7 Tips For Starting Your Journey To Creative Entrepreneurship In College
Starting a creative entrepreneurship journey in college can feel challenging. Trust me, I started blogging during my freshman year.
College is one of the best times to start your journey to entrepreneurship, creative or otherwise. Whether you want to be your own boss and start a freelance business or even a product-based business, now is the best time to start. Today, I wanted to shed some light on tips I wish I knew when I started my entrepreneurship journey in college.
I started blogging online all the way back in 2011 during my freshman year of college. I still blog regularly, even in 2021, and I have no plans to stop any time soon. When I started the process of creating a blog, I had no idea what I was doing. I learned everything on my own, investing in courses, and tried to uplevel my skills. I want to help you avoid as many bumps and lumps as you can on your creative entrepreneurship journey. Keep reading for tips and tricks that will help you balance it all.
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1. Don't Sell Yourself Short
If only I could add up all the money I lost by sharing my writing and gifts with the world for free in college. Ultimately, I feel like the landscape of doing work online has changed so much since I was a freshman in college. I honestly had no idea how profitable writing online could be for me. If you have a skill, sell that skill.
Yes, you might want to do a guest post or two for free to build your portfolio, or you might want to take your first client for free to test the waters. If you do this, set boundaries. Instead of doing everything for free, say:
“I'll give you one month of services for free in exchange for a testimonial. After that, I'll charge you $X per month.”
Ultimately, you may want to think about what discounting your services that much does for your business. Only give away free services to a client you wouldn't mind losing.
Alternatively, you can give a partial discount on your services to the first few clients you work with. You might say:
“After I get a few clients under my belt, I will be charging $X for this service. Since you are one of my first clients, I'll give you a slight discount, and we can work together for $X.”
Either way it goes, you want to be sure that you are selling your value and what you can offer clients. Do your research, understand your industry's landscape, and don't let anyone give you the exposure or unpaid internship chat.
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Work On Your Mindset
Mindset is so important when you are becoming a college entrepreneur. It's so easy to dismiss your time, talent, and expertise as a college student. It's even easier for that dismissal to be “confirmed” by some people's lack of respect for your craft because you are young.
Instead of following what “everyone” says and letting that affect your mental state, work on the mindset behind it all. It takes a lot of guts to charge what your worth, but I have faith in you. As you are going through the process of working on your mindset, keep a journal. Journaling your feelings is a great way to get your thoughts out of your head so you can separate fact from fiction. We all have those thoughts in our heads that say we can't do it, even when we are currently doing it and thriving at it.
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2. Take Classes That Align With Creative Entrepreneurship
One of the best parts about college is how amazing it is at helping you with professional development. Most college degrees require way more credits than your major, minor, and general education requirements take up. You have a lot of wiggle room to take interesting courses that pique your interest.
If you know exactly what creative avenue you want to explore, I would consider majoring or minoring in that field if you can. If you'd rather keep it for a side hustle, I would at least minor in that field, so you have more credibility later on.
Either way, taking a few classes that fall under the field you are interested in is an amazing way to spend some of your time in college. College classes can also produce pretty amazing papers and projects that you can use in your portfolio if the fields match.
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Take Learning Seriously
If you want to create a great side hustle in college, you need the education to make it work. Whether you are taking a class in college or watching YouTube videos, you need to take learning seriously. Carve out a few hours a week and dedicate that time to learning about your side hustle and how to improve it.
You also want to learn about more general things like money management and time management. Don't spend all of your time learning how to grow your business without thinking of some of the systems you need to handle money and time.
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3. Document Everything
Finding that one random project you did five years ago is probably going to be a disaster. Computers change and you forget what that amazing project was titled when you added it to your computer. I encourage you to start creating a portfolio now! You'll save so much energy trying to gather it all after you graduate college or when you need it for a client.
Portfolio sites are getting easier to create in today's day and age. I encourage you to use a site like Squarespace or WordPress with Elementor installed (my WordPress host is SiteGround.) Whether you are a writer, designer, speaker, etc., you can create a portfolio site that stands out and gets you potential leads for your business.
No matter what people will tell you, social media isn't your friend. Make sure you are creating a site that you control. You'll want it later in life!
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4. Start With Where You Are
Don't go purchasing a million dollars worth of equipment. Take it slow. Use some of the free resources out there and truly put them into action. Once you feel like you've done all you can on your own, slowly start to purchase equipment or take courses that grow your brand.
For example, one of the first courses I invested in on The Happy Arkansan was a course on Pinterest. I invested in a Pinterest course back in 2016 because I had begun to see a bit of growth with Pinterest, but I didn't know much about the platform. I wanted a course to help me build my growth quickly without watching a bunch of random materials on the platform. I had worked on my blog on my own, and investing in this one course helped me grow my blog.
When deciding on a course, think about one specific area that will grow your side hustle in a major way. Don't invest in every course you can get your hands on. Don't fall prey to a million and one Instagram ads on courses. I also encourage you to stay away from those cheap $99 course bundles (they lead to overwhelm.) Understand your specific needs and pick a course from there.
5. Grow Your Network, And Then Work It
Growing your network is key when pursuing a side hustle or creative endeavor. Whether you are apart of a Facebook group or building your presence on LinkedIn, you need to build and work your network.
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Connect With Others In The Creative Entrepreneurship Space On Your Campus
Being in college sets you up for success because you can connect with several amazing innovators and side hustlers on campus. These are your peers, and they will come in handy as you all grow your own businesses. If you can find a group of people on campus who are side hustling, connect with them. You can do weekly or monthly meetups and grow and network with each other.
You'll also want to find mentors on your campus, in your community, and online. Find people you can look up to and ask them questions. Build your network of amazing people you can lean on. You may start with your professors, staff on campus, or any number of local business leaders.
6. Stay Organized
When school is all over the place, and your side hustle becomes more popular, organization helps you. The brain is not a vehicle for memory. Our brains forget things all the time or remembers things how we want them remembered. The truth is that our brain distorts and forgets things all the time. It's not a camera. When you write things out, schedule them, and keep them someplace safe, you can't mess them up.
Create an organizational system for all the deadlines and things you need to keep up with as a student and an entrepreneur. I love writing things out with a planner or using an online tool like Google Calendar or Notion.
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7. Take A Break
I know I am going a bit Hamilton on you, but taking a break is of the utmost importance to creatives in college. You can't rip and run forever. Something will happen and make you take a break. When you include self-care and taking breaks as a part of your work routine, you'll have more control over when those breaks happen in your career.
I am a big fan of The Pomodoro Technique and how it includes frequent breaks throughout your work. Make sure you are adding some short and long break times to your schedule when penciling in all of your other activities.
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Conclusion: Handling College Creative Entrepreneurship
Are you a college student and a creative entrepreneur? I hope that this article gave you some food for thought as you build your brand. I started my blog in college, and I couldn't be more proud of what it has become since then. You've got so much on your plate, but I know you can juggle it well.