Building a Creative Hive


Thursday, 30th July 2016

After posting to the FB hive-mind this morning about a remote job opportunity that came through my inbox, I realised: there is an untapped and potentially disconnected community of creative people, who are maybe looking for jobs, maybe looking for work, maybe looking for fulfilment, support, encouragement, collaboration.

I can’t offer solutions to everything, and the new proposal I’m developing may not work for everyone. But my suspicion is: we need a new way to stay connected, to share information, and to hoist each other up.


Since April 2015, I’ve finished my PhD, gone full-time in a remote content development job, moved countries, moved apartments, relocated a cat (no mean feat!), left the job, gone to ten auditions, performed in two musicals and one opera, taught fifteen poetry/writing workshops, submitted (countless) poems, worked with five freelance clients, and tutored six students.

And, in amongst all of this, I’ve applied for twenty-five new jobs.

Juggling all of this is above and beyond my organisational abilities. I’ve had to create new systems for myself, and one of the largest ones is keeping track of applications (poems, employment, or otherwise). When did I apply? What was the company? What was the role? When should I hope to hear back?

Rejection is hard. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. It wears down even the most resiliently optimistic of us. I’ve spent quite a few years wading through rejection: of poems, of grad programs, of jobs, of apartments — and in amongst all of this, I’ve been trying to find a way to strengthen my resolve, my resiliency, and my reserve.

Spread-sheeting all the details has turned the process into a game.

When in doubt, the gamification of difficult experiences is a great way to make rejection easier. But there’s more to resiliency than just having a good stomach for rejection.

What are we talking about?

In hunting for jobs for 8 months in Australia, I’ve become well-versed at finding leads and connections toward things that relate to a specific cross-section of interests:

Remote work. I enjoy remote work. It has been necessary for the past few years with all of my moving around. There are lots of good reasons to seek out a remote job, and the opportunities are growing.

– Editing. With lots of freelance clients, I’ve gotten good at finding work, determining fair rates, process work-flow, procedures, contracts, you name it.

– Teaching. I’m not talking about 9-5 teaching, here. I’m talking about running workshops, giving talks, presenting frameworks, developing strategies to pitch to educational institutions of all kinds.

– Writing. Day-to-day writing. Submissions. Contests. Copy-writing jobs. Freelance. Creativity. Blogging. All things words.

– Developing ideas. I wanted to make a website. I had no idea how to build it on my own. My friend Brian called me from Amsterdam and walked me through setting it up. Other friends supported me by asking me to clarify my ideas. It’s made me think: what else do I need a sounding board for? What other ideas do I have that I’d like to share and get feedback on?

– Networking. I’ve moved from Scotland, to the US, to Amsterdam, to Scotland, to Australia. We’ve needed to build and rebuild communities. Professional networks, friends, people who can take us under their wing and just give us some space, and support, and clarity.

– And more…

When I recently found two new jobs and “went off the job-hunting market” as it were, I’m still finding opportunities crossing my path. More opportunities than when I was still searching, when I still had space and time in my schedule. And more opportunities than I could possibly have taken advantage of alone.

I’m also finding connections between people. New friends I’m making, Uber drivers, people I meet on the street: almost everyone links back somehow to one or more of these areas.

This seems to be a rich space for opportunities.

Where do the opportunities come from?

I’ve had innumerable freelance and small-scale jobs throughout my life, but when I think of my most influential and growth-inducing jobs I can safely say that I’ve had four. So far.

In 2010, I was finishing my masters’ degree in Creative Writing, and I wanted to branch out into running community programs. My friend’s husband worked at Merchiston Academy in Edinburgh. He introduced me to the librarian. I ran three programs there.

In 2011, a fellow poet referred me to a remote writing tutoring gig. I kept it for almost 4 years.

In 2013, I took an online course called Grace and Gratitude hosted by Sarah Kathleen Peck. I gifted one to my friend (same friend whose husband connected me to Merchiston). In 2014, she alerted me to Sarah’s email asking for a Teaching Assistant to help her deliver a new course “Content Strategy for Thought Leaders.”

I wrote an email to SKP titled: Applying for the TA position. AKA I want to work with you. 

I closed it with complete honesty: More than anything, I am committed to supporting what you do. I believe in your talent for sharing these skills and values with the world, on a personal level.

I will keep this brief, because I know you are probably working through a lot of emails. But if you have any questions or need any more information, please, please let me know.

We worked together for a few months. Now, we’re friends; and I feel like we’re collaborating on something life-, work-, human- related on a daily basis.

In late 2014, SKP connected me to Michael Margolis and Get Storied. She was just about to finish working with them, and knew they would be looking for some style of her replacement. I did amazingly fulfilling work with them from December 2014 – November 2015.

What’s the connection between the opportunities?

I think a better way to phrase this is to look at the connections that led to the opportunities.

I’ve almost never networked with someone from a company who then proceeded to give me a job. Instead, the connections that led to the job came from a friend throwing it across my bow.

Friends who have had too many freelance clients, and wanted to share the load. I can’t take this job right now; is it something you might want to work on?

Friends who see an advertisement I didn’t: Hey, do you want to check out this job posting? It looks right up your alley.

Friends who just passively post amazing things on Facebook! Here’s a list of open writing submissions for February. (True story: that’s how I’m getting my poetry collection published. SKP again for the win.)

Friends who have worked in previous jobs in my field.

Friends who were recently on the job-hunt market, and have an overload of new leads that they don’t need.

Friends who are submitting for a contest and know it’s also something I might be interested in. Yes, people who are in direct competition with me are feeding me information they know might hopefully benefit at least one of us. I’m applying for this. You should too. Want to throw in an application together?

What am I proposing?

I’m proposing a beta-test of connecting people together. Of taking this off Facebook, and making The Creative Hive. This Slack community team is going to be a place to network, to share resources and ideas, or just a central place to find creative people we can send new opportunities to.

So, the relevant questions:

– Are you looking for remote work?

– Are you a writer, working on submissions, or a project, or freelancing, or getting a new idea off the ground?

– Are you a freelance copywriter/editor?

– Are you interested in teaching, creating workshops, giving talks, or widening your professional reach?

– Are you looking for some new reading, resources, ideas, or philosophical chats?

– Are you needing some more inspiration or like-mindedness in your life?

– Are you a grass-roots movement kind of person?

If you’ve answered yes to any of these, hop on over to this Google Form and fill out your details:

Let’s get the creative minds working!

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