Roxy has been doing “What I Wore”posts for my readers and when she
asked me to do some guest posting for her, I was happy to return the
favor. I do Biz Chat
blog posts from time to time, these posts get so many inquiries from
people starting out, that I thought I should share some of my biz tips
with grrfeisty readers.
When you decide you want to start your own
creative business it can be a little overwhelming. You’ll get lots of
advice from fellow creatives, and there are so many books you can pick
up, and blog posts galore on how to get going. With so much information
out there it can be a little hard to know where to start. I’ve been
doing creative business consulting since 2010, and found that helping
people get started is something I really love to do. I started my first
“real” business (Robo Roku) in 2006, after that I started Lil’ Pancake (my design & consulting business), then This Creative Life (my solo art & design work).
could say I am a little addicted to starting businesses, which is why I
started consulting. I love the process of deciding what your strengths
are, what you should focus on, what name you should use, designing a
logo and identity, every part of it. You can read some of my past Biz Chat
posts on my blog where I breakdown some of the steps you take. Today I
am sharing with you six basic steps to map your creative business path.
If you want to build a sustainable business that can grow past only
selling at markets where there is no application process, you’ll need to
stand out. If you really don’t have any original ideas, but you have a
certain skill, see if you can partner with someone. If you want to go it
alone and are set on doing something that is already being done, make
that idea your own. Change it up; make it obvious what you brought to
that idea. I strongly encourage people to not copy other people, not
just because it’s wrong, but because it doesn’t make good business
sense. If you are just doing something that someone else is doing you’re
already starting out with competition. My first business was probably
the same as you, I sold lemonade. When the kid down the street decided
to start selling lemonade too, I was very upset. I had been the only kid
selling lemonade in my neighborhood for months, and was doing well.
When he set up shop I thought, “You want to sell lemonade? Fine! I’ll do
something better.” I stopped selling lemonade and started selling
painted rocks, and made way more money. We all have our own special
talent(s), find yours and let it shine, you’ll be more successful than
following in someone’s shadow.
Research & Development.
Research your ideas (biz name, product lines, product price points,
etc) to see if it’s being done and how you can stand apart. Take polls
with your friends, colleagues (and ideally a mentor) to see if the path
you chose is showcasing your talent. Figure out the sales laws for your
area and get set up properly, register your business name legally,
secure your own domain name (& secure that name with as many social
media profiles as possible). Check out local craft shows to see if they
are a good fit for you and ask crafters doing the show if they recommend
it. Research booth displays, look online and at local shows, and think
outside the box when it comes time for you to design your own booth.
your products. Create your identity (or pay someone to do it for you).
Create your packaging. Create a business plan – this doesn’t have to be
fancy, it can just be a big to-do list, just make sure you set goals and
have a work plan to follow, this will keep you on track. Let this plan
be flexible. You may start out thinking that you only want to sell
online, or you might decide to only do shows, or just do wholesale or
consignment, as you try these out you’ll find what works best for you.
Build. Build a
community – join a local group of crafters (search Etsy for local Etsy
street teams), if you can’t find a craft community, build your own. If
you’re too shy to build one locally search online for one. Join craft
forums or participate in Twitter chats like #crafterminds. Build a
support group from your craft community, find some like minded friends
to help keep each other on target, to help share resources, and to give
your work! Share through your FB page, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest,
and your blog. Sponsor blogs, do giveaways, sponsor shows with ads or by
donating to their swag bags. If you can, do tutorials on something you
make to share your process.
Strengthen & Showcase.
Strengthen your product lines, packaging and quality. Showcase your
work online or at local shows to get started. If you’re only selling
online make sure to strengthen your photography skills or hire someone
to showcase your work best. As someone that has been on a show jury
quite a few times, poor photos can really hurt your chances of getting
in. If you’ve decided to try doing shows, work on making your booth set
up unique. Make sure your displays coordinate with your products, and
have clear signage so people will remember you.
be afraid to grow and change, too. Robo Roku has had different logos
throughout the years, and This Creative Life has had a change in
umbrella color. You’re not going to lose loyal customers if you change
things up a bit. Even a name change is fine, just make sure that people
can find you through old links. Ask for feedback and don’t get
discouraged. This path is a tough one, but if it’s something you really
want, then be open to criticism to help you grow. Above all, keep