On a late, rainy night in Brooklyn’s trendy, creative-centric neighborhood of Williamsburg, a director of a creative agency and a stylist sift through racks of clothes that are all different hues of blue. The stylist, Olivia Perdoch, is a young creative who has been working as a freelance stylist for nearly five years.
Perdoch, who pulled the clothing, was hired specifically for the commercial the clothing was going to be used in, rather than being a contracted employee. Being a young creative working as a freelance stylist was not, however, the career she originally saw herself having. “I started when I was in college. I was interning at a magazine because I wanted to go into journalism, and then I met the head of styling for the magazine. In a way that almost seems like fate, I started interning for him and really liked it. I couldn’t believe it was a real job that paid money. At first, I couldn’t understand how it could be a full-time thing for myself, but then I figured it out.”
For many college students, young adults and those in the creative field, the goal of being self-employed is on the rise. According to an article by Forbes, millennials look for purpose in their work, rather than just something to do every day to bring home a paycheck.
For Perdoch, finding that purpose came from working for herself rather than for a bigger company or someone else. “Working directly for a brand is essentially an office job with the same people, clothes and direction, whereas every job I do is drastically different. I could be making money more steadily, but in my position, I get to say no, pick and choose my projects and meet so many people.”
The feeling is mutual among many young creatives. Being able to have a purpose can sometimes hold sentimental value and motivates these young people to continue their trade.
Jourdan Jerome, another young creative who has been in the modeling industry for five years and has only made income off this chosen profession for two, uses her own platform to speak to larger issues and inspire others. “I definitely have to stay connected to the why, why am I doing this? I do this because I want women and girls to feel beautiful about themselves and love themselves. If I get to be a part of the change of the standard of beauty, that would my highest honor.”
So yes, many creatives choose to work for themselves for benefits that a traditional nine to five position t not offer, but what can really be gained for a creative looking to run their own business?
Although there are no traditional benefits to working freelance or for your own company, weighing the non-tangible benefits can be just as important. “I worked in an office briefly and felt no satisfaction,” said Perdoch. “Being your own work, you are the brand. In the end, it’s the most rewarding thing. It’s your ideas, your team, your style. It’s all about you all of the time.”
Not having a boss is also a big part of working in the creative industry. Having the benefit of being in control of your own schedule and work is what seems appealing for those who want to release their creativity instead of facing the burden of a committed schedule.
“Being in charge of my own schedule and working for myself is empowering and teaches me to stand up for myself,” said Jerome. “What I require from my job, my agents and my clients makes me feel like a business woman. That was something I never felt during previous jobs I’ve had.”
Running a small business or freelancing comes at its own price, though. As if things like health insurance, dental insurance and retirement plans weren’t hard enough to come by, especially in the United States, the possibility for those benefits are almost completely out of the window for those looking to freelance.
Thankfully, there are different options for young creatives and freelancers to make their goals a reality and still juggle the stress of benefits.
To start, there’s always the more traditional route of starting an individual retirement account, or IRA account at a bank. Even though there are several advantages to this venture, there are several apps that are also quite useful in managing long-term finances, such as Betterment, where you can build a safety nest, retirement fund or just a general investment account.
Health insurance, although tricky for most, also has options for creative freelancers. However, most have to determine what their needs are first, and then do research to find out what kind of plans are available to suit their needs.
Being a young creative and having to freelance or be in charge of your own finances can be tough, but there are plenty ways of staying organized. In fact, as a plus of living in a world of advanced technology, there are several applications and tools available that serve as digital bookkeepers. You can even find well-written invoice templates with all of the key elements in place, contract templates, and so on. As a freelancer, that means getting paid promptly for your services.
“Being a freelancer in a creative industry, you have to be incredibly organized,” says Perdoch. “I have my own system of spreadsheets. I have one for money I’ve made, clients, press offices, and people I’ve reached out to. Just so I always have something to refer back to. Especially for finances, since freelancers have to pay the IRS quarterly for taxes.”
As with any career, there are pros and cons of working as a young creative in an industry that makes it even harder for people trying to make it on their own but succeeding is still very possible.
“You will have to be your biggest advocate,” said Jerome. “If you want to enter a creative industry, you have to work hard on consistency, persistency, and patience. If you really want it, stay in-tune with and listen to your intuition and it will happen.”
“Go with your gut and really pursue it and work hard if it feels right,” says Perdoch. “Put yourself out there and be super open to everything. Every job I’ve had always leads to the next job and is always a step up.”