How can creative pros prosper in the new economy? Stay in touch with what resonates with you

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Creative professionals — graphic designers, artists, photographers and others — are extremely sensitive to the changing winds of the economy. While creative work is critical to business success, clients often have an imperfect view about the process and value of creative labor.

Thus, designers have to figure out how to navigate their own survival mechanisms in this new social media-dominated, mobile-oriented economy and learn to use the many existing tools and opportunities to their best advantage.

An SXSW panel called The Rise of the Creative Economy focused not only on how creative pros survive and prosper in a competitive crowdfunded environment, but how they can use social networking tools to enhance their profile, differentiate their work from the pack, emphasize their professionalism to clients and connect with new opportunities.

Among some of the useful strategies mentioned were:

The design field today centers around what you’re excited about. It’s not just about a vast range of experience, but rather designer portfolios should concentrate on areas that really represent them. Doing the work that you want to get is the best way to get the work you want to do.

Social media — whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Behance or Instagram — is an integral part of creative career building and sustainability. Sharing is the new networking because it demonstrates thought leadership and builds your reputation. However, sharing your work on social networks is not necessarily the same thing as your published or professional work.

Crowdsourcing is like discount sushi. While competition is good, crowdsourcing can also hurt designers because of the increased opportunities to take advantage of creative talent. Further, the results are often not well thought out or based on deep knowledge of the client, so crowdsourcing can show your work at a disadvantage.

Panelist Scott Belsky is the founder of Behance, a popular portfolio Website that was acquired by Adobe in 2012. He took a few minutes to go into depth about how new techniques of social networking and showcasing talent can work for designers today.

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