5 steps to a successful creative career

As a new business toolkit and video series for creatives is launched, we grab 5 top tips from the founder of Creative Exchange.

While there are plenty of books to buy and workshops to pay for, one organisation is filling the gap by launching a completely free, 14-part program and video series aimed at helping creatives and artists build the entrepreneurial skills needed to make a living and a life in their field.

The program, Work of Art, debuts online today, Monday 14 December, at Creative Exchange.

Developed by St Paul-based Springboard for the Arts, Work of Art is based on entrepreneurship workshops that have been taught to more than 5,000 artists in over 80 communities in the US. It guides creatives and artists through every facet of building a successful career – from time management and marketing to pricing and developing a business plan. Case studies, exercises, analytical tools, checklists, and worksheets make it a hands-on, inspiring way to take charge of your life and career.

Laura Zabel, founder of Creative Exchange, has shared five essential steps that creatives can take in starting to build a successful and sustainable career – and these are accompanied by clips from the Work of Art video series.

01. Use your time wisely

Time is money, especially if you on a client deadline, or trying to fit in freelance work between other jobs. Use the Work of Art toolkit Time Management module to set your goals and plan what hurdles you might face, and identify what is vital in your process, and what is trivial that you waste valuable time on.

02. Get your pricing right

There are lots of tools out there to help you calculate pricing, rules of thumb that you might hear, and free resources to help keep your costs down (like those on Creative Bloq's 7 free design tools for freelancers on the go) but how do you really calculate your prices? Use the steps in the pricing module to think through time spent, hard costs, overhead and more to get your pricing at a sweet spot for your career and your clients.

03. Plan your social media

Social media is a great tool for attracting attention and customers to your work, but it can also be a huge distraction and take up lots of time. (How did you land on this article?) With the exercises in the Social Media Basics module, you spend your time better determining where to focus your energy and plan your content. Additional Work of Art videos with tips and pointers are also available!

04. Don't get buried in receipts!

As an artist or designer, you are a small business owner – the business of you and your creativity. Along with the freedom of being your own boss, though, comes the responsibility of managing your finances and tracking your income and expenses. Use the Recordkeeping module for tips on how keep good records, information on what you need to keep and for how long, and tracking and forecasting your budgets.

05. Put your business plan in order

What are all the things you'd like to do? What sets you apart? What is your plan to make a go of your business? These are all questions facing artists and designers, and can be daunting. The step-by-step process of identifying your strengths and desires, as well as the competitive landscape and other offerings in the Business Plan Essentials module can help you put your dreams to paper and make it a plan.

Don't forget to ask your fellow artists for their input and feedback! Using Work of Art with a group of colleagues is a great way to strengthen your network and build community.

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