What if you’re a creative thinker who’s in a role that doesn’t allow you to use all that creativity? I would say “square peg, round hole” but usually it’s more “well rounded” people that function in a “square” environment. They can fit in, they just don’t want to have to.
Every single day we get people who are creatively minded that email us and say:
“I would love to find a career where I get to use my creativity and still get paid well for it.”
We’ve learned that many people don’t even really believe it’s possible when they show up on our digital doorstep.
Can you do work that pays 6 Figures and uses your creative potential?
There is this pervasive myth out there that you can’t have a career that requires creativity and is well compensated.
This is absurd. We’ve helped hundreds of people make moves into careers that leverage their creative strengths and pay ridiculously well. Tanya who gets to create events out of thin air for Wanderlust, Margaret who get to help create campaigns for non-profits. We’ve seen it firsthand again and again so we are keenly aware it’s possible.
We also observe that there are a few things the average creative thinker doesn’t realize when they have the desire to do something more “creative,” but don’t necessarily know what that could look like or how to get there.
In fact there’s several little known problems that cause even high performing people to never fill that desire to have a more creative career than what they do.
Why You don’t know what Creative job is Right For You
That same person that emails us and says they want a more creative role usually doesn’t know what that creative role is. They just know they need more creativity.
Ok, that’s a great place to start but it’s more complex than simply choosing from a menu or a list. Plus, most jobs do actually “create” in some way or another. So why then don’t most jobs feel creative to you?
The secret is understanding what you consider to be creative.
Here’s an example: You could be a graphic designer and feel like you really don’t get to be creative at all because you’re not the one who gets to pick the designs, or the purpose for the designs, OR vice versa you could be a scientist (not a role known for its creativity) that absolutely loves the creative process of designing experiments.
Both examples are counterintuitive to popular beliefs about what creativity actually is.
I personally have seen much evidence that all humans feel a need to create but that creativity looks drastically different from one person to the next.
This means you have zero hope of finding what type of creative job is right for you if you don’t know what type of creativity is right for you.
Wait!… there are different Creativity types?
Try asking 15 different “Creative thinkers” what creativity means to them and you will likely get 15 different answers (trust me I’ve done it).
Much more importantly than the definitions of creativity themselves are which parts or ways creativity is most fulfilling, rewarding, valuable, and enjoyable to you.
Untangling this is your first step toward finding a creative job that is rewarding for you. When we work with students and coaching clients we might spend several weeks doing just this so we won’t cover this process in it’s entirety, but here are several questions we use with our students to help you get started in understanding what types of creativity you need in your next role.
Look at your past roles or projects that you’ve worked on that had some amount of creativity.
- How did you use creativity in your role?
- What made this feel creative to you?
- What areas do you not get to be creative in your job?
- Which aspects of creativity did you enjoy the most?
- What was it (specifically) about those creative pieces that made it fulfilling?
Remember the more specific you can be, the easier it is to match up different roles and creative jobs to what is really going to be good for you. If you want additional questions and insights a great place to start figuring out what type of creative role could be good for you is our free 8 day “Figure It Out” mini course.
Even when you’ve got it fully figured out there is one other thing you should know that is especially true for creative types.
Getting Exposure to Creative Careers You don’t know About
Once you know a bit more about what makes a great creative career for you, there comes the challenge of matching up what roles could be amazing for you.
Most people come to us and say something along the lines of:
“I’ve been interested in _____ [insert a role you’re interested in here] or a ______ but I feel like there could be something out there that’s amazing that I just don’t even know about.”
Yes. There is definitely something amazing out there that you don’t even know about. I’m sure of it.
But maybe not for the reasons you think.
Here’s what I mean: There are a variety of ways for you to get exposure to roles, companies and creative driven opportunities that you haven’t heard of. One of those ways to do that is by downloading a list of creative jobs that we’ve put together.
You should definitely download the list, just click above, it will likely help provide exposure to other roles you may not have heard of or might not be familiar with.
That said, you should also know that most people that we work with that are looking for creative careers usually validate what they really want to be doing by designing small experiments instead of finding their roles of our lists.
Why? Because a list can only get you so far, where taking small steps to actually get to know a role or creative job much more intimately can help you understand whether it’s actually for you and the type of creativity you need.
So start out by:
- Answering the questions above (to find out the type of creativity you need in your life).
- Download the list of Creative Careers above.
- Design some experiments to find out what will really work for you!
Transcript from Episode
Scott Barlow: Normally we have a guest on the show, and we have so many amazing guests coming up in the near future that I think you are going to love. We’ve also done some things on the show we’ve never done before. I can’t share yet but it’s coming soon. I think you are going to be ecstatic.
Today though we are doing something different. It is just me. Why? Because I wanted to focus on something we get questions about all the time. That is what about careers that are incredibly fulfilling and pay well for creative people or people who are creative thinkers or want more creativity but they aren’t necessarily traditional creatives like artists or painters? They recognize they want more in their life but don’t get it in their particular role. I’d like to head on into that. This might be you. If it is and you have the desire for more creativity in your role and aren’t getting it or have time in your day where you get ht at creative component I think you are going to love this episode.
I want to divide this into a couple sections because we don’t always recognize some of they reasons it can be hard to find a job as a creative and I want to talk about those reasons. They aren’t necessarily what you think and I’d love to give you examples of creative roles and what they look like and how many of the people we’ve worked with that wanted more creativity have been able to do that. And how I’ve been able to do that because I’m one of those people.
Human beings in some way need to create and don’t always think of that need as creative. In our society when we talk about creative we think of a renaissance artist or people making no money, starving, and doing it just so they can express their art. That is a myth. Jeff Goins was on the show in episode 65 and he wrote a book called “Real Artists Don’t Starve.” I think you can tell the context of the book. I believe that. Regardless if you are an artist, write code for a living, or anything else you can think of or want to do about anything else you can think of.
At a fundamental level we all have a basic need to create. I wanted to address that because we think of using that word when we are talking about an artist or well known creativity.
Now that that is out of the way let’s talk about why it's hard to find a job as a creative in the first place. We now know we need different types of creativity but now we need to figure out what it means for us. Even though we all need to create, we have discovered working with different people and research that we all need to create in different ways. For example, I have found I love to be able to create different types of thought processes or concepts for people to help them look at things in a brand new way. That fits with what I do but that isn’t necessarily what the next person needs to be creative. To identify what types of creativity you need we have resources.
First, I’d ask yourself some questions. I’d dig into the context where you’ve enjoyed creating in the past and what it can look like and go under the surface. What types of people was it with, what are the situations, what is the context? That will give you a better clue. You can observe the patterns. If you want a good way to get started with that you can go to figureitout.co where we have an 8 day mini course that helps you get started thinking through the things you need, not just creativity.
Once you have identified what those contexts are with your creativity and what you need you are only part of the way there and can start to see why it’s complicated. If I know in the past I loved to put together communications, write those, and even though everyone is sending out an email I’m trying to figure out the perfect subject line so people pay attention to it and so sending it to 1800 people in the company so it doesn’t go to waste is a type of creativity. It is different than what the next person wants.
Once I know those pieces next I figure out what are you missing in the current or past roles? When you start evaluating what you are missing it can give you clues about what you need as well. For example, I got an email from a couple weeks ago from a guy that is a listener. He had taken a graphic design role and even though most people say it is creative, it didn’t align with the creative he needed. Not because he wasn’t using creative muscles but because he didn’t have the freedoms to decide how to do the work how he wanted. Part of creativity for him and scope was having some autonomy behind it. He could have continued on in graphic design, I’ve heard this story a number of times because they go into it loving to design and creativity but they don’t consider these other questions. He realized he needed autonomy too and concluded that designing for a company wasn’t a great fit. Now that he knows that he can go and try and identify places where he can get that. Part of the reason this is so difficult to figure out is because it's not just the types of creativity you need but how.
I want to give you a couple example questions and tools to think about what you need. Here are a couple questions:
How do you use creativity in your current role you want to keep or what do you want to use in your next role you don’t have now?
Why is this type of creativity valuable for organizations or to other people? Once you get answers to that it helps you to know where to begin looking. What areas do you not get to be creative in your current job that you want to use your creativity or it’s completely lacking?
Those should get you started.
When you have answers it makes it easier to be able to start looking in another space. We’ve talked about a variety of ways to design experiments or test drive other roles and you can go back to designing career experiments so you can identify in other roles if you get to use this type of creativity. You can do that by identifying a few different places and talking to people in those roles and asking them how they get to be creative and what matters to them and see if it aligns with you. It helps you to parcel out what is a good fit for you.
People haven’t thought of, and I see it again and again, for those people that need more creative autonomy the higher you go in type of position and scope, for example a manager or director or CEO, and also depending on industry I may have more authority which can go with autonomy. Not always, but it can give me more ability to insert creativity in my role.
Think of our graphic designer guy, he wanted to decide what and where and how the design took place as opposed to being told it needed done in this time and look like this. For him even though he was getting to solve the challenge to make it look right and getting it into Adobe Illustrator, for some people might work, but for him it wasn’t the creativity he needed. If he was getting to make more of those decisions it would appeal more to the creativity he was lacking. You might feel it's the same thing for you. We’ve observed when you go up in scope for those roles and higher roles, often the pay goes up. Not every CEO gets to use creativity in the way that is good for you but generally if you are finding you need more autonomy around your creativity and that is part of what is creative to you then it's worthwhile to look at those higher level roles that allow that.
For example, if we go back to roles I’ve had in the past, HR director and manager, in most to of the companies they gave me a ton of decision making power in how the work gets done. That is the type of creativity I needed because for me being able to solve problems to develop the solutions and identify what was needed and create it and work with my team to implement it was the type of creative I needed. It won’t be right for everyone and you have to do the work to find what works for you but because I was in those higher level roles it allowed me more ability to choose where to insert my creativity. Not true for every organization but I want you to start thinking about this in a different way as opposed to just saying I don’t have creativity in my job and need it where am I going to get it? That is another place to look. When you are in those higher level roles, getting paid more with more autonomy you can look for those types that match with your creativity.
Let me give you a couple examples. People that are in strategy, being able to come up with a strategy and solve problems and strategically think of how to get to a solution the quickest and most effectively – strategy directors or growth directors can fit. I’ve talked to editors that get to exert a ton of creativity but maybe it doesn’t align so one example is a Director of Content. They may have a ton of ability to exert their creativity as a part of their job.
Another more traditional route might be an Art Director. They get paid on average north of $80,000 or some maybe less but that is another example. Art directors design the vision for a work of art or product. It’s more traditional. A director of content might be in charge of the strategy and plan for all the content for an organization. It might be digital or maybe editors that plan and review and revise material, coordinate with writers to explore ideas, establish a schedule, get to establish standards but more frequently that is at the director level. Those are a couple examples.
More might be direct response copywriters or a marketing director. I’ve done marketing in a variety of fashions and it can be so much fun and creativity for my type, not necessarily yours. It could be chief of strategy or growth which is getting more popular.
For you you have to go to where we started. What are the types of creativity you need that you have and are missing? What is the deeper level context and what do you want moving into the next role? Then you can explore different roles and identify whether the type of creativity you need lines up with the creativity needed in that role. Sometimes you might have a Marketing Director in title that does one thing in one company that lines up but at another organization is the opposite. That is why I say both roles and companies. After that you can start to pin down an area through that exploration. Again if you are focused on having your creativity and eat it too or to have it and get paid well. Often I’ll look at those higher level roles especially if it lines up with autonomy around this as well.
I would love to hear your thoughts and additional questions. We have so much more coming up for you. We have things I can’t tell you about but pay attention to what we have coming up next week.