Put your creative skills to work

Do you have a passion for photography or a flare for fashion? Maybe you have an addiction to art or are wonderful at writing? If so, you might be able to use your creative skills to make money working for yourself.

Freelancing

Are you good at managing your own time? Do you prefer to work flexible hours over having a routine?

If you answered yes to the above questions, then you might want to consider freelancing work over traditional employment. Freelancing allows you to gain experience and an income through working for yourself. Freelancing just means that you effectively hire out your services to different companies or clients, rather than working for one.

The type of jobs that are outsourced to freelancers by large companies are varied, but include graphic design, illustration, website development, editorial work, photography, set design, and many more. Some companies like to outsource as it gives them flexibility. You can also find individual clients to work for, if you are a personal tutor, a musician or a fitness instructor, for example.

With freelancing, you experience a varied work environment – you could be working in different offices and different parts of the country, you will constantly be meeting new people and perhaps working on quite varied projects. You will be able to build up your experiences and your own portfolio of work to take to an employer should you decide latter that the traditional ‘employed by someone else’ model is the best route for you. You will also have a certain amount of autonomy over your work, and as you build your client-base you may be able to be more selective in what commissions you accept.

There are also some negatives however, that you need to think about: depending on what kind of work you are doing, you may have to travel a lot from different clients’ homes/offices and maybe even around the country. You might have to work unsociable hours (evenings and weekends). In the beginning you may have to accept whatever commissions are offered if you want to build your experience and get paid. You may not receive the benefits of a permanent employee either when it comes to pension and paid holiday time. Nonetheless, earning money from doing something that you are passionate about could make all the negatives worthwhile

Crowdfunding

Do you have an idea for a creative project you’d like to start, but need money before you can get going? Crowdfunding is a way of accessing finance through multiple investors online, rather than going for a traditional bank loan.

Kickstarter: www.kickstarter.com is one such crowdfunding website that has been set up to specifically support creative projects, such as films, magazines, music projects, fashion projects, and art installations. In return for their donations, investors receive ‘rewards’ from the projects they support, for example samples of the products, or money, or free tickets. It’s a flexible model that allows the community to engage with your project before you even get started.

There are lots of tips available online on how to use crowdfunding, such as this article. And if you’d like impartial advice on your project idea than you can always make an appointment to talk to me about it.

Setting up an online marketplace

If you’re into crafts, and design and make your own products, it’s never been easier to sell your products online. You might want to set up your own website and sell directly from this, but this method can become expensive if you want anything complex and need e-commerce functionality.

Instead, an easy initial step is to become a seller on one of the many online marketplaces that already have e-commerce in place so that you don’t have to worry about setting this up.

There are a number of websites that you could look at; below are three of the most popular online marketplaces in the UK:

www.notonthehighstreet.co.uk

www.etsy.com

www.ebay.co.uk

Be aware that you’ll have to pay some commission on your sales, so read the terms and conditions carefully before selecting which site or sites you want to sell from – and there’s nothing wrong from selling from a number of different websites to see where your products sell best.

Useful Websites

IdeasTap – great website containing lots of information for those interested in creative work including tips and advice on working for yourself, information and networking events and funding opportunities.

Business Toolkit – step by step advice on setting up your own creative business.

Startacus – find inspiration from other creative people, share ideas and collaborate on creative projects on this site. Also has good tips and advice on working for yourself.

For further tips on working for yourself look out for our follow-up post on FAQs.

Rachel Brown

Enterprise Coordinator, QMUL Careers

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