Alright, I’ll admit that this wasn’t the image to launch As Yet Unwritten but it was the start of it all. I can pinpoint the exact time when I started taking my hobby more seriously. When I no longer considered my personal blog as just a blog. It was a place to explore my creative side and to show others what I could do with my own time. I have been asked recently how I went from hobby to business with clients. So today I thought I would write about it on this blog.
The Power of Instagram
Instagram is a powerful platform packed full of creatives whose skills range from writing, photography, photoshop and most of all, for creatives who need to display their work, it is the best platform to be on. You can learn a lot just by listening on Instagram. The problem most people have is what to listen for and what is just noise.
For me, I wanted to take better quality images as images are your brand. A great image will draw you in, tell a story and breal up bulk text.
For a blogger or content creator developing a style is everything. It gets you instantly recognised across all platforms and people feel like they get to know you and there is comfort in recognition.
The feature image above is the one where I started to step out and test using a camera and editing software. I wanted to keep a soft feel for the Notebook but for As Yet Unwritten, I knew I wanted a strong Black and White brand where the only colours would be in client photography. A Portfolio where they could really shine.
Learning what worked on Instagram combined with a podcast that was popular and a blog to increase SEO and to extend my creative play, allowed me to develop a wider range of skills. You could see my flaws, my failures but also my successes. In a way, my readers grew with me.
Turning your hobby into a business is a scary process. I didn’t want to register as a business but I realised that I didn’t want to continue turning people away when they asked for help with their businesses either. Growing online has allowed me to amass a skillset and also solve a problem for other business owners. Which is the number one rule in launching a business – answering the question “What problem do you solve?”
The singular most important thing that small business owners have is their own time. They need to be CEO of their business as well as all the other hats they wear. Coming up with content or planning out social media strategy or even going through branding and how to pull data from their social accounts is something that they need and appreciate, the problem is finding the right person to do it. Having a portfolio helped and also having Instagram to show a development process was also fantastic. Though there are times I stepped away from Instagram because it all gets too much sometimes.
Can we go back to necessity for a second? Not only was As Yet Unwritten providing a solution to other business owners, it was also solving my need to work. Personally, as I grew the Cottage Notebook, I also was a mum of a toddler which was quickly followed by number two and suddenly I was a stay at home mother and I had to figure out how to work from home. This led to the mysterious question:
“How do you earn an income from blogging?”
I didn’t want to turn the blog into a business but I did have a skill set that others needed. I focused on developing my work with a camera but also I have been working in the fibre industry for around 8 years now. I’ve seen the rise of Ravelry and Love Knitting. The rise and thankfully, the fall of Can-Can, and I had my previous work experience and education to fall back on.
The biggest thing holding me back was Imposter Syndrome. I kept thinking I couldn’t or shouldn’t do it. I didn’ have what it takes to run a business by myself. That I wasn’t a great writer or photographer or why would people hire me when they could hire X?
The person holding me back from growing a business was myself. I wouldn’t call myself a writer, not even when I was shortlisted as a flash fiction writer. I wouldn’t call myself a photographer even when others were using my images to sell their products.
The fastest way of changing your mindset is seeing others using your work and making money.
The Power of Women
I will say that I also didn’t do this alone. I have had help in every shape and form from some amazing women out there. They held my hand when I needed it, told me some harsh truths when I needed it but they always pushed me to be better. To strive for more and in the end, I realised that I wasn’t alone even though I spent my day working from home alone. Between Instagram, What’s App and Skype I am in constant contact with clients or collaborators. My business had grown organically from helping others when they needed it. From not being too scared to say no and just go for it.
At times you just need to jump off the deep end but if you’re going to, start with a plan. Something that looks like this:
- Figure out what your business is and who your core audience/customers are. You can’t grow a business if you are unsure what it is you are doing or providing.
- Branding – Get a professional logo. Mine was designed by Aoibhe Ni. She is a star! Everything from brand colours to voice, figure out what you want people to feel when they find you.
- Write a business plan…then throw it out the window and write another after 3 months.
- Engage. Listen. Adapt.
- Motivation. If you need it, find an accountability buddy. I had a few and they are all awesome. Make financial targets and smash them.
- Research. It’s never-ending. You are never done. Set aside some time each week for personal research. Never, ever give this time away.
I will say that number 5 is one I laughed at for a long time. I never thought I could/would aim for financial targets, the thing is if you don’t have them you’re pretty much saying that your work is your hobby. The difference is your paycheck. Watching my income growing allows me to have the confidence to say what I do is important and that I’m good at it. There are things I can do better and in time I will but a career is a lifetime of amassed skills and growth. The quicker you learn the faster you succeed.
So this is how I did it. I started a blog, which lead me to develop a unique set of skills on top of my education, work experience and a data-loving mind all supported by an astounding group of women and launched As Yet Unwritten. If I can do it.
You can too.
You just need to start.
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