7 Things Creative People Do to Stay Ahead

Look at you, doing your own thing. Whether it’s your main bread and butter or you do it part time, you’ve decided to put yourself out there as someone who is in tuned and in charge of their craft. That’s awesome. Your goal (or at least I hope your goal) is to be considered a resource and expert in what you’re doing and to be successful long term. 

Great! So how do you do that? 

1. Keep learning.

If you think you've reached the top and you know everything, you're going to fail. "The best entrepreneurs in the world don't act like they know everything. They all understand the fact that they have to continuously learn to be successful." (Inc, 2015

Whether it's in your field or not, there's always something you don't know. If you're a graphic designer, learn to write. If you're a developer, learn to paint. If you're a writer, learn to knit. You don't have to do anything directly in your field (in fact, I encourage you don't to prevent burnout), but do something that generates another part of your brain so you can grow in your current field. 

2. Ask for help.

When you’re in a bit of a pickle or you’ve tried something that’s failed, it’s easy to feel embarrassed. How will people see you if you failed in something in your industry? “Shouldn’t you've known?” Maybe, but you don’t. Reach out to someone you trust and ask for their advice. 

“Hey, I’m working on moving this in Wordpress for a client and I cannot get it to work for the life of me and I’m almost positive I’m using the right code. Do you mind giving it a quick look? Maybe I’m missing something.”

9/10, especially with a project, you're working so hard you’re overlooking simple mistakes. Have another pair of eyes look at it or reach out on social media. You’re bound to get some responses on someone who has some kind of post on it. 

Bottom line: you're not a robot. You cannot do everything yourself, and that’s OK. “We all need somebody to lean on.” 

3. Take criticism as a means of growth. 

If someone thinks your site isn’t functional because of technical design reasons and offer suggestions, they're being helpful, not a hater. 

“Hey, I really want to read your “About Me” page but the font is a bit small. Can you make it bigger and maybe break up the paragraphs?” 

Feedback is a way of growth. Without it, you're stuck in a status quo and you'll never level up.

4. Limit what they do.

You're a copywriter who's a great portrait artist and people think you should do both. However, drawing portraits is how you spend your free time. You're good at it because it's fun and it's a way of relaxing. 

Great entrepreneurs have a focus. They’ve tightened up what they want to do, how they can help and serve their clients. 

Ever watch "reality" TV shows when people say, “I got many different businesses. I’m a clothing designer, bread maker, mechanic and own an accounting firm. I’m a boss!”

You’re not a boss. You’re tired and all over the place. Don’t be like this. A lot of creative people get into this by accident- being great in more than one field and think they need to capitalize on all of it. You know what? You don’t have to. 

I did a few drawings and posted them on Instagram just to show (because if you don’t Instagram it, was it ever done in the first place?). someone sent me an email asking if I could something for them, and I politely declined.

“Girl, but that’s money.”

Yes, but I didn’t want to take something that relaxes me and make it a business. I have to have some way to decompress. I do believe in having multiple sources of income. I do not believe that has to be involve every single thing I’m good at. 

Narrowing my focus has been really good for me, and the creation process has been ten times better than before. 

5. Never settle. 

You hit your goal. Awesome. So you’re done. Stick with status quo?

Nope. 

Keep pushing your goals because growth and challenge makes you a better person. 

You got 100 readers? Can you get 200? I bet you could. Will it take more work? Sure, but you got this.

6. Learn from their failures. 

We don’t know how many ventures, products, etc a successful person had in the past. Did you know Steve Jobs got fired from...Apple? Yes, Steve Jobs became the CEO (and innovator) of the same company he got fired from.

Your idea may be genius,but it didn't pick up with the masses and it all fell apart. Does it mean it's done for good? Maybe, but you're not done for good (PS. My shot at a webinar was a bust, and I'm still a live). 

7. Think relationships before profit.

"How can I help my client reach and impact their target audience?" has a lot more weight than “How can get the most clients so I can profit quickly?”

Is money important? Of course, but your relationships are more important.

Think about it like this: When you go to a local coffee shop, does it mean more to that they treat you like a one of a kind guest or just another dollar? When the barista asks, “Hey C, the usual?” That gives you a warm feeling, right? They don’t know you personally, but they’re paying attention to you, and you’re more likely to come back because they treat you as a person, not a dollar. And you bring a friend. Everyone wins.

So, keeping these seven things in mind as you look forward to growing in your venture. Whatever it is, you have this. You can do it because I said so.

How are you staying ahead of the game? Let me know in the comments!

Clarissa Nash

Designer, photographer and writer who's half Daria/half bohemian with a pinch of Beyonce.