So babe, here’s what you already know:
You’re an awesome creative pre-preneur who’s ready to finally start her own creative business.
You know what you’re good at, and you’re ready to share your products or skills with the world.
Except you also know that there are about a gazillion other creative businesses out there who do exactly what you want to do. And many of them do it so well, you’re already doubting whether you have what it takes to succeed before you’ve even started.
Ok, deep breaths.
You’re feeling the suffocating weight of obscurity right now, but that’s alright. First things first, there are a couple of truths to accept when building a business like this:
You will be one of many
You won’t always be the best designer / illustrator / hand letterer / maker
People buy products and services based on the way they feel about them, not always on how great the product/service actually is
That last point is the kicker. That’s the secret sauce superpower that you’re going to harness while you’re building up your amazing new business.
Now, that’s not to say that you shouldn’t focus on doing the best work you possibly can - you absolutely should! But even if you are the best of the best, you’ll still need to ensure that your work is seen, and that your voice is heard.
In a sea of other creative entrepreneurs, it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle. But with clever, in-context education, great branding, and a strong sense of identity, you can find your business’ superfans who will love what you have to offer.
Here’s how to do it:
Set up an undeniably amazing brand
This is going to be the biggest piece of the puzzle: Find a designer you love, and set up a crazy on-point brand.
A stellar brand will be the biggest differentiator in helping your business stand out in the crowd.
See, brands do much more than make you look good. Brands are substitute personalities for you when you’re not there to tell someone all about your business. Brands speak to people on an emotional level.
You want potential customers to feel amazing when they experience your brand. Because as we know from the points above, people buy the things that make them feel good.
Gather your thoughts on your business - what do you see when you close your eyes and picture your website or storefront? What types of people would shop there, what other brands would they enjoy? Then, work with a designer to build a brand that speaks to your ideal customer's emotions and style, while keeping in alignment with your business’s mission.
You’ve got it, so flaunt it! Work with what you’ve got!
Take inventory of the resources you have around you. No, you may not have the fancy DSLR your peers and competitors have, but you do have a phone and a great eye for composition. Take your best shots, build your gorgeous branded website, and promote your launch like you’re throwing the hottest GRAMMYs afterparty.
You don’t have to wait around to get better. I know you have incredibly high standards for yourself, but honey, no amount of research or practice or thinking things over will ever substitute for hard work and real action. Dive in. Work with what you have and make it amazing.
Educate your future tribe mates
On your website, include a blog section that talks all about your products or services. This will help educate visitors on the beautiful uniqueness that is you and your business’ identity. Some example posts to cover would be:
Why you started your business and your mission
What your background is
What problems your product or service solves
What type of person would get the most benefit out of your product or service
Behind the scenes stories from your studio
How your things are made & why that’s important
When you put information like this on the table, visitors to will fall into one of two categories - “I love this, I want to read more!” or “This isn’t for me.” This is exactly what you want to happen.
You want a visitor to experience your brand, read your content, and make that decision for themselves, very quickly. If they love what you’re doing, they’ll stick around (sign up for your email list, register for a webinar, visit the site again, etc.). If they don’t love it, then they’re not your ideal customers - they will be one less person you have to waste your time trying to sell to!
Focus on finding your people.
So you’ve got your brand all set up, your website is launched, your blog is full of informative material - you’re ready to roll! Continue to blog and create valuable posts that educate your ideal customers. Write directly to them. Picture them reading your posts and saying, “This girl gets me - I totally want to work with her.” When you write and promote with your perfect client in mind, you will attract them and weed out anyone else who might not be as awesome.
This is a super fun exercise when it comes to developing your ideal client: Answer the questions in this post to get to know your ideal client on a more personal level (bottom of the post, under the heading “Define your ideal client”).
Stay consistent, don’t give into second thoughts.
Do your thing and do it consistently. Make sure your weekly emails are automated. Have templates to use for Pinterest and other social media graphics. Get on a content schedule for your blog and social media posts. This builds the brand awareness that will ultimately attract more of your ideal customers.
When your ideal people can count on you to deliver the goodness when you say you will, they will trust you and look forward to your updates!
Don't worry about what your competitors are doing - keep working hard. It’s healthy to check in now and then to make sure you’re staying relevant within your field, but don’t second guess yourself when you see someone doing something different. Stay the course, babe. You know what the heart of your business needs to do. Stick with your gut and work fearlessly.
Wisely invest back into your business.
Whenever you can, invest back into making your business stand out from the crowd - does that mean adding a new product line? A new, unique facet to your services that no one else is offering? Do you need to hire a VA so you can focus on something different? As your business grows, you’ll learn more and more about your customers and their needs. Cater to them when appropriate. You’re making money now, so congratulations on your successful creative business!