Putting yourself out there is scary. Being thrown into the unknown can be stressful—you aren’t sure how people will receive your art. By “art” I mean photography, music, blogs, clothing, all that cool stuff people love to see. Naturally, we fear vulnerability—it’s terrifying, although “it’s also the birthplace of joy, of creativity, of belonging, of love” (according to Brené Brown). How many times have you felt an instant connection to or appreciation for someone just because of a personal struggle they decided to share? How often do you support a person or brand because you like them and their story resonates with you?
If you’re like most, the answer to those questions is “very often”. We’re all looking for meaningful connections, some of us are even looking for guidance from people who have struggled through the things we’re currently going through or anticipate we will go through. I’ve taught for 9 years, I’ve taught pre-kindergarten, 1st grade and middle school and throughout those years I’ve received some of the most beautiful thank you letters and gifts from parents and children just for coming to work everyday with a smile on my face, noticing things like new haircuts, giving out snacks to kids who didn’t bring one, or my favorite—just providing a stable environment. My kids look forward to the compassionate, caring, laid-back, high expectation environment my classroom provides. I’ve found that my friends appreciate the same things. My customers often highlight the “amazing customer service” I provide, the thoughtful, gift-ready packaging and quality products. They always know what to expect when they shop with me.
People crave stability, especially in today’s world. People crave connection, they need to see a light at the end of the tunnel. They need what you have to offer. There’s a specific audience that want exactly what you’re offering.
The only regret I have in life is not starting GabeJade sooner. If you’re thinking about starting something, anything. Start NOW. Once you start, you will regret not starting sooner, I promise.
Still not convinced? Keep reading.
1. The sooner you start, the sooner you become the expert.
It can be challenging to start something. Where do you even start? Naturally, you follow what others in your industry are doing. While there is nothing wrong with this (we all do it), what works for one brand, may not work for another. Also, although we may gain inspiration from particular brands, we cannot steal ideas or copy. We have to find our own lane and stay in it. Audiences don’t want to see copycat brands. Remember, you’re a small business, not Sam’s Club vs. Costco, start off as a complete carbon copy of another brand and you’ll fail. You have to put your own spin on things. What makes you different?
The sooner you get started, the sooner you can collaborate, post content, start conversations, ask, observe, see what your audience likes the most and keep sharing those kinds of things.
The images below are how my bowties looked at first (terrible) vs. how they look now.
2. Holidays/National _____ Day
There is always some sort of holiday coming up. Take advantage of that. Literally every day is “National _______ Day”. If you’re selling something—find a way to connect it to the holiday (think colors, scents, flavors, wording, graphics), if you’re sharing photography or writing (such as a blog) give your spin or feelings on the day, same with blogging, music and clothing. A lot of people feel lonely around the major holidays and would love to connect with you. Which brings me to my next point:
3. Someone needs you.
Share your story, share your work, build a following. Build a network of people who trust you, support you, value your opinion and advice. People who will look to you for inspiration or even someone who brightens their day. Who wouldn’t want to be that? You’re someone’s hero whether you know it or not. We’re all unsure of how people will receive our art, but I’m here to tell you that your audience will love it. Remember, your audience isn’t every single person in the world. Your audience isn’t every mother or every man who loves dogs. Your target audience is very specific (think age range, interests, economic status, marital status, location, etc). Find it and dominate.
4. You need you.
Show up for yourself and stop hiding all that talent, it’s time to share your art with the world. It would be a shame if you were to pass on without ever letting the world know just how amazing you are. Is it scary? Yes! I didn’t know if people, other than my nephew, would actually want to wear bowties made from African fabric but guess what? People don’t like it, they LOVE it. I’ve now expanded to making traditional neckties, headwraps and even dogdanas. I’ve been featured in magazines and blogs, even got trips because of my brand. I’ve also become a professional photographer just because I needed good pics of my accessories. Now I get paid for photography too. All these cool things would’ve never happened if I didn’t start. I’m still mad I didn’t start sooner.
Although it takes time, hard work and C O N S I S T E N C Y (I can’t stress that word enough), you have the potential to make some great connections and earn good money. Of course not immediately—remember you’re building a brand, and there’s no limit to what you can do and the amount of money you can make with time. It actually could be pretty fast, but don’t bank on it. Go into it understanding that this isn’t a get rich quick scheme. You are monetizing something you love to do. You’ll make your first $50, next thing you know, you’re making an extra $5k-$10k a month. There’s no cap. The possibilities are endless depending on how hard you decide to work.
Start now. Your community needs you. You need you.
If you have any questions or need help, feel free to comment below :-)