Creative assets for key people of influence
There are a select number of assets that you can create that provide disproportionate amounts of leverage. I call these 'Life Assets' because they help you to progress in life. They don't necessarily make money, but often the bi product of possessing these assets is an increase in earning potential. The beauty of life assets is that anyone can create them with no resources. The more creativity and time you put into producing these assets, the more likely they are to deliver results for you in return.
1. Brand Recognition
I designed my logo when I was at collage. I was 17 years old and I have had the exact same logo ever since. People who are familiar with me will be just as familiar with this little symbol. It doesn't matter if you're a company, solopreneur or an employee, I always encourage people to create their own brand. There are times when your face just will not do and a logo can provide a perfect extension of your values. You can find out the full story behind my logo here: Ricky Richards Brand.
I appreciate that you can't quite 'create' awards, but you can certainly make winning them a focus of your attention. When I moved to London at 21, winning an award for my work was my sole focus. I studied every D&AD and Cannes award annual I could get my hands on. I identified 'outdoor advertising' as an area of awards that was attainable with my limited resources and also an area where I felt I had natural ability. Six months later I'd won a Clio award for a poster I created for Coke. I didn't have a brief, I didn't work for an agency with Coke on their roster. I practically willed it into existence. Winning the award changed nothing in my life, but it was a good conversation starter and probably opened doors for me as a result. This is the poster on a 30 metre high billboard in Manila.
3. Big Name Clients
It doesn't matter what industry you're in, saying you've worked for the biggest players in your industry is a great way to show validation. The first big client I ever worked for CNN on the build up to the London 2012 Olympics. Truth is, my contribution was minimal on the project. Nevertheless, the name in my portfolio gave me leverage and another talking point to potential employers. Since then I've gone on to work for a number of big clients. While I'm not proud of all the work I've produced for these brands, it certainly shows that I'm trusted by the big players to have ideas on behalf of their brands.
Testimonials are a fantastic tool,especially if what you do for a living doesn't necessarily result in you building a portfolio. If you ever work with anyone of particular note then I would always encourage you to ask for a short testimonial. As a freelancer, if you're trying to command a higher salary it certainly helps if you can pull out a small book containing testimonials from highly perceived individuals validating your credentials and quality of work. These are just some of the porky pies I've managed to get people to write about me...
His academic integrity and dedication is undisputed and quite remarkable. - Piet Grobler - Course Leader at The University Of Worcester.
Ricky sets himself extremely high standards, and is exacting in his judgement of his own work. - William Fowler - Creative Director at Headspace and Columnist at Creative Review.
He's a natural presenter and conveys his drive and enthusiasm in a way that's impossible to not feel inspired by. - Jeremy Garner - Jury at Cannes & D&AD
The insights Ricky provided into applying creativity in advertising will have inspired many to pursue their dreams of working as creatives - Hugh Lailey - Careers Advisor at Oxford University
5. Industry Articles
Nothing quite shows how passionate you are about your industry than spending your free time writing articles about stuff no one else seems to care about. When you meet people and they're asking you for advice, it's great if you can point them to an article you've written. The more that you can get published in notable publications the better. I've yet to master how to get published but these are just some of the articles I've written about the creative industry.
Giving talks about what you do is a great way to show that people appreciate your contribution enough to ask you to talk on the subject. Speaking is like anything else you do in life, some people are naturally better at it, but you certainly get better with practice. This is the third talk I've ever given at Leeds Collage Of Art (15 mins) Q&A (15 Mins).
Creating a solid portfolio of anything is a great way to give yourself a base that you can leverage. In my life I've worked on everything from branding and poster design to events and film. I tend to keep my work together, but there is certainly an argument, that if you have multiple talents, that separating your work might be the best way to convey your 'specialist skill set' for a given area. People like to think they're employing the best person for the job, so having individual portfolios dedicated to specific areas rather than just everything is definitely right for some people. Obviously if you like the variety, or your style is strong enough to hold the work together regardless of the kind of job then a unified portfolio may be the best option.
8. Specialist Skills
Having specialist skills is another way to get more opportunities. I wouldn't say I possess many skills that other people don't have, there is an abundance of talent in the world, but specialist skills always stand out. Basketball was a huge part of my life growing up and I learned to control the ball better than 99.9% of people. When a job came up where I felt I could use my skills, I suggested an idea that very few people could do. The client liked it but because they couldn't find anyone else to perform the trick, they asked me to be in the TV commercial. I ticked another thing of my bucket list and it was all thanks to a skill I acquired in my pre teens.
Followers help to amplify your reach and increase your earning potential. If people like your contributions they'll be more likely to follow you. The benefit of this is that over time you can stop serving 'clients' and transition to serving an 'audience', the audience being those people who appreciate you and your work. When I was at University I used Behance every day and I managed to get a following of over 1000 people pretty quickly. When I released a font called Suave, I put a link at the bottom where users could buy the font for £10. My followers liked the font and it got appreciated over 1000 times, giving it an audience of nearly 18,000 people to date. Because of that traffic I've been able to earn over $2000 to date. It's not game changing money, but it shows the power of having a good following.
10. Email List
This is a really simple asset that you can create in a matter of minutes. I put out a quarterly main blast to everyone who joins my mailing list with any updates. It helps to keep my network in the know with what I'm up to as well as helping me stay front of mind for any upcoming work. I try to make it as personable as possible so that it doesn't feel like a marketing email and I highlight the achievements of my friends as well as myself. Above is a short tutorial I put together to show you how to create a mailing list quickly. Ideally you'd create your list organically but you can assume that most people who you email wont mind receiving an update from you four times a year. Those that don't will unsubscribe which is fine. You can join my list by clicking here: Join My List Also, this is a link to a previous email so you know what you're signing up for.. Previous Email
11. Shareable Documents
Occasionally I create sharable documents with information that is useful for myself and other people. If I meet a client or a friend and they need some advice it makes it much easier if I have a pre packaged document that I can share with them. You can also use these as 'lead magnets' which basically means you provide the document for free in return for an email address. This is a fair deal because it takes time to create these tools that you're giving away for free. In return, you can add people to your mailing list with the intention of building a deeper connection with them with repeat exposure to your brand. 6 principles to Viral success is one of my more popular give-aways. It's a summary of Contagious a book written by Jonah Berger which highlights the 6 viral mechanics responsible for the success of thousands of videos on Youtube.
12. Tutorial Videos
By using screen recording tools like screen flow you can create tutorials. Tutorials are a great resource for validating your expertise in a field. I don't tend to create many tutorials because technology in the design industry changes regularly so they can date quickly. However, if what you're trying to teach is unique and really helpful, then it's still worth an hour of your time to create a video that can help others in the future.
If you're confident that you know more than 95% of people on a given subject then you're qualified enough to teach it. Teaching is a great way to provide value to others and build your network, while also establishing yourself as figurehead in your industry. You don't have to be a university lecturer to teach anymore, you can use the internet to either create video courses, or courses in the flesh. I also run a regular bootcamps for advertising graduates in London and it helps me to meet new talented people and help them in their formative years.
Humans seem to poses a natural ability to remember compelling stories. Having some in your locker for people to remember about you will come in handy in all walks of life. When you complete a project or something notable happens in your life, take some time to think how to best communicate the story in a compelling way. Sometimes you can turn even the strangest moments of your life into memorable moments. Like when I used to print off greyscale images and paint over them to make my teachers think I was great a painting as a kid. As you can tell, I've always loved gaming the system.
An image can say 1000 words. Where ever possible try and get high quality photography that you can use to bulk out projects and give your audience more insight into your work. They can also be great conversation starters. Remember that time I threw a tit at Russel Howard? Didn't think so, thankfully I got a photo :)