add a new twist, a new style, or a new service. Make a new thing that only you can do, a “signature move” (term borrowed from Melinda Emerson). Become more unique.

Then ask these two questions instead:

1.    Are you actively seeking work?
2.   Am I making new opportunities for myself?

Jason Moriber is a veteran product/project/marketing manager, underground artist/musician, and online community developer, Jason expertly builds/produces/manages clients' projects, programs, and campaigns. Follow me on twitter http://twitter.com/jelefant
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5 Responses »

  1. Take the work. For less ? Maybe? There are still times to say no to a low-baller. And other times it may pay to make opportunities by helping others.

    When I read that a Twitter buddy was coming to LA to shoot for his Lemonade film on life after being laid-off from the ad agency, I volunteered to help. That led me to add some video chops to my still shooting background and generated a good series of photos and footage to use to promote myself as well as two great documentary projects.

    You can read about both of these projects at my blog. http://www.harmelphoto.com/blog

    what are others doing to be positively aggressive?

  2. Great post Jason. We get asked the same questions of students, too. I can’t emphasize enough the “passion” component. You have to “brand” yourself just like you would a product or service. People have to “get you” and your passionate – right off the bat. I also recommend people spend time crafting their own personal “elevator pitch”.

  3. Great post Jason! I think you really distilled the matter down to it’s essence. Thanks for this.

  4. - Mark, an answer to “positively aggressive”: The photographer Brett Beyer (he’s a client) pitches targeted ideas to brands/outlets. He’ll shoot work he feels passionately about uses them to gain an introduction with a brand. He (http://bit.ly/mFIG1), and the Alex Wright from Dripbook (http://bit.ly/2n05Ry), have (separately) started making short video pieces (the market has begun to ask for them) as realizations of ideas. These pieces can either be stand alone creative pieces or on-spec ads. Brett also sent his work into Wired’s Raw File and was accepted (http://bit.ly/1sB0FU). Similarly, Leland Bobbe did a series on Burlesque artists (http://bit.ly/2FQtda), Darryl Estrine is working on a book involving chefs and food artisans (http://bit.ly/2L2Sgb), and Jeff Fiterman became the tour photographer for Britney Spears (http://bit.ly/4yQh7m). Thanks for you feedback!

    - Carol, re “branding”: Yes, its true, as the market becomes much more freelance-based we all become “enterprises.” My wish is that creatives think of themselves more as clay than cement, staying fluid to opportunities and not being tied down to labels. This brings the message closer to the core, I’m not a food photographer, I’m an artist who loves colorful imagery.

    - Ed, thanks for the props!

  5. hi jason,
    well said. i love these little pushes. keeps me on the tracks.

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