Updated: Oct 28, 2021
I’m giving you my most important Creative Business tips. The first is an email marketing tool, which I regret not using in the beginning but now know that I should have, and the second tool, is a Client Relationship Manager (CRM), that I used from the beginning and everyday I am so glad that I did and I'll tell you why.
But first, if you are starting out, and you don't have a website, I’m telling you that you don’t need one (just yet). Using an email marketing tool like Flodesk (use this link to get 50% off your flodesk subscription and I'll receive a small commission at no cost to you) you can create your own landing page and begin building your email list immediately and you can already begin warming up your new audience so they get to know you, your art, and your business. People buy from people they know, Like and Trust. This can get you started with your creative business immediately while you work on developing your site, or you can just test out your creative business idea and then move to making the investment of a website later.
I wish that I used an online email marketing tool much earlier and here’s where I made my mistake. I began creating a website immediately, but I didn’t publish it until it was mostly ready, so I didn't market myself for months and months. All that time I could have been building my client base, sharing my art and making money to cover expenses. So when I launched my website, and my business, I had no one to tell (except my Mum!)
The second tool, Dubsado, (another CRM is Honeybook which is good if you are US based) is an investment, but Dubsado is free for the first 3 clients. I use a Client Relationship Manager (CRM) which means I can send contracts, invoices, proposals etc to my clients and it's easy for them to fill out, sign online and it looks extremely professional. My clients are always surprised how efficient and smooth their experience is with me, because every step is organised, easy for them to use, and their past experience with creatives (and most other businesses) has been more like a mom and pop shop, instead of a highly professional company.
My clients get their own portal where they can login and see their own project board so they know every step of the design process or commissioned art process, what we are up to, what step is next, when they need to return feedback, etc. Even all of our emails are in the one place, feedback is organised into forms and its officially signed off on, so there’s no going back and forth making endless changes to artwork. When I send my proposals, I also send my invoice and contract so they can sign off immediately and begin their project - all through the CRM.
There is a catch though. When I first signed up, I had no idea how confusing it would be. What the heck was a workflow? Canned emails? Task boards? The interface wasn't even colorful. I mean, I’m an artist! Where is the pretty at? It was a huge learning curve, so much so, that I invested in a course that gave me the blue print on how to use it (the course was for creative businesses), it gave me the canned emails to use, the work flow steps. I still haven’t built mine out completely but the elements I have built out means my business is automated, consistent, professional and it saves me time on any work that is repetitive because the CRM automates it for you, so you have more time to focus on art.
Don’t be put off by the learning process of a CRM. If you start in the very beginning of your business, you can build on it as your business expands but once you’ve already started and you're into year 3 or 4, there’s loads more work needed to even get the CRM up to speed. You can still do it, but it’s easier to build it as you go, plus it helps you define your workflow (yes, artists you need to know your workflow) and processes (yup you need to know those too) so you understand your business inside out. It also helps keep your financials sorted!
I hope these tips have been useful. Drop me a note below if you have questions. I want you to be successful and if you make art in any form, then you need to share it, and I’m here to help!
I'd love to know if you'd be interested in learning more about these topics, as I'm always wanting to provide Creative Classes to help you move forward in your Creative adventures!
You can also check out my SKILLSHARE class. It's for beginners in Procreate, where you will learn to create photo mashups in quick sketch style, just like these ones. It's a great way to never stare at a blank page and get creating because the hardest part is starting. This moves you through that indecision, and into the creative zone in 60 seconds (that's how long you can sketch for in your timed sketches!)
This page also contains some affiliate links, so if you make a purchase (yay you) I will also get a small commission (yay me). So, thank you.