Steve Martin once said that being great was easy, it's being consistent that's hard. How many times do we wish we could repeat past triumphs only to fail, or come up short? As creative people we're called upon to use our skills on a daily basis, but inspiration or greatness doesn't always answer... The good news? most clients will put consistency over greatness any day of the week.
So how can we, as creative people be consistent?
1: Turn up.
While this sounds like a no brainer, sometimes one of the hardest things is to actually just get started!. We procrastinate and put off those things that bother us the most. Sit down, shut out the distractions and get on with it. Working through a lack of creativity can sometimes be the easiest solution to a lack of consistency. Make sure you turn up!
2: Look for new challenges in routine habits.
Employed workers think that being "creative" is easy, a breeze. Those of us who are, know that this doesn't tend to be the case. Sometimes work can be repetitive, lack creativity and not be that front page dribbble piece that we've been dreaming of. What's a poor creative to do? There will always be less enjoyable parts to our work, so we need to find ways to get the best out of ourselves.
Look for ways to better routine habits. Find ways of streamlining your process, minimising workflows, being more efficient and choosing better routes. Convert the mundane into the interesting. Challenge yourself to find new ways of doing the same old thing. Maybe that dull and boring wireframe will see the front page of dribbble after all :)
3: Care about your clients' happiness.
The job comes in, the budget's not huge but you have the time and you need some quick cash. Sound familiar? Bang out the work, hand it over and the money's in your bank. I can guarantee you that the client who you just "low costed" cares as much about the result as the project manager at Coca Cola.
Instead of satisfying your immediate design, code or financial needs (obviously we need to get paid), why not think about how the result will help your client. Will this actually help them improve lead generation, will this new interaction bring UX "happiness" to their users and keep them engaged? Will this get your client that promotion he so desperately wanted?
Through actually caring about how you make your client look and feel, you can raise your game and be more consistent with your work. You'd do it for a high paying account.
4: Take on projects that interest you.
While this may seem contrary to the above point, it's important to distinguish. If we take on projects that really interest us then it's naturally going to be a lot easier. We'll want to push the boat out and go that extra mile. We'll want to impress our client, and make them look good. It's a thousand times easier to work on a project your passionate about.
Do you have your perfect client profile? Do you apply that to your client capturing process? It may just push you to be more consistent.
5: Have systems or automation in place.
Being consistent is easier when we have systems in place. To some just hearing the word "system", makes them shudder. We're creatives, we don't use systems, right? but it doesn't have to be that way.
We all use systems whether we know it or not. They help us to speed up our workflows and allow us to concentrate on the parts where we genuinely excel.
If you could remove the painful parts of a project to get to the good parts sooner, wouldn't you want to find a way to do that? Take a look at the way you work, be ruthless. Where do you spend the most time outside of designing or coding? These are your major areas of concern.
These areas could be capturing new clients, answering RFP's and creating proposals, answering emails, following up on unpaid invoices. There are almost an infinite number of areas where you can create and use systems. Systems that will help you be the consistent creative your clients need you to be.
If you have any systems in place that help you to be more consistent in your field, then I'd love to hear about them in the comments.