How to shift your career focus

If you’re a little way into your career, you may now be at a point where you begin to understand what it is that you like to do. Or, what it is that you’re not so fond of to do.

For most of us, this isn’t too much of an issue. But for some of us, this becomes a bit of a problem when what you don’t like to do becomes what everyone knows you for doing.

For me, this was always web design. While there’s many people out there who enjoy doing web design, it doesn’t appeal to me. However, I’m told by many coworkers, employers, and clients that I’m really good at it. And I appreciate that. 

Over the last few months, I’ve been working hard at trying to push my focus away from web design into something that I’m actually passionate about, which is type design. This is a whole new thing for me, as type design has always been one of those things that’s been nothing more than a dream. But in the last year or so for fun, I’ve had the opportunity to push out to typefaces that are currently for sale on Creative Market.

So how did I go about doing this? First I stepped back. I took a look at what I didn’t like doing, which was web design, and started to do a bit of game planning.

At the time, I was freelancing and web design was a significant portion of my take home pay. So I couldn’t flip a switch, say I’m done doing web design and immediately jump over. I had to figure out a way to ease into it and make sure that what I was getting into would replace income I was losing.

Next, I looked into interim projects or jobs or things that I could do that would help me start crossing over. It didn’t mean that I was going out and getting jobs designing custom type faces for people. But I was looking at other opportunities, particularly in branding design.

I went after people who are looking for logos, which in some cases included some of my web design clients, and I would ask them about their branding. And if the opportunity was right, take on that project.

Rather than going through and using a pre-existing typeface, I would push myself to letter the logo. It was giving me the opportunity to design letters — not necessarily a full typeface. But hey, practice is practice.

It was a good confidence boost when I got good feedback from the people I did this for.

Doing logos started leading to more lettering, which meant it wasn’t always a logo. 

But the big thing that helped me out was side projects. We’re not always lucky or fortunate to have clients who need the services of the things that we want to go and try and do. And in that case, you kind of have to be a little bit more creative and inventive.

It’s worth taking on side projects, especially when you share them. This means through Twitter, Dribbble, Instagram, or wherever else you like to share things. Get those those projects out there and show your work off Even better, if you can show the process along the way.

One of the things that I’ve learned working with clients, is they don’t always know or understand all of the steps that we go through to do these projects. But if they see that we know how to do that, and we can step people through it, it can impress them.

As a result, they might take the next step of reaching out and potentially working on a project with you. So those are a couple quick little tips I have for shifting your career focus.

It does take a lot of work, and it does take a bit of time, but if you’re willing to plan for it and be a little bit patient, you’ll find that making the switch isn’t as hard as you may have thought.

Sign up for Finally Friday

Get weekly updates from me, as well as a free sample copy of my typeface Harvest Stout!

Daniel Nisbet will use the information you provide on this form to be in touch with you and to provide updates and marketing. You acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing. Learn more about Mailchimp's privacy practices here.