How Your Play Can Bring You Work

I’m a huge animal lover,

I have been known to stop mid sentence to point out a dog across the road - and my mates can attest to this. I‘ve also had the lucky opportunity to work with several animal welfare groups as a designer, and consider them some of my all-time favourite clients. Hey, when the perks of the job include scrolling through animal photos to use in a design, you know life’s good.

We’re often told that work and play are two separate things, but this week I want to chat about why that isn’t really so.

After I finished uni, my first freelance ‘break’ was for a major animal welfare charity in Australia. I’d been volunteering with them in one way or another for about 10 years, and with a shiny new degree under my belt, they asked me to do a couple of small volunteer jobs for their education department, to which I agreed. Landing new work is always a great buzz and I loved doing the jobs, but things certainly levelled up when they passed my name on to another animal welfare organisation who got in touch with me to ask if I was interested in working with them on collateral for their upcoming conference.

Needless to say, I was very, very interested. Dogs + design = pretty much hitting the jackpot on my life goals there. So I showed them some of my ideas, we clicked well and they were really happy with my work, so I landed the brief. I landed my first, paying creative job… and it was a dream client.


Dogs + design = pretty much hitting the jackpot on my life goals


Let me recap that: Paid job, dream client, interesting work, in a field I’m passionate about - all within a few months of graduating. I was as happy as this pug in a ball pit.

I was blown away by this stroke of good luck, but in hindsight it wasn’t really ‘luck’, it made good sense. Without intending it, a lot of groundwork had gone into getting that job. The people who I spent lots of time with, in an area that I loved, now knew I had a skill up my sleeve which they were in need of. I’d been friends with these lovely people for years before I worked with them, which meant that when the time came they knew I was reliable and a great fit to help them out, and what’s more is they felt confident about passing my name on to others. I also know it wasn’t luck when it happened again - because a number of my clients are people who I know personally, or share similar interests and values with

The essence of the idea here is that when the people you hang out with know where you’re strengths lie, and you put yourself out there, you never know what opportunities may come out of it.


"When someone needs a job done, they would much rather go to someone that they already know and trust, rather than gambling their time and effort on an unknown quantity."


Now your job this week is this: If you haven’t already thought about it, where in your non-work life might there be opportunities to suss out?

Community clubs? Sport/recreation groups? Any mates that have businesses/projects that you understand well - and could bring value to? Who do you know that could benefit from your particular skill set? - Because that’s the key here: if you’ve got talents and know-how that can make someone’s life or job better or easier - why would you keep it from them?

It doesn’t mean shining a neon ‘HIRE ME’ sign in their face - that just looks desperate and dodgy, but be confident enough to let them know what you're up to, what you're working on. Let them in on what you do best and just see where it goes. When someone needs a job done, they would much rather go to someone that they already know and trust, rather than gambling their time and effort on an unknown quantity.

So make a list of possibilities, then go follow them up - and let me know how it goes for you in the comments below, I'd be stoked to hear :)

Till next time, have a good one!