9 Things Every Creative Entrepreneur Should Know When They’re First Starting Out

9 Things Every Creative Entrepreneur Should Know When They’re First Starting Out

a lot of people think that being an entrepreneur who is also a freelance creative is a game. they are convinced you’re at home, sitting on the couch with a macbook surfing the internet and streaming content. it’s really not like that at all, though. in fact, it actually requires hella discipline to do what you do. generally speaking, creative entrepreneurs (or freelancers) can be broken down into two categories: full-time and part-time. if you’re a full-time creative entrepreneur, you’re basically a magician who constantly juggles freelance + real life responsibilities while occasionally pulling surprises out of your bag of tricks. and if you’re part-time, well… you’re doing everything i just mentioned + working a regular 9-5. yikes.

nevertheless, if you’re one of the many bloggers, graphic artists, event planners, dj’s, party promoters, animators, cartoonists, writers, photographers, designers, choreographers, seamstresses, bakers, and videographers out here trying to make waves in the creative space, this one is for you. here are some things to keep in mind that’ll help you maintain some structure and lessen the chances of you having to chase people down for your money because if we’re being honest, we all know how that goes.

9). always have a signed contract.

before you do any work, you always want to get a signed contract that expresses the ins and outs of your agreement. i repeat, do not do any work without having a signed contract that expresses the details of the work you’re going to do and the payment that will be given in exchange. i don’t care how cool you are with the person or if ya’ll go way back. it doesn’t matter if they are “good people” or if ya’ll had a verbal agreement and shook hands to solidify the deal. get everything in writing before you do anything. and if they aren’t in the same city as you, don’t trip. all you gotta do is fax the contract or email it to them and have them send it back to you with an actual signature, not a computerized one. it may seem like it’s adding an inconvenient extra layer to the process that’s stopping you from getting to the money. but in reality, you might not even get your money if you don’t have a contract in place to protect yourself. you need to make sure you have something that you can take with you to court, if it comes to that.

8). require partial (or full payment) before you do begin any creative work.

i’ll get straight to the point with this one – requiring some sort of people deposit (partial or full) protects you from wasting your valuable time. and at the most basic level, it also shows you that the potential client is serious about you carrying out the work they want you to do. and if they have an issue with paying a deposit, you need to reconsider working with them because that could be a sign that they aren’t fully invested.

7). be real with yourself about your rates.

i’m all about knowing your worth as a creative. but you gotta be fair about your rates, too. not sure if your current rates are where they should be? start by doing some high level research on common fees other creatives are charging that offer the same services as you (in your area). then, you should assess the quality of your own work. if you’re being honest, how would you rate yourself? don’t be out here charging five-star rates for two-star services, bruh. it’s not becoming of you and you’ll never get a repeat customer that way. it’s bad enough that the creative space is already hella saturated. we don’t need more creatives trying to get over on people. and once you find a rate that works for you and is on par with your skillset, keep it. be consistent with it until it’s time to reevaluate, which bring me to my next point…

6). know when you need to adjust your rates.

knowing when to adjust your rates is essential for all creatives. and it goes without saying that any increase in your rates should be commensurate with rises in your experience and your quality of work. but there’s another often overlooked indicator that you might need to increase your prices – and that’s if you’re feeling swamped with clients. if you’ve gotten to the point where you’re now turning down clients because you’re stressed or just don’t have the bandwidth to service them all, you may need to reevaluate your rates. it’s like, are they coming to you because they love your work that much or are they coming to you because you’re the cheapest one around? and although your clients may be hesitant at first, the real ones will stick around and if they don’t – they’ll open up more room for new clients to step in. remember, the same rules apply to your clients as it does to the type of work you do – quality over quantity.

5). stop negotiating with cheap people.

i feel that it’s ok for you to negotiate your rates (within reason) because every client is different and the opportunity may sometimes call for you to be a bit flexible. flexible, not stupid. don’t waste time defending your rates to people who are just trying to get over on you. you can tell the difference between a potential client who wants to negotiate and they have good cause versus a client who is just being cheap and trying to get your services for next to nothing. it’s insulting and you don’t need that type of negativity in your life. they’re either going to work with you or they aren’t.

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