Creative Freelancing

Jer Harman Lifestyle Wedding Photography Studio Guelph Minimalism.jpg

We tend to identify with one of two personality types: either left-brained or right brained. This allows us to make excuses for why we’re not good at something. “I’m a creative so I'm bad at paying taxes”, “Sorry I missed our meeting, time management is not my strong suit”, “I don’t have any clients because I’m bad at online marketing.” The excuses go on and on. In reality, left/right brained is more of a personality spectrum; it can change as additional skills and experiences are added to your skillset.

Creative freelancers need to be hybrids in order to be successful: learn to possess both creative AND analytical abilities. You must understand your weaknesses, then improve upon them to become well rounded.

Khan Academy taught me calculus to refresh my math skills for university math courses. My accounting skills needed work so I studied Reddit forums and read the Canada Revenue Agency’s (CRA) help section. I’m currently working on learning SEO and getting my Google AdWords Certification (which is free) to improve my knowledge of digital sales + marketing.

When starting a new business, clients are few and far between, margins are low, and financial capital is non-existent.

An entrepreneur doesn’t always have the luxury of hiring a professional to do their digital marketing, accounting, or brand building. Although, with a lack of clients, you DO have the luxury of time. Thankfully, most of these skills can be developed online for free. YouTube videos, blog posts, online resources, books from the library, et cetera. An amazing resource is Small Business Enterprise Centres - if you’re in Ontario, they offer free business mentoring, workshops, and you can apply for seed funding government grants to help take your business to the next level. There is no shortage of free content to learn any skill you can think of. Not good at bookkeeping? Get good at it. Confused why your website is on page 4 of Google instead of the top spot? Research YouTube videos on Search Engine Optimization. These aren’t impossible tasks, put your mind towards learning one of them and you’ll set yourself up for success.

It only takes time.

premium resources: free access

If you’re a post-secondary student, you may have free access to high quality online learning resources as well. For example, University of Guelph students have unlimited free access to which offers everything from photography skills, to finance, to home improvement. If you have a Toronto Public Library card, you too can access for free. Find and take advantage of free resources in your city to help improve your skills.

Must have skills for freelancers

Creatives need to focus on many aspects beyond creating things in order to thrive and have a sustainable business. Below are some of the main skills you SHOULD learn in order to create a sustainable business from nothing.

Professional Development

Time Management

Business Development




Personal Development

Social skills






Personal Budgeting



Taxes (CPP, HST, Income Tax)








This merely scratches the surface of the BASIC skills you need to survive as a creative entrepreneur. I plan on writing articles and updating this list with links as I post them so bookmark this page for additional resources. Although this is a “fun career”; non-stop work and learning is essential to run a successful business. We are currently in the best time in history to start your own business - take advantage of the vast amount of free information available online.