1. Attend free events, share ideas, and make like-minded friends.
- Creative Mornings: Created by Swiss Miss, CMs include a 20-minute talk by a leading creative followed by casual conversation over coffee. Past presentations have come from Milton Glaser, Steven Heller, Liz Danzico, and Andrew Zuckerman.
- PechaKucha: A global “open-mic” night for creatives of all stripes to network and share their work. The presentation format of 20 images, 20 seconds each, means it’s never a snooze.
- Behance Network Meetups: To connect the creative professionals on our own Behance.net offline, we organize casual gatherings and creative feedback sessions for Behance members around the globe.
- Etsy: The popular crafts website also hosts regular workshops and meet-n-greets — anything from a holiday gift-wrapping session to a Valentine letterpress workshop.
- likemind: Started by Piers Fawkes and Noah Brier, this free-form monthly coffee gathering brings together “likeminded” strangers all over the world.
- Meetup: Less curated than some of the other series mentioned, Meetup is a grab bag of self-organized events on any topic you can imagine, from startups to crafting.
- Jelly: A rogue co-working event where freelancers, off-site employees, and entrepreneurs colonize a coffee shop to swap tips and ideas while they work.
2. Share your knowledge and skills.
- The Taproot Foundation and Catchafire: Two great platforms that connect skilled creative professionals in design, technology, marketing, and more with non-profits for pro-bono work.
- Idealist: A Craigslist for volunteer work, Idealist hosts thousands of searchable listings for volunteer opps in focus areas ranging from education to social enterprise to crime & safety.
- 826National: This whimsical-storefront-plus-tutoring-center chain founded by Dave Eggers & the McSweeney’s crew provides fun and meaningful volunteering opportunities with kids.
- Skillshare: Teaching is another great way to stay active in your field when work is slow. And sharing your expertise (and earning money doing it) is easier than ever with new education-focused platforms like Skillshare, where anyone can post a class.
3. Get the cash you need to start executing your project right now.
- Kickstarter: Unless you live under a rock, you’ve likely heard of this crowd-funding platform that processed just shy of $100,000,000 in 2011. Check out these tips on launching an awesome campaign from our friends at the Noun Project.
- Quirky: A $10 submission fee gives you access to a pool of designers, developers, and other inventors who will take your idea through Quirky’s rapid iteration process and bring it to market if it’s voted to the top by the community.
- NYFA Source: Don’t be misled by its New York moniker, the NYFA database boasts a comprehensive, searchable list of grants and opportunities across the US for all types of artists.
What’s Your Approach? What are some ways you’ve bounced back from un(der)employment? How do you stay motivated and stay in touch?