6 ways that you can do good as a creative

6 ways that you can do good as a creative

Freelance photographer, Marnie Hawson, dives into how she turns her values into action with her photography business.

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You’re running a small creative business, or you’re a sole creator living out your dream and working for yourself. But while you’re kicking goals in your business, you often feel a little undercurrent of wanting to do more. To give back, to find a higher purpose in the work that you do. 

No longer is a successful creative business just about the bottom line, it now takes a more holistic approach. If you’re wondering how to specifically give back or as a creative or small business, read on.

When I decided to focus on purpose-driven clients. I wrote down all my values and put them on my website for the world to see. It made it clear to me who I wanted to work with and what I could work towards. 

I decided to run my business by making values-led decisions. This all comes from personal values that I live by, so by incorporating them into my business, it feels authentic and natural. 

Here are the 6 ways that I create impact for people and planet as a creative:

Joining 1% for the Planet

Founded by Yvon Chouinard, also the founder of Patagonia, 1% for the Planet supports businesses that join to commit to giving 1% of gross sales each year to their approved nonprofit partners. It’s a great way to connect with non-profits that align with your values, add to your brand story, and publicly show your legitimate commitment 

Working towards B Corp certification

Most of the Compass community won’t need an introduction to B Corps – but in a nutshell, B Corps use business as a force for good, and while the assessment process is very detailed and lengthy, the rewards are big. 

I’m in the process of doing the assessment, and since working on your business seems to always come second to working in your business – I’ve made the commitment in 2021 to not take any paid jobs in the first week of each month in order to give myself the space to complete my B Corp Certification.

Going carbon neutral

If you do your B Corp assessment, this is part of the process you go through. If however, you want to achieve something more immediate, this can be done first as a stand alone task (which I did in early 2020 once Covid gave me some space to focus on it!).

A lot of the value in doing an carbon assessment of your business comes from looking at your processes and practices that you do on a daily basis without even thinking about. It makes you assess what you can improve and change, and a lot of them can be quite easy changes. Once you’ve done that, you can offset any remaining carbon emissions you have – I used a great company based in WA called Carbon Neutral to help me offset my leftover emissions.

Challenging stereotypes and increasing diversity

Think about how you can challenge stereotypes and contribute to diversity in your creative work – for me it is to consciously create images for my clients. I try to prompt clients to think about the type of imagery they are commissioning, and how they can challenge stereotypes, gender inequality, and increase diversity in their campaigns. Sometimes clients haven’t considered this and it’s our job as creatives to provide a different perspective.

Personal projects and collaborations

Think about your personal skills, passions, or what you offer as a business (whether that be a service or a product) – and how that can translate into something specific that is close to your heart, and gives back. I can take photos, so I started a personal project called Prints for Wildlife. I visit wildlife sanctuaries, take a portrait of one animal in care, and 100% of profits from each sale of that fine art print go directly back to that wildlife sanctuary. 

Support ethical businesses

“Every time we make a decision, we have the power to support a practice that is sustainable or one that is not.” – Bea Johnson  

If your super isn’t invested in ethical funds, change it – it’s one of the easiest changes you can make. I’m with Australian Ethical Super. The same goes with banking – many big banks support dirty industries, so inform yourself about who you are giving your money to. I switched to Bank Australia, which is an Australian customer-owned bank that doesn’t invest in fossil fuels, live animal exports or the arms trade (yes, other banks do!).

What you do as a creative not only contributes to your brand story and resonates with your clients or customer base, it has a direct and measurable impact on communities and the planet. Think about what your values are – as an individual, and also with how you want to run your business. Do you want to leave less impact on the environment, work with more like-minded clients, or be more connected to social causes within your community? As a creative, you have the tools to put your values into action. Join me!






Marnie Hawson is a photographer based in the Macedon Ranges, just outside of Melbourne, Australia. She specialises in interior, travel and lifestyle photography, with a commitment to working with people doing good in the world.

A former environmental scientist, she strives to tread lightly in everything she does. Today, that means she only works with businesses which have an ethical and sustainable mindset, and a focus on conscious consumerism and fair trade.

www.marniehawson.com.au / @marniehawson

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