web analytics

The Startup Guide for Creators

For creators, it’s nice to convert knowledge and experience into fruit of financial income that can sustain the pursuit of our passion. The checklist below provides some practical steps to help move people closer to establishing an infrastructure for income. Note: This is a companion document to “The Outcomes Guide for Creators.”

  1. Business Name. Think of a unique name for your business. You’ll want to make sure that your business name or a logical variation of it is available as a dot com website name, and ideally available as an account name for services like Gmail, Instagram, and Twitter. A good name will be easy to spell phonetically and easy to remember. Short names of two or three words are good. To search for available names, use a service like the DreamHost.com/domains domain search.

    NOTE: Even if a domain name is available, someone may have trademarked something similar and they could claim that your use of words that are in their business name creates confusion. So, be aware of this potential problem. You could pay someone to do a trademark search, or search the web on your own, or you could just create a website and wait to see if someone challenges you. What often happens is that multiple entities have similar names and nobody has any of them trademarked. For example, if you do a Google search for Lisa Mae photography, you’ll find one in Colorado, another in Minnesota, and others elsewhere. Their websites may have slight differences in naming such as Lisa Mae Studios or Lisa Mae Portraits or Lisa Mae Photo (all ending in dot com). None of them are taking the other to court demanding they stop using their own name in their business name. That said, there are cases where someone went to use their own name in a crafts website and found out later that their name had been trademarked by a company in the crafts industry so it could not be used. That sort of sounds unfair, right? Well, what if you want to start a restaurant and your name is Wendy? You can’t really call your restaurant Wendy’s because that name is taken as a restaurant business name. So, this is a long side-note, but an important one before you continue.
  2. Email. Once you’ve chosen a good business name and see that it’s available as a dot com website address, setup a Google user account using the name you’d like for your business. It’s nice if your email address of something@gmail.com is the same as your business name. It’s not entirely necessary, but helpful for name recognition later. The Google name will be your Gmail address and your YouTube channel name. You can also use this for Google Calendar to embed a calendar in your website. You may later decide to use yourname@yourwebsite.com as your primary email address, but you don’t have a website setup yet, and you need an email address to do so, which is why this Step 2 of setting up an email account is important.
  3. Website. There are many possibilities for setting up a website. Services like WIX and Weebly make it easy to create a colorful site. The cost could be around $100 or $200 or $300 per year depending on the hosting company you use and features your site has. Another option is to create a WordPress website with WordPress.com or through a hosting company like GoDaddy, DreamHost, or SiteGround. You can start with a simple site. The main thing is to get your domain setup and to be discoverable on the web. For help, and some free advice, contact Iowa City Web Design Artist, Greg Johnson.
  4. StatCounter. You will want to setup a free StatCounter.com account and project for your new website. This will help you learn more about how people find and use your website, and how many visitors you are getting to your site.
  5. Facebook Account. Setup Facebook account if you don’t have one already. You only need one Facebook account. From that you can manage multiple pages, groups, organizations, or causes.
    1. Personal Facebook Page. Your personal Facebook page is the one provided with your account when you signup. It’s the normal page most people use. You may want a separate page for promoting your creative work.
    2. Entity Facebook Page. Setup an entity Facebook Page that represents your business name. Your website can have a widget to make it easy for people to like your Facebook page. You can also link people to your Facebook page. This Entity Page allows you to see analytics about who is viewing your posts and you get better advertising options when you have an entity page. Note that the term “entity page” isn’t an official Facebook term, but just a way to describe and distinguish it from a regular user page. When you post to the Entity Page, others can comment on your posts, but the function is more as a news distribution method.
    3. Group Page. If you imagine that your supporters and fans will want to interact with each other and talk about your work, you can create a Facebook Group page. Unlike an Entity Page, the Group Page lets everyone communicate to the main news feed of the page.
    4. Profile Pic. You’ll want an image of 500×500 pixels as your profile picture. Choose something that effectively communicates your purpose.
    5. Header Image. You’ll want a header image of 851×315 pixels as your Facebook header.
  6. Twitter. Setup a Twitter.com account. This will be helpful to offer for those who like to follow your news that way instead of through Facebook.
  7. Paypal. Setup a PayPal account. This is good for receiving donations and payments. Be sure to put a PayPal link on your website that lets people pay you easily. PayPal also has an option for PayPal.me/yourname that is an easy to remember link with your name (or business name) that people can use for payments.
  8. Venmo. It helps to give people two or more options for paying, in case they have one that’s already a favorite. Venmo is easy to setup and use. You’ll need a bank account for that.
  9. Music. If you’re a musician, setup an account with SoundCloud.com and also consider selling your music through iTunes. If you’re a musician, consider getting paid to have your music appear in videos. Collaborate with other artists to create projects. You’ll also want to signup with ReverbNation.com and consider using their site builder tool to create a website presence.
  10. CafePress. Setup a CafePress.com account. Then sell your art as images for t-shirts, coffee mugs, handbags, mouse pads, and more.
  11. Referral Income. When you become an Amazon Associate, you can provide affiliate links for products listed on Amazon. When people use those links, you make revenue from each item sold.
  12. Shutterfly. Create a Shutterfly.com account. This makes it easy for people to purchase prints of your images. It’s similar to CafePress, but with other options.
  13. Facebook Advertising. Consider advertising with Facebook. It’s a great way to reach people who are interested in your work. With the entity page you created in Step 5 above, you can have more options for advertising.
  14. Patreon. Patreon is a helpful resource for artists and creators who want to focus on their work and allow their supporters to voluntarily send regular monthly donations that can help them earn money without engaging in individual sales of products. You could also start using a Patreon-like approach to fundraising using your PayPal account created in Step 7 above. People could just send you money directly without using Patreon. Or do both. You could list your supporters on a page of your website as a way of thanking them for their support.
  15. Outlets. If you create anything visual, consider getting paid for images of your work to be used as graphics for website design, album covers, book covers, etc. It’s a great way for you to get exposure for your work.
  16. Affordability. We all dream of the big project or big sale that will produce a month’s income or more. Yet, most income will be in smaller amounts. Think of a way to sell your creations at various price points. Such as, a photo framed in a gallery could sell for $1000 as well as that same photo available on a coffee mug for $30. That way everyone can afford your art.
  17. Subscription. Once the above items are in place you’ll have a lot to talk about. Consider setting up a newsletter subscription with a service like MailChimp. They have a free service plan that’s more than enough to get started with. It’s a great way for people to follow your news if they aren’t getting it already through Twitter, Facebook, Patreon, or other means. Remember that sites like Facebook show your posts to a limited number of people who happen to login and scroll through the news shortly after you’ve posted. With a subscription, everyone is sure to get your news delivered into their inboxes and you’ll get reports telling you who received your newsletter, who opened it to read it, and who clicked on which links in your newsletter. It’s a reporting system so you know how effective your communications are.

Document History

  • 6 Aug 2012 at 6:03 PM – Original posting date when this article was first created.
  • 21 Apr 2020 at 5:32 AM – Document revised to include mention of Patreon, Venmo, Subscriptions, and some of the existing points were expanded upon.

By Greg Johnson

Greg Johnson is a freelance writer and tech consultant in Iowa City. He is also the founder and Director of the ResourcesForLife.com website. Learn more at AboutGregJohnson.com