Could you, would you – and should you – make a business out of your creative pursuits?
I reckon there are a few really important things to consider right at the start.
First, for any business to be successful, you need to have experience and skills. Yes, experience in business is gained by actually doing it, but there’s a difference between doing something for fun and doing something and charging money for it. Skills can also be acquired, developed and honed along the way: in fact, a lot of what you need to be able to do, you pick up as you’re going along. But there does need to be something there to start with.
Even more important than skills and experience though, I reckon you need to have an obsessive interest in something – or a slightly obsessive personality at least. But a word of caution: people frequently talk about finding your passion. There’s even the popular notion that if you find your passion, you’ll “never work a day in your life”. There’s a word I could call that sort of thinking, but it’s rude, so I won’t.
I believe that passion develops when you do a lot of something. You don’t find it first, you have to do something for a long time to develop a passion for it. If you’re searching for “your passion” to help decide what to do, good luck…we all have lots of things we’re passionate about but they’re not necessarily things that would make a good business!
But without at least a strong interest in something, or even more importantly the ability to sustain that interest, to get a bit geeky and obsessed with it, you’re not going to last. When things get tough (and they will, no amount of “passion” will prevent it) you need that obsessive, curious, constantly-learning mindset to get you through. There has to be something that motivates you other than the business itself.
Oh, and if it’s money that does it for you, perhaps a creative business isn’t for you anyway. Ditto if you like routine and predictability. The very nature of a creative business – it’s ebb and flow, the dry and uninspired spells then the busy and inspired moments – it’s anything but predictable.
But how do you start?
Start with the simplest and quickest thing you can offer. Don’t aim for perfect, or you’ll never start at all. Decide something, and start. Then you can tweak and build from there.
And how do you keep going?
By learning the hardest lesson of all – that while it starts with you, you’re not what it’s about. Without a buyer, without purchasers, it’s not a business: it’s a hobby.
There’s an old marketing expression:
You’re not selling a drill, you’re selling the hole in the wall.or perhaps you’re even selling the new shelves…
You’re not selling paintings or pictures, you’re selling a talking point, a leaving gift, a keepsake…
You’re not selling cakes, you’re selling the smile on a child’s face, relaxed parents of the birthday girl, a happy afternoon with friends and family…
You’re not selling workshops, you’re selling a day out with friends and like-minded people, a day doing something new…
I’m not selling textile courses, I’m selling proficiency, confidence, the ability to express yourself visually, and probably a few other things I don’t realise.
Unless someone wants what you’re selling, there’s no point even trying – if you want it to be a business. If you’re happy for it to remain a game, crack on!
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The music is Dear Autumn by Ikson and you can find it at https://soundcloud.com/ikson