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Navigating The Creative Space

If the pandemic has taught us anything, is that slowly but surely the common and usual 8-5 day to day jobs do not cut it anymore. The creative space has blossomed into something that no one could have predicted. For example, who thought that a person taking fancy pictures on Instagram would slowly morph into an influencing empire. I sure do miss the time when a simple double-tap was just a double-tap. Freelancing is not any different than the influencer streets. Below are some key tips to help you navigate the creative space and gig economy.

1. Show off

One of the key things a freelancer must possess is a social media presence. The essence of this is to show off your work. I am a private person, I like to control what I share and who I share it with to protect the intimacy of my posts, however as a freelancer without a stable income, that might present a bit of a challenge to get work. Employers would like to see your work especially if they are weighing their options on whether you are a perfect fit for them. I advise you to update your social media constantly or build an online portfolio that exhibits what you have to offer. We do not have a lot of portfolios in Uganda, creators for some ungodly reason shy away from showing off their work, and yet the only way to be seen is to come out of hibernation.

Your portfolio is not limited to your social media handles. It could be an online webpage or a blog. One of my favourite sites would be Wix but I would also recommend Squarespace. These apps provide you with various templates to work with. I know you know, there is something surreal about taking time out of your busy schedule to romanticize your work. Take it.

2. Learn and Diversify

Contrary to what many may think, learning is important. While many have opportunities to learn, very few possess a teachable heart. The Bible speaks of something similar, that I can use to elaborate on this. It states, 'the harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few.'

The creative space is an oyster, however, many times, individuals are stuck in their ways. Yes, you may be good at your craft, but there is always someone who could be better. Observe and learn. I love the fact that creators have invested their time into making platforms that feed creativity.

What I mean to say, is if your neighbour isn't creative, you always have the University of YouTube under your belt. Invest time to observe the greats. If you're a musician, you could watch Michael Jackson videos back-to-back just to master his craft. Be intentional about what you would like to learn and commit to it. We reap where we sow, so sow into yourself to reap more.

3. Know what you bring to the table

Creativity takes time and while Uganda may not have caught up with this yet, it is your duty to teach her. Many times, creators believe they are selling themselves short by asking for too much money, it is probably because half of the work is more mental than it is physical. I am a writer, sometimes it takes me about two weeks to get the perfect piece down on paper. in the first week, I will probably be attending classes on YouTube just to feed my mind. That too is work.

Sourcing for ideas, writing plans, creating Pinterest boards, and sketching drawings for a project are all-time invested in the project even though they might not be present on paper. So here is what I will advise, do not disqualify yourself simply by the work you have done, but qualify yourself by the time you spend doing it as well. Learn how to negotiate and be strong and confident. When you land a gig for the first time, you may be short-changed but it is possible to negotiate yourself out of it to reach a compromise. Convert your time into money.

4. What are your non-negotiables?

I like this question because it brings vision and purpose into play. Many times, as creators you may not have the leeway to pick and choose the work you get. Sometimes it's easier to do a job because it offers you the best pay cheque. It's important to know your vision and the purpose for which you create. Your passion is not for nothing, therefore, know what works for you, and do not be afraid to communicate it loudly and boldly. Okay, you can communicate it humbly too.

State what you would like, every project you will work on has an agenda and a mission to it. You need to be comfortable with the assignment for you to produce the best work. There is something about visions aligning.

5. Build Connections

You know that friend who got a great job opportunity in a large international company and when you asked, they told you connections. The saying is true, you are only as good as the people you know, and this is not limited to relatives but extends wider than this. With every person you meet, there is an opportunity to cast your vision. I promise you; your people are your greatest resource. Invest in them. Take a person out for a coffee and instead of just discussing the weather or the last date you had, invest time telling them about what you do.

Now there is no guarantee that they will give you a job, but they could know someone who will. Don't nag them about opportunities, simply plant a seed and water it with coffee or a lunch date. This requires a lot of intentionality, sometimes your best connection could be that one connection you met at a barbeque in Kyanja or even a fellow creator. Collaborate, partner, and do everything in your power to put yourself out there.

6. Pray and Rest

Last but not the least, pray. There is something about sharing your aspirations and dreams with the ultimate creator. The Freelance economy is quite competitive, there's a new kid on the block almost every day. I can promise you it will ease your mind and spirit knowing you have God's favour on your side.

Take time to rest in between gigs and meditate on the work you've done. Jot down our lessons and allow yourself to rejuvenate. There will always be more work so don't forget to care for yourself after it.

Written by Hope Sserunkuuma

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