launching a creative digital business: where to begin.

If you caught my Instastory on Monday, I announced that I will be sharing my entrepreneurial journey with you – the good, the bad, and the ugly – with the hopes that you’ll find inspiration, ideas and lessons that I learn the hard way, which you can apply to your own business endeavors.

With just a little poking around and speaking with other entrepreneurially-minded people, I’ve already come across a ton of resources (both free and paid) geared towards helping creatives grow their small businesses, everything from e-courses to experts to programs that support first-time entrepreneurs. In today’s post, I’m sharing the key tools that I’m using right now to help me plan my business and set it up for success.

 

FOR A REALITY CHECK: Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

I grabbed coffee recently with a friend of a friend who, after my explaining that I was working out the next step in my career, told me I HAD to read Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. Man, am I glad that she did. Gilbert, who you may know as the author of Eat, Pray, Love, addresses creatively minded people such as ourselves, and teaches us how to channel that creativity, allow it to grow, and make it a joyful part of our lives.

There are COUNTLESS zingers in this book that make you say “YES!” and “THAT’S ME!” and “Wow, I never thought of it that way.” While almost everything hit home, the point that resonated with me the most is when she notes how, unlike most professions, income from creative careers is not always guaranteed. Now, I am certainly establishing The Neon Tea Party to be a profitable business, however I am approaching the “establishment” process as a creative endeavor, and therefore Gilbert’s a-girl’s-gotta-eat-so-go-get-a-day-job message really struck a chord. The next day, I made a profile on Care.com, reached out to some local families, and started lining up babysitting jobs. Boom. Now I have income to “feed myself” and have enough peace of mind to work on growing The Neon Tea Party.

 

FOR GOVERNMENT SUPPORT: New York State’s Self-Employment Assistance Program (SEAP)

I hope that you are never in this position but should you ever lose your job but have a great idea for a business, that moment could be the perfect time to start your entrepreneurial journey. (This is exactly what happened to me.) New York State has an awesome program called the Self-Employment Assistance Program, which allows individuals receiving unemployment to start a business while continuing to receive unemployment for six months. Of course there are catches: a required 20 hours of entrepreneurial training, meetings with a business counselor, and progress reports. However, these are all meant to benefit you and your business, so I’m approaching them as ways to be held accountable and grow my business the right way (and as quickly as possible!).

 

FOR ESTABLISHING A BUSINESS PLAN: Score.org’s business plan template for a start-up business

I discovered Score.org’s incredibly thorough business plan template on Inc.com’s list of 10 free business plan templates, which I found thanks to a quick Google search. (Don’t you just love the Internet?!) What I like about this particular template is that it’s already formatted in Microsoft Word, asks you all the hard-hitting questions you need to consider when creating a business plan, and provides instructions for how to bring together all the info. It’s quite extensive so I imagine it will take some time to complete, however I have no doubt that the finished product will be comprehensive, professional and polished.

 

FOR FIGURING OUT HOW THE HECK TO MAKE A BLOG PROFITABLE: Secret Bloggers’ Business, Bloggers MBA program

This was admittedly a bit of an impulse purchase, but the package that Kate McKibbin of Secret Bloggers’ Business offers in her Bloggers MBA class is so comprehensive, it has to be worth the arguably high price tag. This eight week program walks you through all the steps you need to take in order to monetize your blog and just do everything right in general. The course covers everything from defining your brand and content to nitty gritty things like SEO and generating traffic, plus it walks you through how to develop and sell a product, build your email list and generate passive income. Pretty cool, huh?

There are a number of e-courses like Kate’s (see the list of resources below) but the best deals on them happen only a few times a year, and the timing of Kate’s just happened to coincide with my need to get on it. I’ll let you know how it goes!

 

FOR LEARNING FROM OTHERS: Fellow girl bosses sharing their digital business secrets

There is a wave of entrepreneurial women sharing their digital growth secrets with hopes of helping others (like us!) do the same. Once you show interest in one of these digital business masters, you’ll get targeted ads for even more. My advice: see what everyone has to offer and stay loyal to the ones you love. The below are my three favorites.

Melyssa Griffin: This graphic designer turned growth guru shares how to grow your audience and drive traffic and offers courses on Pinterest, email list growth, winning the social media game + more.

Jenna Kutcher: Similar to Melyssa, Jenna is a creative business owner (photographer!) who cracked the code on building a successful digital business. Jenna shares lots of fun freebies like tips for growing your Instagram, building your email list, and growing your clientele. Personally, I can’t wait to dig into her podcast, Goal Digger.

The Rising Tide Society: Consider this site your support group of fellow creatives who are also just trying to make it while sharing their secrets to success along the way. Get lost (and inspired!) in countless posts covering blogging, branding, community, business, marketing, SEO + web, and life balance.

 

I’d love to know what resources you’ve come across in your efforts grow a business as I’m always looking for more. Share in the comments below!

peace, love & neon,

marisa

 

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