How Do I Turn My Creativity into a Full-Time Job? (Part One/Business Side)
Updated: Jul 16
One of the positive side-effects of creating and more importantly, openly sharing your creations, (more on that in the future) is that others will reach out to you for words of advice and encouragement on how to do the same thing! I enjoy helping others and I really like when people feel comfortable enough to share their passions with me. In all seriousness, I consider it a very high honor! Think about it. How many wild ideas have you had that you keep to yourself because you think, "If I tell anyone this, they will for sure think I am crazy!" Not me. I love crazy!
At this moment in time, I would say that I am not an expert at any one thing. But, I am the type of person who likes to be pretty good at multiple things, and I feel like many creatives can agree. It's all about expressing yourself through creation - why limit your expression when we have so many avenues of creativity these days? I carry a pretty good amount of knowledge in Photo, Video, Writing, Storytelling, Interviewing, Lighting, Editing, Marketing, Running a 1-3 Person Business, Comedy, Football, Basketball and being the best husband and father I can be! (oh-so-cheesy.) One thing I have accomplished is successfully turn my creativity and biggest passion (Videography) into a full-time job that can support my family! (At least for now! Never get too confident! One day people could just stop calling me.) I am very proud of this, and have had a few people reach out and ask about it lately, so I figured I would share some knowledge. (Today I will focus on the business side, then I will start drafting up a skills side for beginners.)
Step 1. Beg, Borrow, and Learn (For FREE) Learn - You should learn from everyone you meet (I still do!) both during business hours and not. Everything you see from others can help you with your business. You don't have to always be "on" trying to learn, but if you have the energy, at least try to remember the top key points. Especially about how others make you feel! How does someone treat you? How does that make you feel? Don't shrug off the bad people either - those are the best to learn from! How did that pesky salesman who kept screwing up your name and insisting he knew exactly what problem you needed solved even though he knew almost nothing about you, how did he make you feel??? Great I'm sure!!! Quick tip, "I'm bad with names." Don't ever say that when you are representing your business. Don't be bad at anything. Be learning to be better at things. I'm not the best or worst at remembering names, but do you know who I remember that pisses me off? The one lady who I have known for over ten years now, and I see her at least once a year if not more, and every single time she strikes up a conversation with me as if she has no idea who I am, what I do, why I look familiar. And she isn't old, people! She just doesn't care. And I have had someone else bring the same thing about the same person up to me!!! Do you know what people remember about your business? That they do not like being treated that way. Beg / Borrow - It sucks, but unfortunately when you start out from nothing (in my experience - you could be better than me at this part!) you've gotta do a little begging. But, be purposeful with it and it won't last too long. Here's what I mean. A lot of people need to see what you are talking about when it comes to creativity - and I'll keep this narrowed in on video. The first couple I pitched a wedding video too? They loved the idea, but didn't see any footage. I showed them tons of examples of everything else I had done up to that point and guess what? No wedding footage yet - no deal. So now, if I want to get into anything, I start by getting my examples and my footage out there and go from there. The Quick Tip - do a photo, video, piece of writing, for absolutely free or next to nothing only if you can use it as a marketing tool and it will best represent what you want your business to do. But don't do this with a company or person you want continued business with.
Once you are the free/cheap videographer, that's all you are to them. Never keep your prices low, you'll just sink your business and burn out. A lot of people undercut the market to get started and feel like they have found success, only to get stuff in the bottom tier forever, and burn out working pennies on the dollar.
And the borrow part is easy. Used lenses, used cameras, used writing pads, USED, USED, USED. I would say at least 50%, if not more, of my equipment I have today was bought used.
2. Move Your Worth Up! And Realize Your Business Worth Is Not Your Personal Worth
If you are ever feeling underpaid, undervalue, under-whatever - you are! Everything is subjective with creativity, including pricing. If you were offered a job you want to do, and made the price work for you and your client - great! The next day you may be be asked to do something you aren't interested in doing and don't have the drive or passion for. The project may look the same on paper, but you know inside it's totally different. Price accordingly. Doing something creative without the passion leads to terrible, terrible work. And once you make one bad thing, everyone seems to notice that. I don't want to bog you down on this section, because I could write about it forever. So I will share something that changed my point-of-view completely. Not everyone values the same thing in the same way! But I mean, like truly - say this to yourself and believe it any time someone doesn't like your work. A lot of people don't like or don't connect with my work!!! At first, I was blown away by this. I work so hard! I am nice to everyone (Almost lol I have my days...) I do my best work - always! How could someone not like what I was doing??? But truly. I felt this way. This feeling creeps in all the time. How do they not get it??
Easy. They just don't get that feeling. That POP. That instant connection. It's not even something I can fully explain when it happens to me! The first million times this happened to me, I took it very personally. Like, this person is insane, they don't understand me. They don't understand GOOD ART!!!! But, then I realized, I am the same way. I don't connect with everything. There will be people who reach out and tell you that they don't like your work. (Why do people take the time to do this?) Just ignore meanies. Honestly, coming from several different experiences, they are just in a bad place in their life and taking it out on someone/something. It is what it is.
3. Money, Money, Money
Okay. This advice about business has been personal to me, so far. But maybe you think it's all a lot of hoopla! Maybe you are a numbers person, or maybe you aren't super sensitive and over think every little thing like I do. I still have clients from 5+ years ago that I literally thought about this morning about how I wish I could have changed how I approached things. FUN!
First Year - Spend Your Money On: Minimal, main equipment only. And I know you can't! I couldn't! But try!!! I started in video. I bought two cameras, for two angles, I bought two lenses, I bought one computer and one monitor. That's honestly already too much. I'm being a hypocrite. I didn't need two cameras. But I bought them. And when you see a couple grand just rotting away on your shelf, especially when you're broke, yeah. That's tough.
Quick Tip - Do you have someone you know that has equipment they never use? I would put money down that you do. Ask around. Ask to borrow it (and be nice).
Seriously, best advice ever, before you put money down and try to buy the happiness you think equipment will bring, borrow it, rent it, figure out if you will actually use it! Watching money rot away on your shelf is the most heartbreaking feeling... Besides a bunch of other stuff... :)
If you ask around, there are a ton of people who can afford to buy some super nice stuff, but never have the passion to use it. Ask to borrow it once. Be very careful, very kind with it. Show them all of the great stuff you have done with it. Ask to borrow it again. I bet they see your passion and try to use their equipment again. Wait until they do, and if they don't seem super excited about it about a month later, offer to buy their stuff. Your passion is not in other people. You are crazy, in the best way!
First Year Goal - Make Your Money Back: In the first year of your business, try to make your money back that you spent on equipment. This is a reasonable enough goal to have and still scrape by in life. It's tough. It is daunting. It causes a lot of frustration. But, if you can at least come out even in your first year, that won't be hanging over your head. I would argue that there is a pre-one year goal. Pre-business goal. Get out of debt. Debt sucks. I have had a lot of help with that. If you don't think debt applies to you, please just ask your accountant for like five minutes before you get into this whole mess!
First Year - Do Not Spend Your Money On: An office. Excess Marketing. Business cards. Crazy, get rich quick opportunities. Courses pertaining to your job that you have to pay for.
I'm not saying an office is bad. Marketing is bad. Gurus are bad. But I find a lot of people want to run before they can walk. Once you learn the basics of whatever you want to do, and really feel like, "Yes, I can confidently do the job I am asked to do on a consistent basis," then you can move on to paying for offices, marketing and gurus. Remember, renting an office space is a monthly charge. Like, every month. If you had a bad month of sales, they don't care. If you have other bills to pay, they don't care. Just keep that in mind. Alright, I feel like that's all I can write right now about the subject. I truly hope this helps! Any questions, email me at: email@example.com