If you love being creative, whether it’s through drawing, sewing, graphic design or writing, you might be at a point in your creative life where you are wondering if you can monetize your hobby. For a lot of creative freelancers, turning a hobby into a business is not easy, but it’s totally possible. After all, there are plenty of people who earn a living, or at least supplement their income through their creativity, so why couldn’t you be one of them?
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I’ve always known that I wanted to turn my creative interests into a business of some kind because I love making stuff and I love being an entrepreneur. 🙂 The businesses I have now are nothing like where I thought I would be though, they evolved and grew with me and the changes in my life. And for me, that’s even better!
You may have a very clear idea of where your creative pursuits can take you, or maybe you’re still in the brainstorming stage. Either way, it is important to start now. Put pen to paper and start with a list or an idea or a goal. Don’t put it off until all your ducks are in a row. Otherwise you’ll never start. Take it from me, my ducks are still all flying off in different directions, but that doesn’t mean I can’t make my dreams a reality.
Here are 5 key elements I recommend you have in place to help get you started on your entrepreneurial journey.
#1. A Plan
Many people will suggest that you need an official business plan to get you started, but I think that’s totally dependent on your situation. These days, most people start their businesses as side hustles and grow as they go.
However, if you are launching right into it and quitting your day job, then yes, you’ll need a business plan.
Otherwise, creating a realistic list of goals and a plan to achieve them is probably sufficient. To do this, you will need to divide your business objective into measurable and achievable short-term goals, I recommend breaking them down into monthly chunks.
For instance, you could give yourself a month to design your business structure and plan of action. Then the following month could be focused on creating a website and branding.
The long and short of it is, don’t just fly by the seat of your pants and hope for the best. While you don’t need to have every detail planned out for the next 3 years, you still need a plan to keep you on track and heading in the right direction.
#2. Support: Professional, Peer & Personal
I’ve been running The Yellow Birdhouse for 4 years and I still have a difficult time explaining to people what I do. Lol. Occupational hazard of the creative entrepreneur I guess.
But my close friends and family know how hard I work and have a general idea of what fills my days and that is so important. In order to be successful you need support. Especially from your spouse or partner. My husband has been endlessly supportive and that has made all the difference.
Because there will undoubtedly be times that you want to give it all up. If you don’t have a good support system in place, then what will stop you from throwing in the towel?
You also need peer support. Find a tribe of people who are also creative entrepreneurs and with whom you can chat about ideas, difficulties and successes. Don’t skip this step! There are endless numbers of Facebook groups for this very purpose.
Professional support. Otherwise known as : Should I pay for this advice/service/tool/education or not?!
I’ve read practically every free article out there when it comes to running an online business. I’ve opted in to all the freebies and learned as much as humanly possible for free.
I’ve also paid for tools and courses and services.
I would recommend both.
Sometimes the time you save hiring a professional is worth more than the money you spend.
For example, if you need a website but are totally clueless about coding, you may need to ask a web designer to help you out rather than try to learn how to code on your own. Or if music is your calling, why not get in touch with a company like Nationwide Disc to give your songs an expert mastering? You may also need the expertise of accountants, coaches or business advisors. Be realistic about the help you need in order to come across as being professional.
For a business to succeed, you need to be willing to invest a little money into it. That’s the truth.
Starting a business doesn’t happen for free and you need to be realistic about your limitations. For example, I have no talent for graphic design, so I hired a graphic design to help me with my logo and branding. I didn’t regret a penny spent.
You may also need to invest upfront on supplies or equipment and you aren’t going to make your money back instantly.
You will need to decide how you are going to pay for these things when you have no income coming from the business yet.
Look into opening a business bank account and credit card. (You definitely need to keep your business and personal banking separate.) If you’re starting out on a large scale you may have to research loans or crowdfunding as well. Or there may be grant opportunities in your area for starting a business.
Just make sure you have a plan in place for how you’re going to pay for stuff at the beginning.
#4. Inspiration & Motivation
It can seem easy to be inspired when your creativity is a hobby, but it’s a different kettle of fish if you need to find inspiration in your creative business on a daily basis. Joining communities and listening to podcasts can also become a source of ideas. Read motivational books or search around Pinterest for a little inspiration.
Take breaks from creating as your job and take time to create just for you. It will help remind you how much you really love what you do.
Starting a creative business doesn’t mean that you’ll get to crochet little dolls all day every day. You’ll have to photograph them, market them, send emails and respond to comments. Manage your bank account & taxes, source supplies, calculate pricing, research packaging and manage a website & social media platforms.
There’s a lot of work in a creative business that has nothing to do with creating. Figure out how to organize and manage all those other tasks so you don’t burn out.
#5. A Butt-Load of Hard Work
A creative business doesn’t happen overnight. It’s the result of a ton of hard work, especially during the first few months as you create a strong and stable presence in your niche. You can’t think of creativity as a weekend hobby anymore. When it becomes your day job, even though it’s your passion, be prepared to roll up your sleeves and work incredibly hard to make it work!
You will be tired, frustrated, elated, proud and exhausted. All on the same day probably. Be prepared for the emotional roller coaster of owning your own business. But it’s totally worth it to be your own boss at a job that you love!
So, are you ready to make your creative business dreams come true? 🙂