Have you dreamed of starting a creative business? Here’s how to get started.
After the collective trauma that was 2020 and 2021, many of us are feeling burnt out, both creatively and mentally. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been sick yourself or dealt with the illness of a loved one, we’ve all felt the stress of social isolation. There’s nothing like a crisis that lifts a veil over what isn’t working in your life whether that was a commute you hated or a job not in alignment with your values. If you felt that way, you’re not alone as over 4 million people left their jobs in 2021 in what economists are now dubbing the Great Resignation.
The good news? It‘s possible to build a business and a life you love out of your creativity that is both fulfilling and profitable.
The 3 things you’ll need
An email list
Many creators run into numerous roadblocks when it comes to prospecting (i.e., finding new collectors and customers). In this day and age, many artists turn to social media to sell their art. And they may even have a good following, but sporadic sales. The problem is that even if you’re getting sales, you’re not necessarily building relationships or turning them into repeat customers, which is the lifeblood of all successful businesses.
Believe it or not, social media is not necessarily the best way to grow an audience or to make sales with art. Personal connections are what is going to really sell. You can use social media as one tool to make those connections, but it doesn’t stop there. Furthermore, your social media accounts do not belong to you. They can get shut down at any time. Making personal connections and capturing emails of people who are interested in your work is a much better tactic.
When you nurture these relationships over time through emails, you’ll be building trust and connection with your audience and selling to them becomes easier.
A separate bank account
What really separates a hobby from a career? If you’re a professional and you want to make a sustainable living from your art, you need a bank account that’s separate from the one you use in your personal life. Keeping your business finances separate from personal ones are essential for practical reasons like expenses and taxes, and it keeps it all separate in your mental space, too. It’s also a huge mindset shift.
Another benefit? You don’t have to ask for permission from a spouse or partner to make an investment in your business because your business money is not mixed up with personal money. This makes it so much easier if you want to invest in coaching or educational resources, or hire a staff member. When you track your income using one of the handy apps that are now available, you can instantly access how much revenue you have, what your profit is and whether or not you have the money for those expenses.
Many artists feel out of control and unaware of how much their business has. That’s why they feel broke all the time. Or they’ll keep taking their personal money and putting it into their business and try to float the business, or worse, asking permission. I opened a separate bank account before I had a website, built an email list, and or created an LLC. Take the first step and open a business account for your finances.
If you are hesitant to hire a coach or join a mastermind group before you even launch your business, I understand. But believe me when I tell you that very few creatives are given any type of education (and that’s if they are formally educated) on the business of art. Throughout my career, I’ve seen incredibly talented artists struggle with the same problems over and over again because they have no idea how to run the business side of things. Many artists have confidence in the value of their art, but lack the confidence to effectively market and sell it because they’ve never learned the foundation of sales and marketing. When you invest in a coach, you’ll get a shortcut for learning what works and what doesn’t which will save you time and money.
Personally, I regularly invest in coaching and it has helped me in both my art and coaching businesses in immeasurable ways. In my business, I want to avoid falling on my butt as much as possible, and that’s why I turn to experts to help me do my best, whether that means that I’m getting an outside professional opinion on what I’m doing or I need a step-by-step plan for implementing a strategy. You’re welcome to do it the hard way. You can spend so much time Googling to find answers (I call it procrasti-learning) and still never settling on a strategy.
There’s going to come a time when you’re going to have most of the knowledge you need, but you’re still having trouble taking action because you have these blind spots. That’s where getting a coach will help you.
There will be lots of other things you’ll need to learn and create as you are launching your creative business, but these three things are where I recommend you start. Build an email list so that you can nurture collectors, customers, and clients. Open a business a bank account to make it real, and formalize the financial end of things (including paying yourself a salary). And finally, invest in a coach to navigate the marketing and system foundations you’ll need to establish yourself and grow. After all, if the very best in the world, like the Olympians, have coaches, shouldn’t you?