6 things I wish I knew when building my creative business
If you have a big creative idea that you want to launch into the world this year, then stick around because I’m giving you a behind-the-scenes look into what I wish I knew when building my creative business.
This year marks the 7th year of being active in the blogosphere as an online creative. From the early beginnings of a personal blog to the creative business called Ditch Perfect that you’re visiting today.
Personally and professionally, I’m feeling both the weight and the wonder of those years. The first few years flew by in a flash. The Internet was booming, blogs seemed unstoppable + most everyone I knew was hopping online to talk and share ideas about personal growth, creativity, and our struggles along the way.
But, like everything in life, things change. Industries change, systems grow + the way we do business (and life) seems to be rapidly evolving at every turn.
I’ve taken this past week to remember what this all felt like when it was just me on my lunch breaks blogging about the lessons I learned from Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly + to look at what I’ve learned and what I wish I’d known going into this blogging journey that turned into a creative business I never knew I wanted (or could have).
So for anyone out there looking to start a blog, launch a podcast, or take on a creative project that might go on to become a creative business, I hope these lessons learned can come in handy in building a creative business that you love for years to come.
/ 1 / It's not one size fits all
Test and change. If something doesn’t work then change it. Just because something works for one creative business doesn’t mean it will work for yours.
When I first started out I thought I needed to do the typical marketing strategies for growing my business: doing webinars, workshops, and Youtube videos + creating an insane amount of content upgrades and marketing funnels.
While those things certainly work for other businesses, it didn’t for me and I ended up resenting them. In retrospect, they weren’t in line with my slow business philosophy of how I want to run my creative business.
Once I understood that building a creative business is not a one size fits all, I was able to test out and find marketing strategies that not only worked but I enjoyed putting my energy into.
Please know that you're allowed to opt out of the rat race and choose a different way of doing business for yourself. I wish someone had told me this was possible.
/ 2 / Show more of yourself + be more visible
When I first started out, my brand reflected a lot of what I felt I should be doing rather than what I actually wanted to be doing. A lot of that included the way I thought clients viewed me.
Since then, I’ve started sharing more of my story: from my journey of overcoming perfectionism to my struggles with chronic illness and mental health.
It's not easy sharing all of these things. There’s a very real chance that I might be branded a failure or that I might lose some followers.
But the truth is, *not* sharing these things about myself and the reality of my life + business as an online creative is costing me more. It wasn't that I was trying to be perfect before, not at all. It was the shame of not feeling good enough + the fear of being visible.
And so I purposefully kept myself small.
I want something different for you. People buy from people they think are genuine + that they can connect with. So, no more hiding yourself + no more glossing over parts of you story. It’s time to allow yourself to be more visible.
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/ 3 / Change is okay (and inevitable)
What I wish I’d known before starting Ditch Perfect is that starting a creative business and expecting it to be the same years later is ridiculous.
I’ve always admired family businesses that appeared to stay the same over the years. That consistency and knowing exactly what I would get every time I walked in the door was what I always wanted to replicate in anything I built. For me, being trustworthy meant staying exactly the same.
But what you know, like + believe evolves as you get older. Your voice and message will change over the years, if ever so slightly.
Those moments of change will not be easy. People don’t always like when you change, so grinding through that period of time + trying to find self-assurance when you’re still figuring things out can be hard.
You will lose followers and customers who want you to stay the same forever, but in exchange you will gain a greater sense of self + hopefully connect with others who know what it’s like to grow into something or someone new.
/ 4 / You can’t make everyone like you
Which brings me to my next point...
When I started my online creative journey I was fresh off of 14 straight years of school life, during which I’d convinced myself that if I did everything perfectly (ha!) no one could hate me.
Sadly, I carried that concept into my work life where I felt that if I tried really, really hard to do everything perfectly, no one would ever again sign up for my email list + message me after receiving one email to say that they hate me sending so many emails (true story!).
It wasn’t until I realized that people would always dislike me for a wide range of reasons - some valid, others less so - that I decided to stop worrying so much.
Do I want to be kind and compassionate to everyone in my community? Absolutely. But beyond that, I recognize that it’s impossible to please everyone and be everything to every person.
I don’t know if I could have actually accepted that when I first got started, but if someone had told me more often I might have let go a little earlier.
Are you tired of struggling with your need for constant perfection? Need a little help with overcoming your perfectionism, so that you can start making those big ideas you have for your creative business a reality? Then make sure to download my fan-favorite (not to mention FREE!) ‘4 steps to ditch perfect’ workbook.
/ 5 / It’s okay to do things in your own way + on your own terms
If I had a penny for every time someone (usually one of those fast-talking, Gary Vaynerchuk-esque older white dudes) has told me how I needed to stop “trading time for money” or quit and work for someone else because my business couldn’t “scale” fast enough, I’d be a very wealthy woman.
Some people will think success is all about numbers, money + awards, but for me, it’s about what I’ll leave behind at the end of the day.
And right now I’m proud of the work I’m doing and the efforts I’m making to continue to evolve and grow at my own pace. It doesn’t make my business any less valid, loved or important.
Please know that you don't have to sacrifice yourself (or your values + well-being) for success. You can thrive in your creative business in your own way + on your own terms.
/ 6 / Live in the now
Last but not least, this final lesson is one of the biggest I wish I’d known when I first started.
It’s so easy to get caught up in five-year plans and the pressures of people asking you “what’s next?” when things appear to be going well. It’s never enough to just enjoy what’s happening now, it seems like there always needs to be more.
But I wish I’d known that was wrong, all wrong.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with cherishing the heck out of the way things are right now + taking time to soak in all the joy and learning and friendship and excitement and all the complicated feelings that come with running a creative business.
If you get to do something you enjoy with people you like and that also pays your bills… that’s a pretty great situation.
That was fun! I’ve always wanted to be an agony aunt for one day + give advice to my younger self.
I hope there were some great takeaways for you as you’re starting, building, or growing your creative business.
If you haven’t yet, make sure to grab my “4 steps to ditch perfect” workbook, a step-by-step guide to stop letting perfectionism hold you back + start making big things happen in your creative business.
WHAT ABOUT YOU: WHAT DO YOU WISH YOU KNEW WHEN BUILDING YOUR CREATIVE BUSINESS?
Hey, Wendy here!
As a perfectionism coach, I help online creatives #ditchperfect, overcome their perfectionism + take action on the big ideas they have for their business. Let’s work together and make those ideas happen.