Creative Professional Success When Times Get Tough: DOs and DON’Ts


The term “starving artist” can be uncomfortably accurate at times — at least we know how to weather the droughts. But when things get really tough, you need to keep some basic rules in mind so you don’t cross a line you’re uncomfortable with or jeopardize your career in the long term.

Whatever creative field you’re in, here are some DOs & DON’Ts to successfully get you through the tough times:

Do realize that there are unlimited ways to adapt your craft to generate income. Creative types can use their creative nature to come up with new creative ideas to make money.

Do remember that other artistic/creative types are (usually) willing to help in any way they can… if you ask nicely!

Do try out collaborations. It’s a great way to connect with new people in your field while re-fueling your creative reserves.

Do keep in mind that job opportunities can be found anywhere. Talk to everyone, mention that you’re looking, and keep your eyes and ears open.

Do be frugal. Use a free hosting company for your website or blog, buy your supplies in bulk, swap services with other creative professionals, and cut back on your gourmet coffee…slightly.

Don’t make the wrong kind of compromises. Compromising on project details? Perhaps. Compromising on your ethics? No way!

Don’t let your pride get in the way. Asking for help can be difficult, as can revisiting past projects and employers/collaborators that may not have worked out. But if there are fresh opportunities to be explored in past territory, don’t let your ego get in the way of what might be a positive next step.

Don’t confuse tough times with failure. Just because you’re experiencing a dry spell or have hit a few bumps in the road, doesn’t mean that you’ve failed. Everyone experiences hiccups along the way. Just keep going!

Don’t let stress make you do something you’ll regret. This includes abandoning your craft – you chose your craft because it’s what you’re meant to do. Don’t let tough times get in the way of that!

Do you have any DOs or DON’Ts when it comes to getting through the tough times? Let us know in the comments below!

* An earlier version was originally published on