What to spend and what to save on as a full-time creative entrepreneur
Over the last several months, I have received countless emails about craft fairs being canceled and unexpected layoffs. It’s no secret 2020 has been hard on all of us for so many unique reasons.
It’s more important than ever to know how to make money from home, use your unique skills, and there has never been a better time to start a business online.
More people are online than ever… with most of us now working from home and doing nearly all of our shopping over the internet.
That means there is a big opportunity here.
Regardless of if you have an Etsy shop already or haven’t made a penny online, I hope this insight is helpful.
In case you’re new around here, my name is Lisa Miller-Mecham. I’m a creative mom of 4 who runs this little website as well as the sewing pattern site, ModernSewingpatterns.com. I started out as an accessory designer, turned award-winning fashion designer, turned DIY blogger… and now a profitable sewing pattern maker.
Today, Creative Fashion Blog maintains several streams of passive income where I can set my own hours, be present for my family, and share my creativity, projects, and tutorials.
My best month so far in 2020 has generated slightly over $15,000 while working part-time. I’m actually launching a free video seminar later this month to show other creative women how to do the same!
Here is a little breakdown of what I spend each month to run my business.
What It Costs to Run My Business Each Month
- $179.00 Convertkit
- $26.81 Quickbooks
- $12.92 Dropbox
- $25.90 Canva
- $47.19 Shopify
- $40.85 SEO Keyword Research Tools
- $550 Virtual Assistant
Total Monthly Expenses: $883.37
Today I thought it would be helpful to walk you through why I recommend these specific websites/tools over others as a creative entrepreneur. Below I’ll walk you through what each expense does so you can decide for yourself if it’s necessary for your own business.
Email Provider: Convertkit
If you plan on running any kind of business online, it’s super important to be able to be in contact with your customers after they’ve placed an order with you. You can use these emails to let them know about upcoming products, sales, and give them discount codes as an incentive to come back and shop with you. When you think about it, it would be rude to leave your customers out when you put something on sale or make something new. They bought from you and loved it… so why are you ghosting them now?
It’s like inviting a friend over for coffee and then throwing an incredible party as soon as she leaves. Don’t be weird. Send emails.
In my experience working with several different email providers, Convertkit outranks them all. They have higher deliverability (meaning your emails actually end up in their inbox) and the platform makes it super simple to make beautiful, personalized newsletters that you can schedule out ahead of time. Plus, they have a new free plan that makes it easy to get your feet wet and start building your list right away. You can get started here.
Keep Track of Your Finances: Quickbooks
Trust me… I get it. Accounting sucks. There are few things I would rather avoid than accounting. But, when it comes to taking your business seriously and becoming a real-life creative entrepreneur and not a girl with a hobby, we all need to track this stuff.
The reason I recommend Quickbooks and avoid a lot of the other platforms is this: it’s what professional accountant use. It syncs up with your bank, will grow with you as you create your creative empire, and they offer monthly free webinars where you can learn how to use it if it overwhelms you. Quickbooks is just the most comprehensive way to keep track of it all.
Plus, some tax season, you can send your files off to your accountant and he’ll know what to do with it all. He speaks the language.
Organize Your Photos, Documents, & Back Everything Up: Dropbox
I used to shoot all my photography on a bulky DSLR camera, pop the SD card into my laptop, and edit from there. I’d delete the photos from the SD card as they were saved to my computer and call it a win. The only problem was, one morning, I spilled an entire cup of coffee on my laptop and destroyed it. Everything was lost except what was already online.
Since then, I upload everything to Dropbox as a backup. It saves valuable space on my computer, can be accessed from anywhere in a pinch, and is inexpensive. Not only does it save me time and helps my computer run faster with the saved space, but it gives me so much peace of mind. You can try it out here.
Make Professional Graphics: Canva
Yes. Canva does have a free version. But chances are when you’re getting started as a creative entrepreneur, you’re wearing many hats. Time is valuable and Canva Pro is worth the teeny tiny investment. For just a few bucks a month, it will save the colors and fonts you use often, share templates with virtual assistants as your business grows, and give you access to thousands of higher quality stock images, videos, and other elements.
You’ll save hundreds (or thousands) of dollars a month by not hiring a graphics designer and using Canva Pro for all of your social media posts, website graphics, and ads.
Your Online Boutique: Shopify
This is the bread and butter of your creative business. I recommend Shopify over other sites like Wix, Woocommerce, and BigCartel because they’re easier to use and sync better with other sites. Basically, they seem to play nicer with everybody else on the internet. With a Shopify account, you can sell your handmade items on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and more. Plus, they have a great podcast, blog, and customer service to help out and inspire you whenever you’re stuck. You can learn more here.
SEO Research: KW Finder
SEO sounds scary but just stands for “Search Engine Optimization”. It’s really just a techy way of saying “Help Google Find You And Lead People To Your Website”. By using keywords in your product descriptions and blog posts that people are already looking for, you help Google lead them to you. It’s really simple when you think about it. The only downside is…. you have to use the right keywords. Programs like KW Finder help you easily find keywords that you can rank for that the biggerbrands have missed. For example, there might be a ton of competition between websites on who can rank #1 on Google for “Handmade Earrings” but your website can show up first for “Handmade Clay Earrings” You can learn more and test out KW Finder for free here.
I sincerely hope this helped pull back the curtain on my little creative business and show you that you absolutely can make a living doing what you love. These tools have been crucial in building Creative Fashion Blog and I hope they help build you become a creative entrepreneur too.
I’m working on a free video course to show you more. After all, 2020 has been an absolutely insane year, and the more I can help, the better.
The free video course isn’t ready just yet, but you can sign up to hear more about it when it opens here.