$$$ Advice for Creatives

Ooh, “creatives!” That’s us, right, even those of us who slave away on broadcast TV?

The following has turned out to be exactly what this TVWriter™ minion needed to know to help my career and my bank account too:


by Matt McCue

The most important thing someone working in a creative business needs to remember is that it’s still a business. Just because it’s characterized as “creative” doesn’t mean that it should be fundamentally organized or run any differently than those in “serious” fields like financial services and accounting.

And yet, all too often creatives, whether they’re freelancers or managing their own design firms, approach the business aspect of their profession with a sense of trepidation, nonchalance, or both. It could stem from the fact that since creatives make what they produce, they feel it’s a direct reflection of them personally and are more insecure about asking for the full value of the product. In other cases, creatives eyes glaze over when contemplating things like contracts, invoices, and project fees (because none of these are nearly as exciting as taking photos in the African bush or designing a brand’s identity from scratch.)

But creatives need to remember that they are business people whose particular craft is illustration, graphic design, or whatever other art form it may be. Since we make a living from selling – not producing – our work, there is no separating art from commerce. In that spirit, we’ve rounded up 99U’s best money advice for creatives from our past interviews and insights.

Never work for free

There are some people who say that the best way to break into the creative industry is by initially working for free to gain experience. However, others vehemently oppose that idea because they believe it harms a creative’s ability to make a fair income down the road.

Texas sign painter Norma Jeanne Maloney weighs in on the debate: “I really have a huge amount of disdain for people who say that an artist can hang their work in a coffee shop, or whatever the business is, in exchange for “exposure,” says Maloney. “That is the biggest cop out for not paying people what they’re worth. In retrospect, when I look back on my career, I wish I would have drawn a harder line in the sand. I won’t work for free now, and I do not encourage anyone I know to do that. Giving your art away for free is a serious trap, because people will say, “You did it for them for free, why aren’t you doing that for me?” If you bank yourself as someone who works for less than nothing, you will never be able to charge what you’re worth.”

Build Your Career by Building Your Audience

Although not specifically directed at the TV biz, this article is loaded with tips for corporate creatives in all fields:

Dammit, muncher, we're not talking about this kind of audience - are we?

Dammit, muncher, we’re not talking about this kind of audience – are we?

by Sean Blanda

Tell me if this has ever happened to you: A well-known person in your field loses their job with impressive company X. Deep, deep inside you feel a vague sense of guilty satisfaction. They weren’t that talented anyway, you tell yourself. This will clear room for more up-and-coming talent, you say.

But then weeks later when you’ve already mentally moved on, you read that well-known person has landed on their feet, yet again, with a new job at impressive company Y. No schadenfreude for you. So what is that well-known person’s secret? It’s not (always) talent. No, the thing that keeps creative people employed and in full control of their destiny, isn’t some hidden genius. It is the ability to build and serve an audience. Cynically, it’s much harder to quietly let someone go if their 4,000 Twitter followers will hear about it. But practically for those of us whose who operate behind the scenes or aren’t the “face” of our department or company, an audience is the best job insurance possible.

Consider the plight of the person hiring creative talent. Or the person hiring anyone, really. They have a marketing campaign for a client meant to build customers. Or maybe they are responsible for a team that does not have a ton of headcount to work with. While the job market is risky, those doing the hiring are risk averse—VERY risk averse.

While the job market is risky, those doing the hiring are risk averse—VERY risk averse.

The known commodity is always safer. People are more likely to hire their friends or people they’ve worked with before. This, of course, is the genesis for the well-trodden aphorism, “It’s not what you know but it’s who you know.” Well, those job candidates with an audience experience this “known commodity bonus” but at a significant multiplier. Now it’s not the just the hiring manager that knows about the creative with an audience. It’s others in the industry. Other known commodities know about this known commodity.

Consider the super-talented person with no audience. Let’s call her Sarah. Sarah is technically skilled and does great work, but her work is often behind the scenes. Sarah’s team knows about her talent and she’s always proud of the end product. To her, that’s usually enough. In a perfect world, it should be. But in a Machiavellian way, this leaves Sarah extremely vulnerable.

Let’s say Sarah’s division folds because her parent company is downsizing. Or suddenly, her expertise in interface design on Android devices isn’t in demand any more. Or worse, she gets a new manager who decides that it’s time for a change. All of these factors are out of Sarah’s control. All of these factors are decoupled from Sarah’s ability to do her job. All have negative impact on Sarah’s career. All of these situations happen every day, and will likely, at least once in our lives, happen to us….

Read it all at 99u

Late-Blooming Creatives – Don’t Despair

Did you know that Leonardo DaVinci once was considered a “loser?”

Sometimes it takes awhile to make things happen. You just need patience. (And a hell of a day job?)

Smile, older writers, painters, et al. Your day can still come!

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LB: Envy – Deadly Sin with a Positive Effect?

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by Larry Brody

Just discovered the above video on the interwebs and definitely believe it’s worth sharing.

One of the dirty little secrets I’ve learned over the years is that many a showbiz biggie has gotten a boost from at least one of the so-called “7 Deadly Sins.” Whenever I say this, most people’s brains automatically zoom right to the sexier sins and the casting couch. But in my experience the most helpful sin has proven to be envy. It’s helped some of the most – and, yeah, least – talented biggies in films, TV, music, et al over some otherwise impossible hurdles.

Sorry if I’m bursting any bubbles. (But you’ll thank me later.)


LB (aka The Motivator)

The importance of just plain starting

Wise words for all you procrastinators out there – what? Us? No, of course not, we at TVWriter™ never put things off. Well, almost never:

by Jory MacKay

nowandlater“I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself.”

When Bonnie Ware, a nurse who cared for patients in their final weeks,published the most common regrets she heard, not chasing dreams was number one.

“When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made,” she wrote.

Every single day we choose how we spend what few hours we have.

Yet, despite the constant warnings to chase after what we believe, we often fall victim to procrastination and a fear of even just starting.

Every single day, my to-do list is a reminder of all the other projects I haven’t started. The passion projects that I ‘just don’t have time’ to do. And when I do have time? That familiar friend—fear—comes knocking at my door.

For myself, and the 95% of the American population who admit to falling prey to procrastination or even total avoidance of the things we want to do in our lives, ‘time management’ only goes so far.

And when it comes to looking at why we fail to start, there are larger emotional and psychological reasons at play.

Need inspiration to start your next project? Click here to join the 7,034 people who receive our weekly newsletter. 

Seeing and helping the future you

Procrastination isn’t just simply us putting off things until a later date. It’s purposefully putting aside important work knowing there will be negative consequences in the future.

We aren’t just being forgetful, or complacent. We’re purposefully hurting ourselves by focusing on short-term pleasure at the cost of the long-term.

Almost all studies agree that procrastination leads to to higher rates of depression, anxiety, and poorer well-being.

In our professional lives, it can have dire consequences. In our new way of working, with increased autonomy to work when and how we want, your word is your reputation. And missing deadlines for no good reason, is really no good reason.

Dr. Piers Steel, an organizational behavior professor at the University of Calgary, has proposed a simple formula to determine why we make certain choices….

Read it all at Crew

Peggy Bechko’s World: Smarten Up, Write in Longhand


by Peggy Bechko

Writing By Hand Can Make You Smarter.


Not true?

Turns out there’s a lot of info out there to support true.

So I’m not old fashioned and crotchety because I still prefer to write some things by hand. But wait, don’t some groups advocate not even teaching cursive writing?

Big mistake.  Just check out  a study by Pam Mueller, a Princeton psychologygraduate student when this article was written back in July 2015.According to the study folks who took notes in class longhand retained more and comprehend more than their fellow students pecking away at computer keyboards and actually taking more notes because they could take them faster.

So, what does that mean for writers? Put away your computer and grab a pen and notebook when in the planning stages of your next project. Whether article with research or novel (also with research – just because it’s fiction doesn’t mean you don’t have to have the facts straight) or screen script (ditto).

It appears that typing might be just fine once the writer is rolling, creating whatever it is they’re creating, but apparently writing notes longhand is a much better method to trigger memory and the synthesizing of collected information than typing or pecking at a phone screen.

Don’t believe it?  Then you might want to give it a try. I have over the years. Having written novels, published with major houses and optioned screen scripts in addition to articles and ghosting, I’ve tried almost every method of producing my work. I’ve tried every idea to try to shortcut the process, but there are some things that just don’t take kindly to short-cutting and memory and processing information are apparently two of those.

I mean, not only did those student in the study type notes much faster than they could write them, but it didn’t gain them anything. In fact, they lost ground against their longhand note-taking companions. Not only that, but they had less comprehension of what notes they did take. Not only that, but when they tried going back and studying the copious notes they’d taken on laptops, they actually did worse on the tests.

Hmmmm. Ever find yourself taking lots of notes from an  interview on your computer as a professional writer, feeling like you raced to keep up? Then, did you go back over your notes and nearly wonder who took them in the first place since you can’t remember what was said?

It seems like if you take the notes by hand, you’re more involved, more inside the subject matter.

My notes are a mess, my handwriting would probably get a ‘D’, but when I compare them to what I tried to take once up on a time on my computer when I read those notes they trigger memories and associations. I find myself more fully engaged and when the time comes to get it all down into a document, the flow is swift and smooth.

The long and the short of it is, keep writing. Keep writing by hand to focus the writer in you. Keep a notebook handy. (come on, you know you love thoseMoleskines anyway – and they come in cool colors and black too!).

There’s no doubt it works. Something about our brains… whatever… my creative partner Charlene Brash Sorensen and I create our outlines, plot ideas, scripts, even comic blocks for Planet Of The Eggs by hand on note paper before we even begin working with our comic creating software. Charlie prefers graph paper – I prefer lined.

Save the tech stuff or later. Start writing by hand.

Peggy Bechko is a TVWriter™ Contributing Editor. This post was originally published on her glorious blog. Learn more about her HERE. Peggy’s new comic series, Planet of the Eggs, written and illustrated with Charlene Brash-Sorensen is available on Kindle. And, while you’re at it, visit the Planet of the Eggs Facebook page