How to leave a corporate job for a creative one

Sometimes we have a dream to leave a corporate job for a creative one. But how on earth can we do it? For this podcast I was lucky enough to interview Bree Noble who did exactly that. She left her corporate job as a Director of finance to pursue a career in music.

Bree talks candidly about the journey she took from University, to the corporate world, and then finally leaving to fulfil her dreams of a creative career.

Bree was able to carve out a successful career, not only as a musician, but as a podcaster, and as a supporter of other musicians through online courses, sharing the tools that worked for her.

Listen to the podcast to find out more, and you can follow these links to see more of Bree’s work:

Women of Substance Podcast

Female music academy 

Bree’s own website

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Starting a creative business at any age

Tricia Cusden proves that you can start a creative business at any age. I was so impressed with Tricia’s outlook on life and it was a real pleasure to be able to interview her for this podcast.

Tricia founded the pro-age beauty brand Look Fabulous Forever  when she was 65 years old and already retired. Tricia had become frustrated with beauty products that weren’t suitable for mature skin, so decided to take herself back to school as a make-up artist and then launch her own range of beauty products.

What I loved about Tricia was that she was repeated told that her vision wouldn’t work and that older women wouldn’t buy make-up. Rather than stop Tricia, it only encouraged her to continue.

Starting a creative business at any age can be daunting, but when you haven’t grown up with social media or computers from a young age, it can be hard to know how to connect with your audience through these methods. Tricia’s daughter helped her to upload a video to Youtube showing you how to apply make-up for mature women and it went viral.

This changed how Tricia decide to run her business. Originally she was going to follow the formula of holding selling-parties, where a host helps to sell the products to a group of friends at a small event. With the success of the online video, Tricia realised that she could connect more easily with her audience on-line.

Her business has gone from strength to strength and now turns over nearly £2 million. Not bad for someone who was told that older women wouldn’t buy make-up!

You can listen to her whole story and the advice that she gives the younger generation on starting their own business by listening to the podcast below.

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How to work with passion rather than money

There are moments in your career when you need to forget about the money. This might sound like a strange thing to say, so let me explain why.

As creatives it is nearly impossible to be creative if you are thinking or worrying about money. Have you ever tried to design something from a starting point of money concerns? If you have, you’ll discover that the creative part of you becomes stilted. You panic. You over analyse. And before you know it, you haven’t been about to design anything.

Creativity needs freedom. It needs to know that anything is possible and it needs to come from a starting point of passion.

In this week’s podcast I talk about ways of making passion your priority, and how and when you need to stop thinking about the money.

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Let’s talk about money!

Often as creatives we would rather hide under the duvet than talk about money. We have a love, hate relationship which isn’t always healthy.

As we head towards the end of January I want you to take this time to really think about your finances. I’m not talking about the tax return, or how much is in the bank (although I hope you are keeping an eye on those things!). I’m talking about the work that you are doing and the money that it is generating- or not!

In this podcast I talk through why it is so important to keep an eye on the projects that you are working on. We invest so much of yourselves into our creative work, both emotionally & through the time we spend on it, that we can often forget it needs to earn us a living!

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How to automate your creative career

Happy New Year! I had wanted to say that last week but found myself unexpectedly in hospital for 5 days. As with everything in life, it is full of surprises. But lying there in bed it got me thinking about automation as I knew my social media posts were still sending out to my audience without me having to lift a finger.

If the word automation sounds weird to you, let me explain why it is such a great tool for you to use, especially if you are just starting out on your creative career, and find yourself having to wear many hats.

I’m sure at some point you have used an out of office reply on your email, or set it up for when you are away on holiday. This is one of the most basic forms of automation, but so useful!

In this podcast I talk through some of the ways that you can make automation work for your career and business. Think about all of the extra time you’ll save so that you can get on with the business of creating new work instead. It’s important to make time to do what makes you happy. 

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Going Pro

turning-pro

Going pro is all a matter of belief and confidence in the work that you are producing. Obviously if it was that easy, everyone would be doing it! So I’ve recorded a podcast to talk you through real things that you can do to turn pro.

Often it is about how you present yourself and your work. From the way that you handle clients, right down to the way that you communicate in emails and on phone calls. Over the years I have seen people’s work that is of a professional standard fail, as they haven’t taken into consideration the other areas of their career that they need to have a professional attitude towards.

You can hear about what you need to think about in the podcast below, and I set you a challenge to help you review your own career and work right now, and what you can do to improve on it.

The best way to start is to look at what you do right now. Think of the areas that your work, you and clients or commissions interact. Look at the list below and think about what areas you can improve on.

The list (do add your own)

  • Emails- How are you writing them? Is it in a formal or friendly voice. Choose what feels right for you and your industry.
  • Telephones- Is your answer machine message clear and concise? When you leave a message, do you repeat your phone number twice, so that the person at the other end has time to write it down? When you talk to someone on a call, are you friendly and helpful, or shy, blunt and uncomfortable? These are things you can work on.
  • Website- Even if it is one page, do you have a website? When people are looking at your work, or thinking about hiring you, a website gives them proof that you are professional. It is also a way for new clients to find you. Don’t under estimate how important it is to have one.
  • Contracts & Agreements- do you use these for every bit of work, no matter how large or small? They not only give you protection, but they also help you come across as professional and serious about your career and work.
  • Model & location agreements- if you work as an artist, filmmaker or photographer, this is something that you should think about. I talk more about it in the podcast.
  • Delivery notes- if you are sending work, this helps with your own filing, but it also makes you look more professional to the client.

There are lots of other things that you can add to the list. The key is to think what your competitors or heroes are doing, and how you can appear as professional as them. Chat with your friends as you might be able to share legal costs to produce contracts. Anything to help you get started on the road to being professional has to start with you.

Often turning pro is a self belief  in you yourself and your work. Doubt never goes away, but how you manage it can be the difference between you succeeding or giving up before you have climbed that hill.

I’ve set you a challenge in the podcast to review your own professional work and attitude. Let me know in the comments what things you are going to change, and any tips you have to offer. 

Planning for success

Planning for success

We plan for a journey or what we want to do on our holidays, but we rarely plan for success.

When we see our competitors or people we admire having success we forget about all of the private sacrifices it took to get there. Or the years of slog and failure before they had a success. all too often we compare our beginning to someone’s middle. As the saying goes “It is amazing how many years it takes to have an overnight success!”

If we don’t plan for success we are going to end up unfocused and treading on the spot. If we don’t have a goal or dream to aim for, how do we know if we have made any process towards it, or had any small successes on the way?

In this podcast I talk about why it is so important to plan for success, how to do it with out feeling overwhelmed, and how to use the tools and contacts you already have, before you go hunting for for new ones.

New shiny things are tempting, but they can move you off the path to success. I talk about how you have everything you need right now and how to make the most of it.

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Becoming a furniture designer

luno-side-board

I have had the pleasure of interviewing Jennifer Farmer, designer and maker of Luno furniture with her husband, Dan Knowles, in Los Angeles. I’m pretty obsessed with their work. Not only have they added beautiful speakers to the furniture, but there is room for a Whiskey bar inside as well. Ticking all of my boxes! You can see more of their amazing creations on their website: http://www.iamluno.com

Jennifer was great to interview and she spoke candidly about the struggles and the wins along the way. She began her career in the music industry in LA before discovering her love of furniture renovation, and with her husband’s sound engineering skills Luno was born.

unnamed

Sometimes we feel like we need everything in place before we start. Jennifer explains that sometimes it takes a jump into the unknown to get going and figuring it out on the way down. Her bravery is inspiring to me and I hope she encourages you to make a leap in your own creative career.

You can listen to the whole interview here:

What do you feel is holding you back in your creative career? What one thing would you do if you could take the fear away? Share your story in the comments below.

Get a grip on copyright

 

Be original

Getting a grip on copyright can be one of the greatest tools in your creative kit. I have met so many creatives who don’t understand copyright law, and this so often puts them at a disadvantage with their clients.

I have studied copyright law, but it does change quite often, so it is important for you to check what the latest laws are in your country. Most countries follow the same copy rights laws, apart from China. In this article I am going to talk about the UK copyright laws.

Copyright law doesn’t have to be scary. I’m going to talk you through a few basics, and explain a few exceptions to the rules. This should be enough to empower you to make the right decisions when selling your work or taking on a commission or employment.

In the podcast below I talk through the basic principles of copyright law, how it can make you money and how to explain to your clients what your rights are.

Here are the basics

  1. As a creative, when you produce a piece of work, whether it is a painting, photograph or writing, you own the copyright.
  2. You don’t need to register your work, for you to own the copyright to it. In the states and the UK you can register your work to prove that you own the copyright, but this isn’t a requirement.https://www.copyrightservice.co.uk/register/
  3. You can add the copyright symbol © at the bottom of your website or work, but again it isn’t a requirement. I like to add it to remind people to respect my copyright.
  4. If you sell your work (like a painting or photograph) you retain the copyright. Even if the work is a portrait of the client, you have the rights to the copyright. They have no right to make copies of the work, whether they sell them or not.You can sell them the copyright- but I’ll cover this later on.

Exceptions to the rules

There will always be some exceptions to the rules, so it is important that you check with your own country’s law as to what the exceptions are. They also change regularly, so it is important to make sure that you are up to date with your knowledge.

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How to get paid on time

How to get paid on time

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Getting paid on time when you are a freelancer or just starting out on your creative career, can be the difference between making or breaking you.

When I was starting out I had no idea that I could set the date that invoices needed to be paid by. I thought I was at the mercy of the people that I worked for as a freelancer. I now know that was wrong.

When we hustle for work and make new client and customer contacts we are building relationships. We each come with a way of working and we need to compromise to be able to work together. This I believe should also extend to payment plans as well.

When we start out or work with a new client, we are so grateful to get the work, we want to be on our best behaviour and hope that they will hire us again.
Money is one of those areas that as creatives we still struggle to have conversations about, but it is one of the most important things that we need to do.

We have all heard creatives say “Oh I’m no good with figures.” but this is really a way of saying “I don’t understand figures, or I’m scared of figures, or I don’t know how to ask for help about money”.

I don’t want to ever hear you say again that you are no good with figures! If you can use an ATM machine, then you can figure out some basic book keeping. At its most simple level all book keeping is, is money coming in and money coming out.

We all played with money boxes as kids adding up all of the coins that we had collected, and it is no different now that you are freelancing. I’m not the world’s best mathematician, but I know that I don’t have to be. I can use calculators or pay a monthly fee to use software like Kashflow.
As creatives we have so much more access to help to get our figures sorted out, than we ever did before.

Yes it can be boring, but it is the life blood of our career so we should show it some respect. Just as you wouldn’t feel good living on junk food your whole life, you need to look after your money in the same way and feed and care for it. How we get paid on time is a big part of that care package for your finances.

In the podcast I talk about ways to help you get paid on time and have designed a getting paid checklist for you to use.You can listen to it below.

To download the checklist click HERE.

When you start a new relationship with a client or customer find out who is actually going to be paying you.

  • Is it them, or someone from the finance department?
  • Get their name, email address and direct phone number before you start the work.

Having these conversations at the beginning will save lots of heart ache in the long run.

Next you want to work out what terms you want them to respect.

Does that mean that you expect payment on receipt of the invoice, or that you are paid in instalments as parts of the work is completed? By being asked to be paid in instalments it offers you some protection. If they can’t pay you for the next chunk of work, then it means you won’t start it until they have paid you for the previous work you have done. This is very useful if you are a designer, as you will be working closely with the clients and going backwards and forwards to make changes with them etc.

If you are a photographer, (like I was) it is harder to ask for payment as you go along, but there are other ways of doing it. You can supply watermarked photographs, or if you still work on film then you can supply watermarked contact sheets and hold onto the negatives until you are paid.

I have had terrible experiences in the past working for glossy magazines who said they would pay me monthly (and I didn’t know I could negotiate those terms). I waited to be paid monthly and then the magazine went bust with me losing 3 months worth of work, and having to fight with the bailiffs to get my negatives back. Don’t let this happen to you!

If they can’t afford you, then you need to ask yourself if it is worth working for them. Magazines and newspapers have a policy of only paying monthly, and sometimes longer. I still think that there are ways to work around this, as I mentioned before about holding onto the negatives or making sure you get some petty cash up front to pay for expenses.

We are often so excited to have the work our professional brain leaves the building! Believe me, I have been there. It is much harder to claw back money once the work has started than to negotiate terms for that work at the beginning.

They may say that their way is the only way, but if they really want to work with you I always think there is some compromise. After all this is all about relationships.

  • Can you get per diems (money for food, parking, hotels etc) up front?
  • Can you get them to pay in instalments if they can’t pay the whole fee on time?
  • Can they pay you some of it out of petty cash?

If you keep meeting brick walls you need to ask if you really want to work for these people. It might seem like a great place to be, but there is little point working hard for them if they are not going to pay you on time when you need the money for the work. All you get if that happens is a feeling of loss and bitterness that they took advantage of you.

As single freelancers it is always hard to negotiate the money alone, but once you have tried it once, you can do it again and again. As you build your reputation, you can set the way your payment plan works, and if they don’t like it, then you need to ask yourself if you want to work with them in the long run.

Too many young people come out of University or start their careers doing work for free. I beg them to stop.

It isn’t only that they are being taken advantage of, but it also damages the industry that they are entering. I have seen too many young photographers, designers and artists giving their work away for free again and again. It often comes down to confidence and the lack of skills to negotiate.

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