freelancing, self-employed, independent creatives: observation of a tendency
I have been self-employed for about 7 years now (I have been working in the creative industry since I was 15 and was employed for about 4 years before going freelance). I guess it is the 7-year itch, that makes me reflect on that kind of life choice. I love being a freelance, self-employed designer and I have been going through all sorts of phases, partnerships, and learnings in those seven years. I feel like I have arrived at a status quo where I really feel comfortable, the level of everyday anxiety is okay and I am surrounded by people I love working with. Though I have to say that I have seen a tendency over the last couple of years where I got to know a lot of independent creatives, that love what they are doing, are experts in their creative field but are missing some crucial (mostly business) insights for the self-employed life.
The number of self-employed creatives has grown to impressive numbers over the last years. Different studies show, that this will continue for quite a bit longer and I truly believe that in the future systems will change to a degree, that even more creatives will be professional self-employees.
Though, what I have seen coming with this, are different issues - all the positive things aside why anyone chooses to be self-employed in the first place. And I am not really talking about those kinds of freelancers who cater to agencies and hop on and off for projects. I am more talking about those who pull of projects by themselves, in little teams, have their own clients and products.
All of this creatives are amazing at what they are offering when it comes to their creative service, but they often are having troubles with the skills around it, like project management, negotiations, setting up cost estimates and copyrights, time management etc. So why is that? I think it is because the different education models no matter if it is a university, masterclasses or whatnot are lacking those kinds of lectures and courses. But what kind of creative are you, if you can’t sell and promote your work to a degree that you can live in a good financial situation? The second thing is, depending on the country and culture you are living in is that most of the professional representations and platforms are lacking helpful information or courses. And the third point is, that a lot of creatives don’t really connect on that kind of level where they help each other out and share the knowledge around those topics.
I personally have become some sort of HOTLINE and TALENT MANAGER for the last couple of years where people call me and ask my help on negotiations, copyrights, cost estimates, project management and so on. And I am happy to share, be a consultant and help because I believe that better business knowledge makes better creatives and a better creative scene within a country.
I am still wrapping my head around concepts and ideas how creatives can connect better to learn from each other and maybe I am even going to get a professional hotline number soon ;)
I think it is a topic that needs to be discussed and explored further. I would appreciate if any of you self-employed creatives can fill in the little (anonym) survey below to find out what kind of issues you are facing the most on a monthly basis (you will see the result). Here is my number for now: +43 6502508840 - don’t hesitate to call if you need help!
picture © tobias van schneider / unsplash