The Importance of Being Different

Being different makes all the difference.

Photo by Ivan Bertolazzi from Pexels


In both art and business, the importance of being different cannot be overlooked. In artrepreneurship, we call what makes our creative business unique, our differentiator. Understanding what your differentiator is affects how you market yourself, how you run your art-based business, and ultimately, the success you’ll find within your market. There are a few ways you can differentiate your creative business:

Differentiation in your product or service

This kind of differentiator is focused on the actual product or service you’re offering. In this case, your offering is so different that no other company is providing what you provide. Customers can’t get what you’re selling anywhere else. This means that if customers want what you’re offering, they must come to YOU.

For example: The Game Crafter is a super popular creative business that allows people to design and print their own high-quality board games. When the company entered the market, they had no real competitors. Now their trade-secret software and process allows them to maintain their competitive advantage by making it tough for other companies to duplicate their service offering.

Differentiation in the way you deliver your product or service

Maybe you provide a fairly common product or service, but the way you deliver your value is totally unique. This can become an important differentiator for your creative business. Delivery can include how customers order, receive, or even use your product.

For example: Before Netflix become the streaming giant that it is today, it was mailing DVDs to customers. The movies they sent were not unique, but the way those movies were delivered to customers was. People loved being able to order online and pick up their DVDs at their mailbox. During this time, Netflix found a way to differentiate themselves through their delivery.

Differentiation in your brand

Finding a differentiator within your brand is all about sharing your value in a way that stands out from your competitors. You might find that in your market, many business sell their products in the same way. Brainstorm ways to brand your creative business in a way that’s unique, eye-catching, and relatable to your target customers.

For example: Betsey Johnson is a fashion designer and fashion brand that has been wildly successful in the fashion world. Betsey Johnson sells clothing and accessories like many of it’s competitors. But Betsey Johnson has a very unique brand that is known for its bright patterns, whimsical joy, and female empowerment. In the world of high-fashion, Betsey Johnson was able to stand out by being different.

How do you know if something is truly a differentiator?

Competitor analysis, aka research! You must know what’s happening around the market to understand if what you’re offering is unique or not. Start with Google. Find out who your competitors are and what they’re offering. Do not offer the same thing as those who are successful. Offer something different, or offer it in a different way.

Remember: You must be honest with yourself.

One of the most important things to keep in mind when looking at your own differentiation is honesty. It’s really easy to think that we’re providing something super unique because of a small detail that might not really matter much to customers. Try to view your creative business from an outside perspective so that you can truly understand whether or not you have achieved the differentiation you’re looking for.

IMPORTANT NOTE: When thinking about differentiation, it’s important to consider how duplicatable your differentiation is. When another artrepreneur sees your creative business, how easy will it be for them to copy your strategy? The goal in any creative business is to gain a sustainable competitive advantage. A competitive advantage is only sustainable if it’s hard or near impossible for others to mimic.

Thinking about differentiation can be a long-term process. One of my favorite quotes reads: “Direction is more important than speed.” If you can build a creative business that has differentiation in one or all of these categories, you will be one (huge) step closer to becoming a successful artrepreneur.

Peace, Kayla

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Your Artrepreneurial Journey Isn’t Going How You Planned… What Now?

It’s time to step back and evaluate.

Photo by Oladimeji Ajegbile from Pexels

It’s been a month, 6 months, maybe even a year, and your new career as an artrepreneur isn’t working out how you thought it would. What do you do now?

It’s time for rest and reflection. If you’ve already said goodbye to your other sources of income, you might not have time to rest, but you MUST make time to reflect.

#1 What’s going RIGHT?
#2 What’s going WRONG?

Because every artrepreneur’s situation is different, I’ve listed a few possible scenarios below. These scenarios are meant to be an example of how you might go about evaluating what’s going right, and what’s going wrong, with your creative business.

NOTE: Throughout this article, you’ll see many links to this article (and others). Revisiting your business model is one of the most helpful ways to evaluate your situation and make necessary changes. I would suggest that you visit this article and conduct an evaluation of each part of your business model. This will give you a comprehensive view of your art-based business.

Scenario 1

Maybe you’ve secured a few customers, but not as many as you hoped for. Where did these customers come from? Did you already know them? Did they find you via social media? Through word of mouth? Think about the communication you’ve had with them to understand whether or not the channels you’re using to advertise are actually working.

Secondly, who are these customers? Do they match the target market profile you created when you first started out? You might find that your real customers are totally different from the ones you assumed you’d have. Don’t be afraid to ask your customers about how they found you, why they chose you, and how their experience was when working with you.

Scenario 2

Maybe you’ve gotten lots of engagement online. That’s great! Look at the kind of content you’re posting and see who’s interacting with it. By doing this, you’ll be able to tell what kind of content is of interest to whom, and that will help you better focus your time as you continue on.

But perhaps you still aren’t booking customers, despite your positive engagement rate online. Are potential customers reaching out to you, then backing out once they learn about your prices? This might be a sign that you need to restructure your pricing model. Are people not reaching out at all? This might be a sign that although you post engaging content, your value or the service you offer isn’t clear enough. Or maybe customers don’t know how they should contact you if they’re interested. You might need to revisit how you’ve written or worded your messages to understand if your value is clear.

Scenario 3

Maybe you’ve developed a solid business plan and have created a cool brand, but you’re getting no interest at all. This could be a sign of a few issues:

1) The market doesn’t exist. Maybe the need that you believe you’re filling just isn’t really there, or maybe it doesn’t exist on a large enough premise to sustain a sustainable creative business. Consider conducting more research to understand if this might be the case.

2) You’re way off target in regards to who your target customer is. You might be sharing your awesome value with all the wrong people.

3) The way you’re sharing your value isn’t resinating with people. Your branding might be fogging up the true value you provide, leaving people disinterested or unsure about what you’re offering.

4) You’re missing the strategic partners you need to make your business model complete. Maybe you’ve created a product and have been trying to sell it online through your own website, but what you really need is a retail partner to help sell your product at the rates you want. Or maybe you don’t have enough credibility to secure the customers you want, so you need a strategic partner who will back you.


There are all kinds of potential factors that might be contributing to the slow growth of your creative business. It’s your job to take some time to reflect about all you’ve done so that you can identify these factors and make adjustments to fix them.

Whatever you do, don’t give up... UNLESS:
If you find that there might not be a big enough market for you to serve, or that you’re value is already being provided in the same way somewhere else, or that you don’t have the passion to push past your slow beginning… it might be the right decision for you to throw in the towel and start pursuing something else. In today’s world, people are chastised for “quitting.” But sometimes, quitting is exactly what you need to do to find success elsewhere. Don’t be afraid to move along in your artrepreneurial journey by dropping an unsuccessful business model and picking up a successful one. Your artrepreneurial journey is not limited by a single business idea, but by how you evaluate that business idea and ultimately find a successful way to share your art with the world.

Now is the time to take a step back and evaluate. If you run into questions during your reflection, please leave a comment below so that I and other artrepreneurs can help you work through it! Good luck!

Peace, Kayla

P.S. Follow Artrepreneurship – where ‘art’ and ‘entrepreneurship’ meet to get more straight-up information that can help make your artrepreneurial journey easier!

How to Gain Life-long Customers and a Dedicated Creative Team

It takes trust.

Artwork by PLotulitStocker

There’s all kinds of literature out there that talks about the impact trust has on entrepreneurs and their businesses. The more people trust you, the more likely they are to do business with you. Sounds easy, but as most of us know, trust can be hard to build and even harder to regain once it’s lost. If you’re thinking about how you can ensure that you’re building trust with your customers and partners, focus on these three factors:

[Note: If you would like to read my full research paper on this topic, with citations included, please click here.]

Trust = Benevolence + Integrity + Ability

Some of the most respected researchers in leadership have identified three important factors in developing trust with others: perceived benevolence, integrity, and ability. Note the word perceived. Trust from others doesn’t depend on how well-meaning, honest, and competent you think you are. It depends on how well-meaning, honest, and competent they think you are.

Benevolence – Defined as: “well meaning and kindly.” Benevolence is present when others feel like you have their best interests in mind, when they feel like you mean well and don’t have a hidden agenda.

Integrity – Defined as: “the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.” Integrity exists when a person acts in accordance with his or her beliefs and values, and when a person does what they say they’ll do.

Ability – Defined as: “possession of the means or skill to do something.” Ability is what allows you to do what you say you’ll do. Ability is a requirement for getting things done. Understanding your own abilities and promising accordingly is important in maintaining the trust of others.

The combination of these three characteristics is a perfect catalyst for building trust with others, and trust is one of the most important factors in gaining life-long customers and a dedicated team. In the research paper linked above, I looked at multiple studies that show how important trust is for encouraging people to share in your vision. A shared vision is at the core of successful relationships with both your customers and your team. When your vision is clear and when you, as a leader, are trusted, magic happens. Customers recognize your value and share it with others. Your partners work hard to push the common mission forward. All things work together in unison, and creative businesses thrive.

Think about how your customers and partners perceive you. You’ll have to ask them, and try picking up on social clues that can give you insight to the way you are viewed. Then think about how you can increase your benevolence, integrity, and ability. Oftentimes, just being aware of these characteristics can help you to improve them. How can you work toward increased trust between yourself and those who make your artrepreneurial success possible?

This week’s blog posts have been centered around integrity, relationships, and trust for a reason. Emotion is so deeply tied to the way business is done, that a successful artrepreneur must visit these topics in order to find the success they know they can accomplish. As you work on becoming a better leader for your art-based business, you’re gaining lifelong benefits that you’ll come to be grateful for down the road. Don’t worry, we’ll get back to the more technical side of building your creative business in the next few articles, so stay tuned!

Make your artrepreneurial journey easier by following Artrepreneurship – where ‘art’ and ‘entrepreneurship’ meet below!

Peace, Kayla

How to Strengthen Your Weaknesses to Become a More Successful Artrepreneur

The short answer? People!

The short answer? People! But we’ll get to that in a minute. First, you have to start by really understanding what your weaknesses actually are. For example, I have a weakness in operating technology. I can get by, but don’t excel in utilizing technology to it’s fullest potential. That’s why it’s so great to have a tech-savvy business partner! He teaches me new things and is responsible for the technological aspects of our work. We balance each other well in our strengths and weaknesses.

That’s what I mean by people. We can select creative partners in accordance to our relative strengths and weaknesses so that each person has a unique value to bring to the table. And it doesn’t have to be a permanent partner. Often artists must partner with others to get a project done, and once the project is over, each part of the team moves on. [Hollywood is notorious for utilizing this sort of collaboration. Ted Coiné and Mark Babbitt refer to this kind of business structure as “nano corporations” in their book A World Gone Social. ] Together, nano corps create something awesome by allowing each member to contribute their unique strength. Plus, when the next project comes along, you already know who to call when a specific skill is necessary!

Photo by LivDeco

Building a (permanent or temporary) team around your weaknesses is helpful for many reasons:

  • Two heads are greater than one: These team members can help you find easier and more efficient ways to do things in their field of expertise.
  • Working with others gives you the opportunity to work on more projects, or to add more of your own value to a single project.
  • They can bring creativity to the table, and so can you. Having multiple perspectives not only breeds relatability for multiple potential target markets, but can help the creative process expand further than you could have originally imagined.
  • More hands on deck means more work in the queue. Again, working as a team increases efficiency, giving you the opportunity to work on more projects at a single time.

Start by thinking about your own strengths and weaknesses, and find trustworthy individuals who complement you. Look around your existing network and within your local community. But first, make sure you truly understand the value you can bring to them, because the benefits you’ll give each other will help to build a creative team that is efficient and perfectly interdependent.

Network effects

Yes, bringing in more people will help you to work on more projects faster, but it will also help you to reach more people faster. Creative partners are often some of the biggest promoters and evangelists for your work, because it’s really our work. If you’re trying to build a brand, the more people sharing your work, the better.

Remember: It’s important to be genuine when building your creative team. You want your potential partners to know that you have their best interests in mind, and that you are capable of executing your own responsibilities. Make sure your creative partners recognize your integrity when they work with you, and you’ll be one step closer to becoming a successful artrepreneur.

Peace, Kayla

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How to Become the Most Successful Artrepreneur You Can Be (Hint: Integrity)

Want to change the world with your creative business? Here’s one thing you’ll need.

Every person who sets out to start their own art-based business has the intention of becoming successful. No one wants to become an artrepreneur just to fail. But when preparing to become a creative entrepreneur, our research is usually limited to how to build a solid business and how to market and how to sell our product. What’s not so popular is discussing the personal strengths that are needed to become a happy, successful entrepreneur.

In my time of learning through University education and real-life business mentorship, one commonality has remained: Integrity is a critical component to becoming a successful business owner who leads change in their business and in the world.

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Integrity can be defined in many ways, but three ways have stuck out to me most:

Integrity is doing what you say you’ll do.

Integrity is about doing the right things for the right reasons.

Integrity is present when you act in accordance with the beliefs and values you say you hold.

Most of us like to think that we are good people who have integrity. And that’s usually true. But let’s talk about some situations where good artrepreneurs are faced with challenges to maintaining their integrity:

Reporting income

As an entrepreneur, you’ll be faced with much autonomy when it comes to reporting your own income, especially if you’re taking payments in cash. It can be easy to write everything off, or report less income than you’ve actually received. I’m not here to tell you what is right and wrong, but I am here to encourage you to think about what choice is right for you. A mentor once told me to make decisions under the assumption that every decision would end up on the front page of the New York Times. Silly, considering that the NYT isn’t exactly following my every move. But helpful, because it got me thinking about the kind of person I want to be. Think about what kind of person you want to be when making these types of decisions.

Plagiarizing

This one’s tough, because sometimes we don’t even realize we’re doing it. But, there’s a fine line between inspiration and plagiarism. If you make a mistake and realize you’ve plagiarized someone else’s work, just be honest and give them the credit they deserve. This can happen when an artrepreneur brings assistants and other partners in to help with executing projects. Make sure to credit them with the work they’ve done, and be clear about the team that helps make your creative business successful.

How you treat your customers & employees or partners

You’ve probably heard the popular saying that the customer is always right. Obviously, that’s not always true–but customers love when business owners accommodate them anyway. This might look like NOT placing blame on a customer, even when the blame is theirs to take. This might look like being completely honest when you make a mistake, and providing a way to “make it right.” When mistakes happen, entrepreneurs are presented an opportunity to build relationships that will last by showing their customers that they have integrity. Emotions are a huge part of customer loyalty. Appeal to your customers’ emotions by being honest, helpful and genuine.

Another issue that entrepreneurs face is evading the truth or inferring things that aren’t true when they’re in a bind. Sometimes its easier to say nothing than to tell the truth, but this can often hurt your relationship with customers and partners. Again, transparency and honesty are critical for developing and maintaining relationships that are going to help make you a successful artrepreneur.


Integrity is something that’s always growing, with every choice we make. I don’t say these things to assume that you need this advice, or to pretend like I’ve got integrity all figured out. But I’m working on it–I’m committed to choosing integrity. I say these things to give you food for thought that will hopefully help you become an even better artrepreneur.

Peace, Kayla

P.S. Here at Artrepreneurship – where ‘art’ and ‘entrepreneurship’ meet, it’s all about giving you straight-up, honest, helpful information about the artrepreneurial journey. Follow below for more honest conversations about finding success in your own artrepreneurial journey!