By Rae Jefferson | News Editor
Richard Ross and Jake Brown, freshly equipped with Baylor degrees, jumped into the creative field expecting their artistic skills to produce a profit. Unfortunately, it was not long before they epitomized starving artists.
After a long learning process accompanied by plenty of mistakes, they now have successful jobs in the creative field.
In addition to their creative work, Ross and Brown started making podcasts that offer tips and advice on what to do or, rather, what not to do when starting out in a creative field.
Ross and Brown said they have a passion for helping others reach their fullest potential. They create weekly podcasts posted every Tuesday on their Working Creative website to help aspiring freelancers skip the mistakes they made when starting out.
Both Ross and Brown graduated from Baylor University in 2013. Ross currently works as a video and photography producer, while Brown works as a film director.
Ross said he learned a lot from obtaining his degree in theatre performance, but knew little to nothing on how to make a revenue with this knowledge.
“I really remember the beginning when I didn’t know that much, and I remember how difficult it was. There were not that many resources or firsthand examples from people on how to run a freelance business,” Ross said. “We wanted to create a resource that we wish we had when we were starting out and that we wish we had when we were in school to provide knowledge of how to run a business, as well as firsthand experience on failure and things to avoid.”
After graduating with a degree in film and digital media, Brown said he blindly jumped into the creative field without enough knowledge on how to utilize creative skills in a business setting. He said college, while important, does not teach everything one needs to know to succeed in business, especially in creative spaces.
“I was never taught how to make money,” Brown said. “When I had graduated, I really had no idea how to use my skills or degree or how to capitalize on it. Running a creative production company is very complicated.”
Brown said everyone he knew who was just starting out in creative freelancing was struggling with similar things, regardless of whether or not they seemed to know what they were doing.
“We wanted to start a conversation about how, in today’s modern social media age, everyone looks like they have it going on. People you look up to seem like they know exactly what they are doing and look like they are killing it,” Brown said. “Well, they’re not. We realized a lot of the people we look up to were struggling with the same things we do.”
Brown and Ross said they are also well-aware that the freelancing community is growing at a rapid rate, which is why they feel it is so important to have a resource like their podcasts.
According to the Freelancer’s Union, one in three Americans, approximately 42 million people, work independently. The Freelancer’s Union predicts that by 2020, freelancers will make up 50 percent of the work force.
Collegiate life can certainly be busy with heavy class loads and clubs, but Brown and Ross said they did not take advantage of the free time they had in college. They both said the biggest mistake they made was not doing creative work when they were still in college and emphasized the importance of having experience upon graduating.
“What you have on your diploma in terms of the degree you’re pursuing isn’t as necessarily important today as it was back then. Experience oftentimes trumps whatever is written on your degree,” Ross said. “Get as much experience as you possibly can in school. Your education is very important and is a priority, but once you get out, if you have education coupled with experience, real world real job experience, you will increase your value that much more.”
Brown said college is the best time to take creative risks.
“If you want to do this stuff for a living — photography, videos or graphic design —just start now. College is a great place to try things out and learn from experience. It’s also a place where it’s kind of a safety net for failure. You’re young, and there’s not that much on the line,” Brown said.
Transitioning from being a college student to a business professional can be difficult, but Brown said he learned early on the importance of adapting to this change as quickly as possible.
“You are running a business. It is not just you and your friends making movies anymore. You have to act and operate like a professional,” Brown said. “That was a learning process that took a couple of years. I made a lot of mistakes, but I feel like I have a grasp of it now.”
Visit WorkingCreative.co to tune into the duo’s podcasts.