As many of you know, I’ve poured my creative passion into two small creative businesses that I’ve started in the past couple of years; My photography business and Laurel Lane Accessories. Both of which have brought me more challenges and growth than I ever imagined when I first started on the path to small business ownership. And while I still have to work every single day to keep these businesses inspiring and engaging, it’s been so rewarding to see small monuments of success along the way. Monuments like launching my brand new ETSY shop this month with a new line of home accessories that I custom designed and created myself. Exciting moments like this make me reflect on how I got here. How did I start two creative businesses in my early 20’s out of nothing but the mere challenge to myself to see if I could be really good at what I was doing?
Today, I wanted to share with you how I did it! This post is the exciting launch of a new series on making your own successful small business out of your creative passion. Prowling around the internet for tips on starting your own business left me feeling really unmotivated. Silly suggestions like “Believe in yourself!” made some people’s list of top 5 tips for starting your own business. And while you should believe in your dream, I wanted to offer up 5 tips that you can actually use and apply to your life to see your dream growing and becoming the business you envision it could be.
So here are my TOP 5 TIPS on starting/launching your own creative business.
1. HAVE A TALENT TO OFFER
Do you know how Laurel Lane Accessories was born? I literally stumbled into the idea when I decided to make my own floral crown for a photo shoot I was in. When other people saw the images of said photo shoot, they started asking where I found my lovely over-the-top floral crown. When I saw the images of said photo shoot, I saw a gorgeous product I could make and possibly sell. Most of all, I saw potential for growth in myself and in my talents. And that potential is what sparked all of my ambition.
When you start your own small business, you need to have a driving idea behind it. Something to offer, something to share with people. What do you have going on that’s exciting and engaging? What talents can you offer that get people excited? What talents do you have that get you excited?! The foundation of all creative businesses is passion; an ambition that is born out of the idea that you have something unique to offer to people.
Are you really good at giving advice? Do you take amazing photos of your nephew? Do people ask where you got your adorable jeans (bedazzled them yourself, did you?) We each have talents waiting to be discovered, waiting to be harnessed and trained into something of great quality. Knowing what talent you have to offer is the first step towards using it to build a great business for yourself.
2. GREAT PRODUCT PICTURES.
Once you know what talent you have to offer, you start using it. Unfortunately, this isn’t enough. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a product or shop that’s only being held back by this one little tip. Great product pictures are essential to your success. Great pictures not only get people looking, but it gets people talking! Talking about how gorgeous your product is, about how they just have to have it for themselves. Ask yourself which you are more likely to buy, the product on the right or the product on the left?
Having great product pictures helps your business grow tremendously in quality and following. But how do you find somebody to take professional pictures of your products? It’s all about networking! Your friend’s sister from high school whose an amazing portrait photographer now? Send her a message with a picture of your product and see if any of her clients would want to use it in their sessions. Are you making home décor items? Offer to lend them to an interior designer while she has her talents photographed for her portfolio. Collaborating with other creative’s is a great way to not only get quality images for your portfolio, but to network and get the name of your business out there! If you aren’t sure where to start looking for a photographer, try searching for a local photography or modeling group on Facebook; that’s where I met some of my first friends in the creative market!
3. CATCHY BUSINESS CARDS.
Great business cards are so crucial when it comes to presenting yourself as a professional! It’s also a great way to make sure the people you meet, remember you. I use my business cards whenever I meet somebody I’m interested in working with or making something for. When I meet a beautiful bride whose looking for the perfect hair accessory for her flower girl? I whip that card out. When I see a gorgeous high school student who would look amazing in one of my designs? I hand her my card and tell her that I would love to hear from her if she’s interested in modeling a few of my designs for a photo shoot. I also make sure that current clients have it, too. Every time somebody places an order through my ETSY shop, their product is accompanied by a business card so they know where to call/go online when they want more. You have to make remembering you and contacting you convenient for them. People love convenience.
So how do make sure that your business cards are eye-catching and not easily forgotten? One- put a picture of your product/business on it. Two- make it unique. I included one of my favorite images of one of my floral crowns on my business card and I also made mine a really fun, square shape. A breath-taking image and fun sized/shape card? That leaves an impression. When you have a great, eye-catching business card, people are so much more likely to remember you and to be excited about your business afterwards. I ordered my gorgeous, square business cards through Tiny Prints.
4. BE PERSONABLE.
I believe that your biggest asset when it comes to your business’s success is you! People love supporting businesses that are run by people who are friendly, kind, and easy to get along with. As a creative business owner, so much of your business centers around you. Do you offer a great experience for your clients? Do they feel as if they could be friends with you in real life? If so, you’re 10 TIMES more likely to make another sale to that customer in the future AND more likely to build your client base when they recommend you to their friends.
Word of mouth is the greatest marketing tool you have. Give your clients something good to say about their experience with you and your business! An extra touch that’s easy to implement even if you’re not the social type is sending out a “thank you,”with every one of your orders. I like to include a hand-written “Thank you for ordering from my shop! I love my customers and hope you love your products!” on a pretty piece of paper and include it in their package.
5. AN ONLINE PRESENCE.
Are you posting daily on social media to keep people engaged? Facebook, Instagram, ETSY. Do you have a separate business page on Facebook aside from your personal page? When people fan your page, they look forward to reading about your growth as a business and most of all, they look forward to seeing when you post new products and new session pictures. Keep your fans involved in your brand. Give them something new to look at, something exciting to discuss.
Social media has so much potential to get people interested in your business. Send all your friends a link to your page and make sure you are marketing your business as you want it to be seen. One of the most important things to remember about social media presence is quality over quantity. I don’t post on Facebook every day, but when I do, I make sure that I am excited about what I’m saying. I make sure that I’m speaking in a positive, encouraging and exciting manner. Remember that what you post directly effects how people think of your business. When you keep your posts happy and filled with gorgeous pictures, that’s what people associate with your brand. That’s not to say you can’t be real if you’re having a bad day or are going through something major. Just keep in mind that whatever you share is the impression people get of you and your brand. Make sure what you’re saying is a reflection of what you want your brand to stand for!
There you have it! My top 5 tips for people who are interested in starting their own creative businesses but aren’t sure where to start. What do you think about these tips? While suggesting things like “believing in yourself” would be true for your success, I wanted to make sure that I gave you tips that you could actually implement and use to see tangible results. What suggestions do you have for real advice on starting your own creative business?
I can’t wait to share more from this new series with you guys. I’ll probably make it a monthly post, sharing tips on starting your own creative business and seeing it thrive afterwards. I hope you guys enjoyed! Make sure you check out all the exciting things I’ve made for you in my ETSY shop too :)