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

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1 How to make my business stand out

You may have heard the phrase ‘unique selling point’ or ‘unique selling proposition’ (also called the ‘USP’) in this context. For a creative person, this can be difficult to define. Listen to what our creative freelancers have to say on the topic in Video 2.

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Video 2
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Waller (2019) describes a USP as ‘a quality your business possesses that no one else has’. In a small business, the USP is often you! The skills, strengths and experience you bring to your proposition are unique to you, and conducting your business in a way that feels authentic and genuine can differentiate you from others in your market.

Your values will also play an important part in framing your business. For example, if your values are aligned with status and salary, you are more likely to find satisfaction running a business that provides you with those things and so you might create a product or service targeted at individuals who can afford to pay high prices. If your values are more focused on humility and giving, a business offering the same type of product or service could have quite a different feel. That’s what you want to get across in your marketing.

Alternatively, you could distinguish yourself from your competitors because your products are hand-made from locally sourced ingredients, or because your event meets a significant need within the local community. Here you can see where market research and understanding your audience and your competitors becomes more and more relevant.

Activity 1 What makes George stand out?

Timing: Allow about 15 minutes

George is a scenic artist. He has a degree in Materials Engineering but has always been involved in theatre productions as a hobby, building relevant skills and experience over a period of 10 years.

His target audience is small, local theatres in the UK.

He can produce high-quality work quickly and on budget, he has technical knowledge of materials, along with engineering and design experience.

If you were George, what would you choose to highlight as your USP?

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As many of his competitors are likely to have an arts background, one thing that might make George stand out is his engineering experience. For example, it allows him to find innovative ways to move scenery during performances. His technical knowledge of materials also helps him to identify the most appropriate surfaces to paint on, materials to build with, etc.

By highlighting those technical and practical skills when he approaches potential employers, George will give himself a better chance of being memorable and standing out from the crowd.

Once you have identified your USP or your differentiator, you can look at how to spread that message. Your USP should be reflected in your products and services, your marketing materials, in how you present yourself when networking, on your CV and in your portfolio as well as every other aspect of your business.