Updated: Jun 16, 2018
You’re creative, talented and passionate about your craft. It genuinely fulfills you, but you haven’t quite figured out how to monetize it yet. Maybe you have made some sales, but your efforts have been far from sustainable. Believe us, you are not alone. We’ve mentored many creatives over the years who have also struggled with this, and we’re going to walk you through it, in the same way we did them.
Back To Basics
If you haven’t yet discovered your passion, that would be a good place to start. Figure out what you enjoy doing that plays to your traits and strengths. You’ll only find your passion through introspection and by stepping out of your comfort zone and trying new things.
If you already have a passion but are confused as to how to effectively monetize your craft, then go back to the beginning and remember why you started this journey in the first place. It’s very likely, if you’re in this position, that you haven’t set well-defined goals for your business. Notice the word choice there? We said business, because that is exactly how you need to start operating; as a business owner. For your business to thrive, you need to set a vision for it and then create a plan on how to achieve it. That’s a whole other blog post worth of content (or book in some cases!), but luckily for you, we will be discussing this in depth in this year’s staging of MoDA Talks.
Research, Research, then Research some more....
It’s very easy, especially when you’re passionate about and/or emotionally connected to your craft, to go straight to market without having gone through the necessary preliminary steps. However, you’ll be better off in the long run if you first analyze the market and understand it before even attempting to enter it.
Let’s say you create these beautiful swimsuits inspired by Caribbean culture and you now think they’re good enough to be sold. Your preliminary market research would entail:
-Identifying the Current Demand for the product- Is it a viable venture? Is there a market opportunity?
-Scope out the existing competition- Who else in your target market is making swimwear? How will you differentiate?
-Speak with potential customers- To complete this step you would first need to identify your ideal customer. Are you selling supportive swimwear to women with larger busts? Or catering to Petite women? The more specific you get, the better. Once you have identified this customer, speak to them and find out what they think. They may even tell you about an issue you never knew existed for them.
This step will still be valuable to you even if you have already started operations.
If you don’t listen, Customers will go elsewhere
When you do start operations, your primary focus should be on meeting the needs of your customers. This should be a no-brainer for any one with a business venture, but we’ve been surprised by how many creatives just don’t get this. Customer relationship management should be prioritized by every business, no matter how small your operations are. By engaging your customers and getting feedback on your product or service, you’ll get invaluable information. Your business isn’t meant to pay your bills, pay for your vacations, or nice things. It’s existence should solve a need. How will you know what your customers want or need if you don’t speak to them?
If you engage your customers directly, you can simply converse with them; ask them how their product experience was and how they might improve it.
If you don’t get to engage with your customers directly, you can encourage feedback via forms, on social media, etc.
Tell your story
By telling your story you will build a loyal customer base; which means repeat customers and who doesn’t love those?
Remember the first tip of identifying why you started? Well now it’s time to share it!
Whatever it is that inspired you to start, (or if it wasn’t why you started but has motivated you to continue),you need to express it by aligning it with your brand. Consumers today, more than ever, want to know what you stand for and it’s the perfect way to separate your brand from your competitors’ with similar products. This will help you to attract loyal customers, as well as, get the attention of potential partners, investors and even employees who believe in your business. Besides, it’s likely that as the owner of a creative business you have a pretty cool story to tell!
Be realistic, but remain optimistic
Finally, acknowledge the fact that on this journey you’ll experience countless failures and roadblocks but it’s important to learn from them and keep pushing. Keep your vision at the forefront of all your decisions, enjoy the journey and reap the successes.
We have all heard that adage “Follow your dreams and the money will come”, but what happens when it doesn’t come immediately? The ‘struggling artist’ lifestyle, though admirable, isn’t always necessary. Follow these simple but essential tips and you’ll be well on your way to turning your passion into a profit.
Written by: Noelle Black