I’ve worked as an artist my entire adult life, but for a majority of that time, art served as my part-time passion project. In 2007, I made the leap to operate Crafty Chica as a full-time business. And now I wonder why I waited so long! With the right mindset, on-point planning and self-discipline, this is something you can master as well. The most important thing is for you to know that YOU are in control. You have to dedicate time, research, and soul searching to know your business inside and out. If you’re not 100% invested, don’t expect anyone else to be.
Here are my tough-love tips to help you make that transition a successful one.
Do you really want this?
Be realistic. It’s not just about doing what you love, it’s still a job. Challenges arise due to necessary compromises. Sometimes people will let you down. Sometimes annoying or horrible things happen. Sit down and write out all the pros and cons of taking your passion project full-time. In the early days, I worked as a newspaper reporter while I built up CraftyChica.com late at night and on weekends. “Oh, to craft all day as a job,“ I thought! But then when it became my main gig, I inherited a new list of stress in the form of contracts, deadlines, and invoices.
Here are two views: My daughter started her YouTube channel at age 16 with the intention of making comedy videos her full-time job after college. She didn’t want it to be a hobby. She made a plan, pursued it and now works at Buzzfeed in Los Angeles doing what she loves most, making comedy videos. My son launched his cosplay site in high school as well but now prefers to work full-time at a day job to cover all his finances. He can dedicate all of his creativity to his business without having to follow any orders but doesn’t need to worry about making ends meet.
Figure out what works for you.
Have purpose and intention.
Why is your business needed in the world? What do you have to offer? It’s not just about your own personal happiness that comes from creating your dream job. It’s about creating a service that people need and want. Put together a mission statement that sums up your business. Be specific and conversational in your wording so that it’s easy to understand. Know that whatever you choose will likely manifest, so make it count! I used to say “Crafts, drama, glitter!” and that is exactly what I received – and it was all that people associated me with. Once I understood the power of knowing my purpose, I shifted to: “Crafty Chica is a lifestyle brand that promotes positivity through creativity.” Or “I spread the gospel of glitter, literally and figuratively.” Adding in that bit of personality opened me up to working with new and bigger clients outside of the craft industry.
Create a universal, visual brand reference that is easy to understand.
When I pitched my first product line to manufacturers, I’d say, “Crafty Chica is a cross between Ugly Betty and Martha Stewart with a dash of Oprah optimism!” I loved seeing people’s faces light up because they could “see” my reference. Remember, it has to be universally known. You can’t pick an obscure reference that only a niche audience will understand. At the time I was pitching my ideas for a line of craft products, Ugly Betty, Martha and Oprah were among the top shows on TV, so people quickly understood. And yes, it worked. I even used this pitch to get my products in Michaels Stores!
Brainstorm ways to actually make money.
This is a big one. First of all, you need to have a cushion. At least a year’s salary is ideal. Honestly, I started with half of that. Aim for a year. You want to keep your credit in good standing, and it will help you if you trim expenses, pay off bills, and cancel memberships you don’t need. Once you have that in order, brainstorm the myriad of ways you can generate income. I always have at least six to eight avenues of income at all times because each has its benefits. Think: Selling retail, working with clients, passive income, royalties, teaching, events, freelance and more. Just make sure they all contribute to moving your business forward.
And don’t forget to prepare for taxes! As a full-time entrepreneur, you will have to file quarterly taxes or be penalized at the end of the year (and owe a large sum). I suggest setting up a separate savings account and deposit a portion from all sources of income.
Create a solid business plan and creative roadmap.
Before you get in your car and drive, you always know where you are going, right? Well, it is the same way with your business. Punch your desired destiny into your mental GPS, and document it all out on paper (virtual or otherwise). Create a timeline with goals of what you need to achieve and when. I like to come up with four goals each year and I make an action list for each quarter. Then I break it down into smaller lists for the months, weeks and days. I set a monetary goal for each month and build my workload to meet that figure. If you don’t know where to start with your business plan, there are many resources online.
Elevate your vision.
Formulate an image in your mind of the end goal and never let go. Once you know where you want to end up, reverse engineer to create an action list. When I decided I wanted to write women’s fiction, my end goal was to take a picture of myself at the “new in fiction” table at Barnes & Noble. From there, no matter what struggles or setbacks I endured, I kept that image until it finally came to be.
Commit to giving 100% in all things.
Once you make your decision to go full time with your business, you have to give 100% of your energy, so choose carefully where you spend it. Whether it is a gut feeling about someone, a choice, a gig, an opportunity. If you are not feeling the 100%, don’t waste your energy. The magic only clicks in if you are “there” at full capacity. And ditch the excuses! I believe those who complain and make excuses or justifications really don’t believe in their business or are subliminally self-sabotaging themselves due to fear!
Keep that end goal and mission statement in mind with all decisions. If an opportunity doesn’t move you closer to your end goal, try to adapt it or pay it forward to someone else. Saying yes to everything will slow you down. It’s like taking a bunch of mini-detours on the ride to your destination!
Kathy Cano-Murillo is the founder of CraftyChica.com. A former reporter for The Arizona Republic, she is now a full-time creativepreneur. She has authored seven craft books and two novels, and has been featured in The New York Times, USA Today, and more. Her art and product lines are sold nationwide.