Guard Against Creativity Traps And Keep Focused

Working alone as a creative freelancer means you have to boss yourself and self-monitor your progress. It is very important to be self-critical and highly self-aware at all times. Whilst creativity is what the client is paying for, it can be too easy to drift off course into disaster if you ignore some of the basic rules of engaging in a freelance project. Don’t mess up a commission for silly reasons, take the time to think and properly prepare, before you dive into the work. Here we look at seven common ways to fail on your first attempt at a brief.

  1. Going way off brief

This is a classic mistake. You are given a clear written brief. You read it, think you know what to do and then over the period of a month completely go off brief and don’t bother to check back over the important points. By the time you have finished and handed over the project you are essentially giving in something that is either half complete or different to what was expected. This can really throw a client into a ‘grump’ and that’s not their fault, it will be yours. The first rule of freelance is to keep the brief in sharp focus, cross off the needs one by one and if you want to do something different, check first and explain your thoughts to the client.

  1. Paralysis by analysis

Ever get yourself tied in knots mentally because you have over-thought something? The term ‘paralysis by analysis’ is used in business when someone or a team has way over complicated a task that should be straightforward. The result, a complete unfinished mess – that usually doesn’t make sense to anyone. Some briefs are supplied with a lot of accompanying material which can muddy the waters. Read it all, absorb it all, take bullet notes but do keep the ‘core’ brief and task in the fore of your mind.

  1. Constant restarting

Plan the execution of your work. If you don’t, you can find yourself wasting time by scrapping entire bodies of work – what a waste! This can happen when you don’t fully understand what’s asked of you. Simply read again and if unsure – go back to the client and ask questions until you are satisfied you know how to approach the task well to satisfy needs.

  1. Breaking the flow

If you keep stopping and starting a creative assignment the effect can be a disjointed piece of work. Whilst most creative work is to a deadline, affording you time to complete it over say a few weeks, it pays to have steady, good runs at projects when they are creative. Good work often comes from a state of mind, an internal place that does not work best when constantly interrupted.

  1. Not starting well

Foundations are everything – whatever you do. If you don’t start well, you have made life tougher for yourself from the ‘off’. Whether that start is your initial discussion about the project, the first moments of contemplating work, or simply not having the right tools or environment to begin properly, when you begin under a cloud, it can lead to terrible results.

  1. Over editing

When you finish, whether that is artwork, writing or photography – you will no doubt check, recheck and edit into shape the work for handing in. Just don’t spoil it by being overzealous. In writing especially – 10 edits might create a masterpiece but 20 might rip the magic from the prose. Always think holistically – the flow, the way it feels. Does the piece appeal in an obvious way? If not, why not – where did it go wrong?

We all get moments where it can go ‘sideways’ but it pays to think before you go off on a tangent. Stay focused and deliver the best results.

  1. Deciding you’ll get it out of the way

This may sound obvious, or even trite but it is the easy option to think you can simply get work out of the way. Maybe you did not get the deal you wanted or fell out about something with the client, so your quality dropped, on purpose. There have been freelancer jokes that go, ‘well – if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys’ and good freelancers deliver sub-standard work purely because they were unhappy with the deal they agreed to. Not good. Work out rate well, agree, deliver. If you want a good reputation, if you want repeat work and referral work – never compromise on quality. This is linked with planning – know what you are worth and what you can deliver in a time frame and never let the politics of a situation make your work worth less, because if you drop your standard you are sabotaging your own way of living.

If you are a creative freelancer looking for your next gig, or a business looking for a professional to take on a creative project, join us at Find a Creative Pro.

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