As a little background, the purpose of this series is to highlight incredible women who have turned their purpose into incredible service based businesses. It is also a chance for you to see how creatives in wide ranges of industries are able to offer services related to their specific niches, manage clients and run their based businesses! Throughout the next couple of weeks you will have a chance to read the stories of women who are professional hand-letterers, interior designers, brand stylist and more! I hope you enjoy!
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do.
I'm a brand designer and small business strategist for Odds + Ends Creative. I work with creative biz owners to develop more unique and intentional brands, as well as incorporate customized systems to ensure their businesses run smoothy (without hair being pulled out on a regular basis). I also am a fine art film photographer, shooting weddings and lifestyle portraiture all over the globe. I'm currently 21 years old and I started my first creative business at 16.
What is your favorite part about running a service based business?
When working with other small businesses, I love that I can directly see a result and transformation after my services are complete. It makes me feel like I'm really helping people make the money they deserve and have more organized, stress-free businesses. As a photographer, I love that I document a moment in time that would otherwise be lost to our fleeting memories. Hanging out with people on the happiest days of their lives isn't to shabby either!
There are a lot of misconceptions about running a service based business, like lack of freedom & the ability to grow your income. What's the biggest myth you've learned to be untrue?
I think the myth of the "starving artist" has always stood out to me as annoyingly enabling. It tells people that it's cool to not have much of a business plan as long as you're creating art. This is just not within the realm of reality! All service businesses, including artistic ones, should have a targeted business plan and awareness of how it can be scalable.
Creating a great client experience is the perfect way to keep clients coming back. What do you do to ensure your clients are really getting the most out of your time together?
Client management is everything! If you can't manage their expectations, they will either have to fill in the gaps themselves with unrealistic expectations, or they will feel lost in the process. Find ways to under-promise and over-deliver on your service offerings. Create systems that give your clients the information they need to feel comfortable throughout the process.
What tools or systems are a must-have to help you run your business smoothly?
For client management, Asana is where it's at. It's free and really has all of the delegation and scheduling tools I need to use with clients. Squarespace makes my website content management super straightforward; I use it for all of my websites! Buffer makes my social media scheduling something that I don't get lost in (SM can be such a time-suck), however it doesn't have Instagram scheduling, which I use Later for. I've recently switched to ConvertKit for my email marketing and I am absolutely loving it. It's forced me to really consider the value of my opt-ins and content upgrades. For client management, I use Tavé for my photography business and 17Hats for Odds + Ends. I feel like Tavé really excels for wedding or event professionals, particularly photographers, whereas 17Hats has straightforward functionality for designers, consultants, or other client service providers.
In order for a service based business to thrive, you have to have new clients! What marketing strategies have helped you to attract and find new clients?
The biggest thing I've done for either of my business is blogging, and making sure that blog is rich with content that my target audience wants to see. I also make sure that I only post my best work, for photography that follows the "share what you want to shoot" rule. Finding a solid referral group has been great to get a few extra inquiries a month. I use Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram as my main social media marketing tools. The key with each is to understand what kind of content people want to see on that particular medium. For example, with Pinterest, I'm extra careful that I pin vertical images with very descriptive captions, as most of the time people use Pinterest as a search engine. I've also invested a lot of time on SEO and it's really paid off as over 50% of my inquiries come from Google search. Ps. I have a free email course on SEO called "SEO Spring Cleaning" if you want to make this happen for yourself.
What advice would you give another creative wanting to create a service around their purpose?
It's easy to figure out what you like to do or create. It's a lot harder to figure out what people are actually going to buy and what your target market will be. A service is useless to an audience of one, so whatever you do, do it with a target in mind and craft all of your sales and marketing efforts around that target market.