How To Jumpstart Your Creative Career

In 2014, I wrote about 5 ways college students can jumpstart their careers in the arts and it is, by far, the most-read article I’ve ever written.

The post is filled with evergreen content that is as relevant today as it was when I wrote the article almost a decade ago.

I recently reviewed this article and it got me thinking about the skills performing artists need to thrive in the year 2023.

Here is some updated thinking that I hope will help you jumpstart your creative career.

Adopt The Rule Of 10%

In the year 2023 performing artists are likely going to have to be experts in something in addition to their art to propel their career forward.

I use the Rule of 10% (a rule I made up) to help artists explore additional career pathways (IE, recording technology, citizen artistry, teaching, entrepreneurship, etc.).

Instead of insisting on a blanket set of skills and specific career pathways all performing artists must have, this rule suggests that for any given path, only about 10% of performing artists will be deeply interested in the subject matter offered.

That means that my job as a practitioner is to identify a multitude of opportunities that help artists develop additional skills on an individualized basis so that they are inspired to invest time in the things that are of interest to them.

TL,DR…I don’t care what is explored outside of the practice room, I only care that something is explored.

Here’s how to jumpstart your creative career.

My colleague Micah Killion and I believe that there are three tactical ways performing artists can use the exploration of an additional career pathway to jumpstart a vibrant career.

  1. Add A Line To Your Resume. Stretch yourself beyond performances and develop your leadership skills by leading and managing an upcoming event, performance, or engagement in the community. The skills you will gain in this process will give you a huge advantage when you take the next steps in your life and career. 

    Tip: We are talking about one line on your resume, not your life’s work. Start to develop a number of small projects over the course of the year that you can take from start to completion and be able to discuss the work in actionable terms that both builds your expertise and your resume.

  2. Gather An Email Address. Do not underestimate the value that an email address has on your ability to advance your career. An email address is a direct line of communication with your desired audience and it can be way more powerful than social media platforms that are only effective if your audience happens to be on the platform when you post something. 

    Tip: The best way to do this is to launch a newsletter and create regular content as a way to engage with your audience. My recommendation would be to post a minimum of one newsletter a month and up to four posts per month if you are able. This is your place to post about upcoming events, new products or services, and a great way to get your ideas out into the world. If you’re curious about how to do this, check out my newsletter here.

  3. Make (at least) One Dollar Online. The traditional pathways to financial stability in the performing arts (performance, composition, teaching) are the obvious trajectory toward a long career in music. Musicians in the year 2023 also need to explore a path toward financial stability that can be earned online and passively. 

    Tip: Build a product or service to sell online that sits at the intersection of your additional career pathway and your chosen performing art.

We are so convinced that this is the way to jumpstart the careers of performing artists that we created a course to help those of you who are interested in building additional revenue streams to help you thrive.

Extending Techniques is a course designed for performing artists who want or need help developing non-performance skills needed for a career in the arts.

For a limited time, we are offering half off our beta version of this course. Simply click this link and enter the code ExtendingTechBeta to activate the savings. We would love to have you check the course out and share your feedback.

Thanks for reading and I hope this post gives you some additional food for thought when it comes to jumpstarting a creative career!

Photo Credit: Kid Circus

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Nate Zeisler is the Dean for Community Initiatives at the Colburn School in Los Angeles. He envisions a world where students majoring in the arts have a clear path to a sustainable career, where creative minds are empowered and inspired to rule the workforce, and where access to the arts is not just for the privileged few, but for all.

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