9 Helpful Resources for New Creative Business Owners
One of the main reasons I didn’t want to start a business, was because “crunching numbers”, paying taxes, and potentially being audited by the IRS scared the FLOOP out of me.
What if I didn’t understand it all and was doing it all wrong? What if simple mistakes would cost me thousands of dollars or jail time? It sounds crazy, but these were my thoughts.
So I let a lot of fear keep me from starting a business. Brett encouraged me to educate myself a bit more and to not let the fear of the unknown keep me from pursuing a creative career. Thanks Brett. You’re a rockstar.
Maybe that should be my unofficial number one Resource on this list: Get you a Brett. Someone to tell you CAN and SHOULD.
I’ve come across SO MANY helpful resources since I first started my business. I want you to know about them too.
“Sharing is caring”, as my summer camp counselor used to say.
JOIN THE RISING TIDE SOCIETY IF YOU HAVEN’T ALREADY.
The Rising Tide Society has been REALLY helpful for me. I don’t understand a lot of Tax stuff and it can feel so intimidating, so their resources have been SO helpful. The PDF they put out mostly for their Tuesdays Together meetings are amazing. If you’ve never been to a Tuesdays Together in your home city, I’d encourage you to look it up on Facebook and see if you can attend 1-5 meetings. I joined when I first moved to Lubbock (I just showed up to the coffee shop they were meeting at after a photographer saw I was editing a family session at a different coffee shop and recommended I go to some meetings so I could meet other creatives).
These meetings changed my life because they allowed me to ask the kinds of practical questions you’re asking (about pricing, taxes, Search Engine Optimization, marketing, client communication, collaborations, networking, etc.) and feel loved and supported by other creatives— not out to cut my throat and compete with me, but out to help all of us succeed. Tuesdays Together, if you carpe diem the friends you make there, can provide many opportunities for networking, styled shoots, and networking.
If photographers or wedding planners or bakers show up to those meetings and they like your work, they might recommend you to future potential clients or ask to work with you in the future.
I guarantee you when we move cities, I’ll be hitting up the Rising Tide Meetings there ASAP.
2. RISING TIDE MONTHLY NEWSLETTER.
You’re supposed to read these before you go to the meetings, but sometimes I can’t go to the meetings, so I Just read the newsletter. These have been SO helpful. The PDF’s they send out every month have literally saved my business from doing things illegally.
3. TAKE FREE BUSINESS COURSES VIA YOUR LOCAL UNIVERSITY OR LIBRARY. THE STATE OF TEXAS OFFERS A COURSE AND FREE COUNSEL FOR BUSINESSES.
Texas Tech offered a “How to start and run your own business” 6 week course that I took when I first moved to Lubbock.
This course calmed my fears.
It helped mostly with all the legal stuff. Like registering your name with your city, Deciding what kind of business you are (I’m a Sole Proprietor, but they help explain why it might be better to have an LLC), making you official in the Texas system so you can properly pay your taxes when you start making money. Rising Tide also has information on this.
I could ask questions in this course, and not feel stupid for asking.
This is something you could google for your area or call your local university or library and ask about.
4. SETTING PRICING WHEN YOU’RE JUST STARTING OUT.
Maybe you’ve been offering your service for free for years and you’ve decided you want to start making money off of it. Maybe you’re just starting out and still figuring out how to make your product or service the best it can be.
What helped me start thinking about my business seriously and about what I charge seriously came from changing my perspective. What did I make in my first job when I was working at UNT as a hall director? I think I made $15-$20 an hour.
So using that as a starting point for my own business really helped. I started charging clients a $20 service fee an hour (so it’s important to know about how long it takes you to do things). And since then, I’ve gradually started charging more. Depending on how much money you make, remember that a portion of your pay check goes to taxes. If you offer a product, you’ll want to charge the service fee and the supplies fee. Personally, I tack on shipping and taxes to the overall price. Always consider how much of your check goes to taxes.
5. HOW MUCH FREE SHOULD I OFFER PEOPLE?
I did a lot of heavily discounted or free things for clients while I was getting my feet wet and still figuring out what I wanted to offer clients and how much my service was worth.
When I started charging clients (around year two of my business), I stopped doing things for free. I was down to negotiate pricing and communicate with clients why pricing was set in some areas. But once I started charging people for weddings, free services were intentional and initiated by me. I always try to offer a free wedding to a client every year. And maybe do one or two giveaways. But not much else because my time is valuable…. as in, my time gives me my paycheck.
The podcast will make you rethink everything about your website.
The five-minute marketing video, wrecks you.
Everyone should be using Storybrand.
7. MAKING MONEY IS ACTUALLY CHALLENGING
Someone being real with me: Making money off of creative services is really challenging. Stay in the game. Work really hard. Don’t turn on netflix for a year or two. Collaborate a lot and put forward the work you want your ideal client to see— don’t settle for clients and projects that don’t fit the vibe you’re aiming for. Set boundaries.
8. LOOK AROUND. USE OTHER SIMILAR BUSINESSES AS A RESOURCE.
What are your competitors charging? Producing? Marketing? Communciating? I just went on etsy two days ago and took a ton of screen shots of other people’s hand-written vows. My goal is to have my vows be the number one paper anniversary gift couples purchase for one another in the next five years. To do that, I need to look at what others are charging (some of them are charging too much and some of them…. I’m not sure how they are making money off their business) and see how they are styling their pictures, wording their policies, etc. I’ve learned a lot of shop policy talk from looking at etsy shops that already exist. Copy and pasting shouldn’t be a thing, but learning what to communicate with customers from others’ etsy shops, is actually REALLY helpful.
Whether or not you are selling on etsy, in person, or through your own website, Etsy has a whole blog and handbook dedicated to helping business owners be successful on the Etsy platform in general.
Knowing what other people are charging is helpful too. Some of them have been doing this a long time and have an awesome reputation and they can charge a bunch. Some of them haven’t been doing this very long, and their pricing might not be as extravagant. See if your prices look about the same as 10-15 people in your area (or on etsy) doing something similar to you. See what all they are charging. What packages do they offer?
Some clients won’t take you seriously if your prices are too low. Some won’t take you seriously if they are too high. When your’e starting to charge people, I think it’s okay to start on the lower end and raise your prices every six months to a year. Or charge more in the summer versus the winter. Ask other professionals in your arena what they started with.
9. GO LIVE HQ BLOGS
These blogs are so helpful (and REALLY inspiring and fun looking… they are like modern day scrapbooks) if you are unsure how to put together a website. Any free courses or videos Promise and her team produce, are amazing and SO helpful when it comes to coming up with blog design, website design, and overall brand marketing. My personal blog’s design is based loosely on a Go LIve HQ template!