5 tips to turn your creative passion into a business from the owner of a natural light photography studio

Read time: 2 min.

Advice to turn what you love to do into a way to make money from Hannah DeVries, the owner of a natural light photography studio.

1. To figure out what your passion is: Go back to your childhood

While photography and a natural light studio may not have been on Hannah’s mind when she was a kid, entrepreneurship was. Before going blueberry picking as a kid, she went door to door to ask neighbors if they wanted her to bring them some. She took down orders and made deliveries. “From that point on,” Hannah said, “I thought, ‘I want to keep doing this.'”

2. To get started: Put yourself out there

To get her photography business started, Hannah had to allow herself to be uncomfortable. She said she made a list of things that would get her out of her comfort zone while she was living in Florida for a few months. The first item she checked off the list was walking up to strangers on the beach and asking if they wanted her to take photos of them.

3. To turn what you do into a business: Look for a problem you can solve

The idea for Hannah’s natural light studio, called Lightbox, was born out of trying to solve her own problems as a photographer. She was tired of wearing herself out every summer to make up for the lack of business in the winter. The solution? An indoor photography studio that would allow photographers to take pictures inside where it was warm while still taking advantage of natural light.

4. To make sure the business will work: Let the idea brew

Before opening the doors of Lightbox in October 2019, Hannah spent two years doing market research to make sure her problem was a problem for other photographers, too. This took extra time before she was able to open the business, but it set a firm foundation and let her know she was onto something with her business idea.

5. To make your business last: Don’t give up

Hannah stressed the importance of not giving up. Challenges will come and it will take time, but it’s all part of the process of turning your creative passion into a business. “Keep going,” she said. “Keep creating. Keep taking steps to do what you want to do.”

P.S. To check out Lightbox, click here. To check out Hannah’s photography, click here.

Choose your own adventure: Get your creative career started with one of these first steps

Read time: 2 min.

Practical steps to get past the hardest part in pursuing a creative career — getting started.

Breaking onto the career scene as a creator can be a challenge, to say the least. There is no easy, three-step plan of action for writers, artists, and designers to turn what they do into a living. No two creators follow the same path.

The hardest part is getting started. Once you get started, one thing will usually lead to the next. That’s where the list I’m about to share with you comes into action.

Here’s my challenge to you: Read through the list below and pick just one step to take. See where that one step takes you. Don’t worry about the rest.

The List:

1. Build your portfolio

Creating work is how you get better. It’s also how you show people you know what you’re doing. Create as much as you can, then curate it so you’re only showing off your best work. Create a portfolio website or a physical portfolio.

2. Get an internship

Sometimes you have to start out by working for free to prove yourself. If you can find a paid internship, more power to you. This will help you build your portfolio and network. Internships often lead to permanent jobs, too.

3. Cold call or email

Do some research on Google, LinkedIn, or even Instagram or Facebook, to find the name and contact information of someone who is currently doing what you want to do. Then, reach out to them. Ask them for advice for someone starting out in the field. Ask them if you can job shadow them for an afternoon. Ask them to look at your portfolio and critique it. It doesn’t really matter what you ask — just make the connection.

4. Network

Cold calling can work, but you’re going to get a lot further when reaching out to someone who knows someone who can vouch for you. You could attend a professional networking event, but networking can also happen more organically. If you overhear someone at a coffee shop talking about a job that’s right up your alley, introduce yourself and ask them about it. Walk into a business and ask them what opportunities they have in your field. The key is to make your name, face, and career goal known. Other people can help you take it from there.

5. Take a class

Sometimes having a degree can give you an advantage, but other times it isn’t necessary. Ask others in your potential career field if they think it’s necessary and go from there. You could take a class as part of a degree program, or just take an isolated class to improve your skills. This will give you opportunities to network and build your portfolio, as well.

After you take your first step, let me know how it went (comment below or reach out to me on social media: @theadventuresofmic). I’m willing to bet you will have gotten your start and figured out the step you need to take after that on your own.