how to be a creative entrepreneur: a guide

Explore the realm of creative entrepreneurship and how you two would make a beautiful team.

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May 26, 2023

Kira

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Let’s open the page to creative entrepreneurship: a balance of artistry and financial freedom. Truth be told, I feel this is as good a time as ever to dance into the world of creative entrepreneurship… because we’re seeing it all around us!

There are influencers all over social media, who’ve built personal and creative brands around what they do, acting as a content creation machine with brands to promote products with their own versions of what TV commercials would be amongst the rest of their main content.

We’re seeing bloggers make full-time incomes from sharing their stories and sharing gorgeous and inspirational pictures of their lives, cross-posting across many platforms, and reaching so many people.

All of this stems from the beauty of creativity. There is so much space for creatives in our digital atmosphere— risk-taking creatives who can create real, empowering incomes for themselves. That’s what we’re going to dive into today.

What is creative entrepreneurship?

Envision an art school graduate-turned stay-at-home mom, with not much more than a baby, a basement apartment, and a budget of $25 a month on home projects.

For Julia Marcum, perhaps one of the most famous creative entrepreneurs in the blogging world, this was the beginning of her creative entrepreneurship journey. She started a blog and posted every day about her personal status quo– home decor she loved, specific skills she learned to make renovations in their basement apartment, and a vision she had for their kitchen. Each blog post on her website brought more and more engaged audience members, and more than a decade later, her new ideas come out in every blog post and she’s a professional in the creative industry.

From there, her creativity prospered into a DIY, and now home renovation blog, where she shares everything from mood boards to product reviews to everything in between, all within the walls of her beautiful, gloriously, self-designed, and curated home, now a full-time business that supports her entire family as well as multiple full-time staff members.

This is just one story of a creative entrepreneur who used what she had around her to create.

Creative entrepreneurship is where your self-made business stems from your creative powers, be it design, branding, performance, or art. And in fact, it’s actually taking over the realm of business, particularly where so many of us live on social media, entertainment, and education. So, why not dip into your unique skill sets and embark on your own creative business?

The types of creative entrepreneurs (all professional storytellers!)

Performers

Performers ready to take their creative prowess to the world can do so from the comfort of their homes— and make a living doing it. In the age of technology, the stage isn’t limited to physical theaters or arenas anymore.

Social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram are emerging, and even established performers’ grand stages, where they share their talents, whether comedy sketches, dance routines, or dramatic monologues with their growing audience, and use their creativity to craft engaging content that not only captivates but also resonates with their audience.

This creative entrepreneurship goes beyond just performing for free. Through marketing themselves, establishing their personal brand, and building an engaging community around it, they can start monetizing their creativity for things like sponsored content and brand collaborations.

A creative entrepreneur’s services are their entertainment, and their monetization is through sponsored content, ads, partnerships, and affiliate marketing.

Artistic Influencers ✨

If performers bring the front-facing performance, artistic influencers bring the aesthetics. They are the tastemakers, the trendsetters, and the creative powerhouses who weave beautiful stories around their art. These influencers can also be performers— no problem— but when it comes to their public-facing influence, they’re showcasing their interior designs, their lifestyles, shots of them in audition rooms, anything that provides a beautiful inspiration for their followers and paints vivid narratives through visuals or blogs.

Their services are their inspiration, beauty, curation, and lifestyle, and their monetization is through sponsored content, ads, partnerships, and affiliate marketing.

Tactiles

Let’s not forget the creative entrepreneurs who share creations and tell stories through physical products and creations, like artwork, designs, and other artisanal products. Their creativity blooms in the tangible, and the fruits of their labor are items that we can hold, touch, and treasure.

From handcrafted jewelry and bespoke furniture to unique pottery and artisanal candles, tactile creations imbue their creations with a piece of their spirit.

Their entrepreneurship journey lies in creating products that resonate with people and marketing them effectively, and their playgrounds are platforms like Etsy, Shopify, or even local craft fairs and pop-up markets.

Their services are creating products, and their monetization is through selling those products online, selling online courses, and teaching workshops and classes on their specialized skill.

Freelancers

If you’ve ever wondered whether your creative abilities can generate a full-time income, let’s explore this enchanting possibility together.

In the wide universe of creative entrepreneurship, freelancing offers you the opportunity to share your creativity with a global audience, all from the comfort of your own cozy corner of the world (or at locations of your choosing!). You get to select projects that resonate with your passions, be it writing, designing, social media content creation, digital marketing, or even creative consulting services, if you have creative skills, chances are, there’s someone out there looking for what you offer. (And even if you have creative ideas, you’re still considered creative by many tech-minded businesspeople who need an imaginative edge added to their business!)

If you work with a strategy, you can chart your own course to success and control how much you get paid. Platforms like Upwork are a great place to start, one of the most bustling marketplaces where creative freelancers and prospective clients meet.

Deya was my favorite YouTuber to watch when I was diving back into the freelancing realm. This is one of the videos I watched on repeat— but she has an entire YouTube playlist all about freelancing in an engaging, practical approach.

Creating a full-time income as a freelancer requires strategic planning, consistent effort, and a pinch of patience. You’ll probably have to start small, taking up projects that might not be your dream assignments, but just like with working a full-time job, there will always be sacrifices you have to make in order to see your hard work reap the benefits.

Eventually, you’ll gain experience, establish a reputation, and find opportunities to work on projects that truly set your creative heart on fire.

Freelancing as a creative is more than just a business model—it’s a lifestyle choice, with the freedom to choose your projects, work hours, and rates. It’s about taking control of your creative journey and steering it toward your aspirations. Then, eventually, you’ll be working with dream clients— whomever that would be for you.

Freelancers’ services are offering creative skill sets, and their monetization is through charging for those services.

And while all of these creative entrepreneurs’ media and approach might be different — a video, a photograph, a product — our goal is the same: to share our creativity, to connect with our audience, and to build a thriving business around what we love.

Related: The 5 best creative apps: artful sharing across the digital realm

The highs and lows of being a creative entrepreneur

Benefits

  • Pursuing your passion. The pursuit of your utmost passion brings more balance into the world as a whole. With more people aligned with their higher purpose, our universe operates with more balanced energy. As Jack Canfield has said, imagine a world where everyone loves what they do. The crossing guard loves being a crossing guard. The florist loves being a florish. Everyone benefits from following the unique passion they love. It’s as simple as that.
  • Flexibility and freedom: With the freedom to choose your own schedules, locations, and work pace, you are truly building a lifestyle that fits you (not the other way around), creating a work-life balance that fits everything that’s important to you.
  • Control over your success: Your success as a creative entrepreneur is directly tied to your efforts. The more you put into your business, the more you’ll get out of it.
  • Personal growth: Through the highs and lows, successes and failures, the journey of being a creative entrepreneur fuels your personal growth, encouraging you to learn new skills, adapt to changing circumstances, and develop resilience, all of which contribute to your personal and professional development.

Drawbacks

  • Creativity often ebbs and flows. There are days when ideas gush forth and others when the well seems to run dry. Maintaining a steady rhythm of creativity, while also managing the business aspect of things, can be a delicate balancing act and can, if not careful, can feel forced. (But there’s always a way to create without it being forced! Meditation, praying, sunlight…)
  • Uncertainty. Sometimes, a 9-to-5 job is a better job at the time being because it gives you the time and space to start creating without the pressure of making money from it. Creative entrepreneurship often involves leaping into the unknown. Revenue can be irregular, especially when you’re first starting out, so starting consistently in a regular job can be your own unique strategy to get started without taking risks financially.
  • Business management experience. This path also demands a significant commitment of time and energy. From managing finances to marketing your brand, from developing your product to customer service – as a creative entrepreneur, you wear multiple hats. At times, it can feel overwhelming, like juggling too many tasks at once, and oftentimes, working for other people for a bit helps educate you on what you see for your contribution in the creative field and how you’d run your own business when new challenges arise.
  • Dealing with rejection. Not every product, post, skit, or song, will be a hit, not every idea will resonate, and not every client will be easy to work with. These moments can test your resolve and even make you question your path, but every challenge is a way to grow stronger as you focus on striving for the best version of your work.

It’s essential to remember that no matter where you are in your journey, you are never “trapped”. With creativity as your compass and entrepreneurship as your map, there’s always a way to navigate through. It may take time, patience, and perseverance, working full-time, working part-time, and learning new trades and crafts, but the joy of reaching the peak of your creative aspirations is well worth the climb, and in fact, will really only reap fruits once you’ve had the patience to wait for the plant to grow.

How can you monetize being a creative entrepreneur?

This is the award-winning question– how in the world can we monetize what we love and create our own business from it?

Certainly, there are ways we can monetize now that we weren’t able to do 20, 30 years ago. Consider these three approaches that many creative entrepreneurs are taking to make their passions a full-time income:

1. Affiliate linking through your personal brand.

If you’ve come across any blogger, Instagrammer, or TikToker and had the itch to do that too— then your mind is already in the right place to build a successful business from what you love. Think the particular type of digital marketing is traditionally called influencer marketing, which is creating your own personal brand, and then building enough traffic to partner with brands to promote their products through your feed or blog posts.

2. Creating a YouTube channel and brand.

Consider what you can offer an audience that they’d love to watch. Would you love to teach young actors how to audition for college theatre programs? Or are you a multi-hyphenate, and can create an entire channel on beginner coding?

Through your YouTube channel, you can build up your own company and brand, like Caleb Hammer, who creates an income by doing financial audits on his channel.

3. Becoming a freelancer.

Start offering your creative services to businesses that need it the most. Head over to marketplaces like Fiverr, Upwork, and Freelancer.com, Contra, and achieve success in one of your marketable skills, whether you’re a graphic designer or a freelance writer.

Through your services, you can eventually start selling digital products– if you’re a graphic designer, you can create and sell Canva templates for busy entrepreneurs who need marketing materials for their social media but simply don’t have enough time. If you’re a freelance writer, perhaps you can sell a guide and template for writing an SEO blog post, or offer one-off templates that you can add to your own business’s services to make money a little more passively.

Related: 5 holistic ways to detox your lymph for energy and creativity

Many artists still don’t see the value of pursuing one of these paths to create a beautiful life that fits them. All artists have a unique skill set that others will invest in, whether it’s through content creation for other businesses through freelancing or showcasing your ideas on your own platform.

There is beauty and richness in this pathway to becoming a creative entrepreneur. At the root of everything, no matter what your own business plan is, your story and background are important.

As you navigate the waters of how you want to pursue your ever-changing sea of the creative process, know that each challenge, victory, high, and low is but a stitch in the grand tapestry of the beauty of the story.

Nurture your passion, foster your creativity, and take that leap of faith into the world of creative entrepreneurship. Share inspiration from other entrepreneurs, and remember that a rising tide lifts all boards. The world is but a blank canvas, and you are the artist, ready to paint your own enchanting story.

Creative Career

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