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There is so much information for running a creative biz easily accessible today, sadly, most of this information is coming from people that are self proclaimed “gurus” that are just good talkers (and really great marketers!). What kills me most is when someone I admire suggests you check out one of these “gurus”, these fab marketers, that absolutely know how to market, but they have not gone through, and successfully grown their creative biz. Many of them didn’t succeed, and/or gave up and now make their income by giving people advice, when they only have a partial journey to have learned from.
Making a living as an artist, maker, and/or designer is incredibly hard. Talent, creativity, and skills are not enough. You have to have all that, get/have some business sense, have thick skin, and be willing to put in long days, live off of little money, and put your biz first until the money starts rolling in. Even once the money starts coming in, you still have to wear many hats, and pretty much be made of perseverance. So when I stumble upon these “gurus” I get a little angry at how they tend to focus on “following your dreams” and don’t give hopeful newbies the proper information and tools to really make it. Running into these people over and over certainly adds fuel to my fire to share my journey and be an honest mentor.
I’d like to share some resources with you and urge you to not go out and buy that new book/class/e-course from anyone before doing the research on them. Even if your bestie says they are great, research them. Has the person teaching/mentoring actually succeeded in the areas you want to succeed in? If not, keep searching for another mentor or advice from someone who really knows what it’s like. I highly suggest you look for someone that has been doing it for at least 5 years. Each year you’re in business it can get harder to keep going if your biz isn’t making forward momentum. After five years you’ll definitely do some thinking on whether your biz is worth it and will actually pay off. Some businesses catch press breaks early on and get a huge push, but surviving the first five years is quite an accomplishment. This month will mark my eighth year in biz, and I’m still learning and growing (sometimes contemplating going back to work for someone else). This path isn’t easy, but if you can stick it out, it can be pretty great.
You may remember I used to have a resource page on the blog. I’ll be bringing it back after the redesign and constantly updating as I discover new helpful sites/books/people. Here’s a short list to jump start your own resource library…
Smaller Box (hasn’t been updated recently, but the site has such great info that spending time reading old posts will be incredibly valuable)
Launch Grow Joy
Rena Tom for her experience as a buyer.
Obviously there are more people out there, but these people are legit. These people have succeeded and are sharing what they’ve learned along the way.
Art courses by Mati Rose.
Flora Bowley (new course starting next week!)
Kelly Rae Roberts
Art, Inc. by Lisa Congdon, (also check out her online class that accompanies the book!) I was so excited to pick up this book from Lisa Congdon, as I am familiar with her career and know that she’s been through it all.
Laura Roeder – I’ve mentioned Laura Roeder quite a few times, and there are some bigger names out there, but what I love about Laura is that she breaks down the info in easy to understand ways. She’s so good that I can name five other successful marketing people that are just re-sharing what they learned from her. It makes me so sad that these people were in the same class as me with her to try and learn how to market their business, and just decided to do what Laura was doing.
Elizabeth Potts Weinstein – I actually met Elizabeth in the very first course Laura Roeder ever taught in 2008 or 2009. She is so chill, and is great at explaining legal matters in a way that us non-lawyers can understand. She shares a lot of great tips for free, too!
I hope these lists are helpful to you. I know many of these resources have been amazing for me. If you can’t find someone that is teaching/mentoring in your field, try reaching out to someone that is succeeding and offer to pay them for consulting. I’m in an online group with some very successful handmade sellers, and many of them get hit up for advice and feel guilty because they are so successful/busy they don’t have time to help. If you do your own research, you’ll find most of the answers you seek; and when you’ve done all you can and still need help, be short and concise, reach out, and offer something in return. I’ve reached out to some successful licensed artists a few times, and they were happy to help, because my questions were to the point. I wasn’t bombarding them with lots of questions that showed I hadn’t done my research, and I wasn’t basically asking them to tell me all their trade secrets. There’s a lot of info out there to get you started, and hopefully these resources will help you take further steps. Check them out, and let me know if any of them helped you.