Warning: Long introduction lolololol
I don't know if I am legitimate enough to write tips for creatives out there (I'm a 23 yr. old with a face of a 16 yr. old, ladies and gentlemen) but people have been asking me for pieces of advice on how to promote their work / creative gig they are into (a.k.a. personal branding) effectively for whatever purpose they have in mind. If you are new to this page or you accidentally stumbled upon here, I would suggest you visit my creative portfolio to get to know me before you scroll down to this entry.. because I admit, my blog does look too girly and deceiving (?) I guess. :))
I think that in every aspect, especially when you are in the creative industry, personal branding is really important. As for me, my purpose with branding myself is get this equation right: work x play = enjoy life. I think that everyone has a unique talent.. but not everyone has realized that he/she does have that amazing potential in him/her. And I hope that by the time you finish reading this entry (don't doze off, haha!).. you'll learn something from my own learnings... that I had to make myself realize the hard way through real-life experiences.
When I decided to move to Japan for my language school + work under my brother's new used-to-be one-man company, I was really a nobody here (I'd like to believe that I'm somebody now, though in forever Beta mode hehe.. and ). Everything was new to me and in the Japanese setting.. and I realized that here, nobody really gives a damn about your college degree (which is different from Philippines).. and I think I practically went back to zero despite having achievements from my college days. Although I consider myself a go-getter and I like challenging myself, I am aware of my own shortcomings (okay write that down, tip #1, be fully aware of your shortcomings). Technically, I am not that bright. Because I couldn't make myself become intelligent like those A-students who get 90%+ grades in math / science / other subjects that isn't art-related lol.. I strived hard. I strived hard Kaila-style though. I would daydream and doodle my ideas on paper and envision my life xx years later.. and accidentally forget about the teacher / professor in front of me speaking in some language I found hard to comprehend (hi math, hi science, hi algebra, hi accounting, hi everyone who made my school life painful haha). My student life was enjoyable because of extra-curricular activities and friends. I love learning, but I'm more into a different kind of learning than the typical. Haha!
I remember myself writing down my dreams using multiply.com's blog platform before. I wanted to become a creative director in an advertising agency. I was still in my sophomore year back then and was only studying general subjects so I didn't know the responsibilities of being one. The "title" sounded cool and I wanted to be cool, lol. Actually, when I got here in Japan, I thought that it would just be those kind of dreams, you know, the hi-bye dreams. 2 years later, I never thought that I would make myself a creative director.
My first "work" here in Japan was to help and become the right-hand person of my brother. Since he helped me with financing my university, it was just right to pay him back and my turn to help our family's problematic financial situation. We started with trading of Japanese arts and antiques and a couple of other businesses that involve lots of shipping of big boxes and other masculine work you wouldn't imagine a girly-girl like me doing. I was also maintaining our websites / shopping carts / doing webdesign that I only taught myself how. Throughout my "company" journey with my super ambitious brother (who plans on making a conglomerate of businesses between PH and JP, hashtag pressure lol), I began to start thinking for myself, my future and my career. Definitely, my Rainbowholic blog was just a full-time past-time of mine before (now just half lol).. A part of me wanted to pursue something more challenging and something that I would love doing and not complain about. And so, after much thought and heart-to-heart sessions with my brother, I told him I wanted to "start" a platform for all JapanLovers worldwide. Thankfully, even though me and my brother would have work-style differences, he gave me his support (financially + he gave me lots of insights). People tell me I'm just lucky, (so I tell them Oh really...? hahaha kidding).. they don't know that I just maximize the luck and opportunities being given to me. It was just right timing because we got to loan money from banks to fund and expand our businesses. Becoming a "founder" felt cool because I could imagine myself as a female Mark Zuckerberg (wahaha) but in reality, the pressure on how to make everything work and earn = over the top of my head. Now add another project like Kawaii Philippines.. work is overwhelmingly fun but it is really, really crazy! Haha. Maybe I should tell you how I spend my entire day from waking up at 8AM until I get tired.. haha!
Now you are wondering, why did I have to type all of those paragraphs above... well, I just wanted to tell and make you realize that making such noise especially as "creative noise" is not impossible. It will be difficult, time-consuming (but if it's for the craft that you love, it's a learning process), frustrating, and the like.. but it is not impossible though it may require a lot of ups and downs. If you are an illustrator, photographer, artist, aspiring singer, etc.. and you want to become successful in that field, I think that you have to discover that you are your own salesman. And I'll try to give you tips based on my experience on how to build yourself on your own by learning, continuously making effort, not fearing failures, and so much more~ Hope you will learn something! :-)
Okay so how do I make noise, Kaila??
1. When I graduated, the first thing I did was to layout my personal business card. I was a nobody who just wanted to become somebody. Now with self-confidence earned, I am now a Somebody with Beta sign, hehe! :))
Years later, my business card gave birth to a family. Haha!
2. Some people would use others to become successful.. but do the opposite and don't even think of resorting to that route! *_* Make yourself so useful that they will always remember you. When they need someone to fill in a need that they think only you can deliver, you will become the first priority. And if you find your niche, develop that and think of ways on how to make people remember that you are the expert in that field. That is your challenge. If you're a photographer and you are in a room with other photographers as well, when a "client" has to pick one.. why should they pick you instead and not the other talented ones? You are the only person who can answer that.
3. At first, I would suggest doing things for free so that in the future, you won't have to. The first mission to accomplish when you make some noise is to build your portfolio, network like crazy through collaborations, get yourself out there, forget about your introvert and shy self.. and learn after every experience. I have made countless of websites for free and sometimes through x-deals and on commission basis ever since I have self-taught myself with codes when I was 12/13/14 (could not remember when haha). For every not-so-proud website design I created, I learned and developed my style. And I have grown so much. And growth is vital. Now, because I have established and built myself, I cannot do things for free anymore. Unless you have something equally great to offer too. I work hard so that in the (near) future, I can enjoy more the lifestyle I want.
4. Make a website or a blog. Build online presence and make your presence felt. I cannot emphasize how much important this is. Social media could be your friend (exposure-wise) or your enemy when it comes to work productivity. Befriending social media is important if you want to be noticed and be heard. If you are lost with coding etc, there is google for you to explore and ask anything. You can make x-deals with your webdesigner friends.. that's how I offer when I need someone's expertise (for example, Little Miss Paintbrush, haha!) for a collaborative project. I offer my skills and they offer theirs.. and before you know it, you've both made countless of projects already. And when I have a meeting with someone (I've met big people such as presidents / CEOs of companies) and I need to introduce myself, I show them my website / blog. My portfolio is always ready whenever I bring my iPhone and iPad. Make the best out of technology. Don't become a slave of it.
5. Do not be afraid to take a (calculated / mindful) risk and fail. If you do not try a couple times(x 1000), you will never know. When I introduced myself to people here before about what I do, I knew from the start that they would be "WTF? Who is this girl from the Philippines who can't even speak in straight in Japanese?"..Since I've always been fully aware of my shortcomings, I thought that maybe, I should just emphasize on my strengths instead and turn my weaknesses into strengths (in which I would call, "charm" haha) instead. So with broken Japanese, I tried. My #1 strength is.. (as my friend ChiChi would describe).. goddamn high confidence. Some would say that "happiest girls" are the "prettiest" and I wanted to feel pretty inside and out so.. I built on my confidence (this is embarrassing to admit haha but whatever haha). So you don't like / reject my idea/s? I'm fine with it... I think that I would regret it more if I haven't shared my thoughts. Trying a million things is WAY better than wondering forever. Wondering and daydreaming without working and doing something about it are just unhealthy and might cause mental stress. Over-thinking without action is also a culprit of happiness. Try, fail, pause & reflect, try, fail better, try, try and never give up. You'll get there.
6. Treat every failure as an experience. Experience builds solid rock foundation. More failures and reassessment of oneself afterwards, the better. You gain wisdom because you choose to not give up.
7. I read from a book that one should always consider himsef/herself to be always in a "beta" mode (in a geeky way of explaining it, Gmail was in beta mode for many years even though it was already getting a huge chunk of the market). It means that even your amazing self has to find ways on how to become more amazing. When I feel "high" about my achievements, I would often take a pause (after giving myself a pat on the back) and start thinking on how to stretch myself further. Don't be like those who compare themselves with other people's successes / lives.. (I think I had a phase like that, and it's not healthy).. compare yourself with who you were before. Did you change for the better? Did you learn? Compete with your past self and beat your own records. Once your reach another record, aim for a crazier one.
8. Learning should not stop when you graduate & you finally get that hard-earned diploma. Learning is a continuous process. I have been dreaming of creating a cafe of my own (working towards it!) so I took baking, barista and cafe management lessons. Learning is also not only about taking lessons from a school or through a workshop.. it's also through listening to people you admire / idolize, learning from one's & others' mistakes... Learning only happens when you are committed to improve and hone your skills more. When you keep your mind open, you also learn. Learning new set of skills is not expensive, it's actually free.. you just have to find your own source. With today's technology, learning possibilities are limitless.
9. Continue a project and be consistent with it. If I were not consistent, I would have left blogging early. Truthfully, this blog does not pay my bills and I just continue with this because it's a "breather" for me. But because I was consistently blogging (though not as regular as before), I began to have self-discipline. To be disciplined is a tough job so one must force himself to have this skill. I made this blog as an outlet for my ideas.. a platform where I could share a piece of me to the world. Through continuing something and being consistent with it even with bad days, I got discovered by people who connected me to another opportunity and to another. And in order to make creative noise, your aim is to be discovered and to attract the universe towards you. Every opportunity and luck that I attracted myself to, it was because of continuous effort I did.
10. Remember to take a break and do things for yourself that make you genuinely happy. Remember the days when you were younger and you would just practice doodling, painting, or whatever artsy craft you were into? Be child-like again (child-like is different from childish). I doodle a lot, read books written by creatives who inspire me, watch silly movies, take breaks, go out with friends.. work is just part of "life". Don't let work to be your life. Let it become one if it is involves both work x play. :)
11. My brother would tell me, that in every aspect, one should be always an entrepreneur / salesman. Dapat, palagi kang negosyante sa lahat ng bagay. Being an artist alone (with great artworks) is not enough. One should also learn the art of selling his craft or himself. Know your value before anything else and practice making your own sales pitch even if your prospective "clients" / audience / the world hasn't/haven't discovered you yet. The key is preparation. ^^ Practice your introduction by answering questions such as.. "Who are you? What do you do? What can you offer?". If I were to answer these, I would say something-- "I'm Kaila Ocampo, a Japan culture enthusiast and a Kawaii Lifestyle Blogger originally from Manila but based in Japan. I am a founder of a website called JapanLover.me which serves as a platform for people to share their love about Japan. I also produced Kawaii PH, an online portal of all things cute in the Philippines, with my Manila-based team. I am passionate about sharing the kawaii lifestyle & the worldwide JapanLove. よろしくお願いします！"
12. Surround yourself with people / peers who inspire and motivate you. If it's impossible to be surrounded because your current environment is different.. well better do something about it. Why not introduce yourself to these inspirational people instead? Sometimes, people will ignore you (intentionally or not), but it's part of life and you have to accept it and... and don't take it too personally and feel bad when you get ignored. It just means you need to make more "noise" so that they will discover & in the future, they will be the ones who will approach you instead. ^^
13. Lastly, believe in yourself. Believe in yourself first because how can you make them believe in your greatness if you don't? I may be young and foolish when I told my childhood friends that "Someday, I will go to Japan and see the cherry blossoms..".. but I believed in myself that xx years later, that dream will come true. Years ago, I told my 17 yr. old self that I will make a "mark" someday... And so here I am.
(Wrote this when I was 17 and feeling down because my first Japanese visa application was denied. )
I guess that would be all for my thoughts~ wow I typed so much again haha! Please someone help me with proofreading :))
I might reread this entry again and add more if I can manage to squeeze out more ideas from this brain, haha!
Gambatte ne, aspiring "creative noise" maker!