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

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4 People who can help me

As well as the organisations outlined in the previous sections, there are also individuals who can support your freelance career. Some of the key people are outlined in this section.

Two young individuals sat down talking.

A mentor

A mentor is usually someone who has more experience than you in a relevant area and who is happy to share their experience with you on a voluntary basis.

John C. Crosby, a US politician in the nineteenth century, is widely quoted as describing mentoring as ‘a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction’.

The Design Trust (no date) recommends asking the following questions when looking for a creative business mentor:

  • Why would they want to spend time with you and help you?
  • Can they trust you not to abuse the relationship, steal some of their ideas or clients even?
  • Why would they want to share their hard-learned lessons with you? Their contacts and suppliers? Why would they give all of that to you, a stranger?

If you can answer those questions and explain what’s in it for them, they are more likely to say yes.

The Design Trust article (no date) goes on to give the following advice:

  • Learn more about them before you approach them.
  • Approach them in a professional manner – can you network with them online or at an event? Can you enter a competition they are judging? Can someone else introduce you?
  • Don’t ask them to be your mentor – ask for advice on a specific decision or task. Start small, let them know how you got on and build a relationship from there.

The Design Trust provides a list of recommended creative business mentoring opportunities. See Further research for the link.

A small business coach or adviser

This is a different relationship to mentoring as small business coaches are specialists in their field and charge for their services.

The Design Trust blog (no date) also offers some top tips for approaching a small business coach:

  • Ask around and get referrals. Posting a request for recommendations on an online forum or on a social networking platform such as Twitter can really help.
  • Search on Google or LinkedIn for the expertise that you need and do some research into how they operate.
  • Many coaches and advisers write blogs (and sometimes books) and often provide webinars or other forms of training, so it becomes easier to find out if their style and expertise resonates with you. Attending their online or live events will give you insight before you start working with them, and an opportunity to approach them.

This blog refers to social media platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter. You’ll learn more about them in Week 5.

More about how coaches might work with you can be found in the Simple & Season blogpost ‘Should You Get A Creative Business Coach? 5 Coaches Explain Their Process’ (Ferris, 2018). You can find a link to this in Further research.

Teachers and tutors

If you’ve studied your creative specialism at college or university, there may also be support there you can draw on, either from academics within your department who have similar experiences/interests or from a more central careers or business support department.

Other students on your course might also have chosen a freelance career, and will probably be happy to share their experiences.