Advertising insider reveals 5 tips for creatives looking to break into the industry

Companies around the world spend millions on advertising campaigns each year to reach new audiences and reel in consumers -- and these brands are willing to spend big bucks to sign the industries top creatives to bring the campaigns to life.

The industry is ever-changing with new technology, making advertising one of the hardest industries to break into. A fact that Ben Yabsley knows well. The Australian DJ and copywriter found success in New York City working on ad campaigns for some of the biggest brands in the world. 

Yabsley and his creative partner, art director Rob Concepcion, have teamed up to produce visual campaigns for Budweiser, Converse, YouTube Music and many more over the past eight years. 

The industry insider offered his top five tips for creatives trying to break into the industry: 

5 tips for creatives looking to break into the advertising industry
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5 tips for creatives looking to break into the advertising industry

1. Start making 

The more work you have under your belt, the more chance you have of landing a job. It doesn’t have to be real work for real clients… pick a brand and see if you can come up with ideas for better ads than what they’re currently running. 

2. Focus on ideas 

Craft is important, but what will make you stand out from the rest is the strength of the ideas at the center of your work. If what you’re communicating isn’t surprising, then it doesn’t really matter how pretty it looks. 

3. Find a mentor

Creatives are pretty generous with their time, and more often than not are pretty open to giving advice to people trying to break into the industry. We all remember how hard it was to land that first job and remember the people who helped us along the way fondly. So reach out and find a creative at an agency you admire and ask them to have a look at your work and give you some pointers on how to make it better. Do this with three or four people and you’ll not only make your work better, you’ll start building a network of contacts that will hopefully see how talented you are and put in a good word for you when there’s an opening at their agency. Go after senior creatives rather than creative directors as mentors. If they’re trying to make the jump to creative director soon they’ll welcome the chance to practice giving feedback on creative work.

4. Think beyond advertising

Creative directors look at portfolios full of ads all day. If you want to stand out, make some art, or write a play... do something that is creative outside of the advertising realm that shows off your skills. Embrace the part of you that is a little left of center and channel that into something creative. It’ll not only feed your soul, it’ll help sell your personality to whoever looks at your portfolio.

5. Find a partner 

The best thing you can do for the longevity of your career is team up with a copywriter or an art director that is not only talented but equally as motivated as you. If you don’t team up before you get a job, you’ll be saddled with whoever is free and available at your first agency. You might get lucky… or there might be a reason that person is partner-less and available. So while you have the freedom of choice, choose wisely. Don’t just team up with someone exactly like you. Find someone who sees things a little different than you so you can broaden your collective worldview. You want someone who is going to bring the ideas that you wouldn’t have thought of. Once you’ve found that partner, respect them enough to be completely honest with them, and try not to take their feedback personally.


Yabsley also told AOL Finance there are a few characteristics and skills every person in advertising must have.

He stressed the need for tenacity, noting that "you need to push past the obvious ideas that come easily at the beginning and keep going when it makes you want to pull your hair out. That’s when you come up with the interesting work. And you won’t get better as a creative until you learn to push yourself into the uncomfortable zone."

Key skills Yabsley believes are necessary to succeed are presenting and strategizing. "You don’t really have an idea until you can explain it," he said. Strategy comes into play throughout the idea-generating process, but particularly at the start when a writer is presented with a brief -- the agreement between the agency and the client over what the piece of communication you’re about to make needs to achieve.

"A good brief should inspire you by pointing you in the right direction and setting your boundaries -- so dig deep into it and understand it as best as you can, and if you disagree with the strategy then say something earlier rather than later," Yabsley said. 

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