You’re a creative wondering how in the world to forge a lucrative career out of your passion. If you have a family or want to in the future, can you earn an income that will keep your household healthy, happy, and dreaming? Or will you need to choose a different career path and work on your creative endeavors on the side?
The answers to these questions ultimately hinge on your work ethic and the strategies you implement each day. Creatives must know how to run a business, self-promote their projects, and stay creative on the journey. Below, we discuss each of these areas in more detail so you can build your creative career on a firm foundation!
Sharpening Your Business Skills
Building your creative career will require you to think like a business person in many aspects. If you don’t develop a bit of savvy on your journey, you run the risk of never breaking through the “struggling artist” stage. Here are a few tips for growing as an entrepreneur:
Do Your Research
Just as other creative industries evolve, the business world is constantly changing. It’s essential to research the market regularly so you can gauge your place in the industry and identify gaps you could fill.
It’s also helpful to keep tabs on other creatives in your industry, especially direct competitors. And if you want to get even savvier, learn how to research and analyze your target audience to identify any tweaks you should make to your business plan!
Make a Business Plan
Your business plan is essentially a document that makes your company mission, values, strategies, and goals official. Knowing how to write a solid business plan will do wonders for your career and help you prevent various pitfalls on your journey. It will also help you make intelligent decisions and impactful strategies that move your creative company in the right direction. Learn how to succinctly describe your services and products, target audience, marketing plans, and financial forecasts, among other details.
Set Up a Legal Structure
Legalities are the last thing many creatives want to think about. But determining what kind of business structure to establish must be a priority if you want to limit your personal liability and make things easier for yourself during tax season. You have a few options:
Limited liability partnership
The size of your team, specific industry, business location, and many other factors influence what type of structure is the best fit. Do your research and speak with a legal professional to plan your next steps.
Get a Grip on Your Finances
Along with tackling legal tasks, setting your company up for sound money management is crucial. Learn everything you can about business finances, and research potential startup costs to ensure you know how to plan for the future.
The good news is that there are intuitive tech tools to help you create a business budget and prune away unnecessary costs. The right software will also help you maintain a healthy cash flow and save money for investing back into your business. If financial management is overwhelming, it might be worth hiring a financial advisor or business mentor to help you get into a rhythm.
Create an Attractive Brand
Every company needs a brand that appeals to its target audience. Even if you sell products and services directly to customers, you need a visual identity to use on your online and traditional marketing materials.
Start by designing a logo that’s relevant to your niche, and make sure it’s attractive and unique. Then, determine the fonts and colors you’ll use on your website and advertising materials.
Getting Your Work Discovered
Once you start developing your entrepreneurial skills, it’s time to create some strategies for getting your work discovered. Here are a few tried-and-true self-promotion tips for creators:
Surround Yourself With Creative People
Creativity feeds off of creativity. Building a community and surrounding yourself with other creative individuals will provide a platform for inspiring, collaborative relationships.
If possible, find others in your geographic location that are into painting, music, crafts, or whatever your specialty is. And look for online communities and groups where you can share your work with others.
Engage on Social Media
Most successful creatives today use social media to promote their work and build collaborative relationships. Consider the various platforms that could benefit your business, such as Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, and others. Some platforms are better suited for specific creative niches, so make a plan for where you should spend most of your time and energy.
If you need to share business information (e.g., pricing, infographic) on your Facebook business page, you can insert a PDF. Follow these steps to uploading a PDF to your Facebook page.
Nurture Your Network
The key to using social media and other online channels is not to over-promote yourself. If all your posts are about your work, your followers will eventually start to view them as spam.
A better approach is to share mostly about your creations and work processes and include occasional posts about other artists and niche-related tips. Sharing valuable content will develop goodwill and naturally cultivate your online network.
Every creative niche comes with a high risk of burnout. And if you want to build brand recognition and get your work discovered, you must avoid burnout and stay productive. Be sure to set boundaries of space and time. Create a dedicated workspace you can rely on each day, and make a work schedule you and your family can depend on.
Master Each Day
If you think about your entire career every time you sit down to write a song or paint a portrait, you’ll put too much pressure on yourself. Avoid becoming overwhelmed by taking it one day at a time. With a reliable work schedule in place, resolve that you’ll complete your tasks and move a bit closer to your goals each day, and let tomorrow worry about itself.
Cultivating Your Creativity
We’ve discussed how to navigate the business side of things and self-promote your work. Now, let’s cover a few ways you can foster your creativity and consistently produce your best work:
Don’t Be Afraid to Daydream
Daydreaming is often seen as a children's activity, but it actually offers personal rewards like enhanced self-awareness, creative incubation, empathy, and soul-searching. Allow your mind to wander occasionally and watch your creative thinking improve. You might even consider scheduling five-minute daydreaming breaks throughout the workday.
Countless artists throughout the centuries have fed their creative minds by spending time in solitude. Being able to inwardly reflect engages a separate brain network from outwardly focused attention.
Your imagination is generally suppressed when concentrating on the external world, but your best ideas may emerge during self-reflection. Don't expect time for solitude; be intentional about making it.
Remain Open-Minded to New Experiences
Creative achievement is strongly linked to an individual's openness to experience. Be free to cognitively explore your inner and external world to discover new philosophies, ideas, and visions. There is always room for improvement in creative work, and broadening your horizons is a surefire way of keeping your projects interesting.
There's no getting around that making a lucrative career out of a creative passion is challenging. Not only must you learn to think like a business person, but you’ll face various obstacles that non-creative professionals don't encounter.
Consider the tips for improving your business skills, promoting your work, and staying creative. You’ll create your best products and make more money in no time!