Taking the first step to launching your creative passion into a full-time, fully-committed (and fully-amazing) hustle can be seriously daunting. What if I got very dramatic and told you that you could start today to begin to build your vague goals and uncertain dreams into a successful, interactive and authentic business, fuelled by your creative passion? You may have a lot of questions, and a lot of fears. I know I did (er, still do). But I'm going to start to demystify the process for you, and give you 5 ways you can start on your business adventure today.
You’re not alone if you may be thinking:
- How do I start a business while I already have a job?
- What if I don't have a big enough audience or mailing list— or none at all?
- What if someone else already has my idea?
- Where do I even start and what if I fail?
- I'm frustrated with my current situation, but I don't know how to move away from my current job.
I get it! I’ve been in the exact same place, and I’m going to share with you how I got out of that place. Over a year ago, I had the exact same fears. It takes planning, persistence, and moxie, but each of you can equip yourself with the tools and techniques you need to make your hustle dreams come true.
1. START A BLOG
Depending on where in your creative journey you are, you may already have a blog. I know for a fact that some of you muses out there are still in the planning and dreaming stage of your creative business journey, and haven’t taken that first step yet because you haven’t launched a product or service.
Do it now. Once your business brand is under wraps, start that blog as soon as possible. Trust me when I say it’s going to be your single best source of clients and customers for your business (especially if your creative business involves selling info products through your blog).
>> If you've got the guts to show up and bring your vision and expertise to your community, grab my beginner's guide to starting a quality blog. It's for absolute beginners, and it gives you the framework on which you can build a blog that works for you— not a formula. Because this guide is for beginners and I want it to be accessible for as many fresh bloggers as possible, there is no launch, no epic marketing funnel, and it's $10. I think you'll love it.
Let me repeat that. You absolutely do not need to have already launched a product or service to start that blog and begin connecting with your future customer base! There are several serious advantages you gain from starting now. The first is just that— you get to connect with your audience. You’ll be building relationships through your blog and on social media that will turn into your first sales, and your loyal customers. It’s never too early to start doing this. You have something to offer even if you haven’t finished your launch process yet. Share your struggles. Share your story. Share valuable information with your readers.
This works for all types of creative blogs and businesses, not just the business-to-business type. If you’re releasing a book on hand lettering start offering some tutorials, give a brief history of different styles of lettering, discuss or review some of your favourite writing tools. The same goes for someone making jewellery or pottery— giving your readers some insight into your process and your life will strengthen your brand and show them exactly what you’re all about. Through your blog, your newsletter, and your content upgrades, you will build a base of readers and clients who love what you’re doing and will be thrilled when you finally launch.
Which brings us to…
2. START BUILDING YOUR EMAIL LIST
Everything I’ve just said about blogging applies here with bold, italics, and extra exclamation points. Building your email list is the best thing you can do for your blog and future creative business! Why is that? Because the people who are willing to give you a slice of their seriously valuable inbox real estate are the people who care enough about you and your vision to buy your product or service. These are the dedicated people that will stick around, who need the product that you’re creating (even if this product is an infoproduct!) The idea that there are not enough customers out there is false scarcity. The number of people learning and getting creative online is only growing every day. Before we get into what to do, here are a few things you should avoid doing to grow your list.
a) Paying for subscribers. Besides the obvious reason (total waste of money) this method will not get you the type of loyal fan you’re looking for. What this will get you is someone who was just looking for a quick dollar. You want people who are so excited to sign up for your newsletter. People who don’t need incentive are the best people to have on your list.
b) Getting subscribers by giveaways.* This one gets a star beside it, because it’s less cut and dry than the first point. You can get quality subscribers from giveaway, but what you want to be really careful with is that your giveaways are very closely tied with the type of product or service you’re offering later. If you’re offering a free bag of makeup, and your product is hand crafted pottery, you’re only getting people who are interested in the bag of makeup, and not your brand at all. Instead, give away products that are like teasers for the product/service to come— even consider giving away the very product or service you’re developing! Take on a few freebies if you’re starting a new service, or offer a copy of your brand new planner for a subscriber winner— these are the people who would have come to you anyway.
There are several different method to building a quality list, and I recommend reading more about that here.
I personally use MailChimp.It’s completely free for those folks with small lists, and a relatively low monthly cost after that (unless your list is hugenormous, but at that point you'll be an email marketing expert and making sweet gobs of cash, right?).
3. CUT YOUR SPENDING AND GET SIMPLE
This one is a hard one for a lot of people, and with good reason. WE’RE USED TO LIVING AN EXTREMELY CONSUMER DRIVEN LIFESTYLES— one glance at the number that Americans spend each fiscal quarter on consumer goods would chase every doubt from your mind (hint: it’s followed by 13 0’s). But what does this have to do with your creative business?
It depends on where you’re headed. Not every business is the same, but there’s a good chance that if you’re setting out on your first creative venture, there is some risk involved. Perhaps you’re considering quit your day job to totally take the plunge and dedicate yourself full-time to your new business. This requires savings, a healthy cushion to float on while your build up your biz. I’m not telling you this to rain on your business motivation parade. The best way for you to get there is to cut your spending, and start making a sweet stash for when you take the first badass step towards business freedom.
You’ll also find that with less things to be distracted by, you’ll have more time to focus not only on your business, but on your creativity itself.
Finally, cutting your spending will make the first steps of business success that much better. While you’re building your passion, it takes time to turn a sweet profit. Living a simpler lifestyle will allow you to enjoy the benefits of your business to their fullest.
I’ve written an entire post about how you can do that, RIGHT HERE.
4. GET REAL WITH YOUR PASSION
It’s time to look your passion head-on. Before you take that first step, think long and hard about taking your creative passion full-time. If this is the right step for you, then reading this paragraph should have you saying
YES YES YES. I WANT TO TAKE MY DREAM TO THE NEXT STEP!
Make sure that the creative venture you plan on taking on full-time isn’t something better kept as a side hustle, or, not a hustle at all. There will be times when you simply don’t feel like investing some creative energy into your business and product, and you’re going to have to truck on through anyway. You’re going to be long-term bedmates with your budding business. There will be moments when you wonder what on earth you got yourself into.
And there will be moments that confirm it was definitely all worth it— that your personal freedom, creative freedom, and financial freedom was worth every moment of intensive planning, intense writing sessions, and prickly troubleshooting. Commit to your passion fully before heading into the project, and make sure your objectives are totally clear.
What are you expecting to get our of your business? How do you want to feel? What sort of income are you looking to generate, and how are you going to get there? What will you do when the going gets tough? And how will you give back to your community? Give each of these things careful consideration and hold your goal in your mind like a star.
5. BE RESOURCEFUL AND OPEN TO LEARNING
Continuing to learn and grow every single day with intention is one of the best things you can do for your creativity, and for your business. Of course we are learning something every day, but I’m talking about planned learning, dedicating time to creative practise and the accumulation of new knowledge and skills. You can do this no matter how busy you are (even fifteen minutes a day is enough to begin learning something new, and that my friend, can be tackled during breakfast).
Schedule in as much time as you feel reasonable into every day for you to work on a new skill. Take an online digital photography course to up your skills (incredibly useful for bloggers and entrepreneurs!). Learn a new language in 30 minutes a day with Duolingo. Spend a few minutes a day practising hand lettering. Read a book for a few minutes each day on your commute to work or on your lunch break. Teach yourself HTML & CSS, or the principles of graphic design, or the meanings of all the tarot cards. You’ll be totally amazed with what you can accumulate with even the smallest amount of time dedicated to learning.
Your business and creativity will grow in ways you never expected and your new knowledge will allow you to tackle problems head-on when they come up with renewed resourcefulness.
Take the leap. We all only get one chance in our meat suit on this gorgeous planet. I’m not saying you should make poorly planned, rash decisions. I am saying that if you’ve thought, planned, and dreamed and the only thing holding you back is the fear of failure, take the first step right now. I guarantee there is something you can do the moment you close this email to start the process of finding creative freedom and business joy. You owe it to yourself to try!
You jump, I jump, Jack.
(Purely Imaginary Cookies™ are coming your way, if you get my reference.)