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Starting your digital career

Starting your digital career

8 Lessons Learned-Designer/Artist

These are lessons I've learned over time and have come to live by them. They may become 9 in a few years. I keep adding with every client experience. These are also covered in video/audio format here


8 Lessons for Digital Artists

  1. Skills
    1. Teach to learn. Every day that passes more people know less than you. Don't be afraid to give away your secrets. It frees you up to obtain more of them. Give to the community in the form of tutorials, assets and knowledge. This could open up unexpected collaborations.
    2. Don't be afraid to ask questions. To anybody.
    3. Your work may not be of great quality for a while when you first start out. And you will think you're never good enough
      1. There is always a market for your work. 
      2. As your work gets better, your market changes and shifts. 
      3. Volume. Volume. Volume. Keep creating. 
      4. Think long term, don’t take short cuts and understand the 10,000 hour myth is real
      5. Love what you do
    4. Be open, accepting and responsive to constructive criticism.
    5. Understand that forums have 2 types of people. Constructive & Destructive. Grow a thicker skin for the second one. 
    6. Set long term visual goals for 1 year. 5 years. 10 years.
    7. Set short term goals to better your skills consistently. Daily. Weekly.
    8. Brand yourself. Something unique to provide to the client. Something that makes your work stand out from the rest. This may not be easy and it may not happen in the early years. Yes years.
  2. Marketing
    1. Use social the way it was meant
      1. LinkedIn: Professional network. Its great to connect to people you know but more importantly to people you don’t know, but know someone who does.
      2. Twitter: 140 character interactions. If its truncated then you’re using it wrong. Spread news thats relevant to your target market.
      3. Facebook: Friends, Family & Fans
      4. Instagram: Share your Interests not necessarily just your work
      5. Youtube/Vimeo: 2-3 minute videos are a powerful way to share your ideas/work/teachings. Understand that YouTube and Vimeo are also different and make sure you get metrics data thats useful for your next move
      6. Slack: Open an easy communication platform with your clients/team/collaborators
      7. Soundcloud: Transmit your thoughts via audio
      8. Vine: Can you provide 6 seconds of usefulness?
      9. Periscope: Invite people into your daily work life
      10. Meetup: Organize gatherings for similar interests in your field
      11. Google+: Still trying to figure this one out!
      12. Pinterest: Start compelling walls, and add content to it. 
      13. Snapchat: I already feel old, but my guess if you’re just starting out, you can find a use.
      14. There are many more. Make sure you use the relevant ones and make sure you use them correctly. Interact with users, don’t have a deadend profile (Architecture/Interior=Houzz)
    2. Don't be a salesman. Be a marketeer. Don’t sell your services, market your skills.
    3. You don't need a site but you do need a gallery. But only show your best. Curate often, quality over quantity.
      1. Behance (More social)
      2. SquareSpace (More personal)
    4. With social media comes responsibility. Understand that attaching your personal name to these platforms means you need to understand the implications of advertising your personal opinions. 
  3. Clients
    1. Be there for your client. Be nice to your clients. Over perform and under sell. 
    2. Don't say no. Say you’ll help them find someone who will. And do that. Again: Don’t say no to a client. Help other colleagues by passing work from “your” clients. This helps your client get their needs met, keeps you in the work loop and builds a stable circle of peers that can also pass work off to you.
    3. Offer one step more to your client than what they asked. Be invested in their challenge
    4. Be willing to travel but understand how to travel and make the best use of it (schedule it with events, group meetings, use mileage programs well)
  4. Legal
    1. Get yourself a work contract and get an attorney (Explicit warning)
      1. F You pay me
    2. Establish a client list and state to have it public in your contract. Maybe it's a bargaining chip (Take off 5% to get their name used, 10% if the work can be displayed) Obviously don’t start with this premise, but use it as a negotiation tactic
    3. Don't take abuse. It will make you hate your job. Abusive clients are not clients you want to spend your time with. You can say this in a mission statement or even cover it in your contract.
    4. As you gain experience, your contracts will evolve over time. You can start using your contract to leverage gains from the clients like marketing opportunities or revision control.
  5. Work
    1. When there is no client work you can work on 
      1. Your own commercial products that you can sell. Tools, training videos, books.
      2. Research
      3. Experience new things to get inspired
      4. Personal time. If you haven't taken an off day in a while. Enjoy it. You’d be surprised how time off can get your creative juices flowing.
  6. Time
    1. Research and go crazy. You may not get paid. But it will fuel your next creations. 
    2. The Power of Time Off
    3. Attend relevant events. Organize events. Establish personal relationships with peers and potential clients that attend. Invite peers and potential clients. Show them something they may benefit from even if its not yours. This will get them to build a relationship with you and builds trust.
    4. Give time to your family and friends. You don't want a time when they don't give you their time
  7. Finance
    1. Establish your rate and don't work for free. I can’t emphasize this enough.
      1. Know Your C-O-D-B
    2. Decide on the right software/tools. Don't be close minded. Understand that it is an investment both financial and in time but the final goal isn’t the software/tools, it’s the product you’re producing.
    3. Learn finance, budgeting and project management, they are as important as your creative skills. And if you can’t, hire someone that you trust who will do them for you.
    4. Don’t take a loan. Don’t take a loan. Don’t take a loan.
    5. Buy the right equipment. Lease the right equipment. Use the cloud.
  8. Market
    1. Read about market trends. Look at what your clients are looking at, then focus on a market and be good at it.
    2. Explore new markets annually (perhaps semi-annually)
    3. Analyze market trends. Where is the work today and where is it going to be tomorrow
    4. Align your self as market leader. Try to be the first or best in something. 
Late Night Animator

Late Night Animator