Trying to make a living in the creative field is always hard. And if you are a creative and a freelancer… things get even worse. No matter what field you work in: film, photography, crafts, design, illustration, we are all bound by the daily struggles and unforeseen challenges. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. We went to the Berlin Kreativ Konferenz organized by the Berlin Kreativ Kollektiv at the beautiful Colonia Nova space in Neukölln and learned so much about the work of creatives that we are now ready to share this wisdom with you.
We spoke with a lot of the experts from different fields who gave talks and workshops at the two-day-conference about the most important advice they would give. Here are the 9 most important pieces of advice they want to share with any creative getting started in Berlin.
#1: Let Your Passion Fuel Your Work Ethic
Gabby Lord is an internationally renowned designer and art director hailing from Australia and now based in Berlin who talked about the strategies of personal branding at the Berlin Kreativ Konferenz.
Defining who you are is usually the exciting part of an artistic venture that young creatives look forward to. The hard part is what comes next: in order to move forward, you need to stay professional and take your work seriously. And that’s not a synonym for being boring. The secret lies in nurturing your passion so that you’re willing to invest all the time and effort – and it sometimes means pushing through even though you feel like you’re due for a big me-time session right now. As Gabby puts it, you better ‘’show up consistently whether you ‘feel’ like it or not’’.
#2: Set Realistic Goals
Hanna Lisa is a coach and consultant that helps creative people run their business. At the conference, she was talking about useful goal setting strategies to meet our aspirations.
The most important thing about goal setting is always being as specific and realistic as you can. To help you with that and to avoid setting vague and unreachable goals, the “SMART Goal” is a great method that will help you to set Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-based goals that will help you focus on actually getting the work done.
#3: An Adequate Price Will Draw the Right Audience
Grace Dobush, a freelance journalist based in Germany and operating worldwide, gave us some pretty useful tips about pricing strategies every creative needs to be familiar with.
At first, pricing is not an easy task and if you don’t do it carefully you can end up losing money. To make it easier, you can check out the “Pricing Formula”. For those of you who are feeling really lost regarding this matter, this tool will be essential. But it’s not all about finding the right price but also the perfect audience for it. Instead of lowering your prices, try new sales strategies that both reward your clients and look for a new niche that can both appreciate and afford your work. According to Grace Dobush, “price your work with profit and sustainability in mind, and your market will select itself.”
#4: Don’t Shy Away From the VAT
Sarah S. Michelis studied business administration and law and she specializes in consulting for cultural and creative industries. At the conference, she spoke about bookkeeping and taxes.
Seeing how your business progressively grows is really exciting and rewarding. But at the same time, you might feel intimidated because of the legal implications of that growth, such as having to pay VAT taxes that kicks in after surpassing a certain yearly income. But there are ways to cope with the VAT taxes – once you figure out how it works, you’ll be able to deduct some of your expenses. In Sarah’s own words: “one should not restrict oneself in its entrepreneurial growth, only to want to fall under small business regulation (Kleinunternehmer-Regelung)”.
#5: Every Post is an Investment
Michael is a Social Media Manager in Berlin with whom we were discovering the dos and donts of social media advertising.
The moment you start promoting your products or work on social media is both exciting and scary because that’s when you get exposed to your audience. If you are not a marketing expert, social media always finds a way to surprise you. Test your audience by making different versions of your campaigns and products and always diversify your investments. That way, every new result will help you get to know your audience a little bit more so you’ll be able to invest your money in the most effective way. As Michael puts it, “you need to accept the business side of it, make tough decisions and deal with very annoying situations, but if done well it allows you to spend the other half of the time doing something you like, live out your passion and be creative.”
#6: Take Advantage of Different Social Media Channels
Nina Bungers is a Pinfluencer and a blogger that taught us the great potential of Pinterest to boost your presence on social media as an alternative to Facebook, Youtube, and Instagram.
Sometimes underrated and mostly considered as a search engine or a DIY platform, Pinterest still holds an enormous potential. It has its own influencers and therefore a massive body of followers. Because of this, Pinterest could be your new sidekick to increase visibility. And, on top of that, if you play your cards right, it will help you earn some money. Nina’s expert advice is: “use all strategies to grow organically: Try to be active on Pinterest every day pinning useful content with original website sources on niche boards. Create best practice Pins. Follow Pinners and interact! Make sure your website is ready for the new traffic, too!”
#7: Make Time For Your Creative Process
Nicola Vieritz is a lifestyle blogger and a PR consultant. At the conference, she was acquainting us with the secrets of time management.
As a creative, it’s just too easy to get lost in your thoughts and focus on your more artistic side. But that alone won’t help you succeed in the long run. That’s why organization and optimization of your work process is key to your success, no matter how talented you are and how groundbreaking your work is. According to Nicola’s experience “being a creative entrepreneur means juggling creative and administrative tasks, which can be both overwhelming and disruptive. Develop a set routine for your work day and schedule in periods of time exclusively for your creative work. That way, no matter what else is going on, you will give yourself the time and focused concentration that is vital for your creativity.”
#8: Turn Negative Feedback Into a Chance to Improve
photo: Zoë Noble
Arne Erichsen is the head of Etsy in Germany and has an extensive knowledge of the German market after working for brands such as Expedia, Hotels.com, Egencia or Orbitz.
The last thing we want to hear after all the time invested in a creative enterprise is a negative comment. Of course, nobody wants to hear about the shortcomings of their work, but Arne Erichsen gave us a really useful and wise advice about how to use all the critical response as an opportunity for improvement: “Instead of being disappointed, use the opportunity to give feedback. Thank your customer to allow you to display your method to deal with things. That will show customers what to expect in case something goes wrong, how long it takes you to answer back, or if there is a certain service you offer. The majority of readers of negative reviews are more interested in seeing how you deal with feedback rather than the complaint itself so don’t let this opportunity pass by.”
#9: Dare to Share
Anja Thoning is the spokesperson for the crowdfunding platform visionbakery.com and the CCO of the Crowdfunding Campus. At the conference, she talked about the advantages of financing creative projects via crowdfunding.
Globalization has changed the way we interact with one another and, therefore, the way we work. Luckily we can work from home and save money while we still have the world at our reach. The same thing applies to funding possibilities of your work. That crazy idea that you think you’ll never be able to make now is just a crowdfunding campaign away to become a reality. Dare to believe in your project and be brave enough to share it with the world. Out there you’ll find people that share your interest and passions and will be willing to support what you do. Anja Thoning told us to just “take the chances a crowdfunding will offer to you!”