Today's post is about moneys. It can be a hard pill to swallow, so you might want to sit down for this one. (And I promise, it's still going to be fun!)
Your gift, your talent, your dream, the skills you have to serve others – they have value. They're valuable to you, valuable to others, and definitely of value to God. You are worth something. You are worthy. And here on Earth, a lot of the time, that value also equals money. I looped in Taylor of Magnolia Tree Paperie on this one, since she runs a shop and deals with the green stuff a lot more often than I do with TPA! Here were our thoughts...
START WITH THE HEAD
Investing financially has to start with investing mentally. The first thing you should do when starting something new - whether thats a blog, shop, business, research, mentoring, anything - is OWN IT. Just do it. Taylor and I have each had several conversations with people who are “trying to be this” or “trying to start that”. It’s so good to be humble, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn't be confident. Taking charge of the fact that you’re trying something new and being brave sets the stage for you mentally and emotionally, and it also sets the stage for others around you. Seeing what you're doing as a business before starting anything gives you the right mindset to put your best foot forward, and to make the necessary decisions to get where you want to be. Taylor and I tell each other all the time, "I feel like I have no idea what I'm doing, but I'm doing it!" And more often than not, it turns out to be good (even if it's a flop. failure is necessary to learn and grow!).
GIVE YOURSELF TIME
Go in knowing that your dream is going to take some time. Don’t compare yourself to people who have been doing it for years and years (I call this comparing your everyday to somebody else's highlight reel - I'm so bad about it!). I’m sure they would tell you the best time was when they were figuring it all out, because they had every opportunity to make mistakes and learn. And here's where we dig into this whole money part - it’s going to take some investing on the front end. But seriously take a moment to accept that that doesn’t mean you have to purchase the best and biggest things right at the start.
T & I agree that the most important things you can purchase at the beginning are...
- A versatile, custom logo (if you can’t design it yourself). This sets you apart, declares who you are, and shows that you are legitimate and pay attention to details.
- A custom domain - www.yourname.com - is 100% worth it, and makes it easy for people to find you. We purchased ours from godaddy.com for about $15 a year - and actually chose their 3 year option. If you go ahead and purchase your name for multiple years, they give you a discount. Take those discounts where you can find them!
- A good host site - if you find one you really love, it makes it easy to set up your site. We use (& love!) Squarespace. It can be pricey on the front end, but so worth it. I paid basic plan monthly fees for the first five months, and then paid the annual fee after that. I gave myself time to test the waters and see if this would work, and once I felt like I had a strong foundation (and let's be real, extra money saved at Christmas) I dove in and purchased the annual plan. I paid a pretty chunk of change up front, but I'm saving quite a bit by not doing month-to-month anymore.
- And good photography of your product and/or yourself. Like I said in last week's post - iPhone pictures can get you far. But when you're selling a product (and honestly, sometimes that 'product' is you!) do whatever it takes to show it's beauty and worth. Look professional = feel professional.
All of these things will make you look like the business-saavy person that you are, which is important even if you don’t know what you’re doing ;) It'll give you the confidence you need to tell yourself, "I can do this! I'm already doing this!" And, like your mental state, this sets the tone for others as well... especially your potential clients!
CHARTS AND STUFF
Research taxes, expenses, and profit loss before you even start. It can be daunting, but it’s so worth it. Ask questions. Taylor told me about a close friend of hers who has been a freelance artist & photographer for over 15 years. She was blessed to meet him, and now he's an incredible resource! Taylor said, "For a while, I didn’t ask questions because I didn’t want to seem like I didn’t know what I was doing. Then one day, he just straight up asked me how I handled freelance tax." She was honest and said that she knew nothing about freelance tax, and he shared all kinds of information (and led to us going to get our tax ID's for our companies! That new camera you need? You might be able to write part of it off. All that paper you've purchased for stationary? That too!). It's always worth an awkward moment to ask the questions you need to know. Or even to just tell someone you trust that you don't know what you're doing and ask them what they do!
Try to get a hold on what you’re spending and keep track of it. It's easy to get overwhelmed here! Taylor recommended researching good book keeping software. She just started using one called Outright and it’s awesome - and only $10 a month. It keeps track of everything! "Basically, I would find myself getting anxious with each order because I didn’t want to pay taxes on it... but that’s not right! I would say just be aware and keep track. It will save so much time on the other side. You don’t have to be a tax or accounting genius. Anyone can write down numbers, and don’t be afraid to ask for help or for someone to double check you." Taylor owns an Etsy shop, and they have tons of articles that are good for anyone learning about taxes (I had no idea this was out there!). Be brave. Ask questions. Dive in.
GET YOUR PRIORITIES STRAIGHT
Going back to those 4 most important things - figure out the things that are worth the money for you. For Taylor: "It's so important for me to have nice paper to print on, and fun packaging because those are huge parts of my brand!" For me, it's having a trustworthy laptop - Chris totally surprised me and got me a new computer for Christmas (talk about getting motivated!) - and having a calming workspace. I don't have an "office" but I make sure my home feels peaceful and calming and I have a clean space to work from. I also received an external hard drive as a gift long ago, and let me tell you, that thing has more than paid for itself. Back up your stuff!
MAKING DEALS & BUILDING YOUR TEAM
When you're setting up your budget (carefully think through what you estimate to spend and then double it - really), make it a mission to search for the best price options! You’ll be surprised what can happen when you just ask around and compare deals. Taylor said, "I would make a list! I would literally email four different printers and find the best price. For supplies, I would always print out coupons for Hobby Lobby or Michael's, and I would search for any additional coupon code out there. Don’t compromise quality, but find the best deal. Also, it is so worth it to build a relationship with vendors! Especially if this is a product (like mine), it is HUGE to become BFF with people you’ll be working with. They’ll give you deals, be more trustworthy, and get you things quickly!" If you give someone a job and they do it right the first time, bring them cookies. Mail them a thank you note. Invest not just in yourself, but in them too - because they're bringing life to your vision as well! If you show them that you're invested in their work, it sets the tone for responsibility and commitment. Be respectful, and ask for their respect in turn.
This can also mean that when things go sour, to be brave about it. Example: if a printer fails to do something right, check what you gave them (humility check here), and if it's a problem on their end, ask for a re-do. Be kind, but firm. Just like you would hold a dear friend accountable, you should do the same for your vendors. If they come back and say they won't right the wrong, stick to your guns and let them know that you'll be taking your business elsewhere. You lost time and money - that has value - and lost something special in your service to your clients. There will be instances where you'll have to lay that out on the table, and kindly ask them to pay the price for that value lost! R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
LOVE VS. MONEY
And on the flip-side of things... don’t make financial gain your biggest goal. It can be so scary at first - you feel like you've spent some change to get this started, and all you want is someone to recognize your hard work by investing in it! But hear us when we say: do what you love and what you’re good at. People will notice, and that’s when you’ll gain traffic, orders, and followers! Taylor shared that, "I would get so focused on making financial gain that I wouldn’t be making items that were 'me'. I would just make things to make them. I would try to “be” what I thought others would want to order... and they wouldn’t, because people can tell! Like, basically, don’t be a poser. Be you and do what you’re good at! People will like it (and buy it) because it’s authentic." It's so crazy to realize that people can tell if you're honestly putting your heart into your work. You'll like it AND they'll like it so much more when the work you're putting out there comes from your heart. Just like with any job, you have to put your heart behind it in order for it to succeed. Be a little vulnerable. Put your passion out there, and I promise that people will respond positively! (I'm going to be digging into this a little more in an upcoming video, so stay tuned.)
Lastly, the most important thing is to be authentically you in everything you do. Your professional life is going to look different than another professional's because you yourself are different. There might be a bunch of people out there in the same field as you, but it will look different in your hands because God made you individually different than anyone else, with unique gifts, circumstances, and experiences. Don't be afraid to follow your calling! Prayerfully put what you have in God's hands, and then confidently act upon it. Be bold!