Design Your Own Career: Part Two

Part Two: The Essential Elements of Entrepreneurialism

“He who would learn to fly one day must first learn to stand and walk and run and climb and dance; one cannot fly into flying.” – Nietzsche

Hopefully, from our work together on the previous post you’ll have some idea of the unique career you want to build. Now is the time to look at what is required from you to achieve this, and how you can acquire, cultivate and harvest these traits to your best advantage. Even if you haven’t 100% pinned down your ideal career, working on this in the mean time will only serve to enhance your prospects.

That ladder again…

Designing your own career is not a clear-cut thing, so it does not merely entail clear-cut procedures to attain it, like achieving basic qualifications, writing an average CV or applying for an advertised position. Your own career requires more; it requires passion; it requires initiative and brazen ambition; it requires jumping on all opportunities, and manufacturing the opportunities if they don’t exist; it has to justify itself by the very splendor that the ‘work’ brings you, before you even begin to contemplate the money you could make.

That said, you shouldn’t lose sight of the practical measures in the design of your own career if you want to make a practical living from it. As I previously highlighted: whether we opt for the conventional or creative career, we are still on a ladder. The only difference is who chooses the steps.

You need to conjure your own steps, and then take them with dedication.

I strongly advise writing down your prospective steps if you’re serious about success. Designing your own career isn’t easy, in fact it requires far, far more work than any other option, but you must love this work, or at least love the thought of where it will take you enough to bury yourself in even its most mundane elements with reckless abandon.

I can’t stress enough how strongly you have to want to design your own career if it is ever going to happen, it has to burst out of you like bubbles from a shaken can – if it seems too much like hard work now, know that it’ll get harder before it gets any easier. I don’t say this to put you off, not at all; I’m here to encourage you! I simply want to portray the seriousness of what you’re embarking upon, this is a huge part of your life, so do it right.

But back to those steps…

Here’s a guideline:

Where you are now. Education and ambition, laying foundations by getting qualified and testing the water. A time for work-experience, seeking a mentor etc.
Establish a product. A book, a collection of paintings or photography, a brand, a form of design, a celebrity self, a voice, a viewpoint etc.
Refine, improve, and update product.
Sell product. Look at ways to sell more product/ market product. Create a website, go on tour, create flyers, get a stand at an event etc.
Refine, improve, and update product.
Expand on product; bring in outside help. Create more products/more angles to your one main product.
Let others sell product for you, whether commercial or not. Affiliate programs, Amazon, local stores or galleries.
Refine, improve, and update product.
Take product elsewhere, into new markets, perhaps re-branding it.
Ultimate goal. (Mansion? Fame? Florida retirement?)

You are always selling a product in any career, whether that product is yourself, your art, a service – you have something to offer, and you receive recompense in return. This is your product, but call it whatever you like: your offering, your merchandise, your ideas.

Don’t feel like you have to stick closely to the above guidelines, your own career is your own, after all, and the steps will be uniquely yours. Just make them clear, measurable, and place them somewhere you’ll look at often and repeatedly.

The top three traits to entrepreneurialism and designing you own career.

There is no magic formula that mixes to make you an instant entrepreneur. You should know already if you have a passion strong enough to carry you along your own unique career path, and that is the only real starting point. However, here are three factors I consider the most important in any aspiring artistic tycoon.

Be inspired because…

“If you have to support yourself, you had bloody well better find some way that is going to be interesting.” – Katherine Hepburn

You have to find a medium of work that has you jumping out of bed at 5am because you can’t wait to get started (okay, maybe 8am…); one that has projects ticking over in your mind all day and that you can viably dedicate hours upon hours of your time to, for what is often little or no pay to begin with.

Be sure to protect and nurture this inspiration, not take it for granted; take yourself on a cultural outing once in a while, make time for watching interesting movies, read books, and carry a notebook to catch your best brainwaves like butterflies in a jar. Think of your source of inspiration as a well that needs to be replenished often.

Be Fearless because…

“You’ve got to jump off cliffs, all the time, and build your wings on the way down.” – Ray Bradbury

You must be genuinely prepared for hard work and possible failures in the quest for your own career; but know that failing is never truly failing if we can take a lesson from it. Take chances, even if you don’t fully know what the outcome will be, even if you are only 60% prepared. Jump in at the deep end and you’ll probably find you can float, if not swim laps!

Be a risk-taker and an authenticist (new favorite made-up word meaning someone who is true to themselves.) If an opportunity scares you, it’s probably the exact one you should take. Dream big dreams and get a successful mindset because, if you act like a success, you will eventually realize success.

Be a Leader because…

“If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.” – Michael Evans

Have a message you want to spread and a clear goal in mind at all times, or else you’re liable to stray from it. Not that this goal should be unbending, but you need to at least be aware if it does morph into something else. Prepare an elevator pitch (aptly named to be short enough to say on an average elevator ride i.e. one to three minutes) if the ideal time to sell your product should arise unexpectedly; keep all your dealings consistent with this pitch.

Form your tribe.

Common Problems with the Creative Career

The above is all well and good, but we have to prepare ourselves for the bumps and knocks of entrepreneurialism too. Like in any conventional career, you will encounter blocks on the creative path. Often, though, these blocks will be internal issues, not external ones – making them simultaneously easier (you’re the only issue to get over, no middle man or external barrier) to be got over, and more difficult (changing yourself is notoriously tricky when you are the only person there to answer to; requires immense will.)

Again, this isn’t with an aim to put you off, but to arm you with a mindset to defeat them, and to help you understand why you’ll need to get good at the positive traits I’ve already mentioned.

Time-management

The bad news is that this is something you’ll have to get good at. The good news is that the way you do this is totally up to you. When it’s your own work, deadlines will often be wishy-washy or even non-existent, but what if you’re just not that organized generally? You need to construct a system for how you deal with your time, whether that’s ‘every night from 6-8’ or ‘I feel so inspired, I’m just going to spend all day on my art, even if I do nothing for the rest of the week’.

You must get to know your productive self and how that self thrives: first thing in the morning, last thing at night, on the weekend, at the library, with a laptop in Starbucks etc. You need to write down a system that works for you, even if you avoid anything too specific. For more on time-management, read my article on How to Avoid Procrastination.

Lack of Opportunities

On the last first part of this series I received this from a reader: “…what stands in my way are the meagre opportunities and the lack of support from family and friends who do not believe in setting up a creative career, and hence won’t help in finances and the like.” My words on finances will come later in the series, but opportunities and support are essential factors to be overcome in all creative endeavors.

Believe me, opportunities are out there. Seek and you will find. If opportunities don’t seem to exist, you must take action to create them. Dedicate a day to trawling the internet with keyword Google searches and save your findings in a ‘Favorites’ folder. There are people out there, just like you, succeeding in what you want to do; link up with them, get work experience with them, interview them for a blog, find out how they got where they are and mimic it.

Find courses you can take in or around your subject, as this is often the best way to meet real, working professionals in the business. Meet other creative people in your community; even if their skills differ from yours, you can work together. For example, a web designer could assist a photographer to build a website, and the photographer could return the favor with help on promotional pictures.

Lack of Support

Going it alone career-wise is very often championed by the introvert. Why? Because it can be a lonely business; it requires someone who is happy to depend on themselves and spend a great deal of time working over their own thoughts and ideas. I’ve been lucky, I feel I can achieve great things because of the support network I have, but I know this isn’t always the case. Financial support can be sourced elsewhere (more information on this to come later) but emotional support of friends and family is truly priceless – and without it you can feel a bit lost.

Join a community, whether locally or online, no matter your niche, one will exist somewhere. If it doesn’t – set one up, even if it’s only a Facebook group. This kind of support won’t act as a replacement for that of close personal relationships, but it can surely help, and who knows what will come of the links you will forge.

Depending on your situation, if you believe in yourself enough and start to see small successes, your family and friends will come around. You have to look for the positive, create the positive, and you will find that you will attract positivity.

Dealing with People

Despite what I’ve said on the subject of support, an independent career will never be 100% you and you alone. Whether you’re collaborating, targeting a certain market, networking – whatever – you need to know about people, even if that’s a very small niche of people. It’s in your interest to learn how to interact, impress, excite and enlighten your public – as much for their benefit as your own. Establish yourself as a go-to person in your business, and your success will only grow.

Consider this your initiation into the world of your dream career! Next up will be Part Three: Love & Learning in Equal Measure where I’ll consider questions of gratitude and education, before we move on to the essential question of cold hard cash in Part Four: Making Your Passion Pay.

Design Your Own Career: Part One

Part One: What’s Your Calling?

“The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can’t find them, make them.” – George Bernard Shaw

Convention, we nearly all assign ourselves to it on some level or another; whether it’s three square meals a day, two point four children or a standard curriculum education. However, there comes a point in the life of your average creative when they realize convention just won’t cut it for them any longer, most powerfully when it comes to their careers.

Sometimes, even though it would be easier for an individual to ignore their talent, their desires, their dreams, and opt for habitual obedience and a fixed wage, they just can’t quite swallow the dry pill that is the conventional career. Is this you? Then this series is here to help.

Whether you’ve got no idea where to start, or you’re a seasoned freelancer looking to get back to basics, ‘How to Design Your Own Career’ will take you from the very basics of figuring out just what it is you should be doing, the traits you’ll need to be successful in that career, getting qualified and making it pay. From artists to jewelery designers, writers to life coaches and more – it’s in your hands to create a self-sufficient, fulfilling and profitable career. So, how about it?

What should you be doing?

“Your work is to discover your work and then with all your heart to give yourself to it.” – Buddha

You may know that a conventional career isn’t for you, what you may not know is which creative path you’d like to take. Deciding early on is desirable, as the more work you can put in now, the sooner you’ll get there. For sure success, you’ll also want to stoke a very organic, fiery desire within yourself, aimed at a certain path.

However, the creative mind is oftentimes a confused one – there’s just too much going on in there! For that reason, it may take a little self-research to conclude just what it is that you want to make your living doing.

If you’re stuck, try this exercise:

1. Find yourself a private space where you can sit comfortably, equipped with a notepad, pen, warm drink and perhaps some motivating music playing quietly. Gather five to ten items that interest, excite or inspire you. For example: a great book you’ve read (fiction or non-fiction) a magazine clipping, a beautiful image or photograph, a piece of jewellery or clothing, a CD or DVD etc. Try to vary the items as much as possible (although this isn’t essential) and spread them out in front of you.

2. Study the items and try to note down answers to the following questions:

  • What unifies them?
  • Imagine they were the belongings of a fictional character (i.e. not yourself) what would that character be like? Could you aspire to be more like this character? What career would fulfil this character?
  • With each item individually, try to create another item from it. For example, a Jazz CD could relate to a Jazz club (real or imagined) and you can picture how the Jazz club would be decorated, perhaps with a mural or mix of antique furniture.
  • Of all the items, real and imagined, which feels most exciting or ‘hottest’ to you?

3. Leave your notes for a day or so, and then return to them in the same setting. Brainstorm careers around the ideas you generated, even if they don’t exist, even if they’re silly, even if you don’t believe for one minute that you could make a living out of them.

4. Further questions you might like to ask yourself and brainstorm from are: what do you most often think about? (Food, fashion, a certain sport etc.) What do you most often read about? (What kind of article would you stop to read in a magazine, or what book would you pick up in a library?) What is currently on your mind? (When you’ll get a chance to watch that new movie, or your next holiday etc.) Again, what feels ‘hottest’?

5. Once you have certain topics in mind that inspire you, think about how you could make a career from them. What are the different ways people have done this? Who are they? How did they do it? How could you do it differently?

What you should know is that any career, any career you can think of, is made up of a series of ‘steps’. This, low and behold, is why it is called ‘the career ladder’! All you need to do is determine what these steps are, from your current position, and start taking them.

If your creative career doesn’t exist – create it! Thanks to the internet, the world of work is changing. The middle man’s days are numbered and we are freer than ever when it comes to how we can generate income. Online business is lucrative for the individual, and can be forged from an almost innumerable amount of hobbies, skills and interests.

Many people think they need a ‘big break’, or lots of money to begin with, and this can be the case, but don’t you think that even if you just reach, say, step seven, you’re far more likely to be noticed for your hypothetical ‘big break’ than if you lounge around at step zero? Precisely.

The truth is, the career of the creative is often made up like a tapestry, weaving together several income streams, some more attractive than others. Many people take the option of what we’ll call ‘half creative’ living, where they work a part-time or even full time job, and pursue a creative career alongside it. If followed with enough ambition, this option can often lead to ‘fully creative’ living.

Only you can know which choice is right for you but, if you’re really serious about designing your own career, you need to dedicate as much time as possible and, if not, have a strict regime of how you’ll use the time that you can dedicate. We’ll look more at time-keeping, and other positive traits you’ll need to develop for successfully creating your own career, in the next part of the series.

Remembering Rainbowlicious and 1990s Web Design

My beautiful, creative best friend and maid of honor happens to also be the queen bee of whimsy online in the late 90s. If you don’t remember her because you aren’t a computer geek artist, then you definately missed out on a piece of bubble gum ball history that you’ll never be able to get back. Because she was so often direct linked, she allowed no direct linking.. so her websites aren’t even on the wayback archive! I had to dig deep into the depths of cat*e//Miseducated rainbow, stuffed old skool folders. This was quite a treat of course because I am a nostalgia whore and cannot relish in the colorful creations that we once lived for enough. (don’t look in my closets, Rainbow Brite dolls are stuffed in there waiting to be loved)

Kimi, the girl who forever has my heart:

From the mouth of the kitten of a different flavor comes some bits and pieces that were on Kimi’s collective from waybackwhen complete with everything cute, sweet and colorfully perfect. Absolutely no one could compete with the queen of the eye candied, pixel perfect palaces. Enjoy these images and descriptions by kimikat herself and immerse yourself in delish 90s web nostalgia.

luna’s luna page

..my very first page, established in january 97, and to my knowledge is the very first sailormoon website made entirely by one of the feline persuasion, that of course being my very talented and MUCH*ly* loved luna daisy =)

not just a sailormoon site, luna’s page includes a cornucopia *hehe!* of kitty information, and tons of interactive activities ^_^ plus a good dose of moonkitty madness!

this page started out on geocities of course and remained there for over 2 years until rescued by the amazingly wonderful cheerbear*chibiness we all call coki!! =) coki has saved me from a ton of popup ads and headaches, and has become a wikked friend as well *waves!!*

i have the most fun with luna’s page and it really is my true love out of them all ^*^ i update it daily for the most part 🙂 you can read more about luna’s page if you’d like to here (link closed).

Rainbowlicious

..this is my (kimikats!) personal page, one that i left neglected for ages and am finally getting around to revamping and resituating 🙂 if you want to see just how messed up i am in the head, this is the perfect place to do just that! ^*^ being messed up in the head is a good thing by the way .. just so you know =)

most might be surprised to find out i’m not some 13 year old playing with mind expanding drugs but am actually in my mid 20’s, i was a preschool teacher at one time, and before that … well i’m not saying *lol* .. though above all, i’m just a twisted lil raver girl from los angeles :))

Diana’s Divine Designs

..my lil free graphics shop, consisting mostly of insane/neon/daisy/sanrio-ish backgrounds and also includes a ‘topsy turvey table tutorial’ 🙂 started on easter day 99, for a couple of reasons; one being just to help out others and spread some of my trippy lil backgrounds around. ive never been sure why, but some people seem to like my loud graphics and the requests for a place like this was overwhelming, with sometimes over 10 mails a day asking for just such a thing!! and secondly, heck, it was easter!! and i simply didnt have any eggs to pass around ^_^

thank you for stopping by to peer into the world of luna*C! =) if anyone actually reads all this, i’ll be one happy kitten! =^*^= and if not, ah well bonnebell, i had fun writing it =) call me easily amused but hey… and if your amused just as easily, then you’ll REALLY enjoy the pages in luna*C to a tee!!
*giggles on her caffeine high and waves!*

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Quilting Bee

Everyone’s favorite community in the old skool web days! Swapping patched with friends to build a colorful and unique quilt you were to display on your website in a super special space!

quilt

Leave XOXOs for Kimi

Simply post the link to an image/graphic or message you’d like Kimi to have or that you made inspired by her to your reply and submit! It’s that easy! .. and soon we’ll be gazing upon your delicious art~ the very best, most eye-popping gifts will be specially displayed here for the kitty kat queen herself!


ALL gif graphics used in the article are (c) Kimi/kimikat, keep stickypaws clean.