Getting a creative edge

On Wednesday I attended a Creative Edge careers event at the University of East Anglia about Careers in the Digital Age. There were 4 great speakers:

Charlie Gauvain shared his experiences of developing the John Peel project ‘The Space’.
Mikey Martin showed some amazing outdoor art installations that are currently making use of digital media and talked about his plans for the Norwich and Norfolk Festival
Mary Hamilton talked about how she has been able to mix her creative career as a Guardian journalist and also running Serious Business – a live gaming business using nerf guns!
…and to kick off the event Adizah Tejani provided some great tips on how to network and to make the most of social channels and social media.

After the speakers there was the opportunity for people to meet the speakers and ask a few questions! I’d been invited along to watch the speakers and ended up answering a few questions along the way! I decided that I’d write down a few things from the event  – I thought that someone might find it useful!

Get a website
Get a website! Yes get a website. There are a lot of ways for you to get some kind of website, you don’t need to a programmer or technical wizard – it is quite straightforward to get some kind of website on the web. If you are not sure go and have a look at some of the options available:  WordPress, blogger, linkedin.   Just make the effort to get your own own website – go and get something on the web where you can start publishing and uploading your own contact. …oh and make sure that you back it up from time to time. …don’t forget the backing it up bit, it’s important. You don’t want to lose all your files.

Think about the copyright
Your stuff, the thing that you uploaded It is your copyright? Is it? Really? Best check that. Some websites reserve the rights to take your content that you have uploaded to their website and sell it or use it as they want. Check how they will use your content. If you are not happy with that the best way to get round it is to build your own website.

Starting writing and publishing
There are lots of blogging websites and publishing platforms like blogger and WordPress. My preference is for WordPress. You can have a website hosted by WordPress or if you set up some website hosting yourself (which is very easy and cheap these days) you can have your own hosted WordPress site.

I like WordPress as you can start off with a standard blog and by adding themes, extensions and plugins you can develop into a full on website and even full e-commerce. There are some great design themes for WordPress so you don’t need to be an amazing graphic design or programmer to get started with WordPress. Have a look around at WordPress themes and you will see that it is easy to get started. You don’t need to be a computer programmer (notice how I’ve said that twice – you don’t need to be a programmer!).

So you’ve got some kind of website – you need to get started

If you are a writer – get writing
If you are a graphic designer – publish your art
If you are a computer game designer – create a game
If you are a musician – put your tunes online

…then publish it – let people see it, get some feedback and then see what people think of it. If you are worried about people stealing your ideas but a copyright notice on your website.

Your portfolio is never finished!
You can always add to your portfolio and you can be adding new pieces of work to it as soon as you able. Upload new pieces of work as soon as you have a new piece ready, make sure that there is a good description of the work, when you did it, who it was for and how people can contact you!

Don’t worry if you only have one piece of work – you have to start at some point and that one piece of work might be something that some is looking for!

Promote your website and blog
When you start and publishing think about promoting your work! Get on twitter, linkedin, facebook, google + and start promoting your website and your work. Tell your friends and your colleagues each time you have something new to show people. Think about good article titles and content that will attract readers.

There are lots of good SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) sites that will help you with how to promote your blog or your website. Have a look at quicksprout and seomoz from some of the basics – I’m interested in e-learning so pick up an e-learning course and there are thousands out there. Have a look at Udemy and you can pick up a great online video course for free. You can even download some of the courses to your iPhone or iPad.

When you have started to promote your blog or website think about adding the url on your email signature so that people know where to look. Make sure that people know where they can see your work!

I recently read an interview with Henry Winter (leading football writer) who said that he received several applications for positions every day – he looks for examples of their writing. If you are looking to get into digital then get your work online whether it is writing, graphic work or game design you need to get your work online so that as many people as possible can see it. For digital work like graphic design and games you can get your work into marketplaces and start selling your work. People can be worried about the feedback that you get when you start publishing your work,  but use this feedback in a positive way to understand what the market is looking for – it can also be very positive feedback! “Hey your work is great!”

Backup your work!
If you have your work online make sure that you back it up! (I’ve told you twice to back up your work) Not backing up work is a mistake that people make too often, backup your blog, your online portfolio and your website. Make sure that you have a backup of all of your digital files so if you have a digital crash you can get up and running quickly. …don’t forget to backup the database as well.

Think about a registering a domain name
Using gmail or another webmail for your email is fine but think about buying a domain name. They are cheap and you can normally get something that you can want. You can then have your own domain name that you can use and you can manage and control your website space, your email addresses and it looks professional when you are making contact with people.

Get some business cards
You can get great business cards for a decent price. moo.com is just one site that offers really clever business cards – get some! It is useful to have a business card in case you meet someone at an event. Make them double-sided and use one side to showcase your work. A piece of text, poem, writing, image, illustrator, web address, twitter address – think creatively!

Finally – just have a go. If you read about lots of the digital success they have come from having a go and trying different things and trying many times.

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