A freelance career in the creative arts
A freelance career in the creative arts

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1 Testing my idea

As you embark on this course, you may already have a sense of the creative idea, product or service you want to place at the centre of your freelance journey. This should be something that you think people, companies or organisations will need and be prepared to pay you for.

Woman standing with her hand on her chin looking puzzled.

It is likely that your idea will evolve or even change as you progress through this course, and that’s fine. But it will be useful to have an initial concept that you can focus on when undertaking the various tasks and activities you’ll come across.

Workspace (no date) lists five types of business idea:

  • one that fills a gap in the market, e.g. a service that isn’t currently available in your location
  • a new product, service or invention
  • an innovative solution to an every-day problem
  • an interest or hobby that can be monetised, e.g. selling handmade jewellery, and
  • one that utilises skills and knowledge you’ve learned e.g. lighting design, digital skills, or how to give presentations.

Does your idea fit into any of these types?

Activity 1 What is my idea?

Timing: Allow about 35 minutes

Many of you will be at the very beginning of your freelance journey and may not yet have shared your idea with others or even written it down. You’ll look at pitching and promoting your idea in Week 5, but the purpose of this activity is simply to encourage you to articulate and explore your idea, gaining a better understanding of what you plan to offer.

In the box below, explain your idea, concept, product or service as if you were talking to someone with no knowledge of your skills or specialism.

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Choose a person who you trust but who can be objective about your idea. Explain it to them as you’ve outlined it in the box above. Note their response in the box below.

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Discussion

Was this a challenging exercise? You might have found it hard to articulate your idea clearly on paper, or perhaps it was the first time you’ve ever really shared your idea with someone else. These can be difficult things to do, but they are crucial in developing your ideas and testing the market. You’ll explore identifying your offer in more detail in Week 4, but this is a useful early step to take.

If you already have a clear outline of your skill, service or business idea, this may have been an easier activity, but the more objective opinions you can collect, the more you’ll be able to refine your idea and maximise its potential success.

If the feedback you received suggested that your explanation lacked clarity – ask the person you spoke to how you might better articulate your idea.

If the feedback you received was negative, you may need to review or rethink your idea. For example, could you offer the same product or service to a different audience? Could you tweak your offer to make it more appealing? Ask the person you spoke to for their suggestions.

If you found this a useful exercise – choose another person and repeat the process.

Depending on your idea, another way to explore it is to apply the five stage Design Thinking model, summarised by Dam and Siang (2021). This is a design methodology that provides a solution based approach to solving problems. The five stages are:

  1. Empathise – observe, engage and empathise with people to understand the problem you’re trying to solve.
  2. Define – analyse and synthesise your observations to define the core problem.
  3. Ideate – generate ideas and identify new solutions to the problem you’ve defined.
  4. Prototype – create scaled down, inexpensive versions of your proposed product to test and identify the best possible solution.
  5. Test – test your product, making alterations and refinements as required.

Perhaps you could bring some of that thinking to your discussions with others about your idea.

Now that you have articulated your idea, you need to think about the skills that you already have or need to develop in order to make your business a success. In the next section, you’ll focus on some of the most useful skills and how to develop them.

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