There comes a point in every creative’s career where they have to decide whether it’s time to turn their side hustle into a full-time gig. Both decisions are completely valid but if you’ve decided to take the leap into growing your creative business then here are some tips to help kick start that career.
Before You Grow Your Creative Business
Most of us share an instinct to dive right into websites and branding but I always tell my coaching clients to resist the urge and, instead, start by focusing on mindset. Building an entrepreneurial mindset, one that is willing to bend and grow with all the obstacles and challenges that are sure to come, will lay the foundation for a strong and lasting business. If you’re not quite there yet, don’t worry! Here is a great blog I wrote after hosting a business retreat for artists in 2020: Mindset Shifts for Creatives.
If you’ve done that mindset work and you’re ready to take those next steps, keep reading!
Tools for Growing Your Creative Business
You may think I’m biased, since I offer coaching, but the fact is that someone outside your business will always have a clearer picture of who you are and what you have to offer than you ever could just sitting in the middle of it. A creative coach is like a business coach but better… because we understand how the creative process works! A creative coach works with creative business owners to determine their unique brand point of view and help them build a business that works with their lifestyle, goals, and creative flow.
Not all of us can afford a 24/7 business coach, but we can always find ways to learn! Continuing education is just as critical for the creative business owner as it is for any other professional, and there are so many skills to learn. Whether you’re learning a new painting technique to improve your skillset or you’re learning how to photograph your gorgeous work so it sells, a course or tutorial will help get you there faster than going it alone.
This is the first thing I teach every new creative business owner: you must get comfortable with social media!!! Organic social media growth is a key component of any business’s marketing strategy, but it’s particularly effective for creative business owners that sell a product or service. If you haven’t already worked on branding, this is the first place to start. A consistent brand presence across all social media channels is a great way to build trust in your brand and make it easier for customers to find you!
Meeting other creative business owners is my FAVORITE way grow my business! Not only is networking always good for business but there are endless opportunities to learn from other business owners! I love being a part of different creative and business groups so I can really get to know and learn from a diverse group of people.
Whether you’re holding a paperback, scrolling on a screen, or listening on your commute, there is so much good information to be had in books! Plus, so many of them are available at your library! I love reading (I even started The Better Self Book Club specifically because I was soooo excited to read a particular book) and I think it’s one of the best ways that we can learn from others. If you need a place to start check out my list of books to read (for artists)!
Okay, okay, this might seem like a pitch for you to go listen to Paint Talks, my weekly podcast featuring artists and creatives who have contributed to The Turquoise Iris Journal, but I think we all love a good podcast, right? It’s like hanging out with a few of your best friends who happen to be experts!
Ways to Grow Your Creative Business
Okay, so you’ve done all that learning and growing but… what’s next? How does one “grow” a business, exactly? To be fair, there are a lot of different definitions that suit the word so all that matters is finding the changes that are right for you. Here are some options, you may want to try one or more!
Expand Your Offers
If those tutorials and courses have taught you some new skills that you are itching to try, I recommend expanding your offers! Try some things outside your comfort zone, like selling prints or designing patterns. As long as you stay true to your creative vision, offering new ways for customers to buy from you will be a great way to find some new income streams. This will help you with the next option, which is to…
Hire a Team
If the changes you want to make are on a bigger scale (think launching a totally new offer or building a website) then it might be time to call in the experts! I’m not saying you need a full-time staff of 12, but consider hiring a freelancer to manage your blog posts or a web designer to overhaul your website before trying to DIY all the things. It might be a greater cost up-front but the time and headaches you’ll save are truly priceless. At the very least, I recommend finding a part-time virtual assistant who can manage the daily tasks that are necessary but don’t generate income.
Combine Your Skills
Most of the creatives I know are secretly multi-talented but running a business is the worst time to be shy about those other skills! If you’re a sculptor who happens to love horticulture or you’re a watercolor artist who dabbles in embroidery, try to find new ways to combine your skills into something uniquely you. You’ll stand out from the crowd and maybe even find a new income stream for your business!
I also recommend that you look outside your creative skillset here. Perhaps that love of photography can come in handy not just for photographing your own work but could be put to use taking product pictures for other artists? I encourage all of you to find what it is you love to do and build that into your business!
The Creative Connection
It may sound unbelievable but you can get ALL of these things (and more) all in one place: my Creative Connection. The Turquoise Iris’s Creative Connection is a private community for creative business owners. We have everything from monthly tutorials to guest experts and even a book club!