The Business Of Creative Blogging

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My inbox is full of people asking for business advice. Things like how to set up a home-based art business to making PDF lesson plans to increasing blog traffic and even when to pay taxes. It seems people are looking for creative ways to make a little extra each month and need specific information to get them moving in the right direction. I’m happy to give you any advice I can.

Deep Space Sparkle has evolved from sharing pictures of my student’s art to the online art resource it is today. It has grown from 100 readers a day to 10,000 and earning a healthy six figures a year. I’m a little shy saying this because it’s not in my nature to talk about money. But I want you to realize how BIG the internet world has become and with a little effort and a slight shift in your thought process, you can build a creatively satisfying and income generating site.

You may think you don’t have the marketing know-how to sell online or the technical ability to start up a website that accepts online enrollment for your after-school art class, but the answers are out there. Independent work is not for everyone. Although I teach art at a public school, I love my days when I get to work on DSS. Running a business has always been a part of me…

My entrepreneurial history

Right out of art school I bought an industrial sewing machine, a few hundred yards of ripstop fabric and sewed men’s beach trunks out of my bedroom. I’m shaking my head right now. I have no idea why men’s beach trunks seemed like a worthy business venture to me. I only knew that I had to see what I could do on my own.

My first business: Palmerbeach Beachwear

Within a year, I deemed my first wave of selling shorts a success and opened a factory. Yes. A factory. In an industrial park. I purchased seven machines, had my best friend’s dad make me a cutting table and ordered thousands of yards of colorful fabric. I hired my first wave of employees and hustled around Eastern Canada looking for my first buyers of PalmerBeach Beachwear.

I was twenty one years old.

And I worked hard.

Managing employees.

Figuring out payroll taxes.

Cold calling for sales.

Pressing and bagging garments.

Doing photoshoots (fun part!)

Back then, I didn’t own a computer. Everything was written by hand or typewriter. If I wanted to get fancy with type I used Letraset. Does anyone remember Letraset?

Operating a business today is so much easier. For starters, anything you want to know about is online. And most of it is free. Like this blog post. I wish more than anything that my twenty-year old self had a group of business people to talk to. Someone to ask how to market beach shorts in the cold north or how to manage employees when you were never one yourself.

Today, any facet of running a business–small or large–is explained in full detail online. Through course, blog posts, e-books.

It’s absolutely wonderful.

Transparent Blogging

One of the many trends of online businesses today is the transparency of blog owners. Just about any type of business has a few people willing to share their secrets. Just last week I discovered a food blog called Pinch of Yum. The young couple that creates the food content openly shares their monthly income report. While many might feel this is too forthright, I don’t. If you are just starting a blog and hoping to monetize it, reading through their detailed reports on traffic analytics and income breakdown is incredibly helpful and inspiring.

You can take so much away from reading how others do it.

Running an online business, no matter what your niche, requires constant learning. Our connected world changes frequently and so you must as well. That has been the most frustrating part for me; trying to keep up with social media, blogging trends and technical advances to keep DSS current and thriving all while still working my day job.

This can be challenging. I avoid burnout and the always present feeling of not doing enough by setting daily intentions. Aligning my core beliefs and knowing what makes me happy is given the highest priority in my day planner. To help maintain this mind-set, I listen to how others do it. Again–everything you need or want know is out there!

Here are some amazing resources that I absolutely LOVE that have helped me maintain not only a business mindset but one of aligning my purpose and passions with my business plan.

Podcast that I love

Great podcasts to listen to: The Lively Show

The Lively Show with Jess Lively  This blog with podcasts is a daily source of inspiration for me. I grab my phone and earbuds and head out for my beach walks around 3pm everyday. Listening to Jess talk to her guests about living your life with intention always inspired me to not only do more but with more purpose.

She has a huge bank of episodes and to guide you to the ones that fits your needs, she sorts them into topics of interests. The episode with Pat Flynn is worth listening to. Pat has an AMAZING podcast show and site that is devoted to income streams. Some of his guests are the typical marketing guru’s but he is able to dial down the hustle and deliver an authentic, relatable approach to business. So many take-aways. I also loved Jess’s interviews with Kate Arends and Kris Carter

Monica Lee and Smart Creative Women

Smart, Creative Women with Monica Lee

Monica Lee, an illustrator and entrepreneur, has been interviewing creative women for a while and just recently turned the interviews into a podcast. She is down-to-earth and funny and makes all of her guest feel like you are having coffee with your best friend. I love how she extracts nuggets of businessy goodness from each show. Her focus is on the creative side of blogging, product-based businesses and keeping the creative juices flowing.

rachel-macDonald

In Space Between with Rachel MacDonald is truly divine. I discovered her site through The Lively Show podcast and spent hours on her site reveling in her easy-going charm and purpose-filled business. She offers business coaching and e-courses to help you sift through your creative dreams and goals.

What are your creative dreams?

The opportunity to monetize your blogging efforts or create a fulfilling creative business is achievable.

Where are you in this process? Do you want to know what it takes to work from home? Creative a passive income stream? Teach art out of your garage? Sell on Teachers pay Teachers?

Tell me. I want to know.

It’s not like how it was when I was twenty-one and had felt utterly alone. There is a world of information, answers and support out there.

I’d love to compile your questions and select a few to answer each month. You can add your questions to the bottom of this post or contact me privately through our email support@deepspacesparkle.com.

I can’t wait to hear what lurks inside your creative heart!

 

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  • Michelle East

    Thank you for sharing your wisdom & resources! Your site is the reason & inspiration behind starting my blog Create Art with ME! Your lessons are well planned out & successful in the classroom-a MUST HAVE for any art teacher! or home school parent!

    • Patty Palmer

      Thank you so much, Michelle. Your site is amazing and I love your resources. I’m thrilled I had a small part in getting you started. Really. There is just so much we can do to share what we love and are really good at with the world.

  • Nic Hahn

    Thank you! Thank you for being so open. You know me… I love to share everything as honestly as I can. I appreciate that about you too. You are truly an inspiration. I don’t know if I have questions right now, but I appreciate you sharing your inspirations and can’t wait to check them out. I admire what you do, and what you have created.

  • Erica

    Patty you are an inspiration. I have never seen an article like this! Artists have an entrepreneurial spirit! I am applying your wisdom to a very different venture… Photography. Hoping one day to have my creative journey turn out as fulfilling and financially stable as yours!

    • Patty Palmer

      I love photography. It has made a huge difference in how I identify DSS. So much fun. Good luck with your venture!

  • Debbie

    Patty could you please expand on Teachers Pay Teachers… how to get / what is involved / is there a limit to the size of projects / responsibilities / use of photography / handling payment / sending items / calculating shipping charges / claiming for taxes / are you limited to your own country / etc. Goodness! Question overload. Anyways, I’m looking at moving in a new direction and your article is very timely. Anything you can suggest would be great. Thank you for posting it.

    • Patty Palmer

      Absolutely. I hope to do a post on TpT next month. I’ve been selling on TpT for about 2 years and although my DSS Shop is my main source of income, TpT is quickly generating great sales. They have great momentum right now so it’s worth looking into.
      Thanks for your question.

  • April

    Thank you for sharing. I’m a teacher by trade, but I am currently homeschooling. With that transition I’ve been working to build a blog/business to generate an income. You are absolutely right that all of the stories, inspiration, and information people share about their blogging and online ventures are so helpful to those of us starting out. So, thanks for sharing.
    ✿April✿
    Grade School Giggles

    • Patty Palmer

      Hi April,
      You are welcome. Can’t wait to hear what you have planned. You must have a full plate right now but a home-based business seems like a great fit.

  • cmzelaya@gmail.com

    As I was finishing my senior year in design school. The thought that I should have majored in Art Ed was on repeat in my head. I left with a degree in Interior Design and though I love interiors, the field I found myself working in felt so uninspired and too technical.
    Now I am a homeschool mom living outside the United States on a whole other kind of life adventure. I would love to figure out a way to homeschool and find a business that can work for our family. I look forward to learning more. Thanks!

  • Gaby Ader

    Hi Patty,

    Thank you for this post. After leaving a difficult full time art teaching position after 5 years and struggling to find another position I decided to start my own mobile ceramics program. I started this last August and it has been going really well. I’m teaching classes after school at both public and private elementary schools and then I’m also working with an amazing home school program. I’m now finishing off the year and reflecting on what I need to do to grow for next year. It’s a challenge because I don’t want to hire anyone in order to take on more schools. I would like to explore the blogosphere options to see if I can generate more income that way. I read your posting and there are some good tips to start with. I really don’t know the first thing about how you generate income through blogging. I am full of ceramic lessons and I consider myself an excellent resource for teaching ceramics to kids ages k-8. I would so appreciate any advice on getting started. Thank you for everything you do. You are an amazing resource for teachers and a true inspiration to me.

  • Crystal Foth

    Hi Patty! I just love your site – AMAZING!! I started a blog in the last couple of years just to share some art projects that my daughter and I have done and our creative adventures together, visiting museums, etc. I struggle with what to actually focus on as a “business”. I want to create an ebook of 5 famous artist projects all done with paper, and I’m testing to see if there is interest in it before I actually finish it. I don’t want to spin my wheels and effort for something that people don’t actually want. How do you really know what is going to make a successful business when it comes to creative blogging? You have tons of experience and I appreciate your insights!!

  • Sarah

    I currently teach art at an elementary school, but I want to start my own “art school” and teach small group lessons. The trouble is finding a location because with two small children at home, my home isn’t really an option. Any advice for marketing though once I do find a location?

    • Patty Palmer

      Hi Sarah,
      This is a great question. I don’t know if you are on my newsletter mailing list but I’ve been letting my readers know that I’m starting a podcast in the new year. This is one of the topics I have scheduled to air. Stay tuned and I’ll have lots of info for you.

  • alicebugni@hotmail.com

    I’d like to start a blog based on teaching art to children but have no idea where to begin. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

  • Hilary Hahn

    Hi Patty,
    I am a handmade artist and art teacher.
    I had a blog for a long time called, Pink Pianos, where I showed homemade interiors pojects and really “grew up” a lot as an artist and designer.
    Now, I am launching my new website and blog and looking for ways to monetize it.
    I’m torn between my art teacher self and my artist self and I am looking for ways to combine the 2.
    I would love any suggestions or insights that you might have.

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