Happy Tuesday to you, how was your weekend?! Today the team over at Hiive have asked me to share some advice and tips I’ve picked up along my freelancing path to share with other aspiring creatives. I’d love to say I got where I am today by lounging around, with a mug of hot chocolate in my hand and a cat by my side, and some days that is true (almost always Sunday mornings) but the rest of the time it is good ol’ hard (but rewarding) work!
Have you heard of Hiive? It’s a professional online network for the creative industries where you can showcase your work, apply for jobs and get access to educational resources. With job opportunities and a portfolio platform, as well as educational resources for aspiring creatives, it covers pretty much every field from publishing to printmaking, and is primarily aimed at people who have a passion for a particular skill but don’t quite know where to start – sounds just like me years ago and I even now I could use a helping hand sometimes!
Back when I quit my bank job to start writing L&S full time and open my little Etsy store, I was surrounded by friends who also hated their day jobs, and it felt great to say ‘stuff this’ and break free. I felt very fortunate and excited to be able to seize the opportunity to start ‘living the dream’ and working for myself. Here are a few things I have learned since starting my blog and new online store The Future Kept.
Write a business plan – If you’re just setting up as a freelancer/new business owner you need to give yourself a clear idea of what you expect to achieve with your business, your monthly costs and how much profit or other income you need to stay afloat! Meticulously work out what your monthly sales/income need to be. There are loads of great templates online – your business plan can be a great and detailed file to reference, when you need some clarity. Along with this your financial forecast help to show if you are still sailing in the right direction, and achieving what you hoped by each monthly marker. It’s a tough thing to figure out, we had many a meltdown here trying to imagine the future, but the steps of thinking it through, threw up all kinds of questions and eventually we came to some earnings goals for our business to grow. It all sounds so official – sometimes I can’t quite believe we have finally started our own proper business!
Running a business comes first – success and financial security comes from running a business with a professional attitude. Not crafting, taking photos, making pretties or writing. I probably spend 30% of my time doing what I want(ed) to do and 70% of my time managing, marketing, keeping my online spaces current and fresh and strategically ‘selling’ my businesses. I actually find all these little tasks enjoyable now they are no longer daunting. I know it all seems too much some times, but if you don’t spend time spreading the word and keeping up to date, no one will find out about your amazing corner of the world. Survival in this tech day and age hinges on how quickly you adapt to the role of business owner first and creator of wonderful things, second.
Take a part time job – It doesn’t mean that you’re failing at your business, if some extra money gives you peace of mind. Having a steady stream of part-time income takes the pressure off and ultimately gives you more time to spend thinking about the fun things. Plus it’s great to spend some time away every now and then. I find myself, inspired and energised when I have been doing other things – so keep a notebook handy for scribbling in – I promise ideas will come when you least expect them, and who knows who you will meet and what opportunities will arise when you are out and about?!
Build up a trusted network – The more often you are out there mingling, the more likely you are to connect with other people that share your passion, vision and values (this is where I am reminded to take my own advice with visions of a firmly wagging finger in my direction), I will admit this was the toughest thing for me and still is. Being shy I usually hide away and get Dean to do the talking, my mind goes blank and no words come! But I have spent plenty of time getting into awkward and unfamiliar situations alone these last few years and it has paid off. ‘Networking’ events can be intimidating, but remember – most of the people you meet will probably be feeling just as self conscious as you! Ooh and don’t forget to take your business cards wherever you go. You can exchange cards when you meet interesting people, and potential customers could be bumped into anywhere!
Only collaborate when it feels really right! Explore any joint project thoroughly and make sure to communicate with your possible partners about everything. Most exciting, collaborative ventures have the potential to get messy, especially when working with other creatives and close friends. The creative process can be intense and stressfull, so get everything worked out and put down in writing before you start the project. Figure out – What you hope to achieve – Who is responsible for what – The financial commitments and figures and the ideal deadline for both parties.
I hope these tips have been helpful – Now I’d love to hear from you! – What piece of advice would you share to help a new blogger or business owner? Let me know in the comments section and share a link to your creative businesses, so we can come see what you are up to! Thanks for stopping by today, and remember to check out Hiive if you’re looking to kickstart your creative career!