I graduated in Marketing, Advertising, and PR at Worcester University. After my first degree, I then graduated with a MA in Creative Digital Media at Worcester. My reason for taking the MA degree was that I always had a keen interest in creating films and animations. The Digital Media course offered me the opportunity of using my first-degree background to follow, educate and further my interest in media. This developed into creating a Video and Podcast production company which is where I am today.
My practice at Stephenson Creative
In the beginning, I created videos and animations for small to medium businesses. The videos were primarily related to Marketing and associated advertising. Sometimes this would also lead to other work such as weddings, music videos, and film productions. Over time I offered other services such as web design, photography, and podcast productions. As the business developed my client portfolio covered a broader spectrum of work.
My experience of finding work and building a creative practice after graduation
My first intention was to mix with other people in similar circumstances to myself and to do this; I attended several networking events local to Worcester. At one of my first visits to an event, I met an ex-student of Worcester who had successfully started her own business. She gave me a great deal of advice from her own experiences and provided me with my first commercial contract. I was able to show the work I had done to other contacts, mainly at the events, and display my work on my website and social media. I think it’s important to get yourself out there, meet people and put a face to the business because in my experience, clients like to know who they are working with. At this point in my business career, it was vital to put myself out there, making opportunities where I could.
The main challenges I faced
One of the biggest challenges I had to overcome was a belief in my own ability. Talking with clients and empathising with my ability to take on work to establish myself. I remember at my first networking event how nervous I felt when I approached people to talk about my business. But after pushing myself a few times, this got easier and I was able to address the audience and make useful contacts with who I still work with. My advice here is to introduce your business to a potential client in a kind and conversational manner. Find out more about their business and what THEY need. If they asked me ‘how much do you charge?’ I would respond with a question such as ‘what exactly do you require? let’s try and understand your goals and what we could do to achieve these’.
Another challenge I faced was gauging the time required for filming and editing to establish the price to charge the customers. Experience showed me that I was inclined to underestimate the time taken which obviously affected the price of a project. After my initial contracts, I was able to estimate much more accurately, and having completed a number of contracts I was more or less able to judge the time requires more accurately and access whether the price was in the right ballpark.
Collaboration with other professionals helped me
From my experience meeting and talking to other creatives has been beneficial to me and in fact, was important in developing my business. I have met a number of marketing professionals from different industries with different ideas on how to promote their business; this has given me a wider background of knowledge of what the customer wants. Through my contacts, I met up with a marketing specialist who has now become my business partner. Recently our collaboration with other creatives has led us to continually work with other web designers, graphic designers, and photographers, and the business has developed and grown through this. Other people will bring skills and experience to the table and mixing with them will widen your knowledge and benefit your business.
The advice I would give to students who are graduating this year and seeking to develop their creative practice in Digital Media
First of all, decide whether you want to be part of a team or establish a business in your own right.
I will enumerate my advice through my own experience as follows:
- Have a strong business and career plan.
- Think of medium and long-term objectives.
- Think how your business can be Socially Responsible and help people in the community! Create a purpose for your company.
- Look for all the help you can through Networking, the University, Business Clinics, etc…
- Continually study and stay up to date on your subject area.
- Use and create social media content that is engaging to your audience and update regularly.
- Collaborate and have conversations with other creatives.
- Identify your unique skills and utilise them.
My final word of advice is to not be disappointed if it doesn’t go exactly to plan and be prepared to modify your plan and business. Everyone makes mistakes but learn from them and use them to your advantage that is what will make YOU and your business a success.
Blog by: Richard Stephenson