I could talk all about the business side of going professional. Taxes, paperwork, incorporation vs sole proprietor, accountants, staff, travel, contracts, networking, and managing clients, but there’s a million posts on that shit by people far more qualified than I. Of course that knowledge is all important, but there’s a few things that have to come before all of that, which if you don’t have in place, your likelihood of long term survival is lean. This is an opinion post, and as always, take what you like and ditch the rest. My admittedly short career has afforded me company with many top industry professionals around the world, and we all have some common opinions about going pro.
The first step of course, is deciding that you’re ready for it.
Next, it’s time to strap up your shoelaces, buttercup.
Going full time pro and hitting that arena means you have to love misery. The rage and frustration have to become this sick perverse love that hurts so good. It’s like a hit of heroin. The highs are so marvelous, and the lows are heartbreaking. The hours required, the isolation. The compulsion that is forcing yourself to sit down and get shit done when it’s beautiful outside and everyone else you know is out frolicking and having a delightful time. You’re going to learn to love it. You have to.
Every time you churn out that next piece of work, even if it’s awful, you’ve slain an enemy. You’re one step closer to victory, and the victory is defined by your life’s body of work. There’s only one way to win this game and that’s to show up every day, be present, and start the battle with your imagination.
It doesn’t matter how you get inspiration. You still have to show up for it to hit.
Remember: without experience, no amount of training or technology will help.
Keep taking those shots. Over and over. Eventually you’ll hit the bulls-eye. Once that happens, move the target back 20 yards, and try again. You must evolve, grow, and push yourself at every chance. Routine is often the death of any important new change.
The campaigns will change day to day, week to week, year to year. The only thing that is consistent is that it will likely (and hopefully) always be changing. You only admit defeat when you finally stop creating. That’s when you let your soul die. That’s when everything gets thrown about and grey and you go from an active participant, a leader, in your own life to a mere pawn in someone else’s.
Your body and mind are your greatest tools and should be cared for and maintained with the utmost respect. If you spend money on your car, your home, your equipment, make sure you allocate time and money for the only machine that you’re stuck using every single day until you die.
Without all faucets of your health, you have nothing.
Don’t compare yourself. It doesn’t matter. You should be too busy dodging bullets from your own personal enemy and planning strategy of career evolution than to give a rats ass about what someone else is doing. Your greatest enemy is your self and your own mind, who fucking cares what everyone else is doing. They’re already doing it. Make a stand for your own voice.
Of course it’s hard. Of course it fucking hurts. It’s worth every minute. Putting time into what feeds your soul, your creative life and what you were put on this little block of stardust for an infinitely small moment in time is the only thing worth doing.
Choosing to take that creativity and make it your full-time deal changes the game. However, if you feel like it’s something you’re ready for, then be prepared to break, over and over. The pro doesn’t give up, makes no excuses, and comes back stronger after every break.
It’s not for everyone, but it is for someone. If you think that’s you, then bring it on. Show the world what you’re made of, dream big, and don’t hold back.