How to Stay on Top of Your Creative Career

How to Stay on Top of Your Creative Career


Most people think creative professionals have fun all day long. After all, what could be more enjoyable than spending every workday writing, designing, creating music or shooting videos?

Part of this is true, of course. In most cases, a creative professional starts out with a talent and turns it into an occupation by means of education and training. But there's also a lot of hard work involved. To quote the 19th century French writer Émile Zola, "The artist is nothing without the gift, but the gift is nothing without the work."

However, the success of any commercial creation depends not only on a professional's skills and ability to adhere to a creative brief and bring it to life, but also on the subjective opinion of the client or employer who ordered it, as well as the efficacy of the final product. In an ever-changing landscape of trends, fashions, software, technology and market needs, a creative professional's job can be challenging… and of course, a creative career consists of a continuous stream of successful creative projects. And with a plethora of talented people out there, remaining competitive is key to career satisfaction and longevity.

That's why, if you're a creative professional, it's imperative to stay on top of your career. Read on for some of our best tips to keep you organized, informed and inspired.

  • Get motivated. According to B. Jeffrey Madoff of the Parsons School of Design, motivation is the reason you do something and it has to come from within. So determine what your motivation and use it to keep you going. Whether you hope to gain fame, money, creative satisfaction or professional independence, work hard on every project knowing that it could bring you a step closer to your goal.
  • Plan your course. Decide carefully what direction you want to go in your creative career and plan each step in your career accordingly. However, keep in mind that unexpected opportunities or challenges can arise, so be prepared to adjust your course when necessary. The Harvard Business Review advises you can maximize your chances of success by actively managing your career. Ask yourself regularly what next step will bring you the best results.
  • Learn from constructive criticism. Let's face it: due to the nature of creative work, creative professionals often deal with feedback that's to a certain extent subjective. But instead of getting upset when you're on the receiving end of criticism, view it as a learning experience. Psychology Today states, "Without appropriate feedback we can't improve ourselves." So whether it's a more senior creative giving you pointers on how to improve a project or clients telling you what they don't like about a piece, take it all in and analyze what information is useful for you and what isn't.
  • Keep learning. With ever-developing technology and continuously changing trends, any creative professional needs to be up to date on the most current developments in use. Whether it's online courses with or live seminars with Adobe, there are numerous opportunities to stay up to date with all relevant developments in whatever creative field you're in.
  • Join professional organizations. Interacting with people who are in the same or related fields to you is a good way to make contacts and find out about interesting opportunities. Professional organizations, small business meetings and even Meetup groups are excellent ways to build relations and expand your network.
  • Read creative blogs and sites regularly. There are many informative blogs and websites online that are jam-packed with tips, opinions and advice from experts in a wide range of creative fields. Information Aesthetics, Creative Bloq and Digital Arts are a good place to start, but just spend a little time searching on the Internet and you're bound to find many more.
  • Be inspired. Any creative person needs to be inspired. Take regular walks in nature, spend a couple of hours people watching in the city, go to concerts or visit museums. Whatever it is that gives you inspiration to keep coming up with your own creative masterpieces, reserve the time to do it every week.

Building a successful creative career is hard work, but with time, smart planning and dedication, you can stay abreast of relevant developments and make the best career choices for you.