Welcome to Part 2 of a 3-part series all about starting a creative side-hustle!
In Part 1, we talked about setting yourself up for success. We talked about figuring out exactly what you’re gonna sell, determining if there’s a market for it (and if it’s profitable), and a couple other really important questions to answer before you get to this part… which is….
And you cannot figure out your logistics if you haven’t done the prep work from that first post so seriously, if you haven’t, go read that first.
(Have we lost all the slackers? Okay cool. Let’s keep going).
Rather watch than read? No problem! You can watch and listen in real-time by clicking the video below!
Let’s Get Started!
In this post, Part 2, we’re gonna talk about the next steps. You’ve figured out what you WANNA do, now what should be your next tasks to tackle?
There are about a million things on your to-do list when you’re starting a business, so I’m gonna give you the 5 key things I suggest doing FIRST.
We’ve got a lot to cover and I don’t wanna make this post super super long, so let’s just get into them.
TASK #1: COME UP WITH A NAME.
And lemme tell you… this is waaaaay easier said than done. For some, it might come suuuuper easily or they might already know what it should be. For others, it may take tonsssss of time and thought. But you’ll know when you’ve found it… it’ll just feel right!
Here are some of my best tips for working through this:
- NUMBER ONE: Sit down and make a mind map of words. Literally ANYTHING that comes to mind when you’re thinking about your future business. Words related to what you’re going to be doing, words that signify how you want your customers to feel, words that are anything related to your field of interest, people or places or things you may have been inspired by to start the business… etc etc. Circle any of the ones that peak your interest at all or make you feel a certain way. And if there aren’t any? Grab a thesaurus and find synonyms for the words you wrote. Once you have some words you’re feeling good about, think about how you can tie them together, or even just use one on it’s own.
- NUMBER TWO: Tell anyone and everyone, and ask them for their thoughts. Brainstorm out loud with people… it’s super helpful! Fun fact: Ryan actually came up with my business name!
Oh, and some other things to think about when you’re coming up with your name, make sure…
- …it’s easy to spell/read. Nothing worse than an awkwardly spelled business name that people will never know how to search for on search engines!
- …people can pronounce it easily, and there’s no confusion when it’s said out loud
- …it’s not something that will box you in, in case your business changes (even if you think it won’t!)
- …it’s soooomewhat catchy! Ask friends & family what they think and get some honest opinions about it.
Once you’ve (finally) come up with a name you like, I’m sorry to tell you but there’s still another crucial step before you can claim it.
TASK #2: SECURE THE DOMAIN AND THE SOCIAL MEDIA.
… and if they’re not available, it should be a red flag to you.
In an ideal world, you want to have the “.com” version of your business name for your website, and you want the straight up Instagram handle for it. (For example, I have “thehappyevercrafter.com” and I have @thehappyevercrafter on Instagram).
HOWEVER, here’s a little story time for ya… I originally didn’t want the “the” in my business name! I hoped for just simply Happy Ever Crafter. The domain name (which is the website) and the Instagram name were both taken, so I decided to switch it up and use the “The”. I actually really like it now though!
So that’s an example for you of when you start looking for the domain and the social media handles, you’ll see if you have to change your business name or not. You might have to go back to the drawing board.
If you can’t secure the .com domain and the social media handles, you have 2 options…
- OPTION ONE: Go back to the drawing board to come up with a different name, or tweak it a little like I did
- OPTION TWO: Use a different domain and handle than your business name… just figure out how to make it work. For example, if you wanted “Nib and Ink” as your business name (I think you can do better but let’s go with it) and nibandink.com and @nibandink were taken, you could check if nibandinkcalligraphy.com and @nibandinkcalligraphy on Instagram were taken. Even though those are different than your business name, you could still get away with those for your website and social media handles.
The big thing I’ll say here is that you should also be doing a suuuuper thorough internet search (or even research with the trademark agency of your country) as you do this, so you can see if the name is already taken. Chances are that if the website and handles are taken, there may already be a business like yours with that name. That doesn’t mean it’s a total deal breaker, but it should be seriously taken into consideration.
Okay now if you’ve researched and found the name you want and it’s all available and good, then perfect! Go ahead and secure the domain and handles… and what I mean by that is:
- 1 – PURCHASE THE DOMAIN. You can do this through companies like GoDaddy or Namecheap, and it should only cost you somewhere around $10-20 per year to buy it. Even if you don’t know what to do with it yet or how to use it, just buy it and secure it for yourself. Little note here, make sure you’re buying a domain that offers email forwarding. They usually do, but just make sure. This’ll come in handy for later tasks.
- 2 – SIGN UP FOR THE SOCIAL MEDIA HANDLES. Like, all of them. Even if you don’t think you’re going to use them, secure them for yourself so that nobody else can in the future. Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, TikTok, Twitter, you name it. All of them! Just go sign up and put them on the back burner.
Okay, so you’ve got your business name, you’ve secured the domain, and you’ve secured the social media handles…
TASK #3: REGISTER YOUR BUSINESS.
This feels scary, but it doesn’t need to be. And no, you don’t need to prove that you’re a fancy established business or anything in order to register. This is different in every country/state/province/wherever you are, so all I can really tell you is to Google “register business (insert state/province here)” and then follow the instructions. Generally it only takes a few minutes and a pretty small fee.
That one was preeeeetty simple compared to Tasks #1 and #2. Now on to Task #4…
TASK #4: LINK YOUR DOMAIN TO YOUR EMAIL.
Which sounds more professional… email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org? (That’s a rhetorical question. The answer is obvious).
It drives me crrrrrrrazy when a business has a @gmail.com or @hotmail.com in their email address instead of using their own domain name. Why? Because it just sounds so unprofessional! AND because if you own a domain for your business (which YOU do, from step #2), it’s suuuuuper simple to set it up so that your domain name is used as your email address as well.
The way this is set up will depend on which domain host you used (I use Namecheap) and what email server you use (I use Gmail). Once you have both of those things, literally just Google “connect Namecheap to Gmail”, or whatever your services are, and follow the steps. Google is always your best friend.
TASK #5: SET UP A (SIMPLE) WEBSITE.
This part is intimidatinggggggg, lemme tell ya. But, as someone who had never ever done anything like that before and who did it totally themselves when I started, I can tell you it’s doable.
Even if you feel like you have nothing to show on a website yet, I want you to start one. Even if it’s just ONE page people can land on when they to go www.yournewfancybusinessname.com. Because have you ever gone to look up someone you were thinking of hiring, and found that they don’t have a website? Think about it… did that give you confidence in hiring them? Probably not. So even if it’s literally just one page with one paragraph and a “contact me” button (now that you have a professional email!), it’s better than no presence at all! Get it up and running now, and then add to it and improve it later.
If you’re new to this stuff, I recommend starting with website platforms like Squarespace or Wix. Both have some really intuitive templates you can grab, and they’re pretty inexpensive.
If you want to build something more powerful right away, check out WordPress – it’s just a little less intuitive, but if you know what you’re doing, go for it!
Oh and while we’re on the topic of setting up your website…
TASK #5.5: BRANDING & LOGO.
Start thinking about colours, themes, and fonts for your branding, as well as coming up with a logo. These are things you’ll probably want on your website, but I don’t want to make this a full point of it’s own because I think too many beginners get fixated on this and spend too much time with it up front. If you’re able to make your own logo, do it… even if it’s not perfect. Same with picking colours and fonts for your branding. You can adjust it later! I spent the first 2 years of my business with a reeeeeally crappy logo I made myself and some colours I picked on a whim. They worked just fine until I had some money in the bank to hire a real graphic designer.
If you need help with the logo part, click here!
Okay and I know I said I only had 5 things, but I have a 6th.
TASK #6: SET UP YOUR FINANCES FROM THE GET-GO.
I didn’t do this and it was a reeeeeal pain to go back and organize things once I’d actually started spending and accepting money in my business. I recommend talking to a bookkeeper or an accountant about how to set things up for yourself properlu, but at the VERY least, just make sure your personal and business finances are separated. Make yourself a new bank account and make sure that anything you spend or earn for the business goes in and out of that account, NOT your personal one. That’s the very least! So ya… set up your finances properly. It will save you SO much time and effort in the future. Just do it.
And That’s A Wrap!
OKAY, those are my 6 “do right away” things if you’re starting your business.
I thought of about 50 more as I was listing these out, but truly, I think these are the 6 most important right away… and let’s be honest, these will take you a while and probably feel overwhelming. Just take your time and get those set up.
You can do it! I was in your shoes and had NO idea about any of this stuff, and I figured it all out. If I can do it, you definitely can too.
In Part 3 of this series we’re going to talk about how to actually start getting clients, and even scarier, HOW TO PRICE YOUR WORK!
DUN DUN DUNNNNNNN
But seriously… it’s not as scary as you think, and it’s one of my FAAAAVOURITE things to talk about. Make sure you’re subscribed to my YouTube Channel, so you don’t miss it.
For now, I’ll link you to a little pricing teaser to get you going!
Good luck with all of these tasks I just gave you. See you soon for Part 3!
And finally, your dad joke…
What do you call an ambitious vegetable?