I regularly give advice to those wanting to get started in the creative industry. In today's blog I wanted to summarise some of my tips and share my best pointers. This is the method I used to get started, but Facebook didn't really exist then so I would hang out in business start up forums.

1) Be prepared to work for free

When I first started out in the industry I spent 6 months working for free. Gradually as my experience and portfolio quality increased, so did my hourly rate. Before you know it, if you work hard and absorb as much of the industry as you can you'll be paying the bills with your design work.  In my first business I earned £1 an hour for my work, then £2, then £5, then £10 – at the end of my first year in business I was paid £15 an hour. Job done!

There's a reason I saw a lot success in the creative industry despite not being the most talented. I would consider myself an average designer at best.  I worked harder, hustled more and I was prepared to do more for far less when starting out. Even if you're in a senior role, and you want to switch careers, you need to pay attention to this particular point. You are never too experienced or “senior” to work for free to gain more experience and learn from others. If you want to get started in the creative industry, then you have to put in the extra effort to learn and sometimes re-learn.

Working for free to get real experience is a shortcut to success, and successful people know that's a truth!

2) Get experience – any experience!

It doesn't matter if it is friends, family, a plumber down the street or a local club or organisation. Take any opportunity you can get. When you do a good job, they will spread the word for you – client referrals will become your best source of new work, and if you impress a client they'll do the selling for you when they tell their own contacts. If my 13 year old daughter can start a business using this approach, so can you.

3) Be honest about your experience.

Don't pitch for creative jobs by making false claims about your experience. You'll slip up, and you'll put yourself under unnecessary pressure. Be honest and your clients will appreciate that, and they'll also be ok if you do make mistakes. And believe me, on your path to mastery you'll make mistakes all the time.

4) Get creative with your OWN brand.

Your brand is how you can really get creative, and share your personality and style with the world. Use it to experiment and learn without risk.

5) Go and hang out in places where your customers are

There are literally thousands of Facebook groups & forums for startup business owners, who have limited budgets. They would snap your arm off if you offered to do some free work in exchange for a shout-out on THEIR social media when you deliver a great job.

6) Go and buy yourself a lynda.com membership or similar

Any technical skill I struggled with starting out I learned on lynda. For example, Photoshop, Illustrator and Dreamweaver. There is lots of free training out there now, but I wanted speed and expert training so I chose to invest in my Lynda membership. That subscription made all the difference in the quality of my work and the speed I was able to move onto bigger and better paid projects.

If I was to get started in the creative industry all over again, what would I do?

If I had to go back and do this again, I would adopt the Facebook group approach. Post an offer stating for a testimonial, a recommendation on their site and a social media post to their audience you'll work for free. Make sure you excluding hard costs such as printing. I would do this for 5 clients. If you are average at best you can create a business from that approach – it really is that simple.

And here's my 2nd piece of golden advice. Find a group to post that offer to get started in the creative industry! Join my group here – you're welcome! 🙂

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