Getting paid to be creative is a myth. Lately, we’ve heard this phrase being tossed around a lot. Heck, we’ve even used this exact phrase to describe our journey ourselves. But the phrase isn’t really accurate.
We aren’t getting paid to be creative. We’re getting paid because we are intellectual businesswomen. We take our business seriously and structure it to pay us. We are constantly strategizing new ways to bring in income and grow our business. We test new ways to market, make new sales processes, and offer new things in new ways. And we do it over and over again.
So if you’ve been thinking that it’s impossible to get paid for your creative talents, it’s because you’re right. We wish we lived in a world where we could just make pretty things and automatically get paid for it. But that’s not the world we live in. You have to learn the business behind making money. The strategies that lead to success.
We have made many mistakes along the way and made many false assumptions. Let’s face it, we used to run our businesses as a side hustle. We added on crazy things like handmade cotton and leather hair accessories as an offshoot of our main business. It made zero business sense. Sure we had fun, and we sold to friends and family, but the journey really stopped there. It wasn’t until we stopped and took a good hard look at what wasn’t working that we were able to put the wheels in motion and turn things around.
We are constantly getting rid of products and services that don't sell. We continuously trim off the fat and focus on a brand that builds people up, and we work hard not to be like everyone else. Our business was far from perfect fresh out of the gate. It took making a lot of mistakes to get it to where it is today.
The 10 Biggest Mistakes We’ve Made (And Why We are Glad We Made Them)
Starting, growing and running a business is one of the hardest things anyone can do. Many of us make “big” mistakes, but today we want to share what we’ve learned with you, so hopefully you don’t have to make them too.
1. USING A FUDGE FACTOR FOR THE SAKE OF FIRST IMPRESSIONS
When we started our own business, we gave ourselves a fancy title. Every time we wrote about ourselves, we would use the 3rd person. We thought that by making someone think that we had a huge team they would believe in us more.
Now as part of a duo, we can see the value we bring together, but we never lie about it being any more than just the two of us. Two people help sustain and grow this business, while running it daily, and that’s something to be proud of!
2. DOING EVERYTHING TO TRY TO APPEAL TO EVERYONE
In the early days, Abagail offered pretty much everything that a large ad agency or firm would offer. You could get a website, billboard, and ads. Suggest practically anything you could come up with and she would do it. Generally, this just led to confusion.
We keep using the analogy of the cheesecake factory. You walk in and they hand you a 50-page menu. You flip through and some things catch your eye, but become so overwhelmed with all the choices you end up getting the exact same thing you always do. So we began to limit our offerings to be tailor made for exactly who we wanted to work with. Sure, we’re able to produce just about any marketing, advertising, graphic design, photography type thing you can come up with, but we don’t want to overwhelm our clients with too large a selection.
3. BELIEVING IN THE MYTH “BUILD IT AND THEY WILL COME”
We’ve made this mistake all too many times. We made it with our first websites. We put them out there and would check Google Analytics daily, as if something would change. All we got were crickets. But we weren’t giving anyone a reason to come, so why would they?
Abagail even created a whole new product offering of custom wedding invitations with the thought that wedding photographers could offer them as an add-on to their services. She put together pricing, packets, and even found photographers I thought were highly interested…. Again crickets. In this case it wasn’t what she was offering, necessarily, it just wasn’t mutually beneficial (enough) so they didn’t see the reason to bother.
4. LACKING CONSISTENCY
We would go through spurts where we would post to social media, or maybe 3 times a year we would write a blog post that we thought would help someone, but it wasn’t getting us anywhere. If we wanted to do this and do this right, we needed to be in it 100%.
Now, our level of consistency may be overkill for some, but we write and post a new article for the blog at least 3 days a week. It posts at the same time every day, 5 a.m. CST (don’t worry, that baby is scheduled, as we are most definitely still asleep!). Then we take it a step further and are present on social media daily. By being there and being there consistently, our numbers rise weekly and we have seen our audience continue to grow.
5. HOLDING BACK FROM SHARING OUR INSIGHTS, WISDOM AND KNOWLEDGE
We have always wanted to write and share our thoughts and knowledge, but something kept holding us back. Maybe it was for fear of failing, of misspelling too many words, or that no one would listen.
Since putting ourselves and our thoughts on growing a small business out there, the feedback has been nothing but positive. We get emails, text messages, and social media comments thanking us, sharing what we have to say, and telling us that we have an interesting perspective. Sure, we feel warm and fuzzy that people think we are great, but getting kudos really isn’t why we do it. We write to help people. We want to make a difference in the world and we have found even if our post helps one person every day, that is a dent that matters.
6. UNDERVALUING CAPABILITIES
We have all been there. That dark place where you feel like you might as well be making minimum wage because no one cares. Get yourself right up out of there. QUIT IT! You are so worth it and you need to tell people about it. We spent years hiding behind our fees, or changing them at the last second because we thought someone would say no to what we were worth. But we bring something to the table, something different to what everyone else has. We have unique talents, experiences and skills. And SO DO YOU! So stop it.
7. HANGING AROUND THE WRONG KIND OF PEOPLE
You know exactly who we’re talking about. They are the negative talkers, the haters and the jealous ones. The people who tell you that you aren’t capable, that you are making a mistake and you should find a “normal” job. The people who put you down or put you out. For way too long we let these people creep into our lives, on and offline. Often they are very decent human beings, but they simply don't believe in us or our business. We shut those people down and we are proving them wrong day by day. Some days we want to rush back because they seem to have a bit more common sense, but really, most of them just play it safe; play life safe.
We are not going to reach our goals if we keep telling ourselves that we can’t. So we continue to find people (many of them strong women) to surround ourselves with. Many of them run their own businesses and have dreams even bigger than ours. They go after what they want. They refuse to listen to anyone who gets in their way. They make us happy and we are so glad to call them friends, peers and clients. Our people are what get us through, and we are so glad we found them!
8. NOT ASKING FOR HELP (OR LOOKING FOR IT)
We are the worst delegators ever. Probably something we inherited from our moms, and our mom's mother, but hey, you can’t help what you are made of. We have been “Yes” women from the get-go. We would tell everyone we could do it whether or not we had the time, resources or capacity to handle whatever it was. Sure, this was a tool to help us grow, but many times it also slowed us down. Now, when we know we are in over our heads, we ask for help.
9. EXPECTING OVERNIGHT SUCCESS
This really goes back to the “build it and they will come” mentality, but really expecting all the stars to align on your own timeline is totally unreasonable. The moment we lowered our expectations (and actually researched what was plausible), but also continued to put our all into everything we were are doing, we started to be surprised by the opportunities that have come to fruition in such a short period of time.
The process can be slow and sometimes tedious, but if you bite off a little bit each day you are totally capable of getting through it. The first step to achieving your goals is believing they are possible.
10. HIDING BEHIND WHAT EVERYONE ELSE WAS DOING
We were so afraid that no one would want to listen to us that we would try to mimic what other people were doing. We would try to write similar articles, about similar topics that we thought would attract people, and specifically the people we wanted to attract. But the moment we stopped trying to be everyone else and focused on being ourselves, people started to notice.
Making these mistakes hasn't been easy, but without them we wouldn't be where we are today. We hope, however, that by learning from our mistakes, you won't need to make the same ones in your business! If you are ready for guidance, clarity and structure to all the (amazing) ideas you have rolling around in your head pay attention.
We want you to be able to dive in further into making your biz profitable. We want you to stop thinking this is a pipe dream and understand that there are distinct strategies that you can use to grow a profitable business. Before you get there you need a plan. Yes, an actual written down plan. Some might call it a business plan. We like to call it “Party in my Biz Pants, Because Now I Know What the Heck is Going On Plan”. Rolls right off the tongue, yeah?
We wouldn’t want you to head out to make this plan without some guidance. Heck, not just guidance, but we want to give you the freaking worksheet to make the plan. Oh, and it’s free. Happy day! We created The Easiest Business Plan Ever and you can grab your free copy by heading here.
Pop in your first name and email and we’ll send it right over. Here’s what we DON’T want you to do: please do not go download it and love it but let it die a slow death in your “Downloads” folder. It serves you no purpose there.
Instead, go download it and PRINT it off immediately. Even if you can’t fill it out right this second at least have it sitting on your desk. Or taped to your fridge. Or the wine rack. Wherever you’ll see it the most and be reminded to do it.
Then just spend a half hour (seriously, don’t over think this) and fill it out.
And then we want you to call us when shit starts to go down in your business, because we told you so. Really. If you don’t call us at least email us. Heck, email us to call you and we will.
So stop reading this and get to printing. Right now. Tag us on Instagram (@ThinkCreativeCollective) in a shot of your blank piece of paper so we at least know you’ve printed it. Then we can hold you accountable.