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Sharing what I know about type-based illustration while helping creatives do their best work

Three Ways To Build Your Confidence As A Creative

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To succeed as a designer and illustrator there are skills you need to learn that involve more than just drawing and pushing pixels. There will be a point in your career where you feel stagnant and you don’t see any room for improvement. 

Work can be slow, clients aren’t knocking. You’re asking. “how do I get more work?”. Are you not getting work because you’re not confident enough in your skills? Are you too timid to approach people? 

The problem is lack of practice.

This year has been awesome for me in terms of client work and I believe this stems from being a lot more confident in my ability to deliver, my technical skills and confidence in myself. Confidence is not the only key however, but if you are anything like me—shy, introverted, uncomfortable then I urge you, start building your confidence now so you can go out there and win more work.

Let’s look at three ways I’ve built my confidence over the years. 

1. Strike More Conversations With People

I work in coffee shops and although I am surrounded by people, I’m not necessary talking to them. Nor would I be the one to initiate conversations. For one, I’m busy and reason two, not having the confidence to approach someone. 

I’ve struggled with this for a long time especially in larger group situations. I’ll be the person who’s sitting at the corner of the table, with a beverage and “trying” to be involved by laughing or using some sort of expressive gesture so I look alive. I even cringed just by writing that out. 

You can increase your chance of more work by simply speaking to people. 

Word of mouth referral is one of the best types of referrals because there’s a strong element of trust when someone recommends you to another person. 

But what if you struggle to initiate a conversation with someone you just met? Or if you don’t have the confidence to “ask” for work because you don’t want to sound desperate?

The conversation has to come from a place of being genuine. Be interested in the other person and that will take you far.

2. Attend Meet Ups And Share What’s On Your Mind

You can start building confidence by putting yourself in situations you’re not used to.

And for me that was being in a room full of designers and marketers who are levels beyond myself and extremely knowledgeable. 

The event I’m referring to was a breakfast meet up that I attended for freelancers to discuss, share and ask questions relating to freelancing. The experience was inspirational yet overwhelming at the same time. 

I was too passive to speak up and share my thoughts. I never said a word during that meet up (yep, I just listened). What really held me back from injecting ideas was my level of experience and thinking what I have to say is not valuable. 

Thinking what you have to say is not valuable is mistake number one. But the experience? Not a mistake. By the second, third and tenth time, I was able to connect with people and start building relationships. Just remember, failed experiences are necessary for growth. 

3. Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone

How many times have you avoided a situation where you were just not comfortable being in? Speaking in front of people? Going to a meet up? It could be a number of reasons, but you’re not doing yourself any favours avoiding the one skill you need to work on. So you have to deliberately put yourself out there to build the confidence and expertise you want.  

Growth only occurs when you step outside the range you are comfortable with.

Stepping outside this range is necessary to become more confident. You’re going to have to do this once in a while to see any sort of development. 

So if you want to become better at speaking, to be blunt, you need to speak. It’s nerve-wracking, I definitely know that. Speaking to a group of 20 or more people can be daunting, especially if you’re an introvert while everyone around is shouting their brains out. 

Mentally prepare yourself for the situation. 

I like to use the example of sports. There will be a warm up or a routine the athlete will go through to mentally prep themselves before stepping onto the court/field. This is what you have to do. I don’t believe this form of mental preparation is any different for creatives. 

Just know that you’re going to feel awkward, anxious and uncomfortable in the beginning. It’s important to not let your skills stagnate. Leave your comfort zone and build your creative confidence so you can go out there and influence others.