The Pros and Cons of Working in the Creative Industries

IMG_6118Hi! I’m filling in for Tonya today, though I normally blog over at nzmuse.com about all things personal finance and lifestyle (career, relationships, food, travel). Like her, I work in the creative industries, and while I’ve only been at it for a few years, I’ve picked up a couple of things along the way.

My parents would probably have preferred I went down the sensible path of accountancy or law. Unfortunately, my talent and heart lay in a different direction entirely. Instead, I chose a life of creativity and excitement – a relatively less stable one, but one that suits me just fine for now.

One thing I’ve noticed in particular is the difficulty that comes with valuing creative work. You probably wouldn’t think you could defend a criminal charge yourself or fix a broken head gasket alone. But people tend to think they can design a fantastic website, create a kickass professional video or write a killer sales page in an hour.

But I digress. To the list!

PROS

You work with incredibly awesome people

You’ll be surrounded by creative, passionate, smart, talented people who genuinely care about what they do. It’s hard to convey what this is like unless you’ve actually experienced it yourself.

You create work that people choose to consume

Making stuff that people love is amazing. And getting feedback from them? Twenty times better. We need crop growers and car mechanics and plumbers and electricians – but we WANT filmmakers and writers and musicians. What is life without art?

You have a job that everyone else envies

You work in the creative industries because you want to. It’s work that you do for love, and sometimes (most of the time?) it doesn’t even *really* feel like work. Plus, you probably get some sweet swag from time to time.

CONS

You work with incredibly awesome people

Be prepared to feel seriously insecure next to some of the people you’ll encounter. My bosses and colleagues seem to churn out witty written quips effortlessly, while I labour over my lines. And while thankfully all the workplaces I’ve ever encountered have been supportive and positive – no The Devil Wears Prada crap – creative types can also be famously mercurial and impossible to please. Think the legendary perfectionist, Steve Jobs.

You create work that people choose to consume

And thus, you are expendable in a crunch. When times get tough, people cut back on discretionary things like movies and magazines.

You have a job that everyone else envies

Everyone wants your gig. Competition is cut-throat. People know this; if you’re not willing to do this for X amount of money, then somebody else will. Thus, you will always be overworked and under-resourced (are there jobs out there where you’re actually well equipped to do your work? Please share). And you’re only ever as good as your last piece of work.

Budget and the Beach’s thoughts: One thing that I’m seeing now is that people want you to be able to do it ALL (know every single program out there) and the pay is getting lower. There are also a lot of creative jobs that seem really cool on the surface, but they are a grind..working their people really long hours. Overall it’s hard to imagine doing anything else though. 

Anyone have more pros and cons for working in the creative industry? 

Tonya

Tonya is a video editor and writer living in Los Angeles who enjoys beach volleyball and running. To get the latest updates, be sure to subscribe. Check out her sister site Healthy, Fit, and Frugal.

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  • http://www.youngadultmoney.com/ DC @ Young Adult Money

    Great piece Tonya! I work full-time in one of those non-creative jobs..I’m an accountant. I do enjoy writing (as you can see from my 6x/week posts!) and I am finally going to attempt to make time for drawing, but my skills lie in spreadsheets and databases. I care more about the work environment and the control I have over it (yes it’s ironic I work in a cubicle at a giant corporation for the time being…) so I could definitely see myself writing full-time down the road.

    • http://budgetandthebeach.com/ Budget & the Beach

      Although this was written by someone else, as someone who is freelancing now I often miss that security of a big corporation!

  • John S @ Frugal Rules

    Good post! My wife and I work in advertising, so we can relate to a certain extent. I always find it amazing that people think that you can just churn out quality advertising and at a bargain basement price. That said, I much prefer this to my former life.

    • http://budgetandthebeach.com/ Budget & the Beach

      I get that in video editing all the time. People think it takes two minutes to edit a two minute piece. I love things like taskrabbit. I do it myself. But I often wonder if services like that are making what we do less valuable, i.e. someone will do something for dirt cheap because they think they can edit with imovie or something. But I guess you get what you pay for.

      • http://twitter.com/eemusings eemusings

        Oh heck yes. Online marketplaces are great for picking up little jobs but I don’t think you can say they DON’T devalue our work, and unfortunately a lot of people just aren’t willing to pay a fair price.

  • http://twitter.com/PelicanOnMoney Pelican on Money

    Very interesting. I was expecting a different set of cons but you reused the pros – uhuh… I can understand how insecure it must feel knowing that when times are tough your job will most likely go first. Sounds a bit like freelancing :)

    • http://twitter.com/eemusings eemusings

      There are two sides to every coin… :)

  • http://www.ourfreakingbudget.com/ Johnny @ Our Freaking Budget

    Spot on. I’m a creative copywriter at an ad agency and constantly go through the highs and lows of the industry.

    For me, the greatest perk is getting paid to innovate and keep a pulse on pop-culture, tech, memes, etc. It keeps me current with the going-ons of the world and allows me to constantly churn ideas out my brain. I’m convinced that at some point, one of those ideas will amount to something that will help me shed my day job.

    The greatest downside is the constant anxiety of wondering where your next idea will come from. This anxiety doesn’t check itself at the door when you leave at night or for the weekend. I oftentimes envy 9-5′ers who have consistency and routine in their schedules.

    For me, the pros outweigh the cons — for now. :)

    • http://twitter.com/eemusings eemusings

      True true. I’m thankful to now work 9-5 hours (for the most part) but that doesn’t mean I don’t think about work a fair bit outside of it. I do love getting paid to keep on top of the latest happenings and definitely have a lot of crossover between work/fun. And like you, the pros still outweigh the cons for me, though I don’t know how long that will last.

  • Mackenzie Randompath

    Interesting post. While I’ve never worked in the creative industry, I have a friend that does and while she loves it, the instability of the job, accelerates her stress level at times.

  • http://twitter.com/SavvyScot The Savvy Scot

    Good post – I like what you did! It is unfortunate that freelancing is becoming much tougher with worldwide competition! Poorer countries can undercut most developed countries which makes it harder and harder to survive/..

  • http://twitter.com/RFIndependence Pauline

    What can be a pro and con as well is the “creative” hours, having to finish a project by a deadline make you work so much, and then between contracts you can spend time completely idle. But you don’t get to choose when and planning your life can be complicated

    • http://twitter.com/eemusings eemusings

      Oh, definitely. Work-life balance is a real juggle – and if you love your work you’re usually willing to give a bit but somehow, no matter how much, it’s never enough.

  • http://www.missamanda101.wordpress.com/ MissAmanda

    I work in a creative industry, but primarily in the office, admin stuff. I`m disappointed becasue I really wanted a more creative job, and thought that working for a professional theatre company would be the best way for me to do that, but still earn a steady paycheck. Guess not….