The Creative Industries are vibrant and exciting to work in and offer a wide range of job opportunities. One of the things which make the Creative Industries unique is the large proportion of freelancers in comparison to other sectors. There are many benefits to freelancing, such as being your own boss, deciding when to work and what to work on, but there are also many challenges, and not everyone is suited to the lifestyle.
Freelancers have to find their own work, be responsible for their own training and development, and manage their own finances. They need to be flexible, organised, and good at networking. It’s not just what you know, or who you know, but both are essential for success. Below are some handy hints and tips.
It’s what you know: the importance of ongoing training and development
The Creative Industries are fast-paced, and it’s important to stay up-to-date with developments, such as advancements in technology and equipment, and new methods of working. As a freelancer, you will be responsible for your own learning and development, and employers will be more likely to hire you if you can demonstrate your relevant knowledge and skills.
Short training courses are a good way of updating your skills. Creative Skillset subsidises courses to make them more affordable, and also offers funding for training for professionals working in film, TV and radio to address industry skills gaps.
Simple things such as reading industry journals and trade magazines, mentoring and volunteering can also support your professional development. Identify the skills currently in demand, and match these to your own skills and experience.
Attending industry events is also vital for skills development. Fast Train, co-produced by the BBC Academy and Creative Skillset, is a free training event for freelancers working in TV, radio and online. The next Fast Train events are in Glasgow on 24 October and on 7 November in Cardiff. You can find out more at www.creativeskillset.org/fasttrain.
It’s also who you know: build your network
Networking effectively can help you to develop your career and get ahead. Stay in touch with people you’ve met, trained or worked with, and be proactive in developing new contacts – be prepared to share your knowledge and ideas and start forging creative relationships.
You will also need to learn how to market yourself; this means raising your profile and promoting your skills, knowledge and experience. To market yourself effectively you need to develop a strategy. Identify potential employers and match your skills and experience to their needs.
You will need to equip yourself with:
- A good CV
- Online networks (using platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter)
- Business cards
- A portfolio/showreel (depending on the role)
- A list of potential employers, and industry events
You will also need to manage your own finances, including tax, VAT and National Insurance contributions. Poor business skills are one of the main reasons people working in media get themselves into financial difficulties.
Further careers advice, CV and networking tips, and basic business advice for freelancers can be found at www.creativeskillset.org/careers.