Offer Free Work (Strategically)As a creative professional, one of the biggest challenges can be finding a steady stream of clients and work opportunities. Whether you’re a visual artist, musician, actor, writer or other creative freelancer, building a reliable client base is essential for sustaining your career and getting paid to do what you love.

For artistic freelancers or small business owners like graphic designers and photographers, you have the advantage of being able to directly market your services to potential clients. However, for performers and other creatives like actors, singers, and writers, you are often dependent on being hired by companies, production companies, publishers or others who employ creative talent.

No matter which category you fall into, there are practical steps you can take to increase your chances of finding consistent, rewarding client work. Let’s dive into some key strategies:

Build an Online Presence


In today’s digital age, having an impressive online portfolio and social media presence is non-negotiable. At a minimum you need:


  • A professional website showcasing your best work with SEO (Site Engine Optimisation)., and Squarespace offer affordable options and great templates for creating your own website.
  • Active social media accounts tailored for your target clients

Make it easy for people to find you, view your talents, and get a sense of your personal brand and style. Consistently update with new pieces and works in progress.

Network and Self-Promote


Not everyone is comfortable with self promotion but one of the best ways to find opportunities is by making connections within your industry. Attend creative events, join online forums and communities, and follow/interact with potential clients on social media.

Don’t be afraid to promote yourself and share your work! The more people who know about you, the more likely you’ll get inquiries and job offers.

For performers located in Australia sites like Casting Networks and Showcast can help you find casting calls and auditions. Building relationships with agents, managers and casting directors is also huge.


Develop In-Demand Skills


Make yourself a more hireable creative by developing skills that are in high demand. For example, video editing, motion graphics, and 3D capabilities can make you highly marketable as a creative freelancer.

Actors, research current trends in what roles are casting. Writers, know what genres and styles publishers are prioritising. Musicians, what skills are needed for studio sessions or tours? Always be learning and honing the talents clients need most.


Offer Free Work (Strategically)


When you’re first starting out or trying to break into a new creative field, offering free work can help you build a portfolio and make valuable connections. Just be strategic – set limits so you don’t get taken advantage of.

You could do pro-bono or “trade for” work in exchange for assets you need, create spec pieces for companies you want to work with, or participate in projects with collaborators who can help showcase your skills.


Leverage Your Network


Ask your network for referrals, recommendations, and any leads they may have. You never know what opportunities your fellow creatives, friends, or former clients could connect you with.

Reaching out to your professional and personal contacts lets them know you’re looking for work and willing to be hired. It’s one of the most powerful ways to find jobs.

Get Active in Your Local Scene


Don’t underestimate the power of getting involved in your local creative community. Support local artists, go to events, attend meetups – whatever helps immerse you in your local creative scene.

You’d be surprised at the client leads and partnerships that can emerge from becoming a regular face in your local arts circle.

Whether you’re self-employed as a visual creative selling products and services, or a musician/performer looking to get hired by others, remember that persistence and a strategic approach pays off. The gig economy makes it tough, but by building a brand, honing relevant skills, networking, and promoting yourself, you’ll be on your way to a steady stream of rewarding creative work.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​



Monica O’Brien is a professionally trained and accredited Coach and founder of Creative Edge Coaching She blogs on issues about creativity and small business development for conscious artists and business entrepreneurs. 


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