With so many opportunities for independent creative professionals to put their work out in the world, how do you avoid blending into the background? How do you stand out as a thought leader in a market where everyone is striving to create something new and different? How do you make sure that it’s your work people are talking about?
It’s not an exact science. Luck, timing, and wider circumstances beyond your control will always have an impact. But there are a few things you can do to improve your chances of standing out and getting noticed.
1. Define Your Brand
As an individual creative professional your brand is likely to be based on you—your skills, your passion, and the way you see the world. To make your brand stand out as unique and instantly recognizable, the way you work, the clients you choose to represent, and the work you produce should consistently reflect these traits. So, what makes you you?
2. Pay Attention to the Details
Memorable and influential brands have consistency and integrity. As a creative professional trying to make an impression, the same branding methodology applies to you. In today’s digital world, pretty much everything we do, say, or even think is out there for all to see. So, it’s important to pay attention to all the ways you are represented, across every channel and face to face.
3. Do Your Research
Identify your peers and competitors. What kind of work are they doing? Who do they work for and how do they meet their client’s needs? How do they represent themselves? Research their approach and then do it differently. Add your own twist to establish yourself as something different.
Working with like-minded creative professionals can highlight your own skills in your particular field and expose your work to brand new audiences. Joint projects are a great way to raise wider awareness of your work and talent.
5. Step Out of Your Comfort Zone
You’re an expert in your field, but what else inspires you? How do other creative fields inform or influence your work? Expand your reading list, the movies you watch, the galleries you visit, the places you go, even the food you eat. Blending a wider, varied range of sources of inspiration will only serve to give your work a more distinct look and feel.
6. Do One Thing Well
While you should always seek inspiration in a variety of places, when it comes to your work, focus your time, energy and creativity on honing your particular craft or skill. Your creative brand cannot stand out in your field if you are a jack-of-all-trades. You need to be a master.
7. Don’t be Afraid to Fail
Throughout history, countless experiments and innovations have gone nowhere near according to plan, yet have still resulted in steps forward and new ideas. Not everything you try will be a resounding success. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it a go. You never know where it might take you. Failure is all part of the journey.
8. Blow Your Own Trumpet
Being shy and modest is lovely, but it’s not going to make your creative brand stand out in a crowded scene. If you produce great work, shout about it. When someone else says they love it too, let everyone else know. If you land a great pitch, celebrate loudly. As humans, we tend to find the idea of self-promotion uncomfortable, but if you won’t celebrate your work, why should anyone else?
9. Don’t Try to Please Everyone
As a creative professional with a distinctive, memorable style, you’re never going to please everybody. And that’s ok! Trying to be everyone’s cup of tea will only result in bland work that’s easily forgettable. Part of standing out from the crowd will involve stoking conversation and controversy amongst your peers and your wider audience.
10. Work on Your Portfolio
Back up your creative brand with a polished, professional portfolio, that showcases the true breadth of your talent. An impressive digital presence is important, but a tangible leave behind for potential clients will always give you an edge over a link in an email. We’d suggest making a Portfolio Book, full of your best work.
What are your tips for standing out and getting noticed? Share your experiences in the comments below.