Balancing Your Creative Mindset with Business Realities

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As freelancers in creative fields we’re faced with a unique situation. That is, the combination of art (or creativity) and business. We need to use our left and right brains to the maximum, each with the same amount of effort and dedication every day.

Creative Business Mindset

There’s not a lot of average jobs in the world that require such attention to two seemingly opposing fields. But then again, we’re not average.

Having the ability to conceptualize a client’s vision and turn it into a well-crafted piece, you should have no problem bridging the gaps between the art and business realms of your freelancing career.

The truth is, combining and balancing your art (that is, whatever you create with a deep interest or passion) with smart business sense (that is, marketing and selling your art or creative services to paying clients) just takes some focus and effort.

The first step is figuring out which mindset you’re already in – the artistic or the business mindset, and then you’ll need to learn to balance these mindsets to optimize your success.

The Creative Mindset

Many of you I’m sure can relate to being more of a creative thinker, an artist, someone who would rather spend the day working in Photoshop (even if it wasn’t for a paying gig), rather than strategize a fresh marketing plan.

In order to take on the business of freelancing, you must see business as simply an extension to apply your creative thinking to.

But, as we all know, doing that isn’t going to bring you the benefits of the freelance lifestyle you dream of.

Now as you say, “but business just does not coexist with my designing, my writing, or my freedom to simply create…how can I truly be great at both?,” think about this: business is creative as long as you look at it creatively.

You may just be getting by with managing and marketing your freelance business when you really can be succeeding.

In order to take on the business of freelancing, you must see business as simply an extension to apply your creative thinking to. As Steve Jobs wonderfully said, “the artistry is in having an insight into what one sees around them. Generally putting things together in a way no one else has before and finding a way to express that to other people who don’t have that insight…”

And doesn’t putting things together and expressing ideas sound a lot like business too? Marketers in fact see the relationship between what consumers are like (their dreams, their fears, their lifestyle) and a product that would do well for that market. Then they find ways to get those ideas out there.

The Business Mindset

Then there are those freelancers who learn everything there is to know about business. You understand that learning how to run a business is a top priority for a successful freelance career. The problem is, you just aren’t developing your creative skills as much as you should or used to as a result.

What you have acquired in your drive towards good business ways is an ability to see the importance of art in the business world.

Just remember that you are an artist. Even though you sometimes get so caught up in figuring out how to market yourself or manage income and expenses that your artistic side begins to feel neglected. You’re really driven by creative talent. What you have acquired in your drive towards good business ways is an ability to see the importance of art in the business world.

Pop artist Andy Warhol saw this correlation early in his career. So he literally established an art Factory that produced art by the masses. As an artist and entrepreneur, Warhol famously said, “Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art.” Whether it be a logo you design that brands a business or a well-crafted blog post that inspires an audience, you see your art as something that needs a business in order to thrive.

There’s no doubt about it that art and business are still two very different fields despite the similarities. In many ways, you can’t compare or relate the two – and sometimes shouldn’t. But there is one important factor we need to embrace as freelancers and entrepreneurs. Art and business have a similar goal. That is, to create and communicate a message that will influence people.

Now after realizing which mindset you best fit, let’s look at a few ways you can finally balance the two fields into a successful freelance career.

3 Simple Ways To Bridge The Gap

  • Lay Out Your Goals. Create one list for your artistic/creative goals and another for your business goals. An example of each could be creating your own WordPress themes and finding more clients.

    Having a clear distinction of both kinds of goals will help you see the overall picture of your freelancing career. That way, you’ll know what to work on and how much time should be given to each.

  • Get A Fresh Perspective. I don’t know about you but sometimes after writing for hours I come back into the world forgetting what accounting even is. Well, not really. But I do realize that spending too much time on one task makes the others slip.

    It’s a good idea to spend an ample amount of time marketing yourself (even when you’re on a feast) and keeping up with bookkeeping, and all other tasks of the sort. Otherwise, these imperative tasks slowly start to seem insignificant. Balance the time given to both the art and business aspects of your work.

  • Collaborate. We’re not all good at everything. That’s why you should learn from other freelancers as much as you learn from books and online resources. The unique and specific experiences of other freelancers will help you figure out the best answers to the questions you face.

    Go on over to the freelance forum to ask questions about what to do with a business problem or to get great creative feedback on your artistic work.

The Circle of Art and Business

One of the most interesting things about being an artistic freelancer is that we don’t solely create based on our own feelings and inspirations. But rather, we design, write, and develop based on a client’s needs and vision.

That, when you think about it is a remarkable thing. Through art we’re able to help a business. As a business, we’re able to create art. All it takes to succeed is a little understanding and the resources to learn the parts that fill in the gaps.

Photo credit: Some rights reserved by ollyi.

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