Plenty of creatives face this dilemma eventually: should I keep my creative passions a hobby or try to turn them into a job? It’s not an easy question to answer. It might feel like there’s no winning. You might be happier pursuing fashion design, for instance, but it may be more work than you expected. You might earn more money in an office job, but it’s not what you’re passionate about. So what are you supposed to do? When you’re trying to figure out if a creative career is worth it, here are four things to consider.
1. You need to be in it for the long haul
Despite how it may look on others, there’s no overnight success in a creative career. Some people get lucky, sure, but the average person is going to have to put in years of work for recognition and, depending on your field or approach, for the ability to make a livable wage off of your work alone. Creative careers can be unpredictable – if you wanted to be a freelance stylist, for instance, you’ll be putting as much work into getting your name out there as you will your actual styling. Yes, the long hours you’ll be working trying to move your way up may sound discouraging, but it’s worth taking the plunge if you’re serious about pursuing the career of your dreams.
You’ll be putting in the time for two different things: to find your own space in the industry, and to keep improving your art. For a creative of any kind, there is never going to be any sight of perfection. You’ll be proud of your work, yes, but there will always be new trends to adapt to, new methods to work on, and ultimately, ways to grow. As long as you keep pushing forward, improving your work, and putting in that valuable time, you’ll show others that you’re serious about this industry and ready to flourish.
2. You need to be passionate
There’s a common misconception that creative careers are a “fun” job that will catapult people to fame, money or status. This is not true for numerous reasons. First off, as mentioned before, creative careers usually take a lot of time to find success in and, therefore, be a lot of work to pursue. It’s worth it if you’re pursuing this career because you’re genuinely excited about making art, but if you’re not passionate, it might be a waste of your time to keep churning out pieces in the hopes of recognition and money that may never come.
That being said, even if you are a dedicated creative, you also need to remember that those things may never come, too, and be happy with the thought of being creative for money alone. A designer or fashion journalist or filmmaker may not make as much as they could as the CEO of a company, but as long as they’re happy about the art they’re making and have enough to get by, it shouldn’t matter. So, focus on your enthusiasm! When you post your makeup looks on social media, do it because makeup artistry is your dream, not because you think it could get you more followers.
3. It takes time to earn big
Remember that creative careers can be a risk and the money likely isn’t going to come to you immediately. Especially if you’re in a position where you’re starting out freelancing, you won’t be making the same amount starting out as you would in more predictable fields.
When you pursue a creative career, you need to be patient, and you might have to take on other jobs you aren’t as excited about to keep you afloat until your creative work takes off. It’s not ideal, but that first year you realize that you’re able to make a living entirely on your passion and you can quit your day job is coming, and it’s something to look forward to!
4. There are plenty of ways to start a creative career
There are lots of positives too, like the fact that there are a ton of ways to start out and get recognition when you’re pursuing a creative career. In fact, with the Internet in your hands, there are more opportunities than ever to get eyes on your work. As a result, don’t feel like you need to be boxed into one method of spreading your work to the world. Whatever you do, exhaust every avenue you can in trying to promote yourself – the more opportunities you take, the more eyes will be on your work. Post your fashion designs, writing, graphics, or whatever you do on any social media that you can think of. Look for contests to enter, and mentors or internships. You’ll pick up steam soon enough.
Think long and hard about these factors, your current lifestyle, the way you’d like to live, and what would make you feel most fulfilled. Whether film or fashion or whatever else it may be, there are a lot of things to take into account when pursuing a creative career. At the end of the day, do what feels right, and don’t feel too scared about locking yourself into one option – you can always switch industries and start over if need be. Regardless of your choice for a career, never stop expressing your creativity!
Need an expert opinion? Ask Style Nine to Five’s Founder, Christie Lohr, One Career Question.
Emily Morrison is a media professional with passions for writing, film and popular culture.
Feature Image: Adobe Stock