Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years we have learned a thing or two that we’d like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 422nd issue of our weekly a.blog.
Our work landscape is changing rapidly and we have to be prepared to change with it. Whether you’re looking for new freelance opportunities or a full-time job, it’s important to think like an entrepreneur.
Even if you’ve never thought of yourself as an entrepreneur, one who often has to be the top salesperson, the marketing expert, as well as the billing and collections agent, you can create more opportunities and open yourself up for greater success if you think of yourself as an entrepreneurial brand. That means it’s your responsibility to market yourself and flex your creative muscles in new ways to bring fresh clarity to your priorities, values, and goals.
As you become more comfortable with marketing yourself, here are some core principles to keep in mind drawn from the work of respected marketing authorities and tested in the crucible of international business.
Own Your Own Niche
Being the first one in your category is the first law of Al Reis and Jack Trout’s 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing.
Inventing your own category gives tremendous advantage and allows you to make the rules that your competition must follow. If you can’t be the first in a broad category, claim a subcategory, and be the best to market in your own distinct niche.
For example, your focus may be web design. Although you may not be the first web designer in your city, you may still have an opportunity to focus on a specific clientele base or have expertise in a vertical. To build your reputation in a specific niche, attend industry and networking events, study hard, learn a lot and become a subject matter expert.
Think Like a Storyteller
Even if you’re not trained as a storyteller or fiction writer, you’ve probably loved enough films, novels, and anecdotes to intuitively appreciate the power of a good yarn.
When you describe your career trajectory, victories won, and challenges overcome, try thinking in terms of the “mono-myth” of “The Hero’s Journey.” Fiction writers, filmmakers, and marketers have used this structure to guide them down many different paths.
Share your story, your inspiration, your process—tell the story of why you stand out in your field and how you differentiate.
Start looking for the “Hero’s Journey” structure, and you’ll see it everywhere. It has shaped careers, lives, and civilizations. How can you harness the power of story telling to tell your own tale?
A candid approach highlights your sincerity and shows you have nothing to hide. A sense of humor or a quirky personality will resonate better with potential clients and employers with a similar sensibility. If you are clear as to who your target audience is, then it’s easier to be yourself.
Some brands have had tremendous success by poking fun at their own shortcomings. Avis struggled for years to overtake Hertz, to no avail. Finally, it increased its profile and drew a lot of new customers when it embraced the slogan, “We’re #2, so we try harder.”
Be your best self, and be proud of it. This gives you the freedom to be comfortable and honest.
When defining your unique combination of skills, keep one eye on how relevant you expect them to be in five years. In the digital world, bubbles form and burst often. Job titles may change, so build continuously on your core competencies and adapt.
Continued education is key in many industries and the creative and marketing industry is no different. Be sure to continue your learning and sharpen the tools of your trade. Sites such as Lynda.com or General Assembly are great resources.
Continuously iterate on your own marketing message. Use methodologies such as A/B testing to refine your ideas, build on what others respond do, and discard what isn’t working.
As you blend your range of skills and experience into a coherent, memorable storyline, make sure the story reflects who you really are. Heed the advice of marketing guru Seth Godin, to “under promise and over deliver.”
If you make promises you can’t keep, you will find yourself in positions you aren’t qualified for, or assignments you aren’t excited about.
A well-branded portfolio will continue to support your story and be a representation of your skills. The story of your creative thinking, along with a display of your most current work, your involvement in a project, and your collaboration with other team members will speak volumes. If you are unable to create a website for yourself, there are wonderful options in the marketplace such as Dribbble or Behance.
When using social media to market your skills, make sure it’s well branded with a cohesive message woven through all channels. Whether it’s LinkedIn or Instagram—create a unique branding voice that represents you.
Bring your own unique story to life and share it. If you need additional help marketing your skills contact Artisan Creative for representation. We work with hundreds of clients in different verticals who are looking to hire new talent. Your next assignment could be waiting!