The Rough Elements of a Successful Creative Business

creative business chart

What is a successful creative business? I think there are two elements: Creative freedom and financial stability.

I’m defining success as having the ability to do creative work we’re proud of and to keep doing that work.

There is no exact recipe for this stuff. It’s a little bit different for each person and changes with all sorts of factors like skills, passion, and even geographic location.

But this chart is a pretty good starting point to give a grid for what, more or less, makes up a successful creative business.

Let me explain the chart.

  • 75-Percent of a successful creative business should be spent on the art itself — the “content”. This is the hard and frightful work of actually making stuff. If you’re not spending the majority of your time actually making something, you’re doing it wrong.

  • Next, the 75-percent “Content” section of the chart is divided into three equal parts: Consistency, Talent, and Obsession. A huge part of making art online and growing an audience is centered around how often you show up, how good you are at what you do, and how narrow your focus is and how “weirdly obsessed” you are about it.

  • The remaining 25-precent is split between “brand” and “hustle”.

  • By brand I mean having a professional-looking website, having a cool iPhone theme, having an awesome user-experience for your eCommerce thingamajig, etc.

  • By hustle I mean (a) getting out there and promoting your work to others, and (b) contributing to the conversations happening in the circles you run in.

Here are some common excuses for why people assume they will fail:

“I don’t know how to promote my own work.”

“I can’t start putting my work out there until my website’s theme is just right.”

“My skills as a writer / podcaster / photographer / illustrator are pathetic.”

Good news, if you can at least show up every day and focus on a topic your obsessive about, then you’re already half-way there.

P.S. There’s additional good news: the more often you show up and do the work then the better your skills will get. And the better you get the more people will begin to promote your work for you.

The Rough Elements of a Successful Creative Business