Read time: 2 min.
Practical steps to get past the hardest part in pursuing a creative career — getting started.
Breaking onto the career scene as a creator can be a challenge, to say the least. There is no easy, three-step plan of action for writers, artists, and designers to turn what they do into a living. No two creators follow the same path.
The hardest part is getting started. Once you get started, one thing will usually lead to the next. That’s where the list I’m about to share with you comes into action.
Here’s my challenge to you: Read through the list below and pick just one step to take. See where that one step takes you. Don’t worry about the rest.
1. Build your portfolio
Creating work is how you get better. It’s also how you show people you know what you’re doing. Create as much as you can, then curate it so you’re only showing off your best work. Create a portfolio website or a physical portfolio.
2. Get an internship
Sometimes you have to start out by working for free to prove yourself. If you can find a paid internship, more power to you. This will help you build your portfolio and network. Internships often lead to permanent jobs, too.
3. Cold call or email
Do some research on Google, LinkedIn, or even Instagram or Facebook, to find the name and contact information of someone who is currently doing what you want to do. Then, reach out to them. Ask them for advice for someone starting out in the field. Ask them if you can job shadow them for an afternoon. Ask them to look at your portfolio and critique it. It doesn’t really matter what you ask — just make the connection.
Cold calling can work, but you’re going to get a lot further when reaching out to someone who knows someone who can vouch for you. You could attend a professional networking event, but networking can also happen more organically. If you overhear someone at a coffee shop talking about a job that’s right up your alley, introduce yourself and ask them about it. Walk into a business and ask them what opportunities they have in your field. The key is to make your name, face, and career goal known. Other people can help you take it from there.
5. Take a class
Sometimes having a degree can give you an advantage, but other times it isn’t necessary. Ask others in your potential career field if they think it’s necessary and go from there. You could take a class as part of a degree program, or just take an isolated class to improve your skills. This will give you opportunities to network and build your portfolio, as well.
After you take your first step, let me know how it went (comment below or reach out to me on social media: @theadventuresofmic). I’m willing to bet you will have gotten your start and figured out the step you need to take after that on your own.