Creative side project 101: starting your business from home

French press and Notebook

If you’re working from home and suddenly find more time on your hands, you’re not alone. Rather than hitting Netflix, why not start that creative home based business you’ve always daydreamed about?

One great thing about working from home: it can be a huge time-saver.

Without the need to dress up smartly for work, travel to an office, or stay on premises during lunch, working at home can open up hours of free time during your week. It’s true at least for those of us who haven’t also become temporary home-schoolers during this time. 

So, why not use the opportunity to make something new happen in your professional life? Now could be the perfect time to explore some home business ideas and set up a new microbusiness alongside your day job. 

working from home with home office

How to find a new creative side project

If that had you pricking up your ears, follow these steps to find out what your side project could be. 

1) Assess your strengths

When you’re starting a business from home, it’s important to play to your strengths. What are you naturally good at? Do you have a skill or talent that other people admire? Or is there something that you find easy where others need more time and effort to get it right?

At this stage it’s worth considering anything and everything that comes to mind. Even if it seems impractical. You may even end up going back to childhood and thinking about what you loved to do at school as you consider possible options.

2) Decide what you can commit to

You’ll need commitment as well as enthusiasm to start up a home based business and keep it running. If you’re sizing up a current creative practice as a possible business area, think about whether it would be as enjoyable if it became a daily requirement. Some things are meant to just be hobbies, and that’s OK.

Figuring out the answers might take a bit of time and reflection, so don’t rush this step. Talking it over with friends and loved ones or journalling it out might help you decide on a direction.

journaling ideas for creative side project

3) Explore the market

When you have a few ideas in mind, spend some time online researching your target business areas and seeing what other people are doing.

As well as looking at online shops and Etsy listings, see if you can join some online community groups and hear from others already in business. Your goal is to make sure your approach is original enough to stand out in the market, and that there’s enough demand among your potential customers. 

brainstorming creative side project

Starting your business from home

Once you’ve decided on a business to do from home, it’s time to plan how you’ll fit it into your daily life. Whether your side-hustle is an artistic pursuit such as graphic design, illustration or painting, or a crafty endeavour like sewing, yarn-craft or card-making, here’s how to make space for it in your lifestyle.

  • Set time aside for your new microbusiness

If there’s one thing we know about home-working, it’s that boundaries are important. That’s even more the case when you’re starting up a side project alongside an existing main job.

Plan out your week in advance. Blocking off the time you need to dedicate to your main job and any family commitments like cooking or home-schooling sessions. Then look at where you can spend time on your creative side business. This may be in the evenings. Or early in the morning before the 9-5 begins. You might even be able to dedicate one or more weekend days – but make sure you leave time for some R&R as well.

Try to be specific about what you need to do and how you’ll fit it into the time you have available. For example, do you need to gather supplies, set up equipment, or get into the zone mentally in order to work?

  • Make space for your side project in your home

If your chosen pursuit is writing or digital art, you might not need much physical space to practice it in. But if you’re doing something hands-on like jewellery making or working with clay, you’ll need to set up a workspace that allows you to nurture your small business idea from home without taking too much time setting up or clearing away. 

What used to be an occasional take-over of the kitchen table may now need a permanent spot elsewhere in the house or garage.

  • Include time for marketing

As well as planning time to practice your craft and turn out products and services, when starting your business from home, it’s a good idea to assign some of your time to marketing yourself. 

Think about setting up a regular newsletter or blog for your side business, and stay active on social media so that potential customers can get to know you and ask questions. If your finances allow, you could also consider social media advertising to spread the word about your business.

Even if your business is run online, if you’re sending out packages to customers you can also do some offline marketing. Consider getting some business cards and postcards made up so you can include them in your delivery packages.

creative packaging with postcard

  • Develop and improve

As a microbusiness, there’s a good chance you’re working solo. That means you’ll need to reach out to other people for your professional development, training and networking.

Join online groups on platforms like Facebook, Slack or reddit to connect with other people in your line of work. It’s a great way to make contacts, find out what others are doing and keep up to date on the trends and practices developing in your new industry. YouTube and online courses can also be a great way to pick up new tips and techniques.

We’ve got lots more tips for small startups and home based businesses. Check out how to take great product photos for your online store and explore our new WFH range.

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