If you are a creative person interested in applying for grants or mentorship programs, or want to set up a crowd-funding campaign or you know a friend who might be interested in this, you really need to meet the talented Bec Mackey from Brightside Creatives. Bec and I connected through Big Hearted Business at a conference last year, and it is my pleasure today to interview her.
KC: As one of those talented multi-passionate creatives we all admire, can you tell us, what is it – exactly – that you do?
BM: The million-dollar question! I still don’t have a short answer to this, and in a lot of ways I resist the expectation that is put on all of us to define our professional role (and therefore ourselves) very simply. A blog post I wrote about what to do when you’re a multi-passionate person was republished on ArtsHub recently and it had an unexpectedly big response on social media. I think it shows how many people struggle with the fact that they do, in fact, want to do many things!
To attempt to answer your question succinctly, I am a writer, educator and coach. My background is in the ‘business’ of media and the arts. I worked as a producer, then in management, administration and financing at various major organisations such as ABC and Screen Australia (the federal funding body for screen). That led me to one of the things I do now, which is assisting artists and creatives with financing their project-based work. That either takes the shape of writing and editing grants, partnering to run crowd-funding campaigns, or broader coaching to help with clarity, confidence and practical elements like project management, and – of course – financing.
The coaching part emerged when I realised there were many early or emerging career creatives who were overwhelmed and confused about how to go about making a key project happen. Business coaches exist, but it’s hard to find a ‘project coach’. So that’s one of the things I do. Besides that work, I am currently focusing on doing more freelance feature writing (as well as writing for the blog of course!). I also work part-time in arts education, and am looking at more ways to connect my media/arts industry experience with education. I am a qualified teacher and love everything about education and teaching. I still occasionally do producing work as well.
KC: What does a typical day look like for you?
BM: It varies depending on whether I’m working at my part-time job or not. No matter what I’m doing that day, I begin the morning at my laptop while eating breakfast. I check all my email accounts: work, business, personal, as well as Facebook and Instagram. I might read some interesting articles or watch some vlogs that I follow. I will usually do 5-10 minutes of meditation at some point in the morning, either before breakfast or post internet-binge, which I know is not exactly conducive to being Zen.
If I’m working from home I’ll either be working on my website or writing (for the blog or an article to pitch to publication). I stopped working with clients for a little while so I could focus on developing the website and writing, but I’m looking forward to getting back into the client-based work now.
There is no typical day for me really, they’re all different which is exactly the way I like it. I thrive on variety. Sometimes I’ll spend an entire day writing, or, seeing as my website is relatively new, I might spend an entire day doing and planning bits and pieces for the website – sourcing images, thinking about building traffic, planning social media, updating or installing things etc. When I’m working at home I try to get to a yoga class at some point during the day, which makes all the difference mentally and physically. I also spend a bit of time in the kitchen throughout the day preparing food. My husband does 50-60% of the cooking though, so I can’t complain!
KC: What is your favourite part of your job?
BM: My favourite part of all my different roles is that I have different roles! The variety keeps me inspired and interested. In terms of my Brightside Creatives work, I love talking with interesting and passionate clients, but hands down the best feeling in the world is when I’ve had clients convey that I’ve managed to help them feel less daunted, overwhelmed and alone, which are such common feelings in any given creative field, and ones I can relate to. I love to write and have wanted to take my writing more seriously for quite some time so it’s a delight to be spending a lot more time writing nowadays.
KC: You have a few blog posts on crowd-funding and asking for money. Do you have three top tips when it comes to asking for money or grants?
- Control what you can control. A lot of the panic and confusion around raising funds comes from all the uncontrollable factors. You can’t control exactly how others are going to react to you when you’re applying for, pitching for or sourcing funding. What you can control is the amount of work and care you put in, and the way in which you convey your strengths, abilities and passion. Ultimately, that’s all anyone can do.
- Pay attention. This is something people miss – a lot. If you’re applying for a grant or mentorship, READ THE GUIDELINES properly! It’s so important. You need to understand what the grant or mentorship has been set up to support, and if you and/or your project fit into that. You need to understand what is being asked of you. Usually it will be quite clear what they are looking for once you’ve taken the time to read through. If it’s crowd-funding you’re going for, then pay attention to what is happening in that space. Hint: videos, photos, stories, connection. Those that succeed at crowd-funding are doing all of this. And they’re also putting in a lot of work.
- Remember why you’re doing it. It’s so easy to get caught up in the pitch, telling others what you think they want to hear so that they’ll jump on board. But you won’t get where you want to go by trying to mould yourself into something you’re not for the sake of funding your work. Remember why you decided to do this in the first place. How will it feel if this project comes to fruition? Why is it important to you? Allow your true intentions to come through in your proposal — people find passion, enthusiasm and uniqueness attractive. Note: this does NOT get you out of doing the work, or being professional. Passion and enthusiasm without hard work and professionalism can create a part-time hobby, but not a project worth funding.
KC: You wrote a beautiful post on vulnerability – how important it is to tell your story with vulnerability in order for people to connect with you. Do you have three top tips for sharing stories in order to apply for grants, crowd-fund or pitch ideas to clients?
BM: This one is very difficult, and I don’t like to gloss over it because if you tell someone to be vulnerable and share their story they can be left sitting there confused thinking ‘but how?’ and ‘I don’t have anything interesting to tell’. What I meant when I was writing that post is that creative people tend to pull back once they’re in the position of ‘selling’ or any situation that involves money – but in fact this is the time that you really need to reveal your passion. And not in the salesy kind of way that people might think.
- Believe in yourself first – understand that you are unique and brilliant.
- Take the brave step of finding the most appropriate, genuine way to tell your story and express your passion, knowing that it won’t always work. In fact, being truthful does not protect you from being rejected, because you will repel those that are not aligned with you. But if you want to succeed, you’re unlikely to get there without some vulnerability — and you’ll make it a whole lot easier for the person on the other side to recognise your talent and unique qualities if you own, and are committed to, telling your story.
- Combine the first two with focus and hard work and you’ll be much more likely to stand out.
KC: What is your vision for Brightside Creatives?
BM: My vision for BC reaches a lot further than the blog and project coaching as they stand now. I intend to take my writing a lot more seriously from now on, and so my writing both on the blog and elsewhere will form a large part of it.
Something I’ve only touched on so far is the element of career, business and entrepreneurship. These are areas I’m intensely passionate about and I’m particularly interested in those who are navigating these parts of life as multi-passionate people. I know through my own experience building a career (and now business) that it is not tied to one specific role or even industry, and it’s a path that can be fraught with confusion. Multi-passionate people are usually creative and want to have a meaningful career, but can come up against that feeling over and over again that they should just ‘commit to one path’, or feel ashamed that they haven’t built up years of experience in the one role. In the near future I’m hoping to explore career and business in a lot more depth, through the prism of being multi-passionate. That will form part of the blog, some resources I’ve got in development, and career coaching for multi-passionate types specifically. I really, really, enjoy coaching and so want to pursue that in a broader sense.
Ultimately I genuinely want Brightside Creatives to be of use to creative people. To distill areas that feel confusing and daunting into easy to understand and interesting information, and most importantly, to help people feel better and more confident in themselves— whether that be in relation to seeking funding, promoting their work, being creative, managing their career, or simply being human.