So, you want to be a successful photographer? Or retoucher? Or art director? Or just about any other creative field imaginable? It is a treacherous road, ranging from emotional bliss to hopeless depression. Be prepared to battle the fiercest of foes with nothing more than obsessive determination and your arsenal of skills.
There is a tremendous challenge in building a successful career in any creative niche that almost always comes down to four primary factors. In order of importance, they are:
It is pretty obvious to most that talent plays a crucial role in your ability to build a creative career. You have to be fairly good at what you do in order for customers to hire you to do it. What most people don’t realize is that there is a lot more to talent than just some base skill that you are born with.
Everyone enters their field with a different level of innate talent based on their own individual growth throughout their life and the creative capacity of their minds. However, just like the muscles of athletes, talent is something you build.
A natural athlete who never strives to improve their physical capacity is no athlete at all. Furthermore, someone who is not naturally athletic but puts tremendous effort into building their physical capacity can become very successful.
Talent is exactly the same; it’s not some mysterious entity that we are gifted with (or not) at birth. It is an ever-changing aspect of self that we earn through the determination to improve our craft.
One of the best ways to build your talent is to invest in the education to advance your mastery of your craft.
It would be folly not to accept that random chance often has a role to play in the development of your career. It is unavoidable: being in the right place at the right time can often springboard everything you have worked for to a completely new level.
I have a secret to tell you, though: luck isn’t actually all that much about random chance and getting “lucky.” Virtually everyone experiences good luck and bad luck. The key to being lucky isn’t in some mysterious power that you have no control over.
Those who seem to be “lucky” have three very real skills that they have developed to make random chance work in their favor.
Lucky people stack the deck in their favor. Being in the right place at the right time begins with being in the right place. Lucky people know this and become skilled at putting themselves in places where they are likely to encounter the opportunities that luck seems to bring.
Lucky people know how to make the most of good situations. We all encounter many fortuitous opportunities that make an impact in our own lives, but most of the time, we drop the ball and don’t take advantage of them. Lucky people know how to best maximize the benefit when Lady Luck comes calling.
Lucky people know how to minimize the fallout from bad situations. With good luck also comes bad luck. Everyone has it. Yet, some people never seem to get unlucky. This isn’t because random chance always seems to favor them; it is because when lucky people get unlucky, they have mastered the ability to mitigate the poor luck so that it doesn’t have nearly as much negative impact.
You could be the most talented artist who ever lived, but if you can’t convince anyone to buy into your work, you will be forever poor, just like many of the other great artists the world has seen over the centuries.
Being a great creative does not guarantee success, but being a great salesman almost certainly does. I’ve worked at and with many creative agencies in my career and one thing has remained consistent throughout: the agencies that are successful almost always are run by entrepreneurs who specialize in making sales.
Some people are born with the bravado of a great salesman; others are not. But that doesn’t mean you can’t earn that skill. Others certainly may seem to have it easier, but that doesn’t really change anything for you. If you want a successful creative career, you need to learn to master selling both your work and your ideas.
This video is a great place to start!
1. Hard Work
You probably have started to notice a trend in the first three factors, which is that they are either entirely or mostly under your control, if you are willing to invest the time and effort into making the most of them. That, among countless other reasons, is the reason why hard work is undoubtedly the most important factor in being able to find success in a creative field.
The best advantage you can arm yourself with is the willingness to work harder than your competitors. Don’t go home at the end of the night and lounge around watching Netflix and don’t sleep late on weekends. Invest as much time as you can physically and psychologically manage into your career or you may lose your chance at success to someone who works harder.
That said, maximize the effect of your hard work. Just because you are putting in the time, that doesn’t mean you will be able to reap the rewards of it if you are investing that time poorly. Be smart about how you are working. Work hard on things that are likely to pay off and be keenly aware of things that carry a tremendous burden of effort, but offer very little benefit in return.
Your success is in your hands; so, make every effort to maximize it. Remember every day that success is a journey, not a destination. It is the byproduct of how well you learn to master your own choices; so, don’t ever give up, only get better!
I will leave you with a quote by Sir Winston Churchill:
“Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.”
Now, get out and start making success instead of waiting for it!