When I talk to creative entrepreneurs about their business struggles, at the top of every list is how to find new clients and projects. That’s why I focus most of my content on marketing, and why I created my online course Marketing Mastery for Creative Entrepreneurs. Keeping your pipeline full of opportunities is indeed an important factor for running a successful and profitable creative practice. After all, without a continual flow of work, we’d soon be out of business. But there’s even more at stake in solving your sales and marketing problem. Establishing an effective marketing program is fundamental to gaining control over your entire business.
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So many creative entrepreneurs end up throwing in the towel when the hustle and grind finally wears them out. When you first decided to launch out on your own everything was new and exciting. That excitement, along with the fuel of creative passion can take you pretty far. But after experiencing the rollercoaster of repeated feast or famine cycles, that enthusiasm can really start to wane.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. While entrepreneurship always involves some risk, and the early startup days do require considerable energy, it is possible—even necessary—for your practice to mature over time. And as it matures, you can increase the stability, profitability, and enjoyment of your work. And it all starts with mastering your marketing.
When you get control over your marketing, you’ll no longer be subject to the variable winds and waves of a fickel referral networks. Instead you’ll gain the stability that comes from a steady stream of qualified leads. And when you have plenty of leads you get to decide which clients and projects to take on. Those might include the clients with the best creative opportunities, or the best budgets, or both.
You see, marketing is not just about getting more clients. It’s about getting better clients. Depending on referrals not only leaves you vulnerable, but it also tends to deliver more of the same kind of clients that you already have. But when you put yourself in the driver’s seat of your marketing you can start to build up a clientele of the best clients with the best projects for you.
Building a stable of great clients with bigger budgets, and who value your expertise, leads to higher revenue and more profits. And at the end of the day profitability is the key to control. Just imagine if you inherited millions, assuming you wanted to keep working, you would have absolute freedom to only take the best opportunities available. But if your bills are mounting, and you’re struggling to pay yourself, you have very little control over what clients you take on.
Having strong marketing leads to better clients and strong revenue which enables you to build up a cash cushion, establishing even more control over your business. With money in the bank you can take more control over your time. You can afford to engage in professional development, or simply take more time off, ensuring that you get the rest and refreshment you need to maintain your practice for the long haul.
When you have marketing and financial control of your company you also have a lot more options for growth. Hiring is not a decision to be made lightly. And strong marketing and profitability should always precede hiring. The step costs involved in hiring, and the added responsibilities on you as the owner when you make that decision, are considerable when you head down the hiring path. If you have weak marketing and low profits, that decision to add staff could be one that ultimately leads to burn out and throwing in the towel. But when you have control over marketing, and start enjoying strong revenue, you’ll have an ideal base for growth, and the wherewithal to manage that transition.
Everything comes back to strong marketing. And if you need help solving this fundamental problem, you should take my course, Marketing Mastery for Creative Entrepreneurs. And as always, as a podcast listener, be sure to use code 5mce for a $50 discount on the course.
Until next week: don’t let the business of creativity overwhelm your creative business.