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Ever wonder what separates a starving artist from a successful artist?

Talent? Possibly, but not always.

Luck? Sometimes, but that’s not a given either.

I don’t claim to know the magic formula, or whether there even is one…

But at least one key difference between a starving artist and a successful artist is the set of business habits the artist uses to manage, create, and promote his or her art.

Pin me to come back to this post later!

Now at first, that may sound crazy. You might be saying: “Meg, business and creativity don’t go together!” I beg to differ.

If your goal is to put your creative passions to work and make money from them, business and creativity most definitely DO go together!

So do you wanna be the starving artist or the successful one? If you’re ready to get serious about creative entrepreneurship, read on to learn about the business habits creative entrepreneurs like you should adopt ASAP.

11 business habits creative entrepreneurs should adopt asap

1. organize your time

Despite popular opinion, you can be organized AND creative…at the same damn time. Structure and organization are not the opposites of creativity. In fact, you can use organization to enhance your creativity.

In an episode of The LaziMILLENNIAL LoungeHugh Hunter, a self-published author, explains how he wrote his first novel in a very organized, methodical way.

But what about organizing your time? How do you do that?

One of the productivity strategies I mentioned in this post was scheduling your day, a form of organizing your time.

Say, for example, I break down my day into time blocks and decide that 10:30 am-1:30 pm is strictly dedicated to writing. I have other time blocks for responding to emails (using the batch method), scheduling social media posts, etc.

Because I marked off 10:30 am – 1:30 pm to write and I marked off other time blocks to take care of administrative tasks, my mind is free to focus solely on writing during that 3-hour time period.

I don’t have to worry in the back of my mind that I forgot to send an email or didn’t update my IG. I already wrote down exactly when I’m going to do those things!

Don’t think that organizing your time means you have a strict, inflexible schedule. It’s really the opposite.

By planning out your day, you know exactly what you have to get done and when you’re going to do it.

If you decide you need a break, or you’re not “in the mood” to create, or something important comes up, you’re not stuck. You just adjust your time blocks and shift them around to make room for the changes.

Organizing your time makes it easier to incorporate change and go with the flow. And isn’t going with the flow what creativity is about?

stop thinking of “discipline” as a 4-letter word

Discipline will not damage your art, so do not use creative expression as an EXCUSE for not being disciplined.

Discipline is necessary in all aspects of life at some level. I mean, even little kids have to be disciplined sometimes, right? And they’re more creative than all of us!

Discipline means different things for everyone. For you, it could mean:

  • Waking up at a specific time every morning
  • Having a morning routine
  • Working out for 37.6 minutes every day
  • Always knocking out a project at least 12 hours before its deadline

These situations and others like them will not negatively impact your art or your creative process.

As a creative entrepreneur, I’m learning there will be PLENTY of things I have to do that I don’t want to do, but that’s the nature of the beast. I have to be disciplined about the things I enjoy and the things I don’t feel like doing.

Regardless of how you feel about it, don’t use your creative expression as an excuse for why you can’t incorporate discipline into your creative strategy.

Be professional

Of the 10 or so millennials I’ve invited to be featured in The LaziMILLENNIAL Lounge, at least 5 have responded with positive comments on the professionalism of my emails.

This isn’t a humblebrag.

Here’s the point: professionalism goes a LONG way, no matter what line of work you’re in.

Whether you’re a podcaster, saleswoman, teacher, or chef, professionalism is a part of your brand. If you want people to buy from you, you need to have a solid, trustworthy, and professional brand.

That doesn’t mean you can’t have fun, though! By all means, PLEASE do not interpret professional to mean bland and boring. No one is here for that.

It just means putting forth a positive representation of what it is that you do and the products and/or services you provide.

Know how to sell your art or your ideas

When I started blogging, I kept coming across this saying: “Blogging is 20% content creation, and 80% promotion.”

This could not be more true…(unless the promotion percentage increases)! Creative people, including me, spend too much time creating and not enough time promoting what they create.

“Build it and they will come” is bullshit. How will they come if they don’t know it’s there? Or if they know it’s there but don’t understand why the hell it’s relevant to them?

Think about the people you see with thousands and millions of followers on Instagram and other social media channels. What’s the point of having all those followers?

Well, one point of having a large social media following is marketing through community-building. By following you, these people are saying, “I want to see what you have to offer.”

Social media is one route to sell your art or ideas, but it’s definitely not the only way. Here are some other marketing techniques creative entrepreneurs use to put themselves out there:

  • Blogging
  • Attending networking events
  • Attending conferences
  • Professional networking via LinkedIn

Collaborate with other creative people who can help you

Collaborating with other creative people is another way to market yourself AND another way to nurture a booming business.

Here’s a scenario:

I once looked into voice acting as a side hustle. So I checked out websites for African-American voice actors, just to get a feel for how they promoted themselves.

I came across one voice actor and noticed on his website that he had a link to another voice actor’s website. She was an African-American woman. So I checked out her website and saw that it also had a link to his.

Then, a lightbulb went off.

They had professionally linked themselves with one another. Each serves as a consistent referral source for the other! If the guy works with someone who loves his work, and it just so happens that they need a female voice, he plugs his female partner and vice versa.

How genius is that?!

Incredibly genius, and not at all uncommon. There are other ways to do it, too.

Sometimes, a copywriter and a graphic designer will team up to send referrals to each other. I’d say the vast majority of the wedding industry is structured this way… Photographers and videographers do it all the time.

Don’t sleep on collaborating with other creative people, especially ones who share your target audience but aren’t your direct competitors.

Surround yourself with people who are good at things you aren’t

I feel most comfortable around people who are very similar to me, but as creative entrepreneurs, we can’t get stuck in that trap.

You also need people in your circle who supplement what you have to offer.

That means they’re good at something you aren’t so good at. And you might be good at something that’s not one of their strengths.

That way, you continuously learn from each other.

Many creative entrepreneurs build their circles through mastermind groups. Learn more about mastermind groups in Episode 12 of Nicaila Matthews’ Side Hustle Pro podcast.

Invest in your brand.

If you value yourself, you have to invest in yourself. Invest time – yes – but also invest money. Some of the best financial investments I’ve made in my creative endeavors have been books and online courses.

Remember the paid course I took to launch a successful freelance writing business in just 3 months? Yes, there was an initial upfront cost, but it made up for itself over ten-fold in just a few months.

You can find online courses anywhere – Coursera, Udemy, EdX… Some are free. Some may require a few of your precious coins.

Think about it like this: if you won’t invest time and money into yourself, why would you expect someone else to? BLOOP.

Lots of millennials (me included) love to read. If a course isn’t in your budget right now, a book probably is. Here are 10 that may help you on your creative journey.

Listen to your audience

Are you picking up what your customers are putting down? In other words, are you HEARING and LISTENING to them?

If your audience is providing feedback – negative, positive, or in-between – you absolutely must listen to that feedback in order to be successful.

Now, I get that in the 24/7 connected information world, analyzing feedback can be difficult and can even seem impossible. After all, Twitter turns any and everything into a joke, and it’s hard to know whether it’s in good fun or if what you’re doing is really striking the wrong nerve.

So here’s my suggestion:

Don’t focus on ALL the feedback. Only listen to your true fans – the ones who actually care about you and what you are creating. The ones who will actually give you constructive criticism as opposed to dragging you and your entrails down the Internet halls for fun.

Listening to them will help you figure out what’s resonating and what’s not.

pick an idea and Find your niche

As a multi-passionate millennial, this one is hard for me to talk about, and you’ll understand why in a sec.

We have so many ideas and interests, but it’s critical to realize when those ideas might be best suited for distinct audiences. When it comes down to picking one or two interests to pursue and promote, it can feel like cutting off an arm.

But here’s the thing about choosing an idea/niche: It doesn’t mean that everything else has to fall by the wayside for the rest of your life. It just means that you’ll put the majority of your energy towards one area for the time being.

Then, once you gain enough traction and establish your brand, it may be easier for your to expand without stretching yourself too thin.

Remain true to yourself and your interests without overwhelming or confusing your audience. Tati of gets my point…

Have an online presence

How do you feel when you Google a restaurant, a hair salon, or a daycare and no website pops up? You might not automatically scrap them from the list (like I do), but you may be a little suspicious.

When people go to look you up online – and they will – you don’t want them to be suspicious about anything. Therefore, you need to make sure to build and curate the online presence you want your potential customers and consumers to see.

Below are 3 major ways to beef up your online presence:


If you don’t have a website, you need one…yesterday. There are too many easy, cheap tools for you to be walking ’round here without an online home! (And I hope you read that in your mama’s voice.)

How else will people learn about the products or services you offer? Or get to know your brand?

Start with a website. And what’s even better than a website? A blog! A blog is a great way to bring traffic to your site and build a relationship with potential clients or customers.

It doesn’t take long to set one up. Here’s an easy guide to setting up your website or blog in 3 steps.

Social Media

Let’s go back to our example of searching for a business on Google, but this time we’re scoping out their social media accounts.

If I look up a company and they aren’t on Facebook or Twitter, they might as well be nonexistent in my mind. A basic way to view the world? Possibly, but very real nonetheless.

Social media can be daunting and it’s easy to get caught up in which platforms you should be on. My advice: don’t try to tackle them all at once.

Go where your audience is and build from there. If you don’t know where your audience is, here’s a website that can help you figure it out.

Also, you can’t go wrong if you just start out with a simple Facebook page or Twitter account until you find your peeps.


Lastly, the forgotten stepchild – LinkedIn. I have a whole set of posts about the power of LinkedIn so I won’t lecture you again.

Remember that LinkedIn isn’t JUST for employees. It’s great for students, freelancers, small business owners, and creative entrepreneurs too! You’re able to connect with others like you or others who are looking to hire you for your skills…from anywhere in the world.

Be authentic

Last, but by no means least, show the world that you love who you are and what you create. In other words, be your motherf*!kin self and make no apologies for it.

Your authenticity is what makes your products and services unique. It’s what makes your personal brand personal.

People who are successful became successful by being themselves – not by trying to be someone else. Continue to stay true to who you are, and that genuine vibe will resonate with your audience.

do you recommend any other business habits for creative entrepreneurs? which of these are you using?