If you're a creative in the world of advertising, design and fine art, utilising the web for inspiration and sourcing the right people for the right projects can be problematic.
Why? Because technology has the potential to obstruct creative careers. Crowdsourcing spec contests, the lack of proper attribution for most creative talent displayed online, and inefficient services for career management – to name just a few.
Now, hopefully the tide is turning, with shifts in creative industries that will help empower creative professionals. Here are some tips on how to harness your online future.
1. Get on board with "distributed creative production"
In the past, resources for finding and managing top talent were extremely limited. Now, the rise of online networks, as well as project management and collaboration tools is empowering creative professionals and ushering in a new era of independence.
In the new era of "distributed creative production" top talent will be able to work on their own terms. Welcome this future and you will benefit from better creative output.
2. Forget crowdsourcing
The open calls for ideas and free work from anyone has hurt everyone. Given the low odds of getting paid for work, this form of crowdsourcing has encouraged quick and careless work. Putting your name to this work can hurt your career.
Why not use a more sustainable model instead? Quirky has revolutionised crowdsourced product design by ensuring that every contributor gets paid. Behance is also experimenting with new models for "sourcing" groups of top talent and guaranteeing payment for contributions.
3. Listen to the "Credible Mass"
Relying on personal networks and headhunters to find great talent won't cut it. We need a way for the best talent to rise to the top based on merit. But how should we measure the quality of talent?
The answer is community curation. Aided by tools like Digg, Facebook's "Like" button, and the "Appreciate" feature on Behance.net, communities are starting to curate themselves.
But remember - the insights of the critical mass aren't enough. For example, when evaluating the quality of a photograph, the opinions of 1,000 photographers should matter more than that of 1,000,000 random people. The "credible mass" will enable creative professionals around the globe to get new opportunities based on the quality of their work.
4. Inter-connect your portfolio
Not too long ago, creative professionals across industries relied solely on their "book" – an instantly outdated physical portfolio sent to headhunters and prospective clients. Today, personal portfolio websites are effective, but you still need to invite people to view your site – whether by email or a link on your business card.
So, consider creating a "connected portfolio" - a set of projects that live not only within your own personal portfolio site but also on other galleries and networks around the web, like LinkedIn and AIGA.
5. Join (or start!) a creative collective
Trade associations and online websites devoted to one particular field don't help foster creative collaborations across disciplines.
Creatives should work towards making formal alliances between industry associations. Join or create a multi-disciplinary collective or blog, and you will be instrumental in supporting the increasing need to connect and collaborate across creative fields.
6. Display your work privately
The trend in the design community (among other communities) of posting public snapshots of work in progress to get feedback needs to evolve.
Set up or join a private forum to display your work and you’ll start to get constructive feedback that has actual substance – not just friends commenting on Facebook.
Private forums will also help better serve clients who prefer that their projects aren't shared publicly before they are completed.
Behance is is an online creative professional platform for freelance creatives and employers to connect.