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Lessons from 3 years’ creative business building — Part 2: How do I start?

Lessons from 3 years’ creative business building — Part 2: How do I start?


This is Part 2 of a true story. To get the most from this series, check out Part 1 first . Drop your details in the pink box at the end to get the heads up when Part 3 goes live.

For 13 months this was ‘just’ a blog.

That wasn’t inherently a bad thing. I learned more about WordPress, plugins and email campaigns than I’d foreseen; and creating and sharing fortnightly quests with my small but loyal community was rewarding.

However, a switch from ‘creative’ to ‘creative business owner’ was required.

It didn’t take much: just the reconfiguration of my brain.

How do I start a creative business?

Thanks to my entrenched routine of digesting half the internet when I needed business advice, I had go-to resources made by people I admire, to help.

During the past 3 years I’ve devoured and recommend:

  • Unconventional Guides’ — create or build a business based on your art (digital kit)
  • — save your sanity and turn clients into fans with your management process (e-course)
  • The Business Model Canvas — invent, describe, design and pivot your business model (download)
  • The E-Myth Revisited — avoid small business mistakes (book)
  • Problogger podcast — build a better blog with Darren Rowse (audio)
Help to turn your #creativity into a #business — Tweet it!


As the anticipation for 2014 came then the warmth of a Southern Hemisphere January pooled around me, I was enchanted. Swept along in total flow (atop occasional stress peaks), I made and launched my first product:

The Ultimate Freedom or Focus Planner — a fun 1-page ‘desire to action recipe’ for everyone who struggles with focus and gets bored easily but secretly longs for goal-ticking satisfaction. 🙂

Multi-passionate people from around the globe loved it. I got such a buzz from waking up to the first PayPal notifications. (Let’s be honest: the novelty never wears off.)

What I didn’t know then: people championed the speed of digital creation, for various reasons. But a contextless obsession with speed obscured an important point: maybe years of knowledge, perspective and skill acquisition would be needed to make what really mattered to me. I didn’t need to apologise for that. I had keep going to work out what it was.

Beyond the minimum viable product — how can I serve?

That pesky little diagram. You know the one.

There are 3 circles that partially overlap; and at the intersection of all of them is a ‘sweet spot’. The place where rainbows and unicorns abound if you can work out what people want, what they’ll pay for and what you can do and enjoy.

I just had a raging question mark in my sweet spot.

There’s that entrepreneurially fashionable but grammatically ill-equipped question too:

“What can you not not do?”

Of course, it was staring me in the face. It’s foundational, wrapped in my DNA.

I’m smitten with language and storytelling. I need to clarify, hone and illuminate experiences and ideas. We are inspired and informed by clear, artful expression. Clarity helps us master what we can in life, rather than be put upon by the world.

Writing washes me into the timelessness of flow and crafting the work keeps me there.

Yes! This is why I write too, @ispytreasure — Tweet it!

I knew how tricky wrangling an online presence could be for a 1 (wo)man band. I’d already done information product editing for a few solopreneurs — and received a terrific response.

Importantly, I realised I’d done the editing for my fellow creative business owners at no charge because I couldn’t help it .


I think I’d ignored the editing service option for a powerful reason: I’d already been a communications professional for more than a decade. I’d cut (and would sometimes grind) my teeth in government and big and small business.

Upon leaving that world, I somehow assumed my solopreneurship would re-craft my entire identity. That perhaps I’d stumble upon, or engineer, a way to re-create what I’d felt years earlier about travel and photography . But without being a photographer.

By being an elusive something else .

What I didn’t know then: self re-invention was optional. A shift in environment and audience was enough to re-energise the desire to use skills I already had. I didn’t need to use them forever.


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