Career Advice for Every Creative and Artist: How to Be Successful

hey everybody this is roberto blake of
robertoblake.com helping you create
something awesome today so today’s video
is slightly different you’ll notice a
little bit of a different camera setup
and some things going on 1 i’m still
testing the sony rx100 mark 5 as a new
camera and it’s pretty sweet the other
thing is this is one of those rare
videos that I’m shooting in real time
for you guys instead of pre-recording it
weeks in advance and part of that is
actually don’t have a lot of backfill
left because I’ve actually been
traveling a lot I’m actually still
getting a little bit over a cold and I
really just wanted to make this video
while I had some things on my mind so
let’s talk about creative careers in
general we’re talking about things like
graphic design we’re talking about
photography we’re talking about being a
writer we’re talking about anything you
want to do as a creative person this
could include being a musician or
performing artist and what the truth of
a career outlook looks like for you
because I know there are a lot of people
and a lot of these people they’re not
coming from the industry so they’re
telling you things that are telling you
there’s no money in it they’re telling
you there’s no future in you need
something more practical instead of
aligning you with somebody who’s been
successful at what you’ve done because
there may be what they want to say are
exceptions or anomaly or it’s so rare to
be successful at that thing but the
reality is that they’re saying that in
saw on some level they don’t believe
that you could do it instead of putting
you a position to win and just keep in
mind this is not me bagging on your
parents your odds your uncle’s your
teacher or whoever is giving you this
advice I’m just saying that you have to
really question the source here if you
wanted to learn how to drive a car are
you going to listen to somebody who’s
like oh no I never drive I have too much
anxiety around it you see nothing but
people getting into car accidents all
the time is that somebody that you’re
going to take as the source on something
or someone who is a great driver with a
fantastic driving record hasn’t had an
accident I mean just think about that
from a practical point of view so part
of my advice in my schpeel to you is
that if you want to be successful at
something talk to someone who’s action
been successful at it talk to someone
who’s actually made money at it and they
can tell you what the reality is and
what looks like and I’m one of those
people in this particular instance but
you need to find those people they’re
accessible to you in your everyday life
or in social media or in your community
and find that people have actually done
it because those people can put you on a
path and give you the advice and tell
you what it looks like and how serious
it is what’s changed and what’s not and
for some people that answer is college
now you guys know that I’ve been
skeptical about certain things with
college and I went to college and my
experience was great for the most part
but I also talked to college students
every single day I talked to graduates
every single day I also talked to the
people who actually hire for a living
every single day my friends my
contemporaries my colleagues even my
competitors and I know what the anxiety
is even as someone myself West to write
checks to freelancers I know what the
anxiety is around hiring anybody and I
know what the reality in the outlook is
for students in a way that they may not
appreciate professors may not appreciate
your parents may not appreciate because
you have to think these are people who
don’t write checks to creative people
for a living so if your job and your
business relies on writing checks to
creative people to do your design work
writing checks to people to do video
editing writing checks to people to do
some of your social media management if
you’re in that position or you’ve been
on that position and you’ve hired for
that position or you’ve worked for that
position before you are credible source
of information for somebody who looks to
do that someone who has not done that
someone who doesn’t do that someone who
doesn’t hire has not hired or has not
worked in the industry in years and
years and years is probably not a
credible source of information no matter
how intelligent they are no matter how
well-intentioned they are that’d be like
taking stock advice from somebody who’s
never invested in their life that would
be taking driving lessons from somebody
who’s never driven a car before or
hasn’t done it in a very very long time
it’s not the greatest idea in the world
and again I don’t mean that to be
dismissive or offensive toward anyone in
your life I’m saying that if you
to be successful at a particular thing
someone with the experience and not just
prior experience but active experience
that’s a practitioner in the industry is
your best source of information so you
need to be cultivating those
relationships you need to be marketing
and networking with those people because
they can tell you what works and what
doesn’t in a very realistic and
practical way because they’re making
real money at it or they’re doing it day
in and day out you know you’re probably
saying okay that’s great roberto but how
do i make a living at a creative career
one of the things you have to understand
is you have to make a distinction
between whether you’re going to work for
an employer or whether you’re going to
be a contractor of some time and what
also what is practical for the state of
the market place in the industry because
i’ll tell you right now that in-house
creative positions are drying up there
are people losing those positions now
and it’s going much more toward a
freelance market and freelance economy
actually did an article for how design
about the gig economy and how that
affects you know creatives especially
designers and where things are going
with that and it’s very real that those
freelance jobs are growing and in-house
positions are shrinking you can still
get an in-house position you can still
work for an agency I’m just saying that
the competition is increasing the demand
is shrinking with regard to the hiring
aspect of that for full-time work but
for individual one-off projects the
markets never been better so you have to
think about your positioning and think
about what you really want now what many
people will argue for is there’s more
stability in a nine-to-five job and I
can tell you that that mentality is a
little outdated and here’s reality of
that if you work in a nine-to-five
position and I did this in corporate
America multiple times for a long time
the reality is that it’s not really job
security because it only takes one
person a position of authority not
liking you for you to not have a way to
you know make an income because not only
can they fire you but they could impact
your overall career and reputation
especially if you are a younger person
you don’t have a ton of experience or if
you’re an older person and you’ve worked
at that company for the majority of your
adult life and it for right every reason
they decide to to do
that to you and it could be nothing to
do with your quality of work it might
not be that you deserve it could be the
internal politics of the company it
could be that they felt slighted in any
kind of way there’s any number of things
where that can go wrong that’s not your
fault and we all know this because we
all know vindictive petty people and
sometimes those people are in a position
of authority over you and you have very
little control over whether that’s your
situation or not but you have control
over is what you do on your off hours
which is why I tell people that doing
your own personal projects that you have
ownership over developing your own
personal brand and doing a non-compete
side work in something relevant then
those things matter because you have a
reputation you have a body of work the
leverage independent of a singular
employer because here let’s do another
scenario what if you end up having to
leave or what or what have you or your
department gets downsized it’s not even
that you’re being fired for any negative
reason or anybody’s out to get you but
there’s something in your contract where
all the work you did is work for hire
you can’t use it in your portfolio going
forward that’s a very real thing and
that does happen to a lot of people I
had a friend who worked in the military
and her MOS had to do with video editing
and marketing and production and so on
and when she left she wasn’t able to use
any of her work from that particular job
from her job within the military she was
able to use it in her portfolio and it’s
a good thing that she had done some side
projects and then we had worked together
and that I was a reference for her and
she had other clients that were
reference for her because without having
that body of work that job that she’d
been doing uh for all those years that
body of work that she thought she was
going to use in addition to her
experience while she served her country
all went out the window and she would
have had to start from zero and that
would have been very hard and very
discouraging but she didn’t have to
start from zero in terms of references
she didn’t have to start from zero in
terms of relationships and she’d have to
start from zero with a body of work
because she was doing things and our off
hours so that she could have control of
her brand and her career and a resume
and a reputation so if you are somebody
and you’re pursuing a creative career
and you get a nine-to-five job don’t
think that when you climb
out at 6pm which is when you’ll really
clock out I know it says 925 you’ll be
clocking out at six or 630 that’s the
real world then don’t think that it ends
there you still have to at some point go
home and hustle for yourself for an hour
at least if you really want to be
successful and have a future because
once you make someone else the end-all
and the be-all and the sign factor in
your paycheck and in your career and in
your credentials you’re in a very
vulnerable place if you’re not building
up your personal brand your portfolio in
your projects and staying sharp and
staying on top of the industry and so I
would encourage you to not slack off and
get comfortable and think that there’s a
such thing as job security because there
just isn’t job security is a myth you
are only as valuable or rather let me
play like this you are paid in
proportion to the perceived value of the
problem that you solve and if you are no
longer indispensable in solving that
problem you are eliminated that’s very
true go find me a switchboard operator
that’s still working today that’s very
true i would say that one of the things
that you have to really look at is that
instead of worrying about jobs stability
you should look at the roadmap of your
overall career you should look at the
roadmap of your overall career and if
this job goes away what if your
department isn’t downsized what the
company goes oh goes under what if you
have a CEO that’s dipping their hand in
the cookie jar wherever your CEO get the
scandal you don’t wanna be associated
with a brand that has a scandal and
working for them because even if it
wasn’t your fault the reputation could
bleed over so you have to have
independent control of your career on
some level even if what you want is a
401k and job stability you have to think
about well how do I get the next job
after this or if there’s an artificial
ceiling in place where there’s not a
ladder for you to move up how do you
jump over to a new company and go up
that ladder you have to put yourself in
a position do that so in addition to all
that work you also need to be doing
networking you need to actually be
building up your contacts you need to be
going to industry events you need to be
talking to people you need to go into
conferences you need to deal with other
local small business owners and have a
good relationship so that when you need
an opera
unity when you need a new job when you
need an introduction that that’s there
for you and you’re not starting from
zero and you’re not panicked that you
already have people that you can call in
favors with you already have people who
will vouch for you who will fight for
you and who will look out for you guys
think about who’s gonna have your back
in fact there’s a book on my shelf by
keith ferrazzi who’s got your back never
eat alone I’ll link up some books in the
description that you guys should check
out in some other resources but these
are things that wish had been told to me
when I got started in my career when I
got started my career even in college
one of the things they didn’t teach us
enough about which I really wish they
would focus on is the importance of
networking they really didn’t stress
that enough they also didn’t stress
enough how much we should be setting
aside and that we should be saying aside
that in case our job is eliminated and
anything that we have something to live
off of up and that we need to be
thinking about that and in negotiating
our salary we need to think about not
just the bills that we’re paying we need
to be thinking about going beyond that
and how we accumulate savings so that if
this job doesn’t last that we have
something to tide us over until we can
get a new position they weren’t teaching
us that they weren’t teaching us how to
build our own creative business so that
one day if we want to go our own way we
could do that and yet again I want to
stress I’m not knocking college I’m not
knocking your professors I’m just saying
that these things aren’t them weren’t in
place I think that they were very
practical I think they’re very important
and I think the things that we need to
be able to talk about and that’s why I
talk about them here on the channels
that you have an alternative source of
information from someone living in the
real world that’s been the employee been
the freelance contractor work that an
agency worked in-house worked you know
for themselves owns and runs a business
hires other people to do stuff at this
point still does stuff with clients and
managing clients of my own like so
that’s a very real thing I’ve moved more
to the marketing and consulting and
content and media production side of
what I do with create awesome media
instead of being a full-time freelance
designer I made that practical decision
because I saw where for me I had to do
with the 8020 rule I had to see wow the
majority of my profits are coming from
this thing instead of that thing and I
had to make a very smart
pivot for me because I had to leave ego
off of the table I had to make a very
very practical purpose driven decision
to do much less with visual branding and
design and to only do that in the
context if I thought that I was the best
person to do it on a campaign within the
context of a small portion of a larger
thing that a client would want from a
content development standpoint meaning
this that if I think that I’m going to
do the best job on the YouTube
thumbnails for a video marketing and
brand development package that we’re
doing for a client where we’re handling
some of the editing they’re handing us
the materials that they produce they’re
handing us the photography and I think
that G out of everybody I could probably
make the best thumbnail out of this then
i would take part of that on but if i
didn’t think that I could do that I
would hand that off to somebody else
that’s part of a necessary thing that
you have to come to a conclusion on of
where you’re going to take ego out of
the equation and where it’s okay to let
go of us a little bit of a sense of
ownership over something to deliver on
the best project possible I’m more
interested in delivering on the best
project possible for my client then what
I can take credit for I don’t need to
take credit I’m going to cash the check
so I don’t need to take credit when I
can just cash the check right so that’s
something that it was not the easiest
thing to do do not mistake that when I
say this because it wasn’t the easiest
thing to do because every creative
person has just a little bit of vanity
but the more you can let go of that
vanity you’ll realize that vanity is a
very expensive thing to hold on to and
you learn to let go of it so as an
artist I will tell you that the day that
you learn to abandon all vanity is the
day you’ll stop being a starving artist
it’s what I sarcastically referred to as
grow up and sell out let’s not really
selling out it’s about you sold out
meaning that you’re in demand and when
you have something that’s in demand it’s
more it’s it’s easier than you would
possibly imagine to not have an ego
about things when you are selling them
when you are selling a service or a
product
you let go of a lot of the romanticism
because you’re really adamant about
making sure you have the best thing that
you possibly can on the shelf and that
you’re delivering for other people
because in the process of wanting to
deliver for other people your hangups
and your vanity and your romanticism
about the creative will take a back seat
to the deliverable and to making sure
that the other person is satisfied with
what they’ve got in my mind that maybe
one of the best ways you can interpret
that form follows function that the the
form the creative the aesthetic all of
those things that we like to romanticize
this artist will take a backseat to
whether it accomplished what was needed
by the client by the consumer by the
customer and when you really
empathically are being of service that’s
when you’ll do your best work because
you will be taken out of the equation
yes putting yourself into your work does
produce great work especially as an
artist but become as if you’re creative
that’s trying to do something in the
business world you’ll find that yes when
you are passionate and you really care
about this you will do your best work
when you’re passionate and you really
care about other people you will do the
greatest work that you have done you may
not be doing your best personally
satisfying work but your greatest work
will be the work that’s done in the
service of other people you’ll find that
that’s absolutely true at least again
that’s been my experience maybe you’ll
have a different experience I’m not
going to sit there and say that you’ll
find that that’s true because that
sounds a little insincere because
everyone has an individual experience
right but I genuinely believe that
you’ll find that to be true I genuinely
believe that if you start to think about
how what you do facilitates and serves
others that it will produce some of your
greatest work of all time anyway guys
that’s that’s what I’ve got for you
today I just want to have a creative
conversation I wanted to have some
creative thoughts with you guys will be
back very soon to your regularly
scheduled format where I’m giving you
like you know design tips and career
advice in a like you know eight to 10 or
12 minute kind of video where everything
is on a tripod
I am going to be doing a little bit more
with uh you know rollovers and lower
thirds and um slide decks and some other
things but I really just wanted to have
this conversational video with you guys
I was a lot easier just do it with the
vlogging camera and in vlogging form
here in front of the bookshelf than
anything else and maybe I’ll do more
videos like this in the future if you
guys actually are kind of into it anyway
I hope you guys enjoyed this video if
you have questions about your creative
career whether you’re a designer whether
you’re an artist whether you’re a writer
a photographer a filmmaker let me know
in the comments section I definitely
want to hear from you guys also I’m
planning a show around creatives I think
of it almost like a askgaryvee style
type show but for the creative world and
so I’m going to be doing a lot of QA I’m
going to be highlighting and showing off
people’s creative projects I’m gonna do
kind of like a challenge of the day kind
of thing creatively anyway I’d love to
get some ideas and feedback from you
guys on what you would like to see in
that show that show probably will be
coming sometime in late spring of 2017
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you guys thanks so very much for
watching and don’t forget create
something awesome today take care