3 Unique Ways To Find Work As A Creative
One of the most daunting things about being a working creative in my opinion is wondering where the next job or project is going to come from. As I’m sure my fellow freelancers and small business owners can attest to, sometimes you’re absolutely flush with work. Other times though, it can feel like tumbleweeds are blowing through your career. If you’re anything like me, this rollercoaster can have you stressin’ hard! So when it comes to finding work, what’s the best way to attract clients or customers? The answer isn’t a one size fits all, especially because there’s so many different kinds of creative work you can do. But, that being said, here’s 3 unconventional and unique strategies I’ve used to find work in the past, maybe they’ll give you some ideas.
The ‘Butter Up’
We’re starting with a big one! It’s my belief that if you don’t ask for what you want, how is anyone ever meant to know you want it in order to give it to you? That being said, the idea of hitting up potential clients out of the blue to ask for work can be super daunting. BUT, I swear it actually works! I’m not actually talking about actually calling people on the phone, (because I legit HATE talking on the phone to anyone, not to mention a stranger!) I’m more talking about finding ways to make direct communication with people you want to work with and showing them why you’d be a great fit to work with them. And in the era of social media, it’s easier than ever to get access to the people you need to talk to.
Here’s how I use social media to ‘butter up’ potential clients and get myself on their radar. I start by identifying some brands I’d love to work with. I’ll dedicate some time interacting with their content in a way that feels authentic and not contrived. If they’ve got a product I already use, I’ll try tagging them every time I post content where I’m using their product - again, in an authentic way. I’ve found that brands tend to start responding, or at least noting my interactions. Maybe if the vibe is right you can strike up a casual internet friendship, liking and commenting on each other’s posts from time to time. This is your in - you’re putting yourself on their radar. Perhaps you’ll get to the stage where you’ve interacted with them enough that it feels natural and not cold call-y to send them a DM asking for an email contact, which you can then use to send your media kit, a pitch, or even just a discovery email to see if they’d be interested in chatting with you about potential collaborations.
Striking up an Instagram friendship, inviting them to an event or art exhibition you’re hosting, sending an email offering an exclusive discount on some new products, or even sending them a snail mail package (which I did to over 100 potential clients once) are all ways to get an ‘in’ with your dream client, customer, or contact. My one suggestion is to have some ideas up your sleeve before you do all this, so you can show them why you would be a good fit to collaborate with. It’s one thing to say hire me! But it’s another thing entirely to give them a fully realised idea for HOW you can actually work together.
Social Media aside, it’s my strong belief that email is the most powerful marketing and outreach tool in your creative business arsenal. Building and nurturing a strong mailing list is extremely valuable. In a world where social media algorithms control who sees our content, email newsletters are a way for you to take ownership over your marketing.
Why not consider segmenting your email newsletter to include a mail out specifically for current and potential clients? I’ve been sending out a Quarterly Industry Bulletin for the past few years. This is a client-facing e-newsletter that gets sent out every 3 months, specially tailored to clients and potential clients. It includes things like:
- special blog posts providing useful information, tips and tricks for incorporating craft-based design into a campaign or project (AKA, evidence-based info on why it would be great to hire me)
- case studies and showcases of recent work
- information about new products, service packages, or workshop offerings
You may have heard this one before, but to me, it’s tried and true. The more you put work out into the world that truly reflects what you want to be hired for, the more likely you are to be hired to do just that! This has worked for me again and again across my career, but is also something I have struggled with. Between the day-to-day running of my studio and all my current client work, it can be hard to find time to sit down and make stuff I love just for fun. And there’s also a fine line between making for genuine enjoyment, and producing “personal work” you think people want to see therefore losing the authenticity and magic sauce you need for this strategy to work. I have to say though, that any time I’ve made something out of pure love and enthusiasm, it’s always ended up attracting paid work as a result.
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