When I first decided to change careers from IT to journalism back in 2008, I had no idea about the way to get there. I didn’t realize that it would be a completely different route to what I was used to, or to how I eventually got my IT job. Doing things the hard way – without anyone to guide me, assist or support me – I must say that I learned the lessons in the best way possible: by trial and error.
Comparing my previous career and work experience to what I do now is a very hard task. They’re two completely different fields and work environments. But, I will give you a brief idea to help you understand and maybe get inspired to make a similar change or adjustment to what you currently do.
I had a degree in Business Information Systems from the University of Bahrain. And after working in IT support for around four years, I decided to quit my job and pursue my passion: writing. I was 28, a year later, I moved to London to take a foundation course with London College of Fashion. After completing one term of A-Level equivalent and intensive study, I decided to move to Dubai to start interning for publishing companies in the hopes of landing an editorial role along the way…It’s the year 2014 and I’m still working towards that same goal that I had aimed for when I moved here in 2010. Except that these days, I have learned so many lessons along the way and I would like to share them with anyone who is working towards a similar goal or is looking into becoming a creative professional and earning a living out of it.
1. Start doing the creative work
While it might work otherwise in other industries – get a degree then apply for a job. In the creative industry, it’s the other way around. You must start by doing the work that you aspire to get paid for. Since employers will only hire you after they have seen your actual work and how you can add value to their organization and goals. Plus, doing the actual work will greatly help in improving your skills and expertise.
2. Do unpaid work
Freelancing and offering your services for free is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s a great way to build your portfolio – because you will need one in order to get paid for your work. So keep doing unpaid work for as long as it takes to get paid for your work and to be accredited for it.
3. Work 24/7
Working in a fun and creative environment is a good thing, but you must be prepared to work without taking breaks. Fixed working hours aren’t part of the game. There’s always something new to learn, some project to work on, a new and exciting idea to consider…The cool thing is that you get to be your own boss and you can manage your time according to your personal preferences.
4. Take notes of your ideas and put them into action
Whether it’s your next blog post, photo shoot, short video, web site design, you need to keep coming with fresh and new ideas. Most importantly, put those ideas into action by implementing them into that blog post, photo shoot, video or web page.
5. Love what you do
Any entrepreneur will give you this advise really. You must do what you do with passion if you want to get to anywhere. The monetary return will not appear in the first stages, so you must do what you love in order to have the passion to keep doing it even when the going gets tough and when you are not making any profit out of it.
6. Network, network, network
One of the essential elements of the creative industry is networking. Find out about relevant events and make an effort to attend them. Not only will you learn more about the market, you will also meet new people who share your interests and passions. Building positive and meaningful connections with others in your industry is vitally important.
7. Have casual meetings with like-minded people
Whether it’s over coffee, lunch, dinner or even breakfast, meeting with others from similar industries is a great way to share ideas, discuss various topics and maybe learn new tips and market information. Supporting others in their own career goals is always a great way to build positive and healthy relationships with others in your industry. The road is always more entertaining when traveled with others.
8. Work in creative hubs and open spaces
Whether you choose to work from your local neighborhood cafe, head to the nearest spot of big chain coffee shops, or collaborate with others at one of the work spaces in town, it’s always better than working from home. Being a creative professional – especially when writing – can be a lonely experience. So surrounding yourself with others in an open and busy environment is the best way to go. You will also feel more motivated to work in an environment where everyone around you is working in front of their laptops or doing some sort of productive work.
9. Read, learn, study
Taking a short course or working towards a degree in your chosen creative field will only add to your knowledge and build up your confidence. If you can’t afford a course, simply read online articles about your topic or any topic for that matter! Staying updated with what’s happening in your industry will help keep you ahead of others and boost your knowledge levels.
10. Never give up!
Reaching your goals in the creative industry and getting paid for your work could be an extremely lengthy process. It could take years before you could get published or be taken seriously by potential employers. But the trick here is to never give up and to continue working hard towards your goals. Even if no one reads your blog posts, supports you or what you’re doing, or thinks that you have great ideas, you must stay fixed to your target and aim to achieve it no matter how challenging things get. Keep reminding yourself of why you chose to do this in the first place and how long it took you to get to where you are. You must fuel yourself from your own energy, ambition and inner power.