If you feel like you have a degree or a job that’s not right for you and find yourself feeling lost and behind in life, rest assured it is never too late to start a creative business doing what you love.
Whether you make a living out of your creative business someday really only depends on how soon you get it started!
The internet has made it possible to earn money virtually any hour of the day, all over the world–there’s no need to mind a market stall, stand on a stage, or run a gallery exhibition when you can put your creative talents online for the whole world to see at any time and make sales while you sleep, even months after you posted or listed your creative thing.
So, unless you’ve stopped being creative altogether, you can always earn a bit of money on the side continuing to do what you love even if you have a full time job, are raising a family, or have very little time to devote to running or building the business.
The trick is to align your creative pursuit with creative marketing to justify the precious time you put into it by earning money out of it!
Start Now and Scale Up Later!
There are many guides on how to start a creative business online, so I’m not going to show you how to open an Etsy shop, start a YouTube channel, or find artist directories to sell your art work in–not yet, anyway!
First you need to get into the right mindset and get into a groove, where you begin to take yourself more seriously as a writer, designer, artist, or any type of creative. It’s about nurturing your craft and giving it time to flourish.
It’s about exploring the possibilities it brings into your life over time, as often we creative types wither up with impostor syndrome, overwhelm, or a lack of confidence that we will never get very good at what we do.
From my personal experience, here are the steps that lead to starting a creative business:
1. Forgive Yourself For Your Failure to Make the Most of Your Creativity
Forgive yourself for studying the wrong thing, taking the wrong job, not knowing what to do with your life, failing at something huge, or being with the wrong people.
The reason you may be feeling lost or behind is only because you are not trading your time for money doing work that is meaningful to you. Once you start to earn even a small bit of money doing what you love, all the other hours of work in your day will feel less like a chore and more like the supportive ground you need for nourishing your creativity.
Running a business takes resilience and self-belief, so you don’t have any room for regrets. You must only be in the moment of creating and dream of possibilities your creative time may bring in the future.
2. Choose ONE Creative Pursuit, Eliminate All Others
Take a good look at the things you love to do and choose ONE thing that meets TWO criteria:
- It’s something you can see yourself doing day in and day out for years.
- It’s something people will value enough to pay you for it.
Eliminate all other creative hobbies and focus down on that one thing. Essentialism is vital if you want to get anywhere; many creative people never succeed because they try to do too many things.
It doesn’t matter if you’re not great at it now, as long as getting better at it will mean you can earn more from it, eventually!
3. Respect Your Craft by Devoting Time to It
Make a set time each week to indulge and refine your craft, even if it’s just an hour a week. Treat that hour seriously, as a time to practice and improve. It would seem like the easiest step for most of us —hey! it’s doing what we love to do, right?!— but I’m talking discipline here.
You’re going to need a LOT of dedication to run a business!
You’ll need to sacrifice things sometimes, like Netflix and drinks out with friends.
Be religious with your discipline, and never fail to honor the time you set aside to create.
4. Put it Out Into the World
Now for the step to align your creative time with your marketing: document what you did with your time, however small, then put it online. Finish every session with a photo or quick video which you can shoot across to a social media platform so that people can see what it is you do. This can work for all mediums: dancers can video tape a short snippet of a dance, writers can tweet a few lines of their prose, crafters can snap Instagram pics, comedians can crack a joke on Facebook Live Video.
It doesn’t matter if you didn’t finish or if you’re still practicing. The purpose is to begin building an audience and relationships with other people who are doing similar things.
It is not to sell, it’s to be social and to build a community!
Business people are always forgetting that social media was meant to be social, foremost, which is why, when they start flashing their shiny new, beautifully branded things online–no one cares.
Build your base of people first, sell to them later.
This is my advice to my social media clients, especially when they haven’t been putting any time into social media before they hire me. It takes about six months of regularly showing up and engaging on social media before you can start selling if you’re starting from scratch.
It takes about three months if you’ve been haphazardly doing it without a strategy or a sales funnel.
5. Find Your People!
Next, join a Facebook group or online community in which you can share ideas, begin to learn about doing your creative thing as a business, and get the support you will need to continue your creative pursuits for the months–even years–in which you may not see any significant income for your time invested.
Having a supportive network is vital before you decide to jump ship from your job and run your business all on your own. It’s vital even if you don’t jump ship, as you need to understand your creative industry on a professional level if you want to sell anything of value from within it.
There are Facebook groups for every single creative profession, interest, and artistic medium, so go find and join them, even if all you do is read what people post. You’ll learn a lot and you’ll feel less alone!
Fear is the Enemy of Creativity & of Getting Started!
We creatives have very different minds from people who choose conventional career paths, so beginning a business for us has a very different set of mental hurdles.
To start a creative business for us means facing down fears such as: it’s too late, it’s not important enough, it’s a trivial pursuit, a guilty indulgence, or something we will never master. But with focus, practice, support, and study, anyone can begin to run a successful creative business.
I’m going to tell you all the things I wish I had known when I started my creative business! So if this sparks your interest, subscribe to my email list to be notified of my next post on this topic.