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


– Hey everybody, this is Roberto
Blake at 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 set up and some things going on. One, I’m still testing
the Sony RX100 Mark V 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 realtime for you guys instead of prerecording
it weeks in advance and part of that is, I
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 wanna do as a creative person, this could include being a musician or a 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, they’re telling you
there’s no money in it, they’re telling you
there’s no future in it, and that 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 wanna 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 on some level, they don’t
believe that you could do it instead of putting you
in a position to win. And just keep in mind,
this is not me bagging on your parents, your aunts,
your uncles, 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 gonna 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 and
my spiel to you is that if you wanna be successful at something, talk to someone who’s actually
been successful at it, talk to someone who has
actually made money at it, and they can tell you what the reality is and what it looks like and
I’m one of those people in this particular instance,
but you need to find those people that are accessible
to you in your every day life or on social media or in your community and find the people who
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 want to college and
my experience was great for the most part, but I
also talk to college students every single day, I talk 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 who has to write checks to freelancers, I know what the anxiety
is around hiring anybody and I know what the reality
and 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 a 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
want 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. Now 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 also, what is practical for the state of the market place and the industry? ‘Cause 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 a freelance economy. I actually did an article for HOW Design about the gig economy and
how that affects 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 market’s 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 the 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 in a position
of authority not liking you for you to not have a
way to 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 and 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 for
whatever 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, 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. What 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
non-compete side work in something relevant,
then those things matter because you have a reputation
and you have a body of work to leverage independent
of a singular employer because, here, let’s do another scenario, what if you end up having
to leave 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 as work-for-hire, you can’t use it in your portfolio going forward. That’s a 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 wasn’t able to use it in her portfolio and it’s a good thing that she
had done some side projects and that we had worked together
and that I was a reference for her and she had other
clients that were a reference for her because without
having that body of work, that job she had been
doing 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’ve had to start from zero and that would’ve 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 didn’t have to start
from zero with a body of work because she was doing
things in her off hours so that she could have control
of her brand and her career and her resume and her 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 clock out at six PM, which is when you’ll really clock out, I know it says nine to
five, you’ll be clocking out at six or 6:30, that’s the real world, 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 wanna be successful and have a future
because once you make someone else the end all and the be
all and the deciding 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, and 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 such a thing as job security because there just isn’t. Job security’s a myth. You are only as valuable, or rather, let me put it 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 if
the company goes under? What if you have a CEO
that’s dipping their hand in the cookie jar, what if
your CEO gets a 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 401(k) 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 to 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 be going to
conferences, you need to deal with other local
small business owners and have a good relationship
so that when you need an opportunity, when you need a new job, when you need an introduction, then 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. You gotta 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 and some other resources but these are things that
I wish had been told to me when I got started in my career. When I got started in 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 setting aside that, in case our job is
eliminated or anything, that we have something to live off of 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 think about going beyond that in how we accumulate
savings so that if this job doesn’t last then 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 wanna go our own way, we could do that. And yet again, I wanna stress
I’m not knocking college, I’m not knocking your professors, I’m just saying that these
things aren’t and weren’t in place and I think that
they were very practical and I think they’re very important and I think they’re things
that we need to be able to talk about and that’s why
I talk about them here on the channel so that you
have an alternative source of information from someone
living in the real world that’s been the employee,
been the freelance contractor , worked at an agency, worked in-house, worked for themselves,
owns and runs a business, hires other people to
do stuff at this point, still does stuff with clients
and manages clients of my own, 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’ve made that practical
decision because I saw where, for me, I had to do the
80/20 rule, I had to see, wow, the majority of my profits
are coming from this thing instead of that thing and that
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 produced, they’re handing us the
photography, and I think that, gee, 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’s it okay to let go of as 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 than what I could take credit for. I don’t need to take credit,
I’m gonna 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 why 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 onto and you’ll 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 why I sarcastically refer
to as grow up and sell out, but it’s not really
selling out, it’s about, you sold out, meaning
that you’re in demand and when you have some
things that’s in demand, 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 backseat to the deliverable and to making
sure that the other person is satisfied with what they’ve got. In my mind that might be
one of the best ways you can interpret that form follows function, that the form, the
creative, the aesthetic, all of those things that
we like to romanticize as artists, will take a backseat
to whether it accomplished what was needed by the
client, by the consumer, by the customer, and when
you really empathetically 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, specially as an artist, but it’ll become, as if you’re a 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’ll 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 gonna sit there
and say that you’ll find that that’s true because that
sounds a little insincere because everyone has an
individual experience, 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 what
I’ve got for you today, I just wanted to have a
creative conversation, I wanted to have some creative
thoughts with you guys. We’ll be back very soon to
your regularly scheduled format where I’m giving you design
tips and career advice in a eight to 10 or 12
minute kind of video where everything’s on a tripod. I am going to be doing a
little bit more with rollovers and lower thirds and slide
decks and some other things but I really just wanted to
have this conversational video with you guys and it was
a lot easier to 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 comment section, I definitely wanna hear from you guys. Also, I’m planning a
show around creatives, think of it almost like a
Ask Gary Vee style type show but for the creative world
and so I’m gonna be doing a lot of Q&A, I’m gonna be
highlighting and showing off peoples 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’d
like to see in that show. That show probably will be coming sometime in late spring of 2017. Like this video if you like
it, don’t forget to Subscribe. Check out the other awesome
content on the channel. As always you guys, thanks
so very much for watching and don’t forget, create
something awesome today. Take care.

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