Why a business mindset is a must for creative freelancers

business minset is a must for creative freelancers - work your way


“Creativity is intelligence having fun” Albert Einstein

You know what’s the most troubling part about being a creative freelancer? You have to maximize both your left and right brain.

I mean, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the world creative? You probably think about painters, digital artists, poets, and authors.

How about when you hear the word business? When we hear the word business we usually think of big companies. We think of men wearing black suits and ties. We think of money, marketing, and those sorts of things.

Needless to say business and creativity seems like two opposite things, which is exactly why many creative freelancers have a hard time juggling the two.

As a creative freelancer, you obviously have enough creativity to perform your job, but you also need business acumen to deal with clients. If you come to think about it, freelancing isn’t just about your craft. It’s about running a business.

What is a business? Essentially, it’s a negotiation. You have to negotiate with another person: a price for a certain outcome. You negotiate to make both ends meet.

After that, it will be up to you to impress your client with the way you use your creativity

If you want to make it in the creative freelancing industry, you must learn how to juggle the business and creative mindsets.  You’ll need to master them both.


Creative mindset

You’re probably more of a creative thinker than a business thinker. You’re someone who would rather spend the whole day working at your computer, coming up with a project, using Photoshop, writing, creating – whatever –  rather than work with numbers.

As a creative thinker, being creative is what you love.  Your passion, your hobby.  You don’t just do it to make money – in fact, you’d probably do it even if you didn’t get paid.

But the thing is, of course, that you DO need to get paid.  Since you’re looking to make a career out of your art, then you have to start getting to know the business.

When you’re an artist, you do your art for you.  It’s how you express yourself.  But when you start to run a business, it’s no longer about you, it’s about your client. What does your client want?


Business mindset

It’s not enough to just create art. You also have to apply it, and that’s the point of having a business mindset.

As a creative freelancer, don’t think of the business as separate to creativity.  Instead, think of it as an extension to creativity.

It is the business that gives you guidelines, a solid framework to work within. When you apply those guidelines to your creativity, your business will flourish – hopefully, profitably.

OK, that all sounds a bit broad and general.  How can it work in practice.

Here are three simple steps to help you balance creativity with a business mindset.


1. Lay out all your goals

Make a list of all your creative and business goals.

For example, your creative goals might include things like:

  • “create a unique website theme” (for clients to buy)
  • “write and publish my new e-book” (to market my work)
  • “design new branding for my website” (to make my website more attractive)

Great, these things will satisfy your creativity.  They’re a mixture of things directly related to the service you’re offering your clients (in this scenario, the new website theme for clients to buy) as well as things that will help to market your business going forward.

But it’s vital that you also have business goals – both long and short-term ones.  So, business goals might include things such as:

  • “I want to make $40,000 gross income next year”.
  • “I want to add 500 subscribers to my newsletter in the next 6 months”
  • “I will spend at least 8 hours each week marketing my business online”

As you can see, these goals ensure your business keeps growing and moving forward.

After all, if you’re not growing your business financially, it’s really just an expensive hobby!


2. Get a fresh perspective

What happens when you spend too much time working on a project?  Well, I don’t know about you but whenever I spend too much time writing, I feel that I don’t have the energy to edit it – and that’s an important second stage of the process!

If you’re a graphic artist and you spend hours creating illustrations for a logo in Photoshop, chances are, you don’t feel like synchronizing your logo with the client’s guidelines anymore. You’ve spent all your energy on the logo creation.

Balance your time by breaking projects down into bite-sized chunks. Instead of drafting a logo for 5 hours, read and assess the guidelines for a couple of hours, have a break, and then go ahead and draft the logo for the remainder.  You’ll find having a break will help you to approach the project with a fresh new perspective.

Similarly, for writers, it’s important to have frequent breaks so that your head doesn’t become foggy or your eyes over tired.  Literally, step away from your writing.   Go for a walk, get some fresh air and then come back to it later.

If you’re writing a book, consider hiring a professional editor to edit your work for you. It’s notoriously difficult to edit your own work because often, you remember what you’ve written instead of seeing what you’ve written!  Two entirely different things!


3. Collaborate

Nobody is perfect. No one expects you to be good at everything. So, don’t force too much responsibility upon yourself.

If you’re working on a project that requires you to do some accounting, or anything else that is outside your skill set, don’t hesitate to outsource to another freelancer.

It’s a great way to collaborate and if it works well, you’ll probably end up with a collaborative partnership that will last for years to come.


Are you a creative freelancer?  What tips would you add?


Herbert V. Wright


Herbert is a creative writer at greatpaper He values the importance of family towards his craft, and travels to give his writing a fresher perspective. He is fond of hiking, biking, and engaging in extreme sports.



Featured image : Unsplash


I’m Mary Cummings, a ghostwriter, collaborator and all round word doctor. I help business owners write and publish business books; I'm also passionate about helping creative freelancers find work that they love - their work sweet spot with work on their terms, projects they love and clients who are a dream to work for.