How to Make a Living as a Creative

Before I talk about anything else, I’d like to tell you that if you’re pursuing your art and looking to make a career out of it, you probably are one of the most determined souls on the planet.

Building a business is challenging. It has its own fair share of hurdles that makes it a lucrative career that’s not really fit for everyone. But, compared to a career in art, businesses are easy. Skill and creativity in the world of business mean you’re going places. But, art is an industry where you’re competing only with people that have talent and creativity. It will be difficult, but it’s possible.


For all you people in the back, the makeup artists, the hairstylists, the photographers, the florists, and the cake makers, I have two things to tell you.

Number one, do not feel disappointed working a 9-5 job in the beginning. As illustrious of a career as it may be, art does not pay the bills at the start. Abandoning your job and pursuing art without anything in your pocket is not passion; it’s pure stupidity. Work a regular job at the beginning and use it to fund your career.


Once you reach a point when you know your career can generate a stable income, move on from a job to work on your art full-time.

Number two, don’t feel hesitant to work for free. If you don’t have much proof to show for yourself, you should definitely try working for exposure. It’s a term that gets thrown around a lot. I’d understand if this would make you close the article right now but hear me out. If someone has to pay you, a complete newbie, to create something, why wouldn’t they simply pay someone who has the experience and has a portfolio of clients to show for their time in the industry?

It’s just basic human psychology. People click on Amazon products with hundreds of reviews. But, if the company with zero reviews wanted to give away their product for free, there would be many takers.

Does your friend need their makeup done for a special event? Take away a Sunday morning to make it for them for free. Does a small business in your area need some new images to revamp their store? Pay them a visit and let them know that you would love to take some pictures of their store to up their branding. Does the local theatre need voluntary background dancers? Go and do it.


However, it is vital to know the negative side of this ‘work for exposure’ mentality. Throughout your career, you’re going to receive emails that are only going to offer exposure. While exposure is never harmful, you need money. Your work is your livelihood. It’s how you bring cash into the household. If you continue working for free long after you’ve established yourself in the industry, you’re insulting your own skill.


So, there you have it. Two tips that not a lot of people know before they’re getting into the industry. Remember, it’s not going to happen overnight. As I made clear above, becoming a successful artist is the hardest thing you’ll ever do in your life but it’s the most fulfilling!

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