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Making Money: Tips for Creative Professionals

Jonny Elwyn
By Jonny Elwyn
By Jonny Elwyn

The way you think about making money will influence the way you earn it. Here are some inspiring stories to reshape your thinking and might help you make more money in the process!

Creative Inspiration

To make money you need to think about it in a new way. Ideas and opportunities for creative money making ventures are all around us if we know where to look. Knowing how to look and what to look for, can radically alter the way you view your world and in having a fresh perspective you might just hit upon a great money making idea. Here are a few inspiring stories to spur your creative business’ success.

Reframe Your Thinking

how to make money creatively

There’s a brilliant thread on Quora which answers the question What is the best way to invest and grow my money? The top answer is from Tina Sellig, executive director of the Stanford Technology Ventures Program, in which she sets her students the challenge: What would you do to earn money if all you had was $5 and 2 hours?

Most of them think of simple ideas like buying lottery tickets or setting up a car wash with a bucket and sponge. But the ones that made the most money, hundreds of dollars in a few hours, were those who reframed the problem entirely:

Read Quote of Visakan Veerasamy’s answer to Investing: I have $5. What is the best way to invest and grow my money? 

Those teams observed common problems like long queues for restaurants and low tire pressure and turned them into money making ventures. The winning team uniquely pin-pointed an asset that everyone else missed and made $650 in 3 minutes. That asset was the captive attention of their student peers for the Monday morning presentation on what they achieved with their $5 and two hours. The winning team sold that time slot to a company who wanted to advertise to the students and created a three minute commercial on its behalf, brilliantly making the most money and solving the challenge.

Reframing the way you look at your problems, resources and opportunities, taking the time to observe your market astutely and making the most of what you already have are key facets to creative money making.

10 Percent Better 

It is often said that improving a product or service by just 10 percent can transform it into (perceptively) a whole new product. Making money creatively more often than not, means not re-inventing the wheel but rather finding friction points in existing systems and finding ways of providing a smoother experience. Tech Crunch has an inspiring post on how one entrepreneur went from $0 to $1 million in 2 years.

In 2007, Bryan was a manager at Sears. He quit his job and within two years was making over a million a year. Eventually Braintree grew much bigger and raised $70 million from Accel and others, but that wasn’t what was interesting to me. “How did you do it?” I asked him. “What are the initial steps.” And he told me. So I will tell you.

Bryan Johnson created a company called Braintree which processes creditcard payments.  It’s a booming industry (certainly not glamourous) but one with which he was intimately familiar. There were plenty of existing competitors and bigger services but he provided a better one. He made the most of the contacts he had, took the risk of trying something new and built a trustworthy brand. So the next time you say to yourself ”I really hate it when xxxx happens.” question whether there’s an opportunity for some creative money making staring you right in the face.

Scalability

how to make money creatively

One of the inherent limitations in being a lone freelancer is that it is impossible to scale your operations. I cannot replicate myself like Michael Keaton can in Multiplicity (if that’s too obscure a reference you’re not missing much!) and do four times the work. I could get in junior editors, build an agency or try to expand into production as well – but that’s a whole other ball game. I could try to work double shifts but that would be exhausting and any time I’ve taken on too much work I’ve not enjoyed the experience. Finding a business idea that can scale is a better bet.

E-commerce is all about scale. If you produce some online creative training materials, you can sell them to a thousand people as easily as you can to one person. The same work, but with ever increasing returns. Investigate how you could create a product or service that is infinitely scaleable and you’ll be on to a good thing. Or one step better, create a platform that will scale upon which others can interact, and in doing so make you a percentage from every transaction. Platforms like eBay, Kickstarter, Behance, Airbnb and YouTube  - to name just a handful, are all making money from their users efforts. The more users they get the more they make, the more they can scale their platform the more valuable it becomes and so on.

how to build a business

Reframing the way in which you look at business opportunities, creating ideas with built in scalability and not re-inventing the wheel are all useful tools in making money creatively. But as with so much in life; ideas are easy and execution is everything.