So by now most of you know me for being a full time creative and the question I get asked most often is “How did you get started?”. Well to simply put it, I got started very late in life and honestly by complete accident. I kind of drifted to the place I should be and NO it hasn’t been the least bit easy for me but I am hoping I can make that leap a little bit easier for some of you. Since I was little I’ve always been drawn to creating no matter what it was. I started drawing pretty young and loved to draw Disney characters & Sailor Moon. I also loved to make barbie clothes out of socks or with scrap fabric, sewing them by hand. In fact I got in trouble a few times for cutting up clothes that weren’t even mine. I made miniature stuff for my doll house and loved to paint and collage as well. Any way I could be creative I would find a way to do so. I took basic art classes in Jr high and high school but creating wasn’t something people took serious back then. Growing up I honestly didn’t know it was a serious career option so it was never something I pursued full time.
Back then computers were really just starting to be something more common in homes, we are talking dial up, AOL days. I didn’t have the luxury of being exposed to certain things like we do now. But I did eventually get a blackplanet page and took an interest in web design/graphics as a side hobby. I continued creating clothing and jewelry for myself through out high school, sometimes for other people. When I graduated I didn’t know what I wanted to do with myself I was always drawn to creating and never could shake it. I never really found my way into anything else. I got deeper into web design and graphics when I realized I could make money from it. I started building websites, making logos and flyers while holding down a normal job but that never lasted long because I got bored with them. I eventually up and quit my last job when I got my first check, I had enough of working retail and being miserable. There is nothing worse than counting down the minutes/hours until you get off a job you hate! I took on web and graphic design full time but I was still making clothing and accessories on the side for myself. I also picked up photography along the way. At some point I was posting pictures of things I made online and people started asking me how they could purchase them, so the light bulb in my head went off. I decided to start my first online store killture.com in 2008. Since I had a background in web design already it was easy for me to create a site where I could sell my items on my own. I know a lot of you may have absolutely no background in web design or graphics but it’s still quite easy to create an online shop these days, even if you don’t. So now I am going to point you in the right direction and give you a few tips and ideas to think about to help you start planning how to be your own boss and starting your first business online.
I am assuming you already have something you are totally passionate about and would love a full time career in, so now that we have that out of the way where do you start making money from it without putting thousands of dollars up front? First you need to decide how much time you are willing to devote to it. Most of you can’t just quit the job that pays your bills and jump head in first. Expect long days and sleepless nights, you’ve got to put in the time to get the reward. You also need to remember to work smarter and not harder, I can’t stress that fact enough! You can work your way up to being stable enough to quit your job but if you’re young and still living with your parents take full advantage of not having certain financial responsibilities.
Whether you are passionate about art/design/fashion/photography/etc there is a way to market yourself on social media for FREE and get yourself out there. We all have a phone with a camera on it and a instagram, twitter or facebook, USE THEM ! You can use social media as a tool to market yourself and whatever it is that you do and gain business even if you don’t have a website yet. Your interactions on social media are vital. You must be active, engage people and post content that will attract an interest to what you do. As longs as you have social media and paypal (a way to process online payments) you’re golden! But there are plenty of ways to create a website and online store that are free or cost very little depending on what you do. Look into things like wix, storenvy, bigcartel, etsy, shopify, wordpress/woocommerce and the many other eCommerce 3rd party sites. There are tons of options for you some work better than others depending on what you do and what you need. I wont go into too much detail on that aspect today but google is your best friend, use it! You can make money using these tools and use it to fund and further grow your business.
Work smarter NOT harder:
Whatever you are selling, sell it smartly (work smarter not harder). When I say this, what I mean is, if you offer a product and its something you either have to produce yourself which takes time or you have to pay someone else to produce, be smart about it. Do not create things that take a ton of time or money to make unless you know you can profit what is worth your time and make what you spent back and then some. For example I once made a complicated swimsuit that took me 6-8 hours to fully construct and sold it for $110. It cost me $20 for the materials so I basically made $90 per swimsuit and spent a whole work day making just one. Now I also offer body chains on my site for $35 and they cost me $5 to make and took me less than 10 minutes each to make ( that’s a $30 profit). I could crank out more body chains in a full work day than I ever could swimsuits. Having a $90 profit for the day making just one swimsuit, when I could make 3 body chains in 30 minutes ($90 profit) and make the same amount of money with much less effort and time wasted. This is just an example of managing what is worth your time and has the better profit. It doesn’t make much sense to work yourself to death and add more stress for the same amount of money, does it? If you are having an item produced for you there are ways to create mockups and create a way for people to preorder the item. This means they pay the upfront cost which pays to produce the item and they wait a little bit longer to receive it. You don’t have to put any money up front to produce the item or waste money on unused stock. Sometimes having a preorder setup works better for you in the long run, especially when you are starting out on a smaller scale. It’s all about working your way up with the least amount of effort. That’s not to say you still wont have to work your butt off.
Presentation is Everything:
The way you present your product to the world is very important. It is however your first impression and how most people will judge if they want to support your business or not. So be mindful of how you present yourself, your product and your content. One of the most important things is the quality of whatever you are producing. Make sure that everything flows together and is neatly and thoughtfully put together! Your presentation also extends to your social media so make sure when you engage people and post content is respectable and not offensive to anyone, you could lose business or sour your reputation. You want people to take you seriously and that will be easier to do if you respectfully use your social media.
One of the major things you have to worry about is the cost of production for the product. Keep cost in mind for the product itself, packaging, shipping, product shots as well as the platform you will sell the item from, whether it be your own site or a 3rd parties website. Some companies will even produce your product for you and ship it off to your costumer for you, it’s called “drop shipping”. There are obviously fees but you do way less work and still profit. It is also always better to buy things in bulk or shop on wholesale sites, a lot of which can be found by searching google. All in all you should do your research and see which places will have the lowest costs for what you need to accomplish.
These are just some basic tips and things to think about that I hope help prepare you for the idea of being your own boss. Some of these things I had to figure out on my own and some of it may seem like common sense to you but to everyone else it might not not be. I plan to do some step by step guides on on starting a business and cover everything from places to manufacture products, company branding, marketing and how and where you can create an online presence and anything else that involves running a business online. I’d like you guys to leave questions on things you’d like to know or need help with below so that I may include those answers in the full guide.
Starting our first challenge
Details for our first weekly “Start & Grow Challenge” will be posted soon & Prizes will be given
at the end of each challenge.