What advice would you give to someone just starting out in a creative field?

I remember what it was like, a new designer fresh out of high school starting my first job doing typesetting and design for a local business.  If there is anything I would share, it’s that you can learn from anyone and everyone around you. Be a sponge and don’t dismiss anyone young or old, new or not.  There’s so much to learn no matter how long you’ve been doing it. Now I’m working on local magazines for a nationally known company and have creative freedom and lots of fun at work. And I’m still pushing harder than ever to grow and get better.  Chime in with your own advice and experiences.

  • “The advice I would give someone who is just starting out in a creative field would be to know exactly where your end goal is and how you plan to get there. Creative fields are difficult, competative and very stressful. If you don’t know where you want to end up or even how to get there, you’ll be eaten alive.”

    Tearra Marie (@AhorashiiKagome) is an inspiring singer/song writer, actress, and novelist who blogs daily her writings and struggles in the music and publishing world at AhorashiiKagome.livejournal.com

  • “The *most* important thing is to launch stuff ASAP. Success is mostly a numbers game — the more you try, the more likely a successful outcome.”

    Paul Singh (@paulsingh) is an entrepreneur and advisor to startups doing interesting stuff. He blogs at www.resultsjunkies.com/blog

  • “Find out from other freelancers how much things cost and what to expect before diving in. Save up your money for the most necessary. Don’t go into debt. Don’t pay for the un-necessities. Seek the really good clients by requiring contract and down- payment requirements before beginning. It is easier to keep a good client on by treating them well and doing a great job for them, than to try to get a new one.”

    Lisa C. Jackson (lisajackson.biz) is owner of a Company Identity Solopreneurship, Lisa Jackson Design, and helps small local businesses to succeed.

Chime in with your own advice and experiences.

Brian E. Young is a graphic designer and artist in Baltimore, MD.

Introducing the Uncanny Creativity Podcast

Last week, the first episode of the new Uncanny Creativity Podcast was released.  It’s a productivity podcast for artists, designers and other creative professionals. This is a rebranding and update of the SketcheeBook Podcast, so technically this is episode 21 and I’ve kept the old numbering scheme.  You can subscribe to the show for FREE through iTunes or in a reader by rss.

If you’re not familiar with podcasts, check out my article on how to listen to podcasts

Brian E. Young is a graphic designer and artist in Baltimore, MD.

Finding Your Calling in the Working World

 A degree can’t promise success in your career path, but it can help you make tremendous strides toward achieving it, especially if you truthfully answer the questions below.

Do you have an idea of the goal or goals you want to accomplish?

Having a medical degree does not mean you have to become a doctor; it can encompass others areas, such as research, practice administration or even the pharmaceutical field. Likewise, a business degree does not necessarily mean “9-to-5” hours in an office environment. However, having a goal makes it easier to narrow your choices and direct your focus more fully when you start out on your career path.

Whose goals are they?

Are the goals truly yours, or are you trying to please someone else? Ultimately, you are going to be the one who is working in this career. And, that applies to family-owned businesses, as well as other ones. If you discover that you want to pursue another career path, the sooner you are honest with yourself and everyone involved, the better off you will be.

What do you really want to accomplish?

Do you want to have a career that allows you to live comfortably but still have plenty of leisure time? Or do you want to be the one to make the next big discovery, no matter what field it is in? Only you can answer these questions, or at least ones similar to them that will help you determine your career path.

How disciplined are you?

Do you, or are you willing, to keep going even when things start getting rough? Or do you try to avoid conflict and difficulties? Do you need to become more disciplined? Be honest with yourself when answering these questions. That’s the only way you’re going to be able to make plans and set goals that can be accomplished.

How flexible are you?

You may enter and leave college with a clear goal in mind, but circumstances can happen that will cause you to have to make a complete change. However, you may realize once you are into your new career that this was actually your goal all along. So, be willing to change, if necessary.

Have you done your homework?

Not just your college homework, but do research into your career and those that are, or can be, connected with it. There is no substitute for practical experience, but gaining as much knowledge as possible will certainly be an asset.

Again, this can apply to family businesses as well. You may think there is not one more thing you can learn about running a restaurant or building houses, or whatever it is your family has always done, but changes happen every day.

You may have always had a dream of what you wanted to do with your life. Examine yourself honestly, using the questions in this article and others as a guideline, and you will most likely find that dream becoming a reality.

Elysabeth Teeko is a lover of technology, interior decorating and design. She’s recently started blogging about these interests, and you can follow her on Twitter @elysateek

Brian E. Young is a graphic designer and artist in Baltimore, MD.

How Blogs Can Help You Become a Better Writer

If you’re a writer, you probably have a blog. If you are a writer without one, or you want to experience life as a writer, you should probably have a blog. Like few things, there’s absolutely no reason not to have one. It’s a painless, free way to improve your writing, to find an audience without fighting for it, and to even find out what is and isn’t working for you as a writer or for that audience.

If nothing else, blogging is sudden access to a platform through which you can do a few things that you simply can’t do anywhere else. A blog allows you to write however often you want to and in however much detail you feel compelled to write in; it sidesteps the issues of finding an outlet for your writing, as well as the tedious requirements that would otherwise need you to keep things either extremely brief or go in-depth about something. That decision is yours to make on a blog, and you have as much freedom as you’d like to take risks, especially as you’re simply getting started.

Furthermore, the mere act of writing more often will improve your writing. By rereading what you’ve already finished, you’ll see places where you have improved, where you want to improve, and where you need to change things to make your work more effective, and a blog gives you all of those things for free, as well as an easy chronological index of your work through which you can see trends, growth, perhaps moments of frustration, and how you worked through them.

The blog, unlike other mediums, is also interactive by design. By enabling comments you allow anyone who feels compelled to do so to interact with you — to give their own thoughts, feedback, and opinions on the subject your blog addresses — and to let you know what’s working best for both of you. If even more information is what you want, you can set up a service like Google Analytics, which will give you remarkably detailed breakdowns of who visits your website, when, and where they’re from. A Google Analytics readout will let you know, down to towns and cities, who reads you, how many hits you’re getting on a regular basis, and what search engine terms brought readers to your blog, all details worth knowing if your goal is to increase your reader base or develop strategies to better cater your content towards your readers.

Finally, the blog creates an online portfolio for anyone who might be interested in you or the work that you do as a writer. It’s a showcase of the things you’re interested in, how you approach them, and your talents in a way that few things are or possibly could be. As opposed to press clippings, which come through following an editor’s processing and the restrictions of your format, the blog is you, uncensored, for the world to see, and it just might sell you better than anything else.

Andrew Hall is a guest blogger for My Dog Ate My Blog and a writer on online schools for Guide to Online Schools.

Brian E. Young is a graphic designer and artist in Baltimore, MD.

Artists Don’t Want to Work for Free, Facebook isn’t Email, and Secrets Behind Viral Hits

Artists Don’t Need Your Exposure

@forexposure_txt is a Twitter account of quotes from artists who were expected to work for free. Too many people don’t value art. Artist Ryan Estrada posts real quotes from real people who think we need to work for exposure. Especially now in the internet age, exposure is incredibly easy to get for anyone for free. My networking guide post contains better ideas for promoting your work and making healthy relationships as an artist.

I respond by explaining in detail how I design. I drew for years as a child. Educate others kindly that creating is truly difficult work. I’ve worked as a designer the moment I turned 18, while also studying Fine Art (and classical piano). I learned to love studying computer programs and reading books on design and productivity. Slowly putting that knowledge to use every day. Spent the last 17 years learning techniques from many amazing colleagues. That said when others (even clients) are excited to tackle a design project I encourage them to do so. If they can stick with it and do it themselves, good for them!

Facebook isn’t email

Most people don’t even see your posts. The FB algorithm shows only what they think will keep you on FB. All of your friends are hidden.

“I learned a real profound lesson with the Inside news app. You can get 500,000 people to download an app, but only 1 percent or less will use it a day. And then I realized, I took the same information that was in the app, I emailed it to the same audience and 40, 50, 60 percent opened it every day.” Jason Calacanis on Recode Media Podcast

On the user end, email is super easy to control. You own it. Most email programs make it easy for users to sort email automatically, search, and surface content when you want it.

Hit Makers make content popular, not viral sharing

Viral sharing is over rated. Tracking memes and “viral content”, analytics discussed in the new book Hit Makers show that they stay within small circles until famous hit makers and influences get involved. Distribution is more similar to traditional broadcast media than you think. And most people find out about content through the big broadcasters promoting.

“Facebook initially went ‘viral,’ not by building a product that every person might share with five other people, like a disease, but by using networks that existed. They digitized the Harvard network that existed, and the Ivy League networks that already existed.” Derek Thompson, Atlantic Senior Editor

Brian E. Young is a graphic designer and artist in Baltimore, MD.