I’ve created a ton of income streams, in the first 10 years of running my creative business!
Here’s a summary:
- I started off offering graphic design services, including branding design and website creation
- I soon added illustration to the mix
- I then started a line of stationery and gift items
- I launched an online course
- I co-founded a business club for women
- I founded a festival
- I started offering graphic recording services
- I most recently founded an online membership for creatives
Things to consider that can save you a lot of time, money, energy and heartache!
I share my top 9 income stream lessons in this post, reframing them as questions you can ask yourself, as you contemplate your next business venture.
9 income streams lessons
Is it aligned with your purpose?
Ask yourself whether this income stream:
- Will get you closer to your goals
- Is aligned with what’s important to you
- Contributes to the changes you want to see/create
- Inspires and excites you
- Takes advantage of your strengths and what comes naturally to you
- Is something you will love doing
These questions are important for the obvious reasons and more broadly, they will help you ascertain if this venture is truly worth your time.
If you’re not clear on your purpose – and even if you are but haven’t checked in with it for a while – I highly recommend checking out the workbook I created for this purpose.
It includes what I call an “opportunity checklist” – to help you determine whether new ideas or opportunities are worth pursuing.
In my SHINE program, I have a more extensive “Offering checklist” that helps you vet your income stream ideas even further. You can access that when you join here.
Does it fit your brand narrative?
When you launch this venture, will your audience be surprised or confused? Or will it feel like a natural addition to what they’ve grown to know and like you for?
Is this income stream aligned with your values, your themes, your philosophy and your story?
If it does NOT fit your narrative, and you’re keen to pursue it, consider doing so under a different “umbrella” (i.e. a different brand, entity etc.). But before you go ahead and do that, ask yourself if you really have the time to invest in doing so properly, Remember, this essentially means setting up, managing and marketing a whole additional brand.
Have you identified an audience for this income stream?
Do you know who wants what you’ll be offering? Have you gotten to know them? Remember: market research can be as simple as speaking to a few of them.
Do you have a plan to engage them and build demand?
Before you spend a lot of time, money and effort, it’s important to validate your idea in some way.
This approach can go wrong though – it’s important that you’re nurturing the right audience for your idea.
Does the money make sense?
We’re talking about income streams so, ideally you’re thinking about ventures that are growing your profit and thus growing your business.
What are your financial goals for the new income stream you’re considering?
“I want to make some extra money” is not a solid financial goal. How much? By when?
Once you know those two things, you’ll be able to clearly determine what approach you need to take, how you need to market, how much you need to spend, how much you need to charge etc.
I highly recommend my free Foundations For Freedom course for help with setting robust goals and understanding all your numbers.
Do you want to trade your time for money?
There is no wrong or right answer to this but, you do need to think about what makes sense for you.
For a long time, my goal has been to create income streams that are more passive and scalable. Think: creating something once and selling it over and over again and making money in your sleep. Ultimately, setting things up so that my income is not restricted by the number of hours in a day.
I can however think of scenarios where more active income streams may be desirable. For example: maybe you’re really passionate about a certain way of delivering and it involves a lot of your time however, the compensation for that time makes sense for your goals around income and how much you want to work (aka the mega bucks! 😉
In my post, “31 income stream ideas for creatives,” I break them down into passive and active. Take a look if you’re still deliberating on this issue.
Does it get you closer to your goals?
I personally desire more passive income streams so that I can have more time to devote to my family and to wellness. These 2 things are incredibly important to me.
Over 11 years ago, back when I was an employee, I started doing an exercise that would become such a profound practice for me. I imagined my ideal typical day.
So: what a regular, ordinary day in my dream life would look like. Where I would be; my surroundings; who else would be around; what I would do; and when. And every year since, I’ve gotten closer and closer to that original vision and indeed, I’ve refined and tweaked it every year too.
To let you in on what I imagine, it involves several hours spent on my wellness practices; several hours spent with my family; and time dedicated to my self-directed creative and community projects.
One thing has long been clear: a super healthy passive income is the way I’m going to achieve that.
Which reinforces very important income stream lessons such as: everything that is not contributing to this vision is taking away from it.
This year more than ever, I’ve realised the need to be brutally honest with myself about this and prioritise accordingly. And show up for myself!
So I’ll ask you again: what’s your vision? What are your big goals? if you’re not sure, check out my free Foundations For Freedom course for some tools to figure it all out.
Do you have the necessary resources?
When I talk resources, I’m talking time, money, people and, one more important factor that maybe we don’t always think about: stamina.
You’re most likely going to need a good amount of mental – and physical – stamina, to get something off the ground. This is not the world of silver bullets and quick bucks. A whole load of persistence and patience is necessary – probably way more than you even imagine.
Do you even know what the necessary resources are for the income stream you have in mind? If not: find out.
Benjamin Hardy tells the story of his desire to become a very well-paid author, so that he could take amazing care of his family. He did his research and found out that, to get just a small publishing deal, he’d need a mailing list of 5-10,000 people. So list-building became his focus! Get the knowledge to guide your action.
If you don’t have the necessary resources, do you have a plan to get them? If not: create one!
Which brings me to the Afri-love Women group I run. It’s an amazingly resourceful community where we get to leverage each other’s expertise, experience, contacts etc. So when somebody needs a resource, they can ask and they will very likely be pointed in a useful direction.
What’s the long game?
The penultimate of my income stream lessons asks you to look far into the future of the venture in question. How long are you in it for? Is there a point at which you’ll put an end to this income stream?
Do you have an exit plan? Or a continuity plan for how it can live on without your active involvement? If this is even what you desire.
These are important questions we often don’t ask ourselves, at the beginning of starting something. What if we did? Our answers could guide how we set up the venture in the first place. Even down to what we name it!
Is it necessary?
Last but certainly not least. I know this question may come across as a harsh one but, it needs to be asked. Does this venture you’re considering need to become an income stream for you?
Do you want all the expectations, responsibilities and pressures that come with that? Or would you rather do this thing as a hobby? Would it work better as part of your personal creative practice? Or as a personal/side project?
There is a very important place for personal projects and there are so many wellness benefits to be gained from a regular creative practice. Perhaps your idea fits better as one of these?
Sometimes I’ve embarked on things to stretch myself, without critically considering whether they needed to be an income stream. Looking back, there are some things I’d have approached differently, had I known then these income stream lessons.
What income stream lessons have you learned?
I hope these questions have not come across as discouraging. I love it when people pursue their creative business ideas and create a positive impact for themselves and others.
I do however believe it’s always good to interrogate ourselves – it’s part of taking ourselves more seriously. When we think critically we can make more informed decisions.
Once you have the answers to all these questions, you can move forward with more freedom!
What income stream lessons have you learned?
I hope these 9 questions have not come across as discouraging. I love it when people pursue their creative business ideas and in doing so create a positive impact for themselves and others.
That’s the whole reason behind my SHINE program which supports creatives to build sustainable, profitable, and joyful businesses.
However, I also do believe it’s always good to interrogate ourselves. That’s part of taking ourselves more seriously. When we think critically we can make better, more informed decisions.
I know that once you have the answers to all these 9 questions, you will move forward with more
confidence and freedom!
If you decide to pursue your idea and want support in creating strong foundations, systems and supportive rituals, take a look at how SHINE can help you do so.