Time to shake up your freelance creative practice

Up until 10 months ago, I’d been sleepwalking through my work life. I was dissatisfied with how I worked, when I got paid, how much I got paid, with hourly rates being dictated by the organisations I worked for and the actual work I was being paid to do. If it hadn’t been for lockdown, I may not have taken the time to shake things up and be where I am now.

As it turned out lockdown was probably one of the best things that has happened to my career. Although this year every organisation that I’ve worked for has closed their doors, leaving me jobless, the lockdown has afforded me some much-needed time to re-evaluate what’s important and how I want to work. I’ve had time to make a new collection of work and throw myself wholeheartedly into some online courses on confidence and business strategies.

Since doing so I’ve gone from being passive in my career to taking more risks in one week than I have in the last 14 years of self-employment. Now I’m standing on the edge of a great big career adventure with the support of some amazing people and I’m going to share with you what I’ve learned about knowing when it’s time to shake up your creative practice.

Sign of the times

For me, the big flashing neon sign to take action was that I was starting to feel resentful of other people’s success. For example, if you’re on Instagram feeling perturbed at someone you don’t know getting an opportunity you think you deserve then it’s time to down tools and take a step back. Acknowledge that jealousy and look at it as a signpost to what you really want to be doing in your career.

Other signs you might need to take a minute and regroup:

  • Irrational need to sell up and move to Mexico/New York, “F*ck it, I’m off”*.
  • Irrational need to drastically change career “F*ck it, I’m off to train to be a midwife/dog trainer”*
  • Excuses as to why you’re not as successful as you think you should be are flowing easily from your mouth. “There aren’t any opportunities here”* “No one is going to spend that much on my work”* “I can’t afford to pay the submission fee/travel to drop off work/do that course/learn that new skill”*
  • Your income isn’t fit for purpose. (This one is a very new realisation for me, though I was doing ok because I was coasting along finding money when I needed it)
  • You have limiting beliefs. “Only evil manipulative corporate people are rich”* “If you have loads of money you’re a wanker”* “If I have money who am I?”*

*things I’ve actually said/thought.

By taking a step back and evaluating how you want your life to look and what your limiting beliefs are, you’ll be on your way to getting what you want. Don’t wait for another pandemic to put a fire under your career’s arse.

Planting the seeds of change

It’s never easy to implement change, especially when you’ve been doing it the old way for so long. But once you do, you’ll see immediate results and it will become addictive to continue making improvements.

Here are 5 gentle jumping-off points to get you started:

  1. Get Curious. What has worked in your business and what is no longer required? How do you want to live? What do you need to earn to live how you want? What is your work/life dream? Do you need help from a specialist – finance, coaching, mentor etc? Journaling, visualisation and meditation can help with this. You might find this suggestion a bit woo-woo but it really helps clear out the shit and focus on what’s important to you, 10 minutes a day will sort you out. I’ve felt better and more confident in my abilities since I started, you just have to get over yourself. If you want to dive straight into some guided meditation who better to get you leaping into your big business pants than Oprah. Also If you sign up for the Rev Gail Love-Schock’s newsletter you get a free short ‘Life is Easy For Me’ guided meditation.
  2. Visibility. Start being more visible about what you’re up to even if it’s not fully formed. People will be interested in the process. Pick your preferred social media platform and share your story; a video of you talking about your goals/thoughts/ideas; amplify others; talk about issues that bother you; have an opinion. You don’t need to know everything, nobody does, find your voice and tell your story; be vulnerable.
  3. Accountability. The one thing I found the most useful in keeping things moving was having accountability buddies; telling key supportive people what you’re doing the stronger the need to put it into action.
  4. Listen. To keep the inspiration flowing, I’d highly recommend getting into some relevant podcasts and talks. Listening to diverse inspirational speakers at the top of their game. Hearing their stories will help you visualise your own future and get tips on how to talk authentically about your work. Jump right down that rabbit hole with Brene Brown’s podcast interview with Barack Obama and Beyonce’s Commencement Speech. Other podcasts I Regularly listen to are, How To Fail with Elizabeth Day; Viv Groscop – How To Own The Room; Russell Brand – Under The Skin and Fearne Cotton – Happy Place.
  5. Do the Thing. Finally, to get you into action mode, if you’ve got easy tasks in front of you just do them, don’t think too much just do it. For example, if you’ve got a dream client on your email list you want to contact, email them. If you want a pay rise, ask for it.

This is just the start. It won’t be easy, but it will be exciting. For me, it’s taken tough talking, stepping hard out of comfort zones and surrendering to the new and different to get to this point; I’ve felt sick, nervous and overwhelmed, but also excited, stretched and challenged. I’ve wrangled with my inner critic like a rodeo clown until finally, we’re on the same page. It’s been a long road, but I’ve been beautifully supported by the communities I’ve joined. So go forth, get curious about your creative practice; take action and bring shifts in the landscape of your potential. Be kind to yourself. You’ve got this!

For your reference here are a few books that have helped me the most along the way:

  • You Are a Badass at Making Money – Jen Sincero. This was my gateway book, it’s easy to get through and there are tasks to do at the end of each chapter, don’t get distracted by the odd mention of God (this is one of my turn off triggers) it is a really helpful book.
  • The Crossroads of Should and Must – Elle Luna (plus Elle’s Google talk)
  • Playing Big – Tara Mohr. Tara also has a really good motivational newsletter and access to online co-working groups.

About Jill Skulina

Jill creates artwork that is an antidote to the trials of the modern world. She does this by being a creative dynamo, joy magnet, and problem solver.

Jill support myself through freelance endeavours such as facilitating workshops, pimping out her sewing and costume skills,  occasionally selling work and being a technician at Dundee Ceramics Workshop. She is passionate about supporting other freelancers through her blog, interviewing them, giving them a platform to amplify their achievements and highlight issues we come across when working for ourselves. 

Connect with Jill


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