Let's Set Up Your Creative Business
Starting a new business is an exciting time. I will share how I set up my creative business as a freelancer sole proprietorship.
First things first, I am a photographer and visual branding strategist. My insight is directed toward other creative service-based solopreneurs. This article is meant to get you up and running as fast as possible. You can spend months and months researching and trying out different things to see what fits you best. I have spent yearssssss doing just that...yes, that's my procrastination method of choice! I hope I can spare you the torture I have been through deciding on all the things I will share with you now.
There are three stages to setting up your business: the purely logistical, your web presence and your branding presence.
Registering your business is the first step to setting up your business. This allows you to pay taxes. It is a simple process. You will need to decide what type of business to set up. The most obvious is a DBA. This is the least expensive and straight-forward. However, I personally recommend setting up as an LLC because if you are sued your personal assets are not at stake. An LLC costs several hundred dollars a year.
Once you are on the map with your city and state you will need to start paying attention to your accounting. Setting up an accounting system is your next step. At the very least start an excel spreadsheet and write down what you are spending and what you are earning. I personally use the free accounting software, Wave.
Next, how will people reach you? I chose gmail to host my email and I recommend that highly. It costs $6/month. For calls, I use my personal cell phone, but you will need to be vigilant about how you answer your phone and your outgoing voicemail message. Perhaps you might not even have a phone option at first, and just have people reach you through email or a web form.
Lastly, you will need to sort out how you will accept payment. Personally, I used Paypal. I find it easy to generate a Paypal payment button and place the code into my Wix website. If that sounds hard, it isn't. It's a simple copy/paste. There are tutorials to step you through it.
Where you set up your website is a very important decision because once you dive in with a certain one, you are in it for the long haul. Many people use Wordpress. I used that for a very long time but switched to Wix. (A very popular alternative to Wix is Squarespace.)
I prefer Wix over Wordrpress because Wordpress was a little too complex for my taste. Wix and Squarespace are template builders and require a significantly reduced learning curve and upkeep on the backend.
BONUS: How will you reach people? I highly recommend setting up a way to capture email addresses on your website and communicating regularly. I use Mailchimp and highly recommend it. It is simple to set up, dependable and an excellent company.
Your branding is where your creativity can begin to take root in your business. What look will your website have? In what voice will you communicate with your followers in your copy? Yes, you need a logo, but creating a logo and a mission statement do not a brand make. Your branding presence is a total experience. To get started, I have created an online workshop that culminates into DIY'ing your branding portraits. Along the way you will become very versed in all things branding, in order to nail a branding portrait.
Errr, what are "branding portraits?" Branding portraits are portraits of you that express your brand. Are you a sweet, nurturing soul or more complex and exotic? You should have images of you on your website that express who you are, because you are your brand. Who you are and what you love should come through in these images. These qualities are the building blocks of your brand. Yes, what you provide to your customers is important, but that is not a brand. You create an experience - that is a brand - and your portraits are an important piece of your total brand package.
Domain name registration: GoDaddy
Accept Payment: Paypal
Website Builder: Wix
Email Provider: Gmail for business
Phone: Personal phone with appropriate outgoing voicemail
Branding: My workshop, Awaken Your Brand
I'm so excited for you and your new business. Shoot me an email and tell me all about it: email@example.com